Masters Theses

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  • Assessing the Global Threat of Coastal Flooding: A Mortality Risk Model
    Timilsina, Saurav (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    Coastal flooding, caused by sea level rise (SLR), storm surge, and tropical cyclones, is a growing threat. Previous studies have documented mortality associated with historical coastal flooding and developed predictions of mortality risk based on SLR and human development. This study updates those estimates and provides a new model by including new mortality data from events between 2010 and 2020 and an updated method for estimating the population exposed to coastal flooding events. Primary data sources include the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) and the Sea Level Impacts Input Dataset by Elevation, Region, and Scenario (SLIIDERS) model. We first characterize trends in exposed populations and mortality associated with coastal flooding between 1990 and 2020. A mixed effect regression model estimates mortality associated with coastal flooding and investigates the influence of variables including Human Development Index (HDI), country population, and event frequency. The frequency of coastal flooding events between 1990 and 2020 has increased, while there was an overall decrease in recorded deaths associated with coastal flooding events. The association between mortality and coastal flood exposure is reduced in countries with higher populations. This result suggests countries with larger populations may buffer risks in exposed regions. Results showed significant reduction in mortality risk, by approximately 34% (95% CI, 17-47%), associated with an increase of approximately 61 million in country-level population. Additionally, a 7% increase (95% CI, 3-11%) in mortality risk with each additional occurrence of coastal flooding events was observed. By leveraging this knowledge, decision-makers can develop targeted policies and interventions to enhance community preparedness, reduce vulnerability, and ultimately save lives in the face of increasing coastal flooding risks.
  • Welcome Guest
    Fischer, Mary (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    A literary novel set in the contemporary Midwest tracing a young woman's experience marrying into a religious family while battling Ambien dependence.
  • Are Grounding and Naturalness Related?
    Li, Dexin (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    Grounding and Naturalness have been two important concepts in the Metaphysician's toolbox. They are both used to cash out the notion of fundamentality; that is, proponents of both concepts propose certain criteria for counting a property/fact as more fundamental than another. In this paper, I will explore whether there is any plausible systematic connection between the criteria the two concepts offer for fundamentality and argue that there is none. In the end, I suggest that we should stick to one consistent use of naturalness first and then explore further which concept offer a better notion of fundamentality.
  • The World We Build
    Buttram, Ben E. (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    In this thesis I explore the relationship between the cultural memory bank we all have and how it creates Typologies within media and Architecture. This is shown through breaking down existing architecture within media to create a code, and then implementing that code upon my own work. To test this I illustrated the notable structures within the written science fiction work "Red Rising" by Pierce Brown.
  • Multi-Layered Dual-Band Dual-Polarized Reflectarray Design Toward Rim-Located Reconfigurabable Reflectarrays for Interference Mitigation in Reflector Antennas
    Bora, Trisha (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    The rise of satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is causing more terrestrial electromagnetic interference in the important L- and X-band frequencies which are crucial for astronomical observations. This thesis introduces reflectarray design which can serve as a basis for an interference mitigation solution for radio telescopes. In the envisioned application, When the reflectarray is placed around the circumference of an existing radio telescope, it can drive a null into the radio telescopes radiation pattern sidelobe distribution. Since the reflectarray only occupies a small potion of the rim of the paraboloidal main reflector, its presence does not significantly effect the main lobe peak gain. Since Iridium and Starlink are the target mega-constellations, the reflectarray must be dual band. To cover the operational bandwidths of these constellations, the target bandwidth in the L-band (Iridium) is 0.7%, and that in the X-band (Starlink) is 17.1%. This makes the design of the reflectarray challenging as the frequencies are widely separated and the bandwidth in the X-band is wide The work of this thesis marks a first step in this effort. It includes a reflectarray design containing a multi-layer stack consisting of: (1) a grounded substrate, (2) an X-band slot loaded unit cell geometry, (3) a dielectric superstrate, and (4) an L-band layer containing crossed dipoles. The dual band reflectarray is dual linearly polarized to maintain symmetric response. The reflectarray is designed and simulated using full-wave solvers. The results show that the reflectarray designs are capable of pattern shaping at both bands and operate across the required bandwidths. This architecture could serve as a basis for future reflectarrays capable of nulling satellite interference from mega-constellations in observatory applications in the future.
  • Impact of mutations in non-structural proteins on SARS-CoV-2 replication
    Datsomor, Eugenia Afi (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    The late 2019 marked the onset of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that led to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with profound global health and socioeconomic impacts. This thesis offers a thorough examination of the molecular biology, evolution, and disease-causing mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2, as well as recent advancements in understanding the structural and functional implications of mutations in viral proteins. The prevailing belief is that SARS-CoV-2 originated from a zoonotic transmission involving bats as the natural reservoir hosts, with an unknown intermediate host facilitating transmission to humans. Genomic sequencing and phylogenetic analysis have identified similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and bat coronaviruses, particularly RaTG13, indicating a potential bat origin. However, the exact circumstances and intermediate hosts of the spillover event remain under investigation. In its structure, SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome. This genome encodes both structural and non-structural proteins crucial for viral replication and the development of the disease. The spike (S) protein facilitates viral entry by binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Meanwhile, non-structural proteins are involved in viral RNA synthesis, immune evasion, and the assembly of virions. Alterations in the genetic makeup of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, notably within the spike protein, can impact transmission efficiency, viral load, and immune evasion. Notable mutations such as D614G, N501Y, and E484K have been associated with increased transmissibility and reduced neutralization by antibodies. Understanding the effects of these mutations on viral fitness and pathogenicity is crucial for informing public health interventions and vaccine development efforts. The impacts of Non-structural proteins (NSPs) on viral replication and transmission are however understudied. In this study, we focused on mutations in the several NSPs including NSP1, 2, 3, 13,14, and 15 of the early Omicron (BA.1) and XBB 1.5 variants and investigated their impact on structure and the functional implications using bioinformatics tools and protein structure prediction methods. Our analysis focused on potential alterations in NSP1's structure and hence its ability to suppress host gene expression and modulate immune responses, shedding light on the mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 evolves to evade host defenses. Overall, this thesis gives insights into the emergence, structure, replication cycle, evolution, and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2, highlighting the importance of ongoing research efforts in understanding and combatting this global health threat and provides a detailed structural analysis of mutations in NSPs.
  • Watershed Scale Impacts of Floodplain Restoration on Nitrate Removal and the Practical Applications of Modeling Cumulative Floodplain Restoration Hydraulics
    Oehler, Morgan Ashleigh (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-14)
    Human land use practices such as urbanization and agriculture contribute excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and runoff volumes to rivers that degrade aquatic ecosystems and cause a loss of river functions such as nutrient processing and flood attenuation. Floodplain restoration increases floodplain exchange and is commonly implemented to improve water quality and reduce flood impacts at watershed scales. However, the effect of multiple restoration projects at the watershed scale is not well studied. We addressed this knowledge gap by two studies. The first study evaluated the impact of cumulative and spatially varying Stage-0 and bankfull floodplain restoration on nitrate removal in a generic 4th-order Virginia Piedmont watershed for small and sub-annual storm sizes (i.e. 2-year, 1-year, half-year, and monthly recurrence intervals). We used HEC-RAS hydraulics results from a prior study together with a nitrate removal model coded in R. Results indicated that watershed nitrate removal varied depending on the location of restoration in the watershed and where removal was evaluated. The greatest reductions in nitrate loads were observed in the same part of the river network where restoration occurred, with diminished impacts downstream. Removal also increased with increasing stream order/river size. However, removal was generally of small magnitude, with up to 1% or 19% of the watershed load removed for median or 90th-percentile removal rates, respectively. We estimated removal for our restoration scenarios under the Chesapeake Bay Program Protocols and found the removal rate to also be a critical factor in determining the efficiency of restoration project. Other controlling factors for nitrate removal were the amount of restoration and storm size. The second study entailed modeling cumulative restoration in a case study watershed to assess the impacts on nutrient removal and flood attenuation. We built a 1D HEC-RAS model of the 4th-order Gwynns Falls watershed near Baltimore MD using georeferenced HEC-RAS model geometries from the Maryland Department of the Environment and simulated unsteady stormflow hydraulics due to cumulative Stage-0 floodplain restoration for small and sub-annual storms. Restoration actually increased peak flow on the main channel (up to 0.9%) due to slowing of the flood wave on the main channel which was then better synchronized with tributary inflows. Restoration increased nitrate removal but at low levels (up to 0.12% or 2.6% removal for a median and 90th-percentile removal rate respectively) due to the small footprint of restoration in the watershed (up to 21.4% of the main channel was restored). These small and sometimes adverse outcomes occurred in response to what would be expensive restoration. Therefore, we argue for large-scale solutions to address watershed-scale water quality and flooding issues yet acknowledge re-evaluation of restoration goals against other societal priorities may be necessary. Overall, our results highlight the potential value and limitations of floodplain restoration in reducing flooding and nitrate exports at the channel network scale and provide practical insight for application of floodplain modeling at the watershed scale.
  • Symbiotic Encounter: Shape Memory Alloy Actuators in Architecture
    Bagheri, Mitra (Virginia Tech, 2024-05-08)
    This thesis aims to provide a comprehensive reference on the effective integration of shape memory alloys into architectural design and design. Despite growing interest in SMAs for kinetic structures and adaptive facades, there is currently a fragmented understanding of how to leverage their unique properties in the built environment. Designers lack consolidated resources that map the capacities and limitations of different SMA materials and configurations with respect to functional objectives, manufacturing constraints, and performance goals. My research will gather dispersed knowledge across materials science, mechanics, and fabrication processes relevant to architectural SMAs. After conducting extensive research and different stages of prototyping, a final responsive wall piece will be designed and built that interacts with users responding to different stimuli including touch, sound, or distance. The outcome of this research on the integration of shape memory alloys (SMAs) into architectural design and construction can contribute significantly to designers and the field of architecture in several ways • Unlocking new design possibilities: • Facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration• Developing design guidelines and tools • Advancing responsive architecture• Inspiring future research and innovation
  • Influence of Plasma Trails from Hypersonic Events on HF Radar Data Capture
    Stewart, Evan Wayne (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-13)
    Meteors enter earth's atmosphere with a great amount of kinetic energy. As a result of this atmospheric contact, many meteors will be burned up before they can make it to earth's surface, but not before they cause atmospheric disturbances. The SuperDARN HF radar is designed to measure the ionosphere, typically to create hemisphere wide maps of ionospheric plasma convection, but meteor events are attributed to noise experienced in its data. This thesis first brings together plasma physics understanding with currently available research to clarify the physical behaviors that must be considered to evaluate radar data. The implications of this towards SuperDARN findings is examined in two parts. First, how a meteor's atmospheric interaction is recorded by the SuperDARN HF radar is evaluated. To do this, the physical interaction the meteor has with the atmosphere is examined from the sub-atomic to atmospheric scale. Previous research that used other radars to find these interactions is analyzed to create an understanding of a possible SuperDARN HF radar outcome and provide a new comparison of radars. This understanding is compared against meteor event and location based SuperDARN data to select an optimal event. The second part of the SuperDARN analysis reviews meteor event options based on the time and location of a meteor event meeting defined parameters. Common SuperDARN analysis tools are applied. The data saved by SuperDARN is examined for unique results. Finally, the practicality and meaning of results is considered.
  • Smiling Under the Mask: How Emotional Labor Shapes Restaurant Workers' Experiences during COVID
    Thompson, Victoria Isabelle (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-13)
    This study examines whether front-of-house workers' experiences of emotional labor affected their turnover intentions while working a food service job during COVID. To investigate, I asked a sample of 14 tipped workers and two general managers about their experiences working in restaurants during the lockdown and reopening phases of COVID. I learned about participants' experiences working and their reasons for staying and quitting their job during the reopening phases. From interviews, I collected data on workers' perceptions of health mandates, their customer interactions, and their own assessments of COVID-related risks. I analyzed interview data to assess how organizational changes during COVID affected workers' performances of emotional labor and whether their reasons for leaving related to emotional labor being altered. Findings show that workers had to manage customers' heightened emotions while handling their own. From decreased income, increased negative emotions, and mask interference, workers' experiences of emotional labor were significantly changed. Importantly, organizational changes made many workers uncomfortable in their workplace and in following organizational demands, both related and unrelated to emotional labor. These experiences led seven participants to ultimately quit and six to desire to quit without doing so. I conclude that emotional labor was intensified for workers' whose wage predominantly rested on their capitalization of interactions with customers. Evidence reveals how organizational changes led to increased feelings of stress, emotional burnout, and exhaustion. However, the widespread occurrence of these feelings and intensified emotional labor make it unclear whether increased and intensified emotional labor directly created or heavily influenced desires to quit.
  • Settler Colonialism in U.S. Popular Media as Influencing Perceptions of Material Culture and Museum Ethics
    Patrick, Cara Rose (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    The everyday person living in the United States does not first encounter ethics of material culture and collecting solely by visiting a museum. This MA Thesis seeks to look at how action-adventure "treasure-hunting" media introduces people to fields such as archaeology, anthropology, and museum studies through entertainment media. Frameworks of settler colonialism are used to understand the intentionality behind and subsequent impact of these films in a US-based context. Media effects theories of cultivation, framing, and agenda setting are also applied to understand how messages are facilitated through media such as the Indiana Jones (1981-2024), National Treasure (2004-2023), and "Outer Banks" (2020- ) franchises. The core aim for future thought and research is to understand how museums and filmmakers alike may more ethically and equitably represent people and material culture.
  • Discovering Power System Dynamics through Time-Frequency Representation of Ambient Data
    Dixit, Vishal Sateesh (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    With the proliferation of renewable energy and its integration into the modern power grid, we face some new issues. Aside from the increased switching rate, which results in faster dynamic behavior, realistic models for these Inverter-Based Resources (IBRs) are not widely available. This complicates researching the behavior of this quickly changing system, and without proper models, simulations may not be totally reliable. To address this, it is recommended that measurement data be used, which includes the entire grid and all of its unique characteristics. Signal processing techniques have been employed exclusively to construct spectrograms, which are time-frequency representations of a signal's spectral information. These spectrograms show ridges that represent the system's changing modes. It can be extremely beneficial to track these modes and generate labeled data representing the evolution of modes as the system evolves. This labeled data can aid in the development of correlation and causation hypotheses linking specific abnormal behaviors to proximity to instability. This can also assist analyze these IBRs and identify flaws in their modeling. This thesis describes a step-by-step process for creating spectrograms, reducing them for better visualization, and then estimating mode evolution with a ridge-tracking algorithm based on penalized jump criteria. The results show that the tracker works effectively with both synthetic and real PMU data.
  • Characterization of Biomaterials for Regenerative Medicine via Computational Fluid Flow Analysis of Dynamic Contrast Enhanced – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) Images
    Haynes, Samantha Dare (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    Significant advancements have been made within the field of regenerative medicine over the last few decades with the goal of creating biological substitutes to mimic tissue for research and wound healing purposes. Simply put, regenerative medicine works by understanding and then manipulating the processes by which cells communicate and proliferate for healing purposes. Before valuable progress can be made in regenerative medicine, smaller steps need to be taken first, like understanding the biomaterials that are used within regenerative medicine research. Biomaterials, which are materials that interact with cells and perform a function, are used to mimic the native extracellular matrix of cell scaffolding in regenerative medicine research. Numerous types of biomaterials exist, and it is important to choose the most appropriate material for the goal at hand. Therefore, biomaterials need to be characterized before useful research with the materials can be done. An important aspect of biomaterials that can be characterized is fluid flow through the biomaterials. This is important because adequate transport of oxygen, nutrients, waste, and soluble factors are required for cell proliferation and survival.[1] Biomaterials can be characterized based on their chemical, physical, and mechanical characteristics via many different characterization methods that are discussed in this paper. The overall goal of this research is to characterize the fluid flow metrics through Micro-porous Annealed Particle (MAP) hydrogels and others using Dynamic Contrast Enhanced – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) and computational analysis of the images via MATLAB. The analysis was utilized to analyze the fluid flow through several different biomaterial types, allowing for observational comparison between biomaterial groups. Overall, this method for characterizing fluid flow through biomaterials shows promise for future use and further understanding of biomaterials' roles in regenerative medicine.
  • Effects of Fluid Properties on the Dynamics of Mosquitoes' Ingestion Pumps
    Diggs, Shajaesza Dhakhai (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
  • General-Purpose Task Guidance from Natural Language in Augmented Reality using Vision-Language Models
    Stover, Daniel James (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    Augmented reality task guidance systems provide assistance for procedural tasks, which require a sequence of physical actions, by rendering virtual guidance visuals within the real-world environment. An example of such a task would be to secure two wood parts together, which could display guidance visuals indicating the user to pick up a drill and drill each screw. Current AR task guidance systems are limited in that they require AR system experts for use, require CAD models of real-world objects, or only function for limited types of tasks or environments. We propose a general-purpose AR task guidance approach and proof-of-concept system to generate guidance for tasks defined by natural language. Our approach allows an operator to take pictures of relevant objects and write task instructions for an end user, which are used by the system to determine where to place guidance visuals. Then, an end user can receive and follow guidance even if objects change location or environment. Guidance includes reusable visuals that display generic actions, such as our system's 3D hand animations. Our approach utilizes current vision-language machine learning models for text and image semantic understanding and object localization. We built a proof-of-concept system using our approach and tested its accuracy and usability in a user study. We found that all operators were able to generate clear guidance for tasks in an office room, and end users were able to follow the guidance visuals to complete the expected action 85.7% of the time without knowledge of their tasks. Participants rated that our system was easy to use to generate guidance visuals they expected.
  • Fluid-Structure Interaction Modeling of a Flexible-Inflatable Heaving Wave Energy Converter Through Generalized Modes
    Lenderink, Corbin Robert (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    The point absorber, one of the most popular types of ocean wave energy converter (WEC), usually consists of a rigid body buoy that can be efficiently modeled using existing WEC simulation tools. However, new wave energy technologies have looked to utilize flexible buoy structures to decrease costs, improve power generation, and increase portability. In addition to replacing rigid body designs, the combination of multiple renewable energy sources is another area that shows promising potential for increasing WEC power generation. With these concepts in mind, this work considers a new WEC design that features a flexible-inflatable buoy, an ocean current harvesting turbine, and a buoy shape that has been optimized for simultaneous wave and current energy harvesting. For this device, conventional modeling techniques cannot be used due to the highly nonlinear hydrodynamic interactions that result between the flexible buoy and the ocean waves. As a result, a Fluid-Structure Interaction (FSI) model must be used to determine how the flexibility of the buoy will influence the device's power generation. Currently, high-fidelity FSI modeling approaches are computationally expensive and unsuitable for early design decisions. As a result, this thesis utilizes a mid-fidelity method, the generalized modes modeling approach, to accurately and efficiently model the FSI of a WEC's flexible buoy. The resulting flexible buoy model was then compared to a rigid design to determine the performance differences between a rigid and flexible buoy, with a complex, optimized shape.
  • Enabling rApp in 5G O-RAN: An Spectral Optimization (SO)rApp Use Case
    Mallu, Jaswanth Sai Reddy (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    This thesis comprehensively examines the rApp lifecycle within the O-RAN Alliance (O- RAN) Non-Real Time RIC (Non-RT RIC) framework, serving as a practical guide for exper- imental research and development. The focus is on the entire lifecycle of rApp development, from designing and onboarding to deployment and execution, using a spectral efficiency op- timization use case to illustrate the process. The study develops and integrates a Spectrum Optimization (SO)rApp employing Reinforcement Learning (RL) techniques, specifically a Deep Q-Network (DQN) model, within the O-RAN architecture. The research highlights how the SOrApp dynamically allocates spectrum resources to enhance network performance under varying demand conditions. Utilizing the Network Simulator (NS)-3 5G-LENA simulator, the thesis replicates diverse service demand scenarios to evaluate the rApp's effectiveness in optimizing spectral efficiency. The findings demonstrate that integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven rApps within the O-RAN framework significantly improves spectral efficiency and overall network performance, providing valuable insights and methodologies for future research and practical implementations in 5G networking.
  • Sensitivity Analysis of RFML-based SEI Algorithms
    Olds, Brennan Edson (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    Radio Frequency Machine Learning (RFML) techniques for the classification tasks of Specific Emitter Identification (SEI) and Automatic Modulation Classification (AMC) have seen rapid improvements in recent years. The applications of SEI, a technique used to associate a received signal to an emitter, and AMC, a technique for determining the modulation scheme present within a transmission, are necessary for a variety of defense applications such as early warning systems and emitter tracking. Existing works studying SEI and AMC have sought to perform and improve classification through the use of various different machine learning (ML) model architectures. In ideal conditions, these efforts have shown strong classification results, however, when robust real-world data is applied to these models, performance notably decreases. Further efforts, therefore, are required to understand why each of these models fails in adverse conditions. With this understanding, robust architectures that are able to maintain performance in the presence of various data conditions can be created. The work presented in this thesis seeks to improve upon SEI and AMC models by furthering the understanding of how certain model architectures fail under varying data conditions, then applies Transfer Learning (TL) and Ensemble Learning techniques in an effort to mitigate discovered failures and improve the applicability of trained models to various types of data. Each of the approaches presented in this work utilize real-world datasets, collected in a way that emulate a variety of possible real life use conditions of RFML systems. Results show that existing AMC approaches are fairly robust to varying data conditions, while SEI approaches suffer a significant degradation in performance under conditions that differ than that used to train a given model. Further, TL and ensemble techniques can be utilized to improve the robustness of RFML models. This thesis helps isolate the rate and features of those SEI degradations, hopefully setting a foundation for future improvements.
  • Alexandria Waterfront Threshold: A Place for Learning and Community
    Loeffler, Lincoln Webb (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    My thesis is a space to display the parts of a ship hull excavated from the ground along the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. My thesis is about finding a way to display these ship hull parts in a way that not only contextualizes and informs the public about them, but also respects their part in the history of the Potomac River and the neighboring buildings. These found ship hull parts (from here they will be referred to as the "found ship") amount to one third of the hull of a late 18th century merchant ship that was scuttled along the waterfront of Alexandria to extend the shoreline and to create more useable land. It was one of four found over a period of three years between 2015 and 2018. It was the largest, being approximately 102 feet long, 25 1/4 feet in beam, and 11 feet deep; it was believed to be three-masted, fully rigged (or ship rigged), with the main mast estimated to have been at least 100 feet tall. It is also estimated to be flat-floored and to be able to carry up to 264 tons. The recovered remains are 85 feet long and 30 feet wide. It is my goal to display the found ship in a publicly accessible manner that not only represents the history correctly, but also respects the context of both today and its time. To display the found ship, I will need to either display it as-is (some old pieces of wood) or as a part of a fully reconstructed vessel. Both present challenges and advantages but will be unique design additions to the project. Regardless of how I choose to display the found ship, I must display it somewhere. To do this, I need to design a building that not only allows it to be displayed, but that does so in a way that is respectful to it the context of the city and river themselves. I will design a building on a site immediately adjacent to West's Point Park on the Potomac Waterfront.
  • Evaluation of Unit Load Stability Under Dynamic Forklift Handling Conditions
    Capizzi, Seth (Virginia Tech, 2024-06-12)
    A vast amount of goods and products are transported in bulk as palletized unit loads, where the pallet is the base of the unit load. Material handling systems represent the physical environment in which unit loads are transported through supply chains. Material handling systems include different transportation modes and storage conditions, many of which are well researched. While industrial forklifts are paramount to material handling systems, the physical effect they have on load systems is not well understood. The weight of the unit load causes the pallets to deflect, and previous research has revealed that forklift vibration amplifies pallet deflection. The effects of forklift vibration on pallet deflection are not considered in international standards used to determine pallet load capacities. Standards such as ISO 8611 and ASTM D1185 provide deflection limits that are used to determine pallet load capacities, yet there is a lack of understanding and justification on these deflection limits related to forklift support conditions. A comprehensive understanding of the effects of forklift vibration on unit load performance is necessary to produce accurate and safe load capacity ratings. In this research, two studies were completed to gain further understanding on unit load performance and stability in forklift handling conditions. The first study evaluated pallet deflection and unit load stability of unbound unit loads designed with a 20 mm. performance limit (ISO 8611, 2011). Common forklift handling factors were investigated and included fork tine angle (level and 4-degree incline) and pallet orientation (racked across the width and across the length). The results showed that the dynamic environment of forklift handling created unstable unit loads. The second study of this research project investigated unit load performance against unit load design factors of load capacity (500 lbs., 750 lbs., 900 lbs.) and box size (8 in., 12 in., 16 in.). The results showed that unit load instability occurred at all load levels and all box sizes. Additionally, an increase in box size decreased load bridging for unit loads under fork tine support conditions. Furthermore, the time to instability was used to calculate projected forklift travel distances that can be used to further optimize material handling systems.