What We Do & Why It Matters

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The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering integrates engineering, technology, and life sciences to solve problems associated with the enhancement of living systems in global agriculture, food, energy, water, and the environment. Our faculty and students demonstrate excellence in addressing the land-grant mission through cutting-edge research, teaching, and outreach, and consistently high national rankings of our undergraduate and graduate programs.

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Ronaldo Maghirang (professor and head)

Dr. Maghirang’s research has focused on measurement, numerical simulation, and control of air quality. His current research deals with low-cost air pollution monitoring in communities, distribution and efficacy of insecticide sprays for control of stored-product insects in food storage and processing facilities, and mechanisms and mitigation of dust generation during grain handling and processing.. 

Neslihan Akdeniz (clinical assistant professor)

Dr. Akdeniz works in the area of animal production. She finds ways to advance the utilization of agricultural by-products to make the best use of the nutrients and to enhance the long-term sustainability of the nation’s agriculture. Her extension program focuses on promoting best management practices/rules and regulations for animal manure handling. One of her research goals is to prevent the spread of infectious animal diseases by improving the biosecurity of the animal mortality composting systems.

Cody Allen (assistant professor)

Dr. Allen’s research focuses on creating cleaner, more efficient heavy-duty machine systems. He explores new powertrain technologies and architectures that reduce non-renewable energy consumption and harmful emissions. He also develops vehicle control algorithms and validation tools to automate machine functions, resulting in improved operational productivity, efficiency, and safety.

Kaustubh Bhalerao (associate professor)

Dr. Bhalerao develops new sensor, instrumentation, and computational technologies to improve decision-making in crop and animal agricultural production. He created a robotic system for quantifying soybean cyst nematode pathogens, a sensor to improve swine insemination outcomes, and a detector to screen for adulterated milk samples.

Rabin Bhattarai (associate professor)

Dr. Bhattarai develops engineering solutions to improve water quality and sustain crop production. He uses laboratory and field experiments, along with computer simulation models, to investigate how to balance water quality, nutrient management, and yield goals for a sustainable agricultural system.

Girish Chowdhary (associate professor)

Dr. Chowdhary’s group is creating new robots, AI, and machine learning algorithms for agriculture, defense, and exploration. He believes that robots that learn to do difficult tasks in harsh, uncertain, and dynamic environments are needed to tackle challenging problems, including high-throughput phenotyping, herbicide resistant weeds, labor shortage, and safe operation in contested areas.

Maria Chu (associate professor)

Our quality of life depends significantly on the services or benefits that we get from our ecosystem like food, water, nutrient cycling, protection from flood, biodiversity, and recreation. Dr. Chu studies the impacts of climate and land use changes on the water- and soil-related ecosystem services.

Richard Cooke (professor)

Dr. Cooke is increasing the efficiency of drainage-related best management practices, and developing protocols for their design. He also develops techniques to simplify the extraction of elevation data from a pulsed laser system (LiDAR) images, and creates rainfall harvesting systems to extend cropping into the dry season in Sierra Leone.

Paul Davidson (associate professor)

Dr. Davidson improves and maintains surface water systems by reducing the transport of nutrients, pathogens, and pesticides from agricultural and urban systems to waterways. He works with farmers and other stakeholders to develop solutions that protect the quality of our water resources while maintaining efficient operations.

Angela Green-Miller (associate professor)

Dr. Green-Miller advances our understanding of animal welfare and husbandry issues in order to address production and sustainability challenges. Using a systematic “speaking animal” approach to explore the interactions of animals with their environment, she develops animal systems and management strategies to simultaneously manage the animals, the people and the facility.

Tony Grift (professor)

Dr. Grift develops high-throughput plant phenotyping and soil sensing technologies that aid agriculture with efficiently reaching its production potential while minimizing its environmental impact. His aim is to help set humanity on a trajectory where it can feed itself sustainably, indefinitely, and from renewable sources alone.

Jorge Guzman (research assistant professor)

Dr. Guzman works on improving our understanding of surface and subsurface water interactions including transport phenomena under changing conditions. In this context, he integrate data and computing capabilities to enhance and develop hydrologic and environmental models aiming to assess and quantify the impacts of natural and anthropogenic stressors on agro-production systems.

Mohammed Kamruzzaman (assistant professor)

Dr. Kamruzzaman applies optical sensing technologies such as spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging in tandem with chemometrics and machine learning to address the sustainability of bioprocessing technologies to promote the sustainable use of renewable resources. He also works on novel and innovative process routes for rapid and real-time characterization and quality assessment/control of bioproducts/bioprocesses to improve food security, quality, safety, and nutrition, while simultaneously accounting for environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Brendan Kuhns (instructor)

Mr. Kuhns is an Instructor for Technical Systems Management courses. Specifically he develops material and provides instruction for courses related to agricultural machinery and precision agriculture technology. His academic background involves work with soil sensing, precision agriculture technology, data intensive farm management, and mechatronics.

Kent Rausch (associate professor)

Modern grain processes create ingredients to help feed a growing population utilizing all components of the grain.  Current processes produce a high-valued primary product with an assortment of low-valued coproducts. Dr. Rausch’s work seeks to improve nutrient separations and energy efficiency so the resulting coproducts have a smaller environmental footprint, are better suited to the end user and are more valuable to the end user.

Gopu Raveendran Nair (teaching assistant professor)

Dr. Nair teaches Technical Systems Management courses. He specializes in the application of microwave, radio frequency and high electric field in the area of food and bioprocessing.

Luis Rodriguez (associate professor)

Dr. Rodriguez specializes in biological system modeling, simulation, and analysis. He works to ensure that complex food and agricultural systems can operate efficiently, with minimal wastage, while managing costs for the benefit of both society and the environment.

Josie Rudolphi (assistant professor)

Dr. Josie Rudolphi works to protect the health and safety of the agricultural workforce, including farm youth. Recognizing agriculture ranks among the most stressful occupational industries, she explores the association between stress and mental health and identifies risk and protective factors for mental illness. Her extension program focuses on implementing evidence-based programs to reduce the stigma and promote mental well-being among rural and agricultural communities.

Vijay Singh (professor, director of Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory)

Dr. Singh focuses on science and engineering required to produce sustainable food, biofuels, and bioproducts. He develops novel, cost-effective bioprocessing technologies that improve recovery of chemical and phytochemical constituents from biological material and their conversion to higher value industrial products. Dr. Singh’s recent research activities are at the nexus of plant biotechnology and bioprocessing and are leading the development of new technologies and renewable products in the industrial biotech space.  In his role at IBRL, Dr. Singh provides leadership in developing industrial partnerships, bioprocess pilot-scale proof-of-concept activities and techno-economic analyses to facilitate commercialization of innovative technologies.

Lei Tian (associate professor)

Dr. Tian develops real-world precision and site-specific tools for industry and government agencies to use in agriculture and natural resources management. His research ranges from on-farm production uses such as weed control to large-scale agribusiness uses such as regional yield estimations.

Xinlei Wang (professor)

Dr. Wang develops creative engineering solutions to problems dealing with the environment and energy in biosystems that involve humans, plants and animals. He investigates renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy and technologies that improve energy efficiency in building environment controls, agricultural production, and processes. He also studies how to control livestock production emissions for air quality improvement.

Ann-Perry Witmer (lecturer)

Dr. Witmer examines the technical and societal contexts that determine whether an infrastructure intervention for non-industrialized communities can be made more effective and sustainable. Her Contextual Engineering research group seeks to inform technical design with the social sciences to create an engineered solution that not only is robust but also meets the specific needs of the people for whom it is designed. She also applies contextual thinking to the Department’s capstone course to encourage advanced ABE undergrads to identify and address client conditions in a design-based experience.

Yuanhui Zhang (professor, Innoventor Professor in Engineering)

Dr. Zhang advances hydrothermal processes of converting wet biomass into biocrude oil and biochemicals. The processes recover nutrients, treat the wastewater, and capture carbon dioxide. The biocrude is then upgraded into transportation fuel. He develops Volumetric Particle Tracking Velocimetry (VPTV) technology for fluid flow studies that can quantify profiles of velocity, acceleration, pressure, particulate transport fate, and air cleaning technologies.