Four faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois have been promoted to associate professor and granted tenure effective August 2020: Rabin Bhattarai, Maria Chu, Girish Chowdhary, and Paul Davidson. Promotion to associate professor with tenure is a distinct honor reserved for faculty members who have made contributions of an appropriate magnitude and quality in research, teaching, and service, and have demonstrated a high likelihood of sustaining contributions to the field and to the department. All four ABE faculty have developed strong research programs in agricultural and biological engineering, established themselves as outstanding teachers and mentors, and have demonstrated high levels of service to the university and profession.

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.

Chowdhary 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.

Chu investigates the intricate interactions between natural and human drivers and the ecosystem to achieve a sustainable agro-production system where productivity, environmental soundness, and social relevancy are optimized. She integrates big data and fundamental principles into data- and computationally-intensive models to understand complex watershed-ecosystem dynamics in intensively managed landscapes.

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.

The department is truly fortunate to have them as members of our outstanding faculty, particularly during these extraordinary times. On behalf of the department, we thank these excellent scholars for the many ways that they enable the department to pursue our mission and congratulate them on this distinguished achievement!