BAE Newsletter Fall 2020

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Celebrating Dr. Boyette’s Contributions A distinguished faculty member begins phased retirement after more than 50 years as a part of the BAE and Wolfpack family. Enjoy his reflections on his time at NC State and consider giving to the newly established Boyette Undergraduate Endowment.

Also inside: Nelson Selected for Early Career Award Plant Sciences Initiatives in BAE BAE Sweeps New Faces of ASABE More Department Awards and Honors


OUR STATEWIDE IMPACT From the coastal plains to the mountains, NC State BAE’s impact can be seen and felt across the state. Research, Extension and education activities serve stakeholders beyond the Raleigh area, spanning the state, region and world.


Investigating Air-Soil Health

Real-time Water Management


Dr. Lingjuan Wang Li and Dr. Ryan Holmes are

Dr. Mohamed Youssef and Dr. Chad Poole are leading

evaluating the impact of NH3 emissions from animal

a team in designing an automated system to drain

feeding operations on air and soil health to assist in the

excess water and apply subirrigation to fields based

management of agroecosystems and ambient air quality.

on real-time feedback of precipitation and water table position.



1 3


Predicting Environmental Impacts on Shellfish


Improving Tree Health

Dr. Natalie Nelson and Dr. Sheila Saia are developing

Dr. Sierra Young is working with the USDA Forest

a new forecasting digital application to help shellfish

Service Resistance Screening Center in Asheville to

growers anticipate when coastal waters may be

screen loblolly pines for disease tolerance through

closed for harvest due to concerns over stormwater

hyperspectral imagery, in partnership with the

bacterial contamination.

College of Natural Resources.



3 | New Faculty 4 | Student Club Updates





IN THIS ISSUE 2 | From the Department Head







FEATURE STORIES 6 | Innovating Plant Sciences with Engineering Technology 8 | Ward Receives 2020 PrecisionAg Award of Excellence 9 | Water Collaborative Makes Waves 10 | An Innovative Approach with Existing Technology 12 | Curious, Creative, Connected, Caring (Boyette Retires) 16 | ASABE Virtual AIM 2020 18 | Current Student Spotlight 20 | Awards and Honors 24 | New Faces of ASABE



25 | Advisory Board 26 | Recent Publications 28 | Nelson Career Award 29 | Nelson Helping USDA


30 | Recent Grants


36 | M.D. Boyette Endowment

Bioprocess Engineering Ecological Engineering Environmental Engineering Data Analytics and Integrated Modeling Precision Agriculture and Machine Systems Controlled Environments for Agriculture Sustainable Waste Management

32 | Graduation 34 | Young Alumni Spotlight

Editor Lacy Parrish Copyeditor Garey Fox Writers Garey Fox Kristin Sargent Carly Graves Dee Shore Isaac Kirkman Kyra Sigler Rebecca Nagy Alexis Swanson Mollie Rappe Will Wheeler

LETTER FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD aimed at water resiliency through irrigation

announced no spring awards banquet or

and drainage engineering research and

graduation this past spring, our department

Extension. We continue to hire the best

said no problem and created two YouTube

faculty members in the nation!

live events and videos that will be treasures

Our faculty continue to be highly

Let me start by saying that we hope

for the department for years to come. You

competitive in state and federal grant

can watch these videos on our YouTube

programs with a record $6M in awards

channel. Second, I want to share with you a

this previous calendar year. Our faculty are

portion of a Statement of Support issued to

everyone is doing well and continues to

being recognized with national awards,

our undergraduate students by our faculty

stay safe during this pandemic. Without a

being named to federal agency research

and staff shortly after pivoting to on-line

doubt, 2020 continues to be a challenging

committees, and continue to deliver high-

instruction two weeks into the fall semester:

year for us in higher education. Since March

impact Extension programming through

when NC State moved immediately to

a variety of platforms. Our professionals

understandable for those outside the

minimal operations, Weaver has just not

and staff continue to provide exceptional

University community to pass judgment on

felt the same. With that said, I can assure

support to our faculty and departmental

the undergraduate student population as

you that we continue to be aggressive and

programs. We continue to bring in fantastic

being selfish and irresponsible with regard to

strategic in how we are moving forward to

undergraduate and graduate students into the

their behavior, which led to the suspension of

continuously improve our programs. The


in-person classes.

faculty remain committed to delivering high

Of course, tremendous success means

“Over the last week it would be

Understandable...but unfair.

quality education grounded in the engineering

that other programs and groups will want

sciences using state-of-the-art technology;

to hire some of our best and brightest. The

institution at NC State University, students

our staff stepped up in amazing ways to

department wishes great success to Dr. Mari

in our department come from widely diverse

schedule our classes, ensure appropriate

Chinn, selected as the new Department Head

political and socio-economic backgrounds.

technology in our classrooms, and design

at Oklahoma State University, and Rebecca

But placed in this challenging situation, we

and implement safety measures to protect

Nagy, our former communications specialist,

were struck by how they performed.

our students and faculty. Our undergraduate

as she has taken a new position with industry

They showed up for class.

and graduate students are finding new ways

in the Charlotte area. These new positions are

They wore their masks.

to ensure that they remain connected and

great professional opportunities for both of

They practiced social distancing.

experience the Weaver family atmosphere.


They followed the rules.

There is no way that I can cover all the

One of the feature stories in our newsletter

Like other departments at our land grant

They did not complain.

exciting aspects of the department in this

this year is about the amazing career of Dr.

short note, but let me highlight a few. I am

Mike Boyette. Dr. Boyette started phased

their first class meeting, “In this age,

extremely excited to be welcoming a new

retirement during summer 2020. His impact

behaving professionally means taking labs

faculty member, Dr. Joe Sagues, who joined

on the field of biological and agricultural

and classes seriously as well as social

us in August 2020. Dr. Sagues will be leading

engineering will be felt for years to come.

distancing and wearing a mask at all times

the Biocarbon Utilization & Sequestration

The Michael D. Boyette Undergraduate

to be considerate of others.” Our students

(BUS) Lab, which will take an integrated

Endowment has been created in his honor.

understand the impact they can and will have

approach to utilize and sequester biogenic

Please consider making a donation to support

professionally, as well as personally, in the

carbon. The aim of his work is to leverage the

this endowment. You are welcome to give

world. It is why they want to be engineers

bioeconomy for carbon drawdown. Earlier

to the Biological & Agricultural Engineering

and engineering technologists.”

this year, in January, Dr. Lucie Guertault

Enrichment fund with a note signifying that

and Dr. Chad Poole joined the faculty. Dr.

the donation is specific to the Dr. Boyette

re-opening Weaver Labs with a bang when

Guertault is teaching many of our classes in


this pandemic is over, and we hope that you

ecological and environmental engineering,

One of our students commented during

We are very much looking forward to

I will end my statement this year with two

will join us for what we are planning to be a

but also providing additional research support

explicit examples of how the spirit of Weaver

tremendous celebration of the BAE family!

in the fields of hydrologic and hydraulic

Labs continues. First, when the university

Go BAE Pack!

modeling. Dr. Poole’s efforts are primarily

Engineering 2

Garey Fox, Ph.D., P.E. Professor and Department Head

NEW FACULTY DR. LUCIE GUERTAULT Assistant Professor Dr. Lucie Guertault joined the department as an Assistant Professor in March 2020 with a focus on environmental and ecological engineering teaching and scholarship of learning. She received her M.S in Fluid Mechanics from the French National Institute of Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Computer Science, Fluid Mechanics & Telecommunications and Networks (ENSEEIHT) and her Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics from Claude Bernard University, Lyon, France. She previously worked as a post-doctoral research associate in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Oklahoma State, and joined BAE in April 2017 as a post-doctoral research associate working on the impact of preferential flows on nutrient transport in vegetative filter strips and sediment transport. Guertault is currently teaching courses in our Biological Engineering and Biological & Agricultural Engineering Technology programs and mentoring students in our Research and Educational Enhancement Project (REEP) Program.

DR. CHAD POOLE Assistant Professor Dr. Chad Poole joined the department as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in January 2020 with a focus on water resiliency engineering. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from NC State, and previously worked as a research and Extension associate for the department. Prior to starting his appointment as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, he was a USDA NIFA post-doctoral fellow. He will provide Extension support and research in agricultural irrigation, drainage, water management, and rural water supply issues at the local and watershed scale. Impacts of the program will include optimizing crop yields while protecting environmental quality, protecting rural water sources, along with preparation, response, and recovery from droughts and floods. He is looking to bring his firsthand experiences and knowledge to the position and the stakeholders of North Carolina.

DR. JOE SAGUES Assistant Professor Dr. Joe Sagues joined the department as an Assistant Professor in August 2020 with a focus on bioprocess engineering. He received his B.S. degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and dual M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida, and completed his Ph.D. in Forest Biomaterials at NC State. Sagues will direct the Biocarbon Utilization & Sequestration (BUS) Lab, which takes an integrated approach to innovating technologies that utilize and sequester biogenic carbon. The aim of his work is to leverage the bioeconomy for carbon drawdown. The lab will bridge fundamental advances in synthetic biology and chemical catalysis with bioprocess engineering to innovate carbon-negative bioproducts that range from feed, chemicals, fuels, and materials. 3

STUDENT CLUB UPDATES Alpha Epsilon Kyra Sigler, President Alpha Epsilon continues to focus on providing professional


and personal development opportunities for the deaprtment.

is usually

For the 2019-2020 school year Alpha Epsilon hosted a very

held at the

successful student-alumni speed networking event, which we

end of the

plan to host again virtually in October. We hosted 10 alumni

school year

and around 35 students. This year we hope to have even

but due to

more alumni and to include some who are no longer local

COVID, it was

since the event will be held virtually. We also had a personal

postponed to

statement workshop given by Dr. Fox. We had a great turn out

the beginning of this school year. Kimmy Gebbia and myself

of undergraduate students thinking of applying to graduate

are returning as officers for the 2020-2021 school year as

school and graduate students hoping to continue in academia!

Treasurer and President. We also added two awesome

In the spring we were able to hold one event before the Covid

students to our officer team: Victoria Augoustides as Vice

shutdown. It was an undergraduate research symposium. We

President and Elizabeth Beyer as Secretary. We have some

invited Dr. Castro-Bolinaga, Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Guertualt to

exciting plans for the upcoming year in Alpha Epsilon and

talk about their research and the REEP program, in which two

we look forward to seeing them pan out in a totally new and

of our current officers are currently participating. Our induction

unfamiliar environment!

BAE Advisory Board Chair Kevin Davidson speaks to students at speed networking event.

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Carly Graves, President The American Society of Biological and Agricultural Engineers (ASABE) at NC State has been active despite the circumstances of 2020. Our mission is to unite students in this field of study and provide opportunities for professional development, community service, and social outlets. Last fall we participated in industry tours at AgBiome in RTP and the Duke Wetland Center, hosted a career fair with 20 employers in conjunction with the ASABE NC State Section meeting, hosted industry leaders at bi-weekly The 2019-2020 ASABE officer team (Graves, center) at the away tailgate held for the Florida State football game at Weaver.

meetings, packaged nearly 4,000 pounds of local sweet potatoes for our annual fundraiser, and much more!

Transitioning into the spring semester, we had high hopes of attending Southeastern Regional Rally at University of Tennessee in Knoxville, as well as promoting and planning the departmental awards banquet. Sadly, these events were cancelled, so our spring involvement was limited. So far in the 2020-2021 school year, with the help of involved student officers and faculty, we are finding ways to connect virtually with students. While we hope to return in person in the spring, we will continue to make the most of the situation, staying true to our mission to provide professional development and social connection to students in the department. 4

Industry tour to AgBiome in RTP.

Graduate Student Association Alexis Swanson, President GSA hosted a data management and a financial planning

are missing our intramural

workshop for both students and faculty. GSA also held a

sports this year.

t-shirt design competition that was used as a fundraiser for

Looking forward to the

students to purchase BAE shirts. Congratulations to Emine

spring, in addition to

Fidan for the winning design. We had to quickly transition to

continuing these fall

life on Zoom amid the COVID outbreak. While we may be

events, we hope to host our annual three-minute thesis

limited to mostly Zoom and small, socially distanced

competition and maybe a second run of our t-shirt design

meetups, the GSA is still providing opportunities for graduate

fundraiser. GSA

students to engage with one another. This fall we have

also continues

planned a professional development webinar series with

to maintain

speakers including graduate students, BAE faculty and other

the BAE store.

NC State staff. Topics we are excited for this fall are thesis

Custom order

writing, conflict resolution and reference management.

apparel can be

GSA has also started social events where we meet up,

ordered with a

with masks, at parks to toss a frisbee and even play some

portion going

kickball! Kickball has been great as it allows us to stay 6 feet

to GSA at bae.

apart while still engaging in some physical activity since we

Pack Pullers Will Wheeler, Captain

Kickball at Dorothea Dix Park

GSA Seminar over Zoom

Pack Pullers is a team focused on designing, constructing, and testing a ¼-scale pulling tractor for the annual ASABE International Quarter Scale Competition. The team was not able to travel to competition in May 2020 due to the competition

being canceled for the global pandemic. Pack Pullers will continue to design and build a competitive quarter scale tractor in hopes to travel and compete in May 2021. The team, advised by Dr. Grant Ellington and Edward Godfrey, will be led by Captain Will Wheeler this year with supporting officers Mitchell Watkins, Taylor Cross, and Noah Gaskins. The International 1/4-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition is unique among student engineering-design contests in that it provides a realistic workplace experience. Teams of students are given a 31 hp Briggs & Stratton engine and a set of tires. From there, the students must design everything else. Through involvement in the competition, students gain practical experience in the design of drive train systems, tractor performance, manufacturing processes, analysis of tractive forces, weight transfer and strength of materials. In addition, they also develop skills in communication, leadership, teamwork,

Above left: Co-Captain Mitchel Watkins tests the tractor. Above right: Pullers members evaulate the tractor at the Weaver garage.

fundraising and test & development.



Plant Sciences Bulding, completion scheduled 2022.

Working on produce’s appearance for higher profits: Sweet-APPS Consumers demand their produce be fresh but the only indicator of freshness available to a shopper is appearance. To attract sales, breeders and growers have worked hard to achieve produce uniformity for common items like cabbage, potatoes, peaches, plums, and strawberries. Sweetpotatoes, a produce estimated at $324 million in North Carolina in 2019, vary the most in size and shape when compared to all fresh produce items. As an example, the price per pound of an overly large, overly small or misshaped sweetpotato is frequently discounted as much as 80-90% of the value of a root grading US No. 1. Consistent produce/food quality may be achieved by bridging knowledge gaps between natural ecosystems and anthropogenic agricultural production dynamics. BAE faculty Mike Boyette, Natalie Nelson and Daniela Jones are a part of a 6

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is embarking on a major initiative called the Plant Sciences Initiative (PSI) to drive vital research and innovation around increasing crop yields, creating new varieties, extending growing seasons, enhancing agricultural and environmental sustainability, and producing new and improved technology. The PSI will include the opening of the new Plant Sciences Building, scheduled to be complete in 2022, as a state-of-the-art research building in the heart of NC State’s Centennial Campus that will feature high-tech labs and inviting spaces for collaboration and education. And the Department is at the forefront of this initiative. This fall through a competitive seed grant program initial projects to support the mission of PSI were funded. BAE faculty are highly engaged in two of those projects.

community of scientific scholarship at NCSU that is improving crop productivity and value through heterogeneous data integration, analytics, and decision support platforms, using sweetpotatoes as a case study. They are building a Sweetpotato Analytics for Produce Provenance and Scanning (Sweet-APPS) platform that will be agnostic to crop type in the long-term, enabling data integration from farm to packing facilities. With the leadership of Cranos Williams, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the team has developed a computer vision algorithm that can extract sweetpotato shape features from images captured by an automated sorter. Using machine learning, they are pairing these images with environmental factors and cultural practices to create a vertically integrated supply chain and better predict sweetpotatoes’ appearance to achieve higher profits. In addition to increasing the economic viability and market competitiveness of NC producers, growers, and packers through targeted stakeholder

engagement, the team, including three BAE students, is developing a diverse traineeship program that prepares scholars to understand the complexities of biological systems that drive food production. Mariella Carbajal Carrasco, PhD student and former researcher at the CGIAR International Potato Center (CIP), is developing a crop system simulation model for sweetpotato. Mariella is using Sweet-APPS data to parameterize and calibrate her model, which will be used to run scenarios through which the effects of alternative management practices and environmental conditions on sweetpotato yields can be explored. Concurrently, she is working on using machine learning models to develop county-scale sweetpotato yield forecasts. Shelly (Ransom) Hunt joined the team in May 2020 as an undergraduate Boyette evaluates sweetpotatoes for size researcher analyzing the correlations of sweetpotato shapes and sizes to environmental variables (e.g., precipitation, soil type and content, temperature) and cultural practice variables (e.g., fertilizer usage, planting/harvesting date, variety, pesticide usage). She will continue her work with the Sweet-APPS team this Fall 2020 in addition to exploring operations research algorithms to improve the industry’s supply chain. She graduated with a BS in Biological Engineering in May 2020 and will earn another BS in Math in December. Emory New is working on her BS in Biological Engineering with a concentration in Bioprocessing. She joined the Sweet-APPS team in August 2020 and will identify additional data sources regarding the labor operations in the sweetpotato supply chain (such as equipment and labor processing times, equipment specifications, labor costs, and labor hours, among others).

Harnessing Bioelectrochemical Technologies as Sustainable Sources for On Demand Precision Agriculture Producing more food per unit resource such as water and fertilizer is critical to meet one of the grand challenge of the future - sustainably producing 70% more food to feed the extra 2 billion people by 2050. One of the most critical of these resources, nitrogen-based fertilizers, is currently produced

based on a technology developed in the early 20th century – the Heber-Bosch process. This process is energy intensive and is only implemented in large, specialized plants from which fertilizers are hauled to farms and agricultural fields sometime thousands of miles away, adding to the large carbon footprint cost of this technology. In addition, the use of nitrogenbased fertilizers in agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution leaking into our waterways. Over application of nitrogen-based fertilizers is common practice across the globe to insure higher yield. An interdisciplinary team of twelve researchers from four NC State colleges are working on revolutionizing how nitrogen-based fertilizers are being produced and used at the farm level. This project, recently funded by the GRIP4PSI Plant Science Initiative, is led by Katharina Stapelman from Nuclear Engineering and includes BAE faculty Chadi Sayde. The team uses two complimentary approaches to tackle this grand challenge. In the first approach, researchers will develop novel technologies for on-farm production of nitrogen-based fertilizers. The idea is to explore the use of plasma and microbial technologies to develop an on-farm fertilizer generator that is directly connected to the farm fertigation unit to produce nitrate and nitrogen fertilizers only when needed in the field. The second approach focuses on optimizing the use of the produced fertilizers through the development of an on-demand fertigation system that integrates highresolution sensing on water and nitrogen status in the field with a precision irrigation and fertigation system to deliver the right amount of water and nitrogen at the exact location where needed. Sayde installs fiber optic cable

Dr. Sayde is leading the effort in field, plowing it into the rows of developing and integrating the high resolution soil water and nitrogen sensing system. The sensing system takes advantage of recent developments in digital Fiber Optics Distributed Temperature Sensing (FO-DTS) that can provide temperature measurements with very high temporal and spatial resolutions (1 s, 0.1 m) along Fiber Optics cables that can extend up to 10 km in length. Temperature can then be used as a tracer to reveal the process of interest at high-resolution. In the nitrogen sensing component of the system, which is being 7

Measurement concepts for soil water ad nitrogen sensing using FO-DTS technology

developed in close collaboration with Dr. Amy Grunden from Plant and Microbial Biology, the team will explore the use of immobilized enzymes in conjunction with FO-DTS sensing to quantify nitrate and ammonium levels in the soil along the path of a buried fiber optic cable. Knowing when, where and how much nitrogen-based fertilizers are needed across the field will allow us to optimize both the production and the management processes of this nutrient. The other building block of the integrated sensing system is the soil moisture sensor. As water is the main vehicle for nutrient movement in

the soil, a proper management of nutrients will also require keeping close tabs on water status in the field. In this project, Sayde’s research group will develop and integrate a field scale version of a high-resolution FO-DTS soil moisture sensor that can measure water content every 10 cm along hundreds of meters of buried digital fiber optic cables. Two BAE PhD students are working on this project, Mahmoud Shehata and Riley Lawson. Mahmoud is developing a field prototype of the fiber optic soil moisture sensor based on a promising novel design that he recently published as a proof of concept. Riley is a first year student working on developing the nitrogen sensor and on integrating the field based feedback sensing systems with the variable rate precision irrigation system.

Ward Receives 2020 PrecisionAg Award of Excellence Assistant professor and Advanced Ag Lab lead Jason Ward was named a recipient of the 2020 PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence presented by The PrecisionAg Alliance and its partner organizations. Ward splits time between research, teaching and Extension, and his team covers the full range of production agriculture from moisture sensors in greenhouses to precision ag in commodity crops to a robotic platform supporting pasture animals. Ward’s program addresses areas of research focusing on quantifying crop lodging damage and automating cotton replant decisions using UAS imagery. In addition to his UAS program, Ward is completing research in mapping sub-field cotton fiber quality for each cotton module sent to the cotton gin, utilizing machine data to improve 8

harvest efficiency, and utilizing robotic systems to improve quality for pasture animals. At NCSU, Ward led the effort to renovate and develop laboratory space focused solely on Digital Agriculture where faculty can work in both the applied and theoretical digital ag space to create and evaluate technologies. The Suggs Lab for Machinery Systems and Precision Agriculture is a large-scale machinery and small UAS showplace for on-campus tours, external visitors, and Extension agent trainings. Dr. Ward is active in national and international societies, including membership in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), ASABE NC Section, Alpha Epsilon Engineering Honor Society, and International Society of Precision Agriculture. He was named ASABE Machinery Systems Technical Community Outstanding Reviewer in 2015, Food and Process Systems Technical Community Outstanding Reviewer in 2014, and New Faces of Engineering in 2010.


Concerns about water – too much, too little or too polluted – are rising. At NC State University, researchers, teachers and Extension professionals are exploring ways to pool their collective water expertise. Their goal: to better understand and protect human, environmental and agricultural health from threats posed by flooding, drought and contamination. Michael Burchell, a professor in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, launched the effort, and since the beginning of 2019, he and a committee of other College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty members have hosted a series of meetings to help create what they call the Water Collaborative.

Burchell welcomes attendees at the January mini-symposium.

Sharing Ideas A mini-symposium held January 16, 2020 at the McKimmon Center highlighted the breadth and depth of water expertise in CALS and the broader university. About 60 faculty members, staff members and students took part.

Susan White, director of the Water Resources Research Institute and NC Sea Grant, gave the keynote presentation, then 23 faculty members briefly described their waterrelated projects. Topics ranged from understanding pollutants’ effect on freshwater mollusks and fish to advancing controlled drainage and irrigation use in agriculture. During breaks in the faculty presentations, 18 graduate students presented posters on their projects.

Graduate Student Ehsan Bagheri discusses his poster on a real-time water table management system.

CALS Dean Richard Linton took the podium briefly to endorse the faculty-driven Water Collaborative and to encourage more collaboration among university water experts from disparate disciplines. Funding for the symposium and earlier meetings came from the CALS Faculty Big Ideas Innovation Program. Next Step: Stakeholders Burchell said that the collaborative plans to follow up by involving stakeholders from outside the university. “We’ve drafted a skeleton mission statement and goals,” he said. “The next step will be getting both the faculty and outside stakeholders to help us refine them to best guide our path forward.” “We have a college and university with strong programs in water,” Burchell added. “We’ve historically been able to really make an impact in our state, region, nation and world by addressing a vast array of water issues. An organized group with a common mission will help us achieve a higher level of success as we address current and future water resource challenges.” 9

An Innovative Approach with Existing Technology BY KRISTIN SARGENT

We’ve all heard the phrase “using what you have” or “making the most of what you have.” That’s exactly what NC State’s Jonathan Holt and Sierra Young are doing as they work together to better predict weight in pigs. Holt, an assistant professor and Extension swine specialist in the Department of Animal Science, says the focus of his research is twofold: looking at ways to measure the wellbeing and welfare of swine while also looking at technologies to measure or increase the welfare of pigs. “The other goal we have is to work with producers, both large and small, in North Carolina and help them solve everyday, practical problems that arise,” Holt says. With a background in both civil engineering, agricultural and biosystems engineering and a current focus on using robotics and automation sensing technologies, Sierra Young, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering with an Extension appointment, was the perfect colleague for Holt to collaborate with.

BAE graduate student Anh Nguyen takes measurements. 10

The beginning stages of the project began in Fall 2019. Holt was part of a team that held a symposium

on Precision Agriculture and Data Analytics for Livestock, which was funded by the Food Animal Initiative. Holt says there were five members on the team, including professors from the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, Department of Biological and We can turn Agricultural Engineering difficult ideas and and the College hard science into of Veterinary applicable products Medicine.

for improving their

“It was the production. first time that a symposium was held to look at all of these data collection methods, sensors across species. There’s a lot of that happening in crops or in dairy, but we wanted to bring all of the areas into one symposium, including human medicine, so that we could really open the door to what’s out there,” Holt says. Using Existing Technology There are two phases to Holt and Young’s project. The first is the internal development of the stereo camera, an idea Young brought to the table. The camera is essentially two cameras side by side. Once an image is taken, the camera will allow them to resolve depth and distance and help with collecting physical measurements. “If I take a picture of you right now with just a phone, you don’t know exactly how tall you are from one image. But if you have two images, and you know the intrinsic properties of the camera, you can actually start to resolve physical measurements in the data. This is a low-cost way to do that,” Young explains. She says they want to develop something that’s small and handheld that can be used in a mobile and quick way.

“I used this technology previously to look at estimating height and stem width and canopy density of sorghum for biofuels production. I’ve used it before in crops, not in animals, but the concept is similar,” Young says.

If they’re too small, the same thing happens. They’re really trying to fit their pigs in a window of an acceptable market range to get the premium price for their pork,” Holt says. If pork farmers miss that narrow window, it costs them money.

“It is really exciting because we’re taking a tool that’s used somewhere else and trying to apply it in a new way,” Holt says.

The National Pork Board is funding the project. In addition to evaluating technologies already available in the marketplace, the funding will help Holt and develop We want to develop Young their own method something that’s to estimate those small and handheld weights.

A Growing Need in the Pork Industry After learning about the technologies there was an opportunity to help the National Pork Board as they were looking at ways to assess the market weight of pigs using image analysis. Holt says it takes a lot of effort and time to bring scales in commercial facilities and weigh each animal. And the process of determining weight in swine is currently done subjectively, judging the animals and making the best guess as to whether a barn is ready to market. Holt says this can have some big consequences. “If they’re too large, they’ll be penalized at the plant and not receive as much money for the pigs.

... used in a mobile and quick way.

Over the summer, the team worked with two of the largest pork producers in the world and integrate the technology. This fall they plan to work with a third. Holt says, “The mission of Extension is to take what we’ve learned on campus and bring it to producers to help them succeed every day. We can turn difficult ideas and hard science into applicable products for improving their production.” 11

Curious, Creative, Connected, Caring Professor Mike Boyette begins his phased retirement in 2020. BY DEE SHORE

In agricultural circles, farmers like Johnny Barnes know NC State professor Mike Boyette for his down-to-earth approach and keen problem-solving skills. Those skills helped turn the sweetpotato, a once-declining regional vegetable, into an increasingly popular food choice now that it’s available year-round in the United States and beyond. Among former students like Alysondria Eason, Boyette is thought of as the Grandpa of Weaver Labs. The award-winning teacher always kept an open “Nothing – door, getting to know students nothing – will in the Department of Biological get you further and Agricultural Engineering well before they entered his senior in life than design class.


Boyette began a phased retirement this summer from his post as Philip Morris Professor. That means his career at NC State will close in three years, 57 years after he first set foot on campus. As accomplished as he’s been in his career, Boyette is quick to note that his path hasn’t always been a narrow or easy one. What’s kept him going is his passion. “I tell my students, nothing – nothing – will get you further in life than enthusiasm,” he says. “If you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing, if you’ve got your heart in it, you will move heaven and Earth to get it done.” “I grew up on a small tobacco farm. We worked hard. I wanted to do something to help reduce the 12

drudgery of farm work,” he adds. “That has always been my passion.” Turning a Childhood Dream Into Reality When Boyette arrived at NC State in the fall of 1966 as a first-year student, he brought enthusiasm for science sparked by Sputnik and a desire to help the farming world solve problems. But the university was “a whole new world. I was a scared kid away from home. I tell people that NC State was ready for me, but I was not ready for NC State,” he says. “I had a rough time. I couldn’t find my feet. A voice in my head kept telling me I did not belong here.” Boyette dropped out mid-semester in 1967, taking a job close to home running a drill press in a local manufacturing factory. “It was loud, greasy monotonous work, 10 hours a day, six days a week, $1.31 an hour,” he says. “I remember coming in at 5 o’clock in the morning and sitting down in front of the drill press on an upturned bucket. I was hemmed in by metal bins of thousands of the same part. I’d reach over and pick out a part and put it in the machine, drill a hole in it and take it out. Then I’d reach over and get another one. All day long. We had our first break at 10:30 in the morning, and I would stand up and literally be knee deep in metal shavings.” He realized he’d traded one has instructed Senior drudgery for another. He decided to Boyette Design for the past two decades.

Left: Boyette in tobacco fields during a Field Day. Below: Building relationships and teaching are key to Extension work.

give school another go. This time, he went to Wake Tech, graduating in 1969 with a degree in mechanical drafting. Four years later, he decided to try NC State again, intending to study forestry. However, a friend encouraged him to stop by Weaver Labs and check out agricultural engineering. Boyette did. The first office door that he saw was open, so he went in. George Blum, the department’s undergraduate coordinator, greeted “Much of the success him. Over time, Blum proved to be in … North Carolina agriculture … is due to a mentor — one of many Boyette the close cooperation credits with shaping between farming, his career. “It took me about a minute agribusinesses and to figure out that the university.” I was in the right place,” he adds. “This is where I belong. I have felt this way every day since. “Sometimes life takes crooks and turns, but when you finally get to the right place, you know it,” Boyette recalls. “It dawned on me that this was an opportunity for me to help the people back home. There were seven or eight of us in my senior class that year. We all were on a mission. We were doing this not just for ourselves, but we were doing this for society – for the folks back home and for everybody.”

having another kid and getting a Ph.D. – “all at the same time,” he says. “It was tiring and stressful but probably amounted to one of the most productive years in my life.”

Graduate School, New Career, New Home and Another Child – All at Once In 1976, Boyette earned his bachelor’s in biological and agricultural engineering, then started graduate school. However, his wife became sick, and so he stopped school and took an engineering job with the manufacturing company he’d worked for before. Eventually, he returned to NC State. By 1986 he had earned a master’s degree in wood and paper science. From there, he took a job in biological and agricultural engineering and enrolled as a Ph.D. student. It wasn’t long before Jim Ruff, then the BAE department head, approached him about the possibility of taking a faculty position – one that would involve collaborating with researchers and Extension agents to help farmers adopt new technology on their farms. “He said, ‘You would be the perfect candidate for it. But you’re going to have to have a Ph.D.,’” Boyette remembers. “‘You’ve got maybe a year and a half or two years. Think you can do it?” Boyette’s response: “Yes, sir, I can.”

Boyette made his biggest mark when it came to the state’s two leading specialty crops: tobacco and sweetpotatoes. In the mid- to late 1990s, Boyette led multistate efforts to help farmers begin baling their tobacco, a transition that saved the industry millions of dollars annually in storage, shipping and tracking costs. Soon after, he led another regional project to retrofit curing barns from direct-fired heating to indirect-fired heating by installing heat exchangers. In the project’s first year, the retrofits were found to reduce the production of cancer-causing tobaccospecific nitrosamines during the curing process by 95%.

However, doubts soon set in. He was working on major projects involving sweetpotatoes and tobacco. He was also in the process of building a house,

Ultimately, though, he succeeded, and the job turned out to be a perfect fit. His technical training dovetailed with his people-focused personality and his commitment to making a difference in the lives of the state’s farmers. Boyette’s focus was on crop processing, especially the harvesting and postharvest handling of tobacco and fresh fruits and vegetables. “I have always been proud to be part of the Cooperative Extension service. Much of the success in U.S. agriculture in general, and North Carolina agriculture in particular, is due to the close cooperation between farming, agribusinesses and the university.”

Success with Sweetpotatoes Boyette helped farmers design climate controlled facilities where sweetpotatoes are kept until buyers need them. Boyette’s breakthroughs in sweetpotato storage have perhaps had an even greater impact. In the 1980s, North Carolina growers were interested in finding ways to market their produce year-round. Sweetpotatoes grown here are typically harvested from August to late October, and historically most were sold by January or February. Keeping sweetpotatoes fresh longer was a challenge. As 13

temperatures warm, the roots can sprout in storage. As the vines grow, they consume the starch and render the vegetable unusable. As farmer Johnny Barnes explains, the tuber – the part of the plant we eat – “will become pithy and corky and not palatable. It wouldn’t be a good sweetpotato to eat.” To keep the tubers fresh longer, farmers started storing them indoors. Using refrigeration, they were able to extend the shelf life of some sweetpotatoes they stored, but they still lost some to sprouting.

is really treasured,” Barnes says. “We’ve really profited in business by knowing him and employing his knowledge, and we’ve also profited from his friendship. He’s been a force up here for a long time.” Boyette with national award-winning

As Boyette explains, “They would put these potatoes in these buildings that are 20-foot tall, and they’d stack these bins up. But they had no way to stir the air up in the room. So what would happen is the heat would rise up. At the top it would be 80 to 85 degrees, whereas down on the floor level it might be 58 degrees – which is the correct temperature. I have seen potatoes with sprouts as long as your arm on the top bins in the old-style storage buildings. And everybody knew why it was happening: It is hotter in the tops of these buildings. The potatoes up there were responding to the heat and starting to grow but nobody knew what to do about it. It was just part of the cost of doing business.”

Paying George Blum’s Mentorship Forward Boyette has been a force at NC State for a long time, too, serving as a teacher and mentor to students and to some of his BAE colleagues. “Some teachers have an adversarial relationship with their students. Not me. I see us – teacher and student – as a team,” he says. Boyette credits some of his success as a teacher to Blum. Eventually, Boyette inherited the office where Blum sat on the first day Boyette visited Weaver Labs. “I learned a lot about teaching from having many good teachers like Professor Blum and especially from my days speaking to farmers as an Extension Specialist,” Boyette “I see us – says. “The main thing is, if you are not enthusiastic about the teacher and subject matter, you have no right student – as to expect your audience to be either.” a team.”

“Well, I’m here to tell you that if you go through the entire process of planting, plowing, growing and harvesting, the time to lose the crop is not after it’s already in the barn,” Boyette says. To remedy the situation, Boyette pioneered methods for moving air through massive indoor storage facilities in ways that kept the temperature and humidity in the ideal range. Barnes says that development opened major new markets. Farmers were finally able to have a reliable product that they could sell to restaurants and other food-service establishments. “Chain restaurants became an option for sweetpotatoes,” Barnes says. “They were willing to put sweetpotatoes on the menu once they knew they could have them year-round.”

Senior Design students

“I have modeled a lot of my experience with students on George Blum. He was so open and would talk to you. You were an individual person to him,” Boyette says. “I always tried to get to know each and every one of my students on an individual basis, just like he did.” Alysondria Eason says she sees the same traits in Boyette that Boyette saw in Blum. Eason took Boyette’s senior design course in 2010-11. “Dr. Boyette is comforting. He made it so any student could come into his office and talk to him about

Thanks in part to Boyette’s work, North Carolina has emerged as the nation’s top sweetpotato-producing Boyette with 2010-11 Senior Design class state. 2019’s crop on the deck they built as a class gift was valued at $323 million. That made it one of North Carolina’s leading agricultural commodities, ranking fourth after soybeans, corn and tobacco. “Dr. Boyette has got a lot of common sense. Out here on the farm, that 14

Boyette modeled his relationship with students based on his own experience with Blum (left) in the 1970s.

family problems, things that were going on with their classes, or things they wanted to just vent about,” she says. “Most teachers you don’t really get to know until you have their class, but for Dr. Boyette, by the time you have his class, he already knows a whole lot about you and has developed a relationship with you. He comes in the computer labs and just talks to students, checks in on everyone, sees what everybody’s up to.” The lessons Eason learned from Boyette continue to influence her life and her work as an engineer with Hazen and Sawyer, a national firm focused on clean drinking water and water pollution prevention. “I learned from him about taking the ethical approach. He preaches ethics like no professor I’ve ever had, telling us that doing things the right way will always take you farther than people who try to sidestep,” Eason says. “That’s the approach I’ve kept and maintained, knowing that sometimes the right way isn’t going to be the easiest and you’re going to get a lot of pushback. “But that’s OK. Your conscience is clear.” Grant Ellington, an Extension associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State, also considers Boyette a mentor. He studied under Boyette as a graduate student. “He taught me by example the Boyette honored as an ASABE importance of hard work, Fellow at 2018 Annual Meeting dedication, grit and how the smallest of opportunities can make a lifetime impact,” Ellington says. “He always had the ability to recognize students who had the potential to be very successful but who needed the right mentor to help them realize that.” Next Up: More Sweetpotato Improvements While Boyette will be working less over the coming three years until his full retirement, his work as an agricultural engineer will continue. He intends to remain connected through projects aimed at improving crop productivity, quality and value of sweetpotatoes and in continuing to teach two courses. Building off some of Boyette’s ideas and previous imaging work, the team won one of four substantial seed grants from the university’s Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for the Plant Sciences

Initiative, or GRIP4PSI, earlier this year. The team’s goal is to link custom imaging tools with a computational platform to yield data-driven insights that help North Carolina growers, producers and distributors.

“A good working definition of leadership is the ability to inspire cooperation. .. You just need to be able to find the people that can do everything and know everything … and make them into a coherent team. … That’s my job.”

The team includes heavy hitters from throughout the university. They include nationally recognized agricultural and life scientists, computer and biological engineers, and other scholars. When Boyette talks about the team, he seems somewhat astounded to be in their company. “There are times when I am on campus or doing whatever I’m doing in connection with my work, when I hear a tiny little voice that remembers the kid that grew up on a tobacco farm in Eastern Wake County,” he says. “I think, ‘I don’t really belong here. There are people around me that are smarter than I am. There are people around me that are a lot more articulate than I am. There are people around me that know more than I do.’ I think, ‘I don’t have any business here.’”

Entering phased retirement, Boyette spends time at home with his wife, Julie

But then he remembers the definition of leadership he once read in a book. “A good working definition of leadership is the ability to inspire cooperation. Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you can do everything or that you know everything,” he says. “You just need to be able to find the people that can do everything and know everything and get together and make them into a coherent team. “That’s what I’ve done,” he adds. “That’s my job.” 15

ASABE VIRTUAL AIM 2020 NC State BAE students, faculty, and staff were originally planning to travel to Omaha, NE this year to attend the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Annual International Meeting (AIM). However, the meeting was moved to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NC State BAE had a significant number of oral and poster presentations at the meeting, and BAE faculty and students were recognized with a number of honors and awards.

Senior Design Team Ranks 2nd Nationally Each year, student teams compete in one of two ASABE design competitions: The Gunlogson Environmental Student Design competition and the AGCO Student Design competition. The purpose of the Gunlogson competition is to encourage undergraduate students to participate in the design of a relevant engineering project and to provide an arena of professional competition for environmentally and biologically related design projects. This year seniors Kaylee Saaranen, Charles Robertson, Tyler Pallen, and Jonathan Lewis represented NC State in the Gunlogson Competition and placed second nationally at the ASABE virtual Annual International Meeting. Their project, Sediment Load Analysis and Stream Stabilization for Valley Lake, Left to right: Pallen, Saaranen, Robertson, was advised by Lewis Extension associate professor and Extension Specialist Barbara Doll along with significant guidance from senior design professors Mike Boyette and Mari Chinn. “The Valley Lake community had a problem with their lake filling with sediment,” notes Jonathan Lewis. “Our job was to stabilize the banks of the 16

stream by realigning the channel, designing a new cross section, and repairing the riffles and pools. We also designed a sedimentation basin for any soil that did erode.” Typically, stream restoration projects lead to a deep, channelized stream becoming more meandered. Due to space constraints, the team had to do the opposite and design a straighter stream. This became a problem when considering the elevation change from the start to the lake. “A meandering stream has more length to counteract the elevation drop, but our stream could not do that,” Lewis adds. “Therefore, we implemented a design which is similar to how Rocky Branch is designed near Carmichael Gym. That is, we used drop structures to decrease the elevation. Water flows over boulders into pools, where the energy gets dissipated. That was just one of the challenges.” Tyler Pallen agrees. “The limited area we had to work with was one of our largest challenges,” he notes. “We had to be creative in how our design could fit in the area we had. The budget was also a consideration. Our client has a limited budget, so every decision we made was a balance between performance and cost.” Much of the data collection work was completed in the fall semester and much of the spring semester was running AutoCAD. Thankfully, the project was able to be completed virtually. Department Head Garey Fox Named ASABE Fellow and Receives Presidential Leadership Citation Department Head Garey Fox was named to the 2020 class of ASABE Fellows. ASABE defines a Fellow as a member of unusual professional distinction, with outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in, or related to, the field of agricultural, food, or biological systems engineering. ASABE Fellows possess a minimum

of 20 years of active practice in, or related to, the profession of engineering; the teaching of engineering; or the teaching of an engineeringrelated curriculum and a minimum of 20 years as an active Member-Engineer or Member in ASABE. This is ASABE’s highest honor. Garey was honored for his leadership and outstanding contributions to teaching, research, and Extension in agricultural and biological engineering. He is recognized as an innovative leader in agricultural and biological engineering. He has served in numerous academic leadership positions, first as the Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Center at Oklahoma State University and now as department head of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NC State. During his tenure as department head, the undergraduate and graduate biological and agricultural engineering programs rose to #6 and #4 Fox in the Suggs Lab for Precision Agriculture & Machine Systems respectively, as ranked by the US News and World Report. He is a leading researcher in surface water/ groundwater interaction as it relates to both hydrology and water quality. He has received more than $27.1 million in nationally competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, the USDA, United States EPA, and the United States Geological Survey. A 23-year member of ASABE, Garey has maintained numerous leadership roles throughout ASABE committees and councils. In 2019, he was selected to be the first Editorin-Chief of ASABE journals. In this role, he is tasked with strengthening ASABE publications and helping the journals move the Society forward. For his dedication to this role, he was

also awarded a 2020 Presidential Citation Award. He is also on the Society Board of Trustees. He has also been an active member and leader of the Oklahoma Water Resources Center and Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute, Cohort 14 of Food Systems Leadership Institute, and the American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental and Water Resources Institute (ASCE EWRI). He is currently a member of the ASCE ERWI Stream Restoration technical committee. Garey has also served as an associate editor for the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, a guest editor for a Special Collection on Undergraduate Research in Water for the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, and as a special guest editor for the Special Collection on Streambank Erosion for the journal Water. He has written more than 400 peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings papers, and other publications and presentations. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards. Most recently, he received the ASABE ADS/ Hancor Soil and Water Engineering award and the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Research University Teaching for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Dr. Sanjay Shah recognized as Outstanding Associate Editor The ASABE Journals rely heavily on the service provided by experts in their fields as Associate Editors. These individuals help to manage the review process for manuscripts being considered for publication. Each year the society recognizes six to eight individuals with an Outstanding Associate Editor Award based on the timeliness and effectiveness of serving in this role. Dr. Sanjay Shah received the award for his outstanding contributions to the Plant, Animal, and Facility Systems (PAFS) technical community.


CURRENT STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Applications of Big Data Internships Adapt: Data Curation at the Museum of Natural Sciences Among the many rippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic, some students found themselves without the internships that they had planned on taking on over the summer. Luckily for Kyra Sigler, she was able to continue her summer internship at the Museum of Natural Sciences. She worked as a marine biology data curation intern for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The senior majoring in biological engineering worked remotely in her role. “I know that many internship programs have been canceled this summer due to their inability to be converted to a remote format so I feel extremely lucky to have one as applicable as this for the summer. Even working remotely, I knew I would learn so much about working with big data sets and data curation, all while being able to provide a valuable public resource for researchers everywhere.” Sigler became interested in the internship after seeing that it would incorporate a topic that interests her: marine biology. Last summer she had an internship with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in the Soil and Water Conservation division. Her internships have been really different but they have both taught her a lot.

Graduate Fellow Tackles Global Issues Natalie Von Tress was named as a 2020 Global Change Fellow with the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center. Ph.D. student Lise Montefiore was a 2019 fellow. Von Tress is a 18

The museum has over 1.4 million specimens but because of the remote nature of the internship, Sigler wasn’t able to actually work with the specimens. Instead, she updated and entered locality information and georeferencing coordinates for speciments collected all over North Carolina. “We entered all this info into a giant database that is free to the public so that future researchers will have all this data readily available to them which is one of the reasons I think this internship is so cool,” notes Sigler. Sigler wanted to gain experience working with large dataset as a lot of research requires managing large amounts of data. “It’s hard to know if this is something I’d want to pursue after graduating because I really only get to do half of the work since it’s remote.” As for her future, Sigler wants to go to graduate school to get her PhD in biological engineering or applied Like many adults, Sigler completed her internship while working from home. ecology. “I’m doing research right now at the Walnut Creek wetland center and I really like working with treatment wetlands and learning about the long term effectiveness of them and how we could improve upon that,” Sigler adds. “Hopefully one day I’ll be a professor.”

master’s student advised by assistant professor Natalie Nelson. “I’m very much looking forward to being a part of the Global Change Fellows program,” Natalie notes. “As a fellow, I will get to participate in presentations and professional development activities, allowing me to learn more about how

to communicate and address different facets of climate change.” The Global Fellows Program is designed to train the next generation of global change scientists by providing financial, scientific, and professional development support for graduate students interested in multi-disciplinary research. Fellows come together across disciplines to discover, collaborate, and share their knowledge with diverse stakeholders. “More than anything, I am looking forward to learning from other fellows and seeing how they

New Grand Challenges Scholars Grace Thomas and Laura Gomez are the latest to be named Grand Challenge Scholars from the BAE department. The program, through the College of Engineering (COE) aims to prepare the future generation of engineers with ways to tackle the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges that face the 21st Century. This program revolves around five key competencies: talent, multidisciplinary, entrepreneurship and viable business model, multicultural, and social consciousness competencies. Thomas is from from Raleigh, NC, and applied for the program to meet with other scholars sharing her passion. As an avid sailor, boater, and someone who loves everything related to water, the Grand Challenge she is most interested in is being able to provide access to clean water. She sees this as an important, basic human rights issue both internationally and within our own country. Grace learned about the program through her E102 class. When she isn’t working on ways to provide clean water, she is participating in the Society of Women Engineers,

seek to address global change through their research,” Natalie says. “I love how the program encourages interdisciplinary collaboration.” She hopes the program will assist in her graduate work by connecting her with other graduate students and providing training to communicate global change to a wide variety of audiences. learning sustainable farming techniques in Belize as part of an Alternative Service Break project, or she’s working on undergraduate research with Dr. Guertault and Dr. Fox. After graduation, she hopes to continue pursuing her passion by working in a field dedicated to improving access to water or improving the quality of existing water sources. Gomez was born in Colombia, and raised in Asheboro, NC. Laura will also be focusing on providing access to clean water. Recognizing how crucial water is to all aspects of civilizations, people still struggle with access. As water quality and accessibility increases, so does the quality of life for families and social independence of women. She looks forward to growing professionally, culturally, and socially while having a mentor to gain personalized advice. On campus, Laura is also a Goodnight Scholar, member of the Women in Science and Engineering Village, Women and Minorities Engineering Program, and a member of NC State’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, where she is already working on a Guatemala water systems project. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she is considering graduate school or seeking employment with an international water organization. 19


COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE & LIFE SCIENCES AWARDS CALS Outstanding Senior for Community Engagement


The award for Outstanding Community Engagement honors a graduating senior who has achieved significant accomplishments in the realm of service. Nominees will be leaders who used their time, talents, and intellect to improve their community. Clay Honeycutt and Marlee Marrotta (Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences) have been selected as co-recipients of the Outstanding Senior Award for Community Engagement. Clay Honeycutt ’20 will graduate with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering technology and a minor in agribusiness management. He is a Park Scholar who served as a Civic Engagement Initiative facilitator, Freshman Retreat facilitator, and peer mentor program co-director. He was a program assistant for the North Carolina FFA Association where he developed leadership curriculum and coordinated leadership development events, designed logos and marketing materials for conferences, coordinated a large scale trade show that included 75 vendors from across the country, and managed a team of convention staff and visual art specialists for a state-wide conference. 20

Honeycutt served as Vice Chair of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Association, was a representative to the Agri-Life Council, and received the NC State BAE Senior Award for Engagement (2020). He participated in an international agriculture study abroad program to Scotland and Ireland where he learned about agricultural practices and technology unique to the region. Since 2013, he served and continues to serve as a volunteer firefighter for the Spivey’s Corner Volunteer Fire Department where he performs various operations in the areas of technical rescue, fire extinguishing, vehicle rescue, and community assistance. He assists in numerous fundraisers including the National Hollerin’ Contest and BBQ Cook-off. He also served as a classroom volunteer for the Ligon Magnet Middle School FFA Chapter where he worked with 7th and 8th grade students and assisted in the development of a leadership curriculum based on the importance of agriculture and community service. After graduation, Honeycutt will pursue a career in precision agriculture, controlled animal environments, environmental engineering, or consulting services. He will continue to serve as a volunteer firefighter.

Students Awarded Prestigious NSF Fellowship Three students in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering were awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, Left to right: Quiah, Blackman, Von Tress and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at institutions in the United States. Joanna Quiah is a current master’s student studying with Dr. Celso Castro Bolinaga. Samuel Blackman is a recent graduate in the biological engineering program and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the Colorado School of Mines. Natalie Von Tress is a current master’s student advised by Dr. Natalie Nelson.


Justin Spruill Outstanding Scholarship Award

COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING Mallory Alman Scholarly Achievement Award

Mitchell Watkins Leadership Award

Layla El-Khoury Humanities Award

Jack Woodworth Citizenship & Service Award 21


Dr. François Birgand, Promoted to Professor Dr. Praveen Kolar, Promoted to Professor Dr. Barbara Doll, Promoted to Extension Associate Professor Dr. Grant Ellington, Promoted to Extension Associate Professor Dr. Praveen Kolar, ASABE Outstanding Professor of the Year Award Dr. Mahmoud Sharara, BAE Outstanding Young Faculty Award Dr. Mike Boyette, BAE Outstanding Teaching Award Dr. Lingjuan Wang Li, BAE Outstanding Researcher Award Dr. Bill Hunt, BAE Outstanding Extension Specialist Award Rebecca Nagy, BAE Outstanding Staff Award Dr. Praveen Kolar, 2020 CALS Outstanding Teacher Award Tommy Stephenson, 2020 CALS Safety Award

STUDENT HONORS AND AWARDS • Enrique Pena, 2nd Place, 2020 Beltwide Cotton Conference - M.S. Poster Competition • Carrie Sanford, 3rd Place, SWE Local San Diego Graduate Research Competition • Diplina Paul, 3rd Place, 99th Annual Conference of North Carolina Section of American Water Works Association and Water Environment Association • Vashti Campbell, 3rd Place, NCALS Research Foundation Spring 2020 Competition • Ehsan Bagheri, NCERA-217 Annual Meeting Travel Award • Hossam Moursi, NCERA-217 Annual Meeting Travel Award • Hossam Moursi, Bob and Suester Sowell Travel Award • Tasmin Hossain, College of Engineering Graduate Merit Award • Zach Little, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship • Joanna Quiah, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship • Natalie Von Tress, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship • Emine Fidan, 2019-2020 NSF INFEWS-ER Food, Energy, Water Graduate Scholars Program • Jackie Welles, 2019-2020 NSF INFEWS-ER Food, Energy, Water Graduate Scholars Program • Neil Allen, Mallory Alman, Layla El-Khoury, Caroline Heathcoat, BAE Outstanding Senior Design Award 22

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT ‘REEP-ing’ Research Opportunities in Biological Engineering BY ISAAC KIRKMAN

In the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, undergraduates do not have to look far for exciting opportunities that will significantly enhance their college experience. Undergraduates Elizabeth Beyer and Victoria Augoustides are taking advantage of one of these opportunities this year. BAE Research and Educational Enhancement Projects (REEP) provide students with the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Selected students conduct an approved research project of their choosing and then present their findings in the spring semester. Dr. Lucie Guertault, Assistant Professor, serves as a mentor to the undergraduate researchers throughout the program. Elizabeth Beyer is a Biological Engineering major with an Ecological Engineering concentration. Her project will compare methods to evaluate channel deformation in stream restoration via numerical simulations. More specifically, she plans to analyze the effectiveness of various stream restoration tools and models in examining streambank erosion and sediment transport in streams of North Carolina’s Piedmont Region. As people continue to alter landscapes, river systems are directly affected. By providing data on the relative effectiveness of restoration methods, she hopes to provide design engineers and restoration specialists with the knowledge to help select the optimum approach for their specific project. Elizabeth plans to use this project to keep the momentum rolling from her time working as an undergraduate research

assistant with Dr. Celso Castro Bolinaga. She became interested in undergraduate research because she sees it as a way to further her knowledge beyond the classroom. Besides being a REEP Scholar, she is also a Park Scholar, Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and Engineering Ambassador, all while serving as the Secretary for the department’s honor society, Alpha Epsilon. Victoria Augoustides, a Biological Engineering major with a concentration in Bioprocess Engineering. Shortly after switching her concentration to Bioprocess Engineering, Dr. Praveen Kolar became her faculty advisor and recommended she apply for the REEP program. Victoria’s project aims to bring two common resources in North Carolina, pine trees and hog farms, together in an effort to naturally clean swine wastewater. To do this, she will be studying how biochar, sourced from the loblolly pine, can act as a customizable absorbent material to reduce the environmental impacts of hog lagoons. Once a robust and reproducible process has been created and analyzed, if successful, it will be sized up to an industry level. From this project, Victoria looks forward to using local material for a local issue, while gaining experience presenting and publishing her research. A third-year student, she is also a member of the University Honors Program and is working towards a minor in Biomanufacturing. From this program, both Elizabeth and Victoria will gain invaluable experience conducting research in their chosen fields. If you are an undergraduate and have an interest in conducting research of your own, keep an eye out for the next call for the proposals for the REEP program this spring. 23

NEW FACES OF ASABE BAE takes the top spots in New Faces of ASABE


Brieana (Brie) Saur, is the New Faces of ASABE – College Edition winner for 2020. Saur is a senior and will graduate in May. Brie says that working in the stormwater management field has made her realize that the problem is ever increasing with the amount of development and the frequency of more intense storms. As a future biological engineer, Brie hopes to recognize and design to a changing climate and weather conditions in order to keep the health, safety, and welfare of the public at the utmost importance. Brie credits the example her mother, working in the IT field, set for her in setting her sights on a career in engineering, and she was influenced by an adult acquaintance, a biomedical engineer, to consider a career in agricultural and biological engineering. Brie says she has benefitted from countless experiences through ASABE. “Being involved led to more connections with my peers and professors within the department which has helped me both academically and in my extracurricular affairs. She notes that the NC State section of ASABE hosts an inhouse career fair for our students, which led to an internship as well as a full-time position after graduation. NC State also hosts a re-invigorated North Carolina Section of ASABE, which has exposed her and others to discussions on emerging issues in the industry and how young graduates can help battle those Young and Saur with Dr. Garey Fox at the departmental problems. announcement in February.

Sierra Young, PhD, EIT, was selected this year’s winner in the Professionals category. Young is an assistant professor in robotics and sensors. Orthodontics might seem an unlikely introduction to engineering, but that’s how Sierra came to the profession. Sierra’s father was an orthodontist. “During the summers growing up,” says Sierra, “I worked in his practice where we discussed ‘engineering’ the mouth to do what we want – what I now understand to be the integration of mechanical engineering and biology. Orthodontics was my first encounter with using math and science to solve complex design problems.” She says her work is motivated every day by the potential of technology and agriculture to transform the way we produce food, fuel, and fiber at both national and global scales. Sierra is currently serving as vice chair of ASABE’s Emerging Information Systems committee, ITSC-254, and has been deeply involved in a variety of other professional and STEMoutreach activities. As ASABE’s top New Face for 2020, she will travel to Washington, DC, to join ASABE leadership as a judge in the Future City Competition finals, where ASABE sponsors two special awards, for food sustainability and use of renewable fuels. 24


2020-2021 ADVISORY BOARD The BAE Advisory Board provides valuable guidance to keep the department at the forefront of the field of biological and agricultural engineering. They foster industry connects among BAE faculty, staff and students and strategic advice to continually imrpove research, Extension and academics. Kevin Davidson, P.E., Board Chair

Jessica Edmonds

Vice President of Engineering AgriWaste Technology Term May 2018 – May 2021

Design Engineer McAdams Term May 2018 – May 2021

Jackie Ammons,

Jon Hathaway

Hydrualic Components Engineer Caterpillar Term May 2020 – May 2023

Assistant Professor University of Tennessee Term May 2019 – May 2021

Ed Barnes

Wayne Huddleston

Senior Director of Agricultural and Environmental Research Cotton Incorporated Term May 2018 – May 2021

Account Executive Duke Energy Term May 2019 – May 2022

Larry Coats

Deepak Keshwani

Owner Coats and Bennett Term May 2020 – May 2023

Associate Professor University of Nebraska at Lincoln Term May 2020 – May 2023

Jared Day

Keith Larick

Precision Ag/Solutions Specialist John Deere & Company Term May 2018 – May 2021

Natural Resources Director North Carolina Farm Bureau Term May 2019 – May 2020

Alysondria Eason

Bryan Staley

Associate Hazen and Sawyer Term May 2020 – May 2023

CEO Environmental Research Education Foundation (EREF) Term May 2019 – May 2022

Top left: CALS Dean Linton speaks to board at Fall 2019 meeting. Top center: Board members at Fall 2019 Meeting. Top right: Board members review curriculum. Bottom left: Board members past and present participate in Alpha Epsilon speed networking event. Bottom right: Ed Barnes leads tours of Cotton Inc. during the 2019 ASABE Rally in Raleigh. 25

RECENT PUBLICATIONS Current BAE Faculty are bolded. Maxwell, B., Winter, D., & Birgand, F. (2020). Floating treatment wetland retrofit in a stormwater wet pond provides limited water quality improvements. Ecological Engineering, 149. Johnson, L. K., Bloom, J. D., Dunning, R. D., Gunter, C. C., Boyette, M. D., & Creamer, N. G. (2019). Farmer harvest decisions and vegetable loss in primary production. Agricultural Systems, 176. Shiau, Y.-J., Burchell, M. R., Krauss, K. W., Broome, S. W., & Birgand, F. (2019). Carbon storage potential in a recently created brackish marsh in eastern North Carolina, USA. Ecological Engineering, 127, 579–588. Castro Bolinaga, C.F., Fox, G.A. (2019). Streambank Erosion: Advances in Monitoring, Modeling and Management. Water 10 (10), 1346. Li, S., Liu, L., Cheng, J. J., & Yang, X. (2020). Comparison study on potential syngas produced by mild thermoconversion of microalgal residues through proton nuclear magnetic resonance and thermogravimetric analysis-fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery. Cheng, P., Cheng, J. J., Cobb, K., Zhou, C., Zhou, N., Addy, M., … Ruan, R. (2020). Tribonema sp. and Chlorella zofingiensis co-culture to treat swine wastewater diluted with fishery wastewater to facilitate harvest. Bioresource Technology, 297. Cheng, P., Muylaert, K., Cheng, J. J., Liu, H., Chen, P., Addy, M., … Ruan, R. (2020). Cobalt enrichment enhances the tolerance of Botryococcus braunii to high concentration of CO2. Bioresource Technology, 297. Maren, N. A., Touchell, D. H., Ranney, T. G., Ashrafi, H., Whitfield, M. B., & Chinn, M. S. (2020). Biomass yields, cytogenetics, fertility, and compositional analyses of novel bioenergy grass hybrids (Tripidium spp.). Global Change Biology Bioenergy. Zuleta-Correa, A., Chinn, M. S., Alfaro-Córdoba, M., Truong, V.-D., Yencho, G. C., & Bruno-Bárcena, J. M. (2020). Use of unconventional mixed Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol solvents for anthocyanin extraction from Purple-Fleshed sweetpotatoes. Food Chemistry, 314, 125959. Doll, B., Kurki-Fox, J. J., & Line, D. E. (2020). A Framework for Planning and Evaluating the Role of Urban Stream Restoration for Improving Transportation Resilience to Extreme Rainfall Events. Water. Donatich, S., Doll, B., Page, J., & Nelson, N. (2020). Can the Stream Quantification Tool (SQT) Protocol Predict the Biotic Condition of Streams in the Southeast Piedmont (USA)? Water. Doll, B., Kurki-Fox, J., Page, J., Nelson, N., Johnson, J. (2020). Flood Flow Frequency Analysis to Estimate Potential Floodplain Nitrogen Treatment during Overbank Flow Events in Urban Stream Restoration Projects. Water. Thiessen, L. D., Ellington, G. H., Macialek, J. A., Johnson, C. S., & Reed, D. T. (2020). Sanitation of Float Trays for the Management of Pythium Species in Tobacco Float Systems. Plant Health Progress, 21(1), 21–25. Fox, G. A., Fox, A.K., Guertault, L. (2020). A Case Study on the Relevance of the Journal Impact Factor. Transactions of the ASABE, 63 (2), 243-249. Guertault, L., Fox, G. A. (2020). Performance of preferential flow models in predicting infiltration through a remolded soil with artificial macropores. Vadose Zone Journal 19 (1), e20055. Campbell, M.D., Hall, S. G., Obenour, D.R. (2020). Application of packed bed reactor theory and Bayesian inference to upweller culture of juvenile oysters. Aquacultural Engineering, 102098. Geddie, A.W, Hall, S. G. (2020). Development of a suitability assessment model for the cultivation of intertidal macroalgae in the United States. Science of The Total Environment, 134327. Hunt, W. F., Fassman-Beck, E. A., Ekka, S. A., Shaneyfelt, K. C., & Deletic, A. (2020). Designing Dry Swales for Stormwater Quality Improvement Using the Aberdeen Equation. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, 6(1). Wissler, A. D., Hunt, W. F., & McLaughlin, R. A. (2020). Hydrologic and water quality performance of two aging and unmaintained dry detention basins receiving highway stormwater runoff. Journal of Environmental Management, 255. Gee, K. D., Hunt, W. F., Peacock, C. H., Woodward, M. D., & Arellano, C. (2020). Using Irrigation to Increase Stormwater Mitigation Potential of Rainwater Harvesting Systems. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, 6(2).


Wissler, A. D., Hunt, W. F., & McLaughlin, R. A. (2020). Water Quality and Hydrologic Performance of Two Dry Detention Basins Receiving Highway Stormwater Runoff in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, 6(2). Jung, W., Sharma-Shivappa, R., Park, S., & Kolar, P. (2020). Effect of cellulolytic enzyme binding on lignin isolated from alkali and acid pretreated switchgrass on enzymatic hydrolysis. 3 Biotech, 10(1). Nelson, N., Muñoz-Carpena, R., Phlips, E. (2020). Parameter uncertainty drives important incongruities between simulated chlorophyll-a and phytoplankton functional group dynamics in a mechanistic management model. Environmental Modelling & Software, 104708. Phlips, E., Badylak, S., Nelson, N., Havens, K. (2020). Hurricanes, El Niño and harmful algal blooms in two sub-tropical Florida estuaries: Direct and indirect impacts. Scientific Reports 10 (1), 1-12. Sagues, W. J., Assis, C. A., Hah, P., Sanchez, D. L., Johnson, Z., Acharya, M., … Park, S. (2020). Decarbonizing agriculture through the conversion of animal manure to dietary protein and ammonia fertilizer. Bioresource Technology, 297. Sagues, W. J., Jameel, H., Sanchez, D. L., & Park, S. (2020). Prospects for bioenergy with carbon capture & storage (BECCS) in the United States pulp and paper industry. Energy & Environmental Science. Cheng, Y., Li, Q., Argentini, S., Sayde, C., & Gentine, P. (2020). A Model for Turbulence Spectra in the Equilibrium Range of the Stable Atmospheric Boundary Layer. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 125(5). Owusu-Twum, M., Sharara, M. (2020). Sludge management in anaerobic swine lagoons: A review. Journal of Environmental Management, 271, 110949. Sharara, M., Sahoo, K., Reddy, A.D., Kim, S., Zhang, X., Dale, B., Jones, C.D. (2020). Sustainable feedstock for bioethanol production: Impact of spatial resolution on the design of a sustainable biomass supply-chain. Bioresource Technology, 302, 122896. Sharara, M., Owusu-Twum, M., Runge, T., Larson, R. (2020). Planning methodology for anaerobic digestion systems on animal production facilities under uncertainty. Waste Management, 104, 262-269. Cheng, B., Wang-Li, L., Classen, J., Meskhidze, N., & Bloomfield, P. (2020). Spatial and temporal variations of atmospheric chemical condition in the Southeastern US. Atmospheric Research, 105190. Wang-Li, L., Xu, Y., Shivkumar, A. P., Williams, M. and Brake, J. (2020) Effect of dietary coarse corn inclusion on broiler live performance, litter characteristics, and ammonia emission. Poultry Science, 99, no. 2, 869-878. Porter, W., Ward, J. K., Taylor, R.K., Godsey, C.B. (2020). A Note on the Application of AgLeader® Cotton Yield Monitor for Measuring Peanut Yield An Investigation in Two US states. Peanut Science. Aharoni, R., Klymiuk, V., Sarusi, B., Young, S. N., Fahima, T., Fishbain, B. (2020). Spectral light-reflection data dimensionality reduction for timely detection of yellow rust. Precision Agriculture, 1-20. Penny, G., Srinivasan, V., Apoorva, R., Jeremiah, K., Peschel, J., Young, S. N. (2020). A process-based approach to attribution of historical streamflow decline in a data-scarce and human-dominated watershed. Hydrological Processes, 34 (8), 1981-1995. Young, S. N., JM Peschel, J.M. (2020). Review of Human–Machine Interfaces for Small Unmanned Systems With Robotic Manipulators. IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, 50 (2), 131-143. Lisenbee, W., Hathaway, J., Negm, L., Youssef, M. A., & Winston, R. (2020). Enhanced bioretention cell modeling with DRAINMODUrban: Moving from water balances to hydrograph production. Journal of Hydrology, 582. Liu, W., Youssef, M. A., A., Birgand, F. P., Chescheir, G. M., Tian, S., & Maxwell, B. M. (2020). Processes and mechanisms controlling nitrate dynamics in an artificially drained field: Insights from high-frequency water quality measurements. Agricultural Water Management, 232. Liu, W., Youssef, M. A., Birgand, F. P., Chescheir, G. M., Tian, S., & Maxwell, B. M. (2020). Processes and mechanisms controlling nitrate dynamics in an artificially drained field: Insights from high-frequency water quality measurements. Agricultural Water Management, 232. Negm, L. M., Youssef, M. A., & Jaynes, D. B. (2020). Evaluation of DRAINMOD-DSSAT simulated effects of controlled drainage on crop yield, water balance, and water quality for a corn-soybean cropping system in central Iowa (vol 187, pg 57, 2017). Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 229.


RECENT PUBLICATIONS Wang, M., Chen, S., Zhou, W., Yuan, W., & Wang, D. (2020). Review of Algal cell lysis by bacteria: A review and comparison to conventional methods. Algal Research-Biomass Biofuels and Bioproducts, 46. Wang, D., Jiang, P., Zhang, H., & Yuan, W. (2020). Review of Biochar production and applications in agro and forestry systems: A review. Science of the Total Environment, 723. Zhou, Q., Liu, Y., & Yuan, W. (2020). Kinetic modeling of butyric acid effects on butanol fermentation by Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum. New Biotechnology, 55, 118–126. James, A. M. R., Yuan, W., Wang, D., Wang, D., & Kumar, A. (2020). The Effect of Gasification Conditions on the Surface Properties of Biochar Produced in a Top-Lit Updraft Gasifier. Applied Sciences-Basel, 10(2). Wang, X., Zhao, R., & Yuan, W. (2020). Type I sourdough steamed bread made by retarded sponge-dough method. Food Chemistry, 311.

Nelson Awarded Early-Career Research Fellowship, Selected to Help Guide USDA Agricultural Innovation Agenda Natalie Nelson, assistant professor in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, won a 2020 Early-Career Research Fellowship from the Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Nelson, principal investigator of the Biosystems Analytics Lab, is one of 20 fellowship recipients. “I’m excited to interact with and learn from other early career researchers in this year’s cohort as well as past fellows, and to participate in the professional development opportunities provided by the program,” Nelson says. The fellowship is awarded to emerging scientific leaders who are prepared to work at the intersections of environmental health, community health and resilience, and offshore energy system safety in the Gulf of Mexico and other coastal regions in the United States. The fellowship will provide funds to support graduate student Lise Montefiore’s work on the vulnerability of estuarine ecosystems along the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts to nutrient loading, as well as new avenues related to predicting the occurrence of bacteriological water quality hazards in nearshore waters. “This early-career fellowship is a tremendous recognition of Dr. Nelson’s program and speaks to the rigor and dedication of her research program to inform coastal resource management through data analytics and integrated modeling,” notes Department Head Garey Fox. 28

The two-year fellowship — which began September 1, 2020 — is awarded to tenure-track faculty at colleges, universities and research institutions. Each fellow receives a $76,000 financial award, mentoring support, and a built-in community of colleagues who share an interest in the well-being of Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems. Since the award is not attached to a specific project, fellows are able to use the support to pursue bold, nontraditional research that they otherwise might not be able to conduct. “The early years of a researcher’s career are a critical time. This program gives fellows the independence and flexibility to explore untested ideas and develop lasting collaborations,” said Lauren Alexander Augustine, executive director of the Gulf Research Program. “The 2020 class of fellows are a distinguished group of individuals who have demonstrated superior scholarship, exceptional scientific and technical skills, and the ability to work across disciplines.” Nearly 88 Early-Career Research Fellowships have been awarded since 2015. In addition, the GRP runs the Science Policy Fellowship program and provides support to the National Academies’ Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship.

Nelson: Helping the USDA Guide Agricultural Innovation BY MOLLIE RAPPE

The Agriculture Innovation Agenda is an endeavor to develop a new research and innovation strategy that aligns academic and industry research. The ultimate goal of the agenda is to increase agricultural production by 40% and decrease the environmental impact of agriculture by 50% by 2050. Natalie Nelson, an assistant professor in Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department was selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve as one of the 11 subject matter experts for the program. One of four areas of focus for the agenda is prescriptive intervention, or combining on-farm sensors with science-based management plans to produce proactive interventions to prevent crop or livestock loss. This is the area Nelson is an expert in. Her research program focuses on data analytics and integrated models to inform agriculture, aquaculture, water and coastal resources management. Why do you think the USDA selected you as one of the 11 subject matter experts from across the nation – from academia, the USDA and private companies? I think they invited me based on a grant that I had received from the USDA Food and Agricultural Cyber Informatics and Tools Initiative. I was awarded that grant in 2019. The goal of that grant is to make machine learning methods more accessible to folks who are working in natural resources management. As part of the project, we’re developing tutorials that introduce data analysts and modelers to basic concepts related to using this machine learning. I think I was invited to participate because of my involvement with machine learning approaches and use of diverse data types in agricultural and environmental management systems. What does it mean to you to be recognized by the federal government for your excellence in this area? I was very honored. I was flattered to be selected to be part of a group of people that includes many researchers who I really admire. For example, Jim Jones is a subject matter expert for the Systems-based Farm Management area, and he’s one of my favorite scientists. He was a faculty member at the University of Florida, who was a mentor for me. Also, it’s exciting to be asked to think about how you

envision the agricultural landscape and environmental sustainability changing over the next 10 years. It’s really exciting to be involved in that kind of thought leadership, where you can provide some perspective and share ideas that you’re excited about. And this might change the way the USDA funds research and ultimately impact what’s happening out in the world. Can you tell us more about prescriptive interventions and how they can help us increase production while decreasing environmental impact? Right now, when a grower is determining how they should change their management practices, let’s say for a particular field, they are typically going to be out in the field looking to see what the conditions are like and then based on their knowledge or information from their county Extension office, they might adapt their management plans. The idea with prescriptive intervention is that you could have management plans that were developed specifically for your farm, your field or livestock barn. First, you would have different kinds of sensors that are deployed out in the field. And then based on the information coming in from those sensors, you could really have a prescription in terms of what the management plan should be for your specific field. There’s a saying in precision agriculture about applying inputs in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right place. These inputs could be fertilizer application or pesticides. This practice reduces costs, could increase productivity and decrease the excess inputs that lead to environmental impacts, such as fertilizer that ends up in our waterways. My colleagues Jason Ward and Sierra Young are leading research programs in the use of robotics and sensors in support of precision ag. How do you see agriculture changing in the next 10 years, or hope to see it change? I think this idea of data science Extension is an area that’s really exciting and I think we’ll see a lot of growth in that area in the future. How can we better use data to inform decision-making? How can we help to educate others? What kinds of potential is locked up in data that we could potentially unleash if we use different types of analytics? I think there are cool ways that Extension could support people in developing the tools that would allow for them to make better use of their data. I’m excited that there’s been more discussion on the role of data and analytics and how it can be a mechanism through which we can empower growers to better harness their data to inform their own management practices. 29

RECENT RESEARCH, EXTENSION, AND TEACHING GRANTS Mike Boyette, Dani Jones, and Natalie Nelson - Improving Crop Productivity and Value Through Heterogeneous Data Integration, Analytics, and Decision Support Platforms, Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for Plant Sciences (GRIP4PSI) Mike Burchell - North Carolina Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Pilot Program, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Celso Castro Bolinaga - Evaluation of 2D Hydraulics Models to Improve Scour Predictions and Countermeasures, NC Department of Transportation Barbara Doll - Engaging Partners to Evaluate Plastics Loading to the Pamlico Sound from Urban and Rural Lands via the Neuse River in North Carolina, NCSU Sea Grant Program Barbara Doll - Quantifying and Predicting Streambank Erosion in the Ridge and Valley and Blue Ridge Physiographic Regions of Virginia to Benefit Eastern Hellbender Populations, US Dept. of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) Bill Hunt - Installation of a Stormwater Monitoring Station for the Duffyfield Subwatershed, City of New Bern Bill Hunt - Designing Stormwater Control Measures for Hominy Creek in the City of Wilson, City of Wilson Bill Hunt - Greenfield Lake 319 Wet Pond Retrofit, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Bill Hunt - Swale Research in Continued Support of NCDOT’s Stormwater Program, NC Department of Transportation Bill Hunt - Town of Cary SCM Maintenance Training, Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SSDN) (1/01/20 - 12/31/20) Natalie Nelson - Harmful Algal Blooms in the Indian River Lagoon-North, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Natalie Nelson - Unifying biological and environmental data streams to monitor emerging lepidopteran resistance to genetically engineered crops, US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Natalie Nelson - Development of a Tool to Forecast Closure of Shellfish Aquaculture Harvest Areas, NCSU Sea Grant Program Natalie Nelson - Spatiotemporal Reconstruction of Historical Swine CAFO Spread in North Carolina and Connections to Water Quality, NCSU Sea Grant Program Chad Poole - Novel Agricultural Water Management Systems for Increasing the Production and Consistency of Corn Yields in North Carolina, Corn Growers Association of NC, Inc. Gary Roberson - Protocol for UAV Inspection of Potential Pesticide Drift Crop Damage, NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Gary Roberson - Reducing Tobacco Equipment Injuries, NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Gary Roberson - Automation in Container Nursery Weed Control, Horticultural Research Institute Gary Roberson - Mechanized Weed Control in Container Nurseries, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Chadi Sayde - Harnessing (bio-)electrochemical Technologies as Sustainable Sources for on Demand Precision Agriculture, Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for Plant Sciences (GRIP4PSI) Sanjay Shah - Using Electrostatic Precipitator to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Cage-Free Layer Houses, United States Poultry & Egg Association Mahmoud Sharara - Investigating Lagoon Sludge Management and Drying Impacts and Opportunities, Smithfield Foods, Inc. Sierra Young - A Large-scale Public Image Database of Cotton Weeds for Machine Vision Based Robotic Weeding, Cotton, Inc. Sierra Young - Robotic Weeding: Analysis of Recent Technologies and Identification of Future Trends, Cotton, Inc. Mohamed Youssef - On-farm Water Capture and Reuse for Supplemental Irrigation: A Promising Practice for Increasing Cotton Production Resilience in the U.S. Southeast, Cotton, Inc. Wayne Yuan - Biochar-Based Soil Nutrient Carriers: Production, Processing and Performance, US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture



TECHNOLOGY Jacob Ballance

Cole Dail

Kelsey Atkins

Christopher Braddy

Willard Griggs

Nathaniel Eddy

Benjamin Clay

Jessica Watkins

Alex Flint


M.S. IN BIOLOGICAL & AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING Kaylie Loyd, Advisor: Michael Boyette Li Yu, Advisor: Sanjay Shah

PH.D. IN BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING Ali Ajami, Dissertation: Windbreak wall-Vegetative Strip System to Reduce Air Emissions from Mechanically-Ventilated Livestock Barns, Advisor: Sanjay Shah Yijia Dietrich, Dissertation: Improvement and Application of a New Ammonia Emission Inventory for Poultry and Swine Production in NC, Advisor: Lingjuan Wang-Li Jeffrey Johnson, Dissertation: Aging Stormwater Infrastructure: A Multi-Scale Exploration of the Evolution of Aging Bioretention Media, Hydrologic Mitigation, and Water Quality Performance, Advisor: William Hunt


Margot Clyburn

Ethan Lee

Jake Schronce

Thomas Alexander

Mitchell Cole

Jonathan Lewis

Karen Sloan

Mallory Alman

Erin Cooper

Trey Lineberry

Kevin Smartt

Bailey Arteta

John Corriher

Ghanim Mabrook

Congling Sun

Jessi Banks

Sarah Crandell

Yom Majok

Patrick Thompson

Matt Becker

Layla El-Khoury

Jessica Martin

David Walser

Sam Blackman

Kristy Green

Tyler Pallen

Mitchell Watkins

Gibson Blakeslee

Kendall Grumbles

Esmira Poladova

Alston Willard Jack Woodworth

Allison Brown

Angela Guttierez

Shelly Ransom

Ryan Callahan

Caroline Heathcoat

Charles Robertson

Caison Clewis

Shena Kensak

Brie Saur


Daniel Johnson

Heath Clapp

Ben Parker

William Cooper III

Trevor Patterson

Micah Croft

Justin Shelton

Chad Hiniker

Justin Spruill

Clay Honeycutt

Will Webster

Benjamin Johnson 32

SPRING 2020 MASTER OF BIOLOGICAL & AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING Katelyn Bell, Advisor: Francois Birgand Jeff Mullins, Advisor: Sanjay Shah


PH.D. IN BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING Matthew Campbell, Dissertation: The Investigation of Biological and Engineering Parameters Intrinsic to Intensive Culture of Oysters, Crassostrea virginica, in Upweller Systems, Advisor: Steven Hall Xin Liu, Dissertation: Extraction and Anti-bacterial Effects of Edible Brown Algae Extracts, Advisor: Wenqiao Yuan

2020 SENIOR DESIGN PROJECTS Sediment Load Analysis and Stream Stabilization for Valley Lake *3rd Place, ASABE Gunlogson Competition* Jonathan Lewis, Tyler Pallen, Charles Robertson, Kalyee Saaranen Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Barbara Doll

Stormwater Control Measures Neil Allen, Mallory Alman, Layla El-Khoury, Caroline Heathcoat Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Bill Hunt

Water Sampling Payload for Unmanned Surface Vehicle Angela Gutierrez, Esmira Poladova, Brie Saur, Karen Sloan Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sierra Young

Photobioreactor for the Cultivation of Cyanobacteria Matthew Baker, Samuel Blackman, Erin Cooper, Kevin Smartt, David Walser Faculty Sponsor: Drs. Ashley Beck and Praveen Kolar

Anaerobic Treatment of Microbrewery Wastewater for Bioenergy Production Thomas Alexander, Bailey Arteta, Ryan Callahan, Ghanim Mabrook, Jessica Martin Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jay Cheng

Reducing Animal Housing Air Pollution by the Use of a Green Wall Josh Bumgarner, Shelly Ransom, Jake Schronce, Congling Sun Faculty Sponsor: Drs. Ashley Beck and Sanjay Shah

Pack Pullers Tractor Design and Analysis Brett Bell, Caison Clewis, John Corriher, Mitchell Watkins Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Grant Ellington

Alternative Energy for Pond Aeration Arik Adams, Matt Becker, Allison Brown, Margot Clyburn, Patrick Thompson Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Steven Hall

Improving Lagoon Aeration Gibson Blakeslee, Mitchell Cole, Alton Willard, Jack Woodworth Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Michael Burchell

Autonomous Solar Powered Ozonator for an Anaerobic Waste Lagoon Sarah Crandell, Kendell Grumbles, Shena Kensak, Evan Smith Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Sanjay Shah

Greywater Reuse System Jessi Banks, Kristy Green, Ethan Lee, Trey Lineberry, Yom Mojok Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Praveen Kolar 33


Sarah Bucher, ‘15

Ben Cauthen, ‘18

Technical Program Manager Facebook

Bioenergy Project Engineer Cavanaugh & Associates, P.A.

B.S. Biological Engineering, Environmental Engineering Concentration

B.S. Biological Engineering, Agricultural Engineering Concentration

Being a BAE student has taught me how to tackle complex engineering problems and deliver solutions that have real world impact. As a Technical Program Manager at Facebook, I use this skillset daily to build products that connect over 3 billion people around the world. The scale and complexity of this work is unprecedented, but BAE has prepared me well for the challenge. I’m passionate about building products and bringing the world closer together, one connection at a time!

I work on Cavanaugh’s Bioenergy Team which focuses on the conversion of organic wastes to renewable energy. I am primarily involved in agricultural waste-to-energy projects, particularly projects that involve the utilization of biogas to generate renewable natural gas. The breadth of topics I was exposed to through BAE coursework and interactions with department professors and staff has provided me a solid foundation from which to begin my career.

Clay Honeycutt, ‘20

Amber Fields, ‘17

Field Operations Manager EarthOptics B.S. Biological and Agricultural Engineering Technology

Regional Project Engineer Mountaire Farms B.S. Biological Engineering, Agricultural Engineering Concentration

EarthOptics is an ag technology start-up focused on developing standoff precision technologies to better examine soil health and productivity. As Field Operations Manager, I lead EarthOptics’ data collection as well as work with a dedicated team of engineers and scientists to research new methods to detect and combat soil compaction. I use the knowledge I gained from the BAET program about precision agriculture and engineering technology on a daily basis.

After completing the yearlong management trainee program, I took a job as the safety coordinator at our new processing facility in Siler City. These opportunities provided insight in my new position as a Regional Project Engineer. I work with the processing facilities, feed mills and hatcheries in North Carolina to develop project scopes and design and oversee project implementations. The variety of classes that BAE required gave me the opportunity to learn how to work with a team to accomplish goals and has helped me tremendously while working with the contractors on various projects.


Elizabeth Gordon, ‘17 Environmental Compliance Auditor Mountaire Farms B.S. Biological Engineering, Bioprocess Engineering Concentration As an environmental auditor, I travel to various facilities in North Carolina, including processing plants, feed mills, and hatcheries, to support a multitude of projects including development for environmental and wastewater applications, regulatory reporting, environmental site assessments, and providing technical support to each facility. Having exposure to both stormwater and wastewater engineering projects through course work and extracurricular research opportunities equipped me with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that have allowed me to perform well in each position I’ve held since graduation.

Charles Stillwell, ‘19 Hydrologist U.S. Geological Survey Master’s, Biological & Agricultural Engineering Ph.D. Biological Engineering The U.S. Geological Survey studies our nation’s natural resources, ecosystems, hazards, and the effects of climate and land use change. As a member of the South Atlantic Water Science Center, I conduct research projects that enable our local, state, and federal partners to make informed decisions related to flooding, water quality, and water availability. My time in BAE provided me with experience in various monitoring, modeling, and analytical techniques which have prepared me for a career as a hydrologic researcher.

Matthew Campbell, ‘20 Ocean Engineer National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration

Ph.D. Biological Engineering I am working with NOAA to engineer capabilities for offshore aquaculture. I am on the design team for a virtual reality simulator that utilizes modeling combined with gaming technology to evaluate offshore aquaculture’s potential to entangle marine life. I am also developing water quality modeling capabilities to evaluate waste discharge impacts of offshore aquaculture, using the 3 million data layers within NOAA’s data repository.The training I received in BAE to critically investigate and develop a research plan for novel problems has prepared me to take on unprecedented technical challenges in an emerging industry.

Suzanne Leonard, ‘16 Postdoctoral Research Associate Iowa State University B.S. Biological Engineering, Agricultural Engineering Concentration While earning my B.S. at NC State I also did undergraduate research in the department. I fell in love with the research process, which prompted me to continue my education and earn a Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering. As a postdoc, I conduct research focused on animal production systems, specifically on swine housing and welfare. I collaborate with other researchers to collect data, then analyze and publish results. Our group focuses on applied research projects tied closely to industry, and I like that the results of my work are relevant and helpful to today’s swine producers. 35

Announcing the Michael D. Boyette Undergraduate Endowment Ask a student about their time in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and they’re likely to name a couple of faculty and courses that defined their time in Weaver Labs. A name that consistently ranks at the top: Dr. Michael Boyette. Dr. Michael D. Boyette, P.E. is a Philip Morris Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and a licensed Professional Engineer. Dr. Boyette proudly received all three of his degrees from NC State. He earned his bachelor’s and doctorate in BAE and his M.S. in the Department of Wood and Paper Science. Before joining NC State as an Extension Specialist, he worked for six years as a design engineer in the Nuclear Products division of Rockwell International Corp. He became a full professor and was named a Philip Morris Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in 1999. For 20 years, he has taught the senior design capstone course in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE). A strong believer in undergraduate research, Boyette encourages his students to think outside of the box and see engineering problems through a different perspective. After more than 35 years in the department, Dr. Michael Boyette started phased retirement this summer. His impact on the field of biological and agricultural engineering will be felt for years to come. To continue the spirit of his work and dedication to undergraduate and graduate students, the Michael D. “Mike” Boyette Undergraduate Endowment was created in his name. Having taught the last 20 years of senior design, Dr. Boyette has made a lasting impact on the most recent classes of graduates of our program. Please consider making a donation to support this endowment as a way to honor Dr. Boyette. You are welcome to give to the Biological & Agricultural Engineering Enrichment fund with a note signifying that the donation is specific to the Dr. Boyette Endowment. Please keep this endowment in mind to support undergraduates in Biological Engineering and Biological & Agricultural Engineering Technology at NC State University. While we have surpassed our initial $50,000 goal, donations are still welcome so that we can support even more undergraduate students. You can also support this endowment by sharing this information far and wide with those who have been impacted by Dr. Boyette.


GIVE TODAY IMPACT TOMORROW The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) provides a high quality, hands-on education for future engineers and creates a research and Extension environment that drives innovative and application of engineering technology in machine systems and precision agriculture, ecological engineering, environmental engineering, and bioprocess engineering. The generosity of BAE alumni and friends helps us to recruit and extend unique educational opportunities to the best and brightest students into our program and support and retain outstanding faculty to teach those students. Potential ways in which you can support BAE include the following opportunities. Give today and impact tomorrow! BAE Enhancement Fund The BAE enhancement fund provides departmental flexibility to support key initiatives in academics, research, and Extension. The fund helps support student and faculty travel to regional, national, and international meetings, funds for adjunct instructors, publication support, and computing resources for our department. With your help and generosity, the BAE department can continue to respond immediately to exciting challenges and opportunities for our students, professionals, staff, and faculty. High Impact Educational Experiences: Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Study Abroad A key component to the academic and professional training of BAE students include undergraduate research opportunities. The BAE department is committed to providing undergraduate students with a high-quality research experience to promote the professional development of these students. The BAE department is designing undergraduate research scholar programs that can interface directly with individuals and companies, allowing you a competitive advantage in terms of gaining access to our best and brightest students. The BAE department is also very supportive of student professional development through study abroad. Numerous study abroad opportunities exist at NC State University, but at times, the costs are too restrictive to allow students to participate. The Department participates in a multi-institutional study abroad experience in Belgium and leads a program on Roman Engineering in Spain. Endowment Opportunities Endowment gifts are long-term investments from alumni and friends of the BAE department. The stability and growth potential represented by an endowment gift amplifies its impact. Several types of endowments can be created. Undergraduate Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships Make an impact on a student’s life by providing financial resources to assist in their education. Graduate fellowships allow the BAE program to compete for the very best graduate students across the globe. Distinguished Professorships Endowed professorships are a key for building the national and international reputation of a department, and they allow us to recruit and retain the most exceptional faculty members. We utilize the state of North Carolina’s generous matching program, which provides 1/3 of the cost of the endowed professorship.

Students visit China on the Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates trip.

Students traveled to Boston for the 2019 ASABE Annual International Meeting. 37

NC State University Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Campus Box 7625 Raleigh, NC 27695-7625

MAKE AN IMPACT Follow Us! A gift to the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is an investment in the problem-solvers of the future. Support the programs most meaningful to you through monthly, quarterly, annual or one-time donations. To provide general support to BAE, visit

Checks payable to: N.C. Agriculture Foundation - BAE


Box 7645, Raleigh NC 27695-7645

For giving questions, please contact Chris Wessel by phone at

919-515-7678 or by email at

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