Category Archives: Biological Engineering

Wang on biofuels research team

Dr. Lijun Wang, professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, is part of a University of North Carolina system research team that recently snagged a $2 million grant to convert animal and food waste into carbon-neutral gasoline. Awarded by the UNC System’s Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI), the project will vet technology that uses solar energy to convert biogas to gasoline.

The research team is led by N.C. A&T chemistry professor, Dr. Debasish Kuila. He is also the research director of the National Science Foundation CERST Bioenergy Center, and an adjunct professor at both the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) and the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Continue reading Wang on biofuels research team

Dr. Godfrey Gayle Secures $400,000 NRCS Contract

Dr. Godfrey Gayle, a professor of biological engineering, has secured a $400,000 contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide scholarships and other support to students studying biological engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

The two-year contract seeks to increase enrollment and improve retention of undergraduate and graduate students studying biological engineering, especially natural resources and agricultural engineering programs in the CAES. The contract has multiple goals, including to:

Continue reading Dr. Godfrey Gayle Secures $400,000 NRCS Contract

Biological Engineering student receives Fulbright grant

North Carolina A&T State University senior, biological engineering student Madeline Keefer will spend nine months studying flood management in the Netherlands thanks to a Fulbright U.S. Student Programs Grant jointly sponsored by the Netherland-America Foundation.

Beginning in August, Keefer will conduct research at the Delft University of Technology in the South Holland Providence of the Netherlands.

Being only the third N.C. A&T student to be awarded a Fulbright grant, Keefer understands the magnitude of receiving the honor.

 Madeline Keefer Fulbright Winner“The process was pretty long. I submitted my application through the honors program in mid-September 2015, found out I was a semi-finalist in January 2016; then in April that I was a finalist and winner,” she said. “I was extremely excited and rather shocked because it’s a very competitive program but I am very excited and feel fortunate and blessed to be accepted.”

The grant will allow the second generation Aggie to further explore water systems engineering, which is an aspect that she has particular interest. Because her topic is a mixture of civil and biological engineering she’s able to make practical use of her study and classes such as hydrology, fluid mechanics and hydraulics, statics and geographic information systems.

“I’ll be directly applying the skills I learned in those classes in the Netherlands while I do my research,” she said. “I have always wanted to get more of a feel for water systems engineering, which this project directly relates to. Outside of the classroom, that is a part of my major that I haven’t been able to explore in much detail. I’m really interested in helping to protect our land from the power of water, but also working with water and harnessing it and using it to our advantage.”

While Keefer’s research in the Netherlands will undoubtedly open numerous academic doors, she is just as excited about the cultural experience that she hopes to fully immerse herself in. When other study abroad opportunities were presented she says she regretfully passed, but plans to take full advantage of every aspect of her Fulbright journey, including studying Dutch and engaging in as much of the culture as she possibly can.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international, educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It provides grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

FIR team makes impression at EPA competition

research_iconA team composed of students from the SAES’s biological engineering program, A&T undergraduates from three other engineering disciplines, high school student from Durham County’s Southern School of Energy and Sustainability magnet school and Guilford County’s STEM Early College, and a quartet of A&T doctoral students received an honorable mention in the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014-15 “National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity, and the Planet” (the “P3 Awards”). For the competition, teams of college students submit comprehensive plans for research into green energy, biofuels, smart growth, urban water infrastructures, structures that maximize energy efficiency or other approaches to sustainable development. The honorable mention presented to the team from A&T means the squad finished no lower 17th in a competition that had finalists from 46 universities. Among the seven institutions coming away with $75,000 top tier awards were Cornell University, Johns Hopkins, Iowa State, Purdue University, the University of Tennessee and the University of Wisconsin.

The A&T project was “Floating Island on a Roof for Rainwater Management (FIR)” and it addressed storm-water management and urban areas’ need for more green space. The A&T FIR team submitted a design for pond on a rooftop with a floating island composed of foam and recycled plastic fiber — a growing medium that several floral species have found amenable. Rainwater collected from the building with the FIR is collected, stored and slowly released to nourish plants. The research also included an investigation of flora best suited to the conditions and fauna its most likely to attract.

The FIR team was led by Madeline Keefer, a biological engineering student. Drs. Manuel Reyes and Godfrey Gayle of the SAES were among the A&T faculty mentors for the project. Other mentors were an associate professor in the Architectural Engineering Program, Robert Powell, and Dr. Clinton Lee from Electrical Engineering. Two members of the STEM Early College teaching staff, Matthew Vaughn and Ashley King also assisted with the FIR project, and an A&T alum, Demetre Harris, was the mentor from the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability.

March 1 deadline for American Chemical Society Scholars Awards

research iconThe American Chemical Society Scholars Program awards renewable scholarships annually of as much as $5,000 to minority students with plans to pursue careers in fields related to chemistry, and the 2015-16 application window closes the first day of March. The "acceptable major" list includes food science, nutrition and veterinary medicine. High school seniors, and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. Individual awards depend on the availability of funding and applicants’ financial needs, but typical scholarship awards are $2,500 to freshmen; $3,000 to sophomores; and $5,000 to juniors and seniors.

To be eligible for a scholarship from the ACS Scholars Program, applicants must be full-time students and African American, Latino or American Indian; have a GPA of 3.0 or better; and meet standards for financial need established in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA) and the Student Aid Report (SAR) form. Career objectives, leadership ability, participation in school activities and community service are also considerations for the Scholars Program awards.

Biotechnology Center looking for partnerships with commercial potential

research iconThe North Carolina Biotechnology Center will accept funding proposals until Feb. 11 for research projects that entail partnerships between universities and firms in the private sector. Each two-year Collaborative Funding Grant provides 50 percent of either a $50,000- or $100,000-project built around a post-doctoral fellow or technician at a university facility whose research has enough commercial potential for 20 percent support from a private sector partner. Principal investigators for projects are required to be full-time tenure track faculty at a North Carolina academic institution or have a permanent appointment at a non-profit research institution.

June 27 deadline for bioengineering conference discounts and biodiesel grants

research iconThe advance registration cutoff for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) 2014 Annual International Meeting is June 27. Prior to the 27th, the registration fee is $725 for members, $305 for graduate students and $250 for undergraduates. On-site registrations for the conference, set for Montreal July 13-16, will be $780 for professionals, $345 for graduate students and $305 for undergraduates.

Members of the Canadian Society for BioEngineering (CSBE) will be joining their American counterparts for an international information exchange that will promote awareness of current trends and recent innovations in bioengineering design and technology.

This July’s ASABE/CSBE gathering in Montreal will include an undergraduate poster competition, and student design competitions in robotics and basic engineering. This year’s conference agenda includes sessions devoted to engineering for urban agriculture, generating heat and power from renewable Energy sources, and a forum on biomass feedstock logistics.

June 27 is also the application deadline for a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Biodiesel Fuel Education Program that will provide $960,000 in funding support for educational programs that will increase public awareness of the benefits of biodiesel fuel use. Proposals should focus on objectives for helping governmental and private sector motor-fleet management better understand the advances in feedstock production, technology transfer, and fuel quality and fuel safety and infrastructure.

May 21 BioNight will be "An Evening of Spirit, Awards and Recognition"

beaker iconRegistration is underway for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s annual "Triad BioNight" that will be Wednesday, May 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons.. Triad BioNight will honor leaders in from the local biotechnology community for outstanding contributions to educational programs with impacts on workforce skill development, leadership in policy biotechnology funding, enterprise innovations, partnership development and R&D accomplishments. The year’s keynote speaker will be the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ assistant secretary for administration, E. J. Holland Jr., who has responsibility for the work of 3,800 federal employees and contractors, and $1.4 billion in budget allocations. Tickets are $80 each and can be purchased online right up to the day of the event.

New bioenergy textbook has Sockwellian origins

Dr. Lijun Wangresearch iconDr. Lijun Wang, an associate professor of biological engineering, is editor of and contributor to a new 583-page, 25-chapter hardcover from the Taylor & Francis Group’s CRC Press Imprint, Sustainable Bioenergy Production. The synopsis at Amazon.com says that the book provides "analysis and design of sustainable biomass production, bioenergy processing, and biorefinery systems for professionals in the bioenergy field."

Wang is the author of a chapter on food processing wastes as an energy feedstock, and co-author of chapters covering animal and food processing wastes as feedstocks, biomass pyrolysis, bio-oil utilization, and anaerobic digestion of organic wastes. Wang and Dr. Abolghasem Shahbazi, director of the Biological Engineering Program, are part of the team of authors of a chapter on mathematical modeling in biomass and bioenergy systems.

Wang also serves as one of six lead researchers for A&T’s Bioenergy Center, which operates under Shahbazi’s direction. The team was recently presented the University’s 2014 Research Team Award — recognition for ongoing research into conversion of agricultural biomass into liquid and hydrogen fuels.

Five to be honored at biotech extravaganza

city iconThe North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s annual "Triad BioNight" will be Wednesday, May 21, at the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons. The local biotech community will present five awards that evening. Individuals and organizations will be recognized for contributions to:

I.  Academic Development Excellence – for educational programs with impacts on workforce skill development

II. Biotechnology Service/Support Excellence – for leadership building,  policy development or funding biotechnology across the Piedmont

III. Entrepreneurial Excellence – for enterprise innovations  or business acumen

IV. Piedmont Biotechnology Community Leadership Excellence – for partnerships development and regional thinking

V. Research and Development Excellence Award for R&D accomplishments

Bioenergy initiative announces availability of half-million for research

beaker iconThe N.C. Bioenergy Research Initiative has rolled out the welcome mat for proposals for R&D into agricultural and forestry-based feedstocks for bioenergy production — especially for cellulosic ethanol. A half-million dollars in competitive grant funding, approved by the N.C. General Assembly, is now available. The proposal deadline is March 31. Proposals can offer production and harvesting improvements, or plant-variety work, for further development of biomass energy crops or new species with bioenergy potential.

SAES hosts Winter Ag Literacy BBQ Fest

To celebrate National FFA Week, the SAES’s Agriscience Education Program hosted its annual Agricultural Literacy Barbecue Fest on Friday, Feb. 28 at Stallings Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union Building. A large contingent of high school students and teachers — more than 230 participants from 10 high schools — were the guests of honor. While on campus for the Agricultural Literacy Barbecue Fest, the visitors got a peek at some of the research projects at the University Farm and overviews of new SAES academic programs and career opportunities for which they prepare students.

ag literacy barbeque fest

The SAES hosts the Ag. Literacy Fest each February in conjunction with FFA Week. Established in 1928, the FFA has now grown into anorganization with more than half a million members and $2 million in college scholarshipsawarded through the National FFA Foundation.

Chemical Society scholarship window open despite winter winds

research beaker iconThe American Chemical Society Scholars Program annually awards renewable scholarships of up to $5,000 to underrepresented minority students with plans to pursue careers in fields related to chemistry, and the 2013-14 application window that opened in November closes March 1. The "acceptable major" list includes agricultural chemistry, environmental science and food science. High school seniors, and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. Individual awards depend on the availability of funding and applicants’ financial needs, but typical scholarship awards are $2,500 to freshmen; $3,000 to sophomores; and $5,000 to juniors and seniors.

To be eligible for a scholarship from the ACS Scholars Program, applicants must be full-time 9] and African American, Latino or American Indian; have a GPA of 3.0 or better; and meet standards for financial need established in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA) and the Student Aid Report (SAR) form. Career objectives, financial need, leadership ability, participation in school activities and community service also are taken into consideration by the Scholars Program selection.

Biotechnology Center looking for partnerships with commercial potential

research iconThe North Carolina Biotechnology Center will be taking grant applications until Feb. 12 for proposals for projects involving partnerships between universities and firms in the private sector. Each two-year grant provides 50 percent of either a $50,000- or $100,000-project built around a post-doctoral fellow or technician at a university facility whose research has enough commercial potential for 20 percent support from a private sector partner.

Past success stories from this program include a patented process for an enzyme that helps convert feathers to a feed additive for poultry and contributions to the development of a seedless variety of Miscanthus, an ornamental and biofuel grass prone to invasiveness if allowed to reseed

How about a summer of research in the Big Apple?

research iconColumbia University and Barnard College have a 10-week summer program (May 27 to Aug. 1 in 2014) for students from other colleges and universities who have a strong interest in pursuing biology-related laboratory research. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and sophomores, junior or non-graduating seniors. Students selected will receive a stipend of $4,000 and housing on Columbia’s Morningside campus. During their 10 weeks in summer program, students will work 40 hours a week on research projects guided by project scientists. The application deadline is Monday, Feb. 3.

The Amgen Foundation supports similar summer programs at a number of U.S. universities where research in biotechnology and related areas is underway.

Swine and dandy

soil iconThe Triad Business Journal is reporting that the University Farm will become home to a “high-tech asphalt processing operation, a process that seeks to both lower costs and provide a useful recycling avenue for hog waste.” Funding for the project will come from a $100,000 prize for 2013 MegaWatt Ventures Competition that went to Dr. Elham Fini of the School of Engineering and one of her

Dr. Abolghasem Shahbazi

graduate students. Although Fini’s research to utilize hog waste as a cost-effective replacement for petroleum products in asphalt has been drawing media attention ? from UNC TV and several trade publications? in addition to Triad Business Journal ?? her asphalt processing operation has strong connections to SAES research work.

Dr. Abolghasem Shahbazi
was among the first to suggest to Fini that she try the residue from his biofuel research involving hog waste as an asphalt adhesive, and Dr. Shuanging Xiu, an SAES research associate, also has worked with Fini in blending SAES research resources into her project. The connections between Fini’s asphalt binder research and SAES research were sketched out into the 2011 issue of the Agricultural Research Program’s annual magazine, RE:search .

Biological Engineering reaccredited for another half-dozen years

info iconIn October A&T’s Biological Engineering Program was approved for a full six-year accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) that evaluates and accredits all engineering, technology, and surveying programs — internationally as well as in the United States.

Continue reading Biological Engineering reaccredited for another half-dozen years

Scholarships for students committed to sustainable agriculture

Annie’s Homegrown, a company that produces organic meals and snacks, has announced $100,000 in scholarship funds to students studying sustainable or organic agriculture. Undergraduate and graduate students studying at accredited colleges and universities in the United States are eligible to apply. The application deadline is Dec. 3.