Biological Systems Engineering

Seminar Archive Fall 2012

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Coordinators for this Semester where Drs. Juming Tang & Bin Yang
Friday November 30, 2012 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
"Biobased Processing at PNNL - An Overview"

Dr. Rick Orth - PNLDr. Rick Orth, Technical Group Manager, Chemical and Biological Process Development Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), will provide an overview of biobased processing as well as the current work that PNNL is engaged in as related to this area of research and development.

Dr. Orth, a WSU alumnus (Ph.D. Chemical Engineering 1988, M.S. Chemical Engineering 1985), joined the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in 1992 after working for four years for Unocal Corporation.  During his career at PNNL, he has been involved in process development activities at the technical, project management and group management levels. More specifically, Dr. Orth has been involved with the development of processes for conversion of biobased materials to value-added chemicals and fuels.  Examples include processes for the recovery of value-added chemicals from wheat mill feed and corn fiber.  Dr. Orth is currently the Technical Group Manager of the Chemical and Biological Process Development Group.  This group is comprised of over 50 staff who are involved in research and process development activities related to biochemical, thermochemical and catalytic conversion of biobased materials to value-added chemicals and fuels.  The group resides in the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) that is located on the Washington State University Tri-Cities Campus in Richland, Washington.


ThisFriday November 16, 2012 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
“Organic Agriculture:  Strengths and Limitations”

John ReganoldThis seminar will be presented by John Reganold, Regents Professor of Soil Science and Agroecology at Washington State University.

He will discuss what research studies comparing organic and conventional farming systems tell us about their sustainability. The four major agricultural sustainability indicators - adequate yields of high quality, economic vitality, environmental responsibility, and social wellbeing - will be examined relative to these two farming systems. The future of organic farming will also be discussed.

November 9, 2012 - 4:10PM in FSHN T101
 “Preparing a Food System for Long-Duration Spaceflight Missions”. 

Dr. Maya CooperDr. Maya Cooper, contracted research scientist with the NASA Space Foods System Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, will talk about the current assumptions and research strategy being used in the definition of a food system for long-duration space missions.


Friday, November 2, 2012 (4:10PM): FSHN T101

Prossie Nakawuka and Yubin Zheng, both candidates for the Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering will present will talk about their research.

"Effect of deficit irrigation on yield quantity, quality and grower returns of native spearmint and hops." - Prossie Nakawuka

Most conventional irrigation practices in the world are designed to avoid crop water stress in order to maximize yields. Insufficient water supply for irrigation which is already a norm in some areas and will be in other areas in the near future calls for alternative practices based on maximizing total benefits rather than yields. One such practice is deficit irrigation. This study analyzes the potential of deficit irrigation practices in improving water use efficiency and grower profitability in two specialty crops mint and hops.

"Two-stage heterotrophic and phototrophic culture technology for microalgal biomass and lipid production in northern states of the US." - Yubin Zheng

We are currently risking of being unable to meet the mandated biofuel production targets. New technologies and great efforts are needed to lead the world in developing our biofuel industry. Producing algal fuel under a wide range of climate conditions in the US can not only maximize biofuel production capacity of the country but also create new economic opportunities for a great number of rural communities. However, the northern states of the US face a major challenge – the cold winter does not allow for year-round micro algae production. A common strategy to overcome cold weather limitation is to use photobioreactor (PBR) or other types of indoor culture systems. The cost of such production system is often too high due to the high construction cost and the low productivity resulted from the low algal concentration in the growth systems. To address this issue, a two-stage heterotrophic and phototrophic algae culture system was developed, wherein high density heterotrophic cultures of the alga Chlorella sorokiniana served as seed for subsequent phototrophic growth. Our results demonstrated that this algae culture system took advantages of high efficiency, low land and water requirement, easy scale-up, contamination control and year-round production. Thus, this two-stage heterotrophic phototrophic process is promising to provide an efficient way for large scale production of algal biomass and biofuels.

Thursday November 1, 2012 (9:00AM): LJSmith 264)

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD in engineering Science, Liang Yu will present:

“Simulation of Flow, Mass Transfer and Bio-Chemical Reactions in Anaerobic Digestion”
Friday October 26, 2012 (4:10PM): FSHN T101)

Debjit Ray and Jing Peng, both PhD Candidates in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering program will present the following research seminars.

"Elucidating genes and pathways required for meiosis in yeast and mammals"

Debjit Ray - This work mainly focuses on yeast metabolic pathways active during sporulation. The yeast is the smallest eukaryote, thus can be used as a model system. A stoichiometric modeling method called Flux balance analysis is used to study the flux distribution in the yeast metabolic network. The model can be further used to study the effects of gene deletion on the metabolic network and thus predict new genes affecting the meiosis process. These studies will lead to engineering pathways for the increased yeast meiosis. This type of model can be used for any kind of organisms and modify the pathways to get optimal production of some desired products (biofuel, beer etc).

"Thermal texture degradation of vegetables: a case study of carrots"

Jing Peng - As important components of a balanced and healthy diet, vegetables need efficient and appropriate preservation technologies to prolong their shelf-life. Satisfying microbial safety while maximizing the food quality becomes the continuing challenges for the vegetable processing. For processed vegetables, texture is one of the primary marketable characteristics for customers. In this presentation, texture loss during heating of vegetables is discussed and carrots are used as an example to demonstrate the thermal texture degradation on a kinetic basis. The influence of isotonic solution, preheating or calcium treatment on thermal texture degradation is also investigated.

Friday October 26, 2012 (1:00PM LJSmith 264)
“Biogas Purification:  A Novel Technique Using Pretreated Digester Effluent”

Presented by Nick Kennedy for his final exam seminar . 

Thursday October 25, 2012 (4:10PM): FSHN T101)
“Degradation Wheat Straw Cell Wall by White Rot Fungi Phanerochaete Chrysosporium”

Presented by Jijiao Zeng for his final exam seminar in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD in Engineering Science.

Thursday October 25, 2012 (2:00PM LJSmith 263)
"Investigation of Lipid Production from Xylose and Inhibitory Effects from Lignocellulose Hydrolysates to Lipid Production Using Mor tier ell a Isabellina"

Presented by Difeng Gao in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the MS in Biological and Agricultural engineering degree.

Friday October 19, 2012 (4:10PM): FSHN T101)
"Innovating Our Way to a Clean Energy Future"

Presented by Brian Duff, chief Engineer and Team Leader for Demonstration and Deployment for the Office of the Biomass Program at the US Department of Energy.

Mr. Duff will discuss the innovative technologies being supported by the DOE and discuss the challenges and opportunities for chemical engineers in the emerging biomass industry, in designing the biofuel and bioproduct manufacturing plants of the future.

Friday September 28, 2012 (4:10PM): FSHN T101)
“Modeling the effect of climate change on wheat productivity in Mediterranean environments”

Presented by Dr. Rolf Sommer, visiting ICARDA Soil Scientist at WSU Biological Systems Engineering from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA. For the dry areas of the Mediterranean region, IPCC future climate projections show an increase in annual mean temperature and a decrease in annual rainfall. Dr. Sommer will outline how these projections affect wheat growth and yield under rain fed, Mediterranean conditions of northern Syria.

Friday September 21, 2012 (4:10PM): FSHN T101)
"Flush With Success"

Dr. Simon Smith, Biological Systems Engineering, will outline the development of the Cold Flush™ process; a new approach to wastewater monitoring.  Several unforeseen hurdles were encountered during the development of this technology, and as most researchers encounter similar problems in their own research, the Cold Flush™ lessons will be described in the form of a case study.  Dr Smith will also share some of the strategic thinking processes he used to identify this particular business niche and frame his own business perspectives.

Dr. Smith is an Environmental Scientist with broad international industrial experience.  He has extensive practical wastewater experience, and is a Certified Group IV Domestic Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator for the State of Washington.  He also has more than fifteen years experience in the steel, plastics, pharmaceuticals, ceramics and environmental biotechnology industries, in South Africa, the UK, and the US.

His research company Worldthree llc, specializes in developing innovative technologies that help wastewater managers get more from their facilities and resources.  Worldthree llc has an “open-source” business model and shares its research findings through publication and presentation.



November 9, 2012 (VSH)
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Dr. Sankaran & Dr. Khot



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