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July 2018 | Vol. 8, No. 1

Message from Department Head Gary Sands

president kaler poses with faculty, students in bbe makerspace in fall 2018.

Welcome to our new BioBriEf monthly e-newsletter! We hope you’ll like this new format where we plan to bring department news to you on a more regular basis. We will tell you about what our faculty are teaching and discovering, what our students are up to, and more. Much has happened here since our last BioBriEf newsletter, including a visit from President Kaler.

Read Sands' full message

Research news

Innovative, affordable studless wall system can change the industry
Associate Extension Professor Patrick Huelman and a team of University of Minnesota researchers developed a studless building and delivery system for residential construction.

New, build-it-yourself camera track system developed for plant phenotyping in the field
The versatile $5,500 system can withstand inclement weather and is one of many new ways for high throughput phenotyping in plants. It was designed by University of Minnesota researchers, including Assistant Professor Peter Marchetto.

Arsenault presents wastewater treatment research at the UN Headquarters
Allie Arsenault was one of seven undergraduate students selected to present their research and solution to the clean water crisis at a global conference in New York City this spring.

Finding safer, versatile plastic solutions
Biopolymers containing lignin may be an answer to reduce harmful plastic and its degradation byproducts while meeting a variety of needs. A Q&A with researcher Stephanie Harris.

Research by Tze and team featured on cover of journal
It was on the cover of Journal of Applied Polymer Science in June 2017.

Barney, Sarkanen awarded patents
Congratulations to faculty Brett Barney and Simo Sarkanen who were awarded patents for their discoveries.

Education news

2018 Capstone design projects and graduation reception
Congratulations to the 14 teams who successfully completed their capstone design projects this year, and thank you to the industry professionals who participated.

Congratulations to Class of Winter 2017, Spring 2018
See a list of undergraduate students who graduated last winter and this spring.

Graduate students' defense presentations
Congratulations to our graduate students who successfully defended their theses. See a list of presentations from August 2017 to June 2018.

Banerjee receives UMN Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
Doctoral student Sudhanya Banerjee was awarded 1 of 102 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships this year. He's advised by Shri Ramaswamy.

Pitti recieves Buckman Fellowship
Graduate student Anna Pitti is pursuing her master’s degree and is advised by Omar Espinoza. The Buckman Fellowship was established in 2002 with a gift from the estate of the late Mertie W. Buckman.

2017 Annual Department Showcase highlights
The 2017 Showcase was held on October 26 at the St. Paul Student Center.

Honors & recognition


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BioBriEf is a monthly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. This publication is available in alternative formats upon request. Direct requests to