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November 2018   |   Vol. 8, Issue 5

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Message from Department Head Gary R. Sands

We hope this month’s BioBriEf finds you well and enjoying what the fall season has to offer. Last week, it offered us our annual opportunity to recognize outstanding bioproducts and biosystems engineering (BBE) and sustainable systems management (SSM) students at the Scholarship Awards Luncheon, an event that's part of the 2018 BBE Showcase. David Kolsrud of DAK Renewable Energy delivered a heartfelt keynote address at the luncheon. His message of “living up to your full potential” was a valuable one for all! We awarded undergraduate scholarships to 65 students and recognized other student achievements. We are truly thankful for the generous student support received from so many, without which such a scholarship program would not exist. Thank you all! We invite those who may wish to join in the effort of supporting students to give to our student scholarship fund, especially on Give to the Max Day on November 15.

The BBE Showcase also provided an opportunity to meet with our BBE Advisory Council to work together on many facets of our program. Thank you, council members, for spending some of your valuable time with us. Your ideas and input are extremely valuable! We welcome any of you that may wish to join our Advisory Council—no prerequisites or membership dues—just bring your ideas!

The 2018 BBE Showcase culminated with the Research Poster Session and Networking Reception (pictured), which featured 46 research posters and was attended by more than 100 faculty, students, and Advisory Council members. The breadth of our research in BBE is truly remarkable, and congratulations to Lu Wang on winning the 2018 Best Poster! Lu's poster was "Integrated Process for Anaerobically Digested Swine Manure Treatment."

Panoramic shot of research poster session with three aisles of posters and a room full of people talking to each other.The 2018 Research Poster Session and Networking Reception featured 45 research posters. It was held on October 25 in the North Star Ballroom at the St. Paul Student Center.

Finally, we wish Marlee Schlief, our student services and external relations coordinator, a fond farewell as she is leaving BBE to pursue other interests. Marlee made significant impacts to our external relations and student recruitment and retention efforts over the last few years. Best wishes, Marlee!

Integrating hyperspectral imaging and machine learning to assess salt stress tolerance in wheat


Ali Moghimi, doctoral candidate and lead author of the study, worked with a group of researchers, including professors Ce Yang and Peter Marchetto, to integrate hyperspectral imaging and advanced machine learning algorithms to identify salt tolerant wheat lines.

"Conventional methods to identify salt tolerant wheat lines rely on time-consuming, destructive, subjective, and costly techniques," Moghimi said. "Our research was motivated by the need to identify salt tolerant wheat lines in a more efficient manner to mitigate yield losses due to salinity and to ultimately maintain or improve production on saline soils." More about this research will be covered in the December issue.

What is the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program?

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The department has hosted the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program since 2006 when it moved to the University of Minnesota under the direction of Bill Wilcke. NCR-SARE has awarded more than $50 million worth of competitive grants to farmers and ranchers, researchers, educators, public and private institutions, nonprofit groups, and others exploring sustainable agriculture. Learn more from NCR-SARE Communications Specialist Marie Flanagan

BBE faculty members co-chaired, presented at food engineering conference

Professors Roger Ruan and Kumar Mallikarjunan sit side-by-side on two large chairs.

Professor Roger Ruan and Food Science and Nutrition Professor Kumar Mallikarjunan served as co-chairs of the organization committee for the Conference of Food Engineering 2018 (CoFE) that was held in September in Minneapolis. Research Associate Professor Paul Chen also served as a committee member. Assistant Professor Abdennour Abbas was among those who presented.

Read more and learn how to submit a paper to a special journal issue on the conference

Student spotlight: David Kodama

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For third-year student David Kodama, possessing a variety of knowledge and experiencing all that you can is the key to success. He also believes that learning never stops, even outside of the classroom. After talking with his advisor, he discovered the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering and has since accomplished all that he wanted and more.

Read about David, who's majoring in BBE with an emphasis in food engineering

2018 Sneak Peek shows prospective students what department is about

A room full of seated students listen to another group of students standing in front of a classroom.We hosted our annual Fall Sneak Peek event to show the department to prospective students on September 29. A total of 44 people, which included prospective students and their families, attended. The day began with a welcome from Department Head Gary Sands and an informational session from directors of undergraduate studies, Omar Espinoza and Ulrike Tshirner. We welcomed alumni Karissa Horbal (Cargill) and Walter Eshenaur (ISG) and current students to participate on a panel. BBE students took groups on a tour of our facilities and research groups. Thank you to our students, alumni, faculty, post-docs, and graduate students who made this day possible!

Going on tours

Tours give students a first-hand look at the industry and ideas of potential careers after graduation.

Students, faculty, and industry professionals stand and pose in front of a pilot paper machine.BBE students and Professor Shri Ramaswamy attended the Specialty Papers US 2018 conference on Oct. 1-3 in Appleton, WI, organized by national and Lake States TAPPI. They are pictured visiting a pilot paper machine where one can see up close and personal the components and operations of a paper machine. Seen here with BBE students are leaders from the Lake States TAPPI and other groups. The U of M group also attended the Paper Industry Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on Oct. 4. The students appreciate the support by Liberty Paper, TAPPI student chapter, and the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering.

Students in lab coats, hard hats, goggles, and protective shoe wear gather around stainless steel machinery while listening to a man speak.BBE students had a chance to see some process/product engineering as they toured the Land O'Lakes dairy food processing pilot facility. This tour was part of our BBE 1001 Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Orientation class. We have several weeks where we break the class of 70 into smaller groups and expose them to number of different experiences. The Land O'Lakes tour was one of the 13 choices for tour and activities that week. The students got to see some examples of food process engineering including making cheese, butter, whey protein, pudding - all yummy! We would like to thank Land O'Lakes for providing this opportunity for the students to see in person interesting food process engineering examples. Photo by Lindsey Dodge.

Students stand and pose in front of a pile of large logs in an open lot on a sunny day.This was a tour from the SSM Orientation class. Students toured Wood From the Hood, an operation that uses reclaimed urban trees from the Minneapolis area to make high value-added products from a material that otherwise would be mulched, chipped, burned, or sent to the landfill. Thank you to owners Rick and Cindy Siewert, and Jon Buck, custom design manager, who gave us a great tour on a beautiful fall day.

UMN Extension honors Extension Biosecurity Education Team

The Extension Biosecurity Education Team was honored with a University of Minnesota Extension Dean's Award for Distinguished Team in October. The award states:

"The Extension Biosecurity Education Team delivers science-based, practical education to serve immediate and future needs of the Minnesota animal agriculture industry. In 2016, they constructed the Biosecure Entry Education Trailer (BEET), which has reached more than 179,300 people in the Midwest. BEET workshp audiences have included businesses that serve animal agriculture, veterinary students, and Minnesota 4-H livestock project participants. The team does not limit its education efforts to the use of the BEET trailer. They have produced multiple YouTube videos on biosecurity, as well as fact sheets in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali."

The team includes faculty members Erin Cortus and Kevin Janni in addition to Carol Cardona, Sharon Davis, Diane DeWitte, H. Wayne Martin, Abby Neu, Sally Noll, Joseph Rand, and Sarah Scheick. We'd also like to acknowledge BBE researcher Brian Hetchler who designed and built BEET and provided valuable input to the team.


Help us reach $5,000 for scholarships on Give to the Max Day

Give to the Max Day logo for November 15, 2018

Mark your calendars for Minnesota’s day of philanthropy on Thursday, November 15.

For this year's Give to the Max Day, we aim to raise $5,000 for scholarships. We know it's a bold goal, but this is for our students, some who also have bold goals of their own. Earning a degree gets financially challenging each year, and students increasingly carry more debt. Your gift will help minimize this burden. With your help, students can focus on what's really important—their education.

Every gift counts. Your gift, no matter the amount, will make a difference.

Plus, the gift you make on November 15 may help us get prize money for our scholarships from the University of Minnesota Foundation. See the prizes

Help us reach $5,000 on GTMD on November 15, 2018