Department Fall Seminar Series: October 12 through December 14

Check the full schedule for details
A composite image of a leaf with the world laid over it with the text fall 2022 seminar series



OCT 12th: Introduction of Graduate Students

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30 pm, in-person, Alderman 415


OCT 17: Title: Smart water management for sustainable agriculture in North Dakota

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30pm Kaufert Lab Room 302

Speaker: Xinhua Jia

Dr. Xinhua Jia is a professor and a professional engineer at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, ND. She also serves as the director for North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute since last month. Dr. Jia holds a PhD in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining NDSU, she worked as a postdoc researcher associate at the University of Florida. She joined NDSU in 2007 with 75% research and 25% teaching appointment. She conducts applied research on water resources management, such as irrigation, drainage, evapotranspiration, snow hydrology, etc. Her goal is to use advanced and automatic instruments and sensors to best manage water resources for a sustainable farming system. 


Bridget Ulrich has long brown hair and wears a maroon shirt with a gray cardigan, posing for a professional head shot.

OCT 19: Biochars and activated carbon for removal of emerging contaminants from stormwater and groundwater

Time and Room: 3:45-4:45 pm, in-person, Borlaug Hall 365

Speaker: Bridget Ulrich

Dr. Bridget Ulrich is the Environmental Chemistry Research Program Leader at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and a graduate faculty member for the Water Resources Science program. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Prior to joining NRRI she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) in Zurich, Switzerland. Her research combines interdisciplinary insights from environmental engineering, analytical chemistry, microbiology, and materials science to evaluate contaminant fate and transport in aquatic systems. She was recently recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Deborah L. Swackhamer Early Career Award, which recognizes individuals early in their career working toward the betterment of Minnesota water resources.


Shane Stennes wear a long sleeve button down shirt and crosses his arms posing for a head shot outside.

NOV 2: How will UMN Build a Fully Sustainable Future

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30 pm, in-person, Borlaug Hall 365

Speaker: Shane Stennes

Shane Stennes is the Chief Sustainability Officer for the University of Minnesota, where he leads the institution's strategic goal to Build a Fully Sustainable Future. Prior to his promotion to CSO, he worked as Director of Sustainability on the University's Twin Cities campus, leading collaborations for systems change, spearheading renewable energy procurement, and coordinating work that led to a reduction in campus GHG emissions of 50% over a decade. He has a BA in Political Science and International Relations and a Masters degree in Human Resources.


Yasuo Yoshikuni wears a suit and tie posing for a headshot in front of a white backdrop.

NOV 16: Opportunities for facility-enabled science at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) (Online)

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30 pm, Online

Speaker: Yasuo Yoshikuni, Head of the DNA Synthesis Science Program, U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Dr. Yasuo Yoshikuni is head of the DNA Synthesis Science Program at the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (JGI). The JGI started this program in 2012, as set forth in its 10-year strategic vision to serve community science as a user facility pioneering functional genomics to solve the most relevant bioenergy and environmental problems. The mission of this program is to harness the power of DNA synthesis, strain engineering, and biosystems design for DOE-mission-relevant discovery and applications. This program outputs ~7 Mbp/yr of DNA synthesis and ~4,000 constructs/yr and has supported over 200 projects since it started. In the JGI, Dr. Yoshikuni also manages the Synthetic Biology Pathway Engineering group. His research focus includes engineering of non-model yeasts for production of biofuels and renewable chemicals, developing genome engineering tools for non-model organisms, modulating microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions in various environments to improve crop yield, and developing a platform for building composite materials.

Dr. Yoshikuni completed his graduate study at the University of California, Berkeley and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. Before joining the DOE JGI, Dr. Yoshikuni was co-founder and chief science officer at a clean technology startup, Bio Architecture Lab, Inc. (BAL), where his significant achievement was using systems and synthetic biology to discover novel pathways assimilating unique sugar polymers in macroalgae and developing the first microbial platform technologies unlocking the potential of macroalgae as an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective biomass for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. The development of this technology allowed the company to build a strong IP proposition and to raise ~$40 million from venture capitalists, receive prestigious national grants (ARPA-E, CORFO), and build a commercial partnership with leading companies in the oil and chemical industries (e.g., Statoil, DuPont). The work also led to several patents and high-impact scientific publications in Nature and Science. Because of his background in an industrial leadership position, Dr. Yasuo is extremely skilled at collaborating with scientists and engineers in multidisciplinary areas and addressing major scientific questions by organizing coherent teams.


Daniel Cullen wears a black coat while posing in front of bright red fall foliage.

NOV 30: Omic analyses of extensively decayed Pinus contorta reveal expression of diverse lignocellulose degrading enzymes

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30 pm, in-person, Borlaug Hall 365

Speaker: Daniel Cullen

Dan holds a BS in Biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a scientist for Genencor, he worked on Aspergillus expression systems from 1984 to 1986 after which he joined the USDA Forest Products Lab in Madison, WI.  He is currently a USDA senior scientist and University of Wisconsin principal investigator. His research has focused on the molecular genetics of lignin degrading fungi and, more recently, on meta-omics approaches applied to microbial populations in fire-disturbed western forests.


Maria Clara Vieira Martins Starling has long brown hair and is wearing a white spaghetti strap tank top.

DEC 7: Removal of CEC (drugs, ARB, ARG) from wastewater in Brazil: A personal journey reflection on current practices and toxicity (in-person)

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30 pm, in-person, Borlaug Hall 365

Speaker: Maria Clara Vieira Martins Starling

Maria Clara Starling is Biologist who holds a PhD in Sanitation, Environment and Water Resources. As an early career Adjunct Professor at the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil, she is currently a Jr. Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota (School of Public Health - Division of Environmental Sciences). UFMG is a leading institution in Brazil with more than 50,000 students. Prof. Starling is a member of the Graduate Program in Sanitation, Environment and Water Resources and her research has centered on pollution characterization, control and prevention mainly focusing in water quality monitoring and assessment, biomonitoring and ecotoxicology, as well as industrial and municipal wastewater treatment for removal of contaminants of emerging concern (e.g., chemicals, pathogens and antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes).


Juming Tang wears a tan suit jacket and tie in front of a tan background for a professional headshot.

DEC 14: Electrifying thermal processing operations for the food industry towards carbon neutral goal

Time and Room: 3:30-4:30 pm, in-person, Borlaug Hall 365

Speaker: Juming Tang

Dr. Juming Tang is a Regents Professor at Washington State University. He is a member of US National Academy of Engineering and fellow of US National Academy of Inventors. Over the past 30 years, he conducted research on food dehydration, advanced thermal processing, pathogen controls in low moisture foods, and non-chemical post-harvest pest control using electromagnetic energy. He has educated over 50 PhD students and trained over 50 post-doctorate fellows and visiting scholars.  He has authored over 420 peer-reviewed scientific papers and received 14 US and international patents.  He directed two industrial consortia with members representing US Army Natick Soldier Center, Seafood Product Association, and major food and packaging companies including Kraft, General Mills, Nestle, Pepsi-Cola, Printpack, Mars, and Ocean Beautify Seafoods. These efforts have led to the development of 915 MHz Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS) technology for commercial production of shelf-stable meals, with acceptance from US FDA and non-objection from USDA FSIS. He directed the Center of Excellence for Food Safety supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, leading to the development of 915 MHz microwave assisted pasteurization systems (MAPS) for control of bacterial and viral pathogens in frozen and chilled ready-to-eat meals. He is a member of Washington State Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of International Microwave Power Institute, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and Institute of Food Technologists.