Summer BioBriEf department head message

August 17, 2023
A headshot of Department Head Hua Zhao from the waist up, smiling, and wearing a business casual top.

I hope you had an enjoyable summer, whether you were traveling, gathering with family and friends, or catching up on your to-do-list (work or personal). Kudos to Professor Brett Barney for the promotion to full Professor. My special gratitude goes to Professor Ulrike Tschirner for serving as the director of undergraduate program (DUGS) for BBE engineering programs for nearly 20 years! Her dedication, passion and service are truly appreciated by the department. After she steps down in preparation for retirement, Professor Bo Hu will be the successor of this important role.

We have finalized our contracts with two external firms to develop and refine key messages and visual materials to step up recruitment efforts, public image, and our alumni and donor relationships. These firms will actively work with our faculty, staff, and students to complete the tasks this fall. Our Recruitment and Retention Committee has been meeting with these external firms this summer to shape their focuses and approaches. In addition, we are working with a consultant to deliver two strategic planning work sessions; these two in-person sessions have been scheduled in October for faculty and staff to participate.

As you may be aware, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) has shared the College Alignment report completed by the Task Force on Administrative Alignment, which includes the recommendation of one potential model of realignment to organize current departments into schools, balance disciplinary strengths of the College and emerging opportunities for interdisciplinary efforts in teaching, research, and outreach. I love to hear feedback from our faculty, staff, students, alums, friends, and stakeholders about how these potential changes will impact our program identities, recruitment, fundraising, and alumni and donor relationships.

In this issue of the BioBriEf, we highlight the importance of student co-ops, specifically the relationship our department holds with Sappi based in Cloquet, Minnesota. We also dive into the partnership between BBE and the Erosion and Stormwater Certification Program, and how undergraduate students in the Environmental and Ecological Engineering specialization benefit from their work. 

A hearty welcome to Dr. Rui Cheng, our new Assistant Professor of Robotics, Sensors, and Manufacturing in Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Management, for joining the BBE family! This fall, we will begin to recruit a tenure-track faculty position in Biochemical Engineering, and a research faculty position in Bioutilization and Ecological Energetics. You can view the jobs listings here

A gentle reminder, our BBE Showcase day is happening on October 26. Please save the date and join us in support of our students!

Hua Zhao,
Professor and Department Head