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					                                                 Newsletter                                                        Fall 2008

                                                              Pyrolysis: from Waste to Value
In this issue…
                                                   The safe and economical disposal of poultry litter is becoming a major problem for the
                                                   U.S. poultry industry. Current disposal methods, such as land application and cattle
Note from the                                      feeding, are not feasible because of pollution of water resources due to leaching and
                                                   runoff, and the concern for mad cow disease contaminating the human food chain.
Department Head …….………2                            Incineration or combustion is potentially applicable to large-scale operations, but for
                                                   small growers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) non-attainment areas, this
Department News …….…2-3                            is not a suitable option because of the high cost of pollution abatement equipment and

BSE Student News ….…4-7                            Dr. Foster Agblevor has identified pyrolysis as a potential technology for disposing
                                                   of poultry litter. His ultimate goal is to develop transportable pyrolysis units to proc-
                                                   ess the waste from poultry growers within one locality, thus reducing transportation
BSE Faculty and                                    cost. This technology will not only solve the waste disposal and water pollution prob-
                                                   lems, but will also convert potential waste to high-value products such as energy and
Staff News……………...……8-9                            slow release fertilizer.

                                                   Dr. Agblevor and his team have devel-
BSE Alumni News ……10-11                            oped a laboratory scale poultry litter
                                                   pyrolysis unit that has been scaled-up to
                                                   five tons per day design capacity. The
BSE Social Calendar..……12                          unit has been installed on a farm in Day-
                                                   ton, VA and was recently transported to
                                                   Richmond, VA, as part of the Virginia
                                                   State Fair exhibition. Virginia Governor
                                                   Tim Kaine visited the exhibit.

                                                   Dr. Agblevor is also developing new
                                                                                                  Governor Tim Kaine and Dr. Foster Agblevor at
                                                   technologies that could be implemented         the Virginia State Fair discussing the portable
                                                   in the tobacco growing areas in South-         pyrolysis unit. Left to right: Clint Rohrer, Oren
                                                   side Virginia when tobacco cultivation is      Heatwole, Governor Tim Kaine, and Dr. Agblevor
                                                   eventually phased out. His research
                                                   team has developed an advanced frac-
                                                   tional catalytic pyrolysis process that
                                                   produces phenolic compounds and green
 The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation              diesel from biomass feedstocks. The
 recently presented the department with a          goal is to encourage farmers in the area
 check to help fund Dr. John Cundiff’s re-         to cultivate biomass feedstocks such as
 search on developing the technology to            switchgrass, miscanthus and hybrid pop-
 facilitate transportation of switchgrass from
                                                   lar to be used as feedstock for this proc-
 field to biofuel plants.
                                                   ess. U.S. Senator James Webb recently
                                                   visited the scaled-up version of the frac-
                                                   tional catalytic pyrolysis unit, which is      Dr. Agblevor and Senator James Webb are shown
                                                   currently operational at the Plantation        in front of the pyrolysis unit holding samples of
                                                   Road facility at Virginia Tech.                pyrolysis oil produced from the unit.

BSE— University Exemplary Department for "effectively linking research and scholarship with teaching"
                              Note from the Department Head
Welcome to the fall edition of our news-    dents to participate in research projects,    the planning stage and is projected to be
letter! The 2008-2009 academic year is      get involved in experiential learning         completed in 2011-2012. We plan to
well underway and our department con-       through internship and co-op opportuni-       move the “wet” research laboratories of
tinues to grow and develop in exciting      ties, and participate in study abroad pro-    the entire BSE faculty to this new build-
                        new ways. This      grams. In a global environment, interna-      ing.
                        fall, we wel-       tional experience is highly valued and
                        comed two new       provides our students with a competitive       In this hard economic environment,
                        faculty members     advantage in the job market. The news-        with ever dwindling support from the
                        (Dr.    Durelle     letter provides information about our         state, we are very fortunate for the great
                        Scott and Dr.       new study abroad program in Brazil.           generosity of our alumni, friends and
                        David Sample),                                                    corporations. Please remember that
                        and Dr. Ryan        I am very pleased to report that for the      alumni gifts and donations can make a
                        Senger will be      fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2008,      difference between a good and an excel-
                        joining us in       our extramural funding expenditure            lent department. When you make contri-
                        January 2008.       grew by 18% over the previous year. In        butions to Virginia Tech, please make
                                            fact, our external funding expenditure        sure to earmark them for the BSE De-
Our undergraduate student enrollment        has tripled over the past five years, dem-    partment and contact your company’s
continues to be strong. We now have a       onstrating our strength in research, ex-      human resources department to deter-
class size of about 30 students and, as     tension and teaching programs amidst an       mine if your company matches gifts to
you will read in the newsletter, a large    ever-increasing competitive funding           higher education. On behalf of the BSE
number of them are placed on the            environment.                                  Department, I wish to convey our sin-
“Dean’s List”, indicative of the high                                                     cere appreciation and gratitude to all of
quality of students we are attracting to    We have expanded our research space           our donors. Your gifts and donations are
the department. Our graduate student        and recently moved two of our faculty         making a significant difference in our
enrollment also reached an all-time re-     research laboratories to a 9,600 ft2 leased   program offerings.
cord of 56 this fall.                       space in the Corporate Research Center
                                            located near the campus. The adjacent         We always enjoy hearing from our
While the physical appearance of Seitz      Agnew Hall renovation is scheduled to         alumni and friends and hope that this
Hall has dramatically changed over the      be completed in January 2009. It will         newsletter helps to keep you informed of
past few years, what has remained con-      provide over 3,600 ft2 of excellent labo-     the activities in the department.
stant is our mission to educate well-       ratory space for our teaching program.
rounded engineers who are ready to as-      We are also delighted that BSE is one of
sume leadership roles in their careers      two departments (along with Food Sci-         Best regards,
and solve problems that our society is      ence and Technology ) that will be mov-       Saied Mostaghimi
facing. In addition to traditional class-   ing to the new Human, Agricultural and        Professor and Head
room experience, we encourage our stu-      Biosciences Building that is currently in

                    The BSE Depart-                  BSE Undergraduate Program Ranked #12 in U.S.
       BSE            ment, through its
      Career          ASABE Student            In the U.S. News and World Report magazine ranking of U.S. universities, col-
       Fair           Branch, will be          leges and departments (released on August 22, 2008) the BSE undergraduate
                   hosting a BSE Career        program at Virginia Tech was ranked #12 in the nation along with University of
                Fair to help both under-       Wisconsin. Our BSE program was considered in the category of Biological/
graduate and graduate students obtain          Agricultural Engineering in the “America’s Best Colleges 2008”.
full-time positions, internships, and co-
ops in land and water resources engi-          The College of Engineering’s undergraduate program was ranked #14.
neering and bioprocessing engineering.
The Career Fair will focus on companies
that have hired BSE alumni in the past,                                      CALS Ranked #6
but will reach out to all interested com-
panies. The BSE Career Fair is sched-
                                               The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences moved up in the research rankings
uled for Friday, February 27, 2009.
                                               according to the FY2007 NSF rankings in agricultural and natural research sci-
Space is limited, so if you are with a
                                               ences. In 2004, CALS was ranked #14 in the nation; in 2005 they climbed to
company that might be interested in at-
                                               #11; and in 2006 the college reached #10. In 2007, in spite of the highly com-
tending this Career Fair, or know of a
                                               petitive nature of federal and state grant funding, CALS was ranked #6 in the
company that may be interested, please
contact Molly Julian at
with company information.
                                  Alumni and Friends Donors (9/1/07—8/31/08)

  The BSE faculty, staff and students would like to thank our alumni, friends and organizations who have generously supported
  the department through their gifts and donations. Your contributions are used to support funding for student scholarships and
  teaching laboratory equipment, and enable students to participate in special projects, attend professional conferences and grow
  intellectually. We apologize for any possible omissions.
  Ayers, Paul                                 Hall, Corey                                   Perdue, William
  Barlow, Joseph                              Hancock, Jeffrey                              Randall, Paula
  Bennett, Teri                               Hatcher, Charles                              Robertson, William
  Blackwell, Neal                             Higgins, Jeffrey                              Rowland, Neville
  Blodgett, James                             Hill, Carlton                                 Skinner, Sherwood
  Bowling, Othel                              Holmes, Brian                                 Smith, Easley
  Bristol Rent-All                            IAA Foundation                                Spates, Eric
  Butler, Amy                                 Johnson, Jeffrey                              Stone, Alexander
  Byerly, Mark                                Kenimer, Ann                                  Tarrant, Jeffrey
  Cock, Michelle                              Lane, Robert                                  Thompson, Eric
  Collins, Eldridge and Belva                 Leach, Charles                                Tonn, Gina
  Dominion Foundation                         Liquid Action                                 Trykowski, Tom
  Duke Energy Foundation                      Liu, Warren                                   Verizon Foundation
  Dyson, Charles                              Lovern, Sharla                                Wells, Donald
  Erwin, Lloyd                                Mahler, Edward                                Weyerhaeuser Co.
  Finney, Essex                               Martindale, Michael                           Wills, Larry
  Flagg, Mike                                 Massie, Fred                                  Woeste, Frank & Joan
  Frith, Ray and Violet                       Mayhew, Stephen                               Wolfe, Mary Leigh
  Griles, Julius                              Morgan, Tracy
  Hale, Edward                                Morris, David

                                                  BSE Advisory Board
2008-2009 Members:                            chemistry, with experimental studies in       ing. He has authored or co-authored a
Mark Bennett (Vice-Chair)                     the radiation chemistry of DNA-protein        number of scientific papers published in
Stefanie Brady (Chair)                        complexes. After graduating, Dave was         refereed scientific journals or presented
Theo Dillaha (Faculty Representative)         appointed a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the       at scientific society meetings. Currently
Sarah Eppard                                  Department of Chemical Engineering,           Dr. Short is a Principal Investigator in
William Johnson                               University of Delaware, during 1980 and       DuPont's Central Research and Develop-
Wesley Kleene                                 1981.                                         ment organization, where he manages
Jonathan Leder                                                                              bioprocess development at DuPont’s
Saied Mostaghimi                              Dave joined the                               Fermentation Research Facility. He is a
Timothy Richter                               Engineering                                   member of the American Institute of
Cheri Edwards Salas                           Research     and                              Chemical Engineers, the American
David Short                                   Development                                   Chemical Society, and the American
Christopher Sims                              Division of Du-                               Association for the Advancement of
                                              Pont in 1981 in                               Science.
In each newsletter, we highlight the          Wilmington,
background and activities of one of the       Delaware. Be-                                 Outside of his professional responsibili-
BSE Advisory Board Members. Dr.               ginning in 1985,                              ties, Dave is a volunteer with the Boy
David Short is featured in this issue.        he held several                               Scouts of America, currently serving as
                                              management                                    the Vice President of Program for the
Dr. David Short earned a BS degree            positions in Engineering Research, in-        Del-Mar-Va Council, B.S.A., and is a
cum laude in Chemistry and Mathemat-          cluding supervision and management of         member of the council’s Executive
ics from Dickinson College in 1972, and       research groups in Chemical and Materi-       Board. Dave has also pursued choral
returned to Dickinson College as an In-       als Engineering, Bioengineering, Elec-        and instrumental music as a hobby for
structor in Chemistry a year later. Dave      tronic Packaging and Mechanical Sys-          many years. He is a member of The
then earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry       tems, Environmental Technology, and           Brandywiners, a volunteer musical thea-
from the University of Delaware in            Bioprocess Engineering. In 1991, he           ter group located in Wilmington. Dave
1980. His interdisciplinary research          joined DuPont’s Central Research and          and his wife, Penny reside in Newark,
involved modeling of diffusion and fast       Development organization and was              Delaware.
kinetic reactions in aqueous radiation        R&D Manager for Bioprocess Engineer-

                                             BSE Student News
                                                                                             2008-2009 Senior Design
                            ASABE Student Branch                                                    Projects
    The VT Student Chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological
    Engineers (ASABE) is excited about a great academic year ahead. The 2008-             The BSE 4125 and 4126 Comprehensive
    2009 ASABE officers are Molly Julian, President; Whitney Thomas, Vice                 Design Project is a two-course sequence
    President; Matthew O’Malley, Secretary; Matthew Gloe, Treasurer; and our              that serves as the capstone experience
                                        lovely advisors Dr. Justin Barone and             for our undergraduate students. It allows
                                        Dr. John Cundiff. We have held several            students to experience working in a team
                                        social events and have big plans for              environment and to apply the knowledge
                                        fundraising, service activities and profes-       they have gained in their coursework to
                                        sional meetings. Please visit our website         “real-world” design problems that are
                                        at where you can             identified by members of industry. The
                                        find a complete list of our scheduled             design projects, teams, and their advi-
                                        events and additional pictures of our             sors for 2008-09 are:
                                                                                          Stormwater Management System for the
    Our big event of the fall, the BSE Pig Roast, was held on Friday October 24,          Town of Blacksburg’s College Springs
    2008 at the beautiful home of Dr. Theo Dillaha. Elizabeth Sabol, the social           Watershed (Team: Benjamin Snyder,
    chair, and the ASABE officers worked                                                  Brandon Copeland, and Andrew
    hard to make the Pig Roast a success.                                                 Jeffery; Advisor: Dr. Wolfe)
    Other social events of the fall include
    camping, caving, hiking, the College of                                               Urban Stormwater Retrofit: Design and
    Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)                                                  Implementation of a Water Quality
    Harvest Havoc, and of                                                                 Swale and Pocket Wetland for Friend-
    course plenty of intramural                                                           ship Park, Winchester, VA. (Team:
    sports, organized by Gil                                                              Kerry Choi, Dan Laird, and Kelly
    Brown, our sports chair.                                                              Davis; Advisors: Drs. Hession/Sample/
                                                                                          and Andrea Ludwig)

                                                            ASABE will be doing a lot     Watershed Protection Plan for Public
                                                            of fundraising this year to   Utilities Company of Heredia, Costa
                                                            support two major events      Rica. (Team: Matthew O’Malley, Will
                                                            in the spring: the ASABE      Brown and Whitney Thomas; Advisor:
                                                            Southern Regional Rally,      Dr. Dillaha)
                                              held this year at the University of Geor-
                                              gia in Athens, GA; and a brand new          Surface Mining Remediation Utilizing
                                              ASABE professional event, the BSE           Vertical Wetlands Systems and Engi-
                                              Career Fair (please see page 2 for more     neered Soils. (Team: Matt Gloe, Gil
                                              information). Some of the fundraising       Brown, and Christian Bongard; Advi-
                                              ideas we have in the planning process are   sors: Drs. Daniels/Zipper/Grisso)
    a 2009 calendar with pictures taken by ASABE members of places all over the
    world, a College of Agriculture skeet-shooting competition, and a possible 5k run     Design of a Stream Denitrifying Biofilm.
    in the spring. Please contact Brandon Copeland at for any sug-          (Team: Marissa Duff, Molly Julian,
    gestions or interest in fundraising for ASABE.                                        and Liz Sabol; Advisor: Dr. Barone)

    Service in the past has been a big interest for the members of ASABE, and this        Designing a Pilot Plant Converting Bio-
    year is no exception. Vivian Camacho is the service chair, and she and several        diesel Waste Glycerol into Omega-3
    other members are working hard to plan several service events this year, such as      Fatty Acids by Microalgae Biomass.
    stream clean-ups, the Big Event, and a Relay for Life team, as well as several        (Team: Shannon Ethier and Kevin
    ongoing projects including tutoring, food drives, and volunteering at a local ani-    Woisard; Advisors: Drs. Vaughan/
    mal shelter.                                                                          Wen)

    ASABE holds meeting every other Thursday at 5pm. If you are interested in             Simulation of a Human Stomach as a
    attending or being a guest speaker, please contact Molly Julian at                    Bioreactor. (Team: Veni Avenida, Jen-                                                                       nifer Kim, Kristen Pevarski, and
                                                                                          Megha Maheshwari; Advisors: Drs. M.

Development of a Bioreactor to Simulate
the Stomach/Intestines and Better Un-                         BSE Recognizes Outstanding Students
derstand Drug Delivery. (Team: Neil
Templeton, Kevin Richter, and David             Each year the department recognizes outstanding undergraduate students. The
Morgan; Advisors: Drs. M. Zhang/                criteria is based on academic achievement (40%), professional activities (30%),
Grisso)                                         campus activities (20%), and off-campus activities (10%). For the 2007-2008
                                                academic year, the BSE department was proud to acknowledge five outstanding
The design projects, team members,              students:
faculty advisors, and executive summa-
ries for the 2007-08 academic year can                   Outstanding Sophomore Student:       Jennifer Downs
be found at:                   Outstanding Junior Student:          Marissa Duff
UG/SD_07-08.php                                          Outstanding Junior Student:          Shannon Ethier
                                                         Outstanding Senior Student:          Emma Faulkner
If you have ideas for future design pro-                 Outstanding Senior Student:          Ian Doran
jects that you would like to submit,
please develop a brief description of the
proposed project and send to Dr. Robert
Grisso (                                          Sophomore Design-Build Project
                                              Each fall the BSE sophomores have a design-build project. The class is divided into 3-
                                              person teams and these teams develop their design and draw the plans. Plans drawn by
 Outstanding in Their Field!                  one team are given to another team for them to build. Construction is done in the
                                              teaching shop using plywood and dimensional lumber. Interesting inter-team commu-
Four BSE students are taking Plant Ma-        nication occurs when the plans are not clear! The teaching objective is that an engineer
terials for Environmental Restoration         must be able to communicate their design to the person who will build it.
from the Crop and Soil Environmental
Sciences Department this semester. The        This fall the design-build project was a bin for collection of recycled paper. The re-
instructor, Dr. Ozzie Abaye, states, “It is   quirements were that it be able to be carried by two people and not obstruct more than
so good to have them in class. They are       25% of an 8-ft hallway. The students were told to design for a maximum load achieved
exceptional! I am proud to say that they      when the total volume was filled with paper. They were given a ream of paper and
are true grass huggers.” The class visited    weighed it to determine the bulk density.
the Powell River Project in Wise County
and tested the effectiveness of different     Testing of the completed design was done by placing cinder blocks in the bin to accu-
plant species on remediated coal mining       mulate weight equal to the weight of the paper. Not all designs were tested; some were
sites.                                        obviously too heavy to be lifted by anyone other than two super heavy-weight Olym-
                                              pic weight lifters. This result created a teachable moment, where they talked about
                                              the importance of “meeting the functional objective.” A design can be creative, it can
                                              be beautiful, it may even impress your colleagues, but if it does not meet the functional
                                              objective---it is a failure.

                                              However, the students concluded that the failure was obviously the fault of their pro-
                                              fessor, Dr. Cundiff. Maybe we will talk later about how professionals need to assume
                                              responsibility for their engineering practice!

                                                                         Spring 2008 Dean’s List
                                              Congratulations to the BSE undergraduate students who made the Dean’s list in the
                                              Spring 2008 Semester. To be named to the Virginia Tech Dean's List, undergraduate
                                              students must attempt at least 12 credit hours graded on the A-F option and earn a
         Molly Julian, “grass hugger”         minimum of 3.4 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) during the spring or fall semester.
                                              Marianita M. Avenida      Senior            Daniel T. Laird              Senior
                                              Katie E. Brill            Sophomore         Rebecca L. Martinez          Senior
                                              Kelly E. Davis            Senior            Michael J. McAnulty          Junior
                                              Jennifer L. Downs         Junior            David S. Morgan              Senior
                                              Marissa J. Duff           Senior            Crystal L. Muller            Senior
                                              Jacob H. Elstein          Senior            Elizabeth A. Sabol           Senior
        Visit our website:                    Shannon E. Ethier         Senior            Neil A. Templeton            Senior                    Andrew D. Fulton
                                              Brian R. Gray
                                                                                          Melissa A. Thies
                                                                                          Whitney J. Thomas
                                              Karen L. Hall             Sophomore         Richard B. Wilke             Senior
                                              Katherine J. Harvey       Sophomore         Kevin K. Woisard             Senior
                                              Ehsan A. Khan             Senior

                                                        Alpha Epsilon
                                          The fall semester started off once again with the BSE Welcome Back Picnic, sponsored
                                          jointly by Alpha Epsilon (AE) and the BSE department. This event provided an excellent
                                          opportunity to meet new faculty, staff, and students in BSE and included the first annual
                                          BSE whiffle ball game. Alpha Epsilon has a number of ongoing projects planned for the
                                          upcoming year including the AE soda sale, Pizza Fridays, a Thanksgiving food and cloth-
                                          ing drive, and maintenance of the Julia K. Pryde Memorial Garden. The garden is now in
                                          its second year and is thriving in front of Seitz Hall. AE is also anticipating with enthusi-
                                          asm another successful recruiting effort to share information about BSE opportunities with
                                          prospective freshman students.

                                          This year, AE members are leading an outreach
                                          initiative to work with nearby K-12 schools to
                                          promote science and environmental education.
                                          This project is in the planning stages, but we
                                          hope to have the project underway in the spring
                                          semester. Other activities planned for this year
                                          include a monthly movie night and a fall hike to
                                          take advantage of the fall foliage and introduce
                                          new students to the area.

                                          The 2008-2009 officers include: Jessica Kozarek, president; Christan Whysong, vice
                                          president; Kelly Davis, secretary and Jonathan Resop, treasurer. Dr. Justin Barone
                                          serves as the faculty advisor.

                                                   Study Abroad - Brazil

The 2008 summer study abroad program         towns, with visits to places with techni-       “I am grateful both for what I have and for the
to Vitória, Brazil was an amazing ex-        cal, cultural, and ecological interest.         opportunity to see the very different culture
                                                                                             that is Brazil. You get to learn the course mate-
perience for five BSE undergraduates:        There were trips to the Vitória man-            rial, with the perspective of not only how it
Whitney Thomas, Marissa Duff,                grove, a monastery in Caraça, the huge          pertains to the United States, but also to inter-
Molly Julian, Ben Wilke, and Ben Sny-        Vale open-pit mine, the historical cities       national locations." - Molly Julian
der. Classes were taught in English and      of Ouro Preto and Mariana, the Atlantic
included the students from Virginia          Forest preserve, Itaunas dunes state
Tech and Brazilian students from the         park, and to a sea turtle protection pro-
Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo       ject. The best part of the experience -
(UFES).      One class was Nonpoint          for both Americans and Brazilians - is
Source Pollution Modeling and Manage-        breaking down old stereotypes and mak-
ment taught by BSE professor Dr. Con-        ing new friends.
rad Heatwole, and the other was a tech-
nical elective, Water Resources Engi-        Dr. Heatwole’s new four-year grant
neering taught by UFES professor Dr.         from the Department of Education will
Mendonça. The intensive coursework           expand the summer program in Brazil
                                             and also provide scholarships to a few               At Praia da Costa with Brazilian friends
was broken up by weekend trips (with
the Brazilian students) that took them       students to return for a full semester. A       “This study-abroad experience was so much
through the countryside and small            matching grant to Brazilian partners will       more than two courses and a few field trips: it
                                             bring Brazilian students to Virginia Tech       was a chance to leave my comfort zone and
                                                                                             explore a new culture, taste new foods, learn a
                                             for a semester. On the U.S. side, the           new language, make lasting friendships, and
                                             Agricultural and Biological Engineering         learn about myself. All of this will be translated
                                             program at the University of Florida is a       into how I now view and solve a problem. Hav-
                                             partner. The summer course starting in          ing lived and dealt with people that are cultur-
                                                                                             ally as well as personally different than myself,
                                             2009 will include 12 U.S. students (from        I can be a better team player as well as a better
                                             Virginia Tech and UF) and 12 Brazilian          leader.”
                                             students (from 3 schools). The semester         - Marissa Duff
                                             study will be spring of the junior year
                                             following the July term experience.             See pictures from past years, and the
                                             Courses will be selected to meet pro-           plans and applications for upcoming
                                             gram requirements and keep students on          programs at:
       Flowers at the farmers’ market        track for graduation.                 
                                 BSE Halloween                        BSE Welcomes Sixteen New Graduate
                                     Party                                   Students in Fall 2008
                                                                      Graduate Student                  Advisor

                                                                      Andrew Fulton                     M. Zhang
                                                                      Lauren Brookmire                  K. Mallikarjunan
                                                                      Lubna Shihadeh                    M. L. Wolfe
                                                                      Nourredine Abdoulmoumine          F. Agblevor
                                                                      Porter Knight                     C. Hession
                                                                      Rana Roshdieh                     J. Arogo
                                                                      Rebecca Martinez                  K. Mallikarjunan
                                                                      Wei Huang                         M. Zhang
                                                                      Yanwen Shen                       J. Arogo
                                                                      Ying (Natalie) Shen               J. Barone
                                                                      Fatma Sahmurat                    K. Mallikarjunan
                                                                      Hande Kaya Celiker                K. Mallikarjunan
                                                                      Joseph Rollin                     P. Zhang
                                                                      Michael Nassry                    D. Scott
                                                                      Sushil Gautam                     D. Scott
                                                                      Suwan Myung                       P. Zhang


                                                                                   Sneha Athalye (MS '08, Advisor: Z. Wen)
                                                                                   Production of Eicosapentaenoic Acid from
                                                                                   Biodiesel Derived Crude Glycerol Using
                                                                                   Fungal Culture. Sneha is currently a PhD
                                                                                   student in Biological and Agricultural Engi-
                                                                                   neering at NCSU.

         BSE Graduate Student Wins
        AWRA Presentation Competition
                                                                  Tameshia Ballard (PhD ‘08, Advisor: K.
                                                                  Mallikarjunan) Optimizing the Extraction of
Andrea Ludwig, a PhD student in BSE, won the Student Pre-
                                                                  Phenolic Antioxidant Compounds from Peanut
senter Competition during AWRA’s 2008 Summer Specialty
                                                                  Skins. Tameshia is now an Assistant Professor
                 Conference on Riparian Ecosystems and Buff-
                                                                  in the Food Science and Nutrition department
                 ers. The conference was held in Virginia
                                                                  at Purdue University.
                 Beach, June 30-July 2, 2008. Twenty-six pres-
                 entations were evaluated by the conference
                 attendees throughout the 36 oral and poster
                 sessions. The title of Andrea’s award winning
                                                                                 Margaret Orders (BS ’06, MS '08, Advisor:
                 presentation was Evaluating a Constructed
                                                                                 K. Mallikarjunan) Fate of Omega-3 Fatty
                 Floodplain Wetland for Nutrient Removal Effi-
                                                                                 Acids from Algae in Mozzarella Cheese. Meg
                 ciencies. Andrea graduated from the Univer-
                                                                                 has moved home to West Virginia and is cur-
                 sity of Arkansas with a BS in Biological Engi-
                                                                                 rently interviewing for jobs.
neering (‘04) and an MS in Environmental Engineering (‘06).
Currently, Andrea is studying the efficiency of best manage-
ment practices in nutrient removal from stormwater in the
Chesapeake Bay watershed by quantifying assimilative proc-
esses of constructed floodplain wetlands. Andrea is an active
member of several professional societies including American Three BSE Students Who Have
Water Resources Association (AWRA) and the American Eco-          Completed Graduate Degree Requirements!
logical Engineering Society (AEES).

                    BSE FACULTY AND STAFF NEWS
                                                                                               BSE Extension Received
         Saied Mostaghimi Receives ASABE Hancor Award                                           ASABE Blue Ribbons
    American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has named
                                                                                            The American Society of Agricultural
    Dr. Saied Mostaghimi winner of one of its most prestigious awards, the Hancor
                                                                                            and Biological Engineers (ASABE) pre-
    Soil and Water Engineering Award. The award was presented in July 2008 at the
                                                                                            sents the Educational Aids Blue Ribbon
    ASABE Annual International Meeting. The Hancor Soil and Water Engineering
                                                                                            Awards each year in recognition of
    Award, sponsored by Hancor, Inc., recognizes noteworthy contributions to the
                                                                                            “outstanding effort and achievement in
    advancement of soil and water engineering in teaching, research, planning, design,
                                                                                            the development of noteworthy educa-
    construction, management, or materials development.
                                                                                            tional aids.” During the 2008 Annual
                                                                                            International Meeting, the Extension
    As the H.E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin profes-
                                                                                            Committee (E-208) recognized two
    sor and head of the Biological Systems En-
                                                                                            items from the BSE Department.
    gineering Department, Mostaghimi is widely
    known for his research, outreach, and educa-
                                                                                            The first was “BSE Engineering Up-
    tional programs in hydrology, and in par-
                                                                                            date” newsletter which is coauthored by
    ticular soil erosion and nonpoint source
                                                                                            Drs. Robert Grisso, Jactone Arogo
    (NPS) pollution assessment and control. His
                                                                                            Ogejo, Zhiyou Wen, John Ignosh,
    research programs have focused on develop-
                                                                                            Brian Benham, and S. Christian
    ing strategies and tools for assessing the
                                                                                            Mariger. The newsletter is sent quar-
    impact of agriculture and urban activities on
                                                                                            terly to the Virginia Extension Agents
    water quality, and developing and validating
                                                                                            and Specialists to communicate research
    computer simulation models for use by
                                                                                            -based information and current events
    agencies involved in water resources and
                                                     Dr. Mostaghimi receives award from
                                                                                            concerning water
    land-use planning. The methodology he de-
                                                        ASABE President Don Erbach          quality, natural
    veloped for data collection at the watershed
                                                                                            resource     man-
    scale has been widely adopted by research-
                                                                                            agement, TMDL,
    ers and practitioners in the U.S. and worldwide. Mostaghimi's work has taken him
                                                                                            air    emissions,
    to several countries to conduct U.S. Agency for International Development-
                                                                                            animal      waste
    sponsored projects on watershed management and provided consulting services on
    NPS pollution control.
                                                                                            machinery management, precision farm-
                                                                                            ing, application technology, farm safety,
    He has authored more than 350 refereed-journal and technical articles and has ad-
                                                                                            energy, engineering education, and tech-
    vised nearly 40 graduate students and doctoral candidates. Mostaghimi is a 27-year
                                                                                            nology. These newsletters are archived
    member of ASABE. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 2006.
                                                                                            on the VCE Intranet at: http://
                    New Project on Wetlands Research
                                                                                            The second award is for a VCE num-
Dr. Tess Wynn of BSE’s Land and Water faculty is part of a research team that was           bered publication entitled, “Precision
awarded a $594,875 grant from Piedmont Wetlands Research Program and Wetland                Farming Tools: Soil Electrical Conduc-
Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI). WSSI is a national leader in providing consulting       tivity,” coauthored by Drs. Robert
services related to all aspects of the Clean Water Act. Lee Daniels of CSES is the          Grisso, Mark Alley, David Holshouser,
principal investigator and Tess Wynn and Rich Whittecar (Old Dominion University)           and Wade Thomason. The goal of the
are the co-principal investigators.                                                         factsheet is to develop the awareness of
                                                                                            the application of soil electrical conduc-
The project goal is to develop and test a new mitigation wetland water balance model        tivity (EC) to precision farming prac-
applicable to both flat and sloped wetlands in the Virginia Piedmont. The research          tices. EC correlates with soil properties
will develop and incorporate the following improvements to the wetland water budget         that affect crop productivity, including
methodology: 1) Incorporate surface water-ground water interaction effects; and, 2)         soil texture, cation exchange capacity
Incorporate changes in fluid flows due to flow resistance provided by wetland vegeta-       (CEC), drainage conditions, organic
tion. To permit simulation of more complex designs and topography, a prospective            matter level, salinity, and subsoil charac-
wetland will likely be simulated as a series of interconnected cells. The user will spec-   teristics. This factsheet is one of a series
ify how water moves between the cells and which hydrologic modules are active for           to help crop producers adapt and imple-
each cell. Continuous simulation with a daily time step will be used to develop the         ment precision farming tools to their
long-term wetland water balance. The model will be tested using data from existing          operation. This factsheet can be found
mitigation wetlands. This "user-friendly" model will utilize readily available data and     at:
will be developed in an easily modified, open source computer code.                         508/442-508.pdf

BSE Welcomes New Faculty                      BSE Faculty Members Deliver Workshops in South America
        and Staff
                                             In January, Dr. Brian Benham delivered two day-long watershed management work-
                     Dr. Joanna York         shops to government and non-governmental agency water resources professionals
                     joined BSE as an        within Quitto and San Miguel, Ecuador. In September, Drs. Mary Leigh Wolfe, Con-
                     affiliated faculty      rad Heatwole, and Brian Benham delivered a week-long watershed modeling work-
                     (Research Scientist)    shop in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Participants in the Bolivian workshop work with the
                     member. Dr. York        research/outreach foundation PROINPA (Promociòn e Investigaciòn de Productos
                     received a BS de-       Andinos, and a farmer-oriented watershed-based outreach organiza-
                     gree in Environ-        tion PROMIC (Programa Manejo Integral de Cuencas,
                     mental     Science
                     from University of                                                     These workshops were delivered as part of a
                     Virginia and her                                                       project entitled Watershed-based Natural
                     PhD degree from                                                        Resource Management in Small-scale Agri-
Boston University Marine Program at                                                         culture: Sloped Areas of the Andean Re-
Woods Hole, MA. Dr. York is an estua-                                                       gion. This project includes US researchers
rine ecologist. Her PhD research was on                                                     from: VT, Penn State University, University
stable isotopic assessment of sources                                                       of Denver, and Florida A&M University
and assimilation of nitrogen by estuarine                                                   and international partners in Ecuador, Bo-
phytoplankton.                                                                              livia, and Peru. A variety of disciplines are
                                                                                            involved in the project including biological
For the past two years she has worked as      Farming landscape in Chimbo River watershed   systems engineers, agricultural and natural
a post-doctoral associate at University of               near Guaranda Ecuador              resource economists, entomologists, micro-
Connecticut where she has conducted                                                         biologists, soil scientists, and sociologists.
research to determine the role of micro-
zooplankton grazers in decline of San        The Ecuador watershed management work-
Francisco Bay delta smelt. At Boston         shops were designed to introduce partici-
University, Joanna conducted field re-       pants to watershed management planning as
search on investigating estuarine nitro-     practiced in the U.S. The workshops were
gen processing and assimilation in           developed using various resource materials
Waquoit Bay, MA; was involved in field       including EPA’s Handbook for Developing
research on assessing the impact of in-      Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our
tensive shrimp farming on the food web       Waters (EPA 841-B-05-005), and included
in Urias Estuary, Mexico; conducted          specifics about selected watershed manage-
groundwater sampling to assess sources       ment planning examples in Virginia where
and magnitude of nitrogen loading to         the BSE faculty have been involved. The
Miacomet Pond in MA; and collaborated        Bolivia workshop focused on the fundamen- Workshop participants at PROINPA/SANREM
with various groups to address the role      tals and potential applications of watershed-     research plots near Cochabamba, Bolivia
of small streams in controlling nitrogen     scale simulation models. The class visited
export from urbanizing watersheds in         erosion-related potato production research plots located at an air-thinning elevation of
Baltimore. She is the author of several      4,100 meters (approx. 13,450 ft). On the last day of the workshop, Dr. Wolfe’s Boliv-
journal articles.                            ian PhD student, Javier Osorio, delivered a lecture in Spanish to the workshop partici-
                                             pants via the internet from Blacksburg. The world is becoming a smaller place!
Dr. York has also taught undergraduate
courses in oceanography and general
biology. She is the recipient of several     Hope White joined the department as               Roanoke where she has managed the
awards and recognitions including EPA-       the Water Quality Laboratory Manager.             microbiology and chemistry laborato-
STAR Graduate Fellowship, Out-                                   Hope received her             ries. In this position, she has written
standing Teaching Fellow Award from                              BS degree in Biol-            SOPs for both analytical chemistry and
Boston University, and Humes Alumni                              ogy from VT in                microbiology departments within Water
Award from Boston University. Joanna                             2001. Previously,             Chemistry Inc. She also was in charge of
is fluent in Polish and has reading and                          she has worked at             performing annual tests to maintain Vir-
written comprehension of French. She is                          the U.S. Naval and            ginia certification for water testing.
also familiar with Danish and Russian                            Marine Corps Re-              Hope has worked extensively with the
languages.                                                       serve Center and              Virginia Department of Environmental
                                                                 with Dr. George               Quality and has served as the safety offi-
Her husband, Luc Claessens joined BSE                            Flick in the Food             cer to maintain OSHA standards by
in June as a Research Scientist                                  Science and Tech-             monitoring safety issues throughout the
(highlighted in BSE Spring Newsletter)       nology Department at VT. Most re-                 plant. Hope is a volunteer at Virginia
and they have a 2-year old daughter Juli-    cently, she has worked as the laboratory          Bluebird Society and Roanoke Wildlife
etta.                                        manager for Water Chemistry, Inc. in              Rescue, among others.

                                            BSE Alumni News
         Alumni Updates                     effluent limits, she will be the primary     stabilization, and earthen dam rehabilita-
                                            modeler for the effluent limits unit. In     tion projects. She and her husband, Dan
                 1980’s                     this capacity Aida will work with exist-     Jamison (BS’ 98), were married in 2001
                                            ing water quality models to examine          and have 3 children, Madelyn (3) and
Eldridge Collins, III (BS ’86) earned a     potential impacts from new/expanding         Shane (15 months). They live in Rich-
masters degree from University of Texas     discharges and discharges to receiving       mond, VA and try to visit VT every
– Austin. He is a project manager at        waters listed as impaired.                   year.
Dell, Inc., and is responsible for global   Email:               Email:
product development process, and ISO
9001:2000 certification and compliance.     Venus Alysia Elliott (BS ’96) earned a       Tamsin Watson Hepner (BS ’99) is
He serves his fellow Hokies by taking an    masters degree in Montessori Education       pleased to announce the newest addition
active role in the Austin chapter of the    and is now teaching upper elementary in      to the family – Elizabeth Ann Hepner,
VT Alumni Association, as past presi-       Frederick County Public Schools in           born July 19, 2008, 7lbs, 20 inches.
dent and current board member. El-          Maryland. Her volunteer work includes        Tamsin currently works for Timmons
dridge is also an Assistant Cub Master      AWIEF and AmeriCorps, and she has            Group as a Project Manager in Urban
for Pack 158 in Cedar Park, Texas.          achieved the rank of 3rd dan black belt in   Site Development/Redevelopment,
Email:              Tae Kwon Do.                                 Richmond, VA.
                                            Email:                    Email:
After 10 years on the faculty at Auburn
University, John H. Wilhoit (PhD ’89)       Stacy (Friedman) Le (BS ’97) is the
                  left academia to move     president of her own company, Le Engi-                        2000’s
                  back to Kentucky to       neering and Consulting, P.C. in North
                  take over the manage-     Carolina, where she is a project manager     Amanda Masters (BS ’00, MS ’02) is
                  ment of a family to-      for municipal water and wastewater util-     enjoying her new position with the De-
                  bacco and cattle farm     ity projects. Her husband, Hung, is also     partment of Defense in Dahlgren, VA.
                  in 1999. John grew        a Hokie (ME ’95), and they have two          Amanda recently passed the PE exam.
                  and sold vegetables,      children: Parker and Carson.                 Email:
                  became very active        Email:
                  with the farmers mar-                                                  Sudhanshu Mishra (MS ’03) is a Water
                  kets, and taught and                                                   Resource Engineer for the Engineering
                                            Shannon Fretwell Saramaa (BS ’97) is
did part-time extension work at the Uni-                                                 and Water Resources group at Green-
                                            a principal engineer and owner of JDS-
versity of Kentucky. In 2007, John took                                                  horne & O’Mara, Inc (G&O). Sud-
                                            Hydro Consultants, Inc. in Colorado
a full-time extension faculty position at                                                hanshu has been with G&O since 2006.
                                            Springs, CO. Her company specializes
UK with responsibilities covering
                                            in the planning and design of water sys-
“specialty crops mechanization.”
                                            tems, wastewater systems, and reuse and
                                            recharge, as well as water resources
                                            planning, and surface drainage and run-
                                            off systems analysis and design. She
                                            and her husband, Jussi, have a young
                                            daughter named Mila.
Charles (C.J.) Mitchem, Jr. P.E. (BS
’94, MS ‘00)  accepted a position as a
project manager with Stearns & Wheler,
LLC in their Roanoke office.                Kelly Ramsey, PE (BS ’98) is a hydrau-
Email:          lic engineer with USDA Natural Re-
                                            sources Conservation Service.     She
                                            mainly works on flood control, steam              BSE Class of ‘98
Aida Mendez (PhD ’95) was promoted                                                                Reunion
to the Effluent Limit Division of the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The main work in the unit is to develop                                                             Spring 2009
and document appropriate effluent limits                                                      (In the planning stages!)
for NPDES permits. This work involves
review of water quality data from exist-
                                                                                              Contact Kelly Ramsey at
ing facilities, review of available data
from the receiving water, and analysis of                                            
appropriate state and federal water qual-                                                           if interested
ity standards. In addition to developing
Sudhanshu lives in Greenbelt with his
wife, Suruchi, a PhD Candidate in Nutri-                       Graduate in the News: John Dillow
tion and their 6 months old daughter,
Saanvi.                                       John Dillow (BS-‘07) (article from        Dillow has been assigned to York
Email:                    Nate Hubbard of Bland County Mes-         County, the historic locality situated
                                              senger 6-15-08) had plenty of job         on the Virginia Peninsula in the
Anurag Misha ( MS ’04) is excited to          title options upon his graduation from    Hampton
be a new dad! Anurag and his wife,            Virginia Tech University in 2007          Roads region
Vineeta have a new son, Aviral, born in       with a degree in BSE. Nothing, how-       of the state.
October. Anurag is working as an Ag-          ever, fit quite like Trooper Dillow.      He      began
ricultural Engineer at AQUA TERRA                                                       work on July
Consultants, Mountain View, California.       Dillow was recognized for complet-        7 and spent
Email:                  ing the Virginia State Police’s 114th     six     weeks
                                              Trooper Basic Session – a 35-week         working with
                                              training program for prospective state    a field train-
                                              troopers.                                 ing officer to
                                                                                        start his first
                                              “I think it’s a noble profession,” Dil-   assignment.
                                              low said. “I wanted to do something
                                              that I could find a purpose in.”          While Dillow only recently made his
                                                                                        decision to pursue a career in law
                                              According to a VSP press release, the     enforcement, he said he’s long had
                                              trooper academy gave the 59 gradu-        an admiration for the profession.
                                              ates “more than 1,300 hours of in-        Growing up in Bland, Dillow said he
                                              struction in more than 100 different      was impressed by the professional-
                                              subjects, including crime scene in-       ism of the local troopers and deputies
                                              vestigation, survival Spanish, judicial   and the respect they commanded.
                                              procedures, defensive tactics, cultural
                                              diversity and firearms.”

  We enjoy hearing your stories about
  your time at Virginia Tech and what
  you have done since. Please take a
        few moments, fill out the                                  In Memoriam of Bill Skelton
  Information Sheet insert, and send
                 it to us.                 Skelton, William E. (BS-’40) passed away on August 30, 2008, after a courageous
                                           battle with cancer. Dr. Skelton was known worldwide for his exceptional lifetime of
                                           outstanding service to others. He lived by three mottos: "To Make The Best Better",
                                           "That I May Serve", and "Service Above Self". These three mottos for 4-H, Virginia
                                           Tech, and Rotary International, respectively, summarize Bill's selfless commitment to
                                           serving others. Born January 10, 1919, in Dinwiddie County, Dr. Skelton grew up on
Dr. Frank Woeste’s Wedding                 his family's tobacco farm. He enrolled in the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in 1936
                                           and worked his way through college, graduating in 1940, with a B.S. in agricultural
Dr. Frank Woeste (professor emeritus)      engineering.
and Joan Greenwood were married at the
Hahn Horticulture Garden on the VT         Bill led the effort to build the conference and alumni center at Virginia Tech, serving
campus on July 4th. Prior to retiring in   as chair of the committee that oversaw the planning, design, and fundraising for the
2007, Joan managed the departments of      center which included an attached hotel. The complex was named the Inn at Virginia
Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Cardiol-      Tech with its Skelton Conference Center named to recognize the tremendous service to
ogy at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in       the University by Skelton and his wife, Margaret. The couple has endowed the Skelton
Sarasota, Florida.                         Award for Academic Excellence, a scholarship awarded annually to a male and female
                                           athlete at Virginia Tech for their academic and athletic accomplishments.

                                           Dr. Skelton is survived by his wife, Margaret G. Skelton; his son, John K. Skelton, of
                                           Blacksburg; and his daughter, Jean S. Montague, and son-in-law, John W. Montague
                                           Jr., of Midlothian, Va.

                                           Editor’s Note: In July 2008, Bill returned the Alumni Information Sheet, “to congratu-
                                           late Biological Systems engineering for the excellent publication of the Spring Issue
                                           2008, very professional.” He also indicated his willingness to be interviewed and
                                           make a presentation at the student club meeting.

Newsletter Editors
                                                 BSE Calendar of Social Events 2008/2009
Hope you enjoyed the news!             Activity                                 Date
If you have news of interest,          Pig Roast                                October 24, 2008 (Friday)
please pass it on to me:
                                       Halloween Shenanigans                    October 31, 2008 (Friday)
Editor                                 Holiday Hootenanny                       December 17, 2008 (Wednesday)
Robert “Bobby” Grisso, P.E.            Potluck Lunch                            November 20, 2008 (Thursday)
Professor and Extension Engineer       Chinese New Year                         January 23, 2009 (Friday)
Biological Systems Engineering         Potluck Lunch                            February 13, 2009 (Friday)
211 Seitz Hall, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0303              Mardi Gras                               February 24, 2009 (Tuesday)
Email:                  Omelet Breakfast                         March 12, 2009 (Thursday)
                                       Graduate Student Appreciation Event      3rd or 4th Week of March
Assistant Editor                       International Potluck                    March/April
Barbara Taylor                         Staff Day                                Week of April 20-24, 2009
Administrative Assistant
                                       Spring Banquet                           April
Biological Systems Engineering
200 Seitz Hall, Virginia Tech          Weekly Activities                        Day of the week
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0303              Outdoor Activities:                      Thursdays at 12-1 PM , Ag Quad
Email:                            Kickball
                                       Coffee Break                             Wednesdays at 10AM, 207 Seitz
                                       Brown Bag “Show and Tell” (slide
                                       shows by globe-trotting faculty/staff/   To be announced
                                       Happy Hour                               Fridays
                                       Tuesdays at the Movies                   Weekly

  Virginia Tech                                                                              Non-Profit Org.
  Biological Systems Engineering Department
  200 Seitz Hall (0303)
                                                                                              U.S. Postage
  Blacksburg, VA 24061                                                                            PAID
                                                                                          Blacksburg, VA 24060

                                                                                             Permit No. 28


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