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ABE department seeking graduate students

The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering has six graduate assistantships available beginning Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 in the areas of agricultural engineering and biological process engineering/ bioproducts.

These include:

  • Agricultural robotics, mechanization, and sensing
  • Biomass properties and mechanics
  • Polysaccharide package development to replace plastics
  • Cost-effective harvesting approaches for switchgrass and miscanthus
  • Biosystems Analysis
  • Sustainability Assessment of Biological Systems

Please see below for details and contact information for each assistantship

PhD research assistant in robotics, mechanization, sensing

Location

University Park, PA, Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC), Biglerville, PA

(Student will spend one year of course study at main campus in University Park, and then move to FREC for research)

Contact

Dr. Long He
Assistant Professor
Fruit Research and Extension Center
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University
luh378@psu.edu

Description

The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) and the Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) are looking for a motivated individual to join its team as a PhD student under supervision of Dr. Long He in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. The selected candidate will work in one or more of the areas including: development of robotic systems for specialty crops (fruits and vegetable) production, detection and control systems for automation and mechanization, monitoring and data collection for precision agriculture, and design of optimal machine systems.

Qualifications

M.S in Agricultural, Mechanical, Electrical and Computer Engineering or closely related engineering field. Self-motivated individual is preferred. Previous experience and publication in areas of machine system design and control, machine vision, remote sensing and/or precision farming technologies is preferred.

PhD research assistant in biomass properties and mechanics

Location

University Park, PA

Contact

Dr. Hojae Yi
Assistant Research Professor
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University
huy1@psu.edu

Description

The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) are looking for motivated individuals to join its team as a PhD student under supervision of Dr. Hojae Yi starting from Spring 2021.

The selected candidates will work in one or more of the areas including:

  • Developing a novel mesoscale test device to determine friction and adhesion between biomass particles
  • Experimental study on biomass particles to elucidate the nature of mechanical interactions of biomass particles based on their anatomical origins and their variabilities

This program aims to contributing to innovative design and manufacturing engineered biomass supply systems to handle, store, and deliver conversion-ready feedstocks consistently.

Qualifications

M.S in Agricultural, Biological, and Mechanical Engineering or closely related engineering field. Self-motivated individual is preferred. Previous experience and publication in areas of mechanics of materials is preferred.

PhD research assistant in polysaccharide package development to replace plastics

Location

University Park, PA

Contact

Dr. Jeffrey Catchmark
Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
jmc102@psu.edu

Description

The Penn State Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is seeking a Ph.D. student for the Agricultural and Biological Engineering or Biorenewable Systems graduate program to conduct research and industry outreach to develop and commercialize a new polysaccharide based packaging material to replace plastics. Position could start in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021.

Qualifications

The ideal student should hold an M.S. degree in a science or engineering related discipline and have experience with polysaccharide chemistry including the purification and chemical modification of polysaccharides such as cellulose. The student should also have experience with materials characterization including chemical (FTIR, UV-Vis, XPS, EDX, ITC, DSC, HPLC, elemental analysis), structural (SEM, TEM, optical microscopy, XRD) and mechanical (DMA, static).

Graduate assistant in development of cost-effective harvesting approaches for switchgrass and miscanthus (PhD, MS)

Location

Penn State, University Park

Contact

Jude Liu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
jliu@psu.edu
814-863-6844

Description

Challenges associated with herbaceous biomass harvesting include weather and geospatial location-related risks and costs, field accessibility, and field machine size and transportation issues. All create difficulties for landowners to choose cost-effective solutions. To address these issues, typical field sites including agricultural and mining lands at different locations in the region will be selected and geographic data will be collected before field harvesting activities. Field harvesting data collected and to be collected will be used to develop harvest model, which will be able to calculate the price of biomass feedstock on a unit (bale or dry ton) basis based on different harvesting scenarios.

Qualifications

M.S. is required for a Ph.D. position, but start from M.S. degree and continuation to PhD is possible. Farming background and/or field machine operation skills are preferred.

Graduate Research Assistant in Biosystems Analysis (PhD level)

Location

University Park, PA.

Contact

Dr. Juliana Vasco-Correa
Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
julianavasco@psu.edu

Description

The Biosystems Analysis research group in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Penn State University invites applications for Graduate Research Assistant positions to pursue Ph.D. studies in Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) or Biorenewable Systems (BRS) with the research focus in general areas of bioprocess/systems engineering.

The successful candidate will be involved in modeling and analysis projects related to:

  • Developing process models of biorenewable systems, including projects related to biomass processing and conversion, bioenergy production (including anaerobic digestion), and bioproducts generation
  • Developing sustainable feedstock supply chain for biobased and agro-industries
  • Performing techno-economic and life cycle assessments of agricultural and biobased systems

The Graduate Assistant is expected to publish research findings in international peer-reviewed journals, present research findings in conferences/meetings, and generate regular project update reports. The Graduate Assistant will received financial support including tuition and a salary/stipend. The expected starting date is August 2020 (or January 2021).

Qualifications

An M.S. degree in Chemical, Industrial, Agricultural, Biosystems, or Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sciences or the other related disciplines is preferred; however, candidates with a B.S. degree in these disciplines with strong credentials and interests in pursuing Ph.D. degree studies will also be given serious consideration. Desirables (but not necessarily required) skills include experience in process modeling, techno-economic modeling or life cycle assessment (LCA), familiarity with biobased systems, and strong oral and written communication skills.

Sustainability Assessment of Biological Systems, MS or PhD

Location

University Park

Contact

Dr. Christine Costello
chriscostello@psu.edu

Description

The Costello lab focuses on quantitative methods, materials flow analysis and life cycle assessment, to evaluate the environmental sustainability of agricultural systems, which provide food and energy. Currently, the lab is in search of a student to assist with a recently funded USDA project: Consortium for Cultivating Human And Naturally reGenerative Enterprises (C-CHANGE). This project involves collaboration with numerous universities. C-CHANGE is focused on the the production of renewable natural gas (RNG) and associated bioproducts through the anaerobic digestion (AD) of herbaceous biomass combined with manure. The selected student would assist with identifying pathways that improve the production, profitability, and sustainability of RNG and associated bioproducts through modeling and also characterization of anaerobic digestion of diverse herbaceous feedstocks at pilot and commercial scales. Aside from this project, if you are interested in life cycle assessment, industrial ecology, and application to agricultural systems; and/or, the use of process-based models to anticipate risks to agriculture due to climate change; and/or, the integration of process-based models with LCA and IE methods; and/or the ethical implications of the Anthropocene, please consider applying as I am actively seeking funding opportunities in these topic areas to support graduate research assistants.

Qualifications

B.S. and/or M.S. in engineering preferred; other disciplines will be considered, please explain how your education and experience have prepared you for an M.S. or Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering or BioRenewable Systems.