Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering Profile

Angela Singleton, Constant, David  |  10/29/2010 12:27:22 AM

You can access a PDF version of the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering Profile below.

Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering Office
149 E. B. Doran Building, LSU campus

Phone: 225-578-3153

Fax: 225-578-3492

Open: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Monday-Friday

W. David Constant, Ph.D. 
Humphreys T. Turner Professor and Head
e-mail

Website: www.bae.lsu.edu


Academic Focus:
B.S. in Biological Engineering; M.S. in Bio & Ag Engineering; Ph.D. program in Engineering Science for students interested in medical, industrial, environmental consulting, government and academic careers.


Research Focus:
Biomechanics; nano- and micro-scale applications toward human, plant and animal environments; water resources; bioprocessing; coastal systems; biofuel production, processing and management.


Extension Focus:
Water resources engineering; precision agricultural production, processing and application systems; building better, stronger, smarter housing; hazard mitigation; land management planning; support of 4-H University, AgMagic and other extension initiatives.


Academic/Research/Extension Highlights
Bioengineered coastal reef development can reduce coastal storm surge, enhance coastal wetland ecology and jump-start oyster production in areas where salinity has changed because of diversions. Work on coastal reefs by Steve Hall (BAE) and others shows that using a small framework that encourages native species such as eastern oysters to develop reefs can serve a number of functions, including producing oysters, reducing or reversing erosion and protecting coastal areas.

Controlling RNA function of cells plays a critical role in gene expression and governs many biological processes. No RNA-based drugs are currently on the market, but the total annual RNAi therapy market is expected to reach $580 million by 2012. Engineers in the BAE department (Todd Monroe and others) are using photosensitive chemicals that inactivate selected genetic material until exposed to light. By controlling small regulatory RNA molecules using light-sensitive “photocaged” chemistries, the desired applications can be targeted and pinpointed through laser activation within particular cells. This reduces effects on surrounding cells and the overall effect on impacted organism (whether a human or an animal).

Research on aerial and ground-based chemical delivery systems for agriculture fields indicates spray quality and uniformity are significant issues. Skyrocketing aviation and high diesel fuel costs require improved efficiencies. BAE engineers (led by Roberto Barbosa) are developing improved measurement techniques, while advancing the effectiveness of application approaches that use less carrier material (primarily water). Less water means less energy to transport and apply the desired materials.

The Louisiana House and the Sustainable Landscape Program are fundamental resources that help Louisiana residents understand and improve their resource use (energy, water, etc.) in the home. Claudette Reichel, Pat Skinner, Matthew Keppinger, Kyle Huffstickler and a host of others are involved in creating demonstration resources on innovative building and management practices. Demonstrated building systems to withstand hurricane and flood issues are also a part of the LaHouse program. Sustainable landscape systems (turf and landscape plants) that employ native plants and other efficient landscape systems are also demonstrated within this program.


Significance of Programs

  • Numerous disclosures on techniques that will benefit Louisiana citizens through biobased energy, lab-on-a-chip technologies, processing and managing nanoparticles (microminiature particles), microwave processing of agricultural commodities and sensing approaches.
  • Projects aimed toward immediately critical issues such as an improved skimmer for the Gulf Oil spill.
  • Conversion and animal waste separation technologies designed to improve the economic potential for processing agricultural byproducts into biobased energy.
  • Improved resource utilization (water and energy) for more efficient use of available resources, while maintaining economic viability.


Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering Facts

  • Outstanding undergraduate program with strong emphasis in training future medical doctors, environmental consultants and those seeking graduate training.
  • High-achieving undergraduate students, including three Goldwater Scholars, and several students attending combined M.D./Ph.D. programs.
  • High-achieving faculty, including an NSF CAREER Award Recipient, an Alumni Professorship, those receiving national recognitions and Federal competitive funding.
  • Outstanding teachers who truly care about the students.
  • Research and extension faculty with a true vision toward the mission of the LSU AgCenter.


Future Plans

  • Explore the influence of nano-material toxicity as it applies to adult, adipose-derived stem cells, and the toxicity, transport and fate of such nanoparticles in aquatic systems. Understanding how these materials interact in target organisms and the environment is essential to their viability as treatment mechanisms.
  • Nanoparticle encapsulation technologies for vitamins and antioxidants have potential to greatly reduce cholesterol levels. The ability to rapidly extract bioactive components from plant materials can greatly enhance the applications.
  • Pasteurization and sterilization of liquid products using microwave heating can improve overall energy use and space requirements when compared with conventional heating technologies.
  • Calibration and improvements in chemical delivery systems (liquid and solid), including precision techniques for farmers, aerial applicators, fertilizer and pesticide cooperatives, and landscape personnel, are essential to improving the efficiency of application, while minimizing potential off-site issues.
  • Increased efficiency in energy and water use for agricultural and landscape irrigation systems requires strategic training of personnel and assessment of current equipment. New investigations, while partnering with appropriate collaborators (NRCS), can yield significantly improved resource utilization.
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