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Washington State University

Video: Unmanned helicopter tested for rainwater removal

August 11, 2015 | by Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities

PROSSER, Wash. – Washington State University is partnering with Digital Harvest Corp. to test an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could provide a safer, less expensive means to blow rainwater off cherry orchards to avoid fruit losses.

Rain can cause splits in the skin of cherries and similar fruits, rendering them susceptible to premature decay and, thus, commercially unmarketable. Growers use hovering helicopters to dry off cherry crops after a rainstorm, but that is costly and can be dangerous. [full article]

Grad student wins ASABE conference paper competition

Zhang HongchaoGraduate student Hongchao Zhang has won first place in the 2015 Boyd-Scott Graduate Research Award competition of American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineer (ASABE) Annual International Meeting, July 26-29, New Orleans.

Quality Changes in High Barrier Polymeric Packages – A Shelf-Life Study for Microwave Assisted Thermally Sterilized Food

Hongchao is a third year Ph. D. student, working with his advisor Dr. Shyam S. Sablani, professor of Biological Systems Engineering, on the research of Food Packaging.

Hongchao’s research focuses on developing high barrier polymeric food packages for advanced thermal food processing technologies, mainly microwave-assisted thermal sterilization processing. This research holds the potential of developing high quality sterilized foods with shelf life of 1-3 years or even longer, that not only for retail but also for military and NASA’s long-duration space missions. The project is funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Control of Food-borne bacterial and viral pathogens using microwave technology.” His committee members also include Dr. Juming Tang and Dr. Barbara Rasco.

Hongchao’s presentation in this competition was “Quality Changes in High Barrier Polymeric Packages – A Shelf-Life Study for Microwave Assisted Thermally Sterilized Food”. The placements for the Ph.D. and M.S. competitions was announced and awarded by P-122 Boyd-Scott Graduate Research Award Committee chair, Dr. Kaushlendra Singh, and competition sponsor Dr. Norm Scott from Cornell University during awards luncheon hold at July 29, New Orleans Hotel Marriot. Second and third place honors went to students from Ohio State University and University of Nebraska.

WSU engineers, scientists prepare to test apple-picking robot

July 16, 2015  WSU News | By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Between 15-18 billion apples are harvested every year in Washington state for fresh market consumption, but often farmers can’t find enough people to pick the fruit.

Many agencies have tried to create a device that will help with the picking process – a machine that is both gentle enough and picks fast enough to make it economically viable for commercial use – but have been unable to do so.

Engineers and scientists at Washington State University Tri-Cities and the WSU Center for Precision and Automatic Agricultural Systems (CPAAS) are creating a practically adoptable robot that will pick apples as efficiently as people.

[full article]

NSF Conference Grant Awarded

NSF conference grant awarded our student for The Science and Engineering for a Bio-based Industry and Economy (S1041) Annual Meeting and Symposium in Ohio

RICHLAND, Wash. – Libing Zhang, a doctoral candidate at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is awarded for S-1041 Annual Meeting and Symposium located in Ohio State University during August 10-11, 2015. She is one of 24 awarded students mostly studied in Agricultural and Biological Engineering program from 12 universities in United States.

Currently, she is pursuing her PhD degree majoring in Biological Systems Engineering at WSU. Her supervisor is Dr. Bin Yang, associate professor who focuses his research on biomass processing to cellulosic and lignin fuels and bioproducts. She will present her research work in the lignocellulosic biomass aqueous fractionation to produce sugars and lignin for catalysis upgrading to jet fuel.

“I really appreciate NSF grant for providing me this great opportunity. It will broaden my knowledge and benefit for my career.” She Says.

Doctoral Student Places First in Poster Competition

Poonam Bajaj, doctoral student in Biological Systems Engineering, has won first place in the student poster competition for the Product Development division of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2015.

Bajaj PoonamPoonam is conducting her research under the supervision of Dr. Shyam S. Sablani, professor of Biological Systems Engineering. Her research focuses on potential of utilizing pea protein as an innovative wall material for microencapsulation of flaxseed oil. This research holds the potential of developing sustainable wall material for microencapsulation which also fits in current green trend. The title of Poonam’s presentation was “Pea protein isolates as a novel wall material for microencapsulation of flaxseed oil.”

This research program is supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WA, the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, WA and a grant from the Washington State University, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, Agricultural Research Center. Poonam’s committee members include professors Juming Tang and Girish Ganjyal.

Poonam completed her bachelor’s degree in Food Science and she is recipient of best student award based her academic and extracurricular performance. She received her master’s degree in Food Engineering and Technology from Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai India before starting her Ph.D. at WSU in spring 2013. She received Puget Sound IFT Travel Award and ranked third in Biological Systems Engineering poster presentation competition.

The IFT is a leading international society in food science and technology. The winner was selected from 35 entries from the top food science and technology programs worldwide. Second and third place honors went to students from University of Minnesota and University of Florida.

WSU Tri-Cities Announces Student Research Grants

July 10, 201 5| Tri-City Herald

Five students at Washington State University Tri-Cities will receive grants as part of the Chancellor’s Summer Scholars Program at the university.

The program allows students to be mentored by a faculty member and work on a project to prepare them for a career in a science, technology, engineering and math field, a news release said.

Three of the $3,000 grants are being covered by Hanford contractor Washington River Protection Solutions:

  • Demi Galindo, a pre-medicine student is working with faculty members Elly Sweet and Jim Cooper on a developmental genetics project, which is part of a larger effort to understand human developmental disorders that cause skull deformities.
  • Joseph Traverso will build a robotic arm and investigate the capabilities of such a device with assistant professor Changki Mo.
  • Christopher Smith, mentored by associate professor Bin Yang, will look at developing a way to break down industrial waste created from a biomass conversion methods by using aerobic bacteria.

The other two grants will go to:

  • Logan Wickham, a freshman, who will work with assistant professor Nikos Voulgarakis on a project modeling nanoscale fluid-solid interfaces.
  • Jesus Madrigal’s investigation of why some biomass resist being broken down by enzymes in collaboration with assistant professor Xiao Zhang.

Congratulations PSIFT Scholarship Winners

Six students from BSE were awarded a PSIFT Scholarship this year.

The Puget Sound IFT Scholarship Committee has selected Scholarship winners.  This was a tough year, we had our highest number of applicants and many very deserving students.  The Committee spent hours reading applications and supporting documents to make the decision. The awards will be presented on Tuesday, June 30th.  The event will be held at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Seattle.

  • Deepali Jain
  • Poonam Bajaj
  • HongChao Zhang
  • Ravikiran Tadapaneni
  • Ellen Bornhorst
  • Kanishka Bhunia

Sensor Data Improves Cherry Production

by Steven Garrity on June 15, 2015

In July of 2013, Dr. Lav Khot and his team were in the field looking at how cherries were picked, weighed, and transported, when suddenly a helicopter began circling around a nearby orchard block.  When Dr. Khot asked the grower about it he said, “There was a rain last night, and we are trying to dry the tree canopies.”  The grower told Khot that cherries are susceptible to cracking if moisture stays on the fruit too long, so they hire helicopters to fly over their orchards to remove water from the fruit and leaves, hoping to prevent fruit loss.  [full article]

Tri-Cities Student Selected for Sustainable Energy Program

June 8, 2015 | By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Lei Zhu, a doctoral student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is one of 33 United States-based students to be selected for the June 17-24 American Chemical Society Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy.

He will explore scientific solutions to the global challenges of sustainable energy through presentations by leading researchers, collaborative projects and discussions. [read full article]

Student Awards

Congratulations Students!

Innu Chaudhary, advised by Dr. Shulin Chen, and Muhammad Azeem Khan, advised by Dr. Claudio Stockle were awarded scholarships at the 2015 CAHNRS Fall Festival.

The following students received an award from the GPSA’s Travel and Registration Grant Program for the summer 2015:

  • Shuxiang Liu
  • Carlos Zuniga
  • Seyedehsanaz Jarolmasjed