Faculty Mentors

Cohort 2 Faculty Mentors:

Wubishet Tadesse, Ph.D. | Alabama A&M University

Wubishet is currently serving as Interim Chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences (CALNS) at Alabama A&M University. Other departments in CALNS include, Community & Regional Planning; Family & Consumer Sciences; Food & Animal Sciences; and Military Sciences. He teaches the following undergraduate/ graduate courses: Remote Sensing of Environment I; Remote Sensing of Environment II; Quantitative approach to remote sensing; Introduction to Geographic Information System; Advanced Principles of Geographic Information Systems; and GIS, Spatial Analysis and modeling. His main research focus is on land-use land-cover change detection and modeling; environmental quality assessment using satellite and aerial remote sensing and GIS techniques within a human ecological theoretical framework. Other research interests include modeling of the impacts of climate change on agricultural and forest ecosystems, the implications of scale and scaling in remote sensing and modeling analyses, and human-environment interactions with main focus of identifying new methods of utilizing remotely sensed data to improve land resource management.

Sushil Adhikari, Ph.D. | Auburn University

Sushil Adhikari is an Alumni Professor in the Biosystems Engineering Department at Auburn University. He is also the Director for the Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts at Auburn University. Adhikari earned his Ph.D. degree from Mississippi State University in Biological Engineering. Adhikari teaches biosystems engineering classes and conducts research related to biofuels and bioproducts, especially in the eld of thermochemical conversion. His research efforts are particularly focused on biomass gasi cation, pyrolysis, algae liquefaction and upgrading, anaerobic digestion (AD) and hydrogen production. Adhikari has published 97 peer-reviewed journal articles and 8 book chapters, and has been cited more than 5000 times. Dr. Adhikari’s research expertise in AD is to understanding the role of bio-char on biomass methane potential from biore nery wastes. He has received the Auburn University (AU) President’s Collaborative Unites Award (2012), the AU College of Agriculture Dean’s Advising Excellence Award (2015), the AU College of Agriculture Dean’s Grantsmanship Award (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011), and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Director’s Research Award (2011). Adhikari received the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) New Holland Young Researcher Award in 2013 and the Alabama Distinguished Young Agricultural Engineer in 2010. He was also named as “World’s Most In uential Mind” by Thomas Reuters in 2014. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Energy (DoE-BETO), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Southeastern SunGrant, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and others. He is currently supervising the research of two Post-docs, two Ph.D. students, two Master’s students and one undergraduate student. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Alabama.

Marcus Nagle, Ph.D. | Central State University

Dr. Nagle heads a research lab at Central State University conducting botanical cultivation experiments and research into extraction, isolation and identi cation techniques for biological compounds. Tests are run with crude extracts using microbial cultures, cancer cell lines as well as insect and plant species to determine antibacterial, anticancer, and insecticidal/herbicidal properties, respectively. Secondary evaluations are conducted on extracts of interest. Results serve as a basis for drug discovery research, to bene t the public well-being, and to facilitate identi cation of new chemistries potentially relevant to human and environmental health. Dr. Nagle holds a Doctorate in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Hohenheim in Germany and has extensive experience working in international projects related to agriculture, technology, plant sciences, and renewable energies.

Kenneth Reardon, Ph.D. | Colorado State University

Colorado State University is a public, land-grant University, with 33,000 students and 1850 faculty members. Research expenditures at the University in 2016 totaled over $330 million. The University is located in Fort Collins, a friendly city of 170,000 that was named one of six national “Places of Innovation” by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Colorado State University was designated by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University for its impact on economic development. Kenneth F. Reardon is the Jud and Pat Harper Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University. He holds several joint appointments, including in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology. He also has a joint appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Dr. Reardon is the Director of the Sustainable Bioenergy Development Center and has served as the co-Director of the Energy Institute at CSU. Dr. Reardon joined the faculty at CSU in 1988 after completing his PhD degree at the California Institute of Technology and a year of postdoctoral research at the Universität Hannover as an Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow. Dr. Reardon’s current research involves the analysis and engineering of bacteria and algae for the production of biofuels and other chemicals, applications of systems biology, and bioprocess monitoring. His projects have led to more than 150 publications and eight patents. Dr. Reardon is an Associate Editor of Algal Research and on the Editorial Board of Microbial Cell Factories. In 2010, he founded OptiEnz Sensors to commercialize biosensor technology that had been developed in his group and continues to serve as the Chief Technology Of cer of OptiEnz.

John Bushoven, Ph.D. | California State University, Fresno

Dr. Bushoven is trained as a Horticultural Physiologist and specializes in in vitro propagation of a wide range of economically important species. He is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Plant Science and serves on the Fresno State Professional Masters in Biotechnology faculty and is lead investigator at Fresno State’s Plant Tissue Culture Facility. He is a member of the Molecular Biology/In Vitro Commission and the In Vitro Culture Workgroup of the International Society for Horticultural Science and member of the Society for In Vitro Biology-Plant. He is a recipient of the Salgo-Noren Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award, the University Outstanding Adviser Award, and the NACTA Meritorious Teaching Award. He serves as faculty research mentor to the National Science Foundation-Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program and the U.S. Dept of Education-McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.

Mingxin Guo, Ph.D. | Delaware State University

Dr. Guo has been working in the university since 2004, conducting academic teaching and research related to agricultural sciences. He received his M.S. in Environmental Chemistry from Chinese Academy of Sciences and his Ph.D. in Soil Science from Pennsylvania State University. His current teaching covers Soil Science, Soil & Water Management, Hydrology, Limnology, and Biometrics, while his current research extends to value-added reuse of agricultural byproducts and soil health assessment & management. Considering biomass supply is the base of a thriving bioeconomy, while sustainable production of biomass requires wise management of land, soil, and water, Dr. Guo is focusing his research on farm-based production and utilization of organic residues-derived biochar and pyrolysis bio-oil, aiming to improve soil quality and enhance rural prosperity.

Giovanna Aita, Ph.D. | Louisiana State University

Dr. Giovanna M. Aita is an Associate Professor at Louisiana State University with appointments in the Department of Food Sciences and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. She holds a B.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences and a M.Sc. degree in Food Microbiology from Clemson University and a Ph.D. degree in Food Microbiology from Louisiana State University. Dr. Aita’s research focuses on developing processes to produce fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass.

Mark Mba Wright, Ph.D. | Iowa State University

Dr. Mark Mba Wright’s is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. His area of study is techno- economic and lifecycle analysis of energy systems with a focus on biomass conversion to fuels, power, and bioproducts. He has authored over 40 journal articles on the costs and environmental impacts of bioenergy systems. Dr. Mba Wright has also authored book chapters on biomass and bioenergy. Dr. Mba Wright teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, thermal energy design, and economics and policy of energy systems. Dr. Mba Wright’s work has been funded by various federal agencies including the US Department of Energy, US Department of Agriculture, and USAID. Dr. Mba Wright has served as area chair of the Sustainable Biore neries area of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering annual conference. He also served as advisor of the ISU chapter of Engineers Without Borders and has participated in various international engineering projects.

Stephen Kelley, Ph.D. | North Carolina State University

Dr. Steve Kelley has been a Professor in the Department of Forest Biomaterials at North Carolina State University since 2005. At NC State he has taught classes in Sustainable Building Materials; Wood Chemistry; and Wood Composites. He currently supervises PhD students working on innovative technology and systems approaches to developing bioenergy and biomaterials. Prior to working at NCSU he worked for 13 years at the US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and 5 years in the chemical industry. His research interests include the production of sustainable energy and materials from biomass, life cycle analysis of wood products and energy systems, and the analysis of trade-offs between nancial, environmental and social attributes of biobased systems. He currently serves on the National Research Council’s Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Editorial Boards of three international science and technology journals, as the President of CORRIM, an organization focused on using life cycle analysis tools to evaluate the performance of materials used in home construction, as a member of the Executive Board of the Institute for Forest Biotechnology, a nonpro t studying the social and environmental opportunities, and risks, of genetically engineered trees, and as a trustee with a private foundation that funds work a variety of educational, sustainability and early childhood projects.

Omar Holguin, Ph.D. | New Mexico State University

Dr. Omar Holguin is an assistant professor in NMSU’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences where his research focuses largely on the metabolomic study of microalgae as a source of natural products and renewable energy. Dr. Holguin has a diverse background that includes expertise in natural products isolation and identi cation, molecular biology techniques, lipid biochemistry and analytical chemistry techniques. Dr. Holguin has developed novel analyses of algal/plant lipids, biofuel, cellular exudates, and metabolites. He provides expertise in the puri cation and identi cation of novel and known compounds as well as the elucidation of their structures by mass spectroscopy.

David Ripplinger, Ph.D. | North Dakota State University

David Ripplinger is a bioenergy/bioproduct economics specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University and the state’s bioenergy and bioproducts economist. In these roles, David conducts research and provides support to farmers and the bioenergy industry.

Ajay Shah, Ph.D. | The Ohio State University

Dr. Ajay Shah is an assistant professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (2004) from Tribhuvan University in Nepal, a master’s degree in Biological Engineering (2009) from Mississippi State University, and a doctoral degree in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (2013) from Iowa State University. Dr. Shah leads the Biobased Systems Analysis Lab, which focuses primarily on applying engineering concepts and principles, and advanced systems analysis techniques and tools to improve the ef ciency, economics and emissions (i.e., 3Es) of plant-based food, material and energy production systems throughout their life cycle, from eld production through conversion to end-products. The outcomes of his program contribute toward enhancing the techno-economic and environmental sustainability of advanced plant-based systems. More speci cally, his research program focuses on bioenergy/bioproducts and crop production systems with particular emphasis on: biofeedstock production, harvest and post-harvest logistics/engineering; bioenergy/ products conversion and utilization; and crop production and grain storage.

Yanqi Wu, Ph.D. | Oklahoma State University

Dr. Yanqi Wu is the Meibergen Family Endowed Professor in Grass Breeding and Genetics of the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at Oklahoma State University. His research is centered on developing new cultivars and investigating genetic and genomic mechanisms for important agronomic traits in bermudagrass used for turf and forage, and switchgrass for bioenergy. For the turf industry, his breeding program has released ‘NorthBridge’ and ‘Latitude 36’ turf bermudagrasses both in 2010, and ‘OKC 1131’ turf bermudagrass in 2017. ‘Latitude 36’ turf bermudagrass has been selected as a standard cultivar in the 2013-18 National Turfgrass Evaluation Program Bermudagrass National Test. Dr. Wu authored and coauthored 58 refereed journal articles and 9 book chapters, and co-edited one book. He received the Early Career Award of the National Plant Breeders Association in 2010 and the Tengtou Agricultural Science Award of American Society of Agronomy in 2017.

Serpil Guran, Ph.D. | Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Serpil Guran is the Director of Rutgers EcoComplex “Clean Energy Innova- tion Center”. She also manages the new Rutgers EcoIgnite: Clean Energy Proof of Concept Center and Accelerator” program. Her responsibilities include management of the EcoComplex operations, programs, business incubator and facilities, as well as providing vision and leadership in establishing the EcoComplex as a center for the commercialization of environmental and clean energy technologies. She teaches online classes “Sustainability Decision tools” “Introduction to Bioenergy technologies” and “Critical Thinking in the Case of Learning Food- Energy- Water- Nexus”. Dr. Guran is trained on thermochemical conversion (pyrolysis and gasi cation) of biomass and waste materials for production of fuels and chemicals and she specializes in research, development and assessment of sustainable biofuel and recycling technologies, and life cycle analysis of clean energy systems alternative fuel production systems. Currently, she is working on Food-Energy-Water Nexus and Waste synergy by promoting integration of organic waste into development of closed-loop bio-economy.

Timothy Volk, Ph.D. | SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

SUNY ESF is one of 64 campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The college is focused speci cally on issues related to forestry and the environment. SUNY ESF has been involved with issues related to bioeconomy since its founding in 1911, although the words used and concepts about this topic have changed over the last 100+ years. Dr. Volk has more than 25 years of experience working in the elds of forestry, agroforestry, short-rotation woody crops, bioenergy and phytoremediation in the Northeastern United States and West Africa. He is currently involved in research focused on the development of shrub willow biomass cropping systems as a feedstock for bioproducts and bioenergy. Alternative uses of willow for phytoremediation, living snow fences, wastewater management, and nutrient and riparian buffers are other issues Dr. Volk is currently exploring.

Venugopal Mendu, Ph.D. | Texas Tech University

Dr. Mendu is an Assistant Professor of Cell Wall Biology at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. His research focus is on cell wall biosynthesis and biofuel production from plant biomass. Dr. Mendu uses Arabidopsis model system to understand the fundamental mechanisms involved in the cell wall biosynthesis and translate the knowledge to food and biomass crops. He is interested in manipulating the plant cell walls for the production of ef cient biofuel production from plant biomass.

Caixia "Ellen" Wan, Ph.D. | University of Missouri

Dr. Caixia “Ellen” Wan is an assistant professor with University of Missouri. Her research is focused on bioprocessing of renewable materials into biofuels, chemicals, and materials via chemical and biochemical conversion.

David Harper, Ph.D. | University of Tennessee

Dr. Harper has a broad background in the manufacturing, designing, and characterization of natural composite materials. His formal training is in the design, manufacture, and mechanics of structural composite materials. Throughout his professional career, his focus is on making new materials from renewable, plant-based sources. Dr. Harper has speci c expertise in coupling natural and synthetic materials including the spectroscopic and mechanical evaluation of interfaces, which is re ected in his publications. Dr. Harper also has a strong interest in lignin and carbon-based materials.

Richard Gustafson, Ph.D. | University of Washington

The University of Washington is the premier research university in the Paci c Northwest. It is ranked 13th in the world on the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities and educates more than 54,000 students annually. Dr. Gustafson is a chemical engineer who does process design, modelling, and control research as well as life cycle assessment research. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1982 and has been teaching at UW for 31 years.

Jamie Schuler, Ph.D. | West Virginia University

Dr. Jamie Schuler is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the WVU Research Forest in the Forest Resources Management program at West Virginia University. He received a Ph.D. in Forestry from NC State University.
His research focuses on establishment practices for natural and planted forests including short rotation woody crop species. Prior to coming to WVU, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas-Monticello where he studied the production of willow, cottonwood, and loblolly pine as biomass crops.