Department Honored with Recent Awards

The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is pleased to announce that multiple faculty members were recognized for their outstanding contributions at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

     Dr. Sergio Capareda received the Superior Paper Award for his paper “Effective Use of Dairy Manure Mixed with Sand Bedding for Gasification which was published in the journal Transactions of the ASABE. Each year, several hundred papers are published in ASABE journals, and only 5% of those manuscripts are recognized as superior.

Two faculty members were inducted into the status of ASABE Fellow. Dr. Rabi Mohtar was honored for his global impact through engaging local and international communities in discovery and education for understanding sustainable management of water, energy, and food resources and by working with the public and private sectors in science-based information dialogue. In the department, Dr. Mohtar leads the Water-Energy-Food Nexus research group that has gained international recognition for its advanced understanding of sustainability of natural resources in multiple engineering applications.

Dr. Mohtar (middle) receiving his Fellowship.

     Dr. Chenghai Yang, an adjunct professor in the department, is a researcher for the USDA-ARS in College Station. Dr. Yang was honored for his outstanding contributions in development and integration of remote sensing and engineering for precision agriculture and pest management. Dr. Yang was able to quantify the infestations of invasive giant reed along the Texas-Mexico border that is a threat to ecosystems and border security. His first findings are still used by the U.S. Border Security for images and maps.

Dr. Mohtar and Dr. Yang join our active faculty previously honored as ASABE fellows: Ann Kenimer, Dana Porter, Gary Riskowski, and Steve Searcy. Retired faculty Charlie Coble, James Gilley, Edward Hiler, Otto Kunze, Calvin Parnell, and Bill Stout also hold the grade of Fellow.

Dr. Yang (middle) receiving his award from Dr. Searcy.

The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is also pleased to announce that two members of the departmental team were awarded various honors at the 2018 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award Ceremony held on September 13th at The AgriLife Center in College Station, Texas.

     Mr. Richard Epting received the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Staff. Mr. Epting’s responsibilities are divers. In his role as a technical laboratory coordinator in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, he continuously meets the demands of his department. A talented machinist, welder and fabricator, Mr. Epting utilizes his skills to build test stands, pilot scale reactors, prototype machines, and other custom equipment that enable faculty to pursue cutting-edge research and produce effective Extension demonstrations.

A nominator was impressed by Mr. Epting’s multifaceted ability, stating “The department that I came from prior to Texas A&M had over 10 paid technical staff supporting activities. Biological and Agricultural Engineering has two: Mr. Epting and our IT administrator. Consequently, Mr. Epting oversees many areas. He fabricates research and teaching equipment as needed, serves as the departmental safety officer and proctor for our west campus buildings, handles a range of faculty and staff requests from hanging pictures to fabricating and installing equipment, manages student workers, and supports student programs through safety training and supervision of shop activities. In summary, Biological and Agricultural Engineering would be in trouble without Mr. Epting being there.

     Dr. Alex Thomasson received the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Interdisciplinary Research Team for his part in the Unmanned Aerial Systems in Agriculture Team. The Unmanned Aerial Systems in Agriculture Team’s main mission is to facilitate a broad inter-disciplinary team to develop and use agricultural remote sensing technologies for actionable decisions by farmers and researchers and to make new agronomic discoveries that advance productivity and sustainability. The team’s vision is to provide global leadership in the appropriate use of unmanned aerial systems, ground vehicles, remote sensing, and data analytics to radically improve agricultural research and applications. As of 2018, the team has accumulated over 11 peer reviewed publications, 1 book chapter, and 25 presentations of which one of the team members was an author or co-author.

From left: Dr. Hardin, Richard Epting, Dr. Thomasson, and Dr. Searcy with awards.

Article by Jessica Schaeffer

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