Food, Bioproducts, and Renewable Energy


Dr. Joel Cuello

Dr. Pedro Andrade

Dr. Gene Giacomelli

Dr. Murat Kacria

Dr. Don Slack

Dr. Mark Siemens

Dr. Kemal Didan

Dr. Pete Waller

Dr. Muluneh Yitayew

Arizona has great potential as a large-scale producer of renewable bioenergy and bioproducts from sugar, oil, green waste, and algal sources. There currently is one full-scale ethanol production facility in our region, and we have been working with them to utilize new sources of biomass. Arizona could become a model for semi-arid land production of renewable fuels demonstrating responsible use of water, land, and workforce. Utilization of residual biomass is a key step for economic feasibility of the industry.


Our students are heavily involved in researching this area. [More here]


     TERRA REF: Advanced Field Crop Analytics - Dr. Pedro Andrade


The UA is part of an effort led by the U.S. Department of Energy to collect and generate big data faster and develop new crops more quickly for sustainable domestic energy — and food, feed and fiber needs down the line. Creating domestic biofuels from sorghum is just the beginning. [Read more...]

Sweet Sorghum to Ethanol - Dr. Don Slack

Known as the sugarcane of the desert, sweet sorghum could be a sustainable and ecological future biofuel crop for Arizona 

The extended growing season of the Southwest provides a niche to produce biofuel crops off-sequence from when other parts of the country are growing corn, said Riley. Biofuels could not only provide an ecological source of fuel for the future, but also could create a sustainable industry for Arizona and the desert Southwest.

Smartphone-based biosensors for medical diagnostics, food safety and water quality - Dr. Jeong-Yeol Yoon:

Biosensors Lab ( is currently developing handheld, field-ready or point-of-care microfluidic paper analytic devices (uPADs) for analyzing pathogens from myriads of medical, food and water samples. Smartphone is being used as an optical sensing device as well as data processing and storage device. The system is easy to use, low cost, and extremely sensitive (down to single cell level). We are the first in utilizing Mie scattering theory as an immunosensing modality to drastically reduce the limit of detection and enable optical detection in the presence of sample matrices.

Image: Smartphone application quantifies the Mie scattering from the uPAD for quantifying pathogens from urine, blood, food or water samples. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 2015, 74: 601-611 (

Photo Gallery

The Accordion Photobioreactor - Dr. Joel Cuello


The Vegetation Index and Phenology (VIP) Lab - Dr. Kamel Didan

The Vegetation Index and Phenology (VIP) Lab. is part of the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department at the University of Arizona. Headed by Dr. Kamel Didan. This research Lab. is supported by various NASA and international collaborative research grants. The Lab. specializes in designing highly specialized data processing science algorithms and in generating consistent, high quality and well characterized Climate Data Record (CDR) and Earth Science Data Record (ESDR) long term single- and multi-satellite data products in support of global change studies. The VIP Lab. works to produce and validate two key land surface measurements:

External Links

Global Institute for Strategic Agriculture in Arid Lands (GISAD)

Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC)