Graduate Research Features

Will Kacheris, ABE MS Student

A Novel Approach for Calculating the Feasibility of UrbanAgriculture using an Enhanced Hydroponic System

Will is working to create an adaptable formula which urban farmers and investors can use to determine the feasibility of a grow operation using parameters specific to their area. This formula will be based heavily on crop trials performed on a specially designed hydroponic system. Will designed and constructed a lightweight, high density hydroponic system to run crop trials for determining best management practices and crop costs.

Will's model also includes factors for land, utility, insurance, tax, and greenhouse construction costs and will have a multitude of inputs for different climactic conditions, such as growing degree days, light variability, and set point variability. The final formula will include price points for growing indoors and retail-specialty areas and determine caloric and nutritional production parameters such as energy/material input per nutrient value and caloric input.



Soohee Cho, ABE PhD Student

Smartphone-Based Biosensors for Detecting Pathogens on Microfluidic Platforms



The early detection of pathogens is crucial for preventing illnesses, and can ultimately secure world health. The fast growing mobile phone market in the developing world greatly potentiates the use of smartphone-based biosensing for the delivery of rapid and point-of-care diagnostics. Soohee uses smartphone biosensing to enable rapid diagnostics on two platforms, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) system & Microfluidic Paper Analytical Device (µPAD) to specifically and sensitively detect low concentrations of pathogens. The fabricated PCR system thermocycles Escherichia coli (E. coli) rapidly, compared to conventional thermocyclers, and can immediately detect the presence of E. coli with a devised smartphone-based fluorescent microscope. Fast results enable remote communication in the field and may prevent disease outbreaks among food and water supplies. In regards to µPADs, superiorly low concentrations of E. coli and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae) are detected from undiluted human urine by smartphone image analysis. Such rapid and easy developed tool can be used for diagnosing or even preventing onset of UTI (caused by E. coli) and gonorrhea (caused by N. gonorrhoeae).


Jesus Rodgriguez, ABE PhD Student

Downscaling MODIS Evapotranspiration via Cokriging in Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District, Yuma, AZ

Jesus Rodriguez is working to downscale ET data from 1-km-MODIS scale to 250-m-spatial resolution using a geostatistical approach (cokriging) in the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District. The auxiliary variables are Land Surface Temperature (LST) and Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI). Jesus hopes to characterize the spatial variability of ET in the study area (structural analysis) and to validate the downscaled ET with the original data to realize if the results are coherent. So far, all the resulting variograms and cross-variograms were anisotropic and the downscaled ET is coherent. Jesus has found that 250m resolution, while still coarse for many agricultural applications, is a reasonable and practical scale and that it is possible to downscale ET for farm-level applications using remote sensing and geospatial techniques.