Gene Giacomelli


(520) 626-9566

Greenhouse Design
Nutrient Delivery Systems
Climate Control Technologies

Doctor Gene A. Giacomelli is the Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center [CEAC] at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, and he is a professor in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, and a member of the Bio5 Institute.  He completed Sabbatical leave in Italy with aerospace companies, Aero-Sekur and Thales Alenia Spazio-Italia, and with several universities, with focus on Bioregenerative life support food systems for Moon, Mars and Earth.

Dr. Giacomelli has B.S [Rutgers University] and M.S. [University of California-Davis] with degrees in engineering, and a PhD in Horticultural Engineering [Rutgers University], with advanced study in plant science and controlled environment production horticulture.  

Dr. Giacomelli has designed, constructed, instrumented and operated various types of environmentally controlled greenhouses utilizing hydroponic-based crop production systems, including NFT, Ebb and Flood and aeroponic systems for greenhouse lettuce, tomato, strawberry, and numerous other crops.  His professional activities have focused on controlled environment plant production systems [greenhouse and growth chamber] research, design, development and applications, with emphases on:  crop production systems, nutrient delivery systems, environmental control, mechanization, and labor productivity.  He has designed and provided operational support with Sadler Machine Co., Tempe, Arizona for the first automated food growth chamber at the NSF South Pole Station in Antarctica (2004 – 2013).

His long-term efforts include the continued development of the Controlled Environment Agriculture program at University of Arizona, which includes: educating undergraduates and graduate students in engineering, Plant Sciences and Ag. Education; researching controlled environment plant production systems; outreach through cooperative extension to the citizens of Arizona and the world; and collaborating with programs for economic development.



Honors/Awards/Recognitions (2009-Present)  


Emmy (Western Region) for ‘Earthlight’ Documentary, C. Sheehy, Producer


. Background:  The Lunar Greenhouse Outreach & Teaching Module (LGH-OTM) was developed with the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, and its partners Hungry Planets Systems and Services, and Sadler Machine Company.  It was also financially supported by NASA Steckler augmentation funds and funds from UA-CALS.  It strongly complements the activities of the Arizona-NASA Ralph Steckler Space Colonization grant program, whose educational goals includes creating platforms presenting science, technology, education, food security and production, within educational demonstrations.  The LGH-OTM, a portable version of the lab design Prototype Lunar Greenhouse, was designed to be exhibited around the USA to demonstrate and provide educational and training opportunities for groups of post-secondary [and for audiences of all ages]. To date it has been displayed at San Diego County Fair; and, at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry; and, at the Arizona Pavilion at the Biotechnology Industries Organization 20134 Expo.





LGH-OTM Museum of Science & Industry Chicago, Chicago, IL – July 2013 thru January, 2014

760,000+ Museum visitors estimated by Museum management at the LGH-OTM during exhibit period 5,000+ VIP visitors on Opening Night at Museum

Key visitors included Boeing and other Aerospace companies and related staff.

Event Related Media Audiences: 1.6 Million [print, online & radio] according to Museum staff.


LGH-OTM Biotechnology Industries Organization  2013 Expo, Chicago, IL – April, 2013

Centerpiece of Arizona State Pavilion with 2,500+ certified engaged attendees at booth

Event attendance & circulation @ 52,000 for 3.5 days

Event Related Media Audiences: WMAQ-TV News [3 day parts for 2” @ 530,000 HUT/ 1.2+ Million Viewers]; Medill News Service [2” video and 5400+ word story for 150,000+ users and Medill J-School Graduate List]


LGH-OTM Arizona Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, Phoenix, IL – November, 2013

Finalist, Annual Innovator of the Year - Academia

Event Related Media Audiences Anticipated:  1.5+ Million Combined


LGH-OTM, Recipient of “Future Leaders” Award. 

450+ Leadership Attendees from Key Industries in AZ including Aerospace & Defense and BioTechnology.

Event Related Media Audiences:  Phoenix Business Journal [350,000+ Paid Circulation; AZ Republic [650,000+ av. Circulation]; AZ Daily Star [240,000+ av. Circulation]


LGH-OTM San Diego County Fair, Del Mar Fairgrounds , Del Mar, CA - June 2012

1.6+ Million attendees at Fair titled “Out of this World,” Fair officials estimated 1.12 Million view LGH-OTM 15,000+ interactions at LGH-OTM display of 15 minutes or more [display manager’s estimate] 2,500+ attendees (students & adults) at 3 x Daily hour classes on BLSS, hydroponics, & LGH-OTM facts

Event Related Media Audiences:  Union-Tribune San Diego [680,000+ av. Circulation x 4 = 2,720,000+]; Yuma Sun [85,000+ av. Circulation]; SDC Fair Daily thru June [1.85 Million printed & circulated].

Participant in 10 International & National Fair Awards, detailing LGH-OTM facts to Fair and Economic Development audiences world-wide.


Invited Presentations (2009-Present)

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  Urban Agriculture using Natural Light in Roof-top Greenhouses.  Symposium “Plant Factory 2015: Role of Plant Factory and its Contribution to Urban Agriculture and Future Life” Nov. 26-27, 2015, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  AgroSpace Studies Benefit Space Agriculture and Earth Applications in Food Production, Seminare nel Futuro Raccogliere nel Presente, Convegno organizzato dalla regione Lazio e Aero-Sekur, Auditorium di Palazzo Italia, Milan Expo 2015, Milan, Italy (invited keynote speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  AgTech Investors Conference, Wooster, OH. AGrown, LLC (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  GreenSYS 2015, Evora, Portugal. ISHS Acta Horticulturae. (invited keynote speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  Feeding the World with CEA -- Technology Today and for the Future, ASABE- NABEC’15, Newark, DE, July 12 – 14 (invited keynote speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  Technology Challenges for Water Use….and more… Controlled Environment Agriculture,  High-level International Forum on Protected Horticulture (HIFPH 2015), Shouguang, China. (invited keynote speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2015.  The World’s Future in Controlled Environments‎ for Food, Production Processes, and Returns on Investment.  University and Industry Consortium’s (UIC) Spring 2015 Meeting, Yuma, AZ (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2014. Controlled Environments—The Future of Economically viable, Environmentally reasonable and Socially acceptable Food Production. Purdue University HLA Seminar Series, West Lafayette, Indiana (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2014. AgroSpace Workshop, Sperlonga, Italy (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2014. Urban Agriculture Indoor Farming Experiences at the South Pole and on the Moon, NSF Workshop on Challenges in Vertical Farming, Tokyo, Japan, March 25 – 26 (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2014.  Controlled Environments—The Future of Economically viable, Environmentally reasonable and Socially acceptable Food Production, Simposio Internacional “Retos Y Perspectivas de la Agricultura Protegida”, Autonomous University of Chapingo, Texcoco, Mexico (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2013. GreenSYS 2013, Jeju Island, Korea. ISHS Acta Horticulturae. (invited keynote speaker).

G. Giacomelli, P. Sadler, R.L. Patterson, M. Kacira and R. Furfaro, 2012.  Novel Applications in Controlled Environments, Controlled Environments Technology and Practice, 4th international conference of UK-CEUG, North American NCERA-101 & Australasian ACEWG, Downing College, Cambridge, UK, 10 - 12 September 2012 (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2012. Technological Opportunities in Indoor Food Growing Systems: Working examples of South Pole and Moon Applications. NSF Workshop on Challenges in Vertical Farming, Organized by Sanjiv Singh, C-M University. University of Maryland Conference Center, MD, USA, September 26 (organizer, invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2012.  Technology Challenges Now and in Future for Water Use in CEA -- Applying knowledge of Lessons learned from Mars/Moon. 15th Congreso International en Ciencias Agricolas, Mexicali, Mexico, October 26 (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2012.  Greenhouse for Control of Plant Production:  Education, Research, Outreach and Industry Collaboration in Controlled Environment Systems at UA-CEAC for Modern Agricultural Food Production Technology.  Workshop on Greenhouse Horticulture – IV, College of Bioresources and Agriculture, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, November 9 (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2012. Greenhouse Control and Plant Production. Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Taichung, Taiwan (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2012. AgroSpace Workshop, Sperlonga, Italy (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2011.  Technology Challenges Now and in Future for Water Use in CEA:  Applying knowledge of Lessons learned from Mars/Moon, International HortiFair, Amsterdam, Holland (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli and M. Munday, 2011. ”CEA food production – from Space to Earth to the Home”. UA-CEAC was represented on the Martha Stewart Show, Tuesday, April 12th 10am on the Hallmark Channel Live broadcast and videotaping. Producer Barbara Fight, Garden Editor Andrea Mason, and the Associate Producer, Allie Wyman were provided materials and video for the show by Mike Munday.  2, 5 min segments were prepared that included Murat Kacira, Pat Rorabaugh, Stacy Tollefson, Efren Fitz-Rodriquez, Federico, Brandon Parham, Lane Patterson, Phil Sadler, and Murat’s class.

What was accomplished: 1. 60 second video was created and will be shown on the show, and Gene described it as it is viewed; 2. hydroponic demonstration of a home hydroponic unit was designed and built to grow lettuce plants; 3.  brochure on how to make the home unit was created and distributed; 4. [Village Farms has provided financial support for the event, and its products will appear on the show, and its technology has been noted in the video; 5.  Phototron has provided financial support for the event, and its hardware will appear on the show as an example of a home plant growth unit; 6.  Levari Farm Market and Greenhouse,  Jim Levari, owner provided the tomato plants for the plant growth unit; 7.  NY Sunworks, Laurie Schoeman, provided lettuce seedlings and mature heads for the hydroponic demonstration; 8. Gene discussed with Martha on the show, and in the process highlight some CEA activities at CEAC, and to explain the home unit; 9. Question & Answer script was prepared for Martha to interact with Gene for the discussions.

A. Beretta, V. Bornisacci, G. Boscheri , S. De Pascale, R. Furfaro, G. Giacomelli, L. Grizzaffi, M. Kacira, M. Lamantea, C. Lobascio, R.L. Patterson, M. Pirolli, S. Rossignoli, P. Sadler, 2010.  AgroSpace 2010 Sperlonga, Italy, International Collaboration on Bioregenerative Systems for Space and Earth Applications (invited speaker).

Giacomelli, G., M. Kacira, R. Furfaro, L. Patterson, P. Sadler, C. Lobascio, G. Boscheri, M. Lamantea, L. Grizzaffi, S. Rossignoli, M. Pirolli, and S. DePascale. 2010. Lunar Greenhouse Prototype for Bioregenerative Life Support System. NASA Ralph Steckler Project Forum, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, November 15 (speaker as project PI).

G. Giacomelli, 2011 and 2013. HortiFair Workshops & Symposia & Grower Conferences, Amsterdam, Holland (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2009. Controlled Environments: Plant Production Technology Addresses Global Issues, Green Planet Lecture Series, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown, New York (invited speaker).

G. Giacomelli, 2009. GreenSYS 2009, Quebec City, Canada (invited speaker).

Selected Publications: 

Peer-reviewed Publications (2009-Present) 

Tollefson, S., G. Curlango-Rivera, D.A. Huskey, T. Pew, G. Giacomelli and M. C. Hawes. 2014 Altered carbon delivery from roots: rapid, sustained inhibition of border cell dispersal in response to compost water extracts. Plant and Soil, doi: 10.1007/s11104-014-2350-z, Springer International Publishing, Dec. 2014.

Tollefson, S. J., Curlango-Rivera, G., Giacomelli, G., and Hawes. M.C.   Effect of a Compost Water Extract on Growth and Root Disease Suppression in Pea Grown in Different Substrates. To be submitted to Compost Science and Utilization.

Villarreal-Guerrero, F., M. Kacira, E. Fitz-Rodríguez, R. Linker, G. A. Giacomelli, A. Arbel, C. Kubota. 2013. Implementation of a greenhouse cooling strategy with natural ventilation and variable fogging rates. Transactions of ASABE 56(1): 295-304.

S. Proietti, S. Moscatello, G. Giacomelli and A. Battistelli, 2013.  Influence of the interaction between growth light intensity and CO2 concentration on productivity and quality of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) grown in fully controlled environment.  Advances in Space Research 52 (2013) 1193–1200.

Boscheri, G., M. Kacira, L. Patterson, G. Giacomelli, P. Sadler, R. Furfaro, C. Lobascio, M. Lamantea, L. Grizzaffi. 2012. Modified energy cascade model adapted for a multicrop lunar greenhouse Prototype. Advances in Space Research.

Villarreal-Guerrero, F., M. Kacira, E. Fitz-Rodríguez, C. Kubota, G.A. Giacomelli, R. Linker, A. Arbel. 2012a. Comparison of three evapotranspiration models for a greenhouse cooling strategy with natural ventilation and variable high pressure fogging. Scientia Horticulturae, 134:  210-221.

Villarreal-Guerrero, F., M. Kacira, E. Fitz-Rodríguez, R. Linker, C. Kubota, G.A. Giacomelli, A. Arbel. 2012b. Simulated performance of a greenhouse cooling control strategy with natural ventilation and fog cooling. Biosystems Engineering, 111:  217-228.

Sabeh. N.C., G. Giacomelli, C. Kubota.  2011.  Water use in a greenhouse in a semi-arid climate.  Trans. ASABE. 54(3)

Giacomelli, G.A., 2009.  Engineering Principles Impacting High Tunnel Environments.  HortTechnology 19(1):1-4.

Takakura, T, C. Kubota, S. Sase, M. Hayashi, M. Ishii, K. Takayama, H. Nishina, K. Kurata, G.A. Giacomelli, 2009.  Measurement of evapotranspiration rate in a single-span greenhouse using the energy-balance equation, Biosystems Engineering 102:298-304.

Education & Employment: 



The University of Arizona

Bio-5 Adjunct Faculty



The University of Arizona

School of Plant Sciences Adjunct Faculty



The University of Arizona

Controlled Environment Agriculture Center



The University of Arizona

Agric. and Biosystems Engr.


Adjunct Professor

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Bioresource Engineering



Rutgers University

Center Controlled Environment Agriculture



Rutgers University

Bioresource Engineering


Associate Professor

Rutgers University

Bioresource Engineering


Assistant Professor

Rutgers University

Biological & Agricultural Engineering


Research Associate-Instructor

Rutgers University

Biological & Agricultural Engineering