Joel Cuello

(520) 621-7757
Shantz Building, Room 507

BioImagineering: Innovations for People & the Planet
Algae Innovations for Food, Nutraceuticals & Biofuels
Vertical Farming 2.0
Strategic Social Agriculture

Dr. Joel Cuello is a globally recognized expert in the engineering of sustainable biological and agricultural innovations. His technical expertise in both engineering and biology provides the platform for the engineering of agricultural and biological systems with emphasis in optimizing performance while fostering resource sustainability and environmental protection.

Dr. Cuello conducted his postdoctoral research in the Controlled Ecological Life Support System Division at NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida as a U.S. National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate. He earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Biological Engineering, with Minor in Chemical Engineering, from The Pennsylvania State University in 1994. He also earned two M.S. degrees (Agricultural & Biological Engineering; Plant Physiology) from The Pennsylvania State University, and obtained his B.S. in Agricultural Engineering (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos.

Dr. Cuello is a lifetime Visiting Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and a Faculty Fellow at the Innovation Center of the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. 

He has designed, constructed and implemented varied types of engineered agricultural or biological innovations, including those applied in bioregenerative space life support, crop hydroponics, plant tissue culture, micropropagation, industrial mass production of algae and plant cell and microbial cultures for production of biomass, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, etc.

He is co-inventor of the patented algae photobioreactor -- the Accordion photobioreactor -- and is the creator of the Minimally Structured, Modular and Prefabricated Vertical Farm (the Vertical Greenbox® Solution), considered an archetypal design for Vertical Farming 2.0.

Dr. Cuello has lectured and has been invited as Guest or Keynote Speaker in numerous countries all over the world, including Brazil, China, South Korea, Israel, Palestine, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, India, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, Japan, Australia, Spain, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

He is an active member of a number of scientific and professional societies, having served as officer of technical committees for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE). He recently served as President of the Arizona Chapter of the ASABE, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the annual Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA).

Dr. Cuello has been inducted as member of three U.S. professional honor societies, including the U.S. National Honor Society of Engineering, the U.S. Honor Society of Agriculture, and the U.S. Honor Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. He was elected to the Philippine-American Academy of Science & Engineering in 2012, and was the 2012 Recipient of the Excellence in Global Education Award by The University of Arizona’s Global Initiative Program. Dr. Cuello is a 2015 Recipient of the I-Squared Award (Innovation & Impact) conferred by Tech Launch Arizona.


Notes from a Decade of Travels in a World Without Walls by Joel Cuello:


10 Things Engineering Students Should Mind to be Successful by Joel Cuello:


Biofuel Expert Explains How Future Innovations Could Help Realize Algae Biofuels' Full Potential by Daniel Stolte


Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels In the United States


The Bent, winter 2015

 "Engineering is fatal to hunger, poverty and unsustainable development."

Joel Cuello, Notes from a Decade of Travels in a World Without Walls, The Bent, 2013

Courses Taught: 
Globalization, Sustainability & Innovation
Integrated Engineered Solutions in the Food-Water-Energy Nexus

Education (degree, discipline, institution, year)



Bioregenerative Space Life Support

Agric. and Biological Engineering

NASA Kennedy Space Center

Penn State University




Agric. Engineering

Penn State University


M.S.              B.S.

Plant Physiology

Agricultural Engineering

Penn State University

University of the Philippines



Academic experience  (institution, rank, title, dates)



The University of Arizona

Agric. and Biosystems Engr.


Assoc. Prof.

The University of Arizona

Agric. and Biosystems Engr.


Asst. Prof.

The University of Arizona

Agric. and Biosystems Engr.


Visiting Prof.

Zhejiang University, China

Biosys. Engr. & Food Sci.



Faculty Fellow

Visiting Prof.    

Ateneo de Manila Univeristy

De La Salle University                   

Ateneo Innovation Center

Mechanical Engineering


Not academic experiences, consulting/industry, patents

Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Biopharmia, LLC, Oslo, Norway, 2009-present; Member, Scientific Advisory Board, C-Trade, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A., 2011-present

Cuello, J.L., T. Hoshino, S. Kuwahara and C. Brown. 2009. ACCORDION Photobioreactor for Algae Production. Licensed exclusively by The University of Arizona to Biopharmia AS.

United States Patent No. 20110287541; China Patent No. 201080061791.9; European Union (EPO) Patent No. 10832185.2; Australia Patent (pending), 2010321943; Brazil BR Patent (pending), 112012012004-2; Canada Patent (pending), 2,781,115; India Patent (pending), 4555/DELNP/2012; Philippines (pending), 1-2012-500986; South Africa (pending), 2012/03954

Cuello, J.L., T. Hoshino, S. Kuwahara and C. Brown. 2015. AIR ACCORDION Photobioreactor for            Algae Production. 2015. UA Ref. No. 14-089. PCT/US2015/013836. 01/30/2015.

Cuello, J.L. and C. Brown. 2015. ACCORDION AIR LOOP BIOREACTOR for Photoautotrophic, Mixotrophic and Heterotrophic Algae Prod. UA Ref. No. 15-106.  PCT/US2015/062738. 11/25/2015.

Current membership in professional organizations


American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)




Asia Pacific Society for Applied Phycology (APSAP)

Philippine American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE)

Association for Vertical Farming (AVF)

Honors and awards (from 2010)



Elected Member (Corresponding), National Academy of Science and Technology – Philippines Visiting Professor Award, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Developemnt (STRIDE), De La Salle University, Philippines, 09/18-27/15









Recipient, Tech Launch Arizona I-Squared (Innovation and Impact) Award

Recipient, Outstanding Alumnus Award in Biosystems Engineering Global Education and Research, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, Philippines

Elected Member, Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE)

Fulbright Senior Specialist, Center for Antarctic Programs, Universidad de Magallanes, Chile

Visiting Professor Award, Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) Program, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines


Service activities (within and outside of the institution)

University: UA Faculty Senator (2005-present); CALS Faculty Council, Chair (2015-present), Co-Chair (2009-2015); CALS Faculty P&T Committee, Chair (2014-present), Vice Chair (2014-2015); ABE Graduate Committee, Member; ABE Undergraduate Committee, Member.

National: President, Arizona Section ASABE (2012-2013); Elected Member, PAASE Board of Directors (2015-2017); Member, U.S. National Academies Committee for the Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels (2011-2012); Member, External Advisory Committee, Arkansas EPSCoR Plant-Powered Production (P3) Center, Arkansas State University (2008-2013).

International: Knowledge Partner UA Liason, Global Forum for Innov. in Agric.  (GFIA), United Arab Emirates (2014-present); Member, Working Group on Improving Sci., U.S.-Philippines Sci. and Tech. Agreement (2014-present);Tech. Adviser, Ministry of Water and Envr., Agric. Division, United Arab Emirates (2014-present); Tech. Adviser, King Abdulaziz City for Sci. and Tech.,  Saudi Arabia, (2011-present); External Advisor, Philippine Congressional Comm. on Sci., Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) Philippines (2011-2013).

Peer Review of Proposals: NSF INFEWS (2016); USDA NIFA (2013); NSF Environmental Sustainability (2012)

Principal/Selected publications and presentations (from 2011)

Ubando, A.T., Cuello, J.L., El-Halwagi, M.M., Culaba, A.B., Promentilla, M.A.B., Tan, R.R.. 2015. Application of Stochastic Analytic Hierarchy Process for Evaluating Algal Cultivation Systems for Sustainable Biofuel Production. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy. doi: 10.1007/s10098-015-1073-z. ISSN: 1618-9558. Refereed.

Ubando, A.T., Culaba, A.B., Aviso, K.B., Tan, R.R., Cuello, J.L., Ng, D.K.S., El-Halwagi, M.M. 2015. Fuzzy Mathematical Programming Approach in the Optimal Design of an Algal Bioenergy Park. Chemical Engineering Transactions. Vol. 45. ISBN 978-8895608, ISSN 2283-9216. Refereed.

Ubando, A.T., J.L. Cuello, A.B. Culaba, M.M. El-Halwagi and R.R. Tan. 2014. Multi-regional multi-objective optimization of an algal biofuel polygeneration supply chain with fuzzy mathematical programming. Proceedings of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 2014 8th International Conference on Energy Sustainability. Refereed.

Ubando, A.T., J.L. Cuello, A.B. Culaba, M.A.B. Promentilla and R.R. Tan. 2014. Multi-criterion evaluatuon of cultivation systems for sustainable algal biofuel production using analytic hierarchy process and Monte Carlo simulation. Energy Procedia. Refereed.

Borines, M.G., R.L de Leon and J.L. Cuello. 2013. Biotehanol production from the macroalgae Sargassum spp. Bioresource Technology. 138:22-29.

Hoshino, T., D. Johnson and J.L. Cuello. 2012. Design of new strategy for algal photo-hydrogen production: Spectral selective photosystem I activation and photosystem II deactivation. Bioresource Technology. 120: 233-240.

Seo, I.H., I.B. Lee, H.S. Hwang, S.W. Hong, J.P. Bitog, K.S. Kwon, C.G. Lee, Z.H. Kim and J.L. Cuello. 2012.  Numerical method of a bubble-column photobioreator design for microalgae cultivation. Biosystems Engineering. 113: 229-241.

Wu, D., P. Nie, J.L. Cuello, Y. He, Z. Wang and H. Wu. 2011. Application of visible and near infrared spectroscopy for rapid and non-invasive quantification of common adulterants in Spirulina powder. Journal of Food Engineering 102: 278–286.