Ag grant to fund bio-energy outreach study at UMES

  • Friday, April 1, 2011

    image001(91).jpgPRINCESS ANNE, MD - (March 31, 2011) - The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded $4.9 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Cornell University and three other institutions to fund a project aimed at creating sustainable education opportunities for educators interested in bio-energy and bio-based products.

    Drs. Madhumi Mitra and Abhijit Nagchaudhuri of UMES will partner with Dr. Corinne Rutzke of Cornell University and researchers at Delaware State University, Pace Law School, and The Ohio State University on the joint project. UMES will take the lead for research and education outreach in bio-diesel from vegetable oils and algae. Throughout the study, information will be shared to help educators prepare students for career options available in the fields of bio-energy and bio-based products.

    Mitra is the grant's co-investigator as well as UMES' lead researcher. UMES will receive $462,906 and stipends for participating educators. She is a tenured associate professor of biology and environmental sciences and a graduate faculty member of the system-wide Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences Program (MEES).  She also coordinates biology and chemistry education. 

    Mitra earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in botany at North Carolina State University and Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in botany in Calcutta, India. Her research at UMES focuses on marine algae, submerged aquatic vegetation and environmentally-conscious Dr. Abhijit Nagchaudhuriprecision agriculture.

    Nagchaudhuri is a co-investigator in the study. He is professor of engineering and aviation sciences and a graduate faculty member in agriculture, MEES and computer science.  He earned a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at Duke University and a Master of Science degree in the same field at Tulane University.  He earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree in India.  His research interests are robotics, control systems, precision agriculture, remote sensing and renewable energy.

    The project is funded through the National Institute's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative for five years. The initiative provides grants targeting the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bio-energy and bio-based products that reduce dependence on foreign oil; have a positive effect on social, environmental and rural economic factors; and are compatible with existing agricultural systems.

    UMES researchers affiliated with the Agricultural Experiment Station provide enhanced knowledge and technology to improve the viability and sustainability of agriculture and food systems, improve the quality of natural resources and the environment, and serve communities, families and consumers. 

    Call 410-621-3850 for more information about UMES' Agricultural Experiment Station.

                

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    Suzanne Waters Street, agriculture communication specialist, School of Agricultural & Natural Sciences, 410-621-3850, sstreet@umes.edu.