Three Haitian students welcomed to graduate studies at UF ABE

By: Victoria Price

This fall, three Haitian students will begin studying their Master’s in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Floyid Nicolas, Rédjino Mompremier, and Josué St Fort will begin their graduate studies as part of the MS Graduate Program with the Feed the Future Haiti Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole project (AREA). Our department welcomes 3 of the 15 AREA MS graduate students at UF in addition to another 2 enrolled at Louisiana State University.

All three incoming ABE students are eager to begin their graduate program with the ABE department’s distinguished faculty. In his graduate program, Nicolas hopes to pursue research on geographic information systems (GIS) and hydrology for his thesis under major professor, Kati White Migliaccio. Mompremier will be working under major professor Young Gu Her and plans to focus on irrigation scheduling based on soil moisture modeling to improve agricultural production and water use efficiency. Looking at food security and working under major professor Clyde Fraisse, St. Fort intends to begin researching climatology and hopes to create a digital tool through biological modeling to help track Haitian crops.

 

Haiti students
Floyid Nicolas (left), Josue St Fort ( middle) and Rédjino Mompremier (right) will start their graduate program in ABE department this fall.

During their graduate programs, the students will work with public and private sectors in Haiti to promote agricultural modernization, and provide research-based information and recommendations for farmers to improve food security. To provide guidance and support to their graduate research, each Haitian graduate student will have a research professional from Haiti on their graduate committees along with other faculty members from ABE department and within UF/IFAS.

The Feed the Future Haïti Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole (AREA) is a five-year funded project made possible by the American people through USAID as part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative to reduce global hunger. The AREA Project is led by the University of Florida International Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS Global) with consortium implementers Louisiana State University and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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Get to know the ABE SURF ’17 students!

 

SURF (summer undergraduate research fellowship) is hosted by the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at UF and provides an opportunity for potential PhD students to participate in a 10 week research experience with a premier faculty adviser and a senior Ph.D. student mentor.

This summer, ABE has been hosting two undergraduate SURF students: Kendrick Hardaway (University of Arkansas) and Samantha Winther (Marquette University). Both are being mentored in ABE by our graduate students Ratna Suthar and Tori Morgan, respectively. Comments from an interview are shared below and offer some insight into the SURF students’ summer experiences.

How did you find out about the SURF program?

Samantha and Kendrick: Applied through a program called ENGINE at my home institution and UF reached out and invited me to Fall Preview when I was able to visit my departments of interest, meet potential faculty and interact with the PhD student mentors.

How did you choose your faculty mentor and what is your research project?

Samantha: Since my background is in Biomedical Engineering, my interests aligned more with Dr. McLamore’s research on biosensors. I’m working on optimizing the parameters of chitosin-based nanosensors for lysteria.

Kendrick: My honors thesis work at UArk BAE is on biosolids as a soil amendment for crops, so I am familiar with the applications of biochar as a water purifier, carbon sequesterer and soil amendment. In Dr. Gao’s lab I get to work on characterizing types of hydrochar and their pollutant adsorption capacity.

How will SURF enable your future goals?

Samantha: SURF was my first research experience and it allowed me to see that I want to stay on the research side whether it’s in academia or industry.

I definitely hope to earn a PhD; my two main areas of interest are biomedical engineering like drug therapy and public health like accessible medical technology.

The connections that I made at UF talking to current students and faculty in other departments about the graduate application process made my experience here valuable.

Kendrick: SURF allowed me to connect with other faculty at UF that would enable me to pursue future studies in sustainable systems. Talking to these researchers gave me a broader view of systems in general, like how we grow food and what happens to byproducts.

My goal is to get a PhD and go into consulting to bridge the gap between the technologies we have and the policies made for the optimal use of these technologies. Eventually I’d like to work internationally, maybe even on economic/social affairs and humanitarian efforts.

Both of you want to do a PhD, how do you think this program has educated you about the graduate student life?

Kendrick: My PhD mentor and lab mentor gave me a good idea of what graduate life was like. I was able to see their daily life first hand and they allowed me to ask questions.

Samantha: Immersion. In the lab, I sit between two grad students and I get to see their daily life – and the traveling they do for research and conferences.

Most memorable time in the Gainesville?

Kendrick: Connecting with fellow SURF students from other states, exploring Gainesville, eating ice pops from the Hyppo, and getting to explore the local salsa scene.

The weekend trips with the SURF cohort and mentors to Rainbow Springs, Lake Wauburg and Kennedy Space Center.

Samantha: I saw the ocean for the first time when our cohort took a trip to St Augustine!

Any thoughts on our ABE department at UF?

Kendrick: Overall the department is very laid back and has a very family-like atmosphere.

What would you say to other students thinking about SURF?

Samantha: Just do it! It’s 10 weeks. It’s a great experience that’s very valuable even if it’s not your exact area of work. Take the opportunity to experience a different university than your undergrad.

Kendrick: I’ve been privileged to spend summers in other countries studying abroad, and coaching basketball but SURF was one of the best summer decisions I’ve made because of the great experience and adventure. UF was already on my short list of grad schools, so when I got this offer, it made total sense to accept it.

Kendrick Hardaway’s Research Video

 

UF Packaging recognized as 6th of 20 best value program

Top 20 Best Packaging Programs, 2017
http://www.valuecolleges.com/rankings/best-packaging-programs/

University of Florida is ranked among the top 15 public universities in the nation by and the Agricultural and Biological Engineering department has been ranked 3rd by U.S. News & World Report. Now, our Packaging Program has been ranked 6th out of 20 packaging programs featured by ValueColleges.com.

Our program focuses on all of the aspects involved in the design and creation of food packaging, from computer design skills to biochemistry and physics. Learn more about UF ABE Packaging program here!

 

UF ABE Robotics Team competes at ASABE Annual International Meeting

 

Students from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering were recently awarded 8th place in the ASABE Student Design Competition at the ASABE annual meeting, where they competed against 14 other teams.

The student’s objective was to design and build a fully automated robotic system imitating the transfer of citrus from a harvester to a processing plant. The students built a system consisting of two robots, where one hauls the fruit and transfers it to another that moves the fruit to its final destination.

Students Amanda DeCanio,Brandon Roarke, Stacy Bromlow, Joe Cerillo, Eduardo Carrascal, Hao Gan, Akram Gholami, and Thiago Onofre all contributed to the project, with guidance from  Dr. Wonsuk (Daniel) Lee and Dr. Alireza Pourreza.

Read more about the students’ experience here: http://ufifasirrigator.blogspot.com/2016/10/diverse-humans-create-diverse-robots.html?m=1