2024 Invited Keynote Speakers’ Abstracts and Biographies

March 18, 2023

Justus Wesseler, Ph.D., Professor and chair in Agricutural Economics and Rural Policy at Wageningen University, Netherlands.

Title: “The Bioeconomy as a Vector for Sustainable Development: Lessons from Institutional Life.”

Abstract: The world faces a number of challenges for realizing sustainble development solutions of food systems. The bioeconomy, understood as the conversion of biological resource into food and other products, has the potential to generate a wide range of solutions to adopt to climate change, mitigate greenhouse gas emission , and stregnthening the reslience fo food systems and hence, food security. This contribution summarizes how the bioeconomy can support sustainable development of food systems within a net-zero transitions and highlights important issues that are considered to be of relevance. Examples include experiences made in the European Union under the Green Deal and the Farm-to-Fork strategy highlighting challenges and opportunities and lessons to be learned beyond the EU.

Biography: Justus Wesseler holds the chair in Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. He has a degree in agriculture, environment, and natural resource economics from the University of Göttingen, Germany. His research work is on bioeconomy economics and policies. The major focus is on the contribution of value chains to improve sustainability and the impact of new technologies and regulations on the value chain in this respect. He is president of the International Consortium of Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR). He has been involved in a number of international research project as team member and/or coordinator (PRICE and BioMonitor) and been invited to serve as an adviser in academia and research. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and on the working group on future perspectives for agricultural, food and nutritional sciences of the German Science and Humanities Council.

Email: justus.wesseler@wur.nl

David Zilberman, Ph.D., Distinguished professor and holder of the Robinson Chair, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California Berkeley, U.S.A.

Title: “Building the bioeconomy for rural development and educational renewal.”

Abstract: The bioeconomy is using natural resources and modern biotechnology to produce food, fuel, chemicals, recreation, and sequestration. It integrates the natural resources sector, agriculture, forestry, and fishery to contribute much beyond food fiber. It transfers major jobs from mining to various forms of farming. Its evolution would lead to the establishment of new supply chains for multiple commodities and services, transferring resources towards the rural sector. To build a bioeconomy, we need to rethink land use and technology regulations and reinvest in intensifying research and education in the life and natural resource sciences. The bioeconomy is global and its expansion can solve rural poverty and enhance development globally. The success of the bioeconomy depends on the establishment of smart policies, both domestic and global

Biography: David Zilberman holds the Robinson Chair in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, University of California at Berkeley. He is the recipient of the 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture and was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science 2019. David served as the 2018-(Zilberman continued) 19 President of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA). He’s a Fellow of the AAEA, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, and Honorary Life Member of the International Association of Agricultural Economists. David has published in both professional and popular outlets. He has more than 350 refereed articles in journals ranging from Science to ARE-Update and has edited 20 books. In addition, he has served as a Consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, and FAO. David’s research analyzes innovation supply chain and policy economics, emphasizing the interactions between agriculture, energy, and the environment. He has researched the economics and political economy of agricultural biotechnology and the potential of the bioeconomy. In addition, he has been working on water policy programs and the economic impacts of the covid pandemic.

Email: zilber11@berkeley.edu

Archileo Kaaya, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Makerere University, Uganda.

Title: “Food systems transformation: opportunities for reducing GHG emissions and climate change impact in Uganda.”

Abstract: A circular bio-economy emphasizes the use of renewable natural capital to minimize waste, biodiversity loss and greenhouse emissions. In Uganda, changes in land use, deforestation, and agricultural activities are the highest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. There are also visible and increasing effects of climate change-related phenomena. Whereas the country is party to international and continental commitments on net zero emissions and has a defined path towards net-zero transitions with policies and legislation in place to mitigate climate change, the level of emissions continues to increase. Several challenges hinder net zero transition in the country, including among others: increasing population pressure on natural resources; urbanization and demographic transitions; biodiversity and natural resources degradation; limited adoption of renewable and other appropriate energy resources in especially on-farm agro- processing; inadequate recycling technologies; weak enforcement and inadequate implementation of relevant policies and laws. Going forward, given Uganda’s nature of predominantly smallholder agriculture, sustainable transformation of agrifood systems requires the positioning of a circular bio-economy approach at all levels of the food value chain development. This will significantly contribute towards a more inclusive path for accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing livelihoods across Uganda

Biography: Professor Archileo N. Kaaya has teaching and research experience of more than 30 years in the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Makerere University, Uganda. He possesses a PhD in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech USA/Makerere University and MSc from University of Florida, USA. His main areas of research are Food Safety and Nutrition where he has published widely in international journals and books. Of recent, he has developed interest in Food Systems transformation in Uganda where he has been the National Consultant on Strategic Analysis of Policy, Legal and Institutional frameworks related to Food Systems. He is the Winner, Uganda Food Systems Award 2023. He has been a Principal investigator of several research projects networking with scientists all over the world. He belongs to several technical committees in Uganda including those addressing issues of food quality, safety and nutrition. He has been awarded several consultancies by international organizations like USAID, WHO, FAO and WFP to address issues of Food and nutrition security in the country. He is a fellow of the Uganda Academy for Sciences.

Email: archileo.kaaya@mak.ac.ug

David L. McCollum, Ph.D., Senior R&D Staff in the Mobility and Energy Transitions Analysis (META) Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S.A.

Title: “Net-Zero and the Broader Sustainable Development Agenda: Maximizing Benefits, Minimizing Trade-offs.”

Abstract: An equitable and nature-inclusive transition to a decarbonized economy is the defining challenge of our time. The scale is massive, the urgency unprecedented. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the world has until 2030 to bend the curve on greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, net-zero technologies will need to be deployed in every corner of the US at levels >10x or even >1000x of today’s levels, impacting every person and ecosystem nationwide Along the different possible pathways to net-zero emissions, there are opportunities for co-benefits as well as risks of unintended consequences, be they environmental, economic, socio-cultural, or institutional. Decision-makers and planners, across all domains, need science-based analytical expertise to help them plan net-zero emission strategies that are simultaneously reliable, equitable, welfare-improving, nature-inclusive, and that provide energy security and economic development for the nation. This becomes especially critical as society moves from niche demonstration projects to scaled deployment of net-zero technologies.

Biography: Dr. David L. McCollum is a Senior R&D Staff in the Mobility and Energy Transitions Analysis (META) Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with expertise spanning economics, engineering, policy analysis, and corporate advisory services. His research attempts to inform state, national, and global energy and environmental issues on matters related to, among others, deep decarbonization, net-zero emissions pathways, energy-transport-climate policies, electric sector planning, end-use sector electrification (transport, buildings, industry), Sustainable Development Goals (including inter-dependencies), financing needs for the energy system transformation, and human dimensions of climate change. He employs energy-economic systems and integrated assessment models in support of this work. Before joining ORNL, David was a Senior Research Scholar with the Energy Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, and a Principal Technical Leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, California. He currently holds a secondary appointment as Research Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. School of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Tennessee. David has led numerous activities within the context of the U.S. Department of Energy; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Global Energy Assessment; World Bank; and International Science Council; among others. David received a PhD and MS in Transportation Technology & Policy from the University of California, Davis; an MS in Agricultural & Resource Economics from the same institution; and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee.

Email: mccollumdl@ornl.gov

Kelly Tiller, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, GENERA, U.S.A.

Biography: Dr. Kelly Tiller founded Genera in 2008 and grew it from a university spin-out to become North America’s largest vertically integrated biomaterials manufacturer, producing a range of agricultural fiber packaging and bioproducts from locally grown regenerative crops. Dr. Tiller spent the first 15 years of her career in academia as an agricultural and resource economist at the University of Tennessee. She is widely recognized as a visionary leader helping shape and advance the transition to a more circular bioeconomy and sustainable future, evidenced across her multiple congressional testimonies, federal advisory committee appointments, service on industry and academic advisory boards, and accolades spanning business, science, and leadership. Following 15 years as Genera’s CEO, she recently moved into the role of Chief Strategy Officer to focus on expanding Genera’s footprint, driving innovation, and stakeholder engagement.

Email: ktiller@generainc.com


Bruce McCarl, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, U.S.A.

Title: “Food energy and water implication of biofuel and climate policy.”

Abstract: The US has chosen promotion of agricultural based fuels as one of its responses to energy and climate issues. We have analyzed the implications of biofuel promoting policy and developments on food prices, water issues in the US. Studies have shown that such policy has diverted commodities from traditional food and feed markets, raised agricultural prices, increased aquifer draw down rates, increased erosion and nitrogen runoff while decreasing greenhouse gases and increasing energy supplies. We have also investigated the simultaneous effect of carbon prices and marginal land use finding that under carbon prices renewable electrical power is preferred and that marginal lands relieves pressure on food markets but still has water depletion and quality implications.

Biography: Dr. McCarl is an agricultural economist who was trained in management science/optimization theory. The main thrust of his work has addressed national level agricultural and in cases forest sector appraisal of the economic consequences of environmental outcomes and policy actions. He has addressed food, energy and water, climate change effects, greenhouse gas mitigation, biofuel production/policy, bioelectricity, farm program revisions, and climate change adaptation. Models he led development of have been adopted for use by USDA, and USEPA. He is a fellow of three agricultural economics associations and was a participant in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the IPCC.

Email: bruce.mccarl@agnet.tamu.edu

Lloyd Day, Deputy Director General, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), Costa Rica.

Title: “Bioeconomy: A strategic commitment to sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Abstract: The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is the specialized agency for agriculture within the Inter-American System. It supports the efforts of its 34 member states in achieving agricultural development and rural well-being. The Institute’s efforts are currently geared to helping its Member States achieve sustainable, competitive and inclusive agriculture by means of actions focused on four strategic objectives: 1) improving the productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector; 2) strengthening agriculture’s contribution to the development of territories and rural well-being; 3) enhancing agriculture’s capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change and make better use of natural resources; and, 4) improving agriculture’s contribution to food security. This presentation will discuss IICA’s Innovation and Bioeconomy Program; strategies, policies and institutional frameworks to accelerate progress in bioeconomy initiatives; and provide examples of IICA’s work on intensification of agri-food systems, Pan-American Coalition for Liquid Biofuels; Biotechnology (Gene Editing); Bioinputs; Synthetic biologics.

Biography: Mr. Lloyd C. Day assumed his position as Deputy Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on July 1, 2012. Started career with the Governor of California eventually becoming the Assistant Secretary of International Trade and Investment for California. Moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as Administrator of USDA´s Agricultural Marketing Service, Head of Federal Government Affairs at Syngenta, and since 2012 serves as Deputy Director General of IICA.

Virginia Dale, Ph.D., research professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and in the School of Natural Resources, University of Tennessee U.S.A.

Title: “Stakeholder Engagement improves Decision Making in Food-Energy-Water Systems that support the Bioeconomy.”

Abstract: The bioeconomy refers to economic activity requiring biomass and biotechnology to produce goods, services, or energy. It is essential to engage people in identifying and understanding the causes and effects of decisions around the food, water, and energy systems that support the bioeconomy. Effective stakeholder engagement in such decisions requires substantial time and resources by project organizers and the stakeholders themselves. Such co-production of knowledge is critical yet challenging. To help projects prioritize, prepare, and sustain stakeholder-engagement, we developed an approach for effective co-production based on six gears of engagement: diversity, listening, value, trust, accountability, and flexibility/adaptability. Building local capacities for continual improvement is also an enabling factor for more sustainable bioeconomies. We discuss the gears, and the challenges of implementing them, in the context of the bioeconomy. While it is difficult to incorporate all the gears, this approach can help to foster more sustained, actionable, equitable, inclusive, and timely engagement of people in addressing concerns and opportunities related to the bioeconomy.

Biography: Dr. Virginia Dale is a landscape ecologist whose research focuses on quantifying progress toward sustainability of agricultural landscapes and energy systems, ecosystem management in the context of large disturbances and climate change, and stakeholder engagement. Dr Dale is a research professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Tennessee. She is also a Corporate Fellow emeritus at Oak Ridge Naitonal Laboratory, where she worked for 33 years. She was among the members of the international science community who contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Assessment that in 2007 received with Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize. She has served on national scientific advisory boards for five agencies of the United States and several committees of the National Academies of Science.

Email: vdale@utk.edu

Robert Spajic, Ph.D., Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Croatia.

Title: “Managing byproducts of agricultural production and agriculture industry.”

Abstract: Various by-products in agricultural production and agricultural industry were treated as a waste through the decades. With an aim to use more and more of the mentioned materials as a raw materials instead being waste, agricultural industry try to turn the new page with the view to become environmentally sustainable, but still economically feasible. Several models and practical technologies of use of agricultural by-product is presented. How we should turn waste into a quality raw material for reuse in different segments of agricultural industry is a key of future sustainability in whole agricultural sector. Is it acceptable and reasonable to use “zero waste” phrase in agriculture sector? Environmentally sustainable agriculture production will be a main guidance policy in the following period, where practice and techniques of reuse of the agricultural by-products will be a focus for the existing agricultural producers. Different agricultural industry by-products reuse and practical techniques (dairy sector, beef sector, swine sector, sugar sector, wine sector, aquaculture sector etc.) are shown as an overview in the paper. Key words: agriculture by-products treatment, management, manure, digestate, raw materials

Biography: Dr. Spajić is presently employed at Central Agrobiotechnical and Analytical Unit under the Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences Osijek at Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Croatia and is Adjunct Professor at the University of Tennessee USA. Prior to his employment at the University, he was employed as a Director of Swine Production within the Agrokor Company in Croatia. His work within the Agrokor Company was focused on developing large commercial swine production systems in Croatia, including introduction of technological processes and wast  management solutions on a large-scale livestock farm operation, followed by development of biogas plant technical solutions. In period from 2004 – 2007, Mr. Spajić worked for Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) for four years as an extension agricultural consultant on US Embassy agricultural development projects in Croatia. From 2000 – 2004, Dr. Spajić was employed on several large-scale dairy and beef operation and led the development of several large-scale dairy operations in Croatia. In period from 2008 – 2009 he was a Fulbright Scholar as a Scientist on Iowa State University, pursuing his doctorate degree in Biotechnical Science and Ag. Engineering, focusing on Waste management, fermentation processes and Biogas plant Engineering. He holds Ph.D. in Biotechnical Science and Agricultural Engineering, from University of Josip Juraj Strossmayer Osijek in Croatia. Dr. Spajić also served as an external adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture of Croatia in process of adjusting Croatian agricultural laws to meet European Union Standards as Croatia prepares to seek membership in the European Union. Mr. Spajic has worked on livestock byproducts (manure and digestate) management projects in Croatia, USA, Germany, Finland, Nederland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Czech, Serbia and Italy. Since 2000 he is involved in livestock Industry with his focus on large industrial farm projects with an aim to provide the best technical and technological solution for livestock byproducts management. He is a member of ASABEAssociation – American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and member of Fulbright Alumni. He is also a member of Croatian Agricultural Society and Croatian Association of Court Entrepreneurs. In more than 20 years of work experience, he published more than 60 scientific papers and conduct numerous public presentation ́s focused on livestock and agricultural industry waste management issues. From 2015 Dr. Spajić is a member of Board of Directors at International Research Center for Animal Environment and Welfare in China. Presently he is a Member of European Commission Technical Working Group for IPPC/IED Directive (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control/Industrial Emission Directive) implementation in two sectors – Food Drink and Milk Sector and Intensive Rearing of Pigs and Poultry Sector.

Email: rspajic@fazos.hr

Guangqing Chi, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.

Title: “POLARIS: Pursuing Opportunities for Long-term Arctic Resilience for Infrastructure and Society.”

Abstract: Alaskan coastal Indigenous communities face severe, urgent, and complex social and infrastructural challenges resulting from environmental changes. However, the magnitude and significance of impacts are unclear; as is how local communities will respond to resulting disruptions and disasters. This transdisciplinary POLARIS project investigates how interconnected environmental stressors and infrastructure disruptions are affecting coastal Arctic communities and identifies important social, environmental, infrastructural, and institutional assets to help them adapt and become more resilient to climate-related changes. The POLARIS project (https://arcticpolaris.org) has identified three convergent and interconnected research pillars to help communities adapt: food in complex adaptive systems, environmental hotspots of disruption to communities and infrastructure, and migration and community relocation. The ultimate goal of this integrated research project is to enable communities to become more resilient with both stronger societies, civic culture, and improved infrastructure needed as the new Arctic continues to emerge.

Biography: Gangqing Chi (https://theedenresearch.org) is professor of rural sociology and demography and also director of the Computational and Spatial Analysis Core at Pennsylvania State University. His expertise is in socio-environmental systems, seeking to understand the interactions between human populations and the built and natural environments and to identify important social, environmental, infrastructural, and institutional assets to help vulnerable populations adapt and become resilient to environmental changes. Chi’s work has led to innovative methods for identifying and measuring human–environment hotspots and spatial methods for population forecasting. His current methodological focus is to build an infrastructure for collecting, integrating, and analyzing multi-dimensional and multi-scale data, including big social data. Dr. Chi’s research has been supported by more than $50 million grants through NSF, NIH, NASA, USDOT, DOD, and SSRC. He has published over 150 publications including nearly 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, contributing to foundational advances in environmental demography and population-infrastructure nexus. Chi is lead author of the textbook Spatial Regression Models for the Social Sciences (SAGE 2019).

Email: gfc5047@psu.edu

Enrique Garcia, Ph.D., WeTTo Enviro & Tech Services LLC, Argentina.

Title: “Synergizing Growth: Some Opportunities for Sustainable Development in Latin America.”

Abstract: This presentation will delve into the transformative opportunities and challenges facing Latin America to achieve sustainable growth and their linkages to energy, water, and food. We will explore energy transition, circular economy, digital transformation, and sustainable water management strategies, highlighting how these initiatives can foster economic, environmental, and social sustainability. We will also address the current situation in the region, the importance of international investments, and scientific-technological cooperation for Latin American countries.

Biography: Ph.D. in Biology and with more than 30 years of experience in the environmental sector, he currently serves as CEO and co-founder of BYONTEK, a start-up that operates in the AgTech segment and actively participates in the process of improving and converting environmental assets into financial assets through scientific-technological activities, focusing on environmental remediation and the application of science and technology to address soil and water contamination problems, as well as climate change mitigation. He has worked in recent years in environmental risk assessment and mitigation projects for both the private sector and different governments in Latin America, including as • Researcher in the framework of the International Convention on Biodiversity under the Nagoya Protocol • Consultant in Geographic Information and Informatics System (ERDAS / ARC INFO) for the project RLA/99/G31 & Environmental Protection of the Rio de la Plata and its Maritime Front. Consultant for eight years for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Working Group 3, focused on risk, vulnerability and disaster impact assessment. • A pioneer in obtaining the first permit in South America for a hydrocarbon recovery project in obsolete fields within a Natural Protected Area (Laguna Yancanello). The environmental database developed was donated to the Municipality for the first Environmental Data Interpretation Center. • Expert for UNDP in the First Environmental Risk Study of Oil Spills in the Colorado River Basin, Argentina (1999). • Director of the most significant environmental contamination study developed in the Peruvian Amazon, covering 650 sites, the results of which contributed to the development of the Guidelines for soil and water sampling currently in use in the Republic of Peru, In addition, as CEO of WeTTo, a US-based company, he provides strategic advice in complex environmental situations to global companies with assets in emerging countries. He actively participates in international cooperation agreements between Argentine entities and academic institutions in developed countries. Website

Email: enrique.garcia@wetto.net

Carter Christopher, Ph.D., Section Head, Human Dynamics, Oak Ridge National Lab, U.S.A.

Title: “Future map: developing geographic futures for sustainability assessments using generative GeoAI, population synthesis, and agent-based modeling.

Abstract: The forecast of climate change and its impacts through 2100 is highly variable and uncertain at the local level, and attempts to understand those impacts are typically based on today’s geographic knowledge of the world. Just as we can expect climate and environmental change over the next 70 years, humans will undoubtedly alter the landscape, both to (hopefully) stem the tide of climate change and to afford further human progress. While the climate modeling community has long developed reliable climate models grounded in trusted earth systems data and physics, it has not been until recently that human dynamics and social feedbacks have been viewed as a necessary coupling within these climate models. And while these new modeling approaches have yielded important insights for policy making, as well as potential tipping points in both climate and human effects, few are based on upon high-fidelity geospatial data, geographic knowledge, or models of human behavior. The geospatial science domain is likewise highly data-driven and data dependent, however our domain has typically not looked forward through simulations. Whether using satellite imagery, infrastructure data layers, streamflow sensors, or mobility trajectories, geospatial scientists heavily focus on building models of spatiotemporal relationships of today, based on recent observational data. While agent-based modeling (ABM) has emerged as a robust technique over the past 40 years, recent advances in computing and geospatial data precision have opened new possibilities for high-resolution microsimulations. Novel statistical techniques also enable the creation of synthetic population datasets that can be used to understand human effects within today’s landscape, or tomorrow’s. Additionally, GeoAI, and generative AI, are presenting new opportunities for rapid exploitation and inferencing from geospatial data, as well as the creation of synthetic datasets that themselves can be further exploited through GeoAI. These techniques can be used develop scenario-specific datasets, synthetic satellite imagery, land cover, land use, built environment dynamics, population dynamics, and more. This presentation will explore the boundaries of geospatial modeling, inferencing, and simulation, to share possibilities for how this science and technologies can illuminate possible climate and sustainability futures and impacts, ultimately informing bioeconomic strategies at the Food-Energy-Water nexus.

Biography: Dr. Carter Christopher is Head of the Human Dynamics R&D Section at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Christopher leads Human Geography, Built Environment Characterization, and Geoinformatics Engineering research groups at the lab, to solve national- and global-scale challenges for National and Energy Security. Prior to joining ORNL, Dr. Christopher was Head of Geospatial at an aerospace start-up, and he had a distinguished 12-year career in the Intelligence Community (IC). Carter spent 11 years at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), where he led a number of transformational efforts at the agency. He led organizations and programs that delivered ML and CV-derived object detection and mapping for mission operations; he was a founder and leader of NGA’s program for cloud modernization, DevOps, SaaS provisioning for the IC; he established and staffed the agency’s data science and advanced geospatial analysis mission organizations; and he led global GIS training for the agency. Dr. Christopher closed his Federal career at the US State Department as Deputy Director of the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In that role, he served as deputy to the Geographer of the United States, he led and managed intelligence and humanitarian analysis and mapping in support of policy makers, and helped stand up the Department’s enterprise GIS. Prior to Federal service, Carter held management and technical roles in the private sector, supporting Federal, state, and local clients. Dr. Christopher has a PhD in Earth Systems and Geoinformation Science from George Mason University, a MS in Geography and Remote Sensing from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a BA in Government from the College of William and Mary.

Email: christophesc@ornl.gov

Daniel De La Torre Ugarte, Ph.D., Oak Ridge National Lab, U.S.A.

Title: “Design for a sustainable future: Advancing the sustainable production and use of renewable carbon.”

Abstract: Increased use of biomass for energy and materials as the bioeconomy expands, will bring changes in land use allocation, and consequently in the supply and prices of crops for food, feed, fiber, and feedstock for fuels, energy, and biomaterials. Usually, the increase in crops for food and fiber are seen as negative impacts, and a deforestation driver. A framework and consequent modeling approach is discussed under which the expansion of the land use demand from the bioeconomy, results in economic, social, and environmental gains.

Abstract: Dr. Daniel De La Torre Ugarte has B.S. in Economics from the Universidad del Pacifico, Lima, Peru and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University. He joined 2023 ORNL’s Environmental Science Division as a distinguished research staff in Land Use and Carbon Economics. In 2023. Dr. De La Torre Ugarte was a member of the faculty of the University of Tennessee for more that 20 years, and since then as an adjunct professor. From 2013 to 2023 he returned to his native Perú and joined the faculty of the Universidad del Pacifíco (Lima) with the environmental and natural resource economics research group. Dr. De La Torre Ugarte has more than thirty years of experience developing simulation models for the analysis of economic and environmental policies and regulations related to agriculture, forestry, and energy sectors. His research continues to be focused in estimating environmental costs of agricultural and forest policies and practices, analysis of biofuels impacts on agricultural land use change and markets, estimating costs and benefits of interventions leading to reductions in GHG, sustainability of water resources. Right before joining ORNL his work included modeling decarbonization pathways to reduce emissions form the AFOLU and Energy sectors, the green economy, and the valuation of ecosystem services. He has ample experience working with multidisciplinary teams and mentoring young professionals.

Email: danieltu@ornl.gov

Esther Parish, Ph.D., Oak Ridge National Lab, U.S.A.

Title: “Modeling benefits of planting climate-resilient perennial biomass crops in flood-prone agricultural landscapes.” Esther Parish, Henriette Jager, Ganesh Ghimire, Yan Liu, Jasmine Kreig, Christopher DeRolph, Sudershan Gangrade, Karen Maguire, Shih-Chieh, Matthew Langholtz, Anthony King

Abstract: US farmers have frequently experienced catastrophic losses from flooded croplands over the past decade, and the frequency and magnitude of floods are projected to increase under a warming climate. This raises concerns about the future sustainability of an economy based on growing annual row crops in flood-prone areas. Although the US has large potential to grow flood-tolerant perennial energy crops like switchgrass and willow for multiple uses, including the production of bioenergy and animal feed, these perennial crops are rarely grown in current agricultural landscapes. This talk will present recent modeling work undertaken to estimate the flood losses that could be avoided in the Mid-Atlantic region by replacing annual crops (e.g., corn and soy) with perennial grasses and shrubs in riparian buffers under current and future climate conditions. This talk will also present modeling work undertaken to assess the potential benefits of incorporating partially harvested riparian buffers into Iowa’s agricultural landscapes, including increased avian biodiversity and improved water quality.

Biography: Dr. Esther S. Parish has been a researcher with ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division for ~15 years. Dr. Parish leads interdisciplinary research projects for the US Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO). As a geographer and landscape ecologist, Esther’s primary research interests include utilizing geographic information science (GIS) and integrated models and datasets to assess (1) potential tradeoffs between environmental and socioeconomic indicators of sustainability and (2) climate change impacts on human populations and water resources. With a Ph.D. in Energy Science & Engineering through the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Education, an M.S. in Geography from The University of Tennessee, and B.S. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University, Esther has expertise in landscape ecology, sustainability indicators of renewable energy resources, watershed hydrology, and pollution prevention. Dr. Parish has published nearly 40 articles in a variety of peer reviewed journals, including Applied EnergyPNASEcology & SocietyEcological IndicatorsEnvironmental ManagementComputers & Geosciences, and Sustainability.

Email: parishes@ornl.gov


Abdelaziz Lawani, P.h.D, Tennessee State University, U.S.A.

Title: “Place and Contribution of Resource-Poor Communities to Net-Zero Economy Systems.”

Abstract: The contributions of resource-poor communities towards achieving net-zero economy systems are often overlooked. The narrative linking resource-poor communities to discussions on achieving the net-zero emissions targets frequently presents them as requiring significant investments from more advanced economies to adapt to climate change, curb their greenhouse gas emissions, and aid the global net-zero objective. However, these communities play an essential role in the ongoing global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and will have an increasingly critical role in achieving the net-zero emissions goals in the future. For example, peatlands in the Cuvette Centrale depression in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) currently store carbon equivalent to the world’s emissions over three years of burning fossil fuels (Dargie et al.2017). The conversion of peatlands into agricultural lands could result in the emission of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, as the stored carbon in these peatlands is vulnerable to land use change (Qiu et al. 2021, Tanneberger et al. 2021). Similarly, resource-poor countries like Nigeria, Egypt, DRC, and Namibia supply the rare minerals needed for the world’s green energy transition. This lightning talk highlights case studies of resource-poor communities contributing to net-zero economies while addressing poverty, unemployment, and sustainability goals.

Biography: Dr. Lawani’s research and extension programs are at the intersection of agribusiness management, applied economics, entrepreneurship, and machine learning. His training in agronomy, economics, rural sociology, and geography allows him to work on a variety of topics and facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations. Dr. Lawani is also a serial digital entrepreneur who has developed innovative solutions such as climate-smart precision agriculture using drones, community renewable energy initiatives in Africa, and a direct marketing app that connects small-scale farmers with consumers. Dr. Lawani is an assistant professor in Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship at the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Email: alawani@tnstate.edu

Dimitris Herrera, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, U.S.A.

Title: “Tackling the effects of climate change on smallholder farmers in the Caribbean.”

Abstract: Climate models project significant drying in the Caribbean during climate change. However, the impacts of the projected drying at local scales, especially on smallholder farmers, are not well-constrained. Here, we present the use of a high-resolution drought forecasting system as a tool to inform smallholder farmers and stakeholders in the Caribbean. Results from this forecasting system could be used as a benchmark to improve drought resilience to the benefit of ~45 million people in this region. 

Biography: Dimitris Herrera is a climate scientist interested in tropical hydroclimate variability during the last millennia. His research aims to understand how climate change might increase drought risk in the Tropical Americas, especially in the Caribbean and Central America. Dimitris is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography & Sustainability at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. His current research focuses on hydroclimate variability and dynamics in the Tropical Americas and how climate change might increase drought risk in this region.

Email: dherrer3@utk.edu

Ashley Morgan, Ph.D., One Health Initiative, University of Tennessee, U.S.A.

Title: “ Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture- Low-Waste, Energy-Efficient, Nutrient-Dense Seafood Production.”

Abstract: The growth rate of aquaculture is higher than any other food production method globally, highlighting the aquaculture industry as a crucial contributor to meeting the world’s food demand through reliable and consistent farming practices. Land-based recirculating aquaculture systems, improved monitoring technologies, and novel techniques for the remediation of aquaculture effluents have all reduced the ecological impacts and improved the sustainability of aquaculture production. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture systems utilize multiple species to create a chain of waste consumption resulting in circular and sustainable seafood production. Freshwater and saltwater recirculation technology is used in this land-based system and occurs via a hub-and-spokes concept in which the hub is a computer-controlled filtration and distribution system and the spokes lead to the different culture areas. In the prototype system, all components are indoors apart from the macroalgae cultures and solar panels. Additionally, novel autonomous monitoring systems are employed to improve efficiency and productivity of the system. This prototype system has resulted in the successful cultivation of four sea vegetables: sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), red seaweed (Gracilaria tikvahiae), sea asparagus (Salicornia bigelovii), and sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum). These vegetables are low in calories, almost fat-free, contain no added sugars, and are a good source of high-quality protein, fiber and potassium. The system has also successfully cultured three species of fish: red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus), and cobia (Rachycentron canadum) as well as Pacific white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), sunray venus clams (Macrocallista nimbosa), and sea cucumbers (Holothuria floridana). Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture systems represent a feasible solution to low-waste, energy efficient, and nutrient dense food production. The success of this prototype system is promising in the endeavor toward improved sustainability in the food sector. Future research will involve the implementation of sponges and urchins into the system and the incorporation of omnivorous fish species to further its productivity. Additionally, the use of AI-integrated monitoring technologies will be investigated to further improve system efficiency. This presentation will delve into the transformative opportunities and challenges facing Latin America to achieve sustainable growth and their linkages to energy, water, and food. We will explore energy transition, circular economy, digital transformation, and sustainable water management strategies, highlighting how these initiatives can foster economic, environmental, and social sustainability. We will also address the current situation in the region, the importance of international investments, and scientific-technological cooperation for Latin American countries.

Biography: Ashley Morgan is a post-doctoral research associate with the One Health Initiative. She received her degrees in Marine Science and Biology at the University of Miami before attending Veterinary School here at UT where she obtained her DVM and a Masters in Public Health. After graduating, she worked as an Emergency Clinician for several years before starting a PhD at Florida Atlantic University studying the health impacts of prebiotic and probiotic supplementation and toxicant loads in the Florida pompano, a fish raised for the seafood market. She enjoys employing an integrative approach to health research and working with experts across varying disciplines to answer difficult questions at the interface of human, animal, and environmental health.

Email: aschenk1@utk.edu

Wei-An (Vivian) Chen, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, U.S.A.

Title: “Toward Sustainable Architecture: Navigating the Framework of Energy Transition Within Energy, Buildings, and Human.”

Abstract: This speech will explore the important issues and challenges posed by climate change and energy transition in the field of building energy efficiency, discussing corresponding coping methods and policies within the framework of “buildings”, “energy” and “human”. First, the focus will be on the perspective of “energy” and emphasizing the renewable energy adoption in architecture. Using the innovative clean energy source of “wastewater heat” as an example, innovative energy strategies for the field of architecture will be provided. Next, introducing the interaction between building energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality (IEQ). This part not only focuses on energy but also introduces the factor of “people”, exploring the relationship between IEQ, human well-being, and productivity in different types of buildings, and emphasizing the trade-off between energy conservation and indoor thermal comfort. The final part will explore the research concepts of human-centric and justice. In this section, the justice issues in the built environment and the challenges faced by underserved communities and vulnerable populations are discussed, drawing insights from the policy recommendations for vulnerable groups while achieving decarbonization. The goal of this speech is to comprehensively explore the intertwined challenges and opportunities among architecture, climate change, energy transition, and social justice, aiming to provide researchers with a more diverse perspective. While pursuing architectural energy efficiency, the aim is also to pursue resilience and equity in architecture.

Biography: Dr. Wei-An Chen received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Tokyo, Japan in 2020. She is now a post-doctoral research associate at the Institute for a Secure & Sustainable Environment (ISSE) of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She specializes in architecture and architectural engineering, her research centers in the built environment, energy efficiency, and clean energy transition in buildings. Specifically, she focuses on indoor/outdoor thermal comfort, occupant behavior, urban and building energy modeling, and clean energy transition towards sustainable buildings and societies. She also specializes in renewable energy adoption, especially the utilization of waste heat in sewage at the regional scale, green and resilient building design strategies, measures and policy for low/zero carbon buildings and cities. She is actively involved with several interdisciplinary networks to integrate human-centric research regarding energy efficiency, energy justice, and energy policy.

Email: wchen52@utk.edu

Erika Gavenus, P.h.D. candidate, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Title: “Restorative Diets: Towards the health of humans and non-humans.”

Abstract: First Nations face persistent interruptions to the relationships that make up their food systems along the coast of, what some call, British Columbia. Some of these interruptions are social in nature, such as the fisheries management strategies imposed by the Crown and State that have deeply disrupted First Nations diets and fishing practices. Unfortunately, restoration goals and management decisions continue to use these contemporary, disrupted diets as their starting point, causing a “shifting baseline” effect that can frustrate efforts to respond to ecological shifts in ways that promote the health of humans and non-humans in these coastal systems. In particular, the tendency to base management decisions on evidence of disrupted diets can hold repercussions for First Nations working to restore their fisheries, diets, and food systems. Instead, I worked in partnership with First Nations along the Central Coast of British Columbia and colleagues to develop a set of methods for exploring diets less disrupted by colonial fisheries policies—restorative diets. In this poster, I introduce the concept of restorative diets as diets accessible under the interdependent conditions of ecological restoration and reassertion of Indigenous governance, and I expand on the central tenet that First Nations diets and their food systems are central to both efforts. I then share the methods developed and present an example, using the case of Pacific salmon, of the magnitude of the difference between harvest rates consistent with restorative compared to contemporary diets.

Biography: Erika is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver within the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, supervised by Dr. Terre Satterfield. She uses a lens of food justice to examine how fisheries regulations can challenge food access for coastal First Nations. Erika grew up on the lands of the Nichiłt’ana and learned to love fish and fishing on waters long stewarded by Dena’ina and Sugpiaq peoples. Erika is grateful for her time living and learning on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam and Nuxalkmc. She brings academic training in public health, nutrition, and food security to this research and deep appreciation for the role of collective well-being and relationships with place. She holds a BSc in Global Health from Georgetown University and a MSc in Global Health and Environment from UC Berkeley. Erika currently lives with her family in Knoxville and is thankful for the ways this land nourishes her and her thinking, and for the peoples who have long stewarded it, including the Cherokee and Yuchi.

Email: egavenus@gmail.com

Jeronimo Silva, M.S., University of Tennessee, U.S.A.

Title: “Investigating Die-Offs in Freshwater Mussels: Safeguarding Ecosystem Services in a Changing World.”

Abstract: Freshwater mussels are a vital component of riverine ecosystems, playing a crucial role in maintaining their health and functionality. As ecosystem engineers, they provide essential services such as filtering water, habitat enhancement, and nutrient cycling. Recently, freshwater mussel die-off events with unknown causes have occurred in two biodiversity hotspots in Tennessee and Virginia. These mortality events reflect a broader trend of the loss of freshwater mussel populations across the United States that is a major concern for biodiversity and ecosystem function. Humans rely on freshwater ecosystems for drinking water, recreation, and economic activities such as fishing and tourism. Thus, disruptions in freshwater mussel populations can have a cascading effect on both ecosystem health and human well-being. To address these challenges, we are adopting a comprehensive One Health approach. This approach integrates in-situ experiments, extensive field surveys, disease diagnostic techniques, and epidemiological analysis to identify drivers of freshwater mussel die-offs. By identifying these factors, we aim to inform effective strategies for monitoring, diagnosing, and managing diseases in freshwater mussels. Ultimately, our research seeks to safeguard the invaluable ecosystem services provided by freshwater mussels amidst the complexities of a changing world.

Biography: Jeronimo Silva received his B.S. in Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech and M.S. in Agricultural Sciences from Tennessee State University. Jeronimo has collaborated with researchers and conservation managers throughout the Southeast, contributing to a variety of field and laboratory research projects. These projects have encompassed a wide spectrum of species and ecosystems including federally endangered species and critical habitat areas. His primary research projects incorporate landscape ecology, habitat and occupancy modeling, and aquatic wildlife health and disease. Prior to joining the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine to pursue his PhD, Jeronimo served as an aquatic biologist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. In this capacity, his main focus was on the execution of strategic, landscape-level conservation projects and programs, designed to systematically enhance aquatic wildlife habitats.

Email: jgsilva@vols.utk.edu

Agustin Torres, National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Title: “Circular Economy Project: Composting of organic waste for biofertilizer production using enzymes.”

Abstract: The Final Project for my industrial engineering degree is mainly based on the technology used by the taiwanese company “Tetanti AgriBiotech Inc.”. The combination of a bioreactor and enzymes, called TTT technology, allows to complete the composting process of organic waste in only 3 hours; obtaining a ready-to-use organic fertilizer. The amount of treatable waste depends on the reactor’s size, with daily capacity ranging from 12 tons (t) to 250 t. The process starts with the shredding of the organic waste. Then the waste is ready to be mixed with the enzymes in the bioreactor, with heating (176 ºF) the composting process is done in less than 3 hours. In comparison with traditional composting methods, the TTT technology saves time, space, reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and the loss of nutrients and organic matter in the biofertilizer. My Final Project is the design of a factory that would produce biofertilizer using the TTT technology. The organic waste treated would come from the industrial activity of my hometown Mar del Plata´s industrial park. In order to obtain information about organic waste generation in the “Parque Industrial General Savio” I interviewed several professionals from companies such as PepsiCo, Havanna (local sweets company), Cabrales (local coffee company), Panacity (local bread company) and others. The hypothetical capacity of the factory was set in 12 tons (t) of organic waste treated daily. The utility ratio of the process is 55% so it would produce 6,6 t of biofertilizer per day. This circular economy project aims to mitigate two environmental issues. Firstly it would reduce the amount of waste that is destined to the local landfill (extending its lifespan) or that goes untreated. Secondly the use of biofertilizers can reduce the need of chemical fertilizers.

Biography: I am an undergraduate researcher from the National University of Mar del Plata (UNMdP) in industrial engineering. I am finalizing my undergraduate thesis. As part of my studies, I was exposed to a few environment focused courses, I strongly think that such courses should be mandatory to almost all engineering degrees. Knowing is the first step to caring! I want to pursue a career that allows me to work on solving these problems that affect our world today, and will only get worse if we don’t do anything to stop them. That is why I chose this circular economy project as my thesis project, I want it to be my letter of presentation if I want to do a master in environmental engineering or to work in that engineering field. Being able to present my project and participate in this symposium is a unique opportunity to meet fellow students and professionals who are as committed as I am to reduce the environmental impact we have as society in the world.

Email: torrresag@gmail.com


Hongwei Xin, Ph.D., AgResearch and director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station , University of Tennesee Institute of Agriculture, U.S.A.

Biography: Dr. Xin is dean of AgResearch and director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station at The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Dr. Xin is responsible for the research programs of some 145 scientists and more than 400 specialized staff located on campus and at 10 strategically-located Research and Education Centers across Tennessee. Prior to joining UTIA, Xin was assistant dean for research of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, director of the Egg Industry Center (EIC) located at ISU, interim director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, and a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE) and Animal Science. Dr. Xin is known for his collaborative work in facilitating linkages between academics, research and economic development; supporting international academic partnerships; and raising significant private dollars to fund a state-of-the-art poultry teaching and research farm. He serves on numerous scientific advisory boards and committees for academia; industry organizations; and government agencies at state, national and international levels. He has also been instrumental and actively engaged in global capacity building and collaborations toward sustainable animal production. Before joining Iowa State in 1993, he spent more than three years as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arkansas conducting broiler housing research. Xin’s technical expertise includes a) air quality issues relative to animal production; b) animal-environment interactions; c) livestock and poultry production systems engineering; and d) precision livestock farming.

Email: hxin2@utk.edu

Brad Day, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor Resarch & Innovation Initiatives, University of Tennessee, U.S.A.

Biography: Brad Day is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Innovation Initiatives at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He joined the university in November 2021, is responsible for the development of new, cross- disciplinary, research activities which capture the strengths, and opportunities of faculty at UT. Importantly, in this role, he is focusing on convergence research activities to eliminate traditionally, siloed disciplinary-focused research and innovation. In 2023, he became responsible for the Division of Research Integrity and Assurance (DRIA). DRIA helps researchers and administrators support the responsible conduct of research and navigate research regulatory requirements as well as support researcher’s goals of excellent research, outreach, and advancement for all your scientific, creative, and scholarly activities while developing future researchers in an ethical, safe, and supportive environment. Prior to UT, Day was a Foundation Professor at Michigan State University (MSU) where his research focused on the molecular-genetic regulation of plant immune signaling. His research was funded by a breadth of national and international funding agencies, including NSF, USDA, NIH, Asian Development Bank, the Gates Foundation. During his time at MSU, he spent 1 year as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Prior to MSU, he was a National Institute of Health-funded postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and an NSF postdoc at the National Institute of Agroenvironmental Resources in Japan. He has a PhD and BS in Microbiology from the University of Tennessee.

Email: bradday@utk.edu

Gary Sayler, Ph.D., Distinguished professor emeritus in the Departments of Microbiology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and adjunct professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, University of Tennessee, U.SA.

Biography: Gary S. Sayler is the distinguished professor emeritus in the Departments of Microbiology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and adjunct professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). He is the President and Co-founder 490 BIOTech. He is the founding Director of Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB) at UT (1986-2015) and was the first Director of the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Biological Sciences (JIBS) (2006-2014). As Director for the Waste Management Research and Education Institute Tennessee Center of Excellence (1991-2005) he conducted a consolidation and reorganization to create the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) serving as interim director (2005-2006). He served on the Science Advisory Board for the US Defense Department, Strategic Environmental Research Defense Program (2011-2015); and was a member of the US Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (2008-2013). He served as Executive member and Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the EPA Office of Research and Development (2002-2010) and served on the EPA, Science Advisory Board drinking water committee (2002-2009), the Water Environment Research Foundation Research Council (1995-2001) and was Peer Review Chair for the EPA Exploratory Biology Program (1990-1993). He has served on National Academy/NRC Committees; Evaluating the US EPA Laboratory Enterprise (2013-2014), DOE NRSB-Environmental Management Roadmap (2007-2008), Stand-Off Explosives Detection (2003) and DOE Site Decontamination and Decommissioning (2002). He isCo-founder China-US Joint Research Center for Ecosystem and Environmental Change (JRCEEC), Beijing, (2006-16) and US State Department Ecopartnership (2011-2016) and has held honorary professorships in many universities worldwide. Dr. Sayler was an Associate Editor of Environmental Science and Technology (1999-2015)and elected to AAAS Fellowship in 2012 and fellow of American Academy for Microbiology (1995). He received the DOW Foundation Support for Public Health Environmental Research and Education (SPHERE) Award (1998), the Distinguished Alumni Award of University of Idaho (1995), and the Procter and Gamble Prize in Applied and Environmental Microbiology from the American Society for Microbiology (1994) and was named a Top 100 Innovator in Science by Science Digest (1985). In 2018 he was designated a Distinguished Researcher “Einstein Professor” by the Chinese Academy of Science.  His research interests include microbiology, toxicology, and molecular biology of biodegradation of toxic pollutants such as PCB and PAH. He pioneered the development of environmental molecular diagnostics including the extraction and analysis of nucleic acids from the environment and wastes, environmental gene probe analysis, bioluminescent bioreporter/sensor technology, and conducted the first field release of a genetically-engineered microorganism for remediation process monitoring and control. Over his career, Gary Sayler has directed and administered over $100 million of research and guided 100 PhD and MS students and postdocs during his forty-year career; contributing to 410 peer reviewed publications (with a Goggle Scholar h-index of 87 and 25,000 citations), 18 patents, and over 600 lectures and seminars worldwide. A hallmark of his research and training program has been the highly collaborative and interdisciplinary science and engineering approach to hypothesis development, experimental design, and problem solving as exemplified by the research agenda of the CEB. Through JRCEEC, Gary Sayler extended this commitment to multinational interdisciplinary communication and collaboration. Committed to research as a continuum of the education and learning process; hundreds of students ranging from high school, to undergraduate and graduate have contributed to and gained experience in his laboratory and have moved on to careers in academia, medicine, finance, government and industry worldwide.

Email: sayler@utk.edu

Julie Carrier, Ph.D., Professor & Head Biosystems Engineering and Soil Sciences , University of Tennesee, Institute of Agriculture, U.S.A.

Biography: Dr. Carrier, is a Professor & Department Head, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Sciences at the Univeristy of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture. Carrier received her doctorate in general engineering in 1992 from McGill University before joining UTIA in 2016. In addition to her role as department head, she is a lauded researcher whose work includes improving the harvesting and storage of medicinal plants as well as seeking new ways to maximize biomass quality, composition and production. She has also worked as a professor for more than 16 years at the University of Arkansas and now at the University of Tennessee, teaching topics such as engineering design, behavior of construction materials, design presentation and reporting, scientific writing and professional development. Throughout her career, Carrier has published almost 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and served on more than 20 scientific panels with the USDA, National Science Foundation and Department of Education. She was also the recipient of the John L Imhoff Outstanding Research Award in 2015 at the University of Arkansas College of Engineering and has been a member of ASABE for more than 18 years. In 2023, she was awarded the James R. and Karen A. Gilley Academic Leadership Award during the annual international meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). During her almost two decades of service at ASABE, Carrier has held numerous leadership and development roles. In addition to serving as trustee on the Society Board of Trustees from 2019-22, she also served in multiple roles on committees within the Processing Systems Technical Community and Professional Department Heads committee.

Email: dcarrie1@utk.edu

Tom Gill, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Smith Chair, University of Tennesee, Institute of Agriculture, U.S.A.

Biography: Dr. Thomas (Tom) Gill is an international, interdisciplinary development professional who has worked in agriculture and rural development for the past 20 years. Gill currently serves as the Smith Chair in International Sustainable Agriculture and Director of International Programs at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture, leading strategic vision and global program development across the institute. Gill has served as President (2019-2020) of the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD) and as Chair (2015-16) of the International Agriculture Section for the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). His experience and research interests include smallholder household decision-making in sustainable agroecosystems and participatory approaches to capacity development, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Email: tgill4@utk.edu