Biological and Agricultural Engineering


Research facilities available to graduate students include departmental laboratories, general campus labs, and field test sites located on campus and at university-administered stations throughout the state. Over the past five years, a number of our lab facilities have been renovated. Several of these facilities are identified in the next paragraphs.

The Aquaculture Lab includDeltaSmelt2es several fish tanks of different sizes with recirculation systems, columns for testing experimental biofilters and gas exchange methods, and instrumentation for evaluating water quality. The new Bioenvironmental Lab is equipped with bioreactors and instrumentation to culture and monitor microorganisms selected for wastewater treatment and bioremediation, and a temperature-controlled chamber. A wide variety of computer-based instruments and sensors are available including accelerometers, LVDTs, force transducers, temperature sensors, colorimeters and visible and near infrared spectrophotometers in the Bioinstrumentation Lab. The Biological Materials Properties Lab is equipped with a computer-controlled universal testing machine, two spectrophotometers, and a Tristimululs colorimeter. Research in the Biomass Utilization Lab includes investigations into the fundamental combustion behavior of biomass and the characterization of important fuel properties. The recently constructed Bioprocess Engineering Lab is used for research in biotechnology, bioconversion processes, and microbial ecology. Studies on heat and mass transfer in food processing to improve quality and safety of processed foods is a key focus of research in the Food Engineering Lab. The Occupational Biomechanics Lab addresses biomechanic and ergonomic concerns in agriculture and is equipped with instruments which quantifies forces and motions in field and laboratory settings.

Our Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, managed by a staff research associate, includes the following instruments: atomic absorption spectrophotometer; UV, VIS, NIR spectrophotometers; high density transmission spectrophotometer; gas and high performance liquid chromatographs; bomb calorimeter; colorimeter; fluorimeter; laser particle measurement system; micromonitor gas analyzer, and numerous specialized analytical apparatus. Additionally, there are specialized satellite analytical labs in seven of our topical research labs.

Our department manages two Computer Laboratories, that are equipped with numerous PCs, Macs, and UNIX workstations. High-volume black and white and color laser printers are networked for all systems in the department. In 1998, our department worked with campus administration in developing a new GIS Visualization Lab. This lab, which houses 30 Silicon Graphics workstations with 20 inch displays, serves our programs in geographic information systems and precision agriculture. Our computing needs are supported by a full-time computer resource specialist.

Our Engineering Design & Development Services is equipped to support the department’s diverse research and includes computer-controlled machining equipment. It is comprised of four adjoining facilities: machine shop, metal fabrication shop, wood and plastics fabrication shop, and microprocessor development lab. Four full time mechanicians and two full time development engineers are available to assist students with their various research needs. While mechanicians provide oversight to students, graduate students are allowed to work independently on projects in the shop, once they have been fully trained and tested.

Field research is performed on the 6,000 acre Davis campus, which includes our 40 acre Western Center for Agricultural Equipment and at university field stations which are strategically situated throughout the state. Of particular interest to our aquaculture and forest engineers are Bodega Marine Laboratory and Blodgett Forest. The 320 acre marine reserve is located near Bodega Bay, about 100 miles from Davis. Blodgett Forest is a 3,000 acre reserve located about 70 miles from Davis on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. All university field stations have dormitory accommodations, laboratory facilities, and permanent staff.

The recently constructed Western Center for Agricultural Equipment provides support for research related to power and machinery, particularly agricultural equipment. This facility is located on 40 acres in the central region of campus. The 18,000 sq. ft. building includes a 1,500 ft2 lecture room, 2,000 ft2 general teaching lab, 4,000 ft2 project lab, and a 3,000 ft2 fabrication shop. The project lad and fabrication shop serve as a satellite facility to our Engineering Shop in Bainer Hall. A faculty director, assisted by a staff development engineer, oversees this facility, provides students with technical support, and addresses safety issues. The Western Center is located on the west side of Hwy 113.