Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) is the engineering discipline that applies concepts of biology, chemistry and physics, along with engineering science and design principles, to solve problems in biological systems. Our faculty and students work in a broad range of biological systems, from natural systems, such as watersheds with a focus on water resources, to built systems, such as bioreactors and bioprocessing facilities. We work from the nanoscale to the macroscale. We seek to improve animal, human, and environmental health through development and design of healthy food products, vaccines, bioenergy, biomaterials, and water quality management practices. We convert biological resources, such as switchgrass, plant proteins, and animal manure, into value-added products, such as biopharmaceuticals, biofuels, and biomaterials, in a sustainable manner.

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Recent Submissions

  • Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 16: Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance 

    Hickman, Elizabeth; Thompson, Teresa M.; Sample, David (Virginia Cooperative Extension, 2021-09-03)
    Urban development results in increased impervious surfaces, causing an increase in runoff and degradation of water quality and stream habitat. Stormwater control measures (SCMs), also known as urban best management practices ...
  • Integrated assessment modeling reveals near-channel management as cost-effective to improve water in watersheds 

    Hansen, Amy T.; Campbell, Todd; Cho, Se Jong; Czuba, Jonathan A.; Dalzell, Brent J.; Dolph, Christine L.; Hawthorne, Peter L.; Rabotyagov, Sergey; Lang, Zhengxin; Kumarasamy, Karthik; Belmont, Patrick; Finlay, Jacques C.; Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi; Gran, Karen B.; Kling, Catherine L.; Wilcock, Peter (2021-07-13)
    Despite decades of policy that strives to reduce nutrient and sediment export from agricultural fields, surface water quality in intensively managed agricultural landscapes remains highly degraded. Recent analyses show ...
  • Functional and Predictive Structural Characterization of WRINKLED2, A Unique Oil Biosynthesis Regulator in Avocado 

    Behera, Jyoti R.; Rahman, Md. Mahbubur; Bhatia, Shina; Shockey, Jay; Kilaru, Aruna (2021-06-08)
    WRINKLED1 (WRI1), a member of the APETALA2 (AP2) class of transcription factors regulates fatty acid biosynthesis and triacylglycerol (TAG) accumulation in plants. Among the four known Arabidopsis WRI1 paralogs, only WRI2 ...
  • Temporal Control of Morphogenic Factor Expression Determines Efficacy in Enhancing Regeneration 

    Gonzalez, Juan H.; Taylor, Joseph S.; Reed, Kelsey M.; Wright, R. Clay; Bargmann, Bastiaan O. R. (MDPI, 2021-10-23)
    Background: Regeneration of fertile plants from tissue culture is a critical bottleneck in the application of new plant breeding technologies. Ectopic overexpression of morphogenic factors is a promising workaround for ...
  • The Chesapeake Bay program modeling system: Overview and recommendations for future development 

    Hood, Raleigh R.; Shenk, Gary W.; Dixon, Rachel L.; Smith, Sean M. C.; Ball, William P.; Bash, Jesse O.; Batiuk, Rich; Boomer, Kathy; Brady, Damian C.; Cerco, Carl; Claggett, Peter; de Mutsert, Kim; Easton, Zachary M.; Elmore, Andrew J.; Friedrichs, Marjorie A. M.; Harris, Lora A.; Ihde, Thomas F.; Lacher, Lara; Li, Li; Linker, Lewis C.; Miller, Andrew; Moriarty, Julia; Noe, Gregory B.; Onyullo, George E.; Rose, Kenneth; Skalak, Katie; Tian, Richard; Veith, Tamie L.; Wainger, Lisa; Weller, Donald; Zhang, Yinglong Joseph (2021-09-15)
    The Chesapeake Bay is the largest, most productive, and most biologically diverse estuary in the continental United States providing crucial habitat and natural resources for culturally and economically important species. ...
  • Anticipating and adapting to the future impacts of climate change on the health, security and welfare of low elevation coastal zone (LECZ) communities in Southeastern USA 

    Allen, Thomas; Behr, Joshua; Bukvic, Anamaria; Calder, Ryan; Caruson, Kiki; Connor, Charles; D'Elia, Christopher; Dismukes, David; Ersing, Robin; Franklin, Rima; Goldstein, Jesse; Goodall, Jonathon; Hemmerling, Scott; Irish, Jennifer; Lazarus, Steven; Loftis, Derek; Luther, Mark; McCallister, Leigh; McGlathery, Karen; Mitchell, Molly; Moore, William; Nichols, C. Reid; Nunez, Karinna; Reidenbach, Matthew; Shortridge, Julie; Weisberg, Robert; Weiss, Robert; Donelson Wright, Lynn; Xia, Meng; Xu, Kehui; Young, Donald; Zarillo, Gary; Zinnert, Julie C. (MDPI, 2021-10-29)
    Low elevation coastal zones (LECZ) are extensive throughout the southeastern United States. LECZ communities are threatened by inundation from sea level rise, storm surge, wetland degradation, land subsidence, and hydrological ...
  • A mycotoxin transporter (4D) from a library of deoxynivalenol-tolerant microorganisms 

    Jimenez-Sanchez, Celia; Wilson, Nina; McMaster, Nicole; Gantulga, Dash; Freedman, Benjamin G.; Senger, Ryan; Schmale, David G. III (Elsevier, 2020-03-01)
    New strategies are needed to mitigate the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) in feed and food products. Microbial DNA fragments were generated from a library of DON-tolerant microorganisms. These fragments were screened in ...
  • Systems Analysis of Coupled Natural and Human Processes in the Mekong River Basin 

    Sridhar, Venkataramana; Ali, Syed Azhar; Sample, David J. (MDPI, 2021-09-12)
    The Mekong River Basin is one of the world’s major transboundary basins. The hydrology, agriculture, ecology, and other watershed functions are constantly changing as a result of a variety of human activities carried out ...
  • Topographic and Landcover Influence on Lower Atmospheric Profiles Measured by Small Unoccupied Aerial Systems (sUAS) 

    Prior, Elizabeth M.; Miller, Gretchen R.; Brumbelow, Kelly (MDPI, 2021-08-26)
    Small unoccupied aerial systems (sUASs) are increasingly being used for field data collection and remote sensing purposes. Their ease of use, ability to carry sensors, low cost, and precise maneuverability and navigation ...
  • Quantifying the Spatial Variability of Annual and Seasonal Changes in Riverscape Vegetation Using Drone Laser Scanning 

    Resop, Jonathan P.; Lehmann, Laura; Hession, W. Cully (MDPI, 2021-09-07)
    Riverscapes are complex ecosystems consisting of dynamic processes influenced by spatially heterogeneous physical features. A critical component of riverscapes is vegetation in the stream channel and floodplain, which ...
  • Load and Unload Technology to Improve Round-Bale Hauling Efficiency 

    Cundiff, John S.; Grisso, Robert D. (MDPI, 2021-08-11)
    There are two key parameters in short-haul truck operations to deliver biomass to a biorefinery: (1) mass of the load and (2) cycle time (load, travel, unload, and return). A plan to optimize both these parameters is ...
  • Future rice farming threatened by drought in the Lower Mekong Basin 

    Kang, Hyunwoo; Sridhar, Venkataramana; Mainuddin, Mohammed; Le, Duc Trung (Nature Research, 2021-04-30)
    The Lower Mekong River basin (LMB) has experienced droughts in recent decades, causing detrimental economic losses and food security conundrums. This study quantified the impact of climate change on drought, and rainfed ...
  • Assessment of rice yield gap under a changing climate in India 

    Debnath, Subhankar; Mishra, Ashok; Mailapalli, D. R.; Raghuwanshi, N. S.; Sridhar, V (2021-06)
    Climate change evokes future food security concerns and needs for sustainable intensification of agriculture. The explicit knowledge about crop yield gap at country level may help in identifying management strategies for ...
  • Estimating Floodplain Vegetative Roughness Using Drone-Based Laser Scanning and Structure from Motion Photogrammetry 

    Prior, Elizabeth M.; Aquilina, Charles A.; Czuba, Jonathan A.; Pingel, Thomas; Hession, W. Cully (MDPI, 2021-07-03)
    Vegetation heights derived from drone laser scanning (DLS), and structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry at the Virginia Tech StREAM Lab were utilized to determine hydraulic roughness (Manning’s roughness coefficients). ...
  • Prioritizing Stream Restoration Projects in the City of Roanoke: Peters Creek Case Study 

    Huffman, Sidney; Thompson, Theresa M.; Hession, W. Cully; Entrekin, Sally (2021-06-01)
    The City of Roanoke (City) is currently evaluating potential stream restoration projects to achieve several watershed goals, including meeting total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements, mitigating floods, recovering ...
  • Improving the Success of Stream Restoration Practices – Revised and Expanded 

    Thompson, Theresa M.; Smith, Eric P. (2021-06-28)
    Final Project Report submitted to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Annapolis, MD.
  • Effectiveness of stormwater management practices in protecting stream channel stability 

    Alsmadi, Mohammad; Sample, David J.; Thompson, Theresa M.; Miller, Andrew (2021-06-16)
    1. Channel instability in Minebank Run is caused by high shear stresses generated during even relatively frequent storm events.
    2. Retrofitting the Minebank Run watershed with additional watershed ...
  • Improving the success of stream restoration practices 

    Thompson, Theresa M.; Smith, Eric P. (2021-06-16)
    This research focused on 3 questions:
    1. Linking stream restoration success with watershed and design characteristics
    2. Design, project, and watershed factors that affect structure success
    3. Comparison ...
  • Development of a Virus-Like Particle-Based Anti-HER2 Breast Cancer Vaccine 

    Hu, He; Steinmetz, Nicole F. (MDPI, 2021-06-10)
    To develop a human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2)-specific cancer vaccine, using a plant virus-like particle (VLP) platform. Copper-free click chemistry and infusion encapsulation protocols were developed to ...
  • Current status of the multinational Arabidopsis community 

    Parry, Geraint; Provart, Nicholas J.; Brady, Siobhan M.; Uzilday, Baris (Wiley, 2020-07-01)
    The multinational Arabidopsis research community is highly collaborative and over the past thirty years these activities have been documented by the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee (MASC). Here, we (a) highlight ...

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