Envision

Research Areas and Associated Faculty

 

Click through various topics to learn more about the affiliated faculty research.

 

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Amy Shober

Research in the Nutrient Management and Environmental Quality (Shober) group  is focused on nutrient cycling in agricultural systems with a goal of improving nutrient use efficiency and crop production, while minimizing environmental impacts. Our research is primarily applied in nature, with many of our research questions coming directly from agricultural stakeholders in the region (e.g., crop producers, crop consultants, etc.). Research activities take place in the field (e.g., soil and plant tissue collection, water sample collection, real-time monitoring) and in the laboratory (e.g., soil and plant extractions and analysis) to better understand nutrient cycling and transport under “real world” crop production scenarios. Our group collaborates closely with agronomists and nutrient management specialists in Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region. Together, we seek to provide guidance to help farmers improve fertilizer and manure management and crop yields.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Brian Ladman Laboratory

The Ladman laboratory is focused on the monitoring of avian pathogens affecting poultry production in Delmarva, the characterization of new isolates of bacterial and viral pathogens, and the development and testing of new control methods (vaccines) for mitigating industry losses due to these pathogens. Dr. Ladman is the head of day-to-day operations of the Charles C. Allen Laboratory, a BSL-3-Ag biocontainment laboratory at the University of Delaware. Projects in his laboratory are focused on the characterization of pathogens, vaccine testing and the measurement of vaccine responses.

Mark Parcells Laboratory

The Parcells laboratory is primarily focused on the virology and immunology of Marek’s disease virus (MDV), an oncogenic virus of poultry. Projects include: the modeling of MDV of MDV infection, the evolution of MDV virulence, pathogen-host interactions, vaccinology, and the functional analysis of MDV gene products. In addition, the Parcells laboratory collaborates with UD faculty on other projects including models for Zika virus infection, food-borne viruses, and pathogenic microorganisms.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Stacey Chirnside Laboratory

The Chirnside laboratory is focused on water quality and nutrient (waste) management as this relates to control, treatment, and remediation. Projects in her laboratory employ analytical chemistry, soil microbiology, and bioremediation.

Hong Li Laboratory

The main focus of the Li Lab is the area of animal environmental control as this relates to agricultural air quality. Concerns about ammonia (NH3) emission are multifaceted and include issues of animal performance, health, welfare, environmental impact, and public perception. Effectively managing NH3-emissions is critical to meet foreseeable regulatory limits set for animal operations. Dietary manipulation has shown promise to be a cost effective and viable technology to reduce these emissions. Envision students will participate in trials testing new products to reduce emissions, increase public acceptance of poultry production, and increase the quality of life of poultry in production.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Martin Heintzelman

Martin Heintzelman’s Research Group focuses on the valuation of amenities and disamenities as well as on interactions between local communities and new energy infrastructure. Projects in summer 2022 will be focused on the property value impacts of groundwater contamination, the effects of terrestrial invasive species, and household WTP for residential solar systems and/or community microgrid technologies.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Haiqiang Chen

Those in the Chen Lab URE will develop a food processing and safety project. There has been a great concern among consumers about the safety of fresh produce due to several large high-profile outbreaks. Shortwave ultraviolet light (UV) is able to inactivate a wide range of microorganisms and has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for controlling surface microorganisms and juice products. To improve the safety of fresh produce, we propose to develop a UV-decontamination chamber for home use. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the UV system for inactivating E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on fresh produce. Over the past four years, four undergraduate students have participated in our food processing and safety research projects. One of the students, Ethan Beswick, was a co-author on a peer-reviewed paper.

Rolf Joerger Laboratory

The Joerger laboratory studies food microbiology with an emphasis on foodborne pathogenic bacteria. For the Envision program, undergraduate students will be involved in research on two projects. One project will be the continuation of work studying the genetic basis of acid resistance in Salmonella enterica. Strains having mutations in genes potentially involved in acid resistance have been generated and characterization of these will be the topic of further undergraduate research. The second project studies the effectiveness of antimicrobials (primarily oxidizing agents) on Listeria monocytogenes released from biofilms. 

Kali Kniel Laboratory

The Kniel laboratory studies the ways in which microorganisms persist in the environment and contribute to produce safety and risks to public health. Specific projects include assessing bacterial survival in soil amendments that lead to contaminated raw agricultural commodities, like cucumbers and melons. Transmission of pathogens through irrigation water is also studied, including means to mitigate contamination and transfer. Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses are studied for their ability to survive in the harsh conditions of the pre-harvest environment, including elucidating mechanisms of plant-pathogen interactions. Applied and basic research is coupled with the development of educational materials for K-16 and training of produce growers. 

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Ryan Arsenault Laboratory

The Arsenault laboratory’s current research centers on kinomics and the gut health of poultry, and includes the topics of immunometabolism, host-pathogen interactions, feed additives and antibiotic alternatives. Current projects include host-pathogen interactions of Salmonella, Coccidiosis, and Necrotic Enteritis in broiler chickens, gastrointestinal immune development in broiler chickens, and immunometabolic responses to avian influenza in wild ducks. Dr. Arsenault’s teaching includes a graduate-level class on the microbiome and gut health, and an undergraduate class on One Health.

Participating mentors in the ENWE department offer outstanding research experiences in entomology, ecology, and wildlife conservation. The research areas in ENWE emphasize whole-organism biology, conservation biology, and the interactions between humans and other species. UD Envision-participating faculty have research in a number of insect and wildlife biological fields.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Michael Crossley

The Agricultural Entomology Lab seeks to understand the ecology and evolution of insects in changing agricultural landscapes. One of the emerging themes in our lab is insects as waste upcyclers and a sustainable protein source. For the Summer 2022, we will be exploring horse manure digestion by two insects, black soldier fly and lesser mealworm, and seeing what effect these insects have on pathogens present in the manure.

Dr. Vincenzo Ellis

The Ellis laboratory is focused on the molecular ecology and evolution of infectious disease. We are interested in a number of topics including the evolution of host specificity, parasite phylogeography and diversification, host-parasite coevolution, determinants of parasite community structure, and the physiological responses of hosts to infection. Our main study system is the malaria parasites of wild birds, but we recently started working with black-legged ticks and their microbiomes. Potential projects may include local field work to sample birds or ticks, molecular work to identify and genetically characterize parasites, and/or statistical or bioinformatic data analyses.

Dr. Chris Williams

The Williams lab oversees the Waterfowl and Upland Gamebird Ecology Program. Current research foci include better understanding waterfowl (duck and geese) and upland gamebird (quail) habitat preferences, nesting ecology, movement and behavior, and bioenergetic estimates of population carrying capacities. Further, they examine wetland availability and quality for ducks and geese along with early successional habitat management for quail. Dr. Williams also investigates wildlife policy issues for the long-term effectiveness of wildlife management and actions.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Amy Biddle Laboratory

The Biddle Lab is interested in microbiome factors impacting equine health, and the home of the Equine Microbiome Project. This research offers summer students opportunities to apply bioinformatics to identify relationships between microbial community structure, function, and host factors, and then test those relationships using in vitro culture methods. 

Tanya Gressley Laboratory

The two primary research focuses of the Gressley lab are amino acid nutrition and nutritional immunology of dairy cattle. For the amino acid work, the focus is on evaluating bioavailability and production response to feeding rumen protected amino acid supplements. The nutritional immunology work is concentrated on evaluating health effects of ruminal acidosis, particularly in the intestines. 

Yihang Li Laboratory

The main focus of the Y.Li’s Lab is intestinal development and physiology. By utilizing monogastric animal model, we want to understand the mechanisms by which the intestine rapidly responds and adapts in the long-term to environmental stressors (weaning, heat/cold, physiological stress) in early life, eventually identify novel nutritional strategies to facilitate gut adaptation and attenuate damage. Research projects will include the isolation and characterization of intestinal stem cell, evaluation on nutrient sensing/transport physiology, and mucosal barrier function and regeneration.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Jeff Fuhrmann Laboratory

Research in my lab focuses on the symbiosis between soybean plants and bradyrhizobia bacteria that infect the soybean roots.  The bradyrhizobia reside in root nodules and fix atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia for the host plant.  We are additionally examining how viruses of the bradyrhizobia affect the symbiosis and ultimately soybean productivity, the latter being critical to global food security.  My lab is part of a highly collaborative and supportive research group with the common themes of microbial-virus interactions and bioinformatics.  This larger group includes two other principal investigators, support personnel, post docs, and numerous graduate and undergraduate students.   

Shree Inamdar

Our Watershed Sciences group investigates how human activities, land-use legacies, and climate change are affecting water quality and watershed processes. A better understanding of the science can lead to better watershed management and policy decisions. We explore nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon cycles across stream, riparian, and upland ecosystems. Recently, through funding from NSF, EPA, and USDA, we have been looking at - (a) how historic mill dams and their legacies affect stream and riparian ecosystems; (b) how stream and floodplain restorations affects nutrient cycling and water quality and how these restorations can be evaluated and improved; and (c) sediment and nutrient transport and exports from watersheds and the impacts of extreme weather events on these exports. Our research provides exciting and fun opportunities for both - field sampling and monitoring and laboratory analysis. Our field and watershed study sites are spread across Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Our group research is highly interdisciplinary and spans disciplines of hydrology, water quality, soil sciences, biogeochemistry, and ecology including microbial ecology. We partner with scientists from these multiple disciplines for innovative insights into watershed processes.

Faculty Mentor

  Project Focus Area

Nicole Donofrio Laboratory

The Donofrio laboratory is focused on means to understand the intricate and sometimes quite complex nature of interactions between plants and fungal plant pathogens. Why do plants succumb to disease? And how do certain fungi take advantage of a plant’s “inner-workings” to grow and reproduce? Specifically, there are two projects going on in my lab: the first focuses on the molecular interactions between a devastating fungal pathogen of rice, barley and other cereal crops, called Magnaporthe oryzae. The second is on a fungal-like organism that is of economic interest to lima bean breeders and farmers in Delaware and is a close relative of the pathogen that caused the Irish Potato Famine. Students from the Envision program who join the Donofrio lab program will learn the basics of culturing fungi and oomycete plant pathogens, as well as learn how they interact. Depending on the specific project, they will also delve into cell biology during the interaction using microscopy, or molecular exchange during the interaction using gene expression-related techniques.