Graduate Research Assistantship (M.S.) starting in Fall 2017 - Improving Aquaculture's Value Through Improved Nutrition Management

Auburn Unviersity’s aquaponics research team was recently awarded a grant through USDA-NIFA’s Aquaculture program for a project entitled “Improving Aquaculture’s Value Through Improved Nutrient Management.” We are seeking applications for a graduate research assistantship (M.S.) starting in Fall 2017 from highly-motivated students with at least a B.S. in horticulture, or a closely-related field, who are interested in aquaponics. Students with backgrounds in horticultural science who are interested in greenhouse vegetable production via aquaponics and who have a strong academic interest in plant nutrition and water management are encouraged to apply. The successful applicant will be awarded a 2-year M.S. assistantship ($15,000 per year stipend) and a tuition waiver. The project summary is listed below. Although the project was funded through NIFA’s Aquaculture program, the successful applicant should have a background in horticulture or a closely-related field. The successful applicant will complete an applied research project focused on water and nutrient management in an aquaponic system with an emphasis on greenhouse vegetable production. Interested students should send a CV and cover letter to Dr. Daniel Wells (wellsda@auburn.edu) and should apply to graduate school at Auburn University using the following link: http://graduate.auburn.edu/prospective-students/application-instructions/

 Questions regarding this position can also be directed to wellsda@auburn.edu.

 

Project Summary: Improving Aquaculture’s Value Through Improved Nutrient Management

The long-term goal of this project is to develop a number of revenue-generating production processes from the initial fish feed input required for aquaculture. The supporting objectives for this project are: 1) Evaluate the economic costs and savings from a sustainable, high-yield aquaponics system integrating fish, plant, and fermentation processes; 2) select candidate processes for fish production, plant production, algae production, waste management and treatment, and water management and treatment; 3) optimize linkages for all processes; and 4) validate food safety practices in combined fish and vegetable production to establish Good Agricultural Practices for aquaponics. Farmers engaged in aquaculture make a significant investment in feed, with feed amounting to some 60 percent of overall production costs. Fish ingest the feed and then excrete some 75 percent of the total, which is discarded. The work will take place at the Auburn University Aquaponics Research Facility, a refurbished pilot-scale aquaponics research and technology testbed constructed for greenhouse-based production of fish and vegetable crops. Ongoing projects at the facility include research in water recycling, nutrient repurposing, and carbon reutilization through bioenergy development initiatives. In addition to adding vegetable production by utilizing an aquaponics system, we intend to explore the possibility of using the fish waste that remains in water after vegetable production to produce lactic acid via fermentation. Developing an optimized system to further utilize fish waste as a way to generate additional income addresses the program purpose of developing an environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the U.S.

Graduate Research Assistantship (PhD) starting in Fall 2017 - Systems Modeling of Nutrient Recycling in Mult-Trophic Aquaculture Production

Auburn Unviersity’s aquaponics research team was recently awarded a grant through USDA-NIFA’s Foundational Program for a project entitled “Systems Modeling Of Nutrient Recycling In Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Production.” We are seeking applications for a graduate research assistantship (Ph.D.) from highly-motivated students with at least a M.S. in horticulture, or a closely-related field, who are interested in aquaponics. Students with backgrounds in horticultural science who are interested in greenhouse vegetable production via aquaponics and who have a strong academic interest in plant nutrition, water management, and the nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in a multi-trophic aquaponics system are encouraged to apply. The successful applicant will be awarded a 3-yr assistantship ($18,000 per year stipend) and a tuition waiver. The project summary is listed below. Interested students should send a CV and cover letter to Dr. Daniel Wells (wellsda@auburn.edu) and should apply to graduate school at Auburn University using the following link: http://graduate.auburn.edu/prospective-students/application-instructions/

 Questions regarding this position can be directed to wellsda@auburn.edu.

 

Project Summary: Systems Modeling Of Nitrogen Recycling In Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Production 

 Production of food-grade products using multi-trophic aquatic ecological processes such as aquaponics promises efficient and low-emission production at the large scale. The intensificaiton of production at this scale requires careful management of nutrient flows between components of the multi-trophic system, and near-complete knowledge of materials and energy flows among all the components. Improvements in this type of production can be achieved through increasing yield and nutrient use efficiency at each of the production unit processes, and the overall system production might then be increased through minimizing losses of key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. The goal of this research is to understand nutrient use efficiencies in large-scale multi-trophic aquaculture by developing a systems modeling approach to nitrogen and phosphorus flows within the system. The approach is to develop nutrient use computational models for individual unit processes within a multi-trophic production system using standard reactor process models based on growth kinetics. The model will be calibrated to data collected from a large-scale multi-trophic production system in operation at Auburn University, and for which multiple seasons of data will be collected. The expected results are the development of a new model for multi-trophic production based upon a modular unit-process modeling approach that allows alternative scenario analysis for competing candidate production unit processes and approaches. The potential impact is the development of a knowledge base for optimized operation of nutrient-closed multi-trophic production systems informing a modeling tool that can be used for planning new installations of nutrient-conservative agricultural production systems.