Biosystems engineers integrate and apply principles of engineering and biology to a wide variety of socially important problems. The MSU biosystems engineering program prepares graduates to:

  • Identify and solve problems at the interface of biology and engineering, using modern engineering techniques and the systems approach and
  • Analyze, design, and control components, systems, and processes that involve critical biological components.MSU biosystems engineering graduates are having a positive impact on the world, working in areas such as ecosystems protection, food safety and biosecurity, biocnergy, and human health.

For information on sponsoring a project, please contact Dr. Dana Kirk or Dr. Luke Reese.


Site Evaluation and Design Plan for a Created Forested Wetland

Wetland mitigation law requires the creation of forested wetlands to replicate the ecosystem services that were disturbed by development. The project entails the development of a comprehensive site evaluation and design for the construction of a forested wetland. Activities include modeling of hydrologic function, analysis of soils, designation of native vegetation, and design of hydrological control structures.

Client – Michigan Department of Transportation

Faculty Advisor – Dawn Reinhold Ph.D.

Student Team – Alyse Egner. Kevin Koryto, Hanna Miller


Best Management Practice Recommendation for Escherichia coli in the Red Cedar Watershed

An impairment of the Red Cedar River watershed resulted from Escherichia coli. The Ingham County Health Department has a substantial amount of data that can help determine the cause. Land use and hydrological modeling will be used to help determine potential sources.

Client – Ingham County Health Department and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment

Faculty Advisor –Pouyan A. Nejadhashemi

Student Team – Catherine Dudgeon, Jennifer Jury, and Cody Kurzer


Wastewater Treatment System Upgrade for a Small Cheese Producer

The Farm Country Cheese House, a small cheese producer serving an Amish community, needs to upgrade their wastewater treatment system in order to accommodate a planned expansion in production while remaining compliant with all regulations. This project entails selecting the best process and preparing construction plans and specifications.

Client – Farm Country Cheese House

Faculty Advisor – Larry Stephens

Student Team – Megan Buhl, Shannon Henderson, Stepfanie Shaulis


Developing Process Alternatives to Produce Consistent Meatless Burgers across Multiple Production Lines

Meatless burgers manufactured from two lines at the same food processor are not consistent. A detailed characterization of each production line will be conducted to determine potential causes. Process recommendations will be made so that consistent products can be formulated at a minimum cost.

Client – Major Food Processor

Faculty Advisor – James Steffe

Student Team – Ellen Bornhorst, Cassie Giacobassi, James MacLellan, Drew Selden


Urban Aquaculture Modeling and Feasibility

Aquaculture offers the potential to provide fresh food and jobs in an urban environment. A generic model to simulate urban aquaculture will be developed and potential costs/benefits will be determined. To optimize the quality and usability of the model, an onsite case study will be conducted at a specific site in Detroit.

Clients –Pingree Farms, Aquaculture Research Corporation, and Urban Agricultural Initiatives of Detroit

Faculty Advisor – Yan “Susie” Liu

Student Team – Qudus Ahmed, Michael Holly, Blake Lougheed and Andy Tran


Sustainable Heat Systems: Investigating the Feasibility of Corn Drying using Biomass Combustion

As the price of propane and the importance of reducing fossil fuel dependency increase, renewable heating systems are becoming a practical alternative. A biomass combustion system to provide heat for an on-farm corn drying operation will be designed and built. Operational costs will be analyzed and compared to conventional propane heating systems.

Client – Dr. Ajit Srtivastava, Michigan State University

Faculty Advisor – Larry Klope

Student Team – Sam Prentice, Shaun Madsen, Kyle Fischer, and Nick Steo


Escherichia coli Source Identification and Detection in Recreational Waters

To aid in the determination of the source of bacteria impairment in the Red Cedar River, a rapid and efficient Escherichia coli detection system sensitive to a concentration of 300 colonies/100 mL is needed. The best detection approach will be investigated, focusing on a design developed in a previous design project. A systematic monitoring approach based on current land use will also be developed to aid in the identification of the likely source of impairment.

Client – Ingham County Health Department and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment

Faculty Advisor – Evangelyn Alocija

Student Team – Asmaa Abdel-Azim, Bridget Bednark, Drew Coatney


Bio-Fuel Source Optimization through Torrefaction

Alternate, renewable fuel is a national priority. Wood that is first charred (torrefied) at the site of collection offers the potential to serve as an alternative but more research is needed. A bench-scale torrefaction reactor will be designed and fabricated to use pelletized woody biomass or small wood chips. Additionally, a system analysis of the use of tor­ refied feedstocks at a coal-fired power plant starting at the production of the biomass source will be performed in order to compare the torrefied wood with coal in terms of energy value per unit cost.

Client – Dr. Chris Saffron, Michigan State University

Faculty Advisors – Chris Saffron

Student Team – Spencer Beatty, Ryan Black, Ryan R. Rochelle, Jason S. Smith