Assistant Professor Earns Funded Project Early In Career

By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Brett Ramirez, an assistant professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering, didn’t waste  time when he started his new position on January 1. Just 51 days into his career, Ramirez earned his first funded project as a faculty member and principal investigator.

The project is co-sponsored by Iowa Cage-Free (ICF) and the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRCAS). The project started in early spring and the duration is one year. Ramirez is conducting research at a new two-story cage-free laying hen facility built by ICF. The facility features some very novel ventilation styles and technology.

“This project is something that Hongwei Xin and I had been discussing for some time back in December,” Ramirez said. “They [ICF] had constructed a new facility with a lot of unknowns and we have the expertise at analyzing ventilation systems, so it was a good fit.”

Another project Ramirez is working on getting is the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research program. Ramirez was selected as one of two pre-proposals from Iowa State that were nominated  to be submitted to FFAR. His pre-proposal was selected, so he then turned in a full proposal in April.

The challenge that Ramirez’s proposal focuses on is improving the management of ventilation systems and education for livestock and poultry producers.

“The goal is to come up with methods to perform ventilation system assessments  with sensors and then use a web-based platform, where producers can upload their data and have a decision support tool analyze the data and give some recommendations,” Ramirez said. “The producer can then enter new data to see if the changes worked. It’s a continual process, not just a one-and-done situation.”

Another project that he is working on is with Reicks View Farms in northeast Iowa, which is funded by the National Pork Board. In this project Ramirez and his collaborators, Steven Hoff, Jay Harmon, and John Patience, are developing new technology and exploring the impact of different cooling systems on pig performance.

“I’m working on developing a new control algorithm for the optimal usage of the evaporative cool cells and sprinklers on/off times,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez also has other proposals in the works that are awaiting decision. Ramirez said that although it is still early on in his career, he has goals that he plans to accomplish during his time at Iowa State.

“My goal is to create a program that creates sound science and engineering for livestock and poultry producers in Iowa,” Ramirez said. “I also want to improve the sustainability of production, with sustainability being a factor of animal welfare, the environment, economics, etc.”


May 10, 2018