Skip to main content

Alumni Corner

The department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering has had many students come and go. BAE alumni become leaders in their fields. The BAE department strives for students to believe in a better future for themselves and their research. Below you can explore how NC State alumni have used their degree from BAE to make an impact. 

To nominate someone please contact Olivia Rogers at the email Ogrogers@ncsu.edu

Sana Siddiqui

Siddiqui graduated from the BAE Department in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Biological & Agricultural Engineering with concentration in bioprocess. Sanjay Shah was her Senior Design project advisor.

“Take calculated risks, explore diverse prospects, and never hesitate to consider new ventures.”

-Sana Siddiqui

 

 

 

Research focus- 

“For my senior design project, under the guidance of Dr. Sanjay Shah, my team researched and developed an innovative Biofilter/Heat Exchanger system. This system leveraged chicken compost as a filtration medium to purify air being expelled from an indoor hog farming operation. As the compost medium underwent biological reactions, it generated heat. We harnessed this by integrating a pipe system through the medium, which allowed the redirection of fresh air back into the hog facility, serving both as a purification and heating solution.  For this project we won the 2007 NCSU Undergraduate Research Symposium by Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society.”

Career path-

“My career trajectory has been unconventional yet rewarding. It began with an internship in an electromechanical lab, conducting failure analysis while still in school. From there, I transitioned into roles in mechanical design engineering, software development and product management. Today, I’m an entrepreneur, owning a small business in the food manufacturing industry. Additionally, I’m passionate about community engagement and support other small businesses by organizing free community events in downtown Raleigh to foster community connections.  I also currently serve as an advisory board member for the BAE department and the City of Raleigh Environmental Advisory Board.

For current BAE students, my suggestion is to welcome new opportunities and maintain an open mind regarding future career directions. Over the course of your professional journey, you’ll come across numerous opportunities that may lead to unexpected paths. Take calculated risks, explore diverse prospects, and never hesitate to consider new ventures. Your ultimate destination may surprise you.”



Augusto Yuri Villa

Villa graduated from BAE with a masters degree in 2023. Sanjay Shah was his advisor. His research focused on the design of an electrostatic precipitator for the poultry industry using software designs like Ansys, SolidWorks and Agile.

“Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow, seeking guidance and feedback from mentors.”

Augusto Yuri Villa

 

Life in BAE 

“My experience in BAE was truly fantastic across all aspects, with special highlights on technological innovation and teamwork. I was involved with the Alpha Epsilon association and ran some projects by initiative. However, due to the complexity of my research I was focused on it and  I actively sought entrepreneurial opportunities inside NCSU and outside, a venture that was both challenging and rewarding. This entrepreneurial spirit was fueled by the exploratory nature of my research, which demanded innovative thinking and diving deep into complex problems. 

Deciding what to do after completing my degree was a deeply introspective and transformative journey, significantly influenced by my master’s program and pivotal mentorship from Dr. Sanjay Shah, which offered support, cutting-edge tools, and challenging opportunities that propelled my immersion into deep conceptualization and research. This period of exploration, characterized by excitement and uncertainty, led me to leverage my skills in R, Python, Ansys, and SolidWorks, and to engage deeply in coursework on statistical analysis, precision agriculture, and AI applications for UAVs. My decision to pursue a career blending research, AI, and digital innovation, though complex, was clarified through hands-on experiences, mentor guidance, and coursework aligned with my aspirations.”

Career Path

“My career journey started in the construction and agricultural machinery sector in Peru, transitioning through roles of increasing importance from a Market Analyst at Ipesa Sac (John Deere Dealer in Peru) to various strategic positions at european corporate company  Atlas Copco and Epiroc, culminating as a Key Account Manager. Over two decades, this path laid a solid foundation in sales, leadership, management, and the technical nuances of heavy machinery across agriculture, construction, and mining. A pivotal shift occurred when I decided to advance my education with a Master of Science in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NCSU, diving into the latest technologies and methodologies. This academic endeavor steered my career towards digital innovation, leading to my current role at Crumpler Pipe INC., where I spearhead digital transformation initiatives, blending my rich industry background with advanced technical expertise in product design, digital platform management, and AI-driven sales and marketing strategies working with big-data, for large scale markets and products.

As you navigate your journey in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, remember the journey is split into ‘before’ and ‘after’ phases, enriched by classroom learning and peer interactions. Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow, seeking guidance and feedback from mentors. This blend of academic knowledge and practical experience lays a strong foundation for your future career. Cherish the journey, and remain open to the myriad opportunities that come your way, as they will shape your professional path.”

 

Emine Fidan

Fidan graduated from the BAE Department with a PhD in 2022. Natalie Nelson was her advisor. Her research focused on “understanding flood and water quality dynamics during extreme storm events using machine learning and data analytics,” she says.

 

“Explore your passions!”

Fidan

Life at NC State

“I loved my experience in BAE at NC State! I was heavily involved in the departmental Graduate Student Association and really connected with the researchers I met in the department. I will forever be grateful for my PhD experience at NC State because it introduced me to my life-long best friends, provided a healthy environment for me to learn and research, and prepared me well for a career in academia.”

Career Path
“My professional journey began with undergraduate research at the University of Tennessee, where we applied engineering and conducted fieldwork to study water quality and morphology in streams/rivers. This experience inspired a deep passion that warranted exploration. Seeking additional research exposure, I interned at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where I immersed myself in the study of applied aquatic ecology and ecotoxicology. These experiences solidified my commitment to a research-intensive career path, while also highlighting the importance of diversifying my skill set beyond fieldwork. Consequently, I pursued studies in water resources engineering at NC State, focusing on analytical and computational approaches. This decision laid the groundwork for my current work, where I now leverage my field work experiences and my computational knowledge to understand water resources and ecological system dynamics during major storm events.
I knew upon completing my PhD degree that I wanted to continue conducting research, and since I loved teaching as well, I knew that a university position would be the most fulfilling for me. Ultimately, I have my heart set on being the type of professor that Dr. Nelson in NC State’s BAE is: one who values progress in research and teaching, and also one who knows when to celebrate the small achievements made along the way.”
 

Carly Graves

Graves received two degrees from the BAE department. She received her B.S. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering in spring 2021 and her M.S. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering in spring 2023. Her advisor was Mahmoud Sharara. Her research focused on agricultural waste management. Her project centered around reducing ammonia volatilization/emission from poultry litter.

“You have so much ahead of you to be excited about, but also slow down and appreciate the long days in Weaver because you will miss them someday!”

Graves

Life in BAE

“I can’t say enough positive things about BAE at NC State. It has changed my life in many ways and set me up to succeed professionally. It has allowed me to pursue a career that brings me a lot of fulfillment. The relationships I built at Weaver Labs will last a lifetime, and I look forward to seeing how I interact and collaborate with old classmates and professors in the future. It is such a welcoming place and the resources available to students are limitless if you seek support and mentorship. 

I was heavily involved with ASABE from my first semester at NC State and I credit a lot of the opportunities I had to that participation. I spent two years involved as a general member and decided to take a leap of faith and run for president my junior and senior year. Serving as president was a responsibility I took great pride in. With the help of an amazing officer team, we delivered so many quality guest speakers, coordinated industry tours, and hosted fundraising events. I also participated in the Graduate Student Association as Historian for a year, was a BAE Ambassador for 2 years during undergrad, and was a member of Alpha Epsilon for 2 years.”

Career Path

“I had a difficult time deciding on a career path to pursue, simply because there were so many options and routes available based on my skillset and experience. After having industry internships in the bioprocessing (Novozymes) and stormwater (WithersRavenel) sectors during my undergraduate degree, I felt I had not yet found my niche in Bio and Ag Engineering. That prompted my interest in sticking around for another two years to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural waste management. This gave me time to build my skillset and explore more career paths. I wanted a career and job that allowed me to get outside and work directly with people. For that reason, I heavily considered working with NC Cooperative Extension and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (an agency under the USDA). However, I was fortunate to find an opportunity to work in a similar area I studied for graduate school, agriculture waste management, as an Assistant Project Engineer at Agri-Waste Technology in Apex, NC. In this role I get to work directly with poultry and swine producers by providing recommendations on ways to improve their operations. I use my engineering knowledge to help them access USDA grants to make necessary improvements to their farms. I get to build personal relationships with people, and I feel like I am genuinely helping people in need while also caring for the environment and feeding the world responsibly.

 

The things that drew you into this department, the family environment, the care for the environment, the prospect of working hands-on in the field…those opportunities are out there. Just because you had an internship with one company that didn’t fit your desires does not mean other companies are all the same. You have worked hard and deserve a career that is fulfilling. With your knowledge and skillset you are valuable in the workforce and can absolutely find a company or organization that will fulfill your passions. Also, I highly recommend that you stay open minded as you progress through your degree program. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t taken internships in such different areas, worked with professors on projects I knew nothing about at the start, or attended ASABE meetings for companies I thought I wasn’t interested in. Stay open to new opportunities and you never know what will speak to you and excite you, even if it wasn’t the plan you had in your head. It never hurts to meet people, learn new things, and grow as an engineer and an individual. Lastly, you have so much ahead of you to be excited about, but also slow down and appreciate the long days in Weaver because you will miss them someday!”

 

Natalie Chazal

In 2023, Chazal completed her masters degree in Biological and Agricultural Systems Analysis from BAE. Her advisor was Natalie Nelson, and her research focused on leveraging bacterial water quality data from regulatory shellfish sanitation programs to do both a historical water quality trend test across the coast of North Carolina and develop predictive models to inform short-term bacterial water quality across the coast of Florida.

Life in BAE

“I absolutely loved my experience in BAE at NC State. One of the standout aspects was the interconnectedness of the BAE community with various organizations and communities, providing abundant opportunities for learning and collaboration. Through my research, I had the privilege of learning from experts at institutions like the NC State Climate Office, NOAA, NCDEQ, and the National Weather Service. The skills I cultivated in Dr. Nelson’s lab have been instrumental in opening doors for me in these next steps of my academic journey. Beyond academia, BAE was such a tight knit community with so many opportunities for engagement. From Diwali potlucks and NC State farm tours to career fairs, there was always something going on to bring us together. BAE not only equipped me with the necessary professional skills but also nurtured a sense of belonging and support that has been so important in shaping my academic and personal growth.”



“Your journey at NCSU is not just about earning a degree, it’s about cultivating a mindset of continuous learning and growth that will enrich your experience in the present and serve you well in the future.”

Chazal

Career Path

“My journey began with undergraduate majors in Animal Science and Zoology at NCSU, where I developed a keen interest in utilizing geospatial analytics to delve into the realms of ecology and marine sciences, particularly in the context of resource management and conservation. Working with Dr. Natalie Nelson during my Master’s journey proved to be invaluable. Beyond honing technical coding and modeling skills, I had the opportunity to translate my research into tangible outcomes for water quality management in North Carolina. Moreover, I grew confident in my abilities as a public speaker through numerous conference presentations, cultivated a robust support network, and gained experience in the full process of taking a project from analysis to publication in a supportive environment. As I had worked through my Master’s degree, I knew I wanted to continue along this trajectory and pursue a PhD. Despite the wealth of experiences I gained in BAE, my passions led me to pivot towards a focus on animal ecology, which led me to pursue a PhD program in Wildlife Science at Oregon State University. Here, I am fortunate to be part of the Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Lab within the Marine Mammal Institute. Currently, my research revolves around characterizing zooplankton prey availability through recreational echosounder data and investigating skin disease and scarring of Pacific Coast Feeding Group gray whales through photographic analysis. My time at NCSU has undeniably prepared me exceptionally well for this next chapter of my academic journey.”

To Current BAE Students

“Embrace the abundance of resources and opportunities available to you at NCSU! Attend seminars, workshops, talks, and actively engage in fieldwork and extracurriculars alongside your peers. The connections you forge and the knowledge you gain from these experiences can be invaluable for your future career. Personal and professional growth often stems from unexpected encounters and diverse perspectives! Moreover, don’t underestimate the power of fostering your own curiosity and exploration during your time at NCSU. Take the initiative to delve into subjects that pique your interest, whether they align directly with your research or not. These moments of exploration can lead to new passions, insights, and ultimately, shape your career trajectory in ways you may not anticipate. Your journey at NCSU is not just about earning a degree, it’s about cultivating a mindset of continuous learning and growth that will enrich your experience in the present and serve you well in the future.”

Victoria Augoustides

“A BAE degree is one of the most valuable degrees there is.”

Augoustides

In 2022, Augoustides completed a B.S. in biological engineering with a concentration in bioprocessing. She was advised by faculty members Praveen Kolar, Sanjay Shah and Ryan Sartor. She worked within the Waste Applied in Science Technology & Engineering (W.A.S.T.E) Lab in the BAE department. During her time here she focused on sustainable technologies, spanning from valorizing natural materials for environmental remediation to enhancing bioenergy crop production. This work involved creating biochar from pine bark for waste treatment and saccharide extraction for biofuel. This led to a TEDx talk, multiple conference presentations and a publication.  

 

 

Life in BAE

“At NC State’s BAE department, I was deeply engaged in extracurricular activities, serving in leadership roles within the Alpha Epsilon Honor Society and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). As Vice President and then President of Alpha Epsilon, I organized volunteer events and social gatherings to foster community among our members during the pandemic. In ASABE, my roles progressed from Social Director to Vice President. This allowed me to spearhead events that integrated professional development with scholarship and service. Additionally, as a BAE Ambassador, I showcased the department’s diverse opportunities to prospective students, highlighting the close-knit community BAE offers. My involvement culminated in receiving the Roger and Laura Yoerger Preprofessional Engineer of the Year Award and the BAE Senior Award for Scholarly Achievement.”

Career path

“The decision to go to graduate school came about after an industrial internship at Merck where I worked with the BCG team improving vaccine manufacturing processes and outcomes. While I appreciated the scope and meaning of my work, I felt like I was doing the same thing every day already in the early stages of my career. I realized I wanted to have more creative authority in my work and pursue things that had never been done before like I did when I was a researching as a BAE undergrad. While working with Dr. Sartor who has appointments in Biochemistry and BAE, I realized I couldn’t choose between doing basic sciences or engineering; I wanted to do both.

Immediately after graduating BAE and working with Ryan Sartor over the summer, I joined the biophysics and biochemistry program at UNC, and am working in Dr. Wesley Legant’s lab. We build and design new super resolution microscopes and apply them to visualize biological systems in ways previously inaccessible. My thesis work uses AI, advanced optics and data science to push the limits of optical systems. I get to work with microscopes that can navigate biology like a self-driving car does, and the images we produce take my breath away.”

To Current BAE students 

“A BAE degree is one of the most valuable degrees there is. You get access to real world experience, a breadth of different fields, and world-class faculty that care about you and your growth as an engineer. It’s hard to find that level of support and development elsewhere, and I wouldn’t be where I am without it.”