Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bonjour, Montreal! One (easily excitable) graduate student's take on the 2014 ASABE Annual International Meeting

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) held its Annual International Meeting (AIM) from July 13-16 in Montreal, Canada. Several UF faculty members and students voyaged to the Great White North to attend – myself included! AIM attracts hundreds of Agricultural and Biological Engineers from across the world, and includes over 1,000 presentations and panel discussions.

Daeun Choi, PhD Student at the University of Florida, presenting her research
at the ASABE Annual International Meeting

The field of Agricultural and Biological Engineering consists of a large community of professionals that use the “engineering approach” to confront issues that occur as a result of human interaction with natural systems. Some of these interactions include water use, agriculture, and energy production. The vastness of these issues and interactions results in Agricultural and Biological Engineers working on a wide range of problems.

A profession that encompasses the whole planet!

This broad scope can admittedly make the wealth of presentations and topics at AIM a little overwhelming. But, the tremendous diversity of sessions at AIM ultimately makes the conference all the more enriching! I spent practically an hour every night putting my highlighter to the conference program to plan out my agenda for the next day.

UF researchers presenting bright and early at the Ecohydrology session

Although my graduate work focuses on water management, I’m also interested in agroecology and environmental health. Attending AIM, or other similar events that include a large breadth of topics such as those included at ASABE AIM, enables me to explore these additional interests and linkages to my own profession. I don’t want to sound like a salesperson here, but I highly recommend attending these sorts of “broad” conferences to provide perspective to your work, and spawn ideas for new projects and collaborations. It’s a fun time!

ASABE Student Video Competition
ASABE has initiated a Student Video Competition to invite Agricultural and Biological Engineering students to create a 3-minute video showcasing the “story of our work.” I worked alongside of Cininta Pertiwi and Stefani Leavitt – my friends and fellow graduate students at UF – to create a video for the competition. We wanted to give a glimpse of how the field transitioned from historically being Agricultural Engineering** to the modern profession of Agricultural AND Biological Engineering. The video places emphasis on the evolution of machinery, but the field has evolved in so many additional ways (as you can see from the posts on this blog!).
** Since its inception in 1907, the society was named ASAE – the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. The society added “Biological” to its name in 2005.


Well, we ended up winning! Our video was screened at the ASABE AIM Awards Luncheon for all of the attendees to see. We were so honored to have been chosen! You can check out our winning video above, or on YouTube

About the author:
Natalie Nelson is a PhD Student and NSF Graduate 
Research Fellow in the Ag and Bio Engineering Dept 
at UF. She is presently developing and analyzing 
algal bloom models for use in Florida.


  1. Thanks for this first-person account Natalie! I look forward to your future entries.
    UF ABE did very well in Montreal. Dept. Chair Dr. Haman was named a Fellow of ASABE, Dr. Migliaccio et al. earned a Blue Ribbon Award for her ongoing smart irrigation app projects, and Natalie was also honored with the Robert E. Stewart Engineering-Humanities Award.

  2. Thanks Natalie! Always nice to hear another perspective. The video was totally awesome!! I know it will spark some ideas in others - can't wait to see what the young minds will come up with next!