Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in Higher Education

Hello! My name is Nathalie Austin, and I am MARSfarm’s resident Educational Specialist Intern turned full-time Chief of Staff. I’ve spent much time mentoring General Science and Agriculture students at the middle and high school levels that are interested in pursuing Plant Science/Controlled Environmental Agriculture after high school. Because of this, I will consolidate my learnings and provide our MARSfarm students, and their trusted educators, with this resource that includes key schools and researchers pursuing CEA. I hope students will use this resource to know where to look for future learning experiences as the CEA industry grows and needs their expertise!

What is Controlled Environment Agriculture?

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) uses technology to enable growers to manipulate a crop’s environment to desired conditions. Greenhouses, aquaculture, hydroponics, and aquaculture are all examples of controlled environment agriculture. (SOURCE)

University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ

The People: Dr. Gene Giacomelli, Dr. Joel Cuello, & Dr. Murat Kacira < OPEN for research articles!
The Research & Projects:

  2. Advanced Sensing & Climate Control [see here]
  3. Student Union Rooftop Greenhouse [see here]
  4. UAg Vertical Farm [see here]
  5. Vertical Green Box [see here]

The Paths:

  • B.S. Agribusiness Economics and Management
  • B.S. Agricultural Technology Management and Education
  • B.S. Applied Biotechnology
  • B.S. Biosystems Analytics & Technology
  • B.S.E.S. Environmental Science
  • B.S. Environmental and Water Resource Economics
  • B.S. Natural Resources
  • B.S. Plant Sciences
  • B.S. Sustainable Plant Systems

The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH

The People: Dr. Chieri Kubota, Dr. Peter Ling, Dr. Garrett Owen < OPEN for research articles!
The Research & Projects:

  1. Biostimulants & Microbiomes
  2. Engineering Design & Sensing
  3. Food Safety
  4. Plant Health Management
  5. Production/Post-Production Systems
  6. Socioeconomics
  7. Workforce Education & Extension

The Paths:

  • B.S. Agribusiness and Applied Economics
  • B.S. Agricultural Communication
  • B.S. Agricultural Systems Management
  • B.S. Agriscience Education
  • B.S. Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
  • B.S. Sustainable Agriculture
  • … plus many A.A. & A.S Programs!

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

The People: Dr. Neil Mattson, Dr. Anusuya Rangarajan < OPEN for research articles!
The Research & Projects:

  1. CEA Strawberry Runner Propagation for Deep Water Culture [see here]
  2. Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) [see here]
  3. A Guide to Home Hydroponics for Leafy Greens [see here]
  4. CEA Viability in Metro Areas [see here]

The Paths:

  • B.S. Agricultural Sciences
  • B.S. Applied Economics & Management
  • B.S. Biological Engineering
  • B.S. Environmental Engineering
  • B.S. Plant Sciences

University of Florida in Gainesville, FL

*The People: * Dr. Ying Zhang, Dr. Melanie Correll & others < OPEN for research articles!

The Research & Projects:

  1. Growing Vegetables in Controlled Environments [see here]
  2. Disentangling the Influence of Water Limitation and Simultaneous Above and Belowground Herbivory on Plant Tolerance and Resistance to Stress.” [see here]
  3. Genetically Modified Organisms [see here]

The Paths:

  • Biological Engineering
    • Biosystems Engineering
    • Land and Water Resources Engineering
    • Packaging Engineering
    • Agricultural Production Engineering
  • Agricultural Operations Management
    • Sustainable Energy and Facilities
    • Agribusiness Management
    • Fishery and Aquatic Production
    • Animal Production Management
    • Horticulture and Crop Management
    • Soil and Water Science

Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN

The People: Dr. Krishna Nemali < OPEN for research articles!

The Research & Projects:

  1. Increase Nutritive Value of Leafy Greens by Optimizing Spectral Composition:
  2. Develop Best Practices for Producing E.coli-free Lettuce in Indoor and Greenhouse Hydroponic Production:
  3. Develop Affordable and Efficient Hydroponic/Aeroponic Production Systems
  4. Smart Sensors for Monitoring Plants
  5. [PAST] Develop region-specific best production technology for greenhouse hydroponic lettuce production
  6. [PAST] Training Beginner Farmers in Indoor Production

The Paths:

Honorable Mentions:

Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI

MSU AgBioResearch Home Page

University of California Berkeley in Berkeley, CA

The UC Berkeley Center for Next Generation Food Systems Team & their research + Vertical farming at Berkeley

Happy Perusing!


@Jamira have you seen this yet? Might be worth taking a look at what programs are out there! this should provide an overview of each program and some research project ideas related to academic papers they’ve published. These are probably people that a student could email or try to set up a Zoom with!