Stanford researchers showcased analysis advancing meals techniques change on Thursday on the inaugural Stanford Meals Institute Analysis Symposium hosted by Residential and Eating Enterprises (R&DE). The mission of the occasion was a collaboration between researchers, a few of whom offered their work in areas equivalent to extracting fertilizer from wastewater and enhancing soil high quality with compost.
The symposium was the brainchild of Anna Gomes, a third-year Ph.D. pupil in Earth techniques science. Gomes first reached out to Director of the Stanford Meals Institute Sophie Egan a yr in the past to create an occasion that may foster a neighborhood of food-related researchers.
“After this symposium, the presenters could have met one another and discovered about one another’s work and impacts,” Gomes mentioned. “We will construct this neighborhood and have future occasions the place we will come again collectively and assist one another.”
Following a networking occasion for researchers, Assistant Vice Provost of Stanford Eating, Housing & Auxiliaries Eric Montell opened the occasion, expressing gratitude for the planning committee. Referring to Dr. Shirley Everett, the Senior Affiliate Vice Provost for R&DE who didn’t attend the occasion, Montell expressed R&DE’s “mission to advance analysis, schooling, coverage, enterprise, and follow to advertise a holistic method to enhancing what folks eat, how they entry meals and the function that meals performs in our lives.”
“My honest because of Dr. Everett for her compelling imaginative and prescient and continued strategic management for this expansive analysis program,” Montell mentioned. “Our objective is all the time to create a brighter meals future that features college, employees and most significantly college students within the course of, and one which helps a various and inclusive neighborhood.”
Egan took the stage subsequent expressing her pleasure in regards to the occasion. “It’s the primary time that employees, college, college students and alumni are coming collectively from all disciplines throughout campus to share their analysis, alternate concepts and foster collaborations to advance meals techniques change at Stanford and past,” Egan mentioned.
Gomes, who led the creation of the Symposium, offered her analysis on the occasion, which examines how sorts of built-in nutrient administration, equivalent to combining compost with urine-recovered ammonium fertilizer, have an effect on soil and plant well being.
Her venture demonstrated the significance of wealthy natural matter in soil by submerging a soil pattern in a jar of water. This pattern was wealthy in natural matter which secretes glues, maintaining the soil collectively even on this rain-like situation. In distinction, Gomes defined how soil with out a lot natural matter would come aside in torrential rains. She used this demonstration to emphasise the significance of soil well being, mentioning how nitrogen and carbon content material is important not just for vegetation, but additionally for the soil.
As well as, Gomes’s analysis compares the nitrogen and carbon content material of compost samples from rural and concrete areas to enhance soil well being. Whereas displaying attendees the units she makes use of to measure completely different soil gases, Gomes pointed to the sales space subsequent to her, which highlighted the work of second-year earth techniques science Ph.D. pupil Jack Lamb, whose analysis issues rice irrigation methods in California, to point out how collaborations between completely different meals and agriculture researchers helps progress analysis within the discipline.
“We have now a chamber that measures carbon dioxide, however we’re additionally desirous about nitrous oxide, the opposite large greenhouse fuel. [Lamb is] constructing low-cost chambers that measure completely different soil gases,” Gomes mentioned.
Gomes additionally launched one other likelihood analysis collaboration with Dean Miller, a third-year Ph.D. pupil in chemical engineering. Miller’s analysis, which he offered on the symposium, is targeted on methods to extract fertilizer from wastewater.
“Successfully what we’re making an attempt to do is take agricultural wastewaters and municipal wastewaters, and switch these two sources into handled water and purified nitrogen fertilizer,” Miller mentioned.
Miller defined that agricultural and municipal wastewaters have two completely different types of nitrogen as nitrate and urine. Their analysis group designed a reactor that may individually extract each sorts of nitrogen to type one ultimate pure product.
“We’re discovering that it’s truly actually power environment friendly to supply our fertilizers this manner,” Miller mentioned. “Each time you urinate, you’re producing between 4 and 5 grams of nitrogen. You’ll be able to put that in your hand and that’s loads of nitrogen that we’re getting.”
Gomes highlighted that the Symposium was meant to foster collaborations and conversations equivalent to these between Miller and her.
“We have been pondering ‘how can we [initiate conversations] extra and on a much bigger scale?’” Gomes mentioned. “He’s in a totally completely different constructing. If I’m in a basement sieving soil, I’m not interacting with all [the other researchers in similar fields]. Nevertheless it’s actually cool to be taught [about their projects].”