Heinemann named head of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

University Park, Pa. -- Paul Heinemann, professor in Penn State's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has been named head of the department, effective July 1. He succeeds Roy Young, who is retiring after 12 years as department head.

"Paul Heinemann's background, from the classroom and the latest theories to placing research results in the hands of agricultural producers, will serve him well in guiding the department," said Bruce McPheron, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "We're delighted to have someone of his experience and caliber to lead the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering."

Heinemann received his bachelor's degree in meteorology and his master's degree in agricultural engineering from Penn State and his doctorate in agricultural meteorology, with a focus in agricultural engineering, from the University of Florida.

He joined the Penn State faculty as an assistant professor of agricultural engineering in 1988, became an associate professor in 1994 and achieved the rank of full professor in 1999.

An accomplished researcher, Heinemann's studies have focused on food-production mechanization, produce characterization, food processing and odors from mushroom substrate and other food products and byproducts. Over the last 10 years, his projects have brought nearly $3 million in grant funding to the University.

Heinemann teaches several undergraduate and graduate courses, including Mathematical Modeling of Biological and Physical Systems, Optimization of Biological Production and Processing Systems, Agricultural Systems Analysis and Management, and Biological and Agricultural Systems Simulation. He has earned five awards for teaching excellence in recent years.

Coordinator for the Biological Engineering program since 2001 and coordinator for the Agricultural Systems Management program since 2006, Heinemann was honored with the Undergraduate Program Leadership Award for those efforts in 2008. He is known for investing much time and energy on student recruiting and improving the image of his department and discipline.

Heinemann is seeing the fruits of that labor, but higher enrollments present some challenges.

"They are good problems to have," he said. "The enrollments in both our Biological Engineering and Agricultural Systems Management majors have grown steadily for eight years, with particularly rapid jumps in BE over the past two years. We are facing an incoming junior class of BE students that is unprecedented in size in our department's history. Our research efforts also have expanded, with more dollars coming in, more graduate students, more post-doctoral scholars and more lab needs. At the same time, we are facing permanent budget cuts this year and will probably face several retirements in the next three years."

Heinemann advises about 30 students each year. He was recognized for his advising efforts this year when he received the College of Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award. He also accepted the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society Excellence in Advising award in 2008.

A member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and a member of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, Heinemann has authored more than 65 refereed articles in scientific journals and books, and more than 100 conference papers, trade journal articles, research reports and extension publications.

He will oversee a department with more than 45 faculty and staff, more than 40 graduate students and post-doctoral associates, and more than 180 undergraduate students.

The mission of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is to enhance the engineering and technical management of biological and agricultural systems. In addition to the Agricultural Systems Management and Biological Engineering undergraduate degrees, the department offers graduate degrees in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and is home to minors in Agricultural Systems Management, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Off-Road Equipment.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010