Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Indoor Urban Farming: Project

Interested in learning about cutting edge environmental technologies and how to work with stakeholders from venture capitalists, environmentalists, scientists, and educators in improving everyone’s access to healthy food?  If so please read on.

In collaboration with local industries, schools, and nonprofits the Lynch School of Education Professor Dr. Barnett is starting up an indoor urban farming program with the generous support of I. A. Backmann and Associates.  The indoor urban farming project has three interrelated goals, (1) Scientific Research and Development, (2) Educational, and (3) Community Engagement. 

We have set up hydroponic and aeroponic systems in Higgins 270 and are currently starting to research the effectiveness of the different systems on growing crops and how different lighting systems effect growth.  There are nearly an infinite set of research questions that can be asked regarding the effectiveness of indoor crop growth. For example, one potential research study we envision will be determining what frequencies of light are best for growing food crops and whether the frequencies need to be shifted as the plants mature. What makes this an exciting opportunity is the current research literature in indoor food production is quite limited (i.e. lighting, type of system, natural vs. artificial light levels) regarding the conditions that impact crop yields. Therefore, the scientific research that one can conduct is not only cutting edge but also offers ample opportunity for independent research studies that will likely lead to publications. 

In terms of the educational aspect of this project we engaging high school students and their teachers in the same scientific research investigations that hydroponics researchers are currently exploring.  In addition to science education aspect of the project we also need to determine the economic feasibility of such systems and as such will also be developing studies that evaluate the cost of producing food using indoor hydroponics compared to more traditional urban gardening spaces (we will be working with a venture capitalist on the aspect of the project).  In this way, the scientific and educational aspects of the project are quite integrated and offer ample opportunities for additional research.

In terms of community outreach the food that is produced through our investigations will be either giving away to Boston College Dining Services or given away to local school children who are at or below the poverty level.  We are also exploring the possibilities of working with the Food Project in Boston and other farmer markets regarding the creation of local area farmer market where the produce will be sold and revenue generated will be used to grow and expand the program on campus.

We are looking excited individuals who are looking to work on a project that is truly interdisciplinary and with a team of scientists, educators, engineers, businesses, and nonprofits to conduct scientific research while developing a mechanism to provide healthy food to those who have difficulty to afford fresh food or do not have easy access to fresh food.  The expectation is that you will be able to work with our team and either support an existing research project or develop and implement your own research project (under the guidance of our team) with the goal of moving the project forward and to expand our understanding of how to maximize crop growth in environmental friendly ways.

We are envisioning several ways in which someone can get involved with our indoor urban farming project.  First, work on this project can take the form of course credit through independent studies. Second, we could work with you to develop an appropriate internship opportunity during the summer or during academic year or as part of independent research project that could be used to complete a thesis or other course requirement.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Michael Barnett 
Associate Professor of Science Education and Technology 
Lynch School of Education 
Campion Hall, Room 123 
cel: 781-367-2337 

No comments:

Post a Comment