Skip to main content


100-Year Celebration

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

100-Year Celebration

Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Alumni Stories


Marcelo Calle - 2019, Ph.D.

What did you do after graduating?

I returned to my home university in Cuenca - Ecuador and work as an Associate Professor.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

ABE changed my perspectives about research opportunities and how to help students with problems.

What are you doing now?

I am the Director of the International Relations Department and Associate Professor at Universidad del Azuay in Cuenca - Ecuador.

B. Shawn Crocker - 1998

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Dr. French, he was truly interested and loved us students. His gun class after school has a part to do with why I am a police officer today.

What was your hardest class? Why?

Structures, Dr. Cromwell. We did some pretty hard load calculations. Knowledge I still use today.

What was your favorite class? Why?

Structures, Dr. Cromwell, and Irrigation taught by Dr. Harman. These classes had real-world applications. I used the knowledge not only working but around my house too.

What did you do after graduating?

I interned with BASF selling ag chemicals. Got hired by Cargill and worked for the Orange Juice division for 7 years. Transitioned to the Executive Director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association for a year, then 3 years as the Chief Operating Officer of Quality Plus Communications. Now a police officer.

Gaby Cruz - 2012

What was your hardest class? Why?

Heat & Mass Transfer with Dr.Pelletier. This class was difficult because we really had to consider something that wasn't always visible to the eye, but it affects so much of what we do in the world. I always think back to this class because it was difficult but it had so many real life applications. The group reports were also difficult to get everyone on the same page. But again taught me so much about my leading and managing style, how to be a team player, and when to call out those who are not.

What did you do after graduating?

I went on to become a Packaging Engineer at Pinnacle Foods - which is now part of Conagra Brands.  I moved to New Jersey where I stayed for 7 more years working in Packaging for brands like Birds Eye frozen veggies, Duncan Hines cake mixes, Victoria's Secret, and Bath & Body Works signature collections.

What are you doing now?

I am a Principal Packaging Engineer for Lamb Weston working on the different strategic ways to expand innovation across the french fry and frozen vegetable world.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

Everyone in ABE just wanted every student to succeed. I always felt like I was part of a family here and of course it helped that I had a lot of great friends surrounding me here. I was always treated as one-of-a-kind student and I was allowed to work for some great companies on co-ops that taught me so much about my line of work but also gave me great life experiences.

Alex DiCairano - 2020, B.S.

Agricultural Operations Management (AOM)
Sustainable Energy and Facilities

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

I can say that I was fortunate to have numerous amazing faculty members during my time at UF; Dr. Porter, Dr. Lee, Dr. Knowles, and Robin Snyder to name a few. However, I would say that Dr. Watson would have to be my favorite (although it’s incredibly difficult to chose amongst such an outstanding faculty at ABE). Dr. Watson has played a critical role in the inspiration and development of my career. During my time at UF, I have been lucky to call Dr. Watson as my teacher and mentor. During my senior year, I had the privilege to work on a research project with him as we researched consumer perceptions and sustainability as it pertains to single-use and reusable plastic containers. Dr. Watson was invaluable as a mentor throughout my academic and professional development, preparing me for the ASABE AIM conference and resulting in the achievement of 3rd place in the K. K. Barnes Competition.

What are you doing now?

I am currently a Project Engineer at Sparton Corporation, a maritime defense contractor. There, I focuson project management for internal research and development projects. This past year, I have earnedmy PMP and LEED Green Associate certifications leveraging my education from ABE and myconcentration. In my free time, I volunteer as a committee member for FIRST Robotics OrlandoRegional supporting and empowering youths in the fields of STEM.

Heather Earl - 1992, B.S.; 1995, M.S.

Agricultural Operations Management (AOM) and Agricultural Engineering

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

Taking the Safety in Agriculture course. It changed the trajectory of my life. I would not be a Safety Professional today if it weren’t for that course.

What was your hardest class? Why?

I can’t remember what it was called, Ag Mechanics maybe? Dr Byron French was the professor and we had to tear down and re build a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine.

What did you do after graduating?

I went to work for Tyson Foods as a Plant Safety Supervisor at the Jacksonville plant. I hadresponsibility for the plant, hatchery, feedmill, truck shop and live haul operations. I stayed with Tyson for 11 years taking progressive promotions until I was leading safety, health and fleet safety for half ofthe company.

What are you doing now?

After I left Tyson, I went to work for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. I have been with Disney 16 years (in January) and now lead the safety and wellness teams for the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

J David Eller - 1964, B.S.

Agricultural Engineering

Submission by Dana Eller

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

My father, David Eller's, fondest memory was how he got into the ABE department (AGE back then). He was in Mechanical Engineering, and they would not provide enough space for his Engineering Fair project, which was models of different axial flow propeller pumps. The professors for ABE approached him and suggested he put it in their area and consider changing to become an Agricultural Engineer. He did, and as an aside, his Engineering Fair project won that year.

What did you do after graduating?

All of us went to work for MWI Pumps.

What are you doing now?

My father passed away November 17, 2017, but all three of his children have graduated from the University of Florida. Dana Eller graduated May 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in ABE. His brother Daren Eller graduated in 1997 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, and went on to also get a degree in Industrial Engineering from UF, and our sister, Danielle Eller, graduated a few years after that with a Masters in Environmental Engineering. We all work for MWI Pumps.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

Through the course on power and machinery, my father learned about Hydraulic power, which he was able to apply to our products, and eventually earn numerous patents on pumping technology. In addition, our entire family and business continues to benefit from numerous relationships with students and faculty we have come to know from UF.

How do you think ABE will impact the next 100 years?

I think that it will continue to be one of the best engineering education someone should consider. It helps to develop well rounded thinkers, that can solve problems, from a local level, to world scale, because of the broad foundation an ABE receives across multiple engineering disciplines.

Tina Farmer - 1999, B.S.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

Going on a class field trip to various food manufacturing facilities in Florida. I had a great time bonding with classmates and seeing various career opportunities.

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Dr Teixeira
He helped me understand how food science and engineering works together. He inspired my love for Food process engineering which affected my career choices that have all led me to where I am today.

What did you do after graduating?

I worked for Kraft Foods then Good Humor Breyers for a few years. For the past 17 years I have worked in School Nutrition in local school districts and at the state level, during that time I received my Masters of Business Administration.

What are you doing now?

I am currently the Executive Director of School Nutrition and Procurement Services for Cherokee County Schools in Canton, GA.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

The ABE Department impacted my life by showing me food science and engineering possibilities that I never knew existed. I always loved food science and engineering and the ABE department showed me that both was possible.

Anything else you would like to add?

My advice for students would be to never put yourself in a box. There are so many career possibilities with a degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. ABE led me to find my life's passion which is feeding children.

Sam Flood - 2002, B.S.; 2006, Ph.D.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering (B.S.)
Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

It is hard to name just one. As my major professor during pursuit of my PhD, Dr. Burks was a key contributor to my development as a student and poured into all of his grad students not only professionally but personally as well. Although an affiliate faculty of ABE, Dr. Schueller was a great resource for Ag equipment manufacturer career guidance and support. Dr. Bucklin was always incredibly kind, Dr. Leary was always welcoming and Dr. Lehtola always had a way of making me laugh.

What are you doing now?

Currently I am the John Deere compact utility tractor systems engineer.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

ABE has impacted my family through multiple generations. My father received his bachelors of agricultural engineering from UF ABE in 1962. He went on to obtain his masters and PhD from other institutions and eventually became the head of the biosystems engineering department at Auburn University and a fellow of ASABE. During his time at UF ABE he developed friendships in the department that would last throughout his professional career and beyond. While much of my professional career has been separate from the relationships I developed at UF ABE, it provided me a foundation of knowledge and skill sets that have been fundamental to my career.

Why do you think it’s important that ABE is reaching this 100-Year milestone?

The milestone is symbolic of the impact ABE has and continues to have. Over the years ABE has seen a lot of changes: changes to student backgrounds, interests and needs; changes in technologies; changes in the type and scale of problems that the community is looking for ABE to help solve. ABE has managed to successfully adapt to those changes and do so in a way that has allowed it to continue to be a positive impact to the community.

Ian Hahus - 2018, Ph.D.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

I enjoyed the Graduate Student Organization's Saturday mornings volunteering at the Ashton Biological Preserve. It was fun to get outside, hang out with tortoises, and help out a small local conservation group.

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Kati was my favorite faculty member, even though I never took any of her classes! She was my PhD advisor, and I appreciate all the help and guidance she gave me along the way. She was also supportive and encouraging of me having a life outside of my dissertation work, which I discovered was not exactly a universal trait among advisors :)

What are you doing now?

Since graduating (4+ years), I have worked as a water resources engineer for a firm in Indianapolis. I am also currently taking evening classes to get my law degree from I.U. McKinney School of Law.

Johnathan Holland - 2011, B.S.

Agricultural Operations Management

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

It has been many years, but I have many fond memories of all the hands-on learning we did. I also really enjoyed the sense of community the college had.

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Dr. Wendell Porter was great in and out of the classroom. I took many of his course. I have since reached out to him for advice and direction on my career. It has always been evident that he took his position to heart and was very impactful.

What are you doing now?

For the past three years I have been the Estimating & Cost Control Specialist for the Projects Engineering Department at Ascend Performance Material's Pensacola Plant. The Pensacola Plant is primarily a Nylon producer. I am involved with determining the cost impacts of different expansion, reliability and maintenance projects. I have also become more involved in the safety teams at the site.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

My degree and experiences in the ABE Department have set me up for a successful career. This diversity I gained has allowed me to transition through different career paths and use my natural skills more efficiently.

Why do you think it’s important that ABE is reaching this 100-Year milestone?

ABE covers an important cornerstone in maintaining and advancing our quality of life and the fact that it has been around at UF for 100 years is a testimony to that. I personally feel really proud that my program stems from a 100-year heritage, and I am also proud when I think of the achievements and great work that has happened over those 100 years.

Jessica Holmes - 2018, B.S.

Biological Engineering
Biosystems

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Dr. Leary: He really cared about my education, career, and dreams and did everything possible to help this student athlete engineering major finish on-time and well prepared to take on my next journey. His intro class is what inspired me and eventually led to my concentration in water resources.
Dr. P: From talking soccer, family, Canada, heat capacity of potatoes, to my career goals—I enjoyed every interaction I had with Dr. P and left better because of it. Dr. P wrote my letter of recommendation to both my graduate program and my law school, and I am so thankful for his investment in me and my dreams - I wouldn’t be where I am today without him!
Dr. Correll: One of the most challenging courses I took in my engineering education was Dr. Correll’s application course in which I had to truly work on organization, diligence, and thoroughness in my laboratory work and research processes. This was very difficult for me to do, but the work put in and lessons learned made me a better engineer, student, critical-thinker, and attorney. Without her class and her dedication to my growth, I would not be where I am today. I remember sharing my dreams with Dr. Correll in the halls like it was yesterday, and I am so thankful for her continued involvement and support of me as my career develops.
Dr. McLamore: The first Professor who gave me a chance to work on their research. As a young sophomore, I was able to work on biosensor projects that introduces me to environmental justice, protecting vulnerable communities, and providing access to clean resources in a viable and practical way. These are all guiding principles in my career today and I am so thankful for his belief and investment in me as a young eager engineering student, as I am here today because of him. He is truly the greatest advocate I know in the area of environmental justice and I am so thankful that I was able to work with and learn from him.

What are you doing now?

I am in my last year of law school at Lewis & Clark, and am graduating in May from one of the top environmental law programs with my JD and certification in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Upon graduation, I will move to Chicago to work for a Plaintiffs’ firm on their environmental litigation team.

Sarah Luther - 2013, B.S.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Dr. Porter was so incredibly helpful and supportive when we decided to relaunch the Quarter Scale Team. Our rag tag team could not have made it without all of his help.

What did you do after graduating?

I was an engineer for the Suwannee River Water Management District working on the Ag Team and leading the cost share program. I worked with growers to renew and refine their water use permits. I developed water quantity and quality improvement projects and coordinated the CARES recognition event on behalf of the District.

What are you doing now?

I am an in-house attorney for Farmer's Business Network. FBN is an online ag-inputs retailer and offers a number of other services, including financing and insurance. I support the sales organization reviewing contracts and marketing materials, developing policies, and negotiating a variety of deals.

Hunter Merrill - 2018, Ph.D.

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

Cookout at Rafa's house one time.

What was your favorite class? Why?

Spatial statistics. Difficult subject matter but incredibly intuitive and rewarding. Also most useful; I use the subject matter from this class basically daily at my job.

What did you do after graduating?

Industry job (data scientist).

What are you doing now?

Same job (lead data scientist). I love it.

Why do you think it’s important that ABE is reaching this 100-Year milestone?

ABE has spent a century building and improving agricultural technology and training future researchers and leaders to continue making positive impact on the world.

How do you think ABE will impact the next 100 years?

Researching and developing cutting edge technology to sustainably improve agronomic outcomes and restore ecosystems to pre-industrial states.

Tori Morgan - 2020

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

Probably the thanksgiving socials or any GSO event where professors and students got to hang out (I.e. tailgating events or events at Kiker’s house)! I also loved spending time with my mentees and doing things like painting pottery or dressing up for Halloween with Raminder.

What did you do after graduating?

I went to do a postdoc at the university of Illinois to pursue academia but wanted a changed of pace my last year and found a sustainability analyst engineering job in consulting at Hazen and Sawyer when I get to help Orlando, St. Pete, and Gainesville clients achieve their sustainability goals.

What are you doing now?

I am an assistant engineer at Hazen and Sawyer where I get to do pilot studies of water treatment technologies, economic and environmental sustainability analyses to help clients receive Envision certifications (like LEED for buildings), and do water and wastewater treatment design.

Floyid Nicolas - 2019, M.S.

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

I have so many good memories of ABE. My fondest ones are among being the presenter of the three-mnt thesis & dissertation competition, and the UF ABE Grad Students Organization gathering either for regular monthly events or thanksgiving.

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

I've had a great experience with all the ABE faculty members. However, my favorite is Dr. Kati Migliaccio. Dr. Kati's kindness, skills, and support to students are beyond any limits. It's unique!

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

The UF ABE Department has impacted my life significantly. As an international student who was new in the US school system and also in a different language, things were quite difficult for me. The Department (through Dr. Dorota as chair in 2017) welcomed me even before I submitted my TOEFL and GRE test results. My adviser ( Dr. Migliaccio) provided me with skills and valuable lessons that will be useful to during my career. I felt welcome and comfortable during all my time in the Department. All faculty members and Admin staff are nice, approachable, and ready to help in any situation. Fun fact: I was given a place and a computer to study for my GRE test, and a Ph.D. student (Ian) took me to the printing room and borrowed several books that helped me pass the test.

Jack Prevatt - 2019, B.S.

Agricultural Operations Management

What was your hardest class? Why?

Electrical Instrumentation- it was the first time I had ever been exposed to anything regarding electricity.

What was your favorite class? Why?

Building construction management- it allowed us to learn with a very hands on approach.

What did you do after graduating?

Moved to Atlanta to work with Hormel Foods as an assistant production supervisor in the precooked meats department.

What are you doing now?

Recently accepted a promotion with Anheuser-Busch at the Jacksonville Brewery. I am currently the Business Process Manager of maintenance for the packaging department.

How did the ABE Department impact your life?

ABE gave me the tools I needed for my personal and professional development. I learned how to embrace new challenges, ask better questions while problem solving and find comfort in uncomfortable situations.

Yue Rong - 2017, Ph.D.

Who was your favorite faculty member?

Dr. Eric McLamore.

What did you do after graduating?

Started working as a Data Scientist.

What are you doing now?

Working as a Data Scientist.

Drew Scatizzi - 2016, B.S.; 2017, M.S.; 2022, M.B.A.

Agricultural Operations Management (B.S. 2016)
Agricultural and Biological Engineering (M.S. 2017)

What is your fondest memory of ABE?

The connections I made! I met lifelong friends and mentors who have all had an immeasurable positive impact on my life and career. My time at Frazier-Rogers was some of the best in my life.

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

Dr. Wendell Porter! His infectious passion for the topics he taught spread to me like wildfire! I mean, seriously - my first AOM course, Global Sustainable Energy, changed my entire career path! I can confidently say without Dr. Porter that I would not be where I am today. I am forever indebted to him for all that I learned under his tutelage.
There's a long list of other folks I really learned a lot from and enjoyed being around - Dr. Migliaccio, Dr. Bucklin, Mr. Rummel, and Mrs. Snyder to name a few.

What are you doing now?

I'm at Duke as a lead analyst - looking at how customer side distributed resources such as solar and batteries impact grid-level reliability. I like to seek out projects that benefit our rural and agricultural customers. I also own a residential inspection business called HomeCheck Sarasota, and am very active with the UF Alumni Assn. Gator Clubs.

How do you think ABE will impact the next 100 years?

It's impossible to predict the future, but with the rapid advent of technological advances in the agricultural industry, it's hard to image another 100 years not shaped directly by the students, faculty, and the research conducted at ABE.

Josue St. Fort - 2019, M.S.

Who was your favorite faculty member? Why?

My favorite faculty member was Dr. Greg Kiker. His class was the first one I took. Dr. Kiker is a great lecturer and he always makes it his priority that students understand the materials.

What was your hardest class? Why?

My hardest class was Biological and Agricultural Systems simulation. This class had an oral final exam in which you have to make calculations on a board. At that time I was not used to taking oral exams, therefore it was hard for me.

What did you do after graduating?

I went back to my home country and started working on a USAID project. My job was to design and maintain a cheap automatic weather station for rural areas in Haiti.

What are you doing now?

I am in my second year as a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the School of Natural Resources and Environment, UF.