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The Wisconsin Idea

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a world-class research university that conducts itself like no other. The foundations of the University are in the Wisconsin Idea: the principle that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries classroom and impact communities in every corner of the state. This drive pushes the University to pursue knowledge while keeping itself grounded in purpose.

Biological Systems Engineering embodies this ideal through our extensive research and extension programs. These programs touch the lives of Wisconsin residents by bringing our research directly to the people. By striving to improve the lives of Wisconsin farmers, producers, and distributors, we help to improve the quality of life of all residents.

In our labs, research centers, and extension programs we explore new possibilities in agriculture and production. Through these our faculty, staff, and students engage with people across the state, both learning from them and spreading knowledge to create a better, more sustainable tomorrow.

Our Research

Image of a cow computed in fluid dynamicsBiological Systems Engineering research looks to improve environmentally sustainable methods of producing the food, materials, and energy from our natural environment.  Some of our specialty areas include:

  • Engineering solutions for precision agriculture, processing technology and logistics for crop production; energy utilization and efficiency; dairy facilities operations and milking technologies; machine and remote sensing and the related agricultural data management systems to help producers be more productive while having lower environmental impact.
  • Research enhancing the quality of rural and natural environments including water quantity and quality and waste mitigation and utilization; surface water contamination and runoff both in rural and urban environments; management and utilization of manure and other bio-wastes in ways to effectively recycle valuable nutrients and capture carbon as a soil amendment or in methane production.
  • Engineering solutions for sustainable food production systems, food safety and security. Work in this area encompasses work including milking systems, food safety measured through bio-sensors and nanotechnology, development of low-cost storage and processing techniques for small scale agriculture and specialty crops.

Refer to the department’s Annual Summaries to read more details on our research programs.

Students running an experiment in the Stock Pavilion

Facilities and Labs

To learn more about the research our faculty, staff, and students are doing, take a look at their lab pages, where you can find information about their staff, equipment, and current research focuses.

To see more images of our labs, buildings, research, and people, check out our Flickr page at