Students lead research into emerging aquaponics industry

Aquaponics system

In Minnesota, an emerging industry is starting to capture the attention of crop growers, fish processors, distributors, restaurants and many others. Aquaponics — a year-round way to grow aquatic animals and plants in the same system — lets growers produce food locally and sustainably, and it’s on the rise. There are now more than 40 aquaponics producers in the state, up from only three in 2010.

There’s just one problem with growing aquaponically: Even the growers themselves aren’t sure how best to do it.

In response to the need for more knowledge in aquaponics, a team of University of Minnesota faculty developed a new undergraduate course called “Aquaponics: Integrated fish and plant food systems,” which set students to work discovering industry challenges and researching solutions. The course debuted in spring semester this year as part of a larger collaborative effort, which includes research projects and continuing education opportunities, to position Minnesota as a national leader in the field of aquaponics. Backed by funds from the U’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy), the effort brought together experts from fisheries and wildlife, veterinary medicine and aquaculture, horticulture and plant sciences to form a team of experts to help inform and guide an emerging industry. Continue reading

From Morris to Malaysia: Student research connects disciplines, cultures

Bamboo in Borneo

After her freshman year came to a close, Keyah Stone, a biochemistry major at the University of Minnesota, Morris, was eager to continue her study of biology. As a Native American, she also wanted to work with other indigenous peoples.

So when Stone heard about a summer 2014 UMM Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) trip to the island of Borneo in Malaysia that offered both of these opportunities, she was immediately drawn to it.

“I had never gone abroad before or done any type of research,” Stone said. “This was the perfect opportunity to experience something completely new.” Continue reading