Operations Research grad student helps Newark optimize trash collection

January 3, 2011 under CANR News

Priyanka Jain, a master’s degree student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is working with the city of Newark to study ways to optimize residential trash pick-up and save costs.

Jain, who is in CANR’s operations research program, explained that the main goal of her work is to “enhance waste collection practices in the city of Newark in terms of minimizing fleet size, total transportation and operational cost, and avoiding time imbalance in between different routes.”

The study has two main parts. First, Jain looked at assigning different capacity trucks to various routes to help cut down on the number of trips taken by each truck. The city has trucks of varying capacity and Jain saw that specific types of trucks worked better on certain routes.

Jain found that a smaller model of truck was making two trips to pick up the same amount of waste that could be handled by a larger truck in one trip. She said she would like to cut the number of trips to save on fuel, operational costs and overtime pay.

Because there is less trash to pick up in the winter, Jain said she believes the city can collect all the trash successfully with four trucks rather than the five they currently use.

By decreasing the number of trips taken by each truck on their routes, Jain’s research showed a 19 percent reduction in yearly transportation and drivers’ labor costs.

The second part of the study concerned route optimization to save on fuel and overtime costs.

To determine the optimal route depending on the average waste to be collected, Jain used Network Analyst, an ArcGIS extension for problems such as shortest route, closest facility, location allocation and vehicle routing.

Jain said of the city’s current routing plan, “They have a good scheme, but still there are some trucks that have to do multiple trips because there are uncovered remaining houses. I’m trying to make routes, different routes, so that they have very optimal collection schemes and they don’t have to go back.”

Using optimal route solutions for the city, the ArcGIS computed using traffic directions, turn restrictions, average speeds for local roads and highways and average time for serving each bin. It included geocoding of the city’s customers on GIS maps, which can be helpful in the future if more customers need to be added. City historical data was used to calculate average drop off time at the transfer station, the area where the trucks transfer their waste. Field observations were also conducted to assess the average turn times and service time for bins.

When these optimized routes were compared to the current ones, the results showed that distance would be decreased between 4-15 percent on each route, with an average of a 9 percent reduction in mileage, leading to an estimated decrease of fuel costs by $1,500 and maintenance costs of $7,000 per year per route.

Cost is not the only benefit from Jain’s research, however, as she says another plus that comes from route optimization will be public safety.

Jain said she is “trying to optimize their routes so they do fewer U-turns, which is critical in terms of safety. They are huge trucks and when they back up, if they make a three-point turn, it is a main concern especially in terms of safety. They don’t want the trucks to make many U-turns or three-point turns.”

With fewer trucks running more efficient routes, there will be an environmental benefit to the research as well, as fewer trucks driving fewer miles will help Newark reduce its carbon footprint.

The study originated in a class taught by Kent Messer, assistant professor of food and resource economics and assistant professor of economics, and Messer says Jain was “just a wonderful example of someone going above and beyond and demonstrating her passion and knowledge. She obviously did a great job.”

Messer also said that the city of Newark was very helpful to Jain throughout her research. “They are a great team, and I give them kudos for doing it because they have to get a lot of data to run these things,” he said. “They’re very data intensive to get good meaningful results. So I just think that it’s a beautiful relationship between the University of Delaware and a student and the city.

“I think her analysis was great, and the thing that I like about it is that I think they’re going to do it. From what I can tell, they’re going to go try it out, run some of these routes, get feedback and see whether it’s actually going to get put on the ground. And that’s so much better than a study by itself.”

Along with Messer, Jain credited Rich Lapointe, the director of public works for the city; Patrick Bartling, public works superintendent for providing a lot of support, information and data; and Benjamin Mearns, information resources consultant with the University’s IT-Client Support and Services, for helping her with ArcGIS.

Jain will continue her study into next semester, adding things such as more detailed traffic data and recycling into her analysis.

Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.


Faculty Senate approves new major in ecology

December 15, 2010 under CANR News

A new provisional major and honors major in ecology were among the items approved by the University of Delaware Faculty Senate during its regularly scheduled meeting, held Monday, Dec. 6, in Gore Hall.

The new five-year provisional ecology and honors ecology majors will be interdisciplinary, with the Department of Biological Sciences supplying the training in the basic tenets of biology and the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology offering courses related to diversity, behavior and ecological interactions among organisms.

The five-year provisional establishment of the major is effective Feb. 7, 2011.

Academic degrees approved on a provisional basis are subject to approval by the UD Board of Trustees after the provisional time period has passed and the Faculty Senate has reviewed the degree program and recommended permanent status for the degree.

For the full article about the December 6 Faculty Senate meeting, please visit UDaily.


Students battle rice blast disease with underground microbes

November 30, 2010 under CANR News

Rice is the most important grain consumed by humans, providing more than one-fifth of the calories sustaining the world’s population. By some estimates, however, global production of rice could feed an additional 60 million people, if it weren’t for rice blast disease, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea.

This past summer, four students from the University of Delaware and two of its partner institutions in Delaware’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR program, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical and Community College, found themselves on the front lines of the battle to defeat rice blast.

Those battle lines have been drawn on opposite coasts of the United States, through a collaboration between scientists in Delaware and at the University of California at Davis, the land-grant institution of the UC system. The students therefore split their summer internship between laboratories in both states.

The project is led by Harsh Bais, professor in UD’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, and is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The full article with photos can be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.

Article courtesy of Beth Chajes, DENIN


UDairy Creamery now at UD Basketball Games

November 12, 2010 under CANR News, Events

The UDairy Creamery has announced that it will sell ice cream at all University of Delaware women’s and men’s home basketball games this season. Hoops and Scoops will kick off Friday, Nov. 12, when the Fightin’ Blue Hens take on the University of Maryland Baltimore County at 7 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center.

The Delaware women’s basketball team will play 14 games at the Bob Carpenter Center this season. The UD men will have 12 home games this year, including their home opener versus Howard University on Friday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m.

“Fan response at our few appearances during the 2009-2010 season was tremendous,” says Katy O’Connell, communications manager for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “We are excited to have the Creamery back at the Bob.”

Current ice cream flavors are vanilla, chocolate marshmallow, butter pecan, orange Creamsicle, black raspberry, strawberry, cookies and cream, and mint chocolate chip. The creamery anticipates being able to offer peach and coffee in the near future.

Visit the UDairy Creamery website or Facebook page for details on game day promotions, coupons, and more.

Individual basketball game tickets can be purchased in person at the UD Athletic Ticket Office in the Delaware Field House on Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tickets can also be purchased at the Bob Carpenter Center Ticket Office on Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the Trabant University Center Ticket Office on Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Game tickets can be bought by phone at (302) 831-2257, and can also be purchased online through Ticketmaster.


AGR Holding Coffee & Tea Fundraiser

November 10, 2010 under CANR News, Events

Alpha Gamma Rho is having its first annual coffee and tea sale.  The products are all Fair Trade Certified, Organic Certified, CarbonFree Certified and Shade Grown.

The coffee supports the possibility of a real livelihood for coffee growers, a breath of fresh air for the planet, zero net carbon emissions from “crop to cup” and healthy forests for migratory songbirds. This coffee is essentially as eco-friendly as possible and is roasted, packaged, and distributed by Ground for Change.  In addition, AGR will be donating $1 for every bag sold towards The Nature Conservancy.

For more information on purchasing coffee please contact Craig Parker at cfparker@udel.edu or Kristofer Dewberry at Dewberry@udel.edu. This sale will be running from now till the Thanksgiving Break. Listed below are AGR’s menus of coffee and tea offerings.

Our Coffee Menu, (All are offered in either Whole Bean or Ground and are being sold for $12 for a 12oz bag)

MEDIUM ROAST-Bolivia “Los Yungas”

Smooth and balanced with a fragrant aroma, this high-grown Bolivian coffee
possesses a rich, full body. When roasted to a medium level, it has a sweet flavor with
notes of almond and hazelnut.


Agate Pass Blend is a full-bodied combination of South American and Pacific coffees
that are roasted to a medium-dark, highly aromatic level. This blend has a smooth,
nutty flavor with caramel, almond and subtle chocolate notes.

DARK ROAST-Peru “Café Femenino”

Cafe Femenino Peru is a medium bodied coffee with a fine acidity, sweet aroma and
hints of baker’s chocolate that are accentuated by a slow, dark roast. We know that
you will enjoy this unique coffee for its wonderful taste as well as for the special story
that underlies its production.

DECAFFEINATED-First Light Decaf Blend

For those who want a great all-day decaf, this full-bodied blend is roasted to a
medium-dark level to bring out a delightful aroma and smooth, mild flavor. SWISS
WATER Process decaffeinated.

In addition to coffee, we will also be selling organic teas for $6 a box.


Earl Grey with Lavender Blossoms

Owes its flavorful foundation to the selected organic teas from India and Ceylon.
These are blended with Bergamot, a Mediterranean citrus, and then enhanced with the
lightest touch of lavender blossoms. The quintessential afternoon tea.

Celtic Breakfast

A richly flavored and robust tea. Leaf from Assam provides a rich touch of malt and
Ceylon teas from mountain estates keep the blend smooth yet striking. Delightful
whenever a strong cup of tea is the favored refreshment.


Dragon Well Green

One of the most famous of all Chinese teas. It has a vibrant color and very appealing
nutty aroma. Particularly well known for a long finish, with a lingering bittersweetness,
this is one of the most refreshing green teas in summer heat.

Moroccan Mint Green

Blended from carefully selected green teas and the spearmint favored in North Africa.
It is a revitalizing refreshment, and a perfect cup with which to welcome guests. A cup
of hospitality and quiet grace, with only half the caffeine of other green teas.


Chamomile Spearmint

Infused with Bergamot, this tea offers a restful interlude at any time. Chamomile and
Spearmint are appreciated for their soothing comforts. Bergamot is the Mediterranean
citrus used to perfume Earl Grey teas and it lifts spirits while calming nerves.

Northwest Blackberry

A celebration of field and forest. Selected wild leaves and berries are honored around
the world for the herbal brews they yield. Here in the northwest, the richness of
blackberries provides a delightful cup of tea. Fantastic served over ice!

“Thank you for your continued support of our chapter and of the environment, we only have one earth.”

Submitted by AGR


Collegiate FFA Holding Annual Flower & Fruit Sale

November 9, 2010 under CANR News, Events

As part of the holiday season the Collegiate FFA will be taking orders for the annual poinsettias and citrus fruit sale from November 4th-22nd.

The fruit last year was excellent and the varieties available have been tremendous-ranging from the traditional full and one-half cases of naval, pink (red) grapefruit, and tangelos to variety packs of mixed fruit including apples, pears, tangerines, navels, grapefruits, etc. all conveniently and attractively packaged.

Citrus sales benefit the training, special activities, and community service efforts of the Collegiate FFA. Delivery is tentatively planned for the week of the December 6th.

The traditional poinsettia sale, with proceeds going into the Collegiate FFA Scholarship Fund, will feature red or white poinsettias in 7 1/2” pots with 8-12 blooms and 8 1/2” pots with 12-15 blooms. Collegiate FFA was able to give two scholarships last year through CANR’s support. Delivery is also tentatively planned the week of December 6th, but not the same day as fruit.

A Collegiate FFA member will be stopping by your department beginning this week. If you are not in, they will leave a door hanger and make a return visit. Should you be missed feel free to contact Dr. Arba Henry (Rm 228, X1320) or Dr. Pat Barber (Rm 110, X 4232). Payment is requested at the time of ordering, or email Collegiate FFA President, Ashely Kinsley at akinsley@udel.edu.


CANR Students Conduct Community Service

November 8, 2010 under CANR News

CANR students have been spending time this fall volunteering for community service organizations.

In October, Alpha Zeta went to the Brandywine Zoo for two hours for our community service project. Most of the members raked leaves to help keep the zoo looking neat. The leaves that we raked were also used for bedding for the animals in the winter. Other members helped renovate an animal holding pen area.

UD students in Kent Messer’s FREC100 class volunteered for The Nature Conservancy on November 7th.  “This is the second year where my students have volunteered with The Nature Conservancy and it appears to be developing into a long-term partnership as its seems to be beneficial to all involved,” Messer said.


Nov. 10: UD, state to host issues forum about Chesapeake Bay

November 3, 2010 under CANR News, Events

The Chesapeake Bay is a national focal point for water quality issues. New environmental regulations will require Delaware and the other five bay states — Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York — and the District of Columbia to significantly reduce pollution entering the bay and its tributaries.

These rigorous federal and state program aims to restore the bay’s water quality by 2025.

Because the two main pollutants that are under consideration are nitrogen and phosphorous, agricultural entities in Delaware and the other bay states have a vital role in this process.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will host an agricultural issues forum to address agricultural and environmental concerns surrounding the health of the Chesapeake Bay as it relates to water quality.

“The Intersection of Agriculture, the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay” will be held in the Trabant University Center Multipurpose Room A from 7-9 p.m.

“The goal of this event is to bring awareness to one of the major environmental issues in our area,” says Craig Parker, president of Alpha Gamma Rho. “We hope that UD students, faculty, and other community members will join us to learn about the issues from everyone involved.”

The program will be moderated by Ed Kee, secretary of the Delaware Department of Agriculture, who is also a CANR alumnus and former UD employee.

Kee will be joined by science and regulatory advisors Rick Batiuk, science adviser for the Chesapeake Bay Program, and Kathy Bunting-Howarth, director of the Division of Water at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Industry and government panelists for the evening include:

* Steve Schwalb, vice president, Environmental Sustainability, Perdue Farms;
* Shawn Garvin, regional administrator for Region III, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
* Dave Baker, farmer and member of Delaware Nutrient Management Commission; and
* Jim Borel, executive vice president, DuPont.

The forum will conclude with networking and free UDairy Creamery ice cream.

For more information call (302) 831-1355 or send email to [kvo@udel.edu].


Longwood Graduate Program Saves Electronics from Landfill

October 18, 2010 under CANR News, Events

The Longwood Graduate Program in public horticulture hosted its fourth successful Electronics Recycling Day on October 14.  They were able to collect computers, cell phones, walkie talkies, modems, radios, printers, dehumidifiers, a plethora of batteries, and many other items.  Four palettes worth of electronics were kept from the landfill and about 20 cell phones will be going to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

For photos and the blog post from the LGP, click here.

The students will organize another Electronics Recycling Day for next semester so continue to save any broken or unwanted electronics until next time.

Don’t forget that you can always recycle your plastic grocery bags in the green bin in Townsend Hall Commons!


Natural resource management internships sprout successful alumni

September 16, 2010 under CANR News

For students with an interest in the environment, the natural resource management (NRM) major, introduced in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1997, opened up a cutting-edge program that combined science, economics, and public policy.

Now, current students and graduates in the NRM major are relaying their skills into successful internships and employment with companies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Delaware Water Resources Center, IFC International and the Peace Corps.

“At that time (in 1997), the college didn’t have an interdisciplinary major, where you learned a little economics, a little plant science, a little entomology and wildlife ecology, and then took that background into the job market,” said Steven Hastings, professor of food and resource economics.

“The students in NRM are very good students, they’re very motivated students, and they have a passion for the environment,” he added. “They’ve got a lot of initiative. I think that’s what employers look for in potential interns today.”

NRM students have also continued their education in graduate programs all over the country, studying urban planning, zoology, environmental law, coastal zone management and more. The diverse and demanding major, which also includes courses on communications and ethics, gives students a foundation for advanced degrees in a variety of subjects, Hastings said.

“It’s a fairly rigorous major,” he said. “We had a student this past semester who applied to six very good graduate programs and was accepted at all six.”

Jennifer Popkin, a former NRM major, interned with the United Nations as the climate change coordinator after she graduated from the University in 2009. She served as the project manager of their global climate change project for six months.

Popkin said the intimate nature of the NRM program allowed her to interact closely with professors and other students, which led to numerous opportunities including an intensive research project.

“I spent the fall of my senior year studying how the trade and economic policy of India affect watershed development,” she said. “There were four students in total on this research project, and we each studied a different aspect of development. Part of the research included a trip to India.”

Kristen Loughery, also a graduate of the program, completed internships at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), AmeriCorps, and a private environmental consulting firm while at the university.

“NRM provided me with a broad education, which prepared me to work towards my goals as an environmentalist,” Loughery said.

After receiving a master’s degree in natural resource economics, Loughery was hired by the EPA, where she said “it is extremely important to apply my education in policy, human behavior as it relates to incentives, and general scientific knowledge, all of which I attained through NRM.”

Hastings said internships are vital in helping students to explore career paths and see the real world implications of the issues they study at UD.

“Two interns that were working for me this summer, I found them out in the marsh one day, covered in mud, swatting mosquitoes,” Hastings said. “I think it’s very good for them to get out and get their hands dirty.”

Article by Chelsea Caltuna

This article can also be viewed on UDaily by clicking here.