USDA grants are distributed for aquaponic, anaerobic digestion research

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Samir Khanal, (808) 956-3812
Associate Professor, Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering
Frederika Bain, (808) 956-3092
Writer/Editor, Office of Communication Services, CTAHR
Posted: Sep 13, 2013

Nitrogen transformations are being studied at aquaponic systems like this.
Nitrogen transformations are being studied at aquaponic systems like this.

Dr. Samir Khanal of the UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) recently received two highly competitive USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grants through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundation program. Khanal, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering (MBBE), had submitted two proposals to the program during the 2012-13 funding cycles, both of which were selected for award.

Grant 1: Nitrogen Transformations in Aquaponics:  Among other important functions, nitrogen transformations may play a significant role in the production of greenhouse gases and consequently may affect climate change. Khanal was awarded a 4-year grant of $500,000 that aims at determining the mechanisms and dynamics of nitrogen transformations in aquaponic systems to better understand the fate of nitrogen and to correlate these transformations with the numerous environmentally relevant microbial processes occurring in the system. Project collaborators include Kartik Chandran (Columbia University), Clyde Tamaru (MBBE) and Hye-ji Kim of CTAHR’s Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. Details of Khanal’s aquaponic research may be found at

The seed grant to initiate the project was originally awarded to Khanal as a supplemental fund during the 2011 funding cycle.

Grant 2: Process Control for High Solids Anaerobic Digestion: Anaerobic digestion has played and will continue to play a significant role in efforts to produce local renewable energy and promote a sustainable economy. Khanal was awarded a two-year grant of $150,000 that aims at developing a fundamentally sound engineering tool that can be employed as an early warning system of anaerobic digestion instability and that will allow for the effective utilization of ORP-based control measures for rapid correction. Dr. Khanal, author of the bestselling book Anaerobic Biotechnology for Bioenergy Production: Principles and Applications, is globally known for anaerobic digestion research. Details of Khanal’s anaerobic digestion research may be found at