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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Two FABE faculty awarded Global Gateways Initiative grants

Jan. 17, 2024

Lorrayne Miralha and Vinayak Shedekar, faculty of The Ohio State University's Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, were each awarded the first set of Global Gateways Initiative grants from the Office of International Affairs.

This faculty grant competition is designed to support knowledge creation and problem-solving through collaborative research and scholarship in the Global Gateway countries of China, India and Brazil. 

Lorrayne Miralha - Brazil Gateway
"Effectiveness of Restoration Practices on Strem Ecosystems in Riparian Forests between Brazil and the United States"

Riparian ForestsRiparian forests, essential for wildlife corridors and stream ecosystems, face threats from removal for agriculture and timber, enabling invasive species. In Ohio, invasive species have damaged 1,200,000 ha of habitats, costing over $34 billion annually, prompting land managers to address challenges in riparian areas. Recognizing the global nature of riparian forest loss, Miralha's project in São Paulo, Brazil, focuses on restoring native riparian forests and monitoring water-related changes, leveraging ongoing efforts in Ohio. Specifically, Brazilian forest landowners aim to understand the trade-offs of removing exotic tree species from riparian zones. Her research aims to monitor water quantity and quality in São Paulo associated with riparian restoration practices, aligning with global water challenges and promoting sustainability in both the United States and Brazil.

Miralha's work was inspired by the opportunity to work and generate collaborative water sustainable solutions in systems under disturbance for both Ohio and her home country (Brazil). With help from the grant, she will generate research outcomes that will play a direct role in policies and management solutions for the restoration of the Atlantic Forest, a biodiversity hotspot degraded by the expansion of agriculture, timber production, and urban areas.

"This is not only a win, but it is also the first win as a first-semester Assistant Professor at FABE," said Miralha. "We put this proposal together in my first month as an assistant professor in the department so, yes it feels awesome."

"Thanks to the Global Gateways Initiative for believing in this project and thanks to my Brazilian collaborators Silvio Ferraz, Paula dos Reis Oliveira, Matheus Ogasawara, and my OSU collaborators, Logan Minter and Steve W. Lyon," she added. "Special thanks to Scott Shearer also for his support."

Vinayak Shedekar - India Gateway
"Solving soil degradation and water management issues in India’s Western Ghats Region"Agricultural landscape

The Western Ghats region in India, endowed with fertile soils and abundant water resources, has faced soil degradation and waterlogging due to over-irrigation and poor soil management post the Green Revolution. This has led to soil salinity and reduced productivity. Shedekar's project aims to collaborate with local universities, industry, farmers, and cooperative organizations to assess soil degradation and propose immediate and long-term solutions. Implementing drainage, coupled with practices like cover crops and no-till, can address waterlogging and soil salinity effectively, restoring soil health. Additionally, the project offers valuable experiential learning opportunities for students and colleagues, exposing them to diverse agroecosystems in the Western Ghats distinct from those in the Midwest.

As an Ag. Engineering student in India, Shedekar engaged in discussions about the potential negative impacts of over-irrigation in the Western Ghats region. Two decades later, during a visit to India in 2022, he observed the anticipated issues worsening on farms, leading him to collaborate with colleagues in Indian Ag Universities and the OSU Mumbai Gateway office. With support from the Global Gateways grant program, Shedekar launched a pilot study, allowing him to work with his Alma mater and collaborate with teachers from his undergraduate years in Ag Engineering.

"It does not feel like a win yet, but I am really excited about the opportunity to work on this project for many reasons," said Shedekar. "It is a gratifying feeling to be able to help the communities that you grew up in."

This is Shedekar's first project as the director of the International Program for Water Management in Agriculture (IPWMA) at Ohio State. 

"The work we are aiming to undertake is the epitome of the mission of the IPWMA program," added Shedekar. "I am excited about helping build capacity at local levels by facilitating an exchange of knowledge and expertise between OSU and the partners in India."

 Congratulations to Lorrayne and Vinayak for being awarded the Global Gateways Initiative grants! Check out the Office of International Affairs article for more winners.