Victor LaraMajor: Civil Engineering Mentor: Dr. Zohrab A. Samani, Professor,Civil Engineering Department at New Mexico State University
I am Victor Lara, and currently on my final semester of my Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University. I am originally from Honduras, but raised in Seattle, WA. Being from a country in Central America makes me a first generation American, and the first in my family to go to college. The journey that led me to seeking a higher education was not an easy one, nor was it a direct path after high school. Due to different twists and turns in life, I had to take a ten year break; thus, I am a non-traditional student. Although, I have faced many challenges along the way, I have taken my education very seriously since day one, and the institutions I have attended along the way have recognized me for my efforts and have reciprocated by facilitating the many accomplishments I now am proud to share. New Mexico State University has been very accommodating to my learning and this is where I had a chance to meet my research mentors, Dr. Bandini and Dr. Samani. My investigation has been on the production of a Liquid Organic Fertilizer. The research directly impacts the environment by exploring the possibility to reuse grass clippings and other yard waste as a natural substitute to chemical fertilizers that are known to be harmful for the environment. I am really excited to be part of this project and currently find myself considering the possibility of continuing the research with Dr. Samani in a Graduate program.
Valorization of Agricultural Residuals through Biophysical Transformation
This research addresses issues pertaining to sustainability and food security by developing and optimizing a conversion process of agricultural residuals or waste into a nutrient-rich organic solution, which can be used for crop production and/or stabilization of degraded soils, and can be easily applied to soil through direct application or irrigation water. The production process of the organic solution consists of using a temperature-enhanced biological reactor equipped with a leachate re-circulator. Examples of the agricultural residuals that can be used for this process include grass clippings, rain-damaged alfalfa crops and byproducts of legume crops. The resulting product is a low-pH, nutrient-rich liquid organic solution containing the elements essential for development of plant cell structure.