January 20, 2021
Dr. Yuzhen Lu’s broad educational background synthesizes agricultural science and engineering. Originally from China, he earned a B.S in Facility Agriculture from Northwest A&F University, M.S. in Plant Nutrition from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Ph.D. in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University. Before arriving at Mississippi State, Dr. Lu worked as a Postdoctoral research associate for the USDA/ARS research unit at Michigan State University and in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University. His research revolves around the development and deployment of sensing, automation, and data analytics solutions for addressing various challenges within the agriculture and food domain. He has already received two ASABE superior paper awards and one ASABE outstanding reviewer award while also serving on the ASABE machine vision and specialty crop engineering committees. He has also served as a guest editor for the Foods journal.
Dr. Lu recently said, “I was fascinated by the non-destructive nature and efficiency of spectroscopy compared to conventional wet chemistry methods for analysis. I have worked on machine vision and optical imaging technology for quality and safety inspection of agricultural products, plant phenotyping, and precision crop management that has led to my enthusiasm for enhancing agricultural production efficiency and product quality and safety.”
Dr. Lu is most proud of his contributions to the development of a one-of-a-kind apple harvest-assistive and in-field sorting machine in 2019 when he served as a Post-Doctoral associate under the supervision of Dr. Renfu Lu at Michigan State University. The current harvesting method, which uses ladders and picking buckets is labor-intensive and has low efficiency. Harvested apples are mixed in bins regardless of their quality, a situation which incurs high costs for warehouse storage and handling.
“The development of an in-field apple sorting machine is driven by the real need for enhancing fruit harvesting efficiency and postharvest management,” Lu said. “The developed machine has the potential to address two problems and thus increase economic return for apple growers.”
Dr. Lu, who joined the ABE faculty team in November 2020, was attracted to MSU by the vibrant agricultural and biological engineering research program related to sensing and automation for precision agriculture and foods, and the multidisciplinary culture of the department. “This creates a lot of opportunities for me to pursue interesting research and develop collaborations on campus and beyond,” he said.
He looks forward to collaborating with scientists and engineers of diverse backgrounds in addition to working with students in his research field. In general, “students need to be creative, self-motivated, good writers, effective communicators, and have a strong desire to learn new things,” he advised. “For my research, problem-solving skills in data analysis and modeling, computer programming, and software-hardware integration are very important.”
Outside of his research, Dr. Lu loves to travel and believes the old Chinese saying, “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” While he may not have the time to do so now, Dr. Lu also loves spending quality time playing with his six-month old son.