New Biological and Agricultural Engineering Professor Studies Greenhouse Gases
“We need to understand the processes that create greenhouse gases in order to predict them,” explained Benjamin Runkle, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering. Runkle looks at carbon dioxide and methane, two common greenhouse gases. He studies the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and vegetation, and he looks at the production of methane, a more powerful greenhouse gas, in wetlands. Human-created wetlands, such as rice paddies, can contribute to the greenhouse effect by adding methane to the atmosphere.
Runkle explained that measuring these processes is an important part of modelling and predicting the future effects of climate change.
Before coming to the University of Arkansas, Runkle spent four and a half years as a post-doctoral research scientist at the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Soil Science in Hamburg, Germany. During this time, he took several trips to Russia to study interactions between hydrology and the carbon cycle in Siberia. Runkle was impressed by the emphasis on international collaboration he found in Europe, and he plans to adopt this approach by continuing to collaborate with colleagues in the United States and around the globe.
Runkle was attracted to the University of Arkansas because of its emphasis on growth and its vision of attaining a top 50 ranking. He also appreciates the strong undergraduate program in the biological engineering department and the emphasis on sustainability. This semester, he is teaching Sustainable Watershed Engineering, a senior level class covering the hydrological cycle, hydraulics, irrigation, and the need to balance human water use with ecological needs.
Runkle is originally from Dayton, Ohio. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Princeton and a master’s degree and doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. His husband, R.D. Mauzy, is a musician.
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