North Carolina State University Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering

Biogeochemistry & Ecological Engineering

The purpose of this program led by Dr. François Birgand in the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering is to conduct research and teaching to provide means to improve the quality of ground and surface waters in largely rural watersheds. For this, we believe that new sensor technologies can provide unprecedented access to the processes at play in nature, and also gives the opportunities to refine treatment system design and maintenance. The main treatment system studied include wetlands, streams, and bioreactors, all placed within their watersheds.

The Teaching component seeks to provide the in-depth knowledge in Biology, Water Chemistry and Hydrology necessary to understand natural dissipation processes and improve Ecological Treatment in man-made systems.


  • Our stream restoration monitoring study has been highly perturbed by hurrican Matthew, which landed near Goldsboro, NC October 8-9 2016. The 350 mm of rain fallen in 24 hours, generated, needless to say, record flow amounts. Because the stream restored is located within the Little River floodplain, the water from this River flooded the restored stream. The restoration design actually held well, but a road washed in for a distance of 200 m of the restored reach, creating a bit of a dam. About 500 m of the reach upstream is now a wetland. We are monitoring this incredible event and its aftermath.
  • We just started our woodchip bioreactor rejuvenation experiment in the lab. The hypothesis is that alternating aerobic/anaerobic conditions may enhance the denitrification capacity of woodchip bioreactors in the field. We are measuring on a high frequency basis aqueous and gaseous emissions after nitrated water has passed through woodchips for about 4 hours
François Birgand