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Dr. Gene Giacomelli

Professor Biosystems Engineering Department. Former and founding Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC)

The University of Arizona CEA Building,
1951 E. Roger Road,
Tucson, Arizona 85719, USA;


Dr. Gene Giacomelli is a Professor in the Biosystems Engineering Department, and an adjunct professor in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. In 2000 he was appointed inaugural Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) and he served until 2018. CEAC develops inter-disciplinary science and engineering education, research and outreach/Extension programs at the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) for the state of Arizona, the USA and the world. Programs develop and enhance food crop production systems for plants, fish and mushroom within controlled environments such as greenhouse, growth chamber or other indoor systems (Vertical Farm). A primary focus is the collaboration and education for growers and business entrepreneurs who use crop production techniques and engineering technology of hydroponics and CEA to produce food crops that complement traditional field production.

Advanced academic degrees were earned by Dr. Giacomelli in Horticultural Engineering (Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1983), Agricultural Engineering (M.S., University of California-Davis, 1980), and Horticultural Science and Biological & Agricultural Engineering (B.S. & B.S., Rutgers University, 1977). This mix of technical expertise with crop production experience, provides application of engineering design and education to the horticultural production problems within intensive controlled environment plant production systems. He developed the Horticultural Engineering degree program at Rutgers University in 1984, the first of its kind in the US. He now teaches Controlled Environment Systems at the University of Arizona, which is an introduction to the engineering aspects of greenhouse design, environmental control, nutrient delivery systems, hydroponic crop production, and greenhouse systems operations. His pre-college years offered experience in crop production by working and operating the family outdoor vegetable farm in Vineland, New Jersey.

Dr. Giacomelli has designed, constructed, instrumented and operated various types of environmentally controlled greenhouses utilizing hydroponic-based crop production systems, including drip/trickle, NFT, DWC, Ebb and Flood, aeroponic, and other highly specialized systems for traditional greenhouse crops of lettuce, tomato, strawberry, and numerous new targeted crops His research interests and professional activities have focused on controlled environment plant production systems (greenhouse and growth chamber/room) research, design, development and applications, with emphases on crop production systems, nutrient delivery systems, environmental control, mechanization, resource conservation, logistics and labor productivity.

Educational programs also include developing, organizing and teaching university extension and outreach short courses to growers in the CEA crop production industry.


Dr. Giacomelli has developed and taught an annual greenhouse crop production and environmental control short course for 36 years.

Dr. Giacomelli has collaborated internationally for 40 years for research, education and development of sustainable methods of growing food to feed the world, as well as designing food production systems. He has designed and provided operational support with Sadler Machine Co., Tempe, Arizona for the first automated food growth chamber to sustain research teams at the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica (2002 – 2012). He has contributed to the development of the prototype Mars- Lunar Greenhouse with a team of engineers, scientists and a business entrepreneur for NASA to provide human life-support and to grow food on the moon and Mars (2008 – 2017). In 2009-10, a Sabbatical was competed at Aero-Sekur, an Italian aerospace company, with focus on Bioregenerative life support food systems for Moon, Mars and Earth. From 2015 - 2018, in collaboration with the Monsanto Company he developed a seed corn plant production system that has permanently changed corn breeding programs within the industry. He has been invited as Chief CEAC Scientist and Engineer for Biosphere 2.

Dr. Giacomelli has lectured and studied in numerous countries around the world, including Antarctica, Canada, Chile, China, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. He has chaired or organized international symposia or workshops in the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Italy and the Netherlands. He is an active member of numerous scientific and professional societies, having served as an officer and on technical committees for the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), American Society for Plasticulture (ASP), and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

He is the co-developer of two patented devices, with one now employed worldwide for seedling transplanting.

His long-term goals include the continued development of the Controlled Environment Agriculture program at the University of Arizona, which includes educating undergraduates and graduate students in engineering, the plant sciences, and business development; as well as, researching controlled environment plant production systems; outreach through cooperative extension to the citizens of Arizona; and collaborating with programs for economic development of the CEA industry.


Dr. Gene Giacomelli Professor Biosystems Engineering Department. Former and founding Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) The University of Arizona CEA Building, 1951 E. Roger Road, Tucson, Arizona 85719, USA;Home | Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (

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