Faculty Spotlight: Mark Wilkins

Mark Wilkins

About Mark Wilkins:
I am a native of Lafayette, Indiana.  I earned a B.S. degree in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University in 1999, an M.S. in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001 and a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004. I did a post-doc for one year at the USDA-ARS Citrus and Subtropical Products Laboratory working on process development using citrus peel waste. I then joined Oklahoma State University as an assistant professor of biosystems engineering in 2005, was promoted to associate professor in 2011, and further promoted to professor this past July. I taught classes in bioprocessing, food processing, renewable energy and professionalism. I also taught four short-term study abroad courses for engineers to Germany, Scandinavia and England. My research was focused on bioenergy production from lignocellulosic biomass using enzymatic hydrolysis to make sugars, and then fermentation to make alcohols from sugars. I also researched production of alcohols from syngas, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.  I have been married to Lana for almost eight years and we have two children, Hannah who is 4 and Daniel who is 2.

What is your position at UNL?
I joined the University of Nebraska August 15 as the director of the Industrial Agricultural Products Center and professor in both biological systems engineering and food science and technology. I hope to continue my research from OSU here while forming new partnerships across campus and with industry to develop new and innovative products to add value to our agricultural crops.

What drew you to UNL?
When I came to campus for my interview, everyone I met was very excited about the university. There is a lot of good infrastructure here for teaching and research that is lacking at other universities. I also was impressed with Lincoln and the schools here for my children.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy interacting with optimistic young people who have their future ahead of them. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest professional achievement is being selected as director of the Industrial Agricultural Products Center. My greatest personal achievement is being baptized and giving my life to Christ.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I was a trumpet player in the Purdue Marching Band and I have marched with the Purdue Alumni Band several times.

What is your life like outside of work?
I generally spend most of my time away from work with my wife and two kids. The kids are still small and need a lot of attention, and I enjoy hanging out with them. I am an avid sports fan, so I enjoy watching football, basketball, soccer and sometimes baseball. I enjoy playing golf as well.