Visiting Scientist: Dr. Luca Doro
In June 2014, Dr. Luca Doro of Sassari, Italy was welcomed to our ranks. Luca was not entirely new to Temple, his relationship with the BREC having begun back in 2007 when a handful of scientists from Italy journeyed to Temple for a two week workshop. During the training, Luca and the rest of the scientists learned the ins and outs of the EPIC model. EPIC is a field-scale crop simulation model designed to simulate the interaction of natural resources (soil, water and climate) and crop management practices to estimate impacts on harvested crop yield, soil properties, soil erosion, profitability and nutrient/pesticide fate. The team focused their attention on the simulation of corn, sunflower, grapes and grassland production as well as the effects of climate change on these cropping systems in the Mediterranean environment.
That one visit blossomed into a working relationship between the Blackland Research and Extension Center and the University of Sassari where Luca was still conducting studies for his Ph.D. In 2009, Luca returned to spend 6 months at BREC as part of a program called Master & Back funded by the Labor Regional Agency of the Sardinian Region. Luca was using the WinEPIC model (Windows interface of EPIC) as part of his doctoral dissertation in which he simulated the long term changes in soil carbon for grassland and pasture scenarios being grazed by dairy sheep and the effects of climate change on these cropping systems.
After this period, Luca continued to work using the EPIC model at the University of Sassari as a postdoctoral scholar and continued to tighten his collaborative efforts with BREC.
In 2012 he returned to Temple once more for two weeks. During this short period he presented the activities carried out in Italy and was interviewed by Dr. Tom Gerik (Resident Director of the Blackland Research & Extension Center) to explore the possibility of joining the BREC research and modeling team on another project.
In June 2014, Luca returned to BREC for a year-long visit. While here, he will collaborate with the modeling team lead by Dr. Lee Norfleet (US Natural Resources Conservation Service) to build a database including regional models and crop parameters for model calibration. This database will allow the user to rapidly test and calibrate the models as they evolve. The “regional parametrization” of the model will provide useful information to facilitate the use of our models for main crops all over the US. The final goal is ambitious and it requires a lot of time and information to correctly set-up the models, but the final database could be a useful tool for several ongoing activities carried out here at BREC and all over the world.
Though the creation of the database will be his main activity, Luca will collaborate on other research topics such as the implementation of the EPIC/APEX models to simulate grazing activity, testing of an automatic calibration tool developed by Dr. Jaehak Jeong, and EPIC/APEX code maintenance.
Dr. Luca Doro holds an M.S. in Agricultural Sciences and Technologies and a Ph.D. in Agrometerology and Ecophysiology of Agricultural and Forestry Systems, both from the University of Sassari, Italy. He has done a variety of research and has co-authored 6 publications. His work at the Blackland Research & Extension Center will help to advance crop modeling technology here in Texas and eventually for use across the globe.