Virginia Tech™home

Mary Leigh Wolfe

Professor
Mary Leigh Wolfe

Education

Ph.D., Agricultural Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1986

M.S., Agricultural Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1982

B.S., Agricultural Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1979

Experience

July 2018 - Present - Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

June 2011 - June 2018 – Professor and Department Head, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

December 2009 – May 2011:  Interim Head, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

August 2006 – present:  Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg.  

August 2005 – December 2009:  Assistant Department Head for Teaching, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg. 

March – June 2003:  Visiting Professor, University College Dublin, Ireland and Visiting Scientist, TEAGASC Environmental Laboratory, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland

Sept. – Dec. 2002:  Visiting Scientist, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD.

Oct. 1992 – July 2006:  Associate Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg. 

Sept. 1992: Associate Professor; June 1986 - August 1992: Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station

Selected Major Awards

  • 2011, 2010 - Outstanding Faculty Award, Alpha Epsilon, Virginia Chapter, Virginia Tech
  • 2009 - Fellow, ABET
  • 2009 - Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
  • 2009 - Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • 2006 - Fellow, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 3134 Undergraduate Seminar

Other Teaching and Advising

I co-lead a project with Nicholas Holden and Enda Cummins, University College Dublin, and Jactone Ogejo, VT-BSE, to develop an Introduction to Biosystems Engineering textbook and a Biosystems Engineering Digital Library (BEDL). The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has provided funding for the project.

I am active in quality assurance and continuous improvement of engineering education through ABET, Inc. I have served as a program evaluator, as  ASABE representative to ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), and as an EAC officer, including chairing the commission in 2007-2008. I have served as ASABE’s representative on the ABET Board of Directors, as Board Representative to the Executive Committee of the Board, and as Secretary. I will serve as ABET President from November 2018-November 2019 (president-elect 2017-2018).

Program Focus

For most of my career, my research program has focused on advancing hydrologic modeling and nonpoint source (NPS) pollution control strategies and developing and applying decision support tools for NPS pollution control and watershed management. Examples of past work include the development of methods to improve model input parameter estimation, expansion of existing hydrologic and NPS models, and investigation of a variety of NPS management systems. I co-led a multidisciplinary team of research and extension personnel at Virginia Tech to develop the Virginia Phosphorus Index (P-Index), which assesses the risk of delivery of P to surface waters from a field as a function of factors describing sources and transport of P and recommends a P application rate based on those site-specific factors.

I worked with colleagues in agricultural economics, crop and soil environmental sciences, dairy science, entomology, and environmental engineering to develop a variety of decision support tools. We developed an approach to optimize the cost-effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) through their strategic placement within a watershed. We also developed a group decision aid for watershed nutrient planning and management. The decision aid facilitates the participation of stakeholders in the process of identifying and prioritizing watershed goals and strategies to achieve those goals. With BSE colleagues, I developed TMDL (total maximum daily load) implementation plans to facilitate meeting water quality standards in specific waterways.

More recently, I have participated in efforts related to the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus. With collaborators from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), I have published two journal articles related to the topic and submitted proposals with collaborators from Virginia Tech.  

Selected Recent Publications

(* undergraduate student, ** graduate student, *** post-doc)

  • Mishra**, A., E. Ahmadisharaf***, E., B.L. Benham, M.L. Wolfe, M. L., S.C. Leman, D.L. Gallagher, K. Reckhow, and E.P. Smith. (accepted). Generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation and Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation to prioritize TMDL pollutant allocations. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering
  • Wolfe M.L. and T.L. Richard. 2017. 21st century engineering for on-farm food-energy-water systems. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering, 18(November 2017): 69 -76. doi:10.1016/j.coche.2017.10.005
  • Wolfe, M.L., K. Ting, N. Scott, A. Sharpley, J. Jones, and L. Verma. 2016. Engineering solutions for food-energy-water systems: it’s more than engineering. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 6(1): 172-182. doi: 10.1007/s13412-016-0363-z.
  • Coffey***, R., B. Benham, M.L. Wolfe, S. Dorai-Raj, N. Bhreathnach, V. O’Flaherty, M. Cormican, and E. Cummins. 2016. Assessing potential streamflow and microbial water quality sensitivity to future environmental change in the west of Ireland. Regional Environmental Change 16:2111. doi: 10.1007/s10113-015-0912-0
  • Coffey***, R., B. Benham, K. Kline, M. Wolfe, and E. Cummins. 2015. Modelling the impacts of climate change and future land use variation on microbial transport. J. of Water and Climate Change DOI:10.2166/wcc.2015.049.
  • Coffey***, R., B. Benham, K. Kline, M. Wolfe, and E. Cummins. 2015. Potential microbial load reductions required to meet existing freshwater recreational water quality standards for a selection of mid-century environmental change scenarios. Environmental Processes 2(4): 609-629.
  • Coffey***, R., B. Benham, L.-A. Krometis, M.L. Wolfe, and E. Cummins. 2014. Assessing the effects of climate change on waterborne microorganisms: Implications for EU and USA water policy. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 20(3):724-742. doi: 10.1080/10807039.2013.802583.

Selected Recent Funding

(540) 231-6092

mlwolfe@vt.edu