Joel L Cuello
Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Professor, Arid Lands Resources Sciences - GIDP
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Primary Department
(520) 621-7757
Research Interest
Joel Cuello, PhD, focuses his research on applying engineering to put biological systems to work. His collaborative research projects, which have been sponsored by DOE, NASA and USDA, among others, are divided into two major thrusts: Bioprocess Engineering and Controlled-Environment Engineering.With bioprocess engineering, Dr. Cuello’s concentrations are on design and scale up of bioreactors for production of biofuels and biochemicals from algae, plant cells and organs. Also, he explores the optimization of algae and cell-culture productivity through biochemical and environmental strategies. Also, he attends to wastewater treatment using algae, microbial mat and hydroponics.In regard to controlled-environment engineering, Dr. Cuello’s concentrations -- for both Earth and Space applications -- are on design of novel lighting systems, including hybrid solar-electric lighting systems, light-emitting diode arrays, and water-cooled high-intensity discharge lamps. He complements this work with trying to design bioproduction systems, including a hybrid hydroponics-and-aquaculture system.


Cuello, J., Hoshino, T., Johnson, D. J., & Cuello, J. L. (2012). Design of new strategy for green algal photo-hydrogen production: spectral-selective photosystem I activation and photosystem II deactivation. Bioresource technology, 120.

A new strategy in photosynthetic hydrogen (photo-H(2)) production from green algae was developed based on theory and successfully demonstrated. The new strategy applied a spectral-selective photosystem I (PSI) activating/photosystem II (PSII) deactivating radiation (or PSI light) that would drive a steady flow of electrons in the electron transport chain for delivery to hydrogenase for photo-H(2) production, but would reduce oxygen production through water photolysis below the respiratory oxygen consumption so that an anoxic condition would be maintained as required by hydrogenase. Implementing the strategy by using a PSI light (692 nm peak, 680-700 nm) on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cells resulted in relatively sustained photo-H(2) production (total of 0.108 mL H(2)mg(-1)Chl, exceeding 0.066 mL H(2)mg(-1)Chl under white light). The strategy also proved successful and convenient in allowing cells to alternately switch between photo-H(2) production and a recovery period by simply turning on or off the PSI light.

Cuello, J. L. (2013). Notes from a Decade of Travels in a World Without Walls. The Bent of Tau Beta Pi (National Honor Society of Engineering), 4.
Cuello, J. L., Cid-Aguero, P., Ruiz, S., & Sanchez, G. (2017). Growth and lipid profiles of the Antarctic snow microalga Chlamydomonas sp. in response to changes in temperature, photoperiod, salinity and substrate. Annals of the Institute of Patagonia (Anales Instituto Patagonia), 45(3), 45-58.
Borines, M. G., De Leon, R. L., & Cuello, J. L. (2013). Bioethanol production from the macroalgae Sargassum spp.. Bioresource Technology, 138, 22-29.
Cuello, J. L., Gue, I. H., Ubando, A. T., & Culaba, A. B. (2017). A comparative assessment for algal biodiesel production in the Philippines. Humanitarian Technology Conference (IHTC), 2017 IEEE Canada International. IEEE Xplore.. doi:DOI: 10.1109/IHTC.2017.8058177