November 1, 2016 | By: Aimee Nielson

Sue Nokes is the chair of the University of Kentucky Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, but she’s also an acclaimed researcher and teacher. Recently, the American Society of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineers named Nokes a Fellow at their annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.

Nokes has been a department chair in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment since 2011. She was recently the lead researcher on a multidisciplinary, multi-institution project funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Biomass Research Development grant. The project, On-Farm Biomass Processing: Towards an Integrated High-Solids Transporting/Storing/Processing System, was the first to successfully produce butanol from a butanol from a culture of anaerobic bacteria on dry plant material. She has collaborated with industry on solid substrate cultivation and the production of industrial enzymes for animal feed supplements. Nokes served as a technical coordinator and steering committee member on the Kentucky Rural Energy Consortium, a partnership organization comprised of several universities, research centers and government organizations with interests in promoting energy research and deployment for the benefit of Kentucky citizens.

Under her leadership, student enrollment in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering has grown from 75 to 200. She also added a technical systems management minor. She has served as an adviser for many graduate students as well as a frequent mentor to high school and undergraduate students. Many of her advisees have been women, and she has continually worked to promote the role of women in agricultural and biological engineering. Her grant writing efforts have secured millions of dollars in funding to support UK research labs, graduate fellowships and research programs.

Nokes is also a decorated educator, having won the UK Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Award, the USDA National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges Excellence in Teaching Award, the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Henry Lutes College of Engineering Excellence in Teaching award, as well as many other departmental teaching honors.

A 29-year member of ASABE, Nokes has served on the ASABE board of trustees as treasurer, and on the engineering and technology accreditation committee, the finance committee and the Stewart Engineering Humanities Award committee, among many others. She has volunteered for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology as a program reviewer and has been heavily involved with developing online training for engineers preparing for the Professional Engineer licensure exam.

Nokes is the author or co-author of more than 60 refereed journal articles and book chapters. She is an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow, a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and a member of the Society of Women Engineers.

To be considered for the grade of ASABE Fellow, an individual must demonstrate unusual professional distinction with outstanding qualifications and experience in the field of agricultural engineering. Twenty years' membership in ASABE is also required. Only about 2 percent of the active members of ASABE have achieved the grade of Fellow.

The ASABE is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food and biological systems.


Sue Nokes, 859-218-4328