Bill Ford accepts position as assistant professor

February 21, 2017

The Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering is pleased to welcome William (Bill) Ford III, Ph.D. as an assistant professor in bioenvironmental engineering. Ford completed both his undergraduate and graduate work in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Kentucky before stints as a post-doc and then teaching.

“The department feels extremely fortunate to have recruited Dr. William Ford to UK.  He came to UK from Marshall University where he taught, and was also successful in attracting a major grant. He brings that great experience to his Assistant Professor position in BAE.  I think Dr. Ford will be a great resource to our students also, as he brings expertise in surface water quality monitoring, modeling, and management," Department Chair Dr. Sue Nokes said.

His work as a graduate student was oriented toward source, fate and transport of carbon and nitrogen in agricultural streams, specifically, he focused on the role of in-stream processes to attenuate nutrients in stream channels. Then, during a one-year postdoctoral appointment in Columbus, Ohio, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he experienced a shift in focus from the science/process side of research to more applied research studying the impact of agronomic and best management practices on edge-of-field nutrient fluxes. Most recently Ford spent three semesters as an assistant professor at West Virginia’s Marshall University, where he primarily taught undergraduates in Civil Engineering.  He was pleased to see the opportunity in BAE at UK as it was a perfect marriage of his research and teaching interests.

“I was really interested to learn about the research initiatives in the department. BAE has a very strong research program with applied and fundamental research focuses, which made it an excellent fit for my program,” Ford explained. “I took several courses in BAE as a graduate student, so I have a natural alignment with the department.”

A broad research focus of Ford’s will be to study water quality in both natural and restored waterways. “Isotopic fingerprinting” is a way to trace sources and pathways of nutrients in order to identify problem areas and assess how nutrients are being cycled in streams. He plans to establish and collect samples from study sites, and use numerical models to assess fate and transport of nutrients as they move through the stream channel.

While at Marshall University, Ford initiated a project focused on nutrient loading problems from agricultural streams and their impact on harmful algal blooms, reinforcing the agricultural focus of his research. Ford, as a Co- principal investigator, received a National Science Foundation grant for $3.8 million on this topic. He has shifted his portion of the project to UK and is currently working with one graduate and three undergraduate students on the project.

Now that he’s here in Kentucky, he’s interested in establishing study sites in close proximity where he’ll be able to take his classes for hands-on experiences. The scope of his research is state-wide, but for practical reasons, he will choose nearby watersheds for feasibility and integration into the classroom. The Cane Run Watershed and South Elkhorn Watershed are two prime examples of proximity and abundant research opportunities.