Controlled Environment Research Group

To build a research-based foundation for Controlled Environment Agriculture production in the Southeast.

About US

Aquaponics Cultivars Research

Learn more assessing sink strength of slicing and cherry tomato cultivars in aquaponics.

The Controlled Environment Research Group, under the guidance of Dr. Daniel Wells, is housed in the College of Agriculture’s Horticulture Department. The research program is broadly focused on improving vegetable production in controlled environments, including greenhouses and vertical farms, in the southeast. In conjunction with this research group, Dr. Wells leads the AU Vertical Farms Project and The Rane Culinary Science Centner Rooftop Garden Project, both of which provide deep-learning opportunities for students outside the traditional classroom and provide connections to the food system from seed to plate.

Courses offered by Dr. Wells supplement the research program and are incorporated into curricula in the Department of Horticulture. The lecture/lab-based courses he teaches are HORT 2060: Hydroponics, HORT 4970/7970: Advanced Controlled Environment Agriculture, HORT 7050: Plant Nutrition, and HORT 2040: Organic Gardening. Through these research and teaching programs, Dr. Wells and his research team are helping to develop urban agriculture systems for the southeast and to train the next generation of controlled environment experts as the sector continues to expand into the southeast.

Research Opportunities

If you are interested in joining our research group, please contact us at:

Our Facilities

Aquaponics Facility – Located at E.W. Shell Fisheries Center, the AU aquaponics project is a multi-disciplinary research effort of faculty, staff, and students in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture & Aquatic Sciences and the Departments of Horticulture and Biosystems Engineering. Research at the AU aquaponics facility focuses on improving all aspects of aquaponic production including fish health and nutrition, plant growth and yield, food safety, waste management, and economics, among others.

Rooftop Gardens – The Rooftop Garden sits atop the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Sciences Building. The Department of Horticulture was brought in to design, install and manage the garden as well as offer masters opportunities to a handful of students. The garden is planted with solely edible plants and is being used as supplemental produce for The Laurel Hotel, 1856 Restaurant and Arricia Cucina which is housed in the AU Hotel. With access to 4,400 square feet of growing space, our department has the opportunity to trial different styles of urban agriculture while also offering the culinary program hyper local produce from a few floors above.

Freight Farms – The Freight Farms are a closed-environment, vertical hydroponic system, which is partnered with Auburn University’s campus dining to help feed the students at Auburn. Using hydroponics, we can grow lettuce, kale, radishes, bok choy, and more for the dining halls on campus.






Associate Professor
170A Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849


Wells named Botts Endowed Professor

Wells named Botts Endowed Professor

Auburn University has awarded Daniel Wells, associate professor of horticulture, with its Elbert A. and Barbara L. Botts Endowed Professorship, effective this month. The appointment is for 33 months, January 2024-September 2026. Wells has served at Auburn since 2014,...