Who We Are

Students and faculty from across all departments have united under the Dilmun Hill Barn Project.

The Barn Project group currently consists of the following students and faculty from the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture, Art, and Planning, Human Ecology, and Agriculture and Life Sciences.

If you are interested in being part of the Dilmun Hill Barn Project, JOIN OUR TEAM.


Alena Hutchinson (amh345@cornell.edu)

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering ’18

Project Lead

As an engineer, Dilmun has been a great resource for me to develop technology with an aim towards increasing the efficiency of small scale organic farming operations. For a long time, it has been my goal to lead the design and construction of a new barn that is reflective of the farm’s mission to empower students and foster engagement in ecological agriculture. I believe that technology will play a key role in strengthening regional food systems, and this project will allow me to explore this hypothesis by focusing my Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project on designing hardware that can be integrated into our structure to create a “smart” barn.

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Oksana Bihun (onb4@cornell.edu)

Environmental & Sustainability Sciences ’19

Passive Systems Design

I first heard about Dilmun early on in my Cornell education from friends that regularly volunteered there picking fresh produce. I loved the concept of a student run farm and was eager to learn more about how they operated. As a student pursuing Sustainable Design, I’m constantly looking for new projects and opportunities to apply my coursework to and when I heard about the Dilmun Hill Barn Project, I knew this was something I wanted to be part of. Not only are we designing a building to store tools and produce, we’re working to implement research and technology to allow Dilmun to become a model for sustainable ecological farming practices everywhere.

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Jeremy Bilotti (jcb432@cornell.edu)

Architecture ’18

Designer & Architect

I was introduced to Dilmun Hill by Alena, who inspired me to join the design team and work on creating a new space for the farm. My personal and academic interests are in innovative architectural construction/fabrication methods, and Dilmun’s open-minded student team and unique positioning as a part of Cornell University present an amazing opportunity to explore some of these topics in the context of a small scale, real building project.

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Brian Byun (db726@cornell.edu)

Urban and Regional Studies ’19

Community Engagement

I was fascinated by agriculture when I learned about the power of farming and gardening in building a community, particularly disinvested urban areas, after reading a book called Farm City. This led me to become one of the student managers of Dilmun Hill, where I experienced firsthand a deeper connection to food and community. I wanted to get involved with the barn project because it was an amazing way of further combining my interest in growing food and my studies in urban planning. Through my role, I hope to engage all stakeholders so that our new barn is reflective of not just the vision of this team, but also that of the student managers, volunteers, faculty, staff, and small farmers.





Brian Gross (bwg38@cornell.edu)

Electrical & Computer Engineering ’17

Master’s of Engineering  ’18

Automated Irrigation Network Project Lead

I think agriculture is possibly the most significant field of advancement through technology. I hope to make innovative steps forward in automated agriculture, and to work with real users to make sure my work has an impact.

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Olivia Heim (oh66@cornell.edu)

Design and Environmental Analysis ’21

Passive Systems Design & Social Media

When I started at Cornell, volunteering at Dilmun Hill Student Run Farm was a meditative and rewarding outlet from schoolwork. Through this connection, I heard about the Barn Project and saw it as the perfect opportunity to combine my my values that align with Dilmun’s mission for sustainable agricultural practices and food accessibility with my design major. The combination of my design focus with my team member’s environmental science background allows us to combine technology with modern design. We plan to install solar panels and potentially a rainwater collection system in the new barn. I envision Dilmun as an interactive model for the future of sustainable design and passive systems technology that both locals and visitors can engage with and learn from. I also manage the blog, Facebook and Instagram for the project, furthering our connection with the local and broader community.

Sasson Rafailov (sr779@cornell.edu)

Architecture ’18

Designer & Architect

I had heard of an opportunity to build a new barn for Cornell’s student organic farm from Alena, and I was very excited about the prospect. She had described, practically, the ideal architectural project: a contemporary mixed use learning center that had to facilitate an ancient practice. As we spoke more and I began to understand more about the project, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.

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Nina Sannes (ns749@cornell.edu)

Plant Sciences ’19

Marketing and Social Media

I worked as vegetable production manager at Dilmun Hill in 2016, and have since been working to broaden Dilmun’s scope within the Cornell community, because the farm has endless opportunities for learning and research across many disciplines. I am committed to making sustainable agricultural practices accessible to small farmers, and in making research and plans for the new barn open to all, I hope that this barn can serve as a prototype or model for growers looking for affordable structures such ours that promote environmentally-friendly management.

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Ying Hua (yh294@cornell.edu)

Human Ecology

Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Dr. Ying Hua comes from a background of architecture, building science and behavioral science. As an Appointed Member of the China Green Building Council, Dr. Hua has been actively promoting sustainable building policy, practice, and education in China. She is playing an active role in promoting sustainable campus research and practice both in China and internationally. The Barn Project coincides with her overall goal to inform the design, delivery, operation, management and re-engineering of built environments and building sector policy-making to enhance the quality of built environments and support health and performance of their occupants, and to mitigate the building sector’s impact on global climate change.

More information about Ying’s background can be found at: https://www.human.cornell.edu/people/yh294 

Leslie Lok (wll36@cornell.edu)

Architecture, Art, and Planning

Visiting Critic, Bachelor’s of Architecture Program Coordinator

Leslie Lok is a visiting critic and the coordinator of Cornell’s Bachelor’s of Architecture program. In addition to teaching, Leslie is is a cofounder of HANNAH, an interdisciplinary architectural practice based in the U.S. and Germany. Leslie serves as the advisor to our architecture and design team. She sees the Barn Project as an invaluable opportunity for architecture students to study and design the barn through various lens, from the historical and typological studies to the materiality and construction processes of the structure.

More information about Leslie’s background can be found at: https://aap.cornell.edu/people/leslie-lok

Joe Skovira (jfs9@cornell.edu)

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Senior Lecturer

Joe Skovira is a senior lecturer in the electrical and computer engineering department, and serves as the advisor for the Automated Irrigation Valve Network project. Joe has a broad background in research and design including microcontrollers, servers, and clustered systems.

More information about Joe’s background and the courses he teaches can be found at: http://skovira.ece.cornell.edu/

Peter Trowbridge (pjt4@cornell.edu)

Landscape Architecture

Professor, ALSA Fellow

Peter Trowbridge has had a long-standing interest in sustainable site design as related to soils, vegetation and precipitation. While being trained as a landscape architect, he has had considerable first-hand experience in farming practices, having grown up on a family farm that had a  commitment to quality beef, poultry and vegetable production. His interest in the Dilmun Hill  and the ongoing work they are engaged in combines his fundamental understanding of farming practices with a contemporary view to energy use reductions through storm water harvesting, soil development and passive and active solar energy design.

More information about Peter’s background can be found at: https://landscape.cals.cornell.edu/people/peter-trowbridge

Matt Ulinski (mu25@cornell.edu)

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Master of Engineering Program Director

Matt’s teaching interests are in experiential learning and sustainability. He sees the Barn Project as an opportunity to blend these elements with enthusiastic students, and an idea to build and learn from that can engage the Cornell community as a whole. Matt’s teaching philosophy is to allow his students to let their passions and interests drive the process. Matt sees his role as one to guide us to a successful conclusion and challenge us to take risks and learn. Matt is our lead project advisor, and advisor for the Advanced Yield Acquisition (AYA) Robot.

More information about Matt’s background can be found at: https://www.mae.cornell.edu/people/profile.cfm?netid=mu25


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