DeMilia Research LLC, Computer Solutions for Agriculture and Science, is a family owned and operated small business that develops web based computer software applications for agricultural pest management. DeMilia Research LLC was founded in June, 1997 in Hillsborough, NJ by Dr. Michael S. DeMilia in his parents' home where he provided statistical consulting, SAS programming, and website design services to agricultural researchers at Rutgers University. He also continued the work he started in graduate school on developing software in the C programming language for the implementation of the BLIGHT-ALERT forecasting system for Botrytis Leaf Blight of Onion. While still in the design stages, it was realized that the software being developed for BLIGHT-ALERT could be extended to other plant disease forecasting models and delivered over the internet. Before long, consulting services were expanded to other industries and his wife, Mary, began assisting with projects. We paid the bills by providing SAS programming, database development, website design, and statistical consulting services to agricultural researchers, individual scientists, universities, small businesses, health care data providers, and the pharmaceutical industry. We escaped NJ in July, 2000 and relocated the business to our apartment in Raleigh, NC. Initially, we used the terms DemiAg, DemiPharma, DemiSci, and DemiWeb for categorizing the consulting projects we had for the various industries we were providing services to. Development of plant disease forecasting model software continued on nights and weekends. There was even a two-year period where our computers were running 24/7/365 processing more than a century worth of NOAA hourly weather data from all of the NWS weather stations in the country. Upon moving into our family farm in July 2012, we refocused our efforts back to the development of agricultural pest management software. We re-purposed the DemiAg, DemiPharma, DemiSci, and DemiWeb names and websites to their current usages. We started planning agricultural research field experiments for the development, testing, and validation of our software, as well as providing content for our websites and produce for sale. After more than a year of preparation, 2014 was our first full growing season and we only tested untreated controls. For the 2015 growing season, we focused on crop production techniques and only a few pesticide applications were made. For the 2016 growing season, procedures and practices are being developed for use in future plant disease studies including the evaluation of synthetic vs. organic insecticide treatments. Our goal is to use the least toxic treatment for insect control as possible to obtain acceptable levels of crop damage. In contrast to experiments in future years, treatment regiments have not been pre-defined and are being determined on an as needed basis. Some crops may not require any insecticide treatment at all. We are also trying to establish when we really need to use herbicides versus when weeds can be controlled entirely by cultural practices and cultivation. In 2017, we will be continuing these efforts and collecting data on the natural levels of plant diseases on the farm for the purpose of establishing future experimental protocols. In 2018, we will begin evaluating fungicides and organic plant disease treatments.
When asked by a school counselor what he wanted to do with his life, Michael DeMilia replied that he wanted "to become a mad scientist that works out of his basement who is scorned by his peers and his genius is not appreciated until a century after his death". His childhood interest in gardening, including a home-made hydroponic greenhouse in his NJ bedroom, led him to pursue a course of study in Plant Biology at Rutgers University's Cook College (B.S., May 1988). He apprenticed as a field hand at a wholesale horticultural nursery in his hometown, as an insecticide research assistant at BASF's Princeton NJ field research farm, and as a lab technician at American Cyanamid's Fungicide Discovery Group in Princeton NJ. Just a few days after graduating college, he found himself living and working out of a small agricultural research station in the vegetable production region of Orange County NY. As the next in a long distinguished line of graduate research assistants for Cornell University Professor James Lorbeer's onion disease research program, he directed field studies that emphasized annual fungicide spray trials contracted by the commercial pesticide industry and assisted agricultural extension staff in plant disease diagnosis for the local growers. It was truly a unique graduate program in that he was suddenly thrust into the role of gaining the trust of local growers. He also had to be both boss and housemate to college students who abruptly switched from campus dorm life to an old house out in the middle of nowhere where they mixed pesticides in the basement and grew fungal cultures in the makeshift living room laboratory. Over those six summers, he began his life-long research into developing computer software for environmental based plant pest forecasting models. It all started with a C program for running BLIGHT-ALERT forecasts that he ran on a Mac Plus. In fact, at the end of his seminar presenting the software to the Plant Pathology department at Cornell, he stated that Apple was the future of computing and was subsequently laughed out of the room. If only he had the money to buy Apple Computer stock at the time! He also garnered the knowledge that would later allow him to convert a rural NC home into a family agricultural research farm. Upon closure of his studies in Plant Pathology, Mycology, and Statistics at Cornell University (M.S., January 1994) and securing the "scorned by his peers" part of his legacy, he returned to Rutgers University to complete his dissertation on fungicide synergistic interactions (Ph.D., May 1996).
After taking a long overdue break to witness the Atlanta Summer Olympics, he took odd jobs working for Rutgers University while searching for a full-time Plant Pathologist position. His extensive programming skills and statistical knowledge proved quite the rare skillset amongst agricultural researchers. So his former professors asked him to assist in statistical analyses and the interpretation of results. He found that, like his brothers who became professional software developers, he was quite adept at learning a multitude of computer programming languages on the fly and thus founded DeMilia Research LLC, Computer Solutions for Agriculture and Science, in July 1997. A few years later, he and his wife escaped NJ and moved to Raleigh NC to start a family. In a way, his computer programming career success put on damper his agricultural career and he found himself working on everything from pharmaceutical clinical trials, information technology, data management, pharmaceutical marketing, data warehousing, health care, and even legal projects to pay the bills. While many would see not following the traditional career route of a scientist as a negative, he found it to be an immeasurable learning experience and gained a computer programming skillset that is extremely rare among scientists. Through it all, though, he kept plugging away at nights and weekends on his computer software for environmental based plant pest forecasting models.
In July 2012, he was finally able to move from his apartment in Raleigh and purchased a 14 acre family farm in Zebulon NC. It was time to reboot his career in agriculture and take his research beyond just computer programming. He immediately had woods cleared for crops, purchased John Deere equipment, and started getting the farm ready for the following growing season. His home, like most in the Southeast, doesn't have a basement, but a planned backyard laboratory and home office are sufficiently close enough to warrant a checkmark next to that portion of his career objective. While he cannot currently attest to being a "mad" scientist, he is quite certain that his wife will get him there before long. As far as "his genius is not appreciated until a century after his death", he is working tirelessly and diligently to earn that future final goal of his career objective.
Mary DeMilia spent most of her childhood in Nutley, NJ swimming at the local aquatics center and that hasn't changed very much. She got her B.S. degree at Lehigh University and has dabbled a bit in web site design and database programming, but mostly she just spends her time swimming or teaching others to do so. As breast cancer survivor, she has helped organize cancer charity swimming events. Mary helps taking care of the farm animals and the kids, but you won't catch her out in the crop fields, especially since she blows up like a balloon every time she gets bit by a fly.
Ryan DeMilia is a science kid who spends his days exploring the universe. When in a rush, he blasts off on his engineered rockets. Though, usually he does not want to contribute to global warming and will save on rocket fuel by flying his chickens into space. Don't bug him with terrestrial matters unless it has to do with monitoring the farm's caterpillars and butterflies or tracking the weather. Ryan helps create the kid's games on the DeMilia Research websites and will soon be helping with programming. Someday Ryan wants to build an observatory on the DeMilia Research Farm. Ryan has a life threatening peanut allergy, so if you ever visit the DeMilia Research Farm, be careful about what food you bring with you.
Michelle DeMilia is a kid who justs loves animals and helps take care of them on the DeMilia Research Farm. She learns and remembers everything about them. If you visit the farm, then Michelle will be your tour guide. Michelle also helps create comics and other interesting stuff for kids on the DeMilia Research websites. Someday Michelle wants to convert the DeMilia Research Farm from doing plant disease research to animal research.
Lucky DeMilia is a Black Lab and Dalmation mix pup who spends his days tracking plant diseases on the DeMilia Research Farm, typing up his farm blog on the computer, sleeping on the lawn, and causing lots of mischief. He is a friendly dog, but you should keep your distance if you visit since he likes to get to know you really well with a nip and a tackle.
Rex DeMilia is a Rex rabbit who has the run of the upstairs of the house at the DeMilia Research Farm. When he is not working on his Grower’s Guide, he is either chewing on something he shouldn't be or sleeping in the bathroom.
Chicken Little and Junior DeMilia spend their days preparing the family with eggs and general clucking around. They also write about bugs in the Plant Pest Guide.
Starlight and Moonlight DeMilia are Black Star chickens, Rosie DeMilia is a Rhodebar, and Sarah DeMilia is a Red Star chicken. They are the newest members of the family and are growing quickly so it won't be long before they are producing eggs for the family. They also write about grains in the Grower’s Guide.
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