Tech, USDA/Forestry Service collaboration to benefit students, industry

May 17, 2024 | Applied and Natural Sciences, General News, Partnerships

Louisiana Tech University students and the state’s forestry industry are set to benefit from the recent planting of a seed that’s sure to grow.

Representatives of the University’s College of Applied and Natural Sciences (CANS) and the US Department of AgricultureForest Service, Southern Research Station (USDA-FS-SRS) have signed a letter of intent regarding both a shared commitment to forest sector-based research and a collaboration between the two entities regarding the University’s on-the-horizon Forest Products Innovation Center.

At a recent meeting in Asheville, N.C., the two entities signed a letter agreeing that by combining their capabilities, USDA-FS-SRS and Louisiana Tech can together help managers leverage emerging research and technologies to support a proactive approach to forest products and markets.

“This collaboration will result in advancing forest science research broadly including but not limited to wood chemistry research, wood product utilization science, forest product engineering, and improved science-based support for wood product markets at regional and national scales,” the letter of intent reads. “The emphasis on innovation and advancing science and technology in the forestry sector will benefit students, industry, and stakeholder communities.”

Especially important to Tech students, a U.S. Forest Service researcher will be housed at Tech’s future Forest Products Innovation Center once the project is complete.

“The US Forest Service’s Southern Research Station is committed to sustaining the health and productivity of our nation’s forests; they are an ideal partner with our Forest Products Innovation Center project, as they also focus on research related to harvesting wood from responsibly managed forests,” Dr. Gary Kennedy, CANS dean and the Ray & Dorothy Young Family endowed professor in agricultural science, said. “Having a US Forest Service Researcher housed at Tech’s new center will facilitate research in areas such as engineered wood products, sustainable harvesting techniques, carbon capture and storage, biochar and biomass management, as well as other topics.”

Among those attending the signing were representatives of two of the FPIC’s biggest supporters—Scott Poole, president and CEO of RoyOMartin, and Richie LeBlanc, president of Hunt Forest Products.

The new building will provide space for research collaborations, not only within the forestry industry, but also with other state and national industry partners. Academic programs in forestry, agriculture, biology, engineering, science, and other disciplines will all contribute to the learning, research, and service created by the FPIC.

“This collaboration in advancing forest science research will provide opportunities for our faculty and students, as well as for the forest products industry and private landowners in areas such as wood product innovation, fire control, managing invasive species, and other factors that impact forests,” Kennedy said. “We look forward to developing and expanding our collaboration with the US Forest Service as our project progresses.”