Tree Improvement Seedling

The Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER) is recognized worldwide for its cutting-edge research into issues involving forestry, wildlife management, environmental sciences, biotechnology and more. These efforts are important not only because they lead to new breakthroughs in forestry and natural resource management, but also because they provide a valuable training ground for students interested in working on the frontline of their chosen fields as part of their educational experience.

FER faculty, staff, and students work with public and private groups, organizations, institutions, and industries to identify and solve complex, real-world environmental resource issues.

The list below includes our current research thrusts:

See also the Faculty Directory for individual research initiatives.



Camcore seed collectionCamcore is a non-profit, international program that works for the conservation of tropical and subtropical forest tree species. Camcore's mission is to be a leader in conservation and domestication of forest genetic resources for sustainable economic, ecological, and social benefits for present and future generations.
Key contact: Dr. William Dvorak

Center for Advanced Forestry Systems

black cherry tree cultureCenter for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS) is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center that bridges top forestry research programs with industry members to solve complex, industry-wide problems and transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. The CAFS mission is to optimize genetic and cultural systems to produce high-quality raw forest materials for new and existing products.
Key contact: Dr. Barry Goldfarb

Center for Geospatial Analytics

forest management students take notes in the field

The Center for Geospatial Analytics is an interdisciplinary research and teaching center focused on data-driven spatial modeling and visualization for sustainable solutions to environmental and societal challenges. Administered by the College of Natural Resources, the Center is the technological and intellectual hub for the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program in Geospatial Analytics.

Key contact: Dr. Ross Meentemeyer

Center for Industrial Research Programs

loblolly pine plantationThe Center for Industrial Research Programs in Forestry at NC State University works with industrial and agency partners to conduct relevant research using a cooperative model. All of the programs within this umbrella center place a heavy emphasis on meaningful research results, technology transfer, and graduate student training.

Key contact: Dr. Barry Goldfarb

Christmas Tree Genetics Research and Extension

Dr. Frampton leads the Christmas Tree Genetics ProgramThe Christmas Tree Research and Extension Programs at NC State are among the largest and best programs of their kind in the nation. They are improving the growth, quality and pest resistance of Christmas tree species important to North Carolina including Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Eastern white pine and Eastern red cedar. It also screens new species and is conducting genetic conservation efforts for Fraser fir, a globally threatened species.
Key contact: Dr. John Frampton

Ecohydrology and Watershed Science

Ecohydrology and Watershed Science imageEcohydrology and Watershed Science focuses on quantifying mass and energy exchange between vegetated landscapes and the atmosphere at scales ranging from individual leaves to entire watersheds; exploring the interface of soils, vegetation and the atmosphere in a watershed context; and understanding water and biogeochemical cycles in the face of global change.
Key contact: Dr. Ryan Emanuel

Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

The Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology program is interdisciplinary and intercollegiate between the College of Natural Resources, College of Agriculture and Live Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. We conduct innovative research to identify and resolve important questions ranging from fundamental scientific inquiry to applied, management-oriented problems.

Current research thrusts in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology include:

Colter Chitwood modeling the influence of coyote predation

Global Change and Wildlife focuses on the effects of land use and climate change on wildlife and their habitats; develops strategies to mitigate negative effects of global change on wildlife; explores the influence of management practices, especially prescribed fire, timber harvest and sustainable agriculture, that can be used to improve wildlife habitat; and emphasizes conservation and restoration of native plant communities, especially in urbanizing landscapes.
Key contact: Dr. Christopher Moorman

Allie Stewart banding a red-cockaded woodpecker

Human Dimensions of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology includes human dimensions of wildlife science, coupled human-natural systems, conservation related conflict, conservation development, urban wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, environmental communication, and environmental economics.
Key contact: Dr. Nils Peterson

black bear photo from camera trap

Movement Ecology related to Movebank animal tracking and eMammal camera trapping - the movement of animals is what makes them so interesting, ecologically important, and difficult to study. Technology has advanced to where we can rigorously study the movement of free-ranging animals, describe the phenomenon in detail, and ask new scientific questions with real-world relevance.
Key contact: Dr. Roland Kays

small mammal and fuel reduction effects

Quantitative Ecology studies populations, including estimation of demographic rates, distribution patterns, abundance, and habitat relationships, is essential for conservation, management, and ecological understanding. Major drivers such as climate change and land-use change will continue to alter the environment affecting wildlife populations in new and unexpected ways. Our lab develops statistical models to assess populations and distributions for fish, wildlife, and other organisms.
Key contact: Dr. Beth Gardner

Morgan Elfelt (M.S. Student) - Coyote habitat use and movement in relation to prey availablity.

Wildlife Disease and Population Ecology, including management of big game species and predators, habitat use and selection of big game species and predators, interactions of predators and prey, and sexual segregation and resource partitioning in ungulates, animal damage, population surveys, reptile and amphibian habitat requirements, wildlife and zoonotic diseases, and wildlife education.

Key contact: Dr. Christopher DePerno

See also the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Faculty Directory to learn more about individual research efforts in this unique program.

Forest Biotechnology

grandisThe purpose of the Forest Biotechnology Group is to engage in research that promotes innovation in basic science and applies new discoveries and technology to advance practical problems of forest trees. This purpose is implemented through research, scientist training, and technology transfer. Interactions with other research groups, at NC State University and worldwide, contribute to meeting these goals. The research is carried out with support from federal competitive grants and from an NCSU based industrial research cooperative, the Forest Biotechnology Industrial Research Consortium (FORBIRC), operating since 1988.
Key contacts:
Dr. Vincent Chiang and Dr. Ron Sederoff

Forest Productivity Cooperative

tree growth rings

Forest Productivity Cooperative is an international partnership committed to creating innovative solutions to enhance forest productivity and value through the sustainable management of site resources. Team members have expertise in silviculture, forest nutrition, ecophysiology, soils, plant community ecology, growth and yield modeling, remote sensing, spatial analysis and GIS, and statistics.
Key contacts: Dr. Jose Luiz Stape

Restoration Ecology

durability of restored streamsRestoration Ecology, a unique program that prepares students to help in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded, damaged or destroyed. Emphasis is placed on the actual craft of restoring natural ecosystems as well as the social and philosophical principles that mandate restoration.
Key contact: Dr. Ted Shear

Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply

tree as fuel pumpSoutheastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) is a collaboration of several universities and industry partners who will work on all aspects of the “biofuels pipeline” between the forests where the trees – the biomass feedstock – are grown and the “biorefineries” where the biofuels are produced. The partnership is funded for five years with a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Key contact: Dr. Steve Kelley (Dept. of Forest Biomaterials)

Southern Fire Exchange

Southern Forest Exchange photo Southern Fire Exchange (SFE) is a regional fire science delivery program, representing the southeastern United States. The SFE is a member of the national network of knowledge exchange consortia, funded by the Joint Fire Science Program. The Joint Fire Science Program funds scientific research on wildland fires and distributes results to help policymakers, fire managers, and practitioners make sound decisions. The regional consortia were established to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and adoption of fire science information within ecologically similar regions.
Key contact: Dr. Joe Roise

Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC)

SOFAC logo

Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC) develops forest sector market models for application to forest resource assessments in the South, U.S., and the World. SOFAC integrates currently available forest resource data from the USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program and economic theory to model timber supply and demand in the South by local area.
Key contacts: Dr. Fred Cubbage and Dr. Bob Abt

Tree Improvement Cooperative (TIP)

tree improvement

Tree Improvement Cooperative (TIP) is committed to on-going research into forest genetics, selection, breeding, testing, and technology transfer in an effort to increase forest productivity within the Southeast timber region. TIP is responsible for some of the most significant breakthroughs in forestry over the past half century and it continues to lead the way in developing new and more effective productivity and breeding improvement techniques.
Key contact: Dr. Steve McKeand

Tree Physiology

forest management students take notes in the field Tree Physiology is interested in a variety of topics associated with physiology and ecology of forested ecosystems, including carbon cycling and sequestration, hardwood bioenergy crops and intercropping sustainability.
Key contact: Dr. John King