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Rachel Cook

Assoc Professor

Jordan Hall 3108B



Ph.D. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (2012)

Masters of Science in Natural Resources, NCSU (2008)

Honors Bachelor of Science in Biology, Minor in Anthropology, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO (2005)

Research Interests

Silvicultural management of intensively managed plantation forest systems to enhance long-term productivity and protect natural resources.



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Date: 02/01/22 - 1/31/26
Amount: $649,912.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

We will investigate the carryover effects of P fertilization on loblolly pine plantations and the effects on the soil microbial community.

Date: 08/01/21 - 1/31/25
Amount: $1,014,054.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) - Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

We propose an integrated technology of low capital intensity that will capture, utilize and sequester carbon dioxide in wood pulping processes. CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) will be utilized by converting two waste streams to mineral carbonate fertilizer. The carbon in the mineral carbonates is derived from carbon dioxide generated in recovery boilers and lime kilns. Excess carbon dioxide that is not utilized as fertilizer will be pumped deep underground into suitable geological reservoirs for permanent sequestration. Retrofitting lime kilns to oxy-fuel will enable low-cost generation of high purity carbon dioxide. If fully implemented at every large chemical pulp mill in the United States, approximately 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide will be captured, utilized, and sequestered per year.

Date: 12/15/19 - 11/30/24
Amount: $0.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Pool Account

Date: 12/15/19 - 11/30/24
Amount: $509,834.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The Center for Advanced Forestry System (CAFS) was established as an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on September 1, 2007. Phase II for CAFS was approved for the four original sites effective October 1, 2013. Currently, there are five sites in addition to the four original sites (University of Maine, University of Georgia, University of Washington, University of Idaho and Auburn University). We are applying to continue with Phase III which would carry NCSU to the end of the IUCRC program, at which time CAFS will be a self-sustaining Center focusing on national level cooperative research that affects forest industry on a broad scale. CAFS brings together industry and agency scientists and practitioners and university scientists from across the country to take interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems facing our nations planted and natural forests and provide for a future with sustainable, healthy forests that provide an economic foundation to many communities and industries, as well as numerous other environmental services.

Date: 08/01/19 - 12/31/23
Amount: $382,056.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

As planned this will be a 4 year project costing $428,000. There will be 3 NCSU faculty involved. Two graduate students and one undergraduate studying forest management planning. Both will become highly familiar with the land management model. The final result is a sustainable strategic forest plan, that can be used by WRC to get better results. The NC WRC controls 541,000 acres of forest and habitat in North Carolina. The primary focus of management on these lands is wildlife habitat management, conservation and restoration. However, it is recognized that forest management and wildlife habitat management goes hand-in-hand. The final deliverable of this project will be a large scale mathematical program for optimization of the WRC land base.

Date: 04/01/20 - 8/31/22
Amount: $35,842.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Loblolly pine can provide an excellent source of bioenergy in the Southeast. Optimizing the production of bioenergy can be accomplished through management practices such as stand density, silviculture, and appropriate genetics, however long-term trials are necessary to evaluate interactions among treatments and timing of peak biomass accumulation. Additionally, economical analysis is required to determine which combination of treatments optimizes not just the biological production of biomass but also results in the best return on investment. The “correct” combination of treatments will vary by site depending what resources are limiting, the cost of seedling genetics, and the number of trees planted per acre. We will evaluate the effects of silviculture, genetics (clones, controlled pollinated, and open pollinated families), and stand density on the production of biomass for bioenergy on two typical sites, one on a poorly drained site in the coastal plain and one on a well drained site in the Piedmont. Long-term and continued biomass harvesting of these treatments will help determine the optimal rotation length given different treatment scenarios. Economical analysis of each combination of treatments will provide landowners with information necessary to determine which scenario works best given local costs and market conditions.

Date: 01/01/17 - 6/30/21
Amount: $250,562.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Woody feedstocks are expected to play a major role in the future sustainable renewable energy production. Economically viable short rotation woody crop (SRWC) production is particularly significant in North Carolina due to prominent wood pellet exports to Europe and evolving bioenergy markets. Extrapolating field-scale studies to state-scale assessment of feedstock productivity for North Carolina is a necessary tool to facilitate stakeholder decision making for SRWC procurement and for recommending best management practices to landowners. Our on-going studies have demonstrated that Populus can be grown productively throughout North Carolina, yet individual landowners will need to assess the merit of growing SRWCs on their own land based on their specific site conditions. Potential industrial users of wood feedstocks also need regional assessments of regional-scale potential for sustainable provision of adequate feedstocks before investing in new facilities. We will refine and validate an existing forest productivity model (3-PG model) for SRWCs including poplar, sweetgum, green ash, sycamore, and loblolly pine depending on their productivity performances at our sites. We will also perform plantation-level and regional-scale economic analyses based on the productivity predictions. Data from existing plantations in the coastal plain, piedmont, and mountain regions of North Carolina will be used for model validation.

Date: 10/01/12 - 9/30/19
Amount: $1,175,190.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Forests are vital to the world?s ecological, social, and economic health. Forests provide a major part of the earth?s oxygen and remove and store a substantial amount of atmospheric CO2. Forests provide habitats for much of the world?s plants, animals, and microorganisms?and recreational and spiritual opportunities for its people. Today, forests provide the wood that continues to be the major source of fuel for cooking and heating throughout much of the world. Wood is also major economic commodity, serving as the raw material for building materials, furniture, paper, packaging, and now as a feedstock for bioenergy, biofuels and biomaterials. Many of the problems and opportunities facing forestry today, bridge disciplinary and regional boundaries. For technological advances to be made, it is necessary to approach research questions on multiple spatial and temporal scales, including the molecular, cellular, individual-tree, stand, and ecosystem levels. The Center for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS) has been successful at providing the administrative structure and funding that has allowed scientists from existing discipline focused research cooperatives to initiate much need cross-disciplinary research in areas of genetics, site manipulation, and growth and yield modeling. In this proposal, we present a plan for the 2nd five-year phase for the four original university CAFS sites, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Purdue, and Virginia Tech.

Date: 01/01/17 - 6/30/19
Amount: $110,744.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Loblolly pine plantation productivity has increased greatly over the last decades in the southeast. However, to optimize bioenergy production while still maintaining stemwood productivity requires additional evaluation the effects of genetics, spacing, and silvicultural practices on whole tree biomass production at multiple site locations. Increased stand density with better uniformity from genetics and alleviation of site limitations should increase aboveground biomass accumulation and classification into “broad” vs “narrow” crown ideotypes may inform our decision making processes for spacing to better evaluate potential biomass production in conjunction with stemwood. The objectives of this project are to harvest whole tree biomass to evaluate the bioenergy potential of a range of genetic uniformity (clones, controlled pollinated, and open pollinated), spacing, and silviculture. We will also evaluate the feasibility of classifying genotypes into broad vs crown ideotypes to predict response to simplify future testing. Finally, because whole tree harvesting is expensive and labor intensive, we plan to correlate and validate ground-based LiDAR scanning techniques, along with overhead scans, to improve biomass evaluation methods as well as provide valuable information to stakeholders through 3-D illustrations of site characteristics.

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