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Bruce and Barbara Zobel Endowment for International Forestry Studies


The Bruce and Barbara Zobel Endowment for International Forestry Studies was established in 1998 to instill an international perspective in forestry students and to enable them to obtain firsthand experience with forestry in diverse environments around the world. In the past, the Endowment has funded both supplemental scholarships for graduate students and mini-grants to undergraduate and graduate students for travel to other countries.

The endowment offers mini-grants to travel to other countries with an agenda that includes silviculture and production forestry. We plan to award grants of up to $5000 each. For proposals of truly exceptional quality, the committee is also willing to award one large grant of up to $10,000 for up to two years. Funding in smaller amounts (up to $1500) can be requested to support participation in workshops, field tours, conferences or internships.

We anticipate that requests for more than $1500 will support dissertation or thesis research on production forestry. Participation in study tours sponsored by NCSU is not eligible for funding. Applications from previous recipients of Zobel or Laarman grants will receive lower priority. A 2-3 page report, suitable for publication on the Department webpage, must be submitted within one month of completing the international activity.

The Zobel Experience

With the support of the Bruce and Barbara Zobel Endowment, Maria Higuita, a PhD student in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, traveled to Chile to learn more about carbon modeling and soil carbon and discovered new ideas to incorporate into her research. Learn more about her experience in this video.

Application Information

For priority consideration for summer or fall semester travel, apply by February 15 (5 p.m. EST). For priority consideration for spring semester travel, apply by August 25 (5 p.m. EST). Applications submitted after these deadlines will be considered only if funding is still
available. Students should apply for either a Zobel or a Laarman grant (not both, although the international committee reserves the right to fund grants from either source).

The application should include:

  1. Cover page with your name and contact information, title of your proposal, total amount requested, and name of your academic advisor;
  2. A one-page proposal describing the international activity and how it meets the criteria outlined above;
  3. A detailed budget, indicating other sources of funding already secured and other funding proposals submitted; and
  4. A copy of your unofficial transcript.

Please submit applications to JJ Acosta by email (, with cc to your adviser indicating that s/he supports your funding request.

About Dr. Zobel

Dr. Bruce Zobel, long-time Professor in the Department of Forestry and pioneer in the field of forest genetics, died February 5, 2011 at his home in Raleigh. He was 90. Dr. Zobel came to NC State in 1956 to direct the new Cooperative Tree Improvement Program, and he directed the Cooperative until 1977. Dr. Zobel served as the E.F. Conger Distinguished Professor of Forestry and received the O. Max Gardner award in 1972, the UNC Board of Governors’ highest faculty honor for outstanding contributions to the welfare of humankind. Dr. Zobel’s connection with NC State lasted 55 years. He remained active following his first “retirement” in 1979, founding the Camcore program in gene conservation and forest genetics. He continued to teach undergraduate and graduate classes and mentor graduate students until 2001.

Recognized as an authority on genetic improvement and variation of wood properties, Dr. Zobel earned international recognition in 1975 as the first forester to be awarded the TAPPI Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the technical progress of the pulp and paper industry. As recently as 2004, the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees awarded the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence to Bruce in recognition of his outstanding career at NC State. The Holladay Medal is the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member by the trustees and the university. The list of awards Bruce has received goes on and on.

Dr. Zobel did consulting work around the world, authored six books, and mentored more than 100 graduate students, many of whom hold leadership positions with universities, government, and industry. In 1998, he and his wife created the Bruce and Barbara Zobel Endowment for International Forestry to allow students to gain firsthand experience with forestry production around the world.

Bruce was a teacher and mentor without equal. The true mark of excellence in teaching is the ability to teach thinking and independent reasoning; Bruce was unsurpassed in this capacity. Hundreds of students took his graduate and undergraduate courses in forest genetics and tree improvement and went on to be leaders in the field. Because of his influence, forestry and the productivity of forest plantations have been forever enhanced. For example, more than 75 percent of the nation’s tree planting occurs in the U.S. South. That effort requires planting more than one billion southern pine seedlings each year, of which more than 95 percent of the seedlings are genetically improved. Bruce was directly or indirectly responsible for initiating the majority of that effort.

Student Activities funded by the Bruce and Barbara Zobel Endowment

The Zobel Endowment funding for travel and research has touched the lives of many. Click on the reports below to read about the impacts that this fund has made around the world:


  • Gina Zabala traveled to Vichada and Cauca, Colombia to continue her research on developing a protocol to test the resistance of different Eucalyptus species to Ralstonia solanacearum. Gina collected samples of Eucalyptus displaying Ralstonia solanacearum symptoms and discovered the presence of the pathogen in Cauca, Colombia, marking the first recorded instance in the region. The samples collected during the trip will be used in a comparative analysis with different strains of Ralstonia solanacearum to learn more about the behavior and population dynamics of the pathogen.
  • Leonida Cherotich traveled to Australia to visit HQPlantations, an Australian forestry company managing over 300,000 hectares of forest across the state of Queensland, to gain insights for her research project, which aims to improve vegetative propagation methods for pines. Leonida had the opportunity to observe HQPlantations’ micropropagation process, to learn about top grafting in mature orchards, to see the use of a Nelder wheel in combined genetic and spacing trials, and to visit several progeny trials. In addition to visiting HQPlantations, Leonida also visited several Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization affiliates: the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, the Australian National Botanical Gardens, the Australian Tree Seed Center, and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
  • Ivan Riagosa-Garcia traveled to Vindenl, Sweden to take a course titled “Ecophysiological concepts and applications in managed forests, organized by the Swedish Agricultural University. The main goal of the course was to understand the physiological processes involved in growth and nutrient uptake in the managed forest by connecting measurements at the cell, individual leaf, tree, and ecosystem scale and their responses to changing conditions.
  • Cassio Monti traveled to Fredericton, Canada to attend the Remsoft North America User Group Conference. Experts for Remsoft’s widely used forest optimization software, Woodstock Optimization Studio, delivered practical and technical presentations about subjects such as carbon markets optimization, uncertainty analysis for harvesting purposes, and optimization accounting for climate change and its management strategies. The technical knowledge gained from the conference will assist Cassio with his dissertation where he is using Woodstock to model long-run forest growth and management strategies while accounting for wildlife management practices and constraints.


  • Gerardo Rojas traveled to Brazil to continue a decades-long soil carbon study in Eucalyptus plantations in Brazil. This study was started in the 1980’s and 1990’s and has been sampled in 2001, 2010, and now 2022 to assess the sustainability of intensively managed plantations with regards to soil carbon. Gerardo collected soils from 300 sites across a large geographic gradient in Bahia, Espírito Santo, and São Paulo with support from Fibria and Bracell. 
  • Mindoro Razoki traveled to Riau, Indonesia to conduct research for his Master’s thesis. During his trip, Mindoro helped harvest and take wood disc samples from 150 Eucalyptus pellita trees at Sinarmas Forestry trial sites.The wood samples will be used to assess several wood quality traits (basic wood density, pulp yield, chemical composition and calorific values) of the species in several ages. Results from the study will help breeding institutions determine the optimum age for E. pellita material selection.
  • Romeo Jump visited three forestry companies in Indonesia (APRIL, Sinarmas Forestry, and Araya Bumi Indonesia) to learn about Acacia plant growth and development in the nursery setting, which will support his research on developing models using Near-infrared spectroscopy. During his travels, Romeo visited a number of breeding and propagation areas and performed nursery and laboratory research in cooperation with host company breeding personnel. Romeo also had the opportunity to demonstrate DLP Nano Near-infrared to company personnel.


No student trips due to the COVID-2019 Pandemic


  • Giacomo Fagan traveled to Brazil to complete field work and measurements for the Forest Productivity Cooperation. This work involved measuring leaf area index in loblolly pine plantations in different densities, seedling prodigies, and high and low silviculture intensity. While in Brazil, Giacomo gained experience doing measurements for research, learned the basics of a different language, and now has an understanding of Brazilian forestry.
  • Zach Grover was able to attend the 30th Annual European Dendroecological  Fieldweek in Pec Pod Sněžkou, Czech Republic during the fall of 2019. The fieldweek brought together Master’s and PhD students, industry researchers, and professors from 24 countries to learn about dendrochronology techniques, sample preparation, and data analysis. This fieldweek relates to Zach’s own thesis research, which is a dendrochronology study using tree discs, and this was an ideal opportunity to learn sample prep and data analysis techniques from leaders in this field from across the world.
  • Meredith Hovis was able to travel to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, as  part of a larger community-based forestry management (CBFM) research project. She will use the Rio Hondo Community Forest as a case study and identify detailed information about its history, governance, ownership, administrative organization, uses, market and non-market products, and other benefits. During her week in Mayagüez, she conducted interviews and gathered important information of the community forest’s structure, management, and administration.


  • Ariel Zelaya Andino traveled to Zambrano, Cartagena, and Cali Colombia to collect data for his thesis, Highly Reactive Calcium Fertilizer Response on the Growth and Nutrient Availability of Eucalyptus grandis.


  • Stephanie Chizmar was able to travel to Amazonas, Peru in the summer of 2017 to work of her Master’s Thesis. During her stay, she met with landowners and study collaborators provided rich, first-hand information essential for estimating economic returns of farming systems within the region as well as visited with international scholars at National University of Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza.
  • Vitor Aguiar was able to travel to a field site in Brazil to participate in the biomass sampling and ensure all the data were collected following the same methods applied in the sampling of similar sites in the U.S. The process took place in July 2017 and lasted for two weeks, and the information generated in this project will be used to perform direct comparison of the tissue types of the trees to determine whether treatment effects are shifting partitioning or merely changing growth rates, and to examine the environmental and resource limitations that drive growth.
  • Jose P. Jimenez was able to travel to two sites in Costa Rica to gather tree samples for his dissertation research in the summer of 2016, thanks to the funding he received from the Zobel Endowment. In collaboration with universities in Costa Rica, he then organized a workshop on genetic data analysis and breeding applications that took place the summer of 2017.
  • Lili Perreault was able to travel to the 28th European Dendroecological Fieldweek in the Vosges Mountains in France, on September 10th-17th, 2017. The field week was organized by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), a European leader in Sustainale forestry Research, and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA).


  • Henrique F. Scolforo was able to present research on modeling the productions of short-rotation Eucalyptus species in the southeastern United States at the 24th Annual European Biomass Conference 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Henrique was also able to visit the FCBA in Bordeaux, France to learn more about cold tolerant Eucalyptus species which may be useful in North Carolina.
  • Damien Singh was able to intern with a forest management and investment company, Granflor Agrflorestal, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2016 to research international forest product markets. He was also able to observe harvesting and processing operations.


  • W. Andrew Whittier was able to travel to Ecuador to present preliminary results from his master’s research looking at the effects of different nutrient disorders on hydroponically grown teak seedlings. The results where presented at the 3rd World Teak Conference 2015 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.