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Laarman International Gift Fund

The Laarman International Gift Fund (LIGF) was established in January 2010 to support creative and important international research by graduate students in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State University. Any graduate student enrolled in a Masters or PhD degree program in FER is eligible for funding from the LIGF.

We expect to award LIGF grants to graduate students in DFER for international field research. The amount requested can range from $500 to $5000.

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(s);
  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. 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. Laarman

Dr. Jan Laarman has long been at the forefront of policy and economics of natural resources. After receiving his B.S. from University of Michigan in Forestry and Natural Resources, Dr. Laarman earned an M.A., an M.S., and a PhD from UC Berkley. In addition to his 18 years as an NC State professor, Dr. Laarman has has been a Deputy Director-General of the World Agroforestry Center and a Senior Manager of the International Resources Group. With the International Resources Group, Dr. Laarman’s efforts were directed towards environmental projects in Central America and Egypt.  

In 2008, Dr. Laarman founded Terra Viva Grants, a nonprofit organization that disseminates information on funding sources to support work on natural resources, agriculture, energy, and the environment in the developing world. Dr. Laarman’s goal with Terra Viva Grants is to help people all over the world find project funding for work in developing countries. As part of his efforts to promote education and research on environmental issues in developing countries, Dr. Laarman established the Laarman International Gift Fund (LIGF) in 2010 to promote international research by FER graduate students. Thus, Dr. Laarman remains an integral part of NCSU’s research and education efforts in the international realm.

Student Activities funded by the Laarman International Gift Fund (LIGF)

The LIGF has already touched the lives of many. Click on the links below to read about some of the most recent graduate student experiences that have been supported by this fund:


  • Prabin Bhusal traveled to Nepal to conduct research on the intricate relationship between community forestry and integrated socio-environmental systems. This study, conducted across Community Forest User Groups (CFUG) in four districts in the mid-hills region of Nepal, assessed the impact of evolving socioeconomic, political, and ecological dynamics on community forestry institutions and forest-dependent communities. During the trip, Prabin carried out 871 household surveys, 106 CFUG institutional surveys, 144 CFUG leader surveys, and 14 focus group discussions. Prabin’s work will help guide the sustainability of community forestry in Nepal and beyond.
  • Hannah Desrochers traveled to Andros Island, The Bahamas to investigate the history of leisure activities on Andros Island, the change in leisure over time, and how locals perceive these changes. Andros Island provides a compelling case to explore the effects of globalization and modernization, given the residents’ firsthand experience of rapid modernization in their own lifetimes. The study consisted of 25 qualitative, semi-structured interviews with local, elderly residents.
  • Mindoro Razoki traveled to the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada to learn wood chemistry analysis techniques for accurate phenotyping in Eucalyptus pellita. Under the direction of Dr. Shawn Mansfield, Mindoro learned the standard operating procedures in material preparation, equipment operation, and calculations for wood chemistry analysis. While at UBC, Mindoro also had the opportunity to analyze 50 Eucalyptus pellita samples obtained for his own research project. 
  • Romeo Jump traveled to Tabasco, Veracruz, and Chiapas, Mexico to conduct a 5-day course called “Developing Techniques to Enhance Germplasm Quality” for research technicians of Proteak and students of Colegio de Posgraduados Tabasco. Following the 5-day course, Romeo traveled to Guatemala to participate in a theoretical course on Eucalyptus germplasm resource management at the National School of Agriculture and Forestry (ENCA). Additionally, he visited Camcore’s Tectona grandis Clonal Seed Orchard, established in 2021, in the southern coastal region. During his visit, he discussed the potential of this teak seed material for local and worldwide production and developed a plan to increase seed yield and viability by establishing bee colonies in the area.
  • Laura María Arango Saavedra spent two months in Oaxaca, Mexico to establish initial connections with local communities in Sierra Norte, Oaxaca and begin learning about their restoration activities and their community forest management experience. Laura visited and worked with two indigenous Zapotec communities, La Trinidad de Ixtlán and Santa María de Jaltianguis, who are leading efforts to conserve their forests and natural resources through implementing sustainable timber production, reforestation, and the sale of carbon offset credits. During the two-month stay, Laura collected data comparing reference forests with restored forests and visited different management plots to explore the varying forestry practices. Data collected can be used to model climate scenarios and species distribution maps, identify regions with high risk of biodiversity loss, and define policies and management plans to promote both sustainable local production and biodiversity conservation.
  • Susana Mateos traveled to Ranchitos, Costa Rica, a small rural community predominantly composed of Nicaraguan refugees and their descendants, to learn about the relationship members of the community have with their natural environment. Specifically, Susana sought to explore how local ecological knowledge compares among Nicaraguan refugees, adult children of Nicaraguan refugees, and Costa Rican-born people with Costa Rican-born parents. Susana conducted 20 semi-structured interviews, initially selecting knowledgeable community leaders and then relying on snowball sampling to recruit other participants. 
  • Sumaiya Tazin traveled to Sirajganj, Bangladesh to work on pilot testing a study design for measuring the effect of installing concrete floors in households with soil floors as an intervention in reducing child enteric infection. The study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, specifically the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is a collaboration between NC State, Stanford University, and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). During Tazin’s stay, she was able to collaborate with many of the researchers participating in this project in order to develop the study protocols. Tazin also had the opportunity to visit local households and the environmental health lab at ICDDR,B.


  • Jacob Hackman traveled to Cali, Columbia to collect soil samples at two Smurfit Kappa Eucalyptus plantation field sites to continue his research on rhizosphere and bulk soil microbiome shifts in response to calcium fertilization.  Varying site and soil characteristics across field sites have proven to be a substantial hurdle in implementing Ca fertilization management plans in Eucalyptus forest stands, and there is a lack of data about belowground biotic drivers of responsive vs. unresponsive sites. Comparing bacterial and fungal communities with sites that are responsive to Ca fertilization and sites that are unresponsive to Ca fertilization could help determine below ground indicators to evaluate site responsiveness and help give Eucalyptus growers better predictions about how a site will respond to fertilization.
  • Catherine Lerose traveled to Andros Island, The Bahamas to conduct research on the economic impact of blue hole tourism. Blue holes are ecologically important anchialine caves that attract many visitors each year. She worked with a team of NCSU undergraduate students to survey visitors at four of the island’s most popular inland blue holes. The survey looked at the blue hole economic contribution to the Bahamian tourism industry. This work will help inform blue hole management decisions. 
  • Sebastian Zarate traveled to Peru to begin his ethnographic analysis project on the politics of potato germplasm conservation in the Peruvian Highlands. While in Peru, Sebastian met with researchers from the International Potato Center (CIP), scientists working at the germplasm bank, and extensionists engaging with farmers. Sebastian  attended a conference in Lima organized by CIP in collaboration with researchers, chefs, filmmakers, nutritionists and extensionists, who are involved in leveraging agrobiodiversity to engage the public in topics such as nutrition, food security and consumption of Andean crops. He also attended a local food fair, and helped organize the AGUAPAN (Association of Guardians of the Native Potato) annual meeting in Huancayo. Through his travels, Sebastian gained organizational familiarity and  stakeholder trust, which will play a crucial role in the remainder of his project.
  • Gina Zabala traveled to Colombia and Brazil to meet with various researchers and labs (Smurfit Kappa Carton of Colombia, Brazil Bracell, Clonal, the Federal University of Viçosa, and the Center of Forestry Research) to continue her research project on testing the susceptibility of different species and families of Eucalyptus spp. to different strains of Ralstonia spp. Eucalyptus are among the most important tree species used in commercial forestry and are one of the few tree genera susceptible to infection by Ralstonia bacterial pathogens. Gina was able to learn new lab techniques for testing Ralstonia, learn about susceptibility test development, and observe the severe damage of Ralstonia in the field and nursery. She will be able to implement this knowledge into her own research when she inoculates Eucalyptus trees with Ralstonia.


No student trips due to the COVID-2019 Pandemic


  • Vallari Sheel– Examining Ecological and Socio-cultural Interactions of Urban Trees in India.
  • Nicholas Marzolf – Improving Estimates of Neotropical Rainforest Headwater Stream Metabolism and CO2 Outgassing.
  • William Casola – Drivers of Long-Term Support for Marine Protected Areas in the Bahamas.
  • Meredith Hovis – Forest Access, Rights, and Benefits: Exploring the Role of Community Forests as an Innovative Approach for Rural Livelihoods in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.


  • Vallari Sheel – Keystone Tree Species in the Complex Bio-Socio-Cultural Ecosystems of Cities in India.


  • Mariana Baptistella Vedovello – Tourism as a Strategy for Reconciling Conservation and Development: A Case Study from a Protected Area of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest


  • Marketa Zimova – Climate Change Adaptation in Mountain Hares.
  • Chelsey Walden-Schreiner – Digital Footprints in Conservation Areas: Incorporating Volunteered Geographic Information for Forest and Natural Resources Management.
  • David Solis – Impact of Inspections on Compliance with the Forestry Law in Peru.

Click here to access a Google Drive folder of funded student experiences prior to 2016.

Research funded by the LIGF has also led to MS theses and PhD dissertations by Brian Bulla, Cody Burnett, Simon Hall, Liwei Lin, Alicia Raimondi, Christopher Serenari, and Sarah Wiener.