Fall 2018 Awards and Grants



Insect Bite-proof Textiles For Military Uniforms

Current garments for military personnel’s protection from vector-borne diseases rely on insecticide-treated textiles. While effective, these materials have the drawback of losing function upon laundry and weather, poor wearing comfort, insect resistance and other environmental consequences. More importantly, military personnel are concerned that long-time exposure to chemical treatments has adverse effects on their health. The proposed work will use the most recent advance in textile technology to build a novel bite-proof textile system that can provide effective protection against vector-borne diseases, maximize wearing comfort, minimize the adverse effect to human health and mitigate the occurrence of vector resistance to insecticides. The mechanism of such materials could be solely as a physical barrier or its hybridization with chemical treatment. Due to the unique textile structure to be studied in this work, the chemical treatment is prevented from direct skin touch to significantly reduce the risk of exposure. The ultimate goal is to use these novel physical and hybrid bite-proof textiles for both military uniforms and recreational clothes for soldiers not on service at the deployed site. Garment prototypes will be assembled for field test. Such textiles are expected to have great potential for commercial applications as well.

PI(s): Marian McCord, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s): Armed Forces Pest Management Board, US Department of Defense (DOD)

Amount Awarded: $126,222.00


Determining Use, Economic Impacts and Value of Game Lands in North Carolina

We will: 1. Assess Game Land use in NC by estimating user days for key groups including: a. White-tailed deer hunters b. Black bear hunters c. Turkey hunters d. Small game hunters e. Hikers/walkers f. Birders g. Other recreationists (e.g., boaters, bicyclists) 2. Determine the economic contribution of Game Lands to the counties where they are located and to North Carolina, by: a. Assessing the economic impact of recreational activity that can be attributed to Game Lands b. Assessing the economic impact of recreational activity attributed to specific amenities on Game Lands including shooting ranges and field trials areas 3. Determine the non-market value of Game Lands in NC for beneficiaries in the counties where they are located by estimating: a. Willingness to pay by users and by local residents (as reflected in property values) b. The fiscal impact of Game Lands on local governments, by examining trade-offs between the amount and value of taxable land

PI(s): Nils Peterson, Fisheries and Wildlife; Yu-Fai Leung, Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management; Erin Sills, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Jamian Pacifici, Fisheries and Wildlife

Sponsor(s): NC Wildlife Resources Commission and US Department of Interior

Amount Awarded: $30,000.00


Geo-IDEAs: Geo-Innovation, Developing Analytic Solutions for Wake County

This project will establish a partnership between the Center for Geospatial Analytics at NC State University and the Wake County Innovation Lab to form a team to develop geospatial visualizations and analytics solutions for internal and external Wake County government stakeholders. This effort will support projects for the Wake County Innovation Center / GeoLab that require specialized computational skillsets. Overall, the objective of the project is to develop solutions in emerging geospatial technologies, to contributing high-level geospatial science and computational skills, to the advancement of Wake County Innovation Lab application development and delivery, and to increase the geospatial analytical capabilities that the Innovation Lab provides to departments and stakeholders. The research group will focus on geospatial analytics and the development of visualizations and applications to model spatial solutions for county operations and engagement with citizens. Pilot projects may include augmented reality, BIM (Building Information Modeling) and the incorporation of sensor data streams. This project is intended to enhance the potential for Wake County Innovation Lab staff to make tangible progress on enhancing the geovisualization and geoanalytics in application development and delivery.

PI(s): Perver Korca Baran, Center for Geospatial Analytics; Laura Tateosian, Center for Geospatial Analytics

Sponsor(s): Wake County

Amount Awarded: $20,000.00


EMN-15-F-S-02 Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Peracetic Acid Application in the Pulp and Paper Industry

Bleaching is a critical step to whiten the pulp in the pulp and paper production. In 2012, worldwide bleached chemical pulp production reached ~94 million tonnes, in which 93% are produced by Elemental Chlorine-Free technology using chlorine dioxide as the principle bleaching agent[1]. Other technologies use oxygen, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and other peroxygens[2]. Compared to traditional bleaching agents, peracetic acid (PAA) does not produce toxic by-products and shows high selectivity for lignin, preserving the cellulose. Although PAA has been considered as an environmentally-benign bleaching agent, the environmental benefits of PAA application in the pulp and paper industry have not been quantified yet.In this project, a cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be conducted to evaluate the environmental impacts of PAA compared to the bleaching agents used in present pulp and paper industry (e.g., chlorine compounds and ozone).

PI(s): Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR); Venditti Richard A, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR); Jameel, Hasan, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR)

Sponsor(s): Eastman Chemical Company

Amount Awarded: $3,901.00


Forest to Classroom: STEM for Elementary Educators

The Forest to Classroom: STEM for Elementary Educators program will utilize the Project Learning Tree (PLT) resources as the basis of the program. As an environmental education program, PLT emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to learning and incorporates real-world lessons that help students make connections between school, community, and the natural world. In addition, PLT teaches students how to think about complex issues, employing a problem-solving orientation that helps them design solutions. Working with current elementary education specialists that are trained in, and support the use of, the PLT curriculum, Extension Forestry will design and host a residential F2C program that will provide educators will clear links to STEM education using the format we have from past F2C programs. Programming will include guided exploration of forests and associated biotic and abiotic communities, panel discussions and activities will introduce resource specialists to introduce career and advanced education information to the teachers, and teachers will work individually and in groups to create implementation plans for their classrooms. Webinars by grand band will be utilized for post-program follow-up.

PI(s): Bardon Robert, Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER-CNR); Strnad Renee L Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER-CNR)

Sponsor(s): NC Sustainable Forestry Initiative State Implementation Committee

Amount Requested: $6,300.00


Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Woody Biomass to Biofuels/Biochemicals

Woody biomass is one of the most abundant organic sources on earth, and it has a large potential to produce bioenergy and bio-based products to replace fossil-based counterparts. Understanding the environmental impacts of bioenergy and biochemicals derived from woody biomass is critical for stakeholders (e.g., policymakers, landowners, energy and chemical companies) to make decisions related to policy and technology development. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a standardized method to evaluate the environmental impacts of a product’s life-cycle, and has been widely used to understand the environmental benefits/trade-offs of different biomass applications. The use of woody biomass to product bioenergy and biochemicals creates an opportunity economic and regional advantages, but adds significant complexity to the LCA. In particular, the growth rate of the woody biomass, the decay of residues not used for a product or fuel, and the large variations in the quality and performance of the woody biomass in a conversion process all add complexity. Both regrown and decay can take place of decades makes the sequencing of the analysis critical. Biomass supply chains also have many uncertainties and system variations (e.g., biomass transportation, site preparation, etc.) that will have significant impacts on the LCA results. The goal of the project is to understand the LCA attributes around different woody biomass production systems and quantify the impacts of uncertainty on the LCA results.

PI(s): Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR); Park Sunkyu, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR); Kelley Stephen S, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR)

Sponsor(s): Argonne National Laboratory, US Department of Energy (DOE) – Energy Efficienty & Renewable Energy (EERE)

Amount Awarded: $74,810.00


Christmas Tree Field Research

The purpose of this project is to extend and complete current areas of Christmas tree research to address growers’ needs for treatment recommendations and optimum practice and to provide new and innovative information at NCCTA meetings and farm tours as well as county extension Christmas tree programs. Christmas tree field research has identified optimum cultural practices, led to cost savings for growers, and provided the foundation of extension recommendations to growers. Often, a small amount of additional funding could supply enough momentum to bring closure to a research topic. Current NCCTA projects in the areas of cone control, suppression of glyphosate resistant weeds, and postharvest quality are in later stages of research but still have additional questions to address. Container Fraser fir studies need additional funds to follow treatments to the field. These funds will be used to implement field research as needed across these different areas. This research will be presented at state and county Christmas tree meetings and farm tours.

Pl(s): Owen Jeffrey, Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER-CNR)

Sponsor(s): NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Requested: $5,000.00


Improving Containerized Fraser Fir Seedling Production

The production of Fraser fir Christmas tree seedlings and transplants in NC is in an expansion phase to meet current demand. Unlike previous cycles of bareroot production, current expansion includes container production in greenhouses and outdoors. Container production is being adopted primarily as a disease management strategy to reduce Phytophthora root rot. This proposal will continue container research efforts initiated in a previous NCCTA grant, Improving Greenhouse Fraser Fir Production. The objectives for this proposed project include further evaluation of container production components and production schedules and development of a containerized seedling production tour and meeting. Studies will be conducted that include media, containers, fertilizers, pH, weed control practices, and/or irrigation schedules as variables. Both greenhouse and outdoor sites will be selected. A combination of experiments and case studies will be used to evaluate factors such as annual production schedules, cold acclimation, and overwintering. Case studies will be used to contrast different production schedules used by cooperating growers. Different sowing dates, targeted number of flushes, and timings of cold acclimation will be compared. An educational meeting and nursery tour of containerized Christmas tree seedlings will be planned for the 2019 season. The meeting will include project results, invited speakers, and facilitated grower discussions. Research planned for this project will build on current work and past results reported in scientific literature. This project will help growers to produce containerized seedlings and transplants more effectively.

PI(s): Owen Jeffrey, FER Extension (FER-CNR)

Sponsor(s): NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Awarded: $5,000.00


EMN-18-F-E Life Cycle Inventories of Pulp

This project will generate LCI data for different pulping processes and evaluate the impacts of LCA methodology and wood sources on the LCA results.

PI(s): Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR); Venditti Richard A, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR)

Sponsor(s): Eastman Chemical Company

Amount Awarded: $134,901.00




Early stage assessment on the production of sugar building blocks from cotton residues

Evaluate the economics of producing sugar building blocks from cotton residues and compare versus commercial alternatives.

PI(s): Gonzalez Ronalds, Forest Biomaterials; Jameel Hasan, Forest Biomaterials; Pal Lokendra, Forest Biomaterials; Phillips Richard, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s): Cotton, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $9,500


Developing Expertise in Risk Analysis and Risk Management for the Bioeconomy

Led by the Department of Forest Biomaterials in collaboration with the Departments of Forestry, Business Management and Science Education at NC State University; this proposal will develop an educational program for a new generation of technology-to-commercialization researchers who will graduate with the expertise to perform risk analysis and develop risk management strategies across the value chain of biomass supply, biobased materials, and biofuels manufacturing to meet current and future national needs that will ultimately advance the nascent bioeconomy of the United States. Previous studies indicate that a limited number of companies in the forest product industry perform risk analysis for their decision-making process. We do believe that this small adoption rate is due to lack of awareness of the importance of risk analysis and risk management for effective/efficient R&D planning and investment and lack of expertise (people trained) to perform risk analysis across the whole supply chain. This proposal supports TESA in “Agricultural Management and Economics”, in the discipline of Environmental Sciences/Management. Three Ph.D. students will be trained to analyze and propose mitigation strategies for current and future risks inherent to the bioeconomy. To considerably amplify the effect of this proposal, prospective fellows and project directors will deliver educational workshops in risk analysis and management targeting the biobased community across the U.S., while the proposal is expected to be completed in three years, project director expects to keep the program as a permanent teaching/research program. This proposed program supports USDA-NIFA Goal “Catalyze exemplary and relevant research, education and extension programs.”

PI(s): Gonzalez Ronalds, Forest Biomaterials; Kelley Stephen, Forest Biomaterials; Abt Robert, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Lucia Lucian, Forest Biomaterials; Jameel Hasan, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s): US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $238,500


Functional Papers and Films for Electronics Printing (was: Functional Papers for Flexible Hybrid-Printed Electronics)

This project will systematically investigate novel approaches to paper and coating chemistry to develop functional papers and films for flexible hybrid-printed electronics. Through the development of these papers, knowledge relevant to high value papers will also be acquired. For example, technology for high transparency, smoothness, dimensionally, and thermally stable papers and films will be acquired.

PI(s): Pal Lokendra, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s); Domtar Inc

Amount Awarded: $25,000


Interdisciplinary Doctoral Education Program in Animal Production from Renewable Forest Resources

The objective of this proposal is to develop an education program for a new generation of researchers who understand the entire spectrum of biomass oligosaccharide production, animal production, and its analysis through a life cycle approach. Faculty members from two departments are proposing to create joint doctoral education program to address this Targeted Expertise Shortage Area (Animal Production) with Relevant Disciplines of (A) Animal Science, (B) Biotechnology, and (C) Renewable Natural Resources.Five focus areas are (1) Biomass oligosaccharide production; (2) Purification of xylose oligosaccharide; (3) Manufacturing and processing of animal feed; (4) Animal feeding and management; and (5) Life cycle Analysis. This program incorporates cross-disciplinary teamwork/advising, coursework in multiple disciplines, Preparing Future Leaders program, internship at a commercial farm, and exposure to biotechnology experts in industry.

PI(s): Park Sunkyu, Forest Biomaterials; Venditti Richard, Forest Biomaterials; Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s): US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $238,500


Towards Adelgid-Tolerant Christmas Trees

Fraser fir Christmas trees are one of North Carolina’s most important specialty crops. The Camcore and Christmas Tree Genetics programs in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University will evaluate and select Fraser fir clones with increased tolerance to the balsam woolly adelgid to mitigate the impact of this pest and reduce overall pesticide usage for North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry. The results will inform decisions on seed usage from existing Fraser fir seed orchards and breeding designs for developing additional sources of adelgid tolerance. Outcomes will be reported to stakeholders through presentations at the North Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association (NCCTGA) and an article in Limbs and Needles, the official trade magazine of the NCCTGA.

PI(s): Jetton, Robert Central America & Mexico Coniferous Coop; Frampton Lewis, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Tilotta David, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s): NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Amount Awarded: $75,000


Fiber Modification to Improve Tissue Sheet Properties

This project will innovate fiber products by engineered chemical and mechanical modification of eucalyptus hardwood pulp furnish. Through appropriate manipulation of chemistry and mechanical refinement, the following objectives will be targeted: 1) The surface of tissue fibers will be endowed with a bulkier and softer hand feel; 2) Concurrently, the chemistry and/or mechanical refinement will lead to minimal strength loss; 3) Bound water removal will also be enhanced to expedite drainage and machine efficiency.

PI(s): Pal Lokendra, Forest Biomaterials; Jameel Hasan, Forest Biomaterials; Lucia Lucian, Forest Biomaterials; Gonzalez Ronalds, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor(s): Kemira Chemicals

Amount Awarded: $110,000


CRISPR-Based Genome Editing in Christmas Trees

The project aims to develop CRISPR-based genome editing using somatic embryogenesis (SE) to enable the strategic engineering of superior clonal Fraser fir Christmas trees. Fraser fir is one of North Carolina’s most important specialty crops. Developing novel genomic tools and genome editing technologies for Fraser fir will have a transformative impact on the North Carolina Christmas tree industry. We propose four major objectives to develop the CRISPR-based SE system: (1) Streamline SE platform: we will improve the final steps of the Fraser fir SE process to establish a complete platform from cryostorage to whole tree regeneration; (2) Identify superior SE clonal lines: we will produce 30 independent Fraser fir clonal lines and select the top three lines for genome editing; (3) Assemble CRISPR-ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes: we will assemble and test the mutagenic function of up to ten CRISPR-RNP complexes in vitro for Fraser fir genome editing; (4) In vivo validation of CRISPR-based genome editing: We will deliver the CRISPR-RNP complexes into Fraser fir protoplasts and embryogenic cell masses for transgene-free genome editing. Subsequent to the funding period, the CRISPR-based SE system will be used for engineering superior clonal seedlings for field trials in the North Carolina Mountains.

PI(s): Wang Jack, Forest Biotechnology Program; Frampton Lewis, Forestry and Environmental Resources

Sponsor(s): NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Amount Awarded: $129,558


GCE Phase III: Optimization and Deployment: Nutrient-Rich Biodegradable Matrix for Crop Protection

Smallholder farming practices in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) include land-raised seed (piece) use, continuous cultivation (often monoculture) with limited inputs, and virtually non-existent seed (piece) treatment techniques. Yam (Dioscorea spp.) is the primary example of this cropping system and is an extremely important and valuable crop for smallholder farmers in SSA. These practices result in nutrient-depleted soils, nematode infestation, and ultimately low crop yields. Reducing the nematode population in crop soil will dramatically increase crop yield and quality. In many cases, smallholder farmers in SSA lose greater than 50% of their crop to plant-parasitic nematodes, primarily due to lack of available and affordable control options. For this BMG GCE Phase III proposal, we will build upon our promising results from Phase II trials, including increased yields and higher tuber quality and storability for both yam and potato, and use our expertise and connections for pulping banana fiber to validate and prepare for commercialization a developing-world transferable product platform enabling a field deployable paper-like seed (piece) treatment to combat plant pathogenic nematodes. In addition, this platform will be amenable to delivering other crop production moieties, including natural products and oils, necessary minerals and nutrients, or insecticides and fungicides, with its application. Our laboratories’ expertise in nematology and lignocellulosic fibrous materials enables us to target the delivery of beneficial small molecules during seed (piece) germination and plant establishment. Importantly the incorporation of active ingredients into a lignocellulose matrix, such as banana tissue paper, allows for widespread distribution of crop protection agents without interfering in smallholder farming practices. The shelf-stable light-weight banana tissue paper can be applied at the point of seed (piece) planting where farmers can use the concept of “wrap and plant” with their own seeds/pieces. Our ‘wrap and plant’ product will be an “active” paper sheet pretreated with ultralow concentrations of active nematicidal ingredient to simply wrap and protect the seed (piece) at planting. The localization of active ingredients carried directly within the paper targets specific plant pathogenic nematodes versus beneficial organisms. Nematodes are primarily a seedling disease, so protection early is critical to the success of the crop, although post harvest losses do occur in yam due to the yam nematode (Scutellonema bradys). Reduction in nematode populations by deploying the ‘wrap and plant’ product protects yam from significant infections that may lead to these post-harvest losses. Our ultimate goal is to validate the ‘wrap and plant’ product in Phase III and to translate the product manufacture to a regional African company for commercialization and distribution.

PI(s): Opperman Charles, Entomology and Plant Pathology (CALS); Khan Saad, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (COE); Pal Lokendra, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR); Davis Eric Lee, Entomology and Plant Pathology (CALS); Sit Timmy L, Entomology and Plant Pathology (CALS)

Sponsor(s): Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Amount Awarded: $2,467,316.00


Investigating the Energy and Environmental Implications of Artificial Intelligence Applications in the Chemical Manufacturing Industry

The chemical industry is one of the most energy-intensive manufacturing industry and major sources of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The increasing demand for energy and more severe environmental problems are promoting the development and adoption of emerging technologies in the chemical industry to reduce energy consumption and adverse environmental impacts. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the emerging technology that shows great potential in further reduce the energy consumption and environmental footprints for the chemical industry, especially for those energy intensive commodity chemicals such as ammonia, ethylene, propylene, methanol, etc. However, the lack of credible performance analysis data and baseline information for emerging technologies can deter policymakers and early adopters, whose investments are crucial for accelerating deployment (Martin et al., 2000). Addressing these data and analysis gaps is critical for improving emerging technology adoption such as AI during the coming wave of capital investment. This project aims to address these gaps by developing a metric-based framework to quantify energy and environmental implications of AI applications in the chemical industry, especially for those energy-intensive commodity chemicals.

PI(s): Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR)

Sponsor(s):  Environmental Law Institute

Amount Awarded: $35,000.00




Technology Development for Production of Concentrated Biosugar for Industrial Fermentation

The greatest challenge facing the bio-based economy is the ability to produce biomass-derived products that are cost-competitive with products derived from petroleum. Biomass contains 55~70% carbohydrate in its structure depending on the type of biomass and thus, biosugars (e.g. glucose and xylose) from cellulose and hemicellulose are promising intermediates for fuels, chemicals, and materials production via fermentation and catalytic conversion. It is our ultimate goal to develop a cost effective process of biosugar production for 21st century’s bioeconomy. The main goal of the project is to update the process model in ASPEN Plus® process simulation software with the input from the project team leaders and conduct the economic analysis to provide a feedback.

PI(s): Park Sunkyu, Forest Biomaterials (FB-CNR)

Sponsor(s): Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology

Amount Awarded: $80,356.00


Lake Tahoe West Expanded LANDIS Modeling

This program of work describes anticipated accomplishments and deliverables for initial phase of the third Sierra Nevada Public Lands Management Agency (SNPLMA) Lake Tahoe project for North Carolina State University. This project extends previous LANDIS-II modeling work done in the Lake Tahoe Basin to include new modeling scenarios, make explicit linkages to the science team, improve fire modeling under climate change, and tightly integrate hydrology.

PI(s): Scheller Robert, Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER-CNR)

Sponsor(s): US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $40,000.00