Research Awards and Grants (October 2019)

Title: Tangeable Landscape Framework

PI: Meentemeyer, Ross

Direct Sponsor: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – USDA

Amount Awarded: $300,000

Abstract: The PoPS forecasting and control system will harness data and insight as it becomes available from field operations to quickly integrate changing conditions allowing PPQ to quantify the efficacy and uncertainty of containment and eradication strategies in near real-time. Our team and PPQ will work closely together in a participatory modeling framework to quickly integrate new modeling and user-interface capabilities into the system based on changing policy, regulatory, and environmental conditions and provide PPQ with an open source tool to collaboratively explore scenarios with other stakeholders.


Title: Engaging Residents in Streambank Stabilization and Stormwater Mitigation around the Walnut Creek Wetlands in Southeast Raleigh

PI: Perrin, Christy

Direct Sponsor: American Rivers, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $10,000

Abstract: WRRI and College of Natural Resources will continue working with partners from the Walnut Creek Wetland Community Partnership to engage community members south of the Walnut Creek Wetlands in learning about and implementing green infrastructure to address community interests. We’ll specifically engage residents living adjacent to the Rochester Heights tributary in stabilizing eroding streambanks through streamside vegetation, and will identify storm water runoff mitigation opportunities upstream in that watershed.


Title: Synthetic Natural Gas from Carbonaceous Wastes via Phase Transition CO2/O2 Sorbent Enhanced Chemical Looping Gasification

PI: Li, Fanxing

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Energy (DOE)

Amount Awarded: $0.00 (conditional award)

Abstract: This proposal aims to develop bi-functional oxygen and CO2 sorbents for chemical looping gasification of solids wastes with in-situ syngas conditioning. The novel material and gasification system will eliminate the needs for air separation and syngas conditioning/separation operations. The resulting syngas can readily be used for methane formation. A circulating fluidized bed gasification system and suitable bi-functional sorbents will be developed and demonstrated.


Title: Assessment of Pine Plantations Dynamics, SOFAC Enhancement Project

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Enviva, LP

Amount Awarded: $37,170

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explore the spatial and temporal forest type dynamics in the US South with a focus on pine plantations. There are three main components of this study: A literature review of determinants of land use change in the U.S. South; A database of forest transitions by region (e.g. survey units) over time; and a preliminary assessment of the potential to use these data to develop procurement strategies that would lower probability of conversion to plantations.


Title: Membership in Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC)

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Forest Investment Associates (FIA)

Amount Awarded: $24,000

Abstract: The Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC) will develop forest sector market models for application to forest resource assessments in the South, U.S., and the World. SOFAC will integrate 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.  SOFAC economic models will allow use of exogenous or endogenous inputs about supply, demand, land use change, and landowner behavior in the analysis of timber and forest land markets and management.  SOFAC modelers and members will be able to use the SOFAC suite of models and research to simultaneously project timber inventory, supply, and prices for a variety of regions and a variety of timber products across the South, the U.S., and the World.  SOFAC will foster discussion among modelers and members about the appropriate inputs and assumptions in forest projection models and employ these in building timber supply models and timber supply scenarios that represent likely conditions. SOFAC will continue cooperative university-industry-public agency cooperation in southern and national forest sector economic modeling.  SOFAC will enhance graduate instruction in forest economics and modeling in the South.


Title: Studies of Fraser Fir Seed Chalcid Infestation

PI: Matallana Ramirez, Lilian

Direct Sponsor: NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Awarded: $3,000

Abstract: The Christmas tree industry in North America is mainly supplied with Fraser fir seeds from natural stands and genetically improved material from clonal seed orchards (CSO). Trees derived from CSOs have better quality and more desirable marketable characteristics than trees that originate from seeds collected in natural stands. These attributes provide a considerable increase in income for Christmas tree plantation owners. Chalcidoidea (chalcid wasps) are a megadiverse group of seed feeders, and at least 49 species from the genus Megastigmus are associated with conifers. Previous work by our group –funded by the NC Christmas Tree Association– showed that chalcid wasps were the only insects present in infested seeds from a specific CSO, and that they had a significant impact on seed yields. Our preliminary results suggested that there may be genetic differences in chalcid infestation rates among clones in the CSO, and that these differences could affect the cost of planting stock for Christmas tree growers due to downstream impacts on the viability of seeds from the same clone during long-term storage. Additionally, we found a possible effect of pesticide treatment on chalcid infestation rates. This proposal seeks funding to determine clone-specific infestation rates before and after pesticide treatment to test these hypotheses and to identify candidate clones with reduced susceptibility. Ultimately, the proposed research will contribute basic and practical knowledge to improve seed quality and leverage chalcid development to control future infestations in other fir orchards in North Carolina.


Title: Potential Impacts of Spotted Lanternfly in Christmas Trees

PI: Sidebottom, Jill

Direct Sponsor: NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Awarded:$3,000

Abstract:The spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest first found in Pennsylvania in 2014. Feeding on more than 70 host plants, the potential for damage is especially high for vineyards, nurseries, hops, nursery and forestry. In 2018, the media especially emphasized the potential of spread of spotted lanternfly to new areas on Christmas trees. Though Christmas trees are not thought to be an important host for this pest, they are a place where females may lay egg masses. The following proposal is for travel for NC Extension personnel to visit Montgomery County, PA to see spotted lanternfly firsthand and view potential effects on the Christmas tree industry. Travel is also required to scout Christmas tree farms in Virginia owned by North Carolina growers and for supplies to monitor and capture SLF. This pest is not currently found in North Carolina.


Title: Assessment at Early Stage on the Use and Upgrade of Fique as an Alternative Fiber.  Fiber Research Utilization Effort (FURE)

PI: Gonzalez, Ronalds

Direct Sponsor: Compania de Empaques

Amount Awarded:     $50,000

Abstract: NC State University proposes to develop and implement a science-based business plan to foster commercial applications of fique fiber, for that we will: Benchmark fique properties (surface chemistry, mechanical properties) against abaca fiber; Identify potential commercial applications of fique fibers, screen options based on technical and financial feasibility and demonstrate proof of concept at bench-scale; Evaluate business cases based on profitability, supply chain, risks, and go-to-market strategies; and for those alternatives selected, propose a business development plant for operational implementation.