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Research Awards and Grants (2019)

Each month College of Natural Resources faculty receive awards and grants from various federal, state, and nongovernmental agencies in support of their research. This report recognizes the faculty who received funding between January 2019 and December 2019.

Gopher Tortoise Habitat – Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Monitoring

In this study we propose to evaluate forest establishment and maintenance practices implemented as part of the Longleaf Pine Initiative and Working Lands for Wildlife. Sites will be chosen to represent a range of longleaf pine forest ages and planting densities, including seedling planting rates recommended for the establishment of gopher tortoise habitat (450-600 per acre) and rates recommended for timber and/or pine straw production (600-900 per acre). We will measure forest condition and habitat quality to assess if a threshold exists for balancing habitat and timber quality. The results will be used to quantify the benefit of NRCS past conservation efforts and to estimate the potential impact of future work across the gopher tortoise range.

PI: Forrester Jodi, Forestry and Environmental Resources 

Sponsor(s): US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 

Amount Awarded: $150,000.00

Toward an Understanding of the Enhancement of Biomass Reactivity via Mechanical Refining

The goal of the project is to enhance a fundamental understanding of biomass structure changes caused by mechanical refining, considering disk plate design and energy consumption. Specifically, our objectives are (1) to evaluate biomass reactivity measured by enzymatic hydrolysis for different fiber fractions (e.g. long fiber, short fiber, fine) and (2) investigate the impact of refiner plate design on fiber structure. The comparison will be conducted at the same energy consumption basis. Outcomes from the project will not only contribute biochemical conversion (low-cost sugar production), but also other applications where the refining technology can be implemented such as nano-cellulose and dissolving pulp production.

PI(s): Park Sunkyu, Forest Biomaterials; Venditti Richard A, Forest Biomaterials; Jameel Hasan, Forest Biomaterials                                                 

Sponsor(s): University of Tennessee, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)              

Amount Awarded: $48,000.00

Development of High Valued Hydrogels from Hemicellulose      

The goal of this research is to improve the  performance of hemicellulose-based hydrogels as a gelling agent, superabsorbent and microbead.  An economic flexible and efficacious process will be developed to produce hemicellulose-based hydrogels for extraction from wood. Sub-objectives of the research include: (1) determine the effect of processes and conditions on the properties of hemicellulose-based hydrogel, (2) determine the effect of modification of hemicellulose and crosslinking level of hemicellulose hydrogel on the performance of gelling agent, superabsorbent and microbeads and (3) determine the effect of application environment (pH, aqueous salt concentration, and temperature) on the performance of the hydrogel.

PI(s): Venditti Richard A, Forest Biomaterials; Pawlak Joel J, Forest Biomaterials                                             

Sponsor(s): University of Tennessee, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)  

Amount Awarded: $48,000.00

Holistic Assessment of End of Life Options of Cotton for Environmental and Economic Sustainability in the Promotion of Cotton Recycling

Increasing consumers’ awareness of the environment and sustainability drives the development of more environmentally friendly products across almost every industrial sector. Recycling and closing the material loop (so-called “circular economy”) is a strong and growing trend. This project aims to identify promising applications for recycled cotton with low environmental footprints, desirable life-cycle costs, and high market and technical potential.

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

Direct Sponsor: Cotton, Inc. 

Amount Awarded: $70,000.00 

Prescribed Fire and Air Quality Coordination to Minimize Smoke Impacts

Managing fire adapted species, such as longleaf and shortleaf pine, properly with prescribed fire not only helps restore the ecosystems, but yields associated benefits such as reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, thereby protecting air quality, and improving wildlife habitat for game, at-risk, and endangered species. The Comprehensive Strategy for Prescribed Fire was written to fulfill the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability’s (SERPPAS) Strategic Action Plan goal of developing a comprehensive, regional strategy for increasing prescribed burning in the Southeast. NCSU Extension will continue to effectively implement the Prescribed Fire Strategy through coordination, outreach, and education. NCSU Extension will work with the SERPPAS Prescribed Fire Work Group, the Southern Group of State Fire Chiefs, the Environmental Protection Agency, state air quality representatives, the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils, or others to minimize local smoke impacts on air quality and public health and safety and maximize coordination between air and fire communities.

PI(s): Bardon Robert, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Evans Jennifer L, Forestry and Environmental Resources 

Sponsor: NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) 

Amount Awarded: $5,000.00

Biomass Torrefaction with Supercritical CO2 

With the advent of supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) being used for power generation it is believed that the exhaust from the sCO2 turbine (>500oC, and pressures of >103 bar) can be used to extract value-added materials from biomass and to leave the extracted biomass more amenable to mechanical pulping. The remaining torrefied wood can be cofired with coal to provide fuel with a lower net carbon footprint. This work will help explore the broad feasibility of this approach by addressing the following questions.

PI: Hakovirta Marko, Forest Biomaterials 

Sponsor(s): Leonardo Technologies, Inc., US Department of Energy (DOE) 

Amount Awarded: $30,000.00

Characterization of Residual Xylan in Dissolving Pulps 

The discovery of cellulose acetate has been more than 100 years. During the time, it has found growing acceptance in various application fields. Optical application of cellulose acetate is one of the fast growing markets and its quality control is critical. Although the content of residual xylan in dissolving pulp is low, it could be problematic when the product is in application. Therefore a full characterization of residual xylan in dissolving pulp is an important first step to overcome this issue. In this work, we will extract residual xylan from dissolving pulp, derivatize it, and analyze its chemical and structural features. In addition, we will image xylan spatial distribution using fluorescent technique.

PI(s): Park Sunkyu, Forest Biomaterials; Kelley Stephen S, Forest Biomaterials 

Sponsor: Eastman Chemical Company 

Amount Awarded: $50,000.00

Water sampling of post-hurricane Florence floodwater samples for the human foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter 

Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast on September 14, 2018, and in the subsequent days several North Carolina communities received up to 35 inches of rain. Inland rivers did not crest until a week post-landfall, but the extent of cresting was unprecedented. The heavy rainfall and flooding can massively impact water quality and safety in flooded areas, especially via runoff from agricultural and industrial operations. We propose to analyze floodwater samples collected by the hydrology and civil engineering teams led by Ryan Emanuel and Angela Harris at North Carolina State University for prevalence of the human foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter. These pathogens will be also characterized for species designations and, in the case of Listeria, for serotypes. The data will complement those from the other team members who will monitor source-specific fecal indicators, Escherichia coli, and chemical contaminants in these samples.

PI(s): Kathariou Sophia, Food, Bioprocessing & Nutrition Science (CALS); Emanuel Ryan E, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Harris Angela Rose, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (COE); Kearns Joshua Perry, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (COE) 

Sponsor: International Life Sciences Institute

Amount Awarded: $5,425.00 COE

The Sociohydrological System of a Tropical Forest Frontier: Land-Climate-Water Feedbacks and Farmer Adaptation

The hydro-climatic system in the Amazon is affected by and affects land use in agricultural colonization settlements. We assess whether this is a reinforcing or balancing feedback loop operating through availability of green (soil moisture) and/or blue (surface water) water. Specifically, we test how spatio-temporal variation in green and blue water affects choices about farm production systems including land use intensity, and how the aggregation of those choices in turn affects the hydro-climatic system. We employ models that account for the effects of climate change on the hydro-climatic system, and for interactions among farmers and processors in the evolution of land use. We draw on panel data that allow us to model the dynamics of choices about production systems. Our two endpoints are the availability of green and blue water, and the welfare of farm households in the Amazon.

PI: Sills Erin, Forestry and Environmental Resources                                                              

Sponsor(s): University of Montana, National Science Foundation (NSF)

Amount Awarded: $282,224.00

Fine-scale Resource Selection, Diet, and Reproduction of Urban Black Bears, and a BACI Design to Evaluate the Efficacy of the BearWise Program

With the proposed implementation of the BearWise program, which is designed to educate the public and reduce anthropogenic attractants in neighborhoods, our objectives are: 1) Use a before-after-control-impact (BACI) study design to examine the impacts of implementing BearWise principals (e.g., bear-resistant trash containers, elimination of attractants such as bird feeders, and others) in participating neighborhoods on urban black bear home range size, fine-scale resource selection, diet, and reproduction in treatment (i.e., BearWise) and control neighborhoods. 2) Quantify landscape and fine-scale variables associated with foraging events and assess resource selection (Lewis et al. 2015) at treatment and control neighborhoods. 3) Perform pre and post-stable isotope analysis to assess nutritional status and identify proportional contributions of anthropogenic and natural foods to the diet of urban black bears (Dykstra 2015) captured in in treatment and control neighborhoods. 4) Conduct an evaluation of a pilot BearWise community to quantify public perceptions about bears, bear management, bear-human encounters, and to explore compliance with BearWise practices prior to, in conjunction with, and post-implementation (Johnson 2013) in treatment and control neighborhoods. 

PI(s): DePerno Christopher, Fisheries and Wildlife; Peterson Nils, Fisheries and Wildlife

Sponsor: NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Amount Awarded: $667,748.00

Development of a Long-term Acoustic Monitoring Program and Projected Species Distributions Under Future Scenarios in the US Caribbean

This project will create species distribution maps for bird and anuran species that are critically endangered, vulnerable or data deficient and will use future climate scenarios to determine how their distribution may change in the future. The information generated for this project will useful for creating an unprecedented baseline of present day species distributions of 26 species of greatest conservation need. Furthermore, the study will combine the current distributions and bioclimatic niche information with future climate change scenarios to predict how species distributions are expected to change over the next ~80 years. Lastly, this project will the aforementioned products to develop a sampling framework to improve spatial and temporal inferences about species distribution. 

PI(s): Collazo Jaime A, Applied Ecology; Pacifici Jamian, Fisheries and Wildlife; Reich Brian J; Terando Adam J, Applied Ecology

Sponsor: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Amount Awarded: $80,000.00

Potential for Integrating Swine Lagoon Sludge into N.C. Bioenergy Sector

Swine lagoon sludge management is critical to the operation of swine facilities. Sludge removal from the lagoon is costly and can result in additional cost associated with transportation and land application. In North Carolina, the limited cropping acreage introduces yet another constraint on sludge management. Swine sludge can be processed to generate a dry biomass feedstock that is easier to transport and apply as nutrient source for bioenergy crops and grasses, or as a feedstock for combustion alone or blended with poultry litter, or lignocellulosic feedstock. Sludge removal and drying represent bottlenecks that impede the development of these utilization alternatives. This project will develop and evaluate the performance of sludge removal and drying systems, and characterize the removed, dried sludge as a soil amendment and as a combustion feedstock.

PI(s): Sharara Mahmoud Ahmed Nabil Ahmed Naguib, Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Rice John M, Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Hopkins Christopher B, Forest Biomaterials; Stuckey Joseph L, Biological and Agricultural Engineering 

Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $144,711.00

Aquatic Biodegradability of Textile Materials: Impact of Dyes and Finishes

It is proposed that we extend the findings of the prior research (17-579) to evaluate several different dyes and finishes for fabrics and determine their impact on the aerobic aquatic biodegradation of the fabric particles. 2)We will also perform degradation experiments under anaerobic conditions for the same samples as listed. 3)Samples of the degraded cotton samples will be collected and provided to NCSU College of Textiles (Nelson Vinueza) in order for Textiles to perform chemical characterization of the dyes, finishes and their degradation products

PI(s): Venditti Richard A, Forest Biomaterials; Pawlak Joel J, Forest Biomaterials                                                 

Sponsor: Cotton, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $33,432.00

RAPID: Informal Learning about Urban Ecology through Community-Engaged Research as a Pathway to Persistence for Disaster-Impacted Students

Focusing on formal schooling and academic commitments following a disaster can prove challenging for any student. Prior research, for instance, has demonstrated high rates of stress amongst students following a range of different types of natural disasters. In particular, after a disaster, research in K-12 settings notes the importance of providing mental health support for students and notes that teachers can play a key role in helping students to process their loss (Le Brocque et al., 2017). Much less research has been done on how engaging in informal learning in disaster-impacted areas can aid student learning, recovery, and persistence following such losses. North Carolina State University (NCSU), along with many schools in North Carolina, has a high number of current students who have been impacted by Hurricane Florence (and Tropical Storm Michael). Many of the disaster-impacted students at NCSU are also low-income or from ethnic minority backgrounds. These students may already be vulnerable to dropping out of college, and experiencing the trauma of a disaster may only propel these students towards leaving school. Research documents the importance of science learning that is highly connected with local communities and broader societal issues for student persistence (Campbell et al., 2014; Jaeger et al., 2013). Further, disadvantaged students value being able to apply their STEM training to solving real world problems affecting their communities, including issues of environmental and social justice (Puritty et al., 2017). Intellectual Merit: The proposed research aims to engage students (N = 20) from North Carolina State University whose home communities have been impacted by Hurricane Florence (and Tropical Storm Michael) in an urban ecology informal learning exploration during the late Fall and Winter of 2018/2019. This project has two aims: To promote science learning, resilience, and persistence amongst students whose home communities have been impacted by the recent storms through an informal learning experience. To collect vital, time-sensitive data on impacts of the hurricane on urban forests in order to inform future urban ecosystem management in Eastern North Carolina and beyond. Broader Impacts: This research will have broader societal impacts in two important ways: 1) it will provide a focused, informal learning experience that will foster learning, resilience, and persistence for a vulnerable population of students, those whose home communities have been devastated by recent hurricanes; and 2) it will directly benefit communities impacted by Hurricane Florence, providing important data to identify best practices for urban forest management to be implemented during the recovery from the hurricane, and to foster long-term resilience in the urban forest social-ecological system. This project will create rich, relevant opportunities to engage in informal science learning for participants, and will provide training in cutting-edge, transdisciplinary approaches to answering many questions at the forefront of environmental biology, climate science, and ecological studies. Recognizing the central role of the NCSU Libraries in supporting both learning outcomes and fostering student success, the project will leverage the Libraries’ infrastructures for acquisition, training, and circulation of technology. Additionally, participants will share the outputs of their research experience with the larger NCSU community through an exhibit of the documentary material that they develop, using NCSU Libraries spaces for high-definition visualization, simulations, ideation, and innovation, which will inspire other students to recognize how science can help to address issues of local concern and relevance. Finally, the data from the informal learning projects will be analyzed and prepared for publication and presentation, in order to reach local and global academic and non-academic audiences as they plan for forest management in an era of frequent and highly destructive hurricanes. 

PI(s): Katti Madhusudan Vithal, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Eseryel Deniz, Teacher Education and Learning Sciences; Mulvey Kelly Lynn Sara, Psychology; Orcutt Darby C, NCSU Libraries-Administration 

Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Amount Awarded: $199,721.00

EMN-15-S-01 Applications of Nanocellulose in Waterborne Coatings Systems

We will use unmodified and chemically modified nanocellulose materials to develop rheology, dewatering and film formation routes that will lead to films and coatings with target physical appearance, mechanical integrity and thermo-chemical and wetting properties. For this purpose we will use precursors from three different nanocelluloses: cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) and lignocellulose nanofibrils (LCNF). Results from this study will be used to develop novel coatings and films, as well as novel personal care products. 

PI(s): Khan Saad, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Spontak Richard, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Rojas Orlando Jose, Forest Biomaterials

Sponsor: Eastman Chemical Company

Amount Awarded: $27,000.00

Populus-based production of solid biofuel

World energy demand has been continuously increasing, with no indication of slowing down in the coming years. There exists an imperative need for cleaner, sustainable, renewable energy sources that can be locally produced. Biomass is identified as a sustainable long-term plan to reduce the dependency on imported energy and as a national security strategy, and wood pellet is identified as an important biomass product with growing demand and an established expert market mainly in Europe. Many bioenergy-focused field studies conducted by NC State University have shown the efficacy of Populus as short rotation woody crops (SRWC) when clones are matched to site conditions. The objectives of this project are to develop a novel preprocessing during pellet production, assess its effects on the technical feasibility of wood pellet production, and evaluate the potential of utilizing Populus clones that are suitable and highly productive in NC for producing the next generation of solid fuels. The expected outcomes include validity of the modified production method to improve the quality of wood pellets and identification of poplar clones for producing high-quality and durable pellets.

PI(s): Saloni Daniel, Forest Biomaterials; Ghezehei Solomon Beyene, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Nichols, Elizabeth, Forestry and Environmental Resources

Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $133,190.00

The Silviculture of Populus for Veneer 

Forestry is the largest manufacturing industry in North Carolina (NC). Yet, opportunities for silviculture of hardwood plantations in western NC, where hardwood sawtimber industries are primarily located, have been missing. From our extensive experience of growing short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy and environmental clean-up in different parts of NC, we understand the importance matching species/clones to site conditions and their establishment and management, know expected production costs and yields under various scenarios, and have observed high growth and survival rates of many Populus clones. We have been identifying poplar clones for their potential for high-value veneer production. Our goal is to study feasibility and development of Populus clones as veneer crops by establishing a Populus-veneer demonstration and research site in western NC Piedmont, develop species, clonal and silvicultural recommendations and enterprise budgets for such plantations, and examine post-coppicing potential of Populus clones for veneer-log production. We will collaborate with Columbia Forest Products to test log quality for veneer processing. A successful launching of Populus for veneer would join in existing markets without the requisite of new mills and offer landowners in the western Piedmont and mountains of NC with smaller stands/fields who tend to “try” new promising crops with an opportunity to produce viable high-value hardwoods.

PI(s): Ghezehei Solomon Beyene, FER Extension; Nichols Elizabeth, Forestry and Environmental Resources 

Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $107,757.00

CAREER: Biochar Systems for Sustainable Applications in the Food-Energy-Water Nexus                                                                                                          

Biochar is a carbon-rich byproduct of thermochemical biomass conversions, and is closely linked to the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus through its potential applications in wastewater treatment, agriculture management, and bioenergy, as well as indirect benefit in mitigating climate change. Although biochar has a potential to transform existing FEW nexus into more efficient and sustainable systems, it has not been widely implemented due to the lack of understandings in technical performance, economic feasibility, environmental impacts, and social implications of different combinations of biomass species, conversion technologies, and biochar applications. Such understanding is very hard to be obtained using traditional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or Techno-Economic Analysis (TEA) approaches due to intensive needs of process data and methodological limitations in integrating temporal, spatial, and socioeconomic dimensions. This project aims to address the knowledge gaps and methodological challenges by (1) using machine learning approaches to simulate and predict technical performance and life cycle inventory (LCI) of various combinations of biomass species, conversion technologies, process design, operational conditions, and applications of biochar; (2) building an integrated framework that seamlessly incorporate predictive LCA, TEA, Geographic Information System (GIS), and dynamic modeling to evaluate the environmental, economic, and social implications of biochar systems; (3) demonstrating the framework through real-world case studies in different geographic, temporal, and socioeconomic context.

PI: Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials             

Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Amount Awarded: $402,712.00   

Coordination of the SENTINEL Partnership 

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior formalized the NC Sentinel Landscape Partnership (here-after Partnership) to better serve where working and natural lands converge with national defense facilities. Decidedly, the Partnership can leverage collective resources and expertise to accomplish shared on-the-ground goals where priorities overlap. To accelerate progress meeting technical and process goals, and increase the capacity and legacy of the NC Sentinel Landscape Partnership (NC SLP), NC State University is requesting $40,000 to assist in continued coordination of major Partnership goals that will link military readiness, conservation, and working lands. The Partnership is expanding outreach, opportunities, and recognition to landowners in 33 counties, including the addition of a landowner advisory committee; is working to reduce land-use conflicts and natural resource issues around military installations through its High Priority Program; and accelerating the conservation and protection of natural resources and restoration of important habitat for wildlife.

PI(s): Bardon Robert, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Addor Mary L, Forestry and Environmental Resources 

Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services 

Amount Awarded:  $40,000.00

Growing Greener Foundations Through Urban Parks with Purpose (Walnut Creek Wetland Community Partners)

WRRI and CNR will coordinate activities with the Walnut Creek Wetland Community Partnership to develop new community capacity and resources in the communities surrounding the Walnut Creek wetlands in Raleigh. Community members will be engaged to identify green space providing multiple benefits for people and the environment. Learning and career opportunities will be created as part of the project, to engage middle and high school students with the Center for Human and Earth Restoration, and to create part-time internships or positions to support the work.

PI: Rivers Louie, Forestry and Environmental Resources

Sponsor(s): Conservation Fund, JPB Foundation

Amount Awarded: $24,970.00

Green Infrastructure in Schools: Creating a Network for Stormwater Management and Student Engagement and Well-being

Stormwater runoff threatens public health in several ways, but mitigating these challenges is difficult. Climate change is increasing the frequency and uncertainty around storm events, which makes stormwater damage more difficult to anticipate and manage. Green infrastructure (GI) such as rain gardens, catchment ponds or other strategic landscaping is a good alternative to traditional stormwater management. GI not only provide ecosystem services in stormwater management, but also offers other ecosystem services such as air pollutant removal, urban heat mitigation, wildlife habitat creation. More importantly, it may provide educating value and potentially increase environmental awareness. School systems present a unique opportunity to implement GI. The impervious surface in school grounds represents both a significant contribution to stormwater run-off, as well as an opportunity to install a network of GI. However school systems face the financial challenge for GI implementation and long-term management. To facilitate GI practice in school systems, building cross-sector support for GI is important. There is a need to highlight other benefits for GI (e.g., academic learning, student well-being) to provide justification as well as opportunities for partnership across sectors. This study aims at understanding the range of potential benefits represented in placing GI on school grounds. By uncovering what GI that exists on school grounds and identifying the preferred environment, usage, activities teachers and students assigned to GI, we anticipate making recommendations for how schools initiating GI project may better design for stormwater management as well as outdoor play and education.

PI(s): Stevenson Kathryn, Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management; Yao Yuan, Forest Biomaterials; Martin Katherine Lee, Forestry and Environmental Resources

Sponsor: NCSU Water Resources Research Institute

Amount Awarded: $10,000.00

Insect Bite-proof Textiles For Military Uniforms

Current garments for military personnel 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: McCord Marian, College of Natural Resources-Dean’s Office

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

Amount Awarded: $18,159.00

The Sustainability-Productivity Tradeoff: Water Supply Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Opportunities in California’s Coupled Agricultural and Energy Sectors

The electrical grid in California is changing quickly, driven primarily by aggressive state supported targets that aim to produce 50% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with this percentage likely to increase even more by 2050. This will entail substantial changes to the state’s current generating portfolio, which relies predominately on a combination of natural gas and hydropower. Today, when drought impacts California, the state experiences a significant decrease in hydropower production. Utilities are forced to replace this lost hydropower with more expensive generation from natural gas plants, which increases the wholesale price of electricity. In this project, Dr. Kern will model the operations of California’s power system, including its interactions with important import markets in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest, under a wide range of future scenarios, while tracking system behavior and wholesale and retail price dynamics. The operations of California’s grid will be simulated using a multi-area “Unit Commitment/Economic Dispatch” (UC/ED) model that captures power flows among the major California utilities and neighboring systems. This class of model is used by electric power utilities and researchers alike, to schedule generation in networks of power plants and study the behavior of power systems under different market, policy and environmental conditions.

PI: Kern, Jordan

Direct Sponsor: UNC – Chapel Hill

Amount Awarded: $97,834

Tahoe Central-Sierra Initiative Restoration Assessment – Forest Restoration Simulation Modeling Project

This program of work is focused on completing the simulation models for each alternative scenario developed with the broader TCSI science and management team. This project will apply the LANDIS-II forest simulation modeling platform and build upon ongoing efforts to utilize landscape-scale modeling to investigate restoration strategies within the forests of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy

Amount Awarded: $99,729

Economic Impact Study of Organized Camping in North Carolina

Organized camping is an important contribution to the outdoor economy across the state of North Carolina. The North Carolina Youth Camp Association has requested a study of the impacts of this industry in the state of North Carolina, including three geographic regions, and for counties that contain multiple camps. This study will utilize survey data collected from camp directors, camp staff, and camp families to provide analysis of the economic impact of organized camping at the state, regional, and county level as well as an understanding of the industry’s social and environmental impacts.

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: North Carolina Youth Camp Association

Amount Awarded: $25,979

Health Matters: Improving Physical Activity among African-American and Low-Income Residents of Edgecombe Country

To increase physical activity among African Americans and low-income residents in Edgecombe County, NC State and Edgecombe County Cooperative Extension will 1) increase the number and promotion of shared use policies in community organizations, 2) connect and promote vital physical activity resources through wayfinding and signage, 3) improve connectivity between places people live, learn, work, play and pray through walking and recreation space audits, 4) support and promote walking and biking to and during school, and 5) partner with Recreation Resources Service (RRS), to create and implement a county park and recreation master plan.

PI: Hardison-Moody, Anne

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Amount Awarded: $70,000

Evaluating the Promise and Potential Impacts of R3 Efforts Targeting College Students

Declining hunting participation negatively impacts state and federal agencies’ ability to achieve wildlife management objectives and generate revenue for conservation activities. The decline is driven, in large part, by decreasing numbers of young adult hunters. Our study will focus on one particularly promising audience – college students – in an attempt to reverse these declines. We will addressing NCN #9 by identifying opportunities for recruiting new hunters as well as retaining or reactivating individuals with previous hunting experience. To accomplish this, we will work with multiple state agencies and public universities in two-phased project. First, we will survey diverse undergraduate students at participating universities to assess their hunting-related perceptions and behaviors and highlight potential R3 programming and outreach opportunities targeting specific subgroups. Second, we will utilize this information to develop, implement, and evaluate R3 workshops for college students without (or with very little) previous hunting experience. Our goal is to reveal best practices for cultivating and sustaining positive perceptions of and participation in hunting across different geographical and cultural contexts. Results shared via a Practitioner’s Guide (with suggested R3 Program Outline), academic publications/presentation, and workshops will help agency professionals, educators, and researchers understand and connect with young adult audiences. 

PI: Larson, Lincoln

Direct Sponsor: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Amount Awarded: $107,621

Impact of Youth Corps Partnerships on Partner Capacity

Working in a partnership model, conservation corps provide land management agencies with resources that support youth development and community engagement, a dependable workforce that balances high quality work with reduced agency costs, and ensure the enhanced ability of public land agencies to sustainably provide for conservation and visitor recreation. Relevant to the evaluation, the primary long-term impact associated with these program activities ensures resource institutions, managers, and industries have the long-term capacity to sustainably manage natural resource assets. Conservation corps work with public land agency partners at multiple levels. However, most of this work occurs on federal and state lands. Two important partners for conservation corps are the USFS at the federal level and respective State Parks at the state level. This evaluation will focus on the ability of participating corps to enhance the capacity of these two organizations. The overall aim of the current evaluation is to examine the outcomes of corps program on partners. The primary outcome-related goal is to determine, through a matched, quasi-experimental design, whether there is evidence that host partners demonstrate higher levels of engagement, efficiency, and environmental stewardship than similar, non-hosting affiliates. The primary research questions of this evaluation are: Using partner interviews and surveys, this evaluation will address the following research questions: Does hosting a conservation corps program increase public land agency partners’ capacity to: Engage youth and communities? Manage organizational resources more efficiently? More effectively manage public lands for conservation and visitor recreation?

PI: Edwards, Michael

Direct Sponsor: Montana Conservation Corps

Amount Awarded: $10,785

Breeding Bird Response to Wildfire in the Southern Appalachians Across a Burn-Severity Gradient

Populations of many disturbance-dependent breeding bird species are in decline, in part because availability of open-canopied, young forest has decreased. Earlier research indicated that breeding bird abundance and species richness in the southern Appalachian region increases dramatically after high-severity burns due to an influx of species associated with the increase in open-canopied forest. In western montane forests, bird response to mixed-severity fire is a complex interaction between pre-fire conditions, burn severity, and time since fire, yet less is known about these relationships in eastern US forests. Unprecedented wildfires throughout the southern Appalachians during fall, 2016 provide a unique opportunity to study breeding bird response across a range of fire severities in upland hardwood forest. Our research will test the hypothesis that disturbance-dependent bird species occurrence, and overall breeding bird abundance will increase with burn severity. This research has important, applied implications for breeding bird conservation and forest management.

PI: Moorman, Christopher

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $5,622

Increasing Ecological Complexity and Resilience of Southern Appalachian Mixed-Oak Forests via Disturbance-Based Management

Significant changes to the historical disturbance complex have altered ecological function in many Southern Appalachian forested ecosystems. To maintain oak and hickory and perpetuate the forest types that have been ecologically and economically important to the region, it is necessary to seek alternative management approaches that will restore species, structural, and functional complexity to the Appalachian region. We are proposing to evaluate oak regeneration under traditional silvicultural systems and use these results to guide the design of an alternative expanding-gap approach; to initiate baseline sampling imperative in the long-term evaluation of the expanding-gap approach; and use stand- and landscape-scale simulations to test the degree to which a gap-based, silvicultural approach will increase: 1) oak regeneration, 2) structural complexity and species diversity; and 3) carbon sequestration and storage. Specifically we will evaluate the capacity for alternative hardwood management practices to increase the regeneration of oak and hickory within the Southern Appalachian mixed oak forest. We will assess the interactions among forest structure, composition, regeneration and ecosystem processes and integrate our empirical research into a spatially-explicit landscape model to simulate multiple scenarios of management, disturbance, and climate interactions. With strong support from local and regional forestry professionals and non-government organizations, our team of University and Forest Service scientists will ensure that the results will reach managers and resource professionals. We specifically address AFRI Program Area D, Priority 1 with the goals of advancing our understanding of processes and interactions and assessing and developing new management practices to improve ecosystem services.

PI: Forrester, Jodi

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $470,000

Management Options for Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Christmas Tree Production

Herbicide resistant weeds have become widespread and problematic in nearly all cropping systems including Christmas tree production fields. In 2018, researchers at North Carolina State University evaluated alternative treatments for glyphosate-tolerant weed species in Fraser fir production fields. Cloransulam-methyl suppressed “escaped” horseweed with little to no injury to Fraser fir trees. However, reliance on this one ALS-inhibitor (Group 2) herbicide has a high probability of selection for weeds with resistance to multiple modes of action. Thus, additional research is needed to identify ways to effectively use herbicides with other modes of action. Additionally, research is needed to define effective treatments for other herbicide tolerant weeds, specifically lambsquarters, pigweeds and ragweed. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate the safety of preemergence and postemergence herbicides for control of horseweed, lambsquarters, pigweed and ragweed, as well as product safety to Fraser fir trees, treated before and after bud-break. Researchers will also evaluate the impacts of experimental treatments on white clover ground cover. A living ground cover dominated by white clover has been shown to reduce erosion, suppress summer annual weeds, and to contribute organic nitrogen for enhanced tree growth. Results from these trials will be used to reduce the impact of herbicide resistant weeds in Christmas tree production and to provide guidance for product registration efforts (such as the USDA IR-4 program). Developing strategies for herbicide resistant weed control in living mulch systems will also enhance the sustainability of Christmas tree production.

PI: Neal, Joseph

Direct Sponsor: Christmas Tree Promotion Board

Amount Awarded: $41,629

Enhancing Cultural Resource Adaptation Planning in Dynamic Environments and Assessing Sediment Budget Research and Information Needs at Gulf Islands National Seashore

Barrier islands are subject to natural and anthropogenic changes, such as hurricanes, sea level rise and dredging. These changes can influence the persistence of natural and cultural resources. For example, a single storm event can drastically alter barrier islands, damaging or destroying cultural resources and impacting (either negatively or positively) habitat. Moreover, dredging can change the natural rates of lateral sand transport and placement of dredge materials can also influence natural rates of lateral sand transport, both of which can have positive (sand accretion) or negative (sand erosion). These changes to barrier islands can also influence the ability of the islands’ dunes to serve as a first-line of defense for the mainland during storm-events. A better understanding of sediment budgets related to coastal vulnerability (storm events and dredging) can enhance the protection of both natural and cultural resources and guide future nourishment and placement of dredge materials. This work will support the conservation stewardship mission of the National Park Service by providing science to inform management of its natural and cultural resources at Gulf Islands National Seashore. Specifically, this project will contribute to ongoing research at Gulf Islands National Seashore related to cultural resource adaptation planning, as well as identify future research and information needs to better conserve the cultural and natural resources on the barrier islands. The project will include (a) updating a planning exercise framework designed to assist the National Park Service optimize cultural resource adaptation planning given a range of budget constraints and (b) conducting a sediment budget needs assessment workshop with National Park Service personnel and other regional stakeholders, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Intended outcomes from the project include enhancing efficiency in adaptation planning of vulnerable coastal resources and identifying research priorities that will help predict changes of barrier islands and reducing the negative impacts associated improperly placed dredge materials.

PI: Seekamp, Erin

Direct Sponsor: US Geology Survey (USGS)

Amount Awarded: $49,163

Forest Health Retrospective: A National Evaluation of Insect and Disease Extent and Impact

The USDA Forest Service, via the Southern Research Station, is providing an additional $25,000 to complete an additional set of objectives for the project “Forest Health Retrospective: A National Evaluation of Insect and Disease and Impact.” To achieve these objectives, the existing 24-month project would need to be extended by an additional 12 months. The new objectives would be to: (1) Develop methods for forest health indicators used in United States national forest sustainability reporting, specifically the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators, which focus on forest ecosystem health and vitality (Criterion 3, Indicators 3a and 3b). (2) Produce associated outputs (maps, summary data tables) for depicting effects of biotic and abiotic agents on forests.

PI: Potter, Kevin

Direct Sponsor: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Ecosystem Model Comparison at Multiple Scales and Sites

Ensuring the long-term sustainability of eastern US forests in the face of climate variability and change will require forest managers to have the best available climate change research at their fingertips to make sound management decisions. Ecosystem process models now allow realistic projections of future forest conditions in response to anticipated climate, natural disturbance, forest management, and their interactions that can inform forest management decisions. However, there is no single scale which is perfectly suited to addressing all climate change and management related questions. Critical patterns which emerge at fine-scales may be over-averaged at larger scales and vice-versa. Our objectives are to a) compare model outcomes from two modeling frameworks against empirical data and to each other, b) examine climate change, disturbance, and management interactions at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, translate these procedures, and prepare a roadmap for deployment across other forested military installations. Technology Description: We propose a two-stage approach for integrating climate, disturbance, and management projections at multiple scales. First, we will calibrate and compare each of two models, an individual-tree scale model (SORTIE-PPA) and a landscape-scale model (LANDIS-II with Century), against empirical data collected from two pine-dominated sites in the eastern US. Second, we will apply both models against the Ft. Bragg ecosystem in central North Carolina under multiple projections of climate change. We will assess the strengths and weakness of each model and their respective capacity to accurately project a suite of ecosystem processes, including succession, disturbance and nutrient cycling, given current and potential management practices and anticipated climate change. We will work closely with Ft. Bragg to prepare both models for operational use via an iterative process that identifies goals and scenarios, data needs, and desired outputs. Both models will be delivered to Ft. Bragg fully parameterized and prepared for subsequent use, including full documentation and access to the open-source code for each model. Expected Benefits: Successful demonstration and validation of the proposed ecosystem process models will help decision-makers integrate a multitude of management strategies into the context of the military mission and installation-specific natural resources management plans. Forest managers will be able to use either SORTIE-PPA or LANDIS-II to estimate the effects of different management practices on the local installations over varying time horizons and spatial scale resolutions. Upon completion, this technology can be applied immediately at Fort Bragg’s more than 89,000 acres of longleaf pine forests and at other DoD installations with forested habitats.

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Portland State University

Amount Awarded: $14,781

EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems: Cultivating a Profitable Local Food Industry Cluster through Entrepreneurial and Business Support, Infrastructure Development, Training, Leadership Development and Capacity Building

This project will develop a comprehensive model program for developing an industry cluster around local foods focused on entrepreneurship, business development, job creation and workforce development, training, providing career ladder opportunities, and growing community leadership for lasting change. This work will be focused in the 7 county “foodshed” region of the Southwestern Commission (Region A Council of Governments), which includes North Carolina’s most distressed counties. and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).This comprehensive model will build on work that has already occurred in the 7 county region and through grant funding to the Southwestern Commission from the NC Rural Center, through a nascent regional local food advisory council that included participants representing food banks, funders, public health and health organizations, NC Commerce, agriculture organizations (including USDA, NCDA, and Cooperative Extension), academic institutions (Western Carolina and the three community colleges in the regions), the faith based community, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Southwestern Commission, and through many of the other partners we are engaging who work in the food systems sector. The work also builds on the expertise and experience of over 24 years of statewide work of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a partnership of NC State University, NC A&T State University, and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CEFS is excited to bring lessons learned and best practices from a comprehensive list of relevant projects ( to develop this industry cluster with community partners, and together boost the economy of western NC. This project overlaps with four of the five strategic investment goals of the five-year ARC strategic plan including providing economic opportunities, workforce development, leveraging the region’s natural assets, and building capacity and skills for long lasting change. This project also overlaps with the goal of providing critical infrastructure needed to build a sustainable regional local food economy. The region recognized the opportunity for economic development based in local food systems, as has the Appalachian Regional Commission, which hosted a forum in Asheville NC in 2012 titled “Growing Appalachian Food Economy”, and funded various food systems and entrepreneurship projects in North Carolina over the last five years, including five in food systems since 2013 for a total investment of $310,000, and four in entrepreneurship training since 2013 for a total investment of $430,000. This project aligns fully with three of the four investment priorities of the POWER initiative, including: building a competitive workforce, fostering entrepreneurial activities, and developing industry clusters. What is unique about this effort is the opportunity to develop an industry cluster through implementing many disparate food systems projects in one target area (vs scattered statewide) as a comprehensive model that can be transferable to other coal-impacted areas in the nation. The opportunity to do a ‘deep-dive’ in this region with ready and willing partners and all of our collective assets makes for a compelling opportunity to build on existing momentum and significantly improve the region’s economy.

PI: Lauffer, Laura

Direct Sponsor: Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

Amount Awarded: $1,100,000

National Recreation and Park Association Parks Build Community Evaluation

Each year, associated with the annual National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Annual Meeting, NRPA redevelops a park in a low-income neighborhood located in the host city. NRPA wishes to evaluate this redevelopment, or Parks Build, beginning with the 2019 conference located in Baltimore, MD. The evaluation will assess pre and post redevelopment of the park and surrounding community with a focus on use of park, park-based physical activity, sense of community, economic development near the park, and sense of safety. This project will work specifically with the Parks Build in Baltimore with a four-year follow-up. A secondary purpose of this project is to establish evaluation metrics with park redevelopment that can be used across the US.

PI: Hipp, James

Direct Sponsor: National Recreation and Park Association

Amount Awarded: $125,000

Coastal Plain Aquifer Vulnerability to Extreme Storms and Implications for Rural Prosperity, Food Security, and Water Resource Resiliency

This ERG proposal is time-sensitive to coastal North Carolina communities that were flooded by Hurricane Florence and whose livelihoods depend upon safe and reliable groundwater. Rural, eastern NC communities rely almost entirely (97%) on aquifers for drinking water, crop irrigation, food processing, and industry. There is little information about the water quality of these coastal aquifers and even less understanding of how extreme hydrologic events, such as Hurricane Florence, impact them. We estimate there are ~ 300,000 private well users, equal or more livestock/crop irrigation wells, and hundreds of permitted water supply wells in the eleven counties that were extensively flooded by Hurricane Florence. Experts estimate slow-moving hurricanes will increase in frequency for Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The risk of surficial, near-surface, and deep aquifer contamination is uncertain for these extreme storm events. We will pilot an innovative dual-tracer strategy using tritium and 3H3He groundwater tracers with non-targeted, suspect-screening high-resolution mass spectrometry (NTSS-HRMS) to assess young water intrusion to groundwater. Our first goal is to establish comprehensive organic chemical fingerprints of aquifers in flooded and non-flooded areas of the Coastal Plain. Our second goal is to use these fingerprints, with tritium and tritium/helium, to evaluate changes to organic chemical fingerprints in wells flooded by Florence and to advance our understanding of young water flux to confined aquifers. This project is high-risk because ~90% of organic chemical features in HRMS analyses are not identifiable although mass to charge spectral features are determined. State of the art database workflows will help tentative identification (suspect screening HRMS) of these unknown chemical features. Just as the LCMS analyses of surface waters revolutionized our understanding of pervasive pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the 1990s, this ERG research may likewise revolutionize our understanding of organic chemical episomes in coastal aquifers. This project will advance regional water quality data for chemicals of concern and potentially contribute new tracer chemicals or chemical features to improve our understanding of aquifer connectivity, modern water flux to groundwater, and groundwater vulnerability to extreme storms.

PI: Nichols, Elizabeth

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

Amount Awarded: $200,000

Project BRIDGE: 100 Soil Tests Near Flooded Homes in Robeson County

Funds will be used to collect and process the soil samples, and pay the research team. Data collection and analysis will take place between March and December 2019. We will quantify soil quality to understand the distribution of E. coli, heavy metals, and other common contaminants in rural residential soils. The protocol will include (1) an intake questionnaire (to measure housing decisions, self-efficacy and behavioral intention), (2) field data measurements of heavy metals (arsenic, lead, mercury, and selenium, as well as aluminum, barium, boron, and chlorine), petroleum hydrocarbons, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons characteristics, fecal coliform bacteria, (3) a results communication meeting, and a post-results debriefing (to measure changes in self-efficacy and behavioral intention). The research team and interview staff will process E. coli sample and test for the presence/absence of chicken and pig-specific genetic markers. We will send soil to a qualified lab for heavy metal testing. Data collection will follow Cutts’ previous project focused on soil contaminant concentrations (e.g. Cutts et al. 2017, London et al. 2017, Schwarz et al. 2016, Cutts et al. 2016). A data management plan including human subject’s approval, data security, and public access is already in place through NC State.

PI: Cutts, Bethany

Direct Sponsor: Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC)

Amount Awarded: $40,000

Forecasting Landscape Change Across the Southern Appalachians

In collaboration with the USFS Southern Research Station, we will conduct research on changing landscape trajectories for the forests of the southern Appalachian ecoregion, including the forests of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. There are many threats to long-term forest health across this region including insect outbreaks and climate change. There are also many opportunities for innovative and forward-thinking management interventions including broad-scale application of prescribed fires, variable gap size silviculture, extirpated tree reintroduction, e.g., American chestnut, and facilitated migration. Given the magnitude of uncertainty generated by these multiple and interacting drivers of change, forecasts must be inclusive of all processes. We will work with the USFS to provide state-of-the-art simulation models that incorporate climate, disturbances, and management into long-term (50 years+) projections of forest change.

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $28,371

Evaluation of Habitat Improvement Projects

Multiple studies exist on the impact of environmental corps programs on participants (e.g., Duerden, et al., 2013; Education Northwest, 2013). Each evaluation provided strong evidence for the impact of the corps experience on participants’ community engagement, environmental engagement, teamwork, leadership, communication skills and grit. Emerging research demonstrates the efficacy of conservation work to provide broader social, health, and economic benefits. The primary relevant conservation activities conducted by corps are improvements to public lands and trail stewardship. Research suggests links between land improvement activities like those conducted by corps and many long-term community and ecosystem impacts. Improving public parks and habitats is associated with increased ecosystem services, improved biodiversity, and environmental health (Benayas et al., 2009; Suding, 2011). Controlling invasive species has major financial implications for many economic sectors (Pimentel, et al., 2005) and can also positively impact outdoor recreational activities (Eiswerth, et al., 2005; Julia, et al., 2007). Conservation activities can ensure that publicly accessible ecosystems remain healthy in light of high human contact (Alessa et al., 2003). Numerous studies have also indicated how poorly constructed trails negatively influence the quality of recreation experiences and decrease visitation (Roggenbuck, et al., 1993; Vaske, et al., 1993). When trails are built and maintained properly, they have the potential to produce direct economic benefits through visitor expenditures on equipment, food, transportation, and lodging (Moore, et al., 1994).  Relevant to the evaluation, there are two primary long-term impacts associated with corps activities. First, improving public parks and habitats promotes ecosystem health. While measuring the long-term impact of these activities lie outside the scope of a program evaluation, key antecedent mechanisms will be evaluated as program outputs and outcomes. Primary performance measures that will guide the evaluation plan will be taken from the National Performance Measures Instructions (Environmental Stewardship Focus Area) Addendum document published by CNCS, item EN5: Number of acres of national parks, state parks, city parks, county parks, or other public and tribal lands that are improved. Based on preliminary work with NC State University, conservation corps, the Corps Network, and land management partners; the primary research question addressed in this evaluation is: were developed to guide the outcome evaluation: Do projects focused on improving and restoring habitats improve visually assessed habitat quality? To address these challenges and provide rigorous evaluation of corps programs, a collaboration between The Corps Network, member organizations of the Public Lands Service Coalition (PLSC), and North Carolina State University (NCSU), developed standardized measures of habitat improvement projects on public and private lands. Management goals identified through interviews and surveys with partner agencies and corps directed measurement selection. Specifically, this evaluation focused on improving ecosystem health and visitor experience through six objectives: Encouraging or improving habitat for native plants; encouraging or improving habitat for native animals; discouraging or removing invasive plants from habitats; discouraging or removing invasive animals from habitats; reducing forest fuels to mitigate wildfire risk and severity; and restoring or creating habitat. This evaluation explores types and amounts of activities contributing to each of the objectives, as well as detailed data focused specifically on invasive plant species management and the reduction of forest fuels, as they were the most common project types among participating corps. Review of the literature from land management agencies (e.g., U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Park Service) and peer-reviewed journals. 

PI: Edwards, Michael

Direct Sponsor: Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA)

Amount Awarded: $4,821

Ensuring Agricultural Sustainability and Climate Resiliency through Intergenerational Transfer of K-12 Voices (Fellowship, Danielle Lawson)

Although research has noted the widespread impacts of climate change on agro-ecological systems, unfortunately, farmers represent some of the most climate skeptical groups of individuals, with upwards of 88% denying the contributions of humans of modern day climate change. Fortunately however, research has found that children, including agricultural high school students appear to be better at coming to a point of con-census on climate change, unlike their adult counterparts. As such, this NIFA postdoctoral fellowship application proposes an integrated project that aligns with the AFRI Farm Bill Priority Area of bioenergy, natural resources, and environmental with the overall goal of leveraging the unique climate change views of agriculture high school students to increase the climate concern and willingness to implement climate resilient agriculture behaviors of their parents, through intergenerational transfer. To do this, 36 North Carolina high school agriculture teachers will be trained in the Project Learning Tree module, Southeastern Forests and Climate Change, and experimentally test the curriculum’s effects on a minimum of 1800 students and 540 parents. To accomplish this, preservice agricultural teachers and environmental educators at North Carolina State University will be engaged through a robust service learning project giving them hands-on experience with teaching in agricultural classrooms and social science research methods. This project contributes to the post-doctoral program area of producing new scientists, and the overall AFRI goal of promoting the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems.

PI: Stevenson, Kathryn

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

Amount Awarded: $165,000

Valorization of Industrial Hemp

We will harvest industrial hemp at selected farming sites and employ a variety of techniques to extract oils and fibers to deliver the most value to the NC farmer. We will work with farmers, provide them with the results of our 3 month studies, and disseminate all results widely through reports, NCSU web sites, memos, and public forums (conferences, publications, seminars). As a result of our 3-month project, the NC farmer will have a better idea of how to maximize the value of their crop.

PI: Lucia, Lucian

Direct Sponsor: GenoVerde Biosciences, Inc

Amount Awarded: $6,000

Forest Health Monitoring, Analysis, and Assessment

The Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Program is a long term, national monitoring and research effort focusing on forest ecosystems. This interagency program is designed to assist resource managers and policy makers in managing forest resources in the United States, allocating funds for research and development, and evaluating the effectiveness of environmental policies. FHM national reporting efforts include an annual technical report that presents analysis and synthesis of technical information at national and multi-state levels as well as other publications that provide information about national forest health conditions and management priorities. Through the work in this agreement, the principal investigators and other research personnel will provide the Forest Health Monitoring Research Team of the USFS Southern Research Station’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) with data analyses, natural resource assessments, and technical writing skills in support of the national Forest Health Monitoring Program’s annual forest health status and trends report, and other research, analysis, and reporting tasks. The principal investigators and other personnel will also provide support to the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program in documentation development and updates for field procedures and the FIA public database.

PI: Conkling, Barbara

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $293,512

Economic Analysis of Forestland Enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program in Mississippi

A precise information on the expected net economic returns of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) tree acres would not only aid in CRP decision making associated with the forestland conservation, but it will also help forest landowners in making more informed decision about alternative uses of their land. To this end, the proposed economic analysis aims to estimate expected net return to managing forestland acres enrolled in CRP conditional on the range of species (e.g. pines or bottomland hardwoods), management regime (e.g., even ages or uneven aged), management objective (e.g., timber production or maintaining wildlife habitat or carbon sequestration), and site characteristics in the region (e.g., low, medium or high site quality), and conduct sensitivity analysis to reflect uncertainty in future market conditions (e.g., changes in timber and pulpwood prices, changes in discount rates etc.).

PI: Nepal, Prakash

Direct Sponsor: Conservation Biology Institute

Amount Awarded: $53,289

Innovations in the Theory and Application of Models for Human and Natural Caused Disturbances in Forests

Existing expertise in disturbances in forests has improved our understanding, modeling, and forecasting of the future conditions and use of both US and global forests. These disturbances vary by region across the US, and by ecoregion globally, and include wildfire, harvesting, land use change, insect and disease outbreaks, and others. We focus on the first two of these disturbances because of the synergies known to exist between harvesting and wildfire in both the U.S. and Brazil. This will require cooperation of investigators from NCSU (Dr. Erin Sills and a postdoctoral scholar) and USFS Research and Development (Drs. Karen Abt and Jeffrey Prestemon). This research will focus on (1) the impact of harvesting and wildfires on forest conditions, and the relationships between markets for timber and responses to forest disturbances, and (2) how climate and policy influence the expenditures made to prepare for and respond to forest disturbances, focusing on wildfire.

PI: Sills, Erin

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $100,000

North American, European, and Global Forest Product Market Projections to Evaluate Economic, Demographic, and Biophysical Change

The primary objective of the proposed study is to understand the direct effects of sea level rise on markets for forest products in the United States, and through that, global markets and forest conditions nationwide.

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $110,000

Measuring the Impact of Community Engagement Strategies with GRCVB Stakeholders

The community engagement strategies (CES) the GRCVB plans to employ have the potential to increase community stakeholders’ awareness of the organization and its benefits. This could also lead to community stakeholders being stronger advocates for tourism in Wake County. However, the magnitude of the impact that the CES could have is not known. Through in-depth interviews with Wake County tourism stakeholders this study will determine the degree to which CES increase awareness of the GRCVB and its benefits among community stakeholders as well as their intentions to advocate for tourism in Wake County.

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau

Amount Awarded: $18,810

Location Aware Approach to Creating Effective Public Outreach

NCDOT enhances its ability to establish relationships, credibility and consensus throughout the course of the transportation decision-making process by using a variety of methods to engage the public. Organizing and implementing public hearings, while effective, falls short on involving all stakeholder groups who would be affected by the implemented project. The way that the public is engaged, informs and invites the section of public that lives nearby and would have the most perceived short and medium term adverse effects from the project implementation. Whereas the section of public using the project corridor to transit and would have the most perceived medium and long term benefit, is not effectively engaged. We propose to value-add existing public outreach strategies by augmenting them with spatial analysis tools, state of the art targeted information dissemination techniques, and a user friendly spatial public engagement portal. Innovative approaches need to be developed and implemented to engage all affected and benefiting sections of public during all phases of project development and delivery. Initiating this process before the early project planning stage would allow appropriate project alterations without adding extraneous financial burdens and project delays. The first aim of this project is to create task specific spatial analysis tools that will allow NCDOT staff identify adversely affected, as well as benefiting, stakeholders. Using this information, this project also aims to create effective public outreach campaigns using a Spatial Public Engagement Portal (SPEP), and social media pipelines while putting our best effort forward to respect stakeholder’s privacy. We will then collaborate with NCDOT staff to transfer our knowledge, findings, and spatial analysis tools as well as the SPEP platform.

PI: Pala, Okan

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Transportation

Amount Awarded: $229,360

Improving Scenarios of Future Patterns of Urbanization, Climate Adaptation, and Landscape Changes in the Southeast

The conversion of land from non-urban and rural uses to urban, and highly modified uses, is arguably the most direct, intense, and long-lasting modification of habitats that can be made by humans (Theobald, 2013). Simulating these evolving patterns in areas experiencing substantial population growth and urbanization can assist natural resource managers in adaptive planning efforts (Terando et al., 2014; Dorning et al., 2015). This is especially relevant in the Southeast U.S., where a favorable winter climate has led to large influxes of people from other areas of the country over the past several decades (Rappaport, 2007). However, the Southeast is also a region that is highly exposed to the effects of climate change, particularly along the coast and other low-lying areas which contain 27% of the region’s total population. Recent modeling studies have called attention to the potential for coastal sea level rise (SLR) to act as a push factor that would drive residents from the coast to less risky inland locations at higher elevation (Hauer, 2017; McAlpine & Porter, 2018). These and other studies however, in focusing on the push factors along the coast, have to date not considered spatially-explicit outcomes of population redistribution and have not considered the degree to which existing external pull factors (e.g. economic and environmental amenities) of regional growth into the Southeast will affect future urbanization patterns. Here we will build on prior demographic and land change modeling efforts by developing state-of-the-science spatially-explicit scenarios of urbanization patterns in the Southeastern U.S. Our approach will tackle this problem by explicitly accounting for the strength of two potentially counteracting forces: 1) regional out-migration and internal redistribution driven by increasing coastal and low-lying areas at risk due to climate change, and 2) regional in-migration that historically has been driven by climate amenities, but is also potentially amplified through economic growth in southern metropolitan areas. The resulting urban change scenarios will allow natural resource decision makers to visualize and anticipate hotspots of urbanization and population movement across the region through the end of the century.

PI: Ross Meentemeyer

Direct Sponsor:  US Geological Survey

Amount Awarded: $323,040

Assessment at Early Stage on the use of BioBulk to Upgrade Furnish Properties Focused on Consumer Insights

The use of bio-bulk is proposed as a bio-based additive to considerably upgrade furnish properties for the manufacturing of hygiene tissue. Preliminary lab analyses show that by adding 4% of bio-bulk to tissue furnish, softness and bulk can increase by 15% and 12% respectively. As softness and bulk are important drivers for price on the shelf for hygiene tissue products, herein we propose a research project to evaluate the use of bio-bulk to upgrade tissue furnish, estimate the impact on final product price and develop the data set needed to file invention disclosure and patents. Our preliminary and conservative estimation values bio-bulk at ca. $4,000 per ton.

PI: Ronalds Gonzalez

Direct Sponsor: Lignetics, Inc

Amount Awarded: $50,000

Free-Ranging and Feral Cats in National Parks: Development of Park Management Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement\

The overall project goals are twofold: The first goal is to provide an engagement framework that park managers can use to understand and navigate challenges surrounding free-ranging cats. The engagement framework will be based on the findings from this work and will outline a set of best practices for pursuing engagement with communities and stakeholders for addressing management challenges surrounding free-ranging cats. The second goal is to provide an analysis of the free-ranging cat management context for 1 or 2 specific national parks so as to help prepare the site for future local engagement. This analysis will provide essential information, such as an examination of free-ranging cat management challenges, free-ranging cat history, and the diversity of stakeholder views. This project will involve an ongoing collaborative planning process between NPS officials and project researchers.

PI: Jason Delborne

Direct Sponsor: US National Park Service

Amount Awarded: $48,489

Evaluation of the Lowcountry Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention Program

To conduct an evaluation of the Lowcountry Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention Program, partially funded by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to document the effectiveness of the program and the network that has been created to deliver services.

PI: Louie Rivers

Direct Sponsor: Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation

Amount Awarded: $34,000

Wood Supply Assessment in North Carolina: Examining Market Dynamics, Resources Availability and Sustainability

This project will assess the timber resource availability and sustainability in North Carolina. We will assess historical trends in forest land-use changes and resource inventory in survey units in North Carolina using the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) dataset. Based on the current state of timber supply and demand, project annual timber inventory, removals, and prices by species types and grades using the Sub-Regional Timber Supply (SRTS) model. The projection analyses will be for the entire state, FIA survey units, and specific wood-basket regions. This project will also estimate demand and supply models of hardwood and softwood pulpwood markets for two micro-markets in North Carolina, and evaluate the impact of emergence of wood pellets industry in pulpwood stumpage. Based on the estimated market-specific price elasticity values, update the SRTS model (new elasticity values and 2017 TPO data) and examine the pulpwood resource sustainability in North Carolina micro-markets. We will also assess the hardwood resource availability and sustainability in North Carolina from a mills’ perspective; conduct sensitivity analyses to refine just accessible hardwood resources and their sustainable uses; identify the major hotspots where new forest-based industries could be best positioned to sustainably utilize forest resource feedstock for different products in North Carolina; and use a Hot Spot Analysis tool—available in ArcGIS—which calculates the Getis-Ord (GI) statistics in each FIA plot, taking into account the woody resources in its surrounding plots.

PI: Rajan Parajuli

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $79,028

Trajectories of Ecosystem Recovery in Coastal Wetlands under a Changing Climate: Connecting the Dots with Student Research, Citizen Science, and Classroom Data

Altered hydrologic regimes in the lower Roanoke River (RR) on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina have caused artificially extended seasonal floods in riparian bottomland hardwood (BLH) forested wetlands over the last 70 years. These altered flows are largely due to dam construction and management, and have replaced previously flashy hydrology. It is expected that extended flooding duration has caused shifts in BLH forest composition and loss of biodiversity in the RR basin, including widespread mortality, and transitions from mature forests to an alternative shrub-dominated state. Our primary goal for the proposed research is to assess the long-term compositional changes in bottomland forest ecosystems in the Roanoke River floodplains caused by increasingly persistent and frequent flooding events prior to 2016.

PI: Marcelo Ardon Sayao

Direct Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Amount Awarded: $30,116

WholeGarment® Knitting of Military Clothing with Bite Protection against Mosquitoes and Other Arthropods

Vector-borne diseases have had a devastating impact on the readiness of combat troops. Due to the increased exposure through training and operations outdoors, deployed military personnel are often at greater risk of receiving arthropod bites than common populations. Presently, the military uses chemical treatments (primarily permethrin) to prevent exposure to vector-borne diseases. The chemical bonding on knitted fabric is not as successful as with wovens and under normal operational conditions, these measures often result in incomplete protection. Mosquito resistance to existing pyrethroid chemistries is problematic in some areas of military operations. In addition, military personnel are concerned that exposure to pyrethroid treatments have adverse effects on their health or that of their family members. Therefore, vector control and personal protection strategies are still of critical importance in ensuring the operational readiness of armed forces. There is an urgent need to develop an alternative effective bite-resistant system, which is more effective to insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and other arthropods, reducing the potential hazard for human health. This technology is also transferable to the private sector. Traditional domestic (Berry Act compliant) conventional knitting, cutting, and sewing of military garments are labor-intensive, time-consuming, and waste-producing processes. Production of wearable bite-resistant military clothing often takes as long as six weeks for the knitting/weaving of textiles and two to four more weeks for production of garments and potentially far longer in the private sector. The garment seams can be the weakest link in the garment construction, causing seam breakage or slippage thereby allowing an easier entry path for vector insects. Furthermore, a traditionally sewed garment with bulky seams often deforms when stretched and can cause skin abrasion. Structural instability as well as mechanical degradation of the seam areas will affect bite-protection capability of the garment prototypes, especially in the area of stretched shoulder seams. Achieving an accurate fit can also be difficult in a cut and sew process because garment sizes are averaged and not based on actual measurements which often produces garments with poor fit. Military personnel need garments that are more accurately sized, providing a comfortable fit for which WholeGarment® knitting is ideal. Wholegarment® knitting machines directly produce an entire three-dimensional garment without sewing that allows for new design opportunities not available with traditional cut and sew methods. Conventional combat clothing developed by major consumer brands over the last few years lack the functionality the military needs (Figure 2). Current knitting design programming technology and Wholegarment® machines are capable of rapid prototyping with multiple yarns and complex stitch patterns. The seamlessness of these knitted garments eliminate seams that can fail, chaff or bind, and reduce movement, thus offering comfort and fit that cannot be rendered in a cut and sew garment. Therefore, Wholegarment® knitting technology offers opportunities to address the limitations of cut and sew garment production, reducing time to market, labor needs, material costs, and energy needs with lower production minimums at the same time making a more sustainable, longer lasting, higher quality product.

PI: Andre West

Direct Sponsor: US Army

Amount Awarded: $864,630

Assessing the Transferability of a Historic Resources Decision Support Model for Optimized Budget Allocation and Adaptation Planning

This research project is a collaborative study with the National Park Service to communicate and expand decision guidance for budget optimization and adaptation planning. The study will expand a decision support framework for cultural resource adaptation to archaeological sites and test the framework for making prioritization decisions at a minimum of one National Park Service site with vulnerable cultural resources.

PI: Erin Seekamp

Direct Sponsor: US National Park Service

Amount Awarded: $116,753

Using Fine Scale GPS Technology to Research Sympatric Canid Population Dynamics

In conjunction with prior research, data collected in this study will contribute to knowledge on sympatric canid population dynamics on the AP. Estimating population size will allow managers to monitor population trends of sympatric canids and to examine the long and short-term impacts of different management strategies on their populations. While it is unknown whether sample size will allow for population estimation, obtaining relative abundance estimates for coyotes would provide wildlife managers with baseline data for monitoring changes in population abundance over time when paired with annual mortality estimates. Information on changes in abundance, reproductive dynamics, and habitat use could impact management strategies to influence long-term conservation outcomes. Results of this pilot study will allow managers to determine if future work will be necessary, what amount of effort will be required to achieve each objective, and if population estimates will be an attainable goal. Furthermore, data gathered on survival rates by age class, breeding success, litter size, mortality rates by age class, and relative abundance of sympatric canids during this project could contribute toward a two-species population viability analysis (PVA) model in development by USFWS staff, expanding upon the PVA previously performed for red wolf populations (Faust et al. 2016).

PI: Jamian Pacifici

Direct Sponsor: NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Amount Awarded: $28,550

Target-tree Release to Improve the Sustainability of Eastern Hemlock in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

This project will develop and validate a silvicultural tool that improves the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock, an ecologically keystone species in the southern Appalachians threatened by the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Individual or small clusters of target trees (i.e., suppressed or intermediate eastern hemlocks with moderate to good crown health) will be released by removing or girdling other stems competing for sunlight directly above and adjacent to the target trees. Increased sunlight is expected to improve hemlock crown health via improved carbon balance, enhanced foliage production, and reduced HWA settlement rates relative to unreleased trees. Treatments will be replicated at a number southern Appalachian sites and will evaluate release by girdling vs. felling and variations on the size of the resulting canopy gap. Operationally, the tool is expected to prolong hemlock health and survival and increase the efficacy of existing HWA management tools (e.g. biological and chemical control) when integrated with them.

PI: Robert Jetton

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $62,316

Urban Forestry Economic Analysis in the Northeastern Midwest Region

Economic contribution analysis of the urban forestry sector helps communicate the greater monetary benefits of the sector in terms of gross domestic product contribution and jobs to policy makers and legislators. This project will involve conducting an economic contribution analysis of the urban forest industries in the Northeastern Midwest Area (a 20-state region), and in 16 participating states. The specific objectives of the project are to: (1) facilitate discussion and consensus on scope of urban forest industries, methodology for analysis, and report template, (2) assist the Team and UW Survey Center in developing relevant survey questions and using results in Region and state level economic analyses, (3) document the methodology and rationale for the selected approach in a written report, (4) analyze IMPLAN and other relevant datasets for the Region, and at the state level, (5) produce reports summarizing the findings for the Region, plus each individual participating state, totaling 17 reports, and (6) present the methodology, a mid-project progress report, and a final presentation of results. To accomplish the objectives, the College of Natural Resources North Carolina State University is teamed up with Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Mississippi State University. Our multi-disciplinary team of urban forestry professionals, natural resource social scientists, and forest economists with extensive involvement in IMPLAN modeling and economic contribution analysis is capable of accomplishing this project in a timely and efficient manner.

PI: Rajan Parajuli

Direct Sponsor: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Amount Awarded: $159,733

High-resolution Dynamic Risk Mapping to Guide Timely Disease Interventions

We propose to map the “current” and “next week’s” risk of PEDv at high-resolution for all farm types in North Carolina. Our high-resolution maps of epidemic spread will have the capacity to: a. Identify regions on the epidemic front—that could be subjected to intensive detection surveys and/or to where animal movement is not recommended. b. From up-to-date information (e.g., weather/landscape, animal movements, past interventions), we will recommend interventions. Our maps will indicate where and which interventions should be deployed. 

PI: Machado, Gustavo

Direct Sponsor: Swine Health Information Center

Amount Awarded: $86,987

Amount Awarded to CNR: $23,273

Mariculture Tourism: Cultivating Consumer Demand and Coastal Community Supply

This study proposes to develop a profile of potential shellfish mariculture tourists so coastal communities can capitalize on the growing interest in food tourism. This will be accomplished through a combination of survey, asset mapping, and comparison techniques. First, a survey will be conducted of food tourists who intend to visit Atlantic coastal states to identify potential shellfish mariculture tourists’ experience preferences and the barriers to their participation. Then community-based asset mapping will be conducted with NC community stakeholders, including tourism and economic development officials, shellfish mariculture producers, residents, and other coastal industry members to identify existing shellfish mariculture tourism assets. These findings will be compared to the current shellfish mariculture tourism product supply in NC coastal communities to identify how demand for shellfish mariculture tourism can be met. Finally, a suite of prototype NC shellfish mariculture tourism outreach materials will be developed which will be tested for their ability to connect with potential shellfish mariculture tourists and stimulate demand for shellfish mariculture products.

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: National Sea Grant Office

Amount Awarded: $119,784

Applications of Nanocellulose in Waterborne Coatings Systems

We will use unmodified and chemically modified nanocellulose materials to develop rheology, dewatering and film formation routes that will lead to films and coatings with target physical appearance, mechanical integrity and thermo-chemical and wetting properties. For this purpose we will use precursors from three different nanocelluloses: cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) and lignocellulose nanofibrils (LCNF). Results from this study will be used to develop novel coatings and films, as well novel personal care products.

PI: Khan, Saad

Direct Sponsor: Eastman Chemical Company

Amount Awarded: $43,587

Genetic Resource Conservation of Threatened and Endangered Tree Species in the Eastern United States

The eastern United States is home to some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world that provide a number of ecosystem services including clean air and water, carbon storage, recreational opportunities, and wood and fiber to feed a growing population’s need for solid wood and paper products. These critical forest ecosystems are anchored by more than 140 tree species, many of which are threatened by natural and human-caused disturbances including native and exotic insects, diseases, invasive plants, tropical weather systems, wildland fire, development, fragmentation, and climate change (per Forest Tree Genetic Risk Assessment System, Potter and Crane, 2010). As tree populations begin to decline, dynamic approaches to ex situ genetic resource conservation are necessary to secure seed resources for long-term preservation and the eventual restoration of the species and ecosystems. The knowledge gained and materials produced through this agreement will further the mission of the U.S. Forest Service R8 National Forest System Genetic Resource Management Program. It will help to further support the ecosystem health, diversity, sustainability, and productivity philosophy espoused by the U.S. Forest Service. And further, will contribute seed for the restoration of disturbed or degraded forests throughout the eastern United States. The Cooperator will benefit through the strengthening of its genetic resource conservation program, the production of new scientific knowledge, the generation of technical and peer- reviewed publications, and training and education opportunities for students. The objectives accomplished through this agreement will demonstrate that the U.S. Forest Service and Camcore/N.C. State University are leaders in the field of genetic resource conservation of threatened and endangered tree species.

PI: Jetton, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $20,000

Game Changer: a Mechanical Insecticide for Mosquitoes, Sand Flies, Filth Flies and Other Arthropods from Volcanic Rock

Project is to develop a mechanical insecticide for mosquito, filth fly and sand fly control for the US military.

PI: Roe, Richard

Direct Sponsor: US Army

Amount Awarded: $285,869

Eradication Analysis and Decision Support (eRADS)

Eradication and/or containment of an invasive pest species is one of the most difficult, expensive and critical decisions that engage state, federal and private sector affected parties and stakeholders. Deciding whether or not to engage an eradication or containment program can vary according to complex factors that are difficult to predict. First, pest incursions are affected by many site-specific characteristics – such as the landscape configuration of the affected host(s) and distribution of pests – that make it challenging to define an action area, where containment or eradication would occur. Second, the timeline for making the decision to enter a program is not consistent among pests because of their life
histories and response to the new environment. The response timeline can have a positive or negative effect, depending on whether or not the program is initiated before a critical threshold. Third, pest biology and treatment options could range from well-known to unknown and treatment efficacies could vary drastically. Even when treatment options are well-known and effective, these resources must be deployed in a timely and organized manner for containment or eradication to be successful. When there is little information on pest biology or treatment options, knowledge in these areas must be derived or developed to determine if containment or eradication is feasible. A decision to not enter a program that is not technically feasible will result in no program related costs, but a negative perception from affected parties; a win-lose. Alternatively, entering a program that is not technically feasible will result in high costs and a negative perception from the affected parties because the program is likely to fail; a lose-lose. If, however, a program is both technically feasible and successful, the affected industry benefits and regulatory resources are optimized, a win-win. Identifying the conditions that are likely to lead to each of these outcomes is a central question for those that manage invasive pests and diseases. While it is not feasible to predict the conditions surrounding an incursion a priori, we can address key factors surrounding an incursion once it occurs using the Eradication Analysis & Decision Support (eRADS) tool. First, eRADS identifies the area of concern using data on the pest distribution (e.g., from the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program) and its associated hosts (e.g. NASS Cropland Data Layer) and what is known about the biology of the pest (e.g. Global Pest and Disease Database and other data sources). Next, eRADS quantifies landscape metrics in the action area – specifically the connectivity of suitable hosts – to determine how likely the pest could disperse. Then, eRADS leverages what is known about the pest from CAPS data sheets or New Pest Response Guidelines, to evaluate treatment options and determine how quickly they might be deployed. eRADS evaluates the technical feasibility of implementing a program and provides a score ranging from “Feasible” to “Not Feasible,” along with an epidemiological description. eRADS allows decision makers to evaluate how technically feasible a program might be and determine what modifications are required to make it feasible.

PI: Meentemeyer, Ross

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

Amount Awarded: $131,230

Next Generation Logistics Systems for Delivering Optimal Biomass Feedstocks to Biorefining Industries in the Southeastern United States

This project will develop and test an advanced statistical process control framework, enabling production of consistently high-quality biomass feedstock at reduced cost. With information on feedstock properties available at various points along the supply chain, more accurate cost analysis will be conducted along with life-cycle analysis of the feedstock production systems.

PI: Kelley, Stephen

Direct Sponsor: University of Tennessee

Amount Awarded: $150,000

Multi-scale Assessment of Wild Turkey Ecology in North Carolina

This 4-year study will provide a comprehensive understanding of wild turkey demography at 3 regions in North Carolina and will quantify spatial and temporal variation in underlying vital rates. The results and recommendations stemming from the study will serve as a solid foundation on which future turkey management actions can be based.

PI: Moorman, Christopher

Direct Sponsor: NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Amount Awarded: $644,410

North Carolina Statewide Forest Products Marketing Team

The North Carolina Statewide Forest Products Marketing Team (SFPMT) is a team of industry professionals working together to assess and review the current state of the North Carolina forest and wood products industry to identify marketing issues and needs, develop solutions and assist the industry to exploit opportunities. Covering all one hundred counties of North Carolina plus the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, economic opportunities identified by the project will benefit local communities for employment and economic activity. Improved forest management and marketing will lower the cost of good forest management for landowners resulting in more acres of forest improvements to be undertaken. This project will support efforts to maintain current forest land use as working forest land, thus supporting environmental maintenance of wildlife and water resources. This project will offer a platform for cooperative education and networking to improve communication among industry participants and to promote better utilization of North Carolina’s forest resources in the US National Forests as well as on private forest lands. North Carolina State University is the organizer of this effort, with a project staff of five industry professionals to oversee the proposed efforts for organization and outreach. The project will update both USFS Product Locators for North Carolina for primary and secondary industry segments. The team will host approximately thirty regional meetings across the state, reaching out to all industry segments, including landowners, loggers, log yards, sawmills and lumber drying operations, firewood, cabinet, furniture, millwork, flooring and composite manufacturers. The use of electronic media tools will optimize outreach efforts and create a vivid, interactive, and resourceful connection to, and within the industry. Our expectation is that our efforts will grow sales, profitability and employment for the forest and wood products industry in North Carolina. This project will raise the importance of networking to a new level as we reach out and include a large number of industry participants that are not connected today and will open new channels for better utilization of forest materials into value-added products.

PI: Mitchell, Philip

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $249,739

Planning for Advocacy Efforts: Best Practices from Tourism Industry Associations

Associations play a crucial role in the success of the tourism industry. One of the most valuable benefits they offer those they represent is advocating for the interests of the industry with policymakers at the local, state, and federal level. Many challenges are faced by association leaders charged with advocating for the tourism industry. They must represent the interests of many different stakeholders within the industry and may have to address a wide range of policy issues that can impact the industry, including those related to social issues that impact visitors’ image of a tourism destination, funding for tourism marketing and management efforts, or taxation levels. Many policy changes have the potential to develop into crises for the tourism industry. Like in any crisis, it is vital for tourism stakeholders to take action to mitigate risks and the potential impacts of policy changes. In the context of policy-induced crises, advocacy is one way to take action to reduce risks and the impacts of crises. Recently, there have been an increasing number of policy-related crises impacting the tourism industry. Therefore, organizing advocacy efforts to represent the tourism industry’s interests among policymakers is becoming an increasingly important role for associations and their leaders. However, very little is known about what associations are doing to plan for advocacy efforts on behalf of the tourism industry. In this way, tourism industry associations may not be maximizing the tools and benefits they offer to their members. This proposed research study seeks to identify best practices in advocacy planning among tourism industry associations in order to help all associations deliver services to their members.

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: ASAE Foundation

Amount Awarded: $7,437

Interactive Analytics for Natural and Cultural Resource Management at Congaree National Park

This agreement will support the National Park Service (NPS) Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team (EPMT) through the following task: NPS Southeast Exotic Plant Management – Geodatabase Design to Support Collection and Sharing of Treatment Data. Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team staff identified the critical need for a geospatial  database framework to document treatment and monitoring and guide management and decision-making. Changes in technology have enabled the collection and management of data for inventory, treatment and monitoring in a streamlined fashion. This project develops geospatial technologies to improve efficiency, transparency, and coordination for the locations being treated by the Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team. The goal of this task is to provide the Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team with a platform to streamline the collection, storage, and dissemination of geospatial and tabular data documenting the treatment (spraying of chemical pesticides) of exotic plants in the 15 National Park Service Units they service. This task will facilitate communication between EPMT and other partners involved with exotic plant management. Upon completion, the geospatial database will manage, store, and display data needed to make timely and sound management decisions. The final geospatial database framework will be made available to other teams that manage exotic plant monitoring and treatment data to use as a template.

PI: Vukomanovic, Jelena

Direct Sponsor: US National Park Service

Amount Awarded: $16,224

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: McCord, Marian

Direct Sponsor: Armed Forces Pest Management Board

Amount Awarded to CNR: $119,574

SNAP-Ed Steps to Health FY20

The purpose of this grant is to deliver nutrition and physical activity education to limited resource audience at the individual level and provide multi-level strategies/interventions to promote policy, systems, and environmental change across North Carolina, with 74 counties receiving high levels of intervention.

PI: Maslow, Lindsey

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Health and Human Services

Amount Awarded: $2,817,302

Aligning Health and Built Environment Assessment Frameworks in Community Development

The Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program is a 3-year partnership between two researchers and one community engagement entity with an intent to work toward new perspectives on building a culture of health. This project addresses a new school/ YMCA facility, exploring both the operations of the facility as well as its potential for being a catalyst for health within the specific vulnerable community.

PI: Rider, Traci

Direct Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Amount Awarded: $350,000

Predicting Wildland Fire Behavior and Water Supply in Fire-affected Landscapes

Wildland fires produce a range of impacts that can either be beneficial (e.g. controlled burns that favor forest quality), or destructive (damage, loss of life). In both cases, better predictions of fire suppression efficiency are critically needed in view of increased cost of wildland fire suppression, concerns for firefighter safety, and the potential of wildland fire as a land management tool. Simultaneously, there is a lack of knowledge on how fire-affected landscapes influence water supplies used for drinking, agricultural and industry. These topics represent a major research challenge in wildfire science and hydrology, respectively, and are essential in safeguarding environmental sustainability. This work involves two complementary research themes: first, to improve the conceptual understanding of the effects of prescribed burning and forest restoration of longleaf pine ecosystems on hydrologic pathways and the fate of excess water, and gain quantitative knowledge of the impacts of prescribed burning and longleaf pine ecosystem restoration on water supply in the southeastern United States. Second, to (a) gain empirical knowledge of historical wildland fire perimeters, fire suppression operations, topographic features, rivers, weather data, fuel types and properties, and land cover; (b) develop machine learning models to predict where firelines are likely to be successful and where they are likely to be constructed. These models are scalable, meaning they can also accept incomplete data. Based on the discrepancy between these two, derive insights on implicit biases, assumptions and situational factors; and, (3) to provide practical guidelines to support fire planning and fire management and operations.

PI: Martin, Katherine

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $195,000

A Comprehensive Strategy for Stable, High Productivity Cultivation of Microalgae with Controllable Biomass Composition

Primary objective is to co-advise a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill in the development of Life Cycle Analysis and Techno-economic Analysis models of algal biofuel facilities, particularly considering uncertainty in environmental and market-based processes. The system design and plant operations of modeled facilities will be simulated using an existing Matlab model that represents alternative system configurations, project finance, plant operations (cultivation, harvesting and downstream conversion), discounted cashflow analysis and life cycle measures of environmental and financial sustainability. Key project goals include investigation of the impacts of high pH and high alkalinity growth on system energy requirements, culture stability, and overall economic competitiveness.

PI: Kern, Jordan

Direct Sponsor: UNC – Chapel Hill

Amount Awarded: $16,580

Target-tree Release to Improve the Sustainability of Eastern Hemlock in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

This project will develop and validate a silvicultural tool that improves the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock, an ecologically keystone species in the southern Appalachians threatened by the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Individual or small clusters of "target" trees (i.e., suppressed or intermediate eastern hemlocks with moderate to good crown health) will be released by removing or girdling other stems competing for sunlight directly above and adjacent to the target trees. Increased sunlight is expected to improve hemlock crown health via improved carbon balance, enhanced foliage production, and reduced HWA settlement rates relative to unreleased trees. Treatments will be replicated at a number southern Appalachian sites and will evaluate release by girdling vs. felling and variations on the size of the resulting canopy gap. Operationally, the tool is expected to prolong hemlock health and survival and increase the efficacy of existing HWA management tools (e.g. biological and chemical control) when integrated with them.

PI: Jetton, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $44,500

Forecasting Plant Pest Spread Using Tangible Landscape Technology

Invasive pests are a serious threat to the nation’s forest and agricultural systems. Planning and optimizing management of these pests at large-scales often requires input from a variety of stakeholders, many of which often disagree with the suggestions of experts due to different evidentiary bases and experiences. Forecasts to support planning and response rely on model predictions of future spread and risk. Tangible landscape brings this modeling process to life and makes it easier to understand for all stakeholders. Up until today there has been no framework to both communicate and test different scenarios and assumptions held by different farmers, land managers, regulators, researchers and other stakeholders. Tangible Landscape is a novel modeling platform that allows users to guide complex geospatial models via physical interaction. Users can designate treatment zones on a physical representation of a landscape, which are then incorporated into the pest and pathogen spread model. Results are projected back onto the landscape, allowing users to quickly and intuitively visualize how proposed management scenarios are likely to affect spread across the landscape. Tangible landscape brings this modeling process “to life” by making evident the processes, assumptions and the relationship between forecast system outputs and three-dimensional reproductions of actual agricultural or pest management settings. Tangible landscapes make it easier to understand complex dynamics between production and management scenarios for all stakeholders. Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) is an agency within APHIS that “safeguards agriculture and natural resources from risks associated with the entry, establishment, or spread of plant pests and noxious weeds to ensure an abundant, high-quality, and varied food supply”. Each year PPQ manages a large number of invasive species and faces challenges to determine the most viable, high-impact decisions given limited resources and complex epidemiological settings. The Tangible Landscape technology assists making such decisions by allowing stakeholders, decision makers, and land managers to interact physically with simulation models to facilitate visualization and understanding of the situation. It allows both subject matter experts and non-technical users to analyze multiple control scenarios in an instantaneous manner and enables users and policy makers to explore alternative decisions based on the available resources and user-driven variable assumptions regarding management assumptions. The goal of this project is to integrate pest and disease frameworks with existing current Tangible Landscape interface and to then validate management scenarios using multiple case studies that have real-world applications and actual production settings. Developing a tool that is useful for farmers and for regulatory agencies like PPQ would require validating models and technologies used in the Tangible Landscape. We plan to accomplish this using well-known exotic pests and diseases that are part of current programs and real-world challenges.

PI: Meentemeyer, Ross

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

Amount Awarded: $125,396

Characterization of Residual Xylan in Dissolving Pulps

The differences in compositional and molecular weight of insoluble gel particles during the acetylation of cellulose have a negative impact on the downstream manufacturing process and final product quality. It is generally agreed that the residual hemicelluloses present in dissolving pulp play a role in the formation of these insoluble gel particles. However, a detailed understanding of the effects of hemicellulose composition, branching, and molecular weight on the presence of insoluble gel particles has not been clearly elucidated. To address this issue, it is important to understand the relationship between the composition of insoluble gel particles and their solubility in a common solvent such as acetone.

PI: Park, Sunkyu

Direct Sponsor: Eastman Chemical Company

Amount Awarded: $118,858

Carbon Cycling, Environmental; Rural Economic Impacts from Collecting and Processing Specific Woody Feedstocks into Biofuels

The overall goal of this work is to provide DOE with high-quality information that allows for a detailed, comprehensive analysis of the benefits and liabilities of using woody feedstocks for the production of biofuels on a regionally specific basis. Specifically, this work will provide 1. data that allows for comprehensive LCA evaluation of the implications of using forest and manufacturing residues from current, regionally specific commercial systems for the production of biofuels. These systems include softwoods in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Southeast (SE) US, and Northeastern (NE) US. 2. data on the potential for using regionally-specific dedicated SRWC for production biofuels, e.g., Poplar in the PNW, Eucalyptus in the SE and Willow in the NE. 3. an LCA of the impacts of using woody biomass as a feedstock for different biochemical and thermochemical biofuels production processes 4. an analysis of the impacts of natural variations in wood composition and pretreatments production scenarios on the LCA of wood based biofuels 5. an analysis of the GHG implications of using woody feedstocks for the production of both biofuels and the current commercial suite of short-lived and durable wood products. Taken as a whole this research will provide a definitive assessment of the technical, and environmental, impacts of broad use of woody biomass for the production of transportation fuels. This assessment is necessary if forest biomass is to be widely used for biofuels that require, in advance, an understanding of the consequences of such a course of action. In addition, Life Cycle Inventory data and Assessments (LCI/LCA) on greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary to understand qualification of biofuels made from forest based biomass under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. The impacts of different policies and other alternatives management strategies will be characterized as sensitivity scenarios to better inform the adoption of appropriate policies, marketing, and investment strategies to reach energy independence goals with reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while effectively managing cellulosic resources.

PI: Kelley, Stephen

Direct Sponsor: Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM)

Amount Awarded: $20,000

Improving Establishment Practices of Pure and Mixed Hardwood Plantations by Refining Soil Suitability Indices for Black Walnut and Evaluating Soil Microbial Communities

Black walnut forestry within the Central Hardwoods Region (CHR) has progressed primarily based on studies of trial and error among plantations. Although black walnut wood has been used for everything from gunstocks in the Revolutionary War to the finely crafted furniture of today, gaps exist in our knowledge base regarding the most efficient methods of growing this prized wood. Increased temperatures, insect pests, and numerous issues regarding planting site suitability have hindered our ability to consistently produce the most desirable nuts, lumber, and veneer. While considerable information regarding walnut growth remains anecdotal, researchers at the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) have collected data regarding growth and performance of walnut families placed into both plantations and seed orchards. Remiss in those data were comprehensive soil studies to evaluate whether nutrient accumulations or other soil characteristics assisted with the observed superior growth of certain trees included in the study. As soils are composed of mixtures of clay, organic matter, sand, and silt, combinations of these materials can lead to a pH-balanced nutrient-rich environment across or in pockets of a site. Superior trees planted in shallow, nutrient-poor soils likely demonstrate poor growth and may be removed from a breeding program unwittingly. We propose to: (1) Test the framework of the Wallace; Young (NRCS) black walnut suitability index at three black walnut planting sites, (2) Intensively sample soils at three black walnut and three Northern red oak sites, and (3) Investigate and analyze soil data in conjunction with planted black walnut family data to look for trends and (4) Evaluate the presence and variety of soil microbial communities at the various sites. Information gained from this proposal can increase planting success, help inform thinning decisions, and will likely lead to greater economic values gained from timber stands and seed orchards.

PI: Gardner, Terrence

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $80,000

Camcore Tree Genetic Diversity

This agreement supports a cooperative project between North Carolina State University and the USDA Forest Service Southern Region for the genetic resource conservation of threatened and endangered tree species in the Southern Region, on the Southern Appalachian forests. Genetic diversity studies are critical in understanding adaptation of imperiled tree species to climate change and forest health impacts. This agreement will allow NCSU, Camcore to identify and add new imperiled tree species to the list for new seed collections. Genetic diversity studies will be done on the species and seeds will be used in restoration efforts on the Southern National Forests.

PI: Jetton, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $64,000

Health Matters: Improving Physical Activity Among African-American and Low-Income Residents of Edgecombe County

To increase physical activity among African Americans and low-income residents in Edgecombe County, NC State Extension will 1) increase the number and promotion of shared use policies and practices in key community organizations, 2) connect and promote vital county and town physical activity resources through wayfinding and signage, 3) support municipalities in improving connectivity between places people live, learn, work, play and pray through walking and recreation space audits, 4) support and promote walking and biking to and during school, and 5) partner with Recreation Resource Services (RRS), the nation’s oldest technical assistance and applied research program for parks and recreation agencies in North Carolina, to create and implement a county and municipal park and recreation master plan.

PI: Hardison-Moody, Anne

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Amount Awarded: $70,000

User Support and Science Delivery for the Southeast Conservation Blueprint and the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is committed to landscape-scale conservation to accomplish its mission. The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) is a state-led collaborative initiative focused on sustaining thriving fish and wildlife populations in the Southeastern US and Caribbean. The SECAS vision of a connected network of lands and waters that supports thriving fish and wildlife populations and improved quality of life for people is in direct alignment with the vision and mission of the FWS. Since its inception in 2011, the SECAS initiative has achieved notable accomplishments including the Southeast Conservation Blueprint (Blueprint), a living spatial plan that efficiently and effectively guides conservation implementation across 15 states in the Southeast U.S and two territories in the Caribbean. In advancing its conservation vision, the FWS seeks to continue participation in the state-led SECAS initiative. Through improving the applicability and expanding the use of the Southeast Blueprint, FWS will advance and facilitate on-the-ground conservation action that will reduce the need to list species, integrate State Wildlife Action Plan priorities, support Gulf coast restoration, and reduce regulatory burdens. To support these actions, the FWS Southeast Science Applications program seeks to expand its capacity and provide funding through a cooperative agreement with the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) at North Carolina State University. Through this project, the CESU will provide a dedicated staff person to achieve the following: 1. Provide user support for application of, and improvement to, the Southeast Conservation Blueprint; 2. Ensure key external partners’ needs are reflected in the Southeast Conservation Blueprint and incorporated into the Blueprint revision cycle; 3. Work with the FWS Southeast Science Applications program to develop and deliver tools supporting at-risk species conservation by partners; 4. Serve as a liaison among FWS Science Applications, the USGS Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), and SECAS to identify science information gaps, promote research efficiencies and leverage available resources; 5. Identify research projects that advance the needs of state fish and wildlife agencies and end users of the Southeast Blueprint; and 6. Provide project management for the Southeast Science Applications program ensuring it meets milestones and objectives that advance the collective conservation visions of FWS and SECAS.

PI: Peterson, Nils

Direct Sponsor: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Amount Awarded: $249,673

Early Stage Development of a Rapid Genotyping Pipeline for Balsam Wooly Adelgid Tolerance in Fraser Fir

Fraser fir (Abies fraseri [Pursch] Poir.) Christmas trees are one of North Carolina’s most important specialty crops. The North Carolina Christmas tree industry produces annual revenues exceeding $100 million from sales of Fraser fir trees and greenery alone. Genetic improvement efforts for the species led by the North Carolina State University Christmas Tree Genetics Program have been underway since the mid-1990s, using traditional breeding methods to increase growth, quality, pest resistance, and post-harvest needle retention. Recently, breeding efforts have expanded to include modern biotechnology approaches for improving propagation techniques, shortening the breeding cycle, and increasing opportunities for genetic modification. Among insects affecting Fraser fir production in North Carolina the exotic-invasive Balsam Woolly Adelgid (BWA, Adelges piceae [Ratzeburg]) is the most important. This pest, native to Europe, was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s and was responsible for the death of approximately 70% of mature Fraser firs throughout native stands in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The adelgid also infests Christmas tree plantations where it affects tree growth, form, and survival, costing North Carolina growers $1.53 million annually to protect their plantations with chemical insecticides. Increasing the level of adelgid resistance in Fraser fir breeding lines offers the best opportunity to produce planting stock that is more resilient against this pest and reduce overall pesticide use in North Carolina Christmas tree plantations. In 2014, 312 grafts from 30 elite Frasier fir clones in the North Carolina Premium Fraser Fir Seed Coop Orchard in Ashe County were established on potted rootstocks. At the same time, 81 grafts from seven potentially adelgid-resistant Fraser fir clones, originating from surviving trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and maintained in a clone bank at the NCDA&CS Upper Mountain Research Station, were also established. In 2016, 348 of the potted clones were arranged in a replicated study design at the NCDA&CS Mountain Research Station and artificially infested with the balsam woolly adelgid. The other 48 clones were designated as uninfested controls. Phenotypic assessments made in 2018 indicated significant variation among the clones with respect to their physical responses to adelgid infestation. A number of the clones had significant levels of twig gouting and loss of apical dominance, characteristics associated with adelgid susceptibility. A few of the clones showed no physical response to infestation suggesting they may be partially resistant or tolerant to the adelgid. A companion study funded by the NCDA Specialty Crops Block Grant Program is assessing the volatile chemistry of these clones in relation to their responses to adelgid infestation, with the goal of identifying chemical markers indicative of increased adelgid resistance that could be utilized in breeding. This proposal seeks funding for a preliminary study to test the use of RNA-Seq next-generation gene sequencing to identify differential gene expression between putatively adelgid resistant and susceptible Fraser fir clones. If successful, this technology will be applicable to the use of modern genomic approaches for incorporating adelgid resistance into Fraser fir breeding lines.

PI: Jetton, Robert

Direct Sponsor: NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Awarded: $3,000

An Assessment of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Criteria and Indicators: Enhancing Information for Criterion 7; Legal, Institutional, and Economic Indicators

This research will continue to perform U.S. assessments of the Montreal Process for Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators (SFM C&I) for Criterion 7, the development of the legal, institutional, and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management. The research will establish a baseline characterization of community forests in the United States. This will begin with documenting and tallying a representative cross section of community forests in the U.S., including but not limited to all those funded through the USFS Community Forest program, by ownership, funding, management, key stakeholders, and other key characteristics. We will analyze the commonalities and differences in community forest definitions by federal, state, and local governments, civil society organizations, and private sector actors. Last, we will analyze tallied/documented community forests in terms of permitted types of land use, access, and benefits in line with property rights theorists (e.g., Schlager and Ostrom 1992; Ostrom and Hess 2007) to better understand the range in ownership and bundles of rights associated with community forests in the U.S.

PI: Cubbage, Fred

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $22,000

Plant Pest Pathway Characterization with Pandemic Approach

Non-native pests cause economic and ecological damage to managed and natural U.S. forests and agricultural landscapes. Many insects and diseases are currently under regulatory control in an effort to prevent and manage outbreaks. It is difficult to control and minimize the damage once a non-native pest is established. In order to prevent new pest introductions to the United States, new approaches to evaluate pathways are needed. The conventional pathway analyses consist with determining how a particular pest can be introduced to the United States from the pest occurring countries. We only focus on the pathways from the countries that the pest is currently occurring. Recent globalization has changed the patterns of trades, air traveler trends, and technology improvement. US trade has expanded nearly 200-fold since 1950. Number of air travelers are increasing approximately 30 million each year since 1994. Inbound travelers into the United States has being increased at 2.7 million annual rate since 2003. Therefore, plant pests occurring only in Asia may not be introduced to Asian countries any more. The emergence of a trade-centered economy in China has impacted the global trading landscape. Not surprisingly, complex new trade dynamics have also driven the worldwide spread of invasive Asian species.

PI: Takeuchi, Yu

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

Amount Awarded: $230,817

Analysis and Visualization of Climate Information to Support US Fish and Wildlife Service Species Status Assessments

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) must evaluate the status of at-risk plants and animals in the US. A Species Status Assessment (SSA) is a scientific assessment prepared for each at-risk species to help inform a range of management decisions under the ESA. SSA’s are currently needed for more than 350 species, including 250 in the Southeast alone. These species are affected by several factors including urbanization, loss of habitat, changes in streamflow and water quality, climate variability, and climate change. In partnership with scientists from the USFWS and US Geological Survey, this project will develop and test data products that will assist USFWS biologists to incorporate climate information into SSA’s, including how the climate factors and thresholds that most affect species vary year-to-year, how they are expected to change in the future, and the uncertainties associated with those changes. This project will develop and test the efficacy of using a web-based collection of maps and data layers for interpreting climate vulnerability of wildlife and their habitats. Each map product will focus on the most relevant climate and ecology metrics that predict species viability for a location, and include explanatory and interpretive materials. Regular input from USFWS scientists will ensure the information is accessible, useful, and usable. The efficacy will be tested by implementing eye-tracking evaluations, surveys, and feedback sessions and iteratively applying these findings to the design and development of the tool. This web-based framework will help USFWS scientists in the Southeast US obtain, understand, and apply the climate information they need, thus enhancing the accuracy, quality, and scientific rigor of SSA’s. This project will produce a web-based collection of regional maps of past and current climate conditions relevant to species’ biology and principal habitat, and a range of possible future outcomes from climate models. Technical documents and scientific manuscripts will be produced that communicate the results of user testing and information learned on how to design maps and environmental data visualization to better support SSA’s.

PI: Dello, Kathie

Direct Sponsor: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Amount Awarded: $184,420

Geographic Information System Research and Development for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service

The scope of work under this agreement will consist of three major functions: 1) GIS research, development and technical support for parks and programs of the Northeast Region of the NPS, 2) assistance with strategic and tactical planning for GIS implementation and 3) operational testing and deployment help with Enterprise GIS initiatives and designs. The Center for Geospatial Analytics at North Carolina State University has worked with the Northeast Region of the NPS for over 20 years in the development of GIS for park management. This activity has led to major advances in the planning and application of GIS technology in the NPS and has placed the Northeast Region among the leaders within the NPS in this regard.

PI: Meentemeyer, Ross

Direct Sponsor: US National Park Service

Amount Awarded: $106,920

Tangeable Landscape Framework

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.

PI: Meentemeyer, Ross

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

Amount Awarded: $300,000

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

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.

PI: Perrin, Christy

Direct Sponsor: American Rivers, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $10,000

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

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.

PI: Li, Fanxing

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Energy (DOE)

Amount Awarded: $0.00 (conditional award)

Assessment of Pine Plantations Dynamics, SOFAC Enhancement Project

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.

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Enviva, LP

Amount Awarded: $37,170

Membership in Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC)

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.

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Forest Investment Associates (FIA)

Amount Awarded: $24,000

Studies of Fraser Fir Seed Chalcid Infestation\

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.

PI: Matallana Ramirez, Lilian

Direct Sponsor: NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Awarded: $3,000

Potential Impacts of Spotted Lanternfly in Christmas Trees

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.

PI: Sidebottom, Jill

Direct Sponsor: NC Christmas Tree Association

Amount Awarded: $3,000

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

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.

PI: Gonzalez, Ronalds

Direct Sponsor: Compania de Empaques

Amount Awarded: $50,000

NCDOT Community Studies Geospatial Sandbox

NCSU CGA will provide a “sandbox” environment for the NCDOT Community Studies Group members and others approved individuals or groups. This environment will also serve as the secure staging area for the data to be readied, vetted and approved before it is shared. As a part of this agreement NCSU CGA will perform quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) for data that is hosted. NCSU CGA will also maintain and update metadata within the NCDOT Community Studies “sandbox” and relay approved datasets to the ATLAS project team to ensure accuracy of the information and avoid versioning pitfalls. Metadata will include all the necessary information including, but not limited to: contact information, geospatial extent of the data, sources used to develop the data, cartographic projection details as well as data use and sharing limitations set by NCDOT and external data procurement services. In addition, NCSU CGA will develop training materials and provide training to designated NCDOT personnel, including designated contract personnel, in order to further the use of geospatial technologies, datasets and spatial thinking.

PI: Pala, Okan

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Transportation

Amount Awarded: $389,408

Biomass Torrefaction with Supercritical CO2

With the advent of supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) being used for power generation it is believed that the exhaust from the sCO2 turbine (>500oC, and pressures of >103 bar) can be used to extract value-added materials from biomass and to leave the extracted biomass more amenable to mechanical pulping. The remaining torrefied wood can be cofired with coal to provide fuel with a lower net carbon footprint. This work will help explore the broad feasibility of this approach by addressing the following questions.

PI: Hakovirta, Marko

Direct Sponsor: Leonardo Technologies, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $60,000

Translating and Disseminating Findings from RWJF’s Physical Activity Research

Drs.Hipp and Floyd, graduate students Alberico and Huang, and their community partners will contribute to the following dissemination activities of PARC3 and PARC: Presentations to different audiences; new/non-traditional dissemination (e.g., webinar through Recreation Resources Services) (b. Journal articles (min 2) c. Conferences / traditional outlets (e.g., National Recreation and Parks Association and The Academy of Leisure Sciences); where appropriate, provide support to partner organizations to share study findings; Participate in monthly research team meeting calls; participate in one PARC in-person meeting (ALC 2020 in Orlando); participate in the development of PARC video; and contribute to pursuing funding opportunities.

PI: Hipp, James

Direct Sponsor: Baylor University

Amount Awarded: $36,000

Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC) Membership

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.

PI: Cubbage, Frederick

Direct Sponsor: Georgia-Pacific WFS LLS formerly Georgia-Pacific Containerboard, LLC

Amount Awarded: $24,000

Unearthing Interacting Nontuberculous Mycobacterial, Environmental, and Host Determinants of Lung Disease in the Hawaiian Islands

The main objectives of this proposal are to fill current gaps in knowledge of nontuberculous mycobacteria ecology and disease transmission using the Hawaiian Islands as a model to understand the critical factors that influence how NTM inhabiting water and soil environments become infectious agents responsible for a recalcitrant lung disease. The specific aims of this proposal are to 1) conduct island-wide environmental sampling and use genomic profiling, soil and water analyses, and climate data to survey the environmental and epidemiological factors associated with the frequency and diversity of NTM in Hawai’i; 2) conduct a comprehensive comparative analysis of matched Hawaiian environmental and clinical NTM isolates to identify species of NTM and to link environmental influences and patient behavior with prevalence of NTM infection; and 3) build a predictive model of NTM transmission to understand disease dynamics in the Hawaiian Islands. This model may then be used to study these bacteria and associated lung disease with results that are likely generalizable to other areas of the world.

PI: Pacifici, Jamian

Direct Sponsor: National Jewish Health

Amount Awarded: $116,204

Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC) Membership

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.

PI: Cubbage, Frederick

Direct Sponsor: Rayonier Operating Company, LLC

Amount Awarded: $24,000

Development of Recognizable Recycled Paper Based Containerboard Products and Their Ability to Promote Positive Brand Recognition

The overall goal of the project is to develop systems to effectively utilize low-grade paper wastes in innovative, recognizable containerboard and pulp molded products in order to increase and stabilize the demand for low-grade paper waste products. This project will also evaluate the marketing potential of these new products. We will first evaluate the product performance of using low-grade paper wastes in containerboard and pulp molded product applications. A series of recycled products with varying concentrations of visible contaminants will be evaluated. We will then perform a sustainability evaluation on the new products. This would include environmental and economic evaluations. This will be followed by the evaluation of the desirability of having such products from the perspective of companies that utilize these containers to ship their products. This will be done through interviews/surveys of retail companies. We then will define the marketing advantages of these container products with respect to the general public, understanding the public’s level of preference for such containers and the ability of the container to develop strong positive brand identity with the public. This will be done through panel evaluations. We will then disseminate the results through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

PI: Venditti, Richard

Direct Sponsor: Environmental Research & Education Foundation

Amount Awarded: $165,000

Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC) Membership

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.

PI: Cubbage, Fred

Direct Sponsor: WestRock CP, LLC

Amount Awarded: $24,000

Talking About Gene Drive: An Exploration of Language to Enable Understanding and Deliberation of Africa, Europe, North America and Australasia

Decisions involving the potential future use and governance of gene drive technology will require meaningful, empowered and culturally relevant dialogue among and between stakeholders and communities. However, gene drive is a complex science and stakeholders are already using language to advance their respective interests. Emerging empirical work suggests that the narratives, stories, metaphors and analogies used to talk about gene drive may be more important than technical vocabulary. We employ social representations theory to understand how people make sense of and communicate about gene drive through narratives, stories, metaphors and analogies. Through a comparative case study research design we map and understand the language and terminology used to explain gene drive across four case studies: Uganda, Australia, USA and UK. We use media analysis, interviews and focus groups to evaluate the utility of the different narratives, stories, metaphors and analogies and explore cultural differences in order to develop an independent and shared understanding of how to talk about gene drive.

PI: Delborne, Jason

Direct Sponsor: University of Exeter

Amount Awarded: $16,892

Aquatic Biodegradability of Textile Materials: Impact of Dyes and Finishes

It is proposed that we extend the findings of the prior research (17-579) to evaluate several different dyes and finishes for fabrics and determine their impact on the aerobic aquatic biodegradation of the fabric particles. 2) We will also perform degradation experiments under anaerobic conditions for the same samples as listed. 3) Samples of the degraded cotton samples will be collected and provided to NCSU College of Textiles (Nelson Vinueza) in order for Textiles to perform chemical characterization of the dyes, finishes and their degradation products.

PI: Venditti, Richard

Direct Sponsor: Cotton, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $15,000

Stochastic Wood Procurement, Timber Harvest Scheduling, and Timber Supply Modeling

In order to address the critical problems in wood procurement modeling for pulp and paper mills or major solid wood mills, the proposed Pilot project will develop a Decision Support System (DSS), called Stochastic Timber Supply Model (STSM) that integrates a Harvesting Schedule Model (HSM) for wood procurement with a Timber Supply Model (TSM). The purpose of this model would be to provide integrated, endogenous wood fiber supply analyses through harvest scheduling linked to timber supply and landowner characteristics. The STSM will incorporate landowner decisions in its response to market price changes, and provide explicit means to assess the variability of the input in the outcomes of TSMs. First, we will build a new DSS which users can add their forest asset data and analyze the interaction between individual supply and market variables with an option of a stochastic component. This will include market data for an individual mill or wood basket, then scaled up to a region. Second, we will investigate how minor changes in the NC State University SubRegional Timber Supply (SRTS) model inputs and assumptions can lead to different outcomes.

PI: Cubbage, Fred

Direct Sponsor: International Paper Co.

Amount Awarded: $40,140

Hemlock Restoration in Nurseries and Landscapes

We will continue our current efforts searching for surviving hemlocks using TreeSnap, collecting seeds and cuttings from the survivors, providing a portion of the seed collected or seedlings germinated to private nurseries and the NC Forest Service Linville nursery, and evaluating short-term growth and survival of hemlock seedlings and rooted cuttings by exposure to HWA in the screening facility as a measure of short-term tolerance or resistance to the insect. We will continue to make hybrid crosses between native hemlocks and resistant and tolerant exotic hemlocks. Previously completed putative hybrid crosses will continue to be verified as hybrids using SSR markers in chloroplast DNA. New novel crosses will be attempted as part of this effort. In addition, we will begin a long-term silvicultural study to determine appropriate techniques for best survival in ornamental and field plantings; and begin a long-term evaluation of all out-planted hemlocks to determine their growth, survival and infestation rates as measures of HWA resistance. Transfer cultures of SE hemlocks from the Merkle Lab at UGA to NCSU, and add to the cultures from open-pollinated and control-pollinated seed as we collect more cones from sources to include putatively resistant native trees and new hybrid crosses. Where feasible, we will involve horticulture students and faculty at Haywood Community College in the induction of SE cultures and production of SE plants at their tissue culture lab in Clyde, NC. Collect phenotypic data related to HWA resistance from potentially resistant and susceptible trees that we have identified to begin the process of developing molecular markers for resistance. Trees assessed for phenotype will include open-pollinated families, as well as some full-sib families in a single-pair mating design. We will collect and store tissue samples from the assessed trees suitable for future DNA extraction to be used in marker development. Test CRISPR-based in vivo genome editing efficiency of Hemlock SE lines using CRISPR-SpCas9, LbCpf1, and LgaCas9 in Hemlock protoplasts and embryogenic masses.

PI: Hain, Fred

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $127,800

Comprehensive Christmas Tree Management Using Drones

Christmas tree growers are keenly interested in the potential of new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s also known as drones) with the potential to complete tasks more efficiently and with less cost. This project will establish methods to remotely measure and inventory trees with the use of drones; will test the sensitivity of specific spectral indices to provide an indication of plant stress, pest infestation, or disease; will develop algorithms which can distinguish trees influenced by pests and pathogens from their healthy neighbors; and will assess pest presence using multispectral imagery obtained by drones. Experimental tests of an agricultural spray drone will be conducted in Christmas trees in comparison to conventional sprayers. Educational materials will be developed and used to transfer technology to Christmas tree growers. This project will rely on UAV equipment acquired through a Christmas Tree Promotion Board research grant. This project brings together foundational knowledge of Christmas tree production and unmanned aerial systems expertise from the Center for Geospatial Analytics at NC State University.

PI: Owen, Jeffrey

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $122,800

Elongate Hemlock Scale and Fraser Fir

The Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University will conduct field, greenhouse and laboratory studies to improve our understanding of the ecology and management of the exotic insect pest Elongate Hemlock Scale in Fraser fir Christmas trees, one of North Carolina’s most important specialty crops. Although the scale typically causes little damage to Fraser fir, its presence on Christmas trees represents an important pathway by which this insect can spread to new areas where more susceptible host species might exist. When detected on Christmas trees entering states where the scale is not yet present, local regulatory agencies intercept and destroy the infested material. This causes detriment to the revenues and reputation of North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry. The results of this research will inform management recommendations to growers for reducing scale infestations and limiting the risk of future spread via infested Fraser fir. Outcomes will be reported to stakeholders through presentations at the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA), articles in Limbs and Needles (the official trade magazine of the NCCTA), and papers published in the scientific literature.

PI: Jetton, Robert

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $122,800

Value of Flow Forecasts to Power System Analytics

Most hydropower utilities rely on external forecast products provided by NOAA River Forecast Centers and/or an additional source from private industry to support the scheduling of hydropower operations. The producers of these forecasts – NOAA, industry, and even in-house forecasters – do not have access to the dynamic energy prices (production cost models) or the electricity traders’ strategies to maximize revenue from utilization of the hydropower assets. Therefore, the group operating the reservoir is unable to assess the market value of their inflow forecasts, eliminating any ability to target forecast improvements to increase contributions of hydropower to electrical system needs. Both NOAA and industry have reached out to DOE WPTO to understand which inflow forecast products and accuracy levels would be needed to enhance the value of forecasts, from water management and marketed hydropower and grid resilience perspectives. We propose to use inflow forecast, reservoir and power system model simulations, and case studies to practically demonstrate where forecast improvements would create the most value for hydropower services. This research will benefit utilities and other hydropower operators who utilize flow forecasting to support water management and electricity production; it will also support DOE in targeting future investments related to forecasting that will benefit these groups.

PI: Kern, Jordan

Direct Sponsor: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Amount Awarded: $75,000

Biodegradable and Recyclable Paper-Based Alternative to Single-Use Beverage Plastic Products

The overall objective of this research project is thus to investigate plasma treatment as an environmentally safe and more efficient technique to modify the surface chemistry of cellulose fibers.

PI: Lavoine, Nathalie

Direct Sponsor: The Ohio State University

Amount Awarded: $14,960

Catalytic Upgrading of Carbohydrates in Waste Streams to Hydrocarbons

The objective of this project is to demonstrate catalytic processes for upgrading carbohydrates to hydrocarbon biofuels using two low-cost wet organic waste streams: Papermaking sludge and Post-sorted municipal solid waste. The work is based on the previous success of hydrocarbon production from corn stover in a bench scale via dilute-acid and enzymatic deconstruction followed by dehydration to furans, condensation, and hydrodeoxygenation to hydrocarbons. The project team will develop (1) a sugar production process and a removal strategy of non-carbohydrates that could poison catalysts during the conversion process, (2) isomerization and dehydration processes necessary to convert both glucose and xylose to furans in a single reactor, (3) an upgrading process of furans via aldol condensation with ketone and hydrodeoxygenation to diesel range hydrocarbons, and (4) a detailed techno-economic analysis to integrate and optimize the overall process. The developed process in this project will be demonstrated in a relevant pilot-scale and life cycle assessment will be evaluated.

PI: Park, Sunkyu

Direct Sponsor: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Amount Awarded: $1,250,807 (this is the conditional funding)

The North Carolina Strategic Plan for Sustaining Military Readiness Through Conservation Partnerships

From its Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina is rich in its wide-ranging landscape, its diverse population, and flourishing economy. With several grand metropolitan areas and cozy rural towns, the state offers the best of both urban living and small-town life. Currently, North Carolina is considered the 9th most populous state. If population predictions hold, the state will become the 7th most populous state by 2032. With population growth, comes increased urbanization and infrastructure development, a growing rural and urban interface, and encroachment on communities and areas that support and serve the state’s military installations. In an effort to establish a landscape scale approach to natural resources management that enriches compatible land use while minimizing multiple encroachment threats and alleviating on-installation constraints, North Carolina is looking to enhance its Eastern Sentinel Landscape to support flexibility for military readiness beyond 2060 while linking co-benefits of conservation and keeping working forests and farms, working.

PI: Bardon, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Amount Awarded: $206,782

Prepare and Characterize Wood Treated with Silicates

This work covers the preparation and characterization of silicate treated wood samples. The goal of the work is to create wood products that are decay, insect and fire resistant but do not require the use of toxic chemicals.  The overall process can be divided into two steps, 1) Silicate Impregnation and 2) Silicate Curing. The impregnation step will focus on the time, pressure and temperature profile used to impregnate silicate solutions into woody of varying species and dimensions. The initial impregnation conditions will be based on information supplied by T2Earth through their background knowledge and their work with partners. The curing step involves the use either ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ curing of the silicate treated wood. Different pressures and gases may also be used in this step. The dry curing will emulate curing in an oven or traditional dry kiln, where there is no barrier to the rapid removal of moisture from the wood. The wet curing will investigate higher heat transfer to the silicate treated wood samples, or steps designed to initially retain moisture in the wood. The curing step is designed to enhance polymerization of the silicate with the goal of improving silica retention, and result in improved decay and fire resistance of the treated wood.  These samples will be characterized to determine the silicate concentration profile, retention of the silicate, and for a selected subset of the samples the chemical structure of the wood and silicate. These physical properties will be related to the process conditions.

PI: Kelley, Stephen

Direct Sponsor: T2Earth Holdings, LLC

Amount Awarded: $180,000