Research Awards and Grants (June 2020)

Title: Southern Forest Resource Assessment Consortium (SOFAC) Membership

PI: Cubbage, Fred

Direct Sponsor: Forisk Consulting, Enviva, LP, National Council for Air & Stream Improvement, Inc., Forest2Market, Inc., ArborGen, Inc.

Amounts Awarded: $7,500, $22,000, $11,000, $5,500, $7,500 respectively

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: PotlatchDeltic Corporation, Green Diamond Resource Company

Amount Awarded: $30,000, $22,000 respectively

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


Title: LANDIS Application to Forest Planning

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $19,525

Abstract: Successful outreach to forest managers and landowners requires improved visualization of landscape change model outputs. This grant will provide funding to add/improve features for the LandViz visualization tool and other changes necessary for the LANDIS model.


Title: 3.0096.01- Sensor Integrated Platform for Monitoring Phytophthora

PI: Ristaino, Jean

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

Amount Awarded: $338,322

Abstract: Improvements in field-based pathogen diagnostics are needed since plant disease outbreaks exact a heavy toll on agriculture. Use of new innovations in science and technology, including field-compatible molecular assays such as loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) and volatile-based sensors, may speed identification of plant pathogens in fields and allow growers to respond more rapidly with appropriate fungicide treatments and for regulatory agencies to mitigate new outbreaks. In this project, we will develop in-field volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors and microneedle patch-supported LAMP sensors that can differentiate several important Phytophthora species of regulatory concern including P.infestans, P.ramorum and P.kernoviae. Phytophthora infestans infects potato and tomato, while P.ramorum and P.kernoviae cause disease on nursery plants such as rhododendron, lilac and kalmia and important forestry tree species including oak and beech among others. P.kernoviae has not yet been found in the US. We will develop species-specific LAMP and VOC sensors and deploy these sensors for use with inexpensive cartridges that are read from a smartphone. The sequence data collected from the LAMP sensor platforms and previously published sequence databases will be uploaded to create an open buildable phylogeny of emerging Phytophthoras. Pathogen occurrence data collected will be linked with a near real-time web-based GIS platform and a weather-based susceptible infected (SI) host spatial-temporal POP’s (Pest and Pathogen Spread) model to develop predictive maps of pathogen risk. The system will improve the response time of USDA APHIS PPQ and National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN personnel to respond to emerging threat pathogens and improve economic return of growers as they use the digital diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of important Phytophthora diseases.


Title: A New Generation of Flexible Food Packaging from Agro-Based Fibers and Biopolymers

PI: Pal, Lokendra

Direct Sponsor: Wm Wrigley Jr. Company

Amount Awarded: $120,000

Abstract: Consumer demands for sustainability and recent changes in government policies and regulations, such as the ban on single-use plastic products, are forcing companies to consider new alternatives to plastic-based packaging. There has been tremendous growth in the development and production of paper and bio-coating technology. This project will focus on the development of alternative fiber-based packaging and barrier coatings to deliver high functionality while maintaining compostability and biodegradability profile.


Title: Capacity Building – Phase XI: Increasing the Pool for the Development of a Multicultural Workforce and Connection to Underserved Communities Across the US

PI: Nelson, Stacy

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

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Abstract: This project builds upon and expands the Forest Service’s Partnership Outreach and Capacity Building, and the Multicultural Workforce Strategic Initiative Programs, and is an initiative that represents an opportunity for substantial collaboration between Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI), the 1862 land grant institutions, the Puerto Rico Commonwealth environmental and educational agencies, and the public served by the consortium/partnership.


Title: Development of Biorefinery Technology for the Simultaneous Production of Functional Food/Cosmetic Ingredients and Biocomposites Using Domestic Biomass

PI: Park, Sunkyu

Direct Sponsor: DAESANG Corporation

Amount Awarded: $182,614

Abstract: Techno-economic analysis of biorefinery process to produce functional food/cosmetic ingredients and biocomposites.


Title: NC Sustainable Pellet Production for Poultry

PI: Ghezehei, Solomon

Direct Sponsor: N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $53,609

Abstract: In North Carolina, poultry is the top agricultural industry with an economic impact of more than $37 billion, employing over 146,000 people. Although the main heating fuel for poultry houses is propane, recent pilot studies in the state have shown that wood pellets may be a cheaper heating fuel. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that wood pellet-heated poultry houses also produce better chicken survival, health, and growth.  Our goal is to comprehensively assess the technical and economic feasibility of producing pellets specifically for the poultry industry in Western NC, where a great proportion of broiler and ‘backyard’ poultry farms are located. As the economics of poultry farming is heavily dependent on mortality and overall growth/productivity of chicken, we will examine how wood pellet-based heating affects indoor air quality and health of the broiler chickens in the poultry houses. Our project results will demonstrate if this fuel is cost-effective and sustainable for poultry production to facilitate decision-making about poultry house fuel selection. Additionally, our project will generate information about potential income enhancements associated with pellet-based poultry heating.