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Research Awards and Grants (September 2023)

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 in September 2023.

Understanding Current and Future Pest Issues in Christmas Tree Production in Western NC

  • PI: Bookwalter, Jamie 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: NC Christmas Tree Association
  • Awarded Amount: $5,100 
  • Abstract:  1. Work with county agents and growers to broaden understanding of Tristar 8.5 SL performance and interaction with natural predators to create recipient-based recommendations of use within the IPM spectrum.
    2. Re-evaluate existing cultural practices of elongate hemlock scale control.
    3. Create and maintain spotted lanternfly recommendations specific to the Western North Carolina Christmas tree industry.

Monitoring Short and Long-Term Ecological and Economic Consequences of Alternative Methods to Manage Pulp in Hardwood Stands of the Southern Appalachians

  • PI: Forrester, Jodi 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service
  • Awarded Amount: $200,000 
  • Abstract:  A market for pulpwood is critical to the implementation of ecologically grounded silvicultural prescriptions in upland oak stands across the southern US. The Pactiv Evergreen paper mill in Canton, NC plans to cease operations in Summer 2023. This closure eliminates the pulpwood market for up to a 200-mile radius and significantly impacts currently sold USFS timber on the Nantahala, Pisgah, and Cherokee National Forests. It is assumed most purchasers will leave planned-cut pulpwood on sites. We will monitor how different methods of treating pulpwood affect both short and longer-term forest conditions.

Silviculture and Adelgid Resistance in Carolina Hemlock: Understanding Potential Tools for Restoring an Imperiled Species

  • PI: Jetton, Robert 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service
  • Amount Awarded: $69,300 
  • Abstract: Carolina hemlock (Tsuga Carolinian) is a rare conifer endemic to the Southern Appalachians that is experiencing widespread mortality from hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsuga) infestation. It is among the most imperiled tree species in the South and the United States more broadly. The conservation and restoration of this species may depend on whether genetic resistance to HWA exists within the species, and/or whether infested stands can be managed to improve hemlock survival.

Automated Host Mapping Tool for Spread Modeling and Field Operations Planning

  • PI: Jones, Chris 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • Awarded Amount: $129,176 
  • Abstract: The purpose of this project is to develop algorithms and ensemble predictions that 1) fully quantify uncertainty in host map distributions, 2) are continuously updated as new data sources become available, 3) have full accuracy statistics, and 4) are fully open-source and able to be used and built on by other researchers and analysts. These algorithms will be tested on host species across three use types: annual crop, perennial crop, and forest host. By examining hosts across a wide range of crop and forest species we can ensure that the algorithms and ensembles are generalized enough to be used beyond the specified species examined during the project.


  • PI: Laleicke, Frederik 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Maynard Nexsen
  • Awarded Amount: $2,672 
  • Abstract:   Perform chemical analysis on panel samples supplied by the client. Tests include SEM, FTIR, and GC/MS.

Distribution, biology, and impact of elm zigzag sawfly in the eastern US

  • PI: Oten, Kelly 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service
  • Amount Awarded: $281,567 
  • Abstract: The elm zigzag sawfly is the newest invasive forest pest to be detected in the eastern US. Previously detected in Canada in 2020, it was confirmed in Virginia in 2021 followed by Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and North Carolina in 2022. Native to Asia, this foliage-feeding insect feeds exclusively on the leaves of elm and has great potential to impact an already-threatened tree genus. Our work will directly inform pest surveys in the eastern US, establish a repository for elm zigzag sawfly survey/infestation data, and will increase pest natural history knowledge.

Master Cooperative Agreement National Park Service

  • PI: Scheller, Robert 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: US National Park Service
  • Awarded Amount: $0
  • Abstract: North Carolina State University is one of 16 universities in the University of North Carolina System. As a research-extensive land grant university, North Carolina State University is dedicated to excellent teaching, the creation and application of knowledge, and engagement with public and private partners. By uniting our strength in science and technology with a commitment to excellence in a comprehensive range of disciplines, NC State promotes an integrated approach to problem solving that transforms lives and provides leadership for social, economic, and technological development across North Carolina and around the world.

Unlocking Novel Phytophthora and Elongate Hemlock Scale Management Techniques through the Development of Pest Genomic Resources

  • PI: Whitehill, Justin 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: Christmas Tree Promotion Board
  • Awarded Amount: $50,000 
  • Abstract: The Christmas Tree Genetics Program in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University (NCSU) will develop genomic resources desperately needed to improve management of Phytophthora and Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) in the Christmas tree industry. Each year, Christmas tree production is significantly impacted due to emerging and spreading pests and pathogens with Phytophthora and EHS the most economically significant. Current efforts to manage the threat imposed by these biotic stressors are not enough alone to keep up with the spread of pests exacerbated by climate change. For example, Phytophthora is managed by grafting Phytophthora-susceptible Fraser fir (Abies Fraser) onto Phytophthora-resilient exotic fir root stocks EHS is controlled by chemical insecticide treatment which is ineffective due to their impermeable scale covering. These approaches are labor intensive and expensive.

Chemical Composition of Secreted Wax from the Invasive Scale Insect, Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS; Fiorina externa)

  • PI: Whitehill, Justin 
  • Direct Sponsor Name: NC Christmas Tree Association
  • Awarded Amount: $3,000 

Abstract: The overall goal of this proposal is to identify chemical components of Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS; Fiorina externa) protective coverings that in order to develop novel and effective chemical treatments the control this pest. Invasive insects such as EHS have significant economic impacts on the commercial value of Fraser fir in North Carolina. If not controlled, these insect infestations can pose as ecological threats through the unintentional spread of these insects to other states. One of the most important quarantine pests on Fraser fir is EHS which significantly impacts the aesthetic value of a tree and can cause significant regulatory issues for growers. Symptoms of EHS infestation include a mottled appearance to needles, premature needle drop, and white fuzzy secretions (caused by male scale insects) that can decrease the overall economic value. Armored scale insects such as EHS have distinctive life stages that include a crawler, nymph, and adult stage.