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Graduation to Vocation: Omoyemeh Jennifer Ukachukwu is Managing Forest Carbon Modeling

Omoyemeh - Graduation to Vocation: Omoyemeh Jennifer Ukachukwu - College of Natural Resources News NC State University

Omoyemeh Jennifer Ukachukwu will graduate in May 2023 with a Ph.D. in forestry and environmental resources. Upon graduation, she will begin working as a manager of forest carbon modeling with Anew Climate.

In her position at Anew Climate, Ukachukwu will research and conduct interviews to determine legal restrictions and common silvicultural practices as related to forest carbon projects and development for various regions in the United States and Canada. She will also model the growth and yield of forest trees using a forest vegetation simulator.

We recently spoke with Ukachukwu to learn more about how her time at the College of Natural Resources prepared her for a career in the field of forestry and environmental resources. Check out the Q&A below.

How has the college prepared you for your new job?

The college prepared me in acquiring the needed skills for the job, to perform excellently well at my new position at Anew Climate. From taking tree physiology, silvics and advanced ecology classes, to taking classes in natural resource statistics, geospatial modeling, environmental behavioral change and renewable natural resources policy.

Most importantly is the quality of the research I conducted while obtaining my graduate degrees (M.S. and Ph.D.) from the college. My research was focused on quantifying the carbon stored in the biomass of fast-growing trees – grown purposely for bioenergy as well as the carbon stored in the soils of the planted forests. I would say my research work and peer-reviewed publications offered me the competitive edge over other candidates as it fits directly with the requirements of the job position.

What’s your favorite memory or class from your time at NC State?

My favorite memory/classes would be the silvics and forest tree physiology class led by John King and the environmental behavioral change class led by Eli Typhina. I really enjoyed learning and understanding the ecological and physiological processes that influences the establishment, growth and development of forest stands. The influence of resource availability, internal and environmental factors on tree growth, tree development and forest stand productivity. In the environmental behavioral change class, I was able to earn eco-entrepreneurship skills and apply behavior change theories to my research innovation and create an online course. I also had the opportunity to develop my professional network through the interviews and prototyping sessions with stakeholders in my field.

What is unique about you or your work?

My forest carbon modeling job is important for mitigating climate change, informing forest management decisions, supporting carbon markets, and advancing our understanding of the carbon cycle. Forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in biomass and soil. With modeling, we can accurately quantify the amount of carbon sequestered by a forest, which can then be sold as carbon offsets. Further, estimating the amount of carbon that is being sequestered by forests can inform policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. By developing forest carbon models, we can better understand the factors that influence carbon storage in forests and can develop strategies to optimize forest management for climate mitigation.

What motivated you to pursue your work?

My motivation is to able to contribute to important environmental and economic objectives through natural climate solutions and “tree technology.” There is an increasing need for experts in forest carbon modeling to support climate mitigation efforts, assess the health and conservation efforts of forests and provide insights to sustainable management of forest resources, and I look forward to doing this all throughout my professional career, starting with Anew Climate.

What advice would you give students entering your major or field?

I will advise that you make the best use of all the resources that the college provides. Do your research on the current marketable skills for the forestry and environmental resources field and develop these skills by taking the required classes. You need both technical and transferable (soft skills). You can develop your soft skills by volunteering your time and service and joining professional organizations. Your professional network is also important. Attend conferences, webinars, career fairs and network. Your network will make referrals on your behalf. I will also say make good use of social media, especially LinkedIn.