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March/April 2012 Newsletter

Download: SBIO Newsletter March/April 2012

Message from Our Department Head

In this issue of the Sustainable Biomaterials Newsletter you will learn more about some of our great students, and what they think of the department and their educational options. Our enrollments continue to increase due to the dedicated work of the faculty, and our students, in getting out the word about the value of the degree and the diversity of what we do in the field.

Students Faces in the Department

Peter N. is a sophomore in the Biomaterials and Bioenergy area, and is currently in the Wood Materials Science option. “I can’t imagine any other department at Tech where everyone is as passionate about what they do. The level of dedication and enthusiasm of every student and professor here is something I never experienced before the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. I’ve gotten a chance to work on a project with one of the Professors, and already I am doing ‘cutting-edge’ science. I love it!” exclaims Peter.

Paige M. is a sophomore in the Department. She is interested in the Residential Wood Structures. “I was originally interested in Architecture, but found out it was more ‘artsy’ than what I was looking for. I was always in love with the structural aspects of building rather than the art side. A lot of the classes that I take deal with the structural aspects of buildings…. Also, being in such a big school like Virginia Tech it can feel overwhelming sometimes, but you go out to the Brooks Center and… It feels like you’re in a different place…it’s really nice to be in a department that is so helpful.”

Wood-Based Composites Center Supports Continuous Improvement Efforts

Members of the Wood-Based Composites Center (WBC) have a different take on improving the manufacture and performance of composite wood products. They believe that sustainable, long-term improvement is rooted in fundamental research and effective networking.

Students Visit Costa Rica to Learn About Sustainability

Students registered in the class WOOD 3954 Global Issues in Sustainability visited Costa Rica from March 4 to March 12 to learn about sustainability in a developing country.

SBIO Students and Faculty Members Spend Spring Break Learning in Ireland

“Spend your spring break in a place where it is cold and rainy” was the call answered by 12 Virginia Tech students and two students from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in March 2012.

Traveling to the 2012 ICPF Teleconference

Two packaging students (Nick D’Amico and Tyler Matusevich) were selected by ICPF to participate at the broadcast site in East Lansing during the 13th annual ICPF Careers in Corrugated Packaging & Display Teleconference that was held February 22, 2012. The ICPF award included the student’s participation as guest speakers in the ICPF reception party, dinner and they also attended several meetings with Teleconference industry speakers.

IoPP Student Jamboree XVIII

The IoPP Student Jamboree is a nationwide annual event where packaging students meet, share ideas, and build lifelong connections. Every year, the jamboree is organized by a different packaging school and this year’s XVIII Packaging Jamboree was organized by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) located in Rochester, NY. Virginia Tech was represented by twelve students and two faculty members (Dr. Kim and Dr. Horvath). 

Industry Speakers Enhance Learning in Introduction to Forest Products Marketing

A series of speakers from several segments of the wood products industry have helped to enhance student learning in Dr. Bush’s course, Introduction to Forest Products Marketing. Speakers have included Mr. Hal Mitchell and Mr. Dan Caldwell of Atlanta Hardwood Corporation; Mr. Lance Johnson of ISK Biocides; and Mr. James Schwille of Universal Forest Products Atlantic Division, LLC. 

SBIO at the 243rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society 

During the last week of March, the American Chemical Society held its 243rd National Meeting in San Diego, CA. The Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials was represented at this meeting by Prof. Scott Renneckar, Prof. Emeritus Wolfgang Glasser, Prof. Kevin Edgar and his students Haoyu Liu, Junia Pereira, Daiqiang Xu, Siddhesh Pawar, Prof. Maren Roman’s postdoc Hezhong Wang and her students Shuping Dong, Chen Qian, Feng Jiang, and Christopher Houser (undergraduate), and Prof. Chip Frazier’s student Sudip Chowdhury. 

Department Hosts Visiting Scientists from Mexico

 From February 25 to March 31, the department hosted three visiting scientists from the Wood Science and Paper Research Department of the University of Guadalajara. During their stay, the three scientists, Dr. Fernando Navarro Arzate, Dr. Rogelio Ramirez Casillas, and J. Jesus Vargas Radillo, MSc., worked in Prof. Maren Roman’s lab on a joint project funded by the Mexican government, titled “Preparation of high-value polysaccharides from wild species of the state of Jalisco”. After a seminar by Dr. Navarro about current research efforts at the Wood Science and Paper Research Department, Profs. Goodell, Roman, Hammett, and Frazier met with the visiting scientists to talk about future joint activities of the two universities.

Department Alumni News — NSF Early Career Award: Yadama Works to Develop Better Building Materials

Vikram Yadama, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award for his work to develop unique, sustainable building materials from wood strands. With the five-year, $400,000 grant, Yadama and his colleagues aim to develop better sustainable building materials made from lignocellulosic fibers. In particular, they are working to expand knowledge on the design and manufacturing of wood-based composite products for use in net zero energy construction, particularly for the outer shell of buildings, which is called a building’s envelope.


Are you interested in providing a Scholarship to help our students in your name? Perhaps instead you would like to honor someone else; a family member, or even an organization that you represent and provide support for a scholarship with that name? Associating your name with Virginia Tech and with our department and College helps us attract and retain quality students, and of course it also provides a tax deduction credit. Most importantly though, it helps students who would need support to attend Virginia Tech, and by donating to the department you can make the gift specific to targeted areas of interest.



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