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May/June 2012 Newsletter

Download: SBIO Newsletter May/June 2012

Greetings from Virginia Tech,

From our Department head

Once again, summer is upon us. We sent forth a fresh crop of graduates into the world earlier this month where they have taken career positions with companies ranging from Printpack and Johnson Controls to Rex Lumber and Triunfo Amazonia in Brazil. Congratulations to all of our students as we know they will do well, and will represent the department well as new alumni. We continue to produce one of the finest graduates in the country and this is exemplified by the strength of our VT alumni across the nation and globally.

Student faces in the Department 

Meet Rosemary Masser

Rosemary is a Junior in the Department enrolled in the Option in Packaging Science (Packaging Systems and Design). She initially started at Virginia Tech in Engineering, but decided that she was more interested in the opportunities that the Packaging program in the department could offer her. This summer Rosemary is working as an intern in the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design under the direction of Dr. Laszlo Horvath. She is looking forward to learning more about the Packaging industry and in helping the department out in a variety of ways including highlighting the value of education in Packaging to perspective students.

Update from the Wood Enterprise Institute (WEI)

By Earl Kline

Congratulations to the WEI 2011-2012 student team for concluding a successful year at learning how to organize and run their business! This year, the team designed, manufactured and sold a wooden napkin holder to complement last year’s drink coaster set. The design focus was to create a beautiful and sustainably produced wood product to be used and displayed as a home centerpiece. During the Fall Semester, the WEI team worked diligently to develop a business plan to outline how their product could sustain the business.     This plan carefully described all of the market research, product design specifications, operations, cost assumptions, and various contingencies necessary to market and sell the product. Then, the challenge began in the Spring Semester when the student team learned that no matter how carefully detailed their plan was, there were many “little” things that got in the way of delivering according to the plan.

New Editor for Wood Design Focus

Daniel P. Hindman, Ph.D., is the new editor of Wood Design Focus, the journal of contemporary wood engineering. Dan serves as associate professor in Wood Science and Forest Products at Virginia Tech where his research program focuses on the efficient use of wood materials for residential and commercial applications. His research philosophy revolves around structural design, safety during construction, and sustainability of wood buildings. Dan is a LEED Green Associate and is also affiliated with the Occupational Safety and Health Research Center (OSHRC) and the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech.

Hammett to Present US Agency for Development Project

Tom Hammett has been selected by Higher Education for Development (HED) to present a review of his US Agency for Development (USAID) funded project at the 2012 NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference in Houston. This annual event gathers over 14,000 education specialists for workshops, displays and demonstrations by vendors, and academic discourse on international education. His presentation will be part of a session entitled: Deepening Campus Internationalization: International Higher Education Partnerships. Tom will review his 5-year MemCoE program at the Institute of Forestry in Nepal designed to improve teaching and learning skills, improve mentoring of students and training of faculty, and develop a collaborative research portfolio.

Richmond Expo 2012

The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials was well represented at the “Richmond Expo 2012” in May; billed as America’s leading trade show for the forest products industry. 

Goodell travels to Malaysia for IRG-WP meetings

Barry Goodell, head of the department traveled to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the 43rd Annual meetings of the International Research Group on Wood Protection. The IRG is the leading group in the world focused on wood protection, wood preservation and degradation of wood. Goodell presented a Plenary session paper on Bordered Pit Imaging that focused on the use of a new imaging technique (4Pi microscopy) providing high resolution of undried wood materials in the nano-scale range. This permitted imaging of unaspirated bordered pits in wood to reveal new features about bordered pits that had not previously been described. The talk was co-authored by colleagues Daniela Maschek and Dr. Holger Militz from Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, by Dr. Jody Jellison in VAES at Virginia Tech, and by Mark Lessard at the Jackson Laboratory.

Positioning the College of Natural Resources and Environment for the Future

The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials is one of four Departments within the College of Natural Resources and Environment (CNRE). As part of our College’s evolution the leadership under Dean Paul Winistorfer have developed the following statements to define the College and where we head in the future. The vision for the future of the College is broad, and the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials fits well into this vision.

Bio-based Materials Center holds 2nd Annual Graduate Research Symposium

Founded in 2008, the Bio-based Materials Center (BBMC) is a multidisciplinary academic center at Virginia Tech under the directorship of Professor Kevin Edgar of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. The faculty members of the BBMC also include Professors Chip Frazier, Scott Renneckar, and Maren Roman. The BBMC is a research and education center under the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) with funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and from ICTAS.

President Yoon Soo Kim from Chonnam National University visits Virginia Tech

Dr. Yoon Soo Kim, a wood scientist by training but currently President of Chonnam National University in South Korea visited Virginia Tech in late April. Attending with Dr. Kim were Dr. Gyonggu Shin, Vice President of International Programs and Dr. Hyeun-Jong Bae, Center Director for Bioenergy Research at Chonnam National University. Dr. Bae also presented a seminar on Bioenergy in Asia during the visit.

Hindman and Hammett Presented at the International Conference for Higher Education Pedagogy

Dr. Dan Hindman and Dr. Tom Hammett were invited to present a paper about their sustainability teaching methodology (focused on immersing students in sustainability) at the Virginia Tech organized and hosted international Conference for Higher Education Pedagogy held in February. Over 1000 faculty attended the conference, representing over 35 countries. As a result of this presentation Dan and Tom were invited to speak to the Virginia Tech Career Services staff during their all day retreat on May 14t in the Smith Career Center. Both these presentations provided good opportunities to broaden the exposure of our two (now) linked courses (Green Building Systems and Green Business) and our new curriculum focused on sustainability.

Memorial Center of Excellence at the Institute of Forestry in Nepal

In 2006 twenty-five natural resource conservation professionals lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash. In recognition of their contributions to Nepal and the region, and to help educate the next generation of natural resource professionals, in 2007 the US government funded the establishment a Memorial Center of Excellence (MemCoE) at the Institute of Forestry (IOF) in Nepal. Tom and the Virginia Tech team that he leads won the competition to develop the program. To date Tom has involved over 25 organizations at the IOF, and facilitated over 25 visits by faculty members from outside the IOF and Nepal (many from Virginia Tech) to work with the faculty and students at the IOF. As the MemCoE Program Director he mentors five collaborative research groups based at the IOF – each includes faculty members and representatives organizations from outside the IOF. Tom travels to work at the IOF campus twice a year, the most recent trip was in April when he presented workshops on teaching and green business, mentored faculty research teams in report writing and grant writing, developed a strategic plan for the campus, and planned a large international conference focused on incorporating research into teaching and learning to be held in September 2012.



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