Drs. Henry Quesada, Joe Loferski, and Bob Smith represented the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at the International Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST)’s 2021 International Convention in Flagstaff AZ, August 1st-6th, 2021. The theme of this year’s convention was “Value from wood resources through innovation.” This follows from the overall goals of the SWST. Per their website, “the SWST is an internationally-recognized professional organization of wood scientists, engineers, marketing specialists and other professionals concerned with lignocellulosic materials. Members are dedicated to the wise use of one of our most environmentally-sound resources. SWST is committed to protecting our forests through the development of new ideas, procedures, policies and products for the wood industry. Quality education in our field is a fundamental first step in taking wood science and industry into the 21st century. By fostering educational programs at all levels of the field–undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate–SWST aids universities and colleges in providing a quality educational foundation through accreditation of wood science and technology programs.”

The convention lasted from a welcome reception on Sunday evening thru the closing session on Friday afternoon. There were many experts from their fields speaking on topics such as “Forest values and environmental threats,” “Adequate land use and tree products,” “Valuable composites and adhesives,” “Sustainable living and housing,” “Understanding cambium and wood formation,” “Wood physics and properties,” and “Approaches to combating illegal logging and timber trade.” There were also special sessions presented by young researchers and early-stage researchers as well as poster sessions and competitions.

Dr. Quesada chaired sessions on “Business, Market Developments, and Regulations” as well as participating in the board meeting of the SWST as the president elect, and he was a judge for the student poster competition. Quesada also spoke on “Structural Grade Hardwood Lumber’s Economic Feasibility” and had a poster titled “The Current Status of Hardwood Sawmills to Produce Structural Grade Hardwood Lumber.” These two presentations provided details on his ongoing efforts to promote the utilization of hardwood lumber in the manufacturing of structural cross-laminated timber (CLT).

Dr. Loferski and Ms. Alison Bird, now at Weyerhaeuser Timberlands, co-authored a paper on the results of an undergraduate research project entitled the “Evaluation of Surface Hardness Tests for Engineered Flooring.”  The project was done while Alison was an undergraduate student in SBIO.

Engineered wood flooring is produced by a multi-billion dollar per year industry worldwide.  Flooring manufacturers are creating new engineered flooring prototypes, and are striving to make a stronger, more economical product in this competitive market. As new prototypes of engineered flooring emerge, there is a need for these products to be tested to measure their properties. A common test for flooring is the surface hardness test used to measure the resistance to indentations in the top veneer wear layer. Dr. Loferski and Ms. Bird presented the results of their experiments to measure the hardness with two different methods.

Dr. Smith spoke about the “Current Status of Wood Science Education in Europe.” Smith shared how he met with eight representatives from the leading wood science programs across Europe. All collaborators agreed that sustainable utilization of wood is the solution to a lot of the issues facing their industries and that greater effort was needed to attract more students to their programs. They suggested collaborating thru a joint initiative focused on demonstrating to government agencies that renewable, bio-based materials are a major solution to climate change.