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Henry Quesada

One of Us: The Person Behind the Professional

Henry Quesada
Henry Quesada

Henry Quesada

Henry Quesada, Professor, joined the Sustainable Biomaterials Department (formerly the Wood Science and Forest Products Department) in 2008. Henry’s family has a long tradition in the agroforestry business. He was born and raised in Costa Rica, and when he was only 10 years old, his dad and uncles developed a tree plantation. Henry told us that the plantation was the key incident that ultimately led to his interest in and focus on natural resources as his career.

When he was 25 years old, Henry moved to the United States to pursue his graduate education at Purdue University where he earned both his M.S. and Ph.Ds. in Wood Products Technology. Over the last five years, Henry and his colleagues have been studying supply chain and marketing issues impacting the use of hardwood lumber in value-added products. Specifically, they have focused their energy on cross-laminated timber and thermally-modified lumber.  These have been some of his favorite research projects of his career.

When asked what he likes most about Virginia Tech, Henry told us that he gets satisfaction from “sharing so much with so many people from different backgrounds. Virginia Tech is a diverse community that brings a lot of positive aspects to the University and the State.”

Henry also truly enjoys getting to know the students and helping them to become the next experts in our field. In particular, he enjoys traveling with the students. “I enjoy very much my study abroad course in Costa Rica because it gives me a chance to showcase the beauty of the country and all issues impacting natural resources in a real setting.” 

Henry and his wife Angelica have been married for 22 years.  They have three children. Isaac, 18, is attending Virginia Tech, and is following his father footsteps into the College of Natural Resources and Environment. His daughter Sara, 16, is a high school junior, and his youngest son, Ben, is in the 8th grade. 

Some of Henry’s favorite activities, outside of work, are enjoying nature and outdoor activities such as running, hiking, road biking, and mountain biking. If he hadn’t become a professor, Henry believes he’d probably return to his roots and go into farming the land. Perhaps with trees, or perhaps with other renewable resources as nature has been a constant interest throughout his life.

Below are the awards that Henry has received during his career. 

  • Taiwan Mechanical training fellowship 1998
  • Seeburguer Fellow 2000-2001
  • Bill and Helen Swain Forest Products Award Purdue University 2001-2004
  • Gamma Sigma Delta (Honor Society), Purdue University 2002  
  • First place in student poster competition, Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST) conference 2003
  • US Department of Commerce Ebusiness fellowship 2005
  • Outstanding professor. School of Industrial Engineering at Costa Rica Tech 2006
  • Best research project proposal, Costa Rica Tech 2007
  • Scholar of the week. Virginia Tech, awarded by the Vice-President of Research 2011
  • Teacher of the week. Virginia Tech, awarded by CIDER 2014
  • Southern Regional Extension Forestry Extension award, Association of Southern Regional Extension Directors, Online book category 2017.
  • Elected VP of SWST 2020


Quote from a Colleague:

Henry and I have collaborated on several grants, publications, workshops and students over the years. He is a wonderful person to collaborate with, always bringing energy and enthusiasm to any endeavor. Henry has a tenacity and drive to get things done yet manages to do so with positivity and politeness. - Dr. Brian Bond, Professor, Sustainable Biomaterials Department

Gaurav Kakkar (former student) and Dr. Henry Quesada (prepandemic  at the American Softwoods conference in Mexico)
Gaurav Kakkar (former student) and Henry Quesada at the American Softwoods conference in Mexico (photo taken before January 2020).
Dr. Robert Smith and Dr. Henry Quesada in India (years before the pandemic)
Robert Smith and Henry Quesada in India (photo taken before January 2020)
Dr. Henry Quesada working the department booth at a conference (taken before the pandemic).
Henry Quesada working the department booth at a conference (photo taken before January 2020).