SFWS hosts ceremony and reception to honor its 2017 spring graduates



The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, or SFWS, held its 2017 Spring Graduation Ceremony and Reception on Saturday, May 6. Over two hundred family and friends of the 9 graduate students and 43 undergraduates joined faculty and staff in celebration of their academic achievements.

School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Dean, Dr. Janaki Alavalapati, acted as master of ceremonies, providing the welcoming remarks before recognizing the school’s 2017 Spring Graduation Marshal, Wildlife Sciences Pre-vet student, Marisa Pierluisi.

Following Dr. Alavalapati’s remarks, Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Graeme Lockaby, acknowledged faculty, staff and parents and invited graduate and undergraduate students to the podium where they were asked to introduce themselves before receiving a commemorative SFWS lapel pin as a keepsake from the school.

Faculty in attendance were Drs. Christopher Anderson, Lori Eckhardt, Tom Gallagher, Jodie Kenney, Sanjiv Kumar, Susan Pan, Maria Soledad Peresin, Jim Shepard and Mark Smith. Representing the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences during the Spring Commencement were Drs. Lori Eckhardt and Ryan Nadel.

Following the ceremony, the students enjoyed a reception on the school’s patio with their families and friends. (Photos from the ceremony and reception are available for download via Flikr.)

Please join us in congratulating the following graduate and undergraduate students who received their degrees during the spring graduation commencement ceremonies:

Graduate Degrees Conferred:

MS, Natural Resources

Megan Bartholomew (Maj. Professor, Chris Anderson)

MS, Wildlife Sciences

John Draper (Maj. Professor, Todd Steury)

Todd Jacobsen (Maj. Professor, Stephen Ditchkoff)

Kevyn Wiskirchen (Maj. Professor, Stephen Ditchkoff)

MS, Forestry

Seval Celik (Maj. Professor, Latif Kalin)

Andrea Cole-Wahl (Maj. Professor, Lori Eckhardt)

John Lancaster (Maj. Professor, Tom Gallagher)

Cameron Poyner (Maj. Professor, Joseph Fan)

MNR, MS Natural Resources (Non-thesis)

James Clayton Glass (Maj. Professor, Edward Loewenstein)

Maisa Cook (Maj. Professor, Bob Gitzen)

Chase Seals (Maj. Professor, Edward Loewenstein)

PHD, Applied Economics (Forestry)

Ying Lin (Maj. Professor, Daowei Zhang)

PHD, Forestry

Shree Sharma Dangal (Maj. Professor, Hanqin Tian)

Hamed Majidzadeh (Maj. Professor, B.G. Lockaby)


Undergraduate Degrees Conferred:


Noah Barcroft, Tyler Baxter, Forrest Bradley, Charles “David” Cauley, William Cook, Zachary “Shane” Dunning, Cody Hartzog, Jordan Heath, Thomas “Bryant” Jernigan, Dyer Jones, Truett Lawrence, Wilson Lowe, Kyle Malone, Lincoln McClearen, Grant Rutland, Christopher Turner, Nathan Williams, Stathon Wilson

Wildlife Sciences, Pre-Veterinarian

Sarah McWhorter, Marisa Pierluisi, Laura Raines, Chara Wood

Wildlife Ecology and Management

Travis Culbreth, Holly Peacock Davis, Matthew George, Amber Hall, Thomas “Bryant” Jernigan, Amy Johnson, Xena Smith, Rachael Vise, Chelsea Warner

Natural Resources Management

Max Birdsong, Cedric Ellis, Dallas Gentry, James Gnan, Dana Higgins, Ben Holcomb, Samuel Morris, Ethan Reece, Stinson Thompson, Tarah Vick, Amberly Ware, Rachel Womack

The ceremony and reception were hosted by the Office of Student Services’ Director, Dr. Jodie Kenney, and Coordinator of Student Recruitment and Events, Wendy Franklin.


SFWS honors faculty, staff and students during recent awards celebration


Forestry Club Outstanding Faculty Awardee, Dr. Tom Gallagher (center), shown with current Forestry Club members during recent SFWS Awards Celebration and Dinner held in Auburn.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences recently honored its faculty, staff and students at its annual Spring Student Awards Celebration and Dinner. Over 150 students, their families, friends and donors joined the faculty and staff to congratulate the awardees.

Through the generosity of SFWS alumni and friends, nearly 20 awards were given to students totaling over $20,000. Student award recipients included:

  • Annual Academic Improvement Award presented by Dr. Jim Shepard to Logan Bailey
  • Weyerhaeuser Forest Economics Award presented by Weyerhaeuser Harvest and Transportation Manager for the Piedmont Region, Brad Murfee ’04, to Kyle Malone
  • Association of Consulting Foresters Senior Leadership Award presented by Alexander McCall ’93, executive vice president of Larson and McGowin LLC, to Andrew Burns
  • Alabama Division, Southeastern Society of American Foresters Leadership Travel Award presented by Chair Elect, Clint Mancil, to Zachary Slay
  • Alabama Forest Owners Association Award presented by AFOA President, Ben Black, to Zachary Slay and Andrew Metzeler
  • Alabama Division, Society of American Foresters Junior Leadership Award presented by Dr. Edward Loewenstein to Christopher Hays
  • William Allen Carey Memorial Award in Forest Pathology presented by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Scott Enebak, to Christopher Turner
  • Armistead and Woody Family Military Service Award presented by Gordon Armistead ’74 and LTC Leonard “Chip” Woody ’74 to Alisia Diamond
  • F & W Forestry Services Incorporated Rising Senior Award presented by TR Clark to Kiel Sweatt and John Cooper
  • James R. Taylor Endowed Scholarship Award presented by Dr. Tom Gallagher to Reece Ousley
  • Summer Practicum Endowed Scholarship also presented by Dr. Tom Gallagher to Daniel Bowman
  • The Alabama Wildlife Federation Robert G. Wehle Non-Game Management Annual Award presented by Past President of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Frank Boyd, to Kirsten Rice
  • The Alabama Wildlife Federation David K. Nelson Game Management Award also presented by Frank Boyd to Seth Rankins
  • Alabama Chapter of the Wildlife Society Student Leadership Award presented by Assistant Chief of Wildlife Research, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Amy Silvano, to Shannon Lambert
  • Westervelt Rising Senior Award in Wildlife presented by Westervelt Associate Biologist, Rachel Conley ’15, to Alisia Diamond
  • Research Open House Poster Awards presented by Association Dean of Research, Dr. Graeme Lockaby, to the following: 4th place winners, Anna Tucker, Ellary Tucker Williams, and Michael Ramirez; 3rd place winner, John Lancaster; 2nd place winner, Shelby Zikeli; 1st place winners, Jennifer Price Tack and John Draper
  • Student Government Association Outstanding Student Award also presented by Dr. Scott Enebak to Marisa Pierluisi
  • President’s Award presented by Dean Janaki Alavalapati to Chara Wood
  • Forestry Club Outstanding Member awarded to Zachary Slay
  • Forestry Club Outstanding Forestry Faculty awarded to Dr. Tom Gallagher
  • Wildlife Society Outstanding Student Member awarded to Seth Rankins
  • Wildlife Society Outstanding Wildlife Faculty awarded to Dr. Sarah Zohdy

A number of SFWS faculty and staff were recognized for their outstanding efforts in the classroom, laboratory, advising and outreach last year.

  • SGA Honors Ceremony Outstanding Faculty Award presented to Dr. Becky Barlow
  • Harry Murphy Faculty Award for Undergraduate Advising presented to Dr. Mark Smith
  • Harold E. Christen Award for Service to Teaching presented to Dr. Chris Lepczyk
  • Harry Murphy Faculty Research Award presented to Dr. Lisa Samuelson
  • Harry Murphy Faculty Outreach Award presented to Dr. Mark Smith
  • Harry Murphy Outstanding Staff Award presented to Paula Davis

SFWS Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Scott Enebak, echoed the sentiments of the faculty and staff, “We are extremely proud of our students’ hard work and commitment to their studies, as well as their leadership preparation for future careers in natural resources, wildlife and forestry.”

Many SFWS donors, alumni and friends attended the awards banquet to personally meet and present their awards to recipients, including Gordon Armistead ’74 and LTC Leonard “Chip” Woody ’74, who presented the Armistead and Woody Family Military Service Award. Also in attendance was Larson and McGowin LLC, Executive Vice President, Alexander McCall ‘93, who attended the banquet for the first time this year to present the Association of Consulting Foresters Senior Leadership Award.

Student awards are distributed annually and selected based on criteria outlined within the established funding agreements. Nominations for outstanding alumni are requested from the SFWS alumni and faculty throughout the year with final selection by the Alumni Awards Committee.

For more information about SFWS awards or to create a new award in the School, contact SFWS Office of Development at sfwsdev@auburn.edu or via phone at 334-844-1983.

Photos of awardees can be found on Flikr website.



SFWS students participate in Auburn’s This is Research: Student Symposium


School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences undergraduate and graduate students recently participated in the Auburn University This is Research: Student Symposium held at the Auburn University Student Center on April 13. The event provides a venue for graduate and undergraduate students from Auburn University and Auburn University at Montgomery to present research and creative projects to the broader academic community. Students from all disciplines are invited to present their current and recent academic work, showcasing the diversity of topics, approaches, and interests at Auburn University.

Maria Iglesias

Graduate student, Maria Iglesias (Maj. Prof. Maria Soledad Peresin), with her poster titled, Residual lignin and its effect on the rheological properties cellulose nanofibrils suspensions.

The symposium includes a mentor recognition luncheon, judging of students’ presentations and opportunities for prospective students and potential employers to view and discuss the students’ research. An awards ceremony is held one week following the symposium. Presentations and posters are judged in the categories of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and Social Science/Creative Scholarship in Design, Arts and Humanities. First through third place awards are given with graduate awards ranging from $250 to $750 and undergraduate from $50 to $125.

The following students gave oral presentations and participated in the poster sessions.

Graduate Student Oral Research Presentations:

  • Daniel, Marissa Jo (Maj. Prof. Tom Gallagher) – Utilization of phone app technology to record log truck movements
  • Xu, Yecheng (Maj. Profs. Yaoqi Zhang and Mathew Smidt) – New mobility to sustainability: Herder and animal husbandry
  • Devkota, Pratima  (Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt) – Induced systemic resistance of Pinus taeda  to Leptographium terebrantis and
    Grosmannia huntii  by plant growth- promoting rhizobacteria
  • Cole, Andrea (Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt) – Competitiveness of Amylostereum spp. fungi against Leptographium spp. fungi
  • Haines, Angelina (Maj. Prof. Robert Gitzen) – Factors influencing fire ant prevalence and nest predation on grassland birds in a fire-mediated ecosystem
  • Sharma Dangal, Shree Ram (Maj. Prof. Hanqin Tian) – Global impacts of grazing on vegetation and soil organic carbon during 1901-2010: A process-based modelling study
  • Lewis, Alexandra (Maj. Prof. Steve Ditchkoff) – Beavers are engineers; trees are not: The dam truth

Undergraduate Student Oral Research Presentations:

  • Lambert, Shannon (Adv. Prof. Mark Smith) –  Evaluation of scents for baiting wild pigs
  • Broadhead, Jordan (Adv. Prof. Sarah Zohdy) – Does community conservation improve human and wildlife health?
  • Rankins, Seth  (Adv. Prof. Steve Ditchkoff) – High prevalence of Anaplasma platys infection in Alabama white -tailed deer

Graduate Student Poster Presentations:

  • Iglesias, Maria (Maj. Prof. Maria Soledad Peresin) – Residual lignin and its effect on the rheological properties cellulose nanofibrils suspensions
  • Tormanen, Aaron (Maj. Prof. Sarah Zohdy) – A cost-effective method for canine heartworm surveillance
  • Xu, Rongting (Maj. Prof. Hanqin Tian) – Global ammonia emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertilizer applications in agricultural systems: empirical and process-based estimates and uncertainty
  • Daniel, Marissa Jo (Maj. Prof. Tom Gallagher) – Utilization of Phone App Technology to Record Log Truck Movements
  • Zikeli, Shelby (Maj. Prof. Sarah Zohdy) – A methods comparison of ectoparasite quantification in white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • Sanchez Diaz, Simon (Maj. Prof. Maria Soledad Peresin) – Morphological study of the electrospinning process parameters over the structure of silk fibroin nonwoven performed at low concentrated solutions
  • Gonnerman, Matthew (Maj. Prof. James Grand) – Estimating occupancy, density, and productivity of eastern wild turkeys in Alabama
  • Mensah, John (Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt) – Effect of Leptographium terrebrantis on tree physiology and growth of loblolly pine
  • Zenas, Stephen  (Maj. Prof. James Grand) – Factors influencing survival and capture-related morality of Eastern wild turkeys in Alabama
  • Duwadi, Sharijana  (Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt) – Study of soil microbial biomass and soil moisture in loblolly pine stand

Undergraduate Student Poster Presentations:

  • Finney, Micaela (Adv. Prof. Sarah Zohdy) – Feeding preferences of malaria vectors in Madagascar
  • Kallenberg, Marie Christine – Change in the lipid transport capacity of the liver and blood during reproduction in rats
  • Long, Brandon (Adv. Prof. Robert Gitzen) – A shell of a good time: quantifying box turtle detection probability in an urban landscape
  • Miller, Madison (Adv. Prof. Christopher Lepczyk) – Assessing the economic costs of managing invasive species across the United States
  • Baxter, Tyler (Adv. Prof. Becky Barlow) – Evaluating the effectiveness of prescribed fire to restore longleaf-slash pine ecosystems

Student awards were presented during a ceremony hosted by Auburn’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development on April 20, where former SFWS doctoral student, Hamed Majidzadeh, gave the keynote presentation.

Photos from the presentations are available on Flikr.

To review the entire program schedule, visit:




Review the complete list of 2017 This Is Research: Student Symposium awardees.



Young alumni giving society, the Compass Circle, meets for first Dean’s round-table and barbecue

Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences recently hosted its new young alumni giving society, the Compass Circle, for an update and round table discussion with SFWS Dean, Janaki Alavalapati. Later that day, alumni gathered with upcoming graduates, faculty and staff for a barbecue at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest.

The Compass Circle is a new giving society launched in 2016 that provides an opportunity for alumni to re-connect and support the school during the first 15 years after graduation. The society offers alumni convenient giving levels and options where donations can be made in monthly increments or annually.

“My wife Carolyn and I joined the CC because we want to support the scholarships and unparalleled education within the school. As a forester, I feel it is vital to support the future generations of our natural resource professionals. With three levels of giving and monthly payment options, there are opportunities for all young alumni to give back,” noted Russell C. Miller ‘11.

To become a member, contact Sharon Tatum, SFWS development coordinator, at sfwsdev@auburn.edu or visit the SFWS website to learn more.

Forestry Camp registration has opened for grades 9-12

Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) and Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS) are offering Forestry Field Camp this June! Alabama has a wealth of forest related natural resources. It is the third most forested US state – two out of every three acres in Alabama is forested! This hands-on camp will give students an opportunity to get outdoors and learn about forestry in Alabama and the importance of forestry field measurements in making forest management decisions.

Taught by ACES and SFWS forestry professionals, Forestry Camp is open to high school students ages 15-18. Students will learn how to take forest tree measurements, sample forests for inventory information and use a professional grade GPS for a geocaching adventure around Auburn’s campus. Camp will conclude with a fun forestry conclave activity where students have the opportunity to compete in technical events such as compass and pacing, and tree diameter and height estimation to showcase their newly acquired skills.

Students will experience an amazing campus-life in this one week program full of evening social and recreational activities. Camp participants will have 24/7 counselor supervision.

This camp is intended for rising 9th – 12th grade students.

Camp will be held June 25-30. Registration may be completed via the Auburn Youth Programs website. If at any time during the registration process, you run into a problem or have a question, please call the registration office at (334) 844 – 5100 or e-mail us at auyouth@auburn.edu. The office is open Monday through Friday from 7:45am to 4:45pm CST.




Help the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences purchase a portable sawmill on Tiger Giving Day, Feb 21



Portable Sawmill Provides New Opportunities

Auburn University will once again host Tiger Giving Day, a 24-hour online giving campaign, on Tuesday, February 21.   On this day, 20 schools and units will advertise a project via their networks in hopes it will be funded in 24 hours via social media.  The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has chosen to ask for donor support for a portable sawmill that will serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for forestry students. This equipment will cost $12,000 and will satisfy all three of the school’s land-grant missions:


Use of the portable sawmill will teach students about sustainability and environmental factors. Additionally, the students will observe how a professional forester takes down a dead or damaged tree.  By incorporating this machinery into multiple classes, students will also learn and apply the knowledge they have gained regarding wood measurements, growth products, wood quality and how a log can most efficiently be sawed. The portable sawmill will complement the forest harvesting class so that students can better understand textbook principals by gaining hands-on knowledge.



The School’s research program will benefit from the portable sawmill with improvements to production systems and wood utilization, and assessment of properties and processing characteristics which provide scientific data and information required for design and production of high quality wood products made from the timber.


Outreach and Extension

Portable sawmills can be economically beneficial to private landowners who have small volumes of timber which need to be salvaged or harvested.   It provides a less expensive option of forest management relating to thinning timber stands, creating wildlife openings, developing recreation areas and harvesting small areas to improve forest health (eliminating pine beetle).   The end-product from a portable sawmill is quality lumber which can be sold at a profit or used to meet other needs that could supplement or provide an income.



Help us meet our goal! Give to the project and share the campaign online!

To learn more about this year’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Tiger Giving Day project visit https://rise.auburn.edu/project/4697 . Please feel free to share this link with others that you think might be interested in supporting this worthwhile effort. If you have questions, please contact Heather Crozier at 334-844-2791 or vannhea@auburn.edu.




School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences hosting 2017 spring seminar series

Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is hosting a spring seminar series throughout the semester. Topics range from the use of unmanned aircraft in agriculture to genetics of wildlife populations in Idaho. Seminars are held from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building. Complimentary coffee and cookies will be served. The seminar series dates, speakers and topics are listed below.

  • Feb. 8 – David Jackhowski from Clemson University’s wildlife ecology in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Convservation will speak on “Animal reintroduction in the Anthropocene: Opportunities, Challenges and Future Decisions” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • Feb. 15 – Christian Brodbeck from Auburn University’s biosystems engineering will speak on “Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Applications in Agriculture and Forestry” in 1221 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • Feb. 22 – Laurene Tetard from the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Center will speak on “Exploring polymers and interactions in lignocellulosic-based Cellulose Nanocrystals” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • March 8 – Luciana Lucia from North Carolina State University Department of Biomaterials will speak on “Long-range Topochemical Polymerization Order Observed on Cellulose Nanocrystals” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • March 22 – Eric Kuehler from Forest Service, Southern Research Station in Athens, Georgia will speak on “How Trees and Urban Forest Systems Affect Stormwater Runoff” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • March 29 – David Steen from Auburn University’s Department of Biological Sciences will speak on “Communicating Wildlife Science Online: My Greatest Hits” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • April 5 – Dave Koons from Utah State University’s Department of Wildland Resources and the Ecology Center will speak on “Bayesian Benefits for Wildlife Management” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • April 12 – Marty Luckert, from the University of Alberta’s forest and natural resource, economics and policy in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology will speak on “Brilliance without choices and choices without brilliance; Development and adaptation” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.
  • April 14 – Lisette Waits from University of Idaho’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences will speak on “Genetic monitoring of wildlife populations: case studies from endangered carnivores, ungulates and lagomorphs” in 1101 School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences building.

For more information, contact Brian Via at bkv0003@auburn.edu.

CFEs or continuing forestry education credits are available upon request.

Kreher Preserve and Nature Center 5K Trail Run, Tot Trot, and Sunday Stroll

Come explore the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ Kreher Preserve & Nature Center’s beautiful forested trails on this carefully measured, well- marked 5K course on Sunday, March 26.

The 5K trail run starts at 2:30 p.m. and the Sunday Stroll begins at 3:00 p.m. Parents and children will start the Tot Trot course at 3:30 p.m. Race day registration begins at 1:00 p.m.

5K Awards: Top 3 male and female; 1st and 2nd in 10 year groups; 1st Master male and female. Tot Trot Awards: All finishers receive a finisher’s ribbon.

Registration fees vary and include t-shirt, snacks and door prizes. Pre-registration is $20 per runner, $15 for strollers, and $10 for tots. Race day registration is $25 per runner. Same fees apply for tots and strollers. Proceeds benefit the nature center’s operations and environmental education programs.

Register online auburn.edu/preserve. Race held at the Kreher Preserve & Nature Center located at 2222 N. College Street, Auburn, Al.



ForestHER workshop scheduled on March 6 and 7 in Coffee County, Alabama

What is ForestHer? This hands-on workshop will help women learn about forests and forest resource management in a relaxed, fun setting. Learn to read maps and measure and market timber and nontimber forest products, including wildlife.

When? 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 6, and 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 7.

Who can attend? Women who love nature and learning about the natural world. You don’t have to own a lot of land. If you have even one acre, this workshop is for you!

Where? Coffee County Extension Office, 1055 E. McKinnon Street, New Brockton, AL 36351

What is the cost? The $70 fee includes a workbook to keep; breaks, lunch, and dinner on day one; and breaks and lunch on day two. Seating is limited, so preregistration is required.

For more information:  To register by phone, contact Becky Barlow at 334-844-1019 or email rjb0003@aces.edu. To register online, go to http://www.aces.edu/go/698. A flyer is available to download and share.



ForestHER – On FIRE! to be held March 13 and 14 in Auburn

What is ForestHer – On FIRE? It is a hands-on workshop that focuses on teaching women landowners about Alabama’s historic fire regime and how it can be used as an effective land management tool. Come dressed and ready to go to the woods! Most of day one you will be indoors learning about fire behavior, safety, and management techniques. The remaining portion of the class will be spent in the woods applying what you have learned in the classroom. Weather permitting, students will see a prescribed fire.

When? 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 13, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 14.

Who can attend? Women who love nature and learning about the natural world. You don’t have to own a lot of land. If you have even one acre, this workshop is for you!

Where? Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

What is the cost? The $80 fee includes a workbook to keep; breaks, lunch, and dinner on day one; and breaks and lunch on day two. Seating is limited, so preregistration is required.

For more information:  To register by phone, contact Becky Barlow at 334-844-1019 or email rjb0003@aces.edu. To register online, go to http://www.aces.edu/go/699. A flyer is available to download and share.



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