SFWS hosts Research Open House 3/22

SFWS Associate Dean of Research (pictured front right) Graeme Lockaby and Graduate Student Coordinator Audrey Grindle (pictured front left) are shown with some of the participating graduate students during the research open house held March 22.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences hosted its Research Open House, a graduate student poster presentation and reception, on Wednesday, March 22. The open house served as a venue to showcase the diversity of the School’s research program while providing opportunities for graduate students to present their research and network with stakeholders and other members of the academic community.

Over 30 Ph.D. and Master’s graduate students representing research areas within forestry, wildlife and natural resources presented posters at the event that were judged by internal and external faculty. The following students received awards:

1st place tie – Jennifer Price Tack, The endangered hunter: A model and decision-making framework to evaluate state wildlife agency management actions aimed at increasing hunter-generated conservation funds (Maj. Prof. Conor McGowan), and John Draper, Genetic diversity and connectivity of black bears (Ursus americanus) in Alabama (Maj. Prof. Todd Steury)

2nd place – Shelby Zikeli, A methods comparison of ectoparasite quantification in white-tailed deer (Maj. Prof. Sarah Zohdy)

3rd place – John Lancaster, Whole tree transportation method for timber processing depots (Maj. Prof. Tom Gallagher)

4th place tie – Anna Tucker, A network theory approach to evaluate drivers of stopover site use by migratory shorebirds (Maj. Prof. Conor McGowan), Ellary Tucker Williams, Man vs. Pig: A look into the Alabama wild pig conflict (Maj. Prof. Chris Lepczyk), and Michael Ramirez, Impacts of 40% throughfall exclusion on water relations of an 11-year old longleaf pine stand (Maj. Prof. Lisa Samuelson)

Auburn University administration, faculty, staff and students were invited to attend the poster presentation and reception as well as donors, alumni and members of the public. The event is held annually and hosted by the School’s Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Graeme Lockaby.

Students will receive their awards during the SFWS Spring Awards ceremony to be held on Wednesday, April 12. Photos from the event may be viewed online.





SFWS faculty, students and alumni receive honors at the 2017 Southeast Society of American Foresters annual meeting

Richard Ahlquist ‘07 is shown presenting the Young Forester of the Year award to Daniel Crawford, fellow SFWS alumnus.

The Southeastern Society of American Foresters recently held its annual meeting and awards banquet at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida. The event is held annually as an opportunity for professional foresters from Alabama, Florida and Georgia to gather for networking and information sharing with their peers.

This year’s topic, “Sustaining Southeastern Forestry – Healthy Forests, Markets and Policy,” was the theme industry and academic speakers were invited to address regarding the significant economic, environmental, and policy issues affecting the long term viability of forests and forestry in the Southeast.

During the awards banquet, several School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences faculty and students were honored. Professors Mathew Smidt and Daowei Zhang were recognized as SESAF Fellows for their outstanding contributions and service to the society and profession. SFWS Research Associate and Instructor, Dr. John Kush, was inducted to the Alabama Foresters Hall of Fame for his significant research and teaching accomplishments, as well as his lifetime work advancing the silvics of longleaf pine.

The meeting also featured an oral and poster session for graduate students to share and present their work among peers. During the session, three SFWS students received awards, including, Master’s student Andrea Cole Wahl (Maj. Professor, Lori Eckhardt), who won as Best Oral Presenter for her presentation, “The effect of Sirex spp. woodwasps on forest health in Alabama.”

Forestry doctoral student, Gifty Acquah (Maj. Professor, Brian Via), was awarded 1st Place Poster Presentation for her presentation, “Rapid assessment of forest biomass for biofuel applications: A comparative study of three analytical tools.” Master’s student, Rafael Santiago (Maj. Professor, Tom Gallagher), was awarded 2nd Place Poster Presentation, for his research presentation titled, “Coppicing evaluation of short rotation woody crops in the Southeast U.S. to determine appropriate harvesting methods.”

SFWS Alumnus, Daniel Crawford ‘07, was awarded as the Alabama Outstanding Young Forester of the Year. Fellow alum, Ben Whitaker ’07, nominated Crawford for the award. Crawford has been an active member of the SAF since 2005 and currently works as International Portfolio Manager for Resource Management Services (RMS) located in Birmingham. Both Crawford and Whitaker are charter members of the SFWS Compass Circle Young Alumni Society, a new giving program established in 2016 as a means to reconnect alumni with the School and its current students.



Zohdy pioneers new research to address vector disease in third world countries

Graduate student Shelby Zikeli is examining a bloodslide looking for parasites while undergraduates Kirsten Rice and Llandess Owens set up a mosquito behavior experiment.

Assistant Professor Sarah Zohdy joined the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 as a disease ecologist. Her research is broadly focused on understanding what drives the movement of infectious agents between humans, animals, and the environment.  At Auburn, she has launched several projects to better understand mosquito behavior and the ecological drivers of transmission dynamics.

Most recently, Zohdy has formed an interdisciplinary research collaboration with Stanford University Bio-Engineering Professor Manu Prakash to streamline the processes of mosquito and disease surveillance. With the assistance of several international agencies, they will hope to discover what drives mosquitoes to sustain transmission cycles, how those infected individuals attract mosquitoes more readily than uninfected hosts, and whether infected mosquitoes exhibit unique behaviors that can be easily detected.

With this information the team’s ultimate goal is building capacity internationally to gain a more precise understanding of the ecological drivers of mosquito-borne disease in order to develop new cost-effective disease control strategies that have the potential to improve human health and well-being.



Graduate Student Research Open House scheduled on March 22

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will host a graduate student research open house on Wednesday, March 22 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. The open house serves as a venue to showcase the diversity of the School’s research program while providing opportunities for graduate students to present their research and network with stakeholders and other members of the academic community.

Interested community members and alumni, as well as Auburn University administration, faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the poster presentation and reception from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Conference Hall, Room 1101. For more information, please contact the School’s Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Graeme Lockaby, at lockabg@auburn.edu.




Auburn Deer Lab research the recent focus of the national television program, Destination Whitetail

The white-tailed deer research at the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Deer Lab was recently the highlight of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine’s national cable television program, Destination Whitetail, aired on December 21 on the Sportsman Channel.

Wildlife Professor, Stephen Ditchkoff, and his research team, showcased their efforts at the Auburn Deer Lab to better understand deer behavior, reproductive health, biology and genetics. Along with Ditchkoff, research associate, Chad Newbolt, and graduate student, Carolyn Moore, shared the Deer Lab’s goals and research techniques with viewers.

In addition to the regularly scheduled features, the Deer Lab research team also contributes monthly to Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. States Ditchkoff, “Hopefully insights from our research on white-tailed deer behavior and biology can be useful for both hunters and wildlife managers across the U.S.”

Auburn University’s Deer Lab facilitates its research at the Captive Research Facility located in Camp Hill, AL and on public and privately owned land throughout the southeastern U.S.

Founded in 1977, Deer & Deer Hunting was America’s first whitetail-only publication. The popular TV show is entering its 12th season, and airs on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET.

View the episode online at https://youtu.be/TQM0uZUwSl8 or via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deerhuntingmag.

Learn more about the Auburn University Deer Lab at http://wp.auburn.edu/deerlab/.




SFWS students participate in Auburn’s Three Minute Thesis competition



Andrea Cole-Wahl, shown with Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt and Dean Alavalapati was awarded People's Choice during the competition.

Andrea Cole-Wahl, shown with Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt and Dean Alavalapati was awarded People’s Choice during the competition.

Auburn University held its 2016 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition Friday, Nov. 18 at the auditorium of The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center.

The finalists are the top competitors from a series of preliminaries held Oct. 25 and 26. Of the eleven chosen, three School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduate students competed, including: Andrea Cole-Wahl (Maj. Prof. Lori Eckhardt), Yecheng Xu (Maj. Prof. Yaoqi Zhang), and Marissa Jo Daniel (Maj. Prof. Tom Gallagher).

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland. The exercise challenges graduate students to present a compelling oration on their thesis or dissertation topic and its significance in just three minutes. 3MT develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Andrea Cole-Wahl, a forestry graduate student, presented her research on the project, Could Sirex Woodwasps be a threat to Alabama Forest Health? Sirex noctilio is a woodwasp that is an invasive pest that causes devastating economic losses in areas that it has been introduced. This pest was discovered in New York in 2004, and has since been moving south through natural and planted pine forests.

“My thesis focuses on a survey to determine what woodwasps are in the state of Alabama, and how the wasps, along with their symbiotic fungi, would affect forest health in Southeastern pine stands,” said Cole-Wahl. “I also studied how the associated fungus would compete with native fungi, and how the growth rates of these fungi would be affected by pines commonly found in the Southeast,” she noted.

“It is not every day that I can get people interested about hearing about wasps, and I am appreciative that I get to share my thesis work with a broader audience through the 3MT competition,” said Cole-Wahl.

Yecheng Xu’s presentation topic, Herders’ Livelihood on Mongolia Plateau, explores how the loss of mobility associated with nomadism in Inner Mongolia, now regarded as a major cause for grassland degradation, has impacted the vulnerability and resilience of this society. Xu, a forest economics and management graduate student, chose Inner Mongolia as a case study to demonstrate how “new mobility” may change the sustainability of animal husbandry.

His research argues that mobility should be redefined with changing transportation. “Traditional nomadic life built upon mobility cannot possibly face the challenges of population increases or take advantage of new mobility, which has been generated by new technologies, emerging markets and institutions, said Xu. “My research will demonstrate how new mobility can make capital, labor, and livestock products more mobile and cost efficient to transport.”

“We become qualified researchers within our graduate programs, but the 3MT competition is one of the best opportunities to practice presentation skills to effectively allow the public to quickly and easily understand our work,” said Xu. “I am honored to introduce myself and my research work to colleagues and friends.”

Marissa Jo Daniel, a forest operations doctoral candidate, presented the results of her study, Utilization of Phone Application Technology to Record Log Truck Movements in the Southeastern U.S. Delays incurred by loggers hauling wood from the landing to the mill affect profitability and have the potential to make harvesting some areas unfeasible.

According to Daniel, past studies have been conducted to determine the delay time a driver may have at the mill but very little research has been conducted to analyze the drivers wait time at the landing in the woods or the cause of delays a driver may encounter while driving from one location to another.

In order to accurately gather information concerning delay times at the mill, the landing and during travel to and from each location, Daniel created a phone app that would record the driver’s location using GPS as well as an alert which allowed the driver to comment and record the reasons for any delays. From this app, Daniel was able to gather details in real time regarding the delays and as a result, was therefore better able to deduce economic efficiency.

Daniel’s project was funded through the Wood Supply Research Institute. Her preliminary research was conducted in the states of Alabama, Ohio and South Carolina with intentions of expanding it to other portions of the United States.

Through their participation in the 3MT competition, each of the students has gained a greater appreciation for the ability to communicate their research to a general audience. For Daniel, it was reminiscent of another competition.

“I am reminded of a lesson I learned in high school when I was required to recite the FFA Creed at our District competition,” said Daniel. “If we do not believe in the words we speak, and show our belief with the passion we display in those words, why should we expect another to take heart and adhere to it themselves?”

SFWS doctoral student Hamed Majidzadeh also participated as an exhibition presenter with his research, Soil Carbon Dynamics beneath Impervious Surfaces.

Auburn University’s 3MT competition is held each fall. To determine who competes in the 3MT, a preliminary competition is held and the top 10 competitors advance to the university-wide final and compete for cash prizes. Auburn’s winner will advance to represent the university in the regional 3MT competitions.

SFWS forestry graduate student Andrea Wahl-Cole was awarded the People’s Choice; Drug Discovery and Development student, Madison Chandler, took 1st Place; and Chemical Engineering student, Yuan Tian, was awarded 2nd Place.





SFWS graduate student Megan Bartholomew receives top presentation award at the Alabama Water Resources Conference


Bartholomew (center) pictured with Eve Brantley, Auburn associate professor, Extension specialist and AUWRC treasurer, on left, and fellow Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduate student, Rasika Ramesh, to the right at the Alabama Water Resources Conference in Gulf Shores, Ala.

School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences natural resources Master’s student, Megan Bartholomew (Maj. Prof, Christopher Anderson), was recently selected as 1st place student presentation winner for her oral presentation, Long term vegetation response to hydrologic recovery in isolated wetlands, at the 2016 Alabama Water Resources Conference, held in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sept. 8-9.

Established in 1986, the Auburn University Water Resources Center conference provides a forum for showcasing emerging research, education and outreach in all aspects of water resources.

For student presenters, conferences are a great way to share their work and receive unique feedback and ideas from scholars, industry, and stakeholders.

“Conferences are always exciting to participate in and the Alabama Water Resources Conference was no exception,” stated Bartholomew. “I always return invigorated with new ideas and energy from the work presented.’

Bartholomew expects the results from the study will help natural resource managers develop reliable and science based wetland restoration milestones, establish more appropriate restoration timelines, and accurately determine when a restoration project has reached completion.

Student oral presentations were judged on several criteria, including presenter’s knowledge, logic, and understandability of the subject presented, significance and originality of material presented, effective use of audio-visual materials, presentation style and effectiveness as communicator, and quality of responses to questions.

For more information about the Auburn University Water Resources Center conference, visit http://aaes.auburn.edu/wrc/extension-outreach/awrc-conference/.





International Paper hosts gathering of Auburn alumni during recent meeting

ipforestrygradsInternational Paper (IP), a leading manufacturing company of renewable and recyclable packaging materials, recently hosted an employee meeting at their corporate office in Memphis, TN, where Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduates posed for a photo.

Shown in the photo provided by IP Regional Manager and AU graduate, David Helm are from left to right: Matt Meyerpeter, David Hand, Michael Walker, David Helm, Sarah Sibley, Jake Smith, Joe Twardy, Ted Crane. Other SFWS graduates missing from the photo include Ricky Everett, Grace Gregson, Wesley Peters, and Jenny Lightfoot, among others.

International Paper employs approximately 53,000 people worldwide and operates in more than 24 countries. Careers with IP include finance, manufacturing, supply chain, and information technology.

IP routinely hires Auburn graduates as fiber supply managers to facilitate the movement of lumber to its manufacturing facilities; many of whom are based in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.

Students interested in internships and careers with IP can visit and interview with company representatives during the SFWS Career Fair scheduled on Nov. 30.

For more information about Auburn’s forestry degrees, visit http://wp.auburn.edu/sfws/students/prospective-students/majors/.



School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Research Team Partners with Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine

Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine cover story, Are Bucks Patterning You? Exclusive Research from Auburn UniversityAuburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ Wildlife Professor, Stephen Ditchkoff, has launched a partnership with Deer & Deer Hunting magazine to provide deer enthusiasts with cutting-edge insights on white-tailed deer research, behavior and biology.

The arrangement will require the Deer Lab research team to produce print articles and blog/social media posts, as well as featured television segments for the media group’s three cable programs. The magazine’s Facebook page boasts 633,924 followers. Within their media kit they advertise a readership of 200,000 for the magazine, 250,000 monthly visitors to its website, and 280,000 cumulative viewers of its various TV programs.

The goal of the partnership is to promote SFWS deer research, educate media consumers, and garner attention that will translate to research funding for the “Deer Lab.” States Ditchkoff, “We are very excited to have this opportunity to share our research with D&DH readers. Our hope is that we are able to give them a better understanding of white-tailed deer behavior that will ultimately make them more successful in their hunting and management efforts.”

Founded in 1977, Deer & Deer Hunting was America’s first whitetail-only publication. The TV show is entering its 12th season, and airs on Sportsman Channel.

Learn more at http://www.deeranddeerhunting.com/blogs/ddh-joins-forces-auburn-university-deer-research







SFWS Honors Eighteen Students at Summer Graduation Reception

SFWS Associate Dean of Research, B. Graeme Lockaby, shown (L to R) with natural resources graduate student, Enis Baltaci, and SFWS Graduate Research Coordinator, Audrey Grindle.

SFWS Associate Dean of Research, B. Graeme Lockaby, shown (L to R) at the reception with Natural Resources graduate student, Enis Baltaci, and SFWS Graduate Research Coordinator, Audrey Grindle.


The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences hosted its Summer Graduation Ceremony and Reception on August 6. Dean Janaki Alavalapati and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Scott Enebak, led the ceremony to honor 8 graduate and 10 undergraduate students. Graduating Wildlife Sciences Master’s student, Elizabeth Tripp acted as Graduation Marshal. The following degrees were conferred:

Graduate students included:

MS, Natural Resources
Enis Baltaci (Maj. Prof, Kalin), Furkan Dosdogru (Maj. Prof, Kalin)

MS, Wildlife Sciences
Michael Glow (Maj. Prof, Ditchkoff), Kevin Ryer (Maj. Prof, McGowan), Jeff Sullivan (Maj. Prof, Ditchkoff), Helen Tripp (Maj. Prof, Gitzen)

MS, Forestry
Seth Hunt (Maj. Prof, Barlow)

PhD, Forestry
Bowen Zhang (Maj. Prof, Tian)

Undergraduate students included:

Luke Carlson, Cameron Coley, James Dressler, Joshua Craig Hendon, Emory Owen, Richard Wilfong

Wildlife Ecology and Management
Brannon Burt, Hoke Smith

Natural Resources Management
James Fulmer, Amberly Ware



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