SFWS Hosts Emeritus Luncheon January 28

IMG_4734Dean Alavalapati recently hosted the SFWS’ annual Emeritus Luncheon for the School’s retired faculty on Thursday, January 28. Nearly a dozen retired faculty and their spouses were in attendance for the program where they were provided an update of current events. During the luncheon Dr. Alavalapati formally presented Dr. Ken McNabb, the School’s most recently retired faculty member, with a certificate of retirement from President Gouge.










SFWS and MIT researchers say increased air pollution and drought threatening food security in China

chinaairpollutionAuburn University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientists are part of an international research team that has linked significant decreases in China’s crop production to increased levels of tropospheric ozone as a result of rapid urbanization and industrialization. It’s a trend that’s raising serious concerns about food supply security in China.

The team’s findings will be published in the article, “Climate extremes and ozone pollution: A growing threat to China’s food security,” in the January issue of Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, a joint journal of the Ecological Society of America and Ecological Society of China.

“The results highlight the fact that climate change is already affecting crop yields in China, and that yield losses are compounded through interactions of climate and other environmental stresses such as tropospheric ozone,” said study co-author John Reilly, co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

Over the past three decades, China has become the world’s largest producer and consumer of agricultural products. Given its status as the world’s most populous country and second largest economy, how China addresses the multitude of factors impacting its crop production and food security is of global concern.

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Forestry Youth Camp Registration Now Open


Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) and Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS) are offering Forestry Field Camp in 2016! 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.

To learn more or register, visit AU Youth Programs






Auburn University Researchers Tackle Pine Board Strength


Auburn University researcher Brian Via, left, and graduate assistants Dr. George Cheng and Charles Essien work to measure the density of a pine tree.

Auburn University researchers are working to develop a system to evaluate standing timber and determine potential board strength, which could improve lumber value.

As pine plantations shot up in Alabama, the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) downgraded visually inspected pine boards in 2013, leaving landowners and industry professionals wondering how to react.

Brian Via of Auburn University (AU) said shorter growing habits are to blame for weaker pine boards, but a team of university researchers is working to quantify the problem and make pine stronger and stiffer.

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SFWS Hosts Research Open House and Poster Session


Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Research, Dr. Zhanjiang Liu, visiting with SFWS faculty, staff and students.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences recently hosted a Research Open House and Poster Presentation as part of the “Cool Research Initiative,” a program conceived by Dr. John Mason, Auburn University’s Vice President of Research and Economic Development and the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Research, Dr. Zhanjiang Liu, and administered by Robert Holm, Associate Director of Proposal Services and Faculty Support, to provide insight into the research occurring at each of AU’s colleges/schools to inspire future collaborations between researchers at the university.

Graduate students, research staff, and faculty were invited to participate in the Monday evening program which showcased the diversity and interdisciplinary nature of SFWS’s research program for researchers and administrators across campus.


Forestry graduate student and presenter, Megan Bartholomew, shown with Natural Resources Management graduate student, Sarah Lessard.

Of the 30 faculty and students who presented their research at the open house, Sarah Zohdy, Assistant Professor of Disease Ecology stated, “As a new faculty member, it was exciting to see the innovative and diverse projects within the School, and their applications on local and global scales. It was also a great opportunity to interface with representatives from disciplines all around campus.”

The event also provided valuable experience for graduate students to develop their presentations and to meet others with complimentary research interests. For Megan Bartholomew, a forestry graduate student, “The program illuminated some previously unknown and untapped resources within the university and kindled the beginning of some unique collaborations.”

Similar open houses are planned for each of the colleges/schools across campus over the next two years.


Auburn’s 1st Tiger Giving Day a Success for Kreher Preserve

Auburn University donors contributed more than $411,936 during the university’s first-ever Tiger Giving Day, a 24-hour university-wide crowdfunding initiative on Dec. 1. The university set out to raise $327,500 for 24 unique projects based in Auburn’s colleges, schools and units. Of those 24 projects, 18 met or exceeded their goals, some by as much as 350 percent.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Office of Development chose the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center (KPNC), an outreach program of the School, as its focus for the inaugural crowd-funding campaign, with a project funding goal of $6,000 for the purchase and installation of a spider web playground apparatus for its nature playground.

The KPNC nature-based playground, one of the first of its kind in Alabama, offers children rich naturalistic play spaces and creative structures such as a beaver lodge, eagle’s nest, tree house, and teepee. With this funding, the KPNC will incorporate a “spider web” into the playground to compliment the other structures in the play area. The bouncy character of the secured rope web offers children of all ages the opportunity to develop climbing skills. As they master the web, the climbing helps the children to develop their muscle strength and coordination, while building their self-confidence and a positive association with arachnids.Spider web photo

The SFWS is grateful to the donors who helped the campaign to exceed its initial goal, raising a total of $9,370 or 155% of its goal, during the 48 hour period. Additional funds beyond the cost of the apparatus will enhance the playground area with with an Arachnid Learning Kiosk and a much-needed picnic area for visitors to the playground.

This campaign was considered a success for many reasons. The AU Tiger Giving Day was an excellent opportunity for the SFWS to raise awareness in the community about the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center and to underscore its purpose to help youth by exposing children to the wonders of nature, educating them about conservation, and encouraging them to be active and fit.

Since 1993, the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center has provided the community with an outdoor preserve – complete with five miles of hiking trails, an amphitheater, a pavilion and a nature playground – open from sunrise to sunset with no admission fees. Louise Kreher Turner and Frank Allen Turner gifted the 120-acre property to Auburn as a place where School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences students and faculty could engage the community through educational programs and also conduct field studies and academic research. Now one of the area’s most popular nature destinations, the preserve attracts more than 25,000 visitors annually and provides educational programs for nearly 5,000 K-12 students and 3,000 residents each year.

To read more about Auburn University’s Tiger Giving Day, visit AU Newsroom.

SFWS Doctoral Student, Hamed Majidzadeh, wins AU 3MT Competition

Hamad 3MT Award Winner

Pictured are, from left, India Napier, president of the Graduate Student Council, Three Minute Thesis winner, Hamed Majidzadeh, and Graduate School Dean, George Flowers.

The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is proud to congratulate SFWS doctoral student, Hamed Majidzadeh, as the winner of Auburn University’s Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, a research communication competition, held on Nov. 19. During this university-wide competition, graduate students were challenged to communicate their research and its significance to a non-specialist audience in only three minutes. Hamed competed with 10 other finalists for the honor of representing AU at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools 3MT competition in February.

Graduate School Dean, Dr. George Flowers, states, “Hamed is a shining example of the quality of Auburn’s graduate student researchers. Not only is his research on a very important topic, but he speaks about it with a level of ease and comfort rarely seen in such a young scholar. We know Hamed will represent Auburn very well in the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools 3MT competition.”

View Hamed’s 3MT presentation.



Support the KPNC on Tiger Giving Day, Dec 1st



Kreher Preserve and Nature Center Outreach Administrator, Jennifer Lolley, shown at the KPNC nature playground.

Mark your calendars for the first-ever Auburn University Tiger Giving Day on Tuesday, December 1st! This 24-hour fundraising event will highlight the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center’s Spider Web as well as other projects across campus. Donations to this project will support the purchase and installation of a spider web playground apparatus to enhance the nature playground for children visiting the preserve!

Stay tuned to tigergiving.org! In the meantime, you can learn more about the KPNC Spider Web project with this short video or contact Sharon Tatum, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Development Coordinator, at 334-844-1983 or email sst0003@auburn.edu to make your donation today!

Please help us to spread the word about this crowd funding project! Share the video with your friends on your social media networks and ask them to make a donation on Dec. 1st! All contributions will help to make this great playground feature a reality for the kids!Spider web photo


Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center Celebrates 35th Anniversary

SMDF Board w-Martha Dixon

Representing the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation were, from left to right, Philip Jones, Rhett Johnson, Trippy McGuire, Louisa Baker Mann, and seated in front with Mrs. Martha Dixon, President, Doris Tyler.

The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center (SDFEC) with a reception held Tuesday, Nov. 10, in Andalusia, AL. The Dixon Center, a 5,300 acre learning facility and outdoor classroom, was established in 1978 with a substantial donation and gift of land to Auburn University from Solon and Martha Dixon. Over 50 guests attended the reception and included leaders from the forestry industry, as well as state and agency representatives from the USDA Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Alabama Forestry Commission.

School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences dean, Dr. Janaki Alavalapati, welcomed guests and introduced three generations of Dixon family members, including Martha Dixon, the Center’s original benefactor, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday in September. Also present were members of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation board, including President, Doris Tyler, who spoke on behalf of the board, “We were very pleased with the event and so thankful for the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and the staff of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center for their efforts to create such a lovely, and well attended event.”

Dean w-Members of SMDF Board

Shown with SFWS Dean, Dr. Janaki Alavalapati, are members of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation from left to right, Philip Jones, , Trippy McGuire, Louisa Baker Mann, and President, Doris Tyler.

For the School’s leadership, the reception presented a rare and special opportunity to reunite the individuals who established and managed the Dixon Center for over 35 years, including former SFWS dean, Dr. Emmett Thompson, and former director, Rhett Johnson. Since the dedication of the property and its original classroom building in 1980, the facility grew exponentially under their leadership. Today, thousands of university students and natural resource managers from Alabama and across the country visit the facility annually to learn best practices in forestry and wildlife management.

Joel Martin, the Dixon Center’s current director, provided an overview of its educational programs and the valuable hands on learning that can be experienced at the Center. According to Martin, it is this unique combination of classroom theory and practice that helps students to develop crucial skills for all levels of natural resource management. Noted Martin, “Its impressive how many people working today in decision making or policy influencing positions “cut their teeth” at the Center.” Dean Alavalapati went on to state about the facility, “It is unique educational assets, such as the Dixon Center, that allows the SFWS to be a leader in preparing resource managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to make them competitive in the job market.”


Three generations of the Dixon family were in attendance. Shown are, from left to right, John Vick, Patricia Vick Moody, Scott Moody, Glenn Leuenberger, Charles Roland, Dillon Roland, and seated in front, Mrs. Martha Dixon.

In celebration of the Dixons’ rich heritage, SFWS associate professor and extension specialist, Dr. Becky Barlow, provided a 200-year historical perspective of the Dixon family’s contributions to forestry. With the conclusion of the program, Barlow remarked, “Solon and Martha’s influence and their personal mission to support education and conservation is clearly visible to us with the continued vitality of Alabama’s forestry industry and the success of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center.”

The Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center (SDFEC) is a 5,300 acre learning facility and outdoor classroom bordering the Conecuh River and is located in Covington and Escambia Counties, near Andalusia, AL. The SDFEC campus facilities are available for group reservation and include private/semi-private accommodations for up to 100 guests, multiple classrooms, auditorium, dining hall, and recreation building. For information about the Solon Dixon Forestry Educational Center programs and facility use, visit the SDFEC website.






WSFA News: Auburn University is again leading the way on what could be some ground breaking research.


SFWS Research Associate, Emily Merritt, demonstrates a collection method used for tick research.

“Auburn University is again leading the way on what could be some ground breaking research. This particular study focuses on the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses in Alabama.

Over the past several years there has been an increase in Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever cases in Alabama. Researchers at Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences are working to hopefully shed light on this problem.” View the full article and video via:












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