Forestry students present at global conference

green forestry

Three NAU students recently traveled to South Africa to make presentations on global forest management during two international conferences.

Monica Gaylord, a doctoral forestry student, and T. Seth Davis, a forestry graduate student, discussed bark beetle management, and doctoral student Sky Stephens reported on her multi-year research program in Ghana.Michael Wagner, a Regent’s professor in the School of Forestry, joined them.

Wagner and the students attended the International Union of Forest Research Organizations Forest Entomology meeting and the International Congress of Entomology in July. The students presented professional papers, gave speeches and took field trips to learn about intensive eucalyptus plantations and conservation reserve areas.

Michael Wagner, a Regents’ professor in the School of Forestry, specializing in entomology, received the Society of American Foresters’ Sir William Schlich Memorial Award for 2008, an award for outstanding contributions to the field of forestry. Wagner was awarded for his numerous contributions in the area of international forestry, particularly his extensive work on insects, tree plantations and forest conservation in Ghana. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to receive this award in 1935.

The international conferences were held in Pretoria and Durban, South Africa. Among all of the universities represented, NAU had the largest student team attending the both conferences.

“These students had the opportunity to display their capabilities as scientists and future employees,” Wagner said. “The international experience, and being able to work with people from other cultures, is a very important aspect of a student’s education.”

Although pine bark beetles do not impact South Africa, Wagner said they create major problems throughout the world, including in the Flagstaff area.

“It was enlightening to hear perspectives on bark beetles from Europe and Asia,” said Gaylord, who also met with the South African director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute. Gaylord toured his labs and went on several field trips to visit plantations and view damage from pest species in South Africa.

“The trip was excellent,” Gaylord said. “I met new colleagues from New Zealand, South Africa and Siberia, and I was able to further interactions with scientists I had met previously.”

For Stephens, attending such a large scientific gathering was a great opportunity to be exposed to a diverse amount of material.

“Giving presentations on my doctoral research program enabled me to highlight my abilities as a speaker and researcher to a large international audience of current and potential colleagues and collaborators,” Stephens said.

Stephens hopes to continue working internationally in forestry and entomology and use the contacts she made in South Africa to expand her job search in upcoming months.