Outstanding Doctoral Research Award Winners 2024

Dr. Juliette Archambeau is a postdoctoral researcher at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. She obtained her PhD in Sciences from Bordeaux University, France.

She conducted her doctoral research from September 2018 to January 2022 at UMR BIOGECO, INRAE, France, on the understanding of the origin and predicting adaptive genetic variation at large scale in the genomic era: a case study in maritime pine.

In a context of climate change and great uncertainty about the future of forests, the doctoral research conducted is relevant to forecast the adaptive responses of natural forests in the face of increasing climatic pressure. Apart from the novel insights on adaptive processes in natural populations of forest trees, it also provides a way for operative forest management to increase forest resilience and maintenance of valuable ecosystem services.

Finally, the PhD research identified some main climatic drivers of past adaptation in a main forest tree species, maritime pine, which is also useful to understand how natural populations and plantations of the species will perform under future climates.

Dr. Sandrine Brèteau-Amores is a researcher at APESA and an associate researcher at INRAE (BETA and ETTIS), France. She obtained her PhD in Economics from the University of Lorraine after conducting her doctoral research at the Bureau of Theoretical and Applied Economics (BETA) at INRAE Grand-Est, France, from October 2017-November 2020.

Her thesis aims at (i) testing and comparing different management-based adaptation options for drought reduction in forests in order to avoid projected risk of dieback, from a private forest owner’s perspective (financial balance), while considering the impact of these strategic decisions on carbon storage (carbon balance); and (ii) proposing a new (risk sharing) adaptation option in the form of an index-based insurance contract against drought-induced risk of dieback.

The thesis explores a wide range of adaptation strategies: incremental, transitional and transformational management-based adaptation as well as a market-based adaptation. It constitutes the first attempt at studying a combination of management-based adaptation strategies that were built with forest experts. A new model of forest insurance (index insurance) was proposed for a new type of risk, severe drought.

Dr. Tuo He is Associate Professor at the Chinese Research Institute of Wood Industry, Chinese Academy of Forestry. Aiming at breaking the barrier of conventional wood anatomy methods on species-level identification, the nominee conducted his doctoral research both at the Chinese Academy of Forestry from September 2016 to October 2017, and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory from October 2017 to October 2018.

Dr. He’s doctoral research focused on wood species identification using state-of-art computer vision in combination with deep learning models. The traditional field screening of wood species relies on wood anatomists with hand lenses and is a time-consuming method that generally only identifies specimens to the genus level. Dr. He developed a portable device to capture images from wood specimens and build the image data set for CITES-listed tree species and their look-alikes.

With Dr. He’s AI-based wood identification system called iWood customs enforcement capabilities have been significantly enhanced. This system has become a strong support for CITES implementation and combatting illegal logging and associated trade.

Dr. He was elected as Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO 5.16.01 ‘Wood collections and databases‘, and Secretary-General of the National Innovation Alliance of Wood Collections of China. He works with other scientists to build a national and international platform for sharing wood collections and related scientific data to promote forensic wood identification techniques.

Dr. Maija Kaarina Lampela is as senior scientist at the Geological Survey of Finland. She obtained her PhD from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki. Her dissertation in the field of Forest Ecology and Management focused on “Ecological prerequisites for successful reforestation of degraded tropical peatlands”.

Peatlands are important ecosystems for biodiversity and carbon storage. Tropical peat swamp forest (TPSF) is a major peat-forming ecosystem in Southeast Asia. However, vast scale land conversions have resulted in forest degradation and environmental damage, creating an urgent need for conservation and restoration efforts. Dr. Lampela’s dissertation focused on the soil properties, ground surface microtopography, and vegetation patterns of natural TPSFs, and the reforestation of degraded tropical peatlands.

Her dissertation research yielded novel data on the tree species ecology of the tropical peat swamp forest ecosystem, providing the most detailed information to date on floristic composition at a microscale and in relation to peat physical and chemical characteristics. This knowledge was applied to an investigation of potential species for restoration activities.

Dr. Pipiet Larasatie is an Assistant Professor of Forest Products Marketing at University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM), U.S.A. She did her PhD with the title “Women in Forest Sector Leadership: A Multi-country Study” at Oregon State University, U.S.A., from 2016 to 2021. The study investigates women’s perspectives on gender dynamics and their leadership experience in the forest sector.

The gender inequality phenomenon has affected the leadership environment in the forest sector. Although there are efforts to increase gender equality in the forest sector, the industry is still associated with a blue-collar masculinity and macho-masculinity workplace culture. Gender-based leadership research has historically associated management and leadership with agentic qualities such as assertiveness and competitiveness that are perceived as masculine stereotypes, leading to a “think manager-think male” paradigm.
Dr. Larasatie’s dissertation is, therefore, a path-breaking, innovative research of a comprehensive intersectionality between gender and leadership study in a men-dominated forest sector. In the forest sector industry, she finds that although there are positive changes toward more gender diverse and inclusive workplaces, the movement is slow.

Dr. Elena Marra is a technologist at the Institute of Research on Terrestrial Ecosystems, Italian National Research Council (IRET-CNR), Italy. She obtained her PhD in “Sustainable Management of Agricultural, Forest and Food Resources” from the University of Florence, Italy. The title of the thesis is “Investigating the impact of ground-based logging systems on soil characteristics by applying emerging methods”.

Wheel ruts have traditionally been measured manually, which is a method trustworthy on each collected transect but time consuming and not efficient for dispersed forest logging sites. Thus, only a relatively small number of transects can be sampled, making the task better suited for the application of modern geospatial technologies. However, there is a recognizable gap in the literature when it comes to comparing new and traditional methods of assessing the impacts of forestry-machine trafficking on soil.

Dr. Marra’s PhD work has been innovative because it developed and applied modern technologies such as portable laser scanners compared with close-range photogrammetry, remote measuring using structure from motion (SfM) and images acquired by drones.

Dr. Adrián Pascual is an Assistant Research Professor at the Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, U.S.A. He carried out his doctoral research from June 2014 to October 2018 at the University of Eastern Finland focusing on the integration of ALS-based forest inventory into forest planning when the aim is to create dynamic treatment units (DTUs).

This is the first study that integrates forest inventory supported by lidar data to management planning methods based on spatial optimizations to create management units. The dynamic treatment units (DTUs) approach leads to the abandonment of the traditional concept in which management units, also referred to as stands or compartments, are regarded as fixed units that do not evolve in space and time. The recognition of stand boundaries as permanent units is a constraint that ignores the effect of stand dynamics or harvesting prescriptions on growing stock attributes. The implementation of DTU-based planning systems in the Mediterranean area is a great opportunity to extend the usability of ALS data toward planning applications.

Dr. Josephine Queffelec is a postdoctoral researcher at the Canadian Forest Service. She did her PhD research at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, during 2016-2021. Her thesis title was “Influence of reproductive biology on the invasive dynamics of Sirex noctilio” and focused on the relationship between reproductive biology and the invasion of South African pine plantations by the woodwasp Sirex noctilio. Although Sirex noctilio is an important pest of pines globally, its complicated life-history has made studying it challenging and many aspects of its reproductive biology were unknown.

Dr. Queffelec reviewed the literature on insect reproductive traits and generated a synthetic review that focused on the relationship between reproductive biology and establishment capacity in the Hymenoptera. This review was published in Biological Invasions and formed the basis for her current postdoctoral work that is co-funded by the US and Canadian Forest Services. It highlights the diverse reproductive traits that insects can have and the impact these different traits can have on establishment success.

Dr. Stanislas Zanvo conducted his doctoral research in Ecology, Biodiversity and Evolution under joint supervision of the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) and the University of Toulouse 3 – Paul Sabatier (France). He is a lead researcher on a fully funded project by US Department in West Africa “Stakeholder Integrated Conservation for sustainable African and Chinese Traditional Medicine development in Benin – a global TM hotspot”.

Dr. Zanvo’s doctoral research is one of the pioneering research projects focused on pangolins in West Africa. Pangolins are the most heavily trafficked mammals in the world, especially African pangolins. Dr. Zanvo’s work filled substantial knowledge gaps on African pangolins, especially on the white-bellied and giant pangolins, which are at great extinction risk, by providing relevant data, essential for their effective conservation. His results on the geographic distribution, population trends, and drivers are a reference framework for designing the global distribution map for white-bellied and giant pangolins but also to establish conservation priority areas in West Africa over the next two decades.

Dr. Zanvo also identified the source forests of specimens traded in the bushmeat and traditional medicine markets. Such data are prerequisites for tackling wildlife crime and combatting transnational organized crime.