Scientific Achievement Award Winners 2024

Dr. Eckehard Brockerhoff, who obtained his PhD in Forest Entomology/Forest Ecology from the University of Toronto, Canada, is currently working at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL.

He has had an impressive career of scientific discoveries, such as finding surprisingly high levels of biodiversity in planted forests, identification of forest insect invasion pathways, and advancing more efficient approaches to forest biosecurity. His work has substantially promoted both basic scientific knowledge on forest insects and applied work on managing biological invasions.

Dr. Brockerhoff’s research on insects associated with wood packaging material has had important consequences for global biosecurity practices. His work on forest insect invasion pathways has played a key role in developing and justifying global biosecurity practices. This and a large body of his other studies have contributed to his reputation among his peers as one of the world’s premier experts on forest biosecurity.

Throughout his career, Dr. Brockerhoff has exhibited outstanding scientific leadership, including his roles as leaders of research teams, both at the New Zealand Forest Research Institute Scion and the Swiss Federal Institute WSL. He also has devoted himself to several other leadership roles including editing scientific journals, organizing major conferences, and serving as an officer in scientific societies, most notably serving as IUFRO Division 7 coordinator for 10 years.

Dr. Jiquan Chen is a Professor of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences from Michigan State University, U.S.A. He obtained his PhD in Ecosystem Analysis at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dr. Chen is a highly distinguished scholar in the fields of landscape ecology and ecosystem science, with a focus on forested landscapes. He has made significant contributions to international scholarship through his groundbreaking research on edge effects in fragmented landscapes, biosphere-atmosphere exchanges in carbon and water in terrestrial ecosystems, and the dynamics of social-environmental systems (SES).

He is one of the few scholars who has attempted to quantitatively integrate SES functions at multiple spatial and temporal scales. His research on the interdependent dynamics of SES across Eurasian drylands has been particularly influential, as it has teased apart the influences of land use and policy shifts from a global climatic change perspective. This has made science more society-relevant and has opened up new avenues for research.

Dr. Chen’s extensive research has also resulted in broad and lasting impacts on global collaborations, open access of data, and knowledge sharing. This has expanded the scale of his research and academic education and has resulted in regular workshops and joint publications through his ~15 years as (co-)chair of the Landscape Ecology Working Party of IUFRO (1994–2012).

Dr. Carol Jean Pierce Colfer, who obtained her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington, U.S.A., retired 15 years ago, but her devotion to forests and people has no end in sight. She continues to focus on her pioneering work on incorporating the world of forest dwellers and local communities into professional forestry.

Her scholarship on gender and power as well as work with participatory and transdisciplinary approaches in forestry has contributed substantially to the work of gender and diversity at CGIAR and forestry organizations across the world today. Dr. Colfer has spent a lifetime working towards incorporating the knowledge, values and experience of forest dwellers and local communities into forestry research. Her careful attention to questions of power relations and work on gender and intersectionality has been an inspiration for scholars around the world.

Apart from her theoretical contributions, a great deal of her work has focused on using anthropological and transdisciplinary methods, thus providing tools and practical advice for those working with forestry. She has used transdisciplinary methods to communicate the knowledge and intelligence and potential of local people to forest professionals.

Dr. Colfer’s determination for equity in forests led her to spearhead the Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) approach, meant to facilitate learning and collaboration between local communities and forest officials.

Dr. Shannon Hagerman is a professor at the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Canada. She obtained her PhD on Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Conservation from the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Science.

Dr. Hagerman is an internationally recognized scholar in the interdisciplinary field of social-ecological systems. Her work addresses climate change and the role that forest interventions can play in adaptation and mitigation efforts. Her pioneering research on social aspects of emerging novel environmental interventions for forest management, including assisted migration of tree species, identified the interacting roles of values, trust, and the politics of knowledge, and blazed the trail for a new line of scholarly inquiry at the nexus of climate change and forests.

Through her innovative methodological approach, Dr. Hagerman’s research demonstrates the complex ways that people make sense of novel environmental risks, and how over time, decision logics about intervening in nature are changing along with the environment itself. Her work provides crucial insights for policy makers who might otherwise misdiagnose forest controversies as stemming from a lack of public support for forest interventions when, in fact, concern from publics and communities often has more to do with who is making the decisions, who is benefitting, and the types of knowledge that are considered (or not).

Dr. Henrik Hartmann is Head of the Institute for Forest Protection, Julius Kuehn-Institute, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Germany, and professor for Forest Protection, Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He obtained his PhD in Biology (Forest Ecology) from the Centre of Forest Research, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Dr. Hartmann began his career as a professional forester, but decided to go into research and graduate studies to better understand what he was observing. His research seeks to answer several related questions: What factors control how plants allocate the products of photosynthesis to the various demands from growth, respiration, storage or defense? How does this change when plants are stressed? How can these changes weaken trees to make them more vulnerable to declines in fitness leading to mortality?

With his group, he has made particularly innovative contributions to understand the role of storage reserves during stress and in tree mortality, and the priorities placed on allocation to storage and defense over growth during periods of carbon resource limitation.

He has successfully brought together a community of researchers to create the IUFRO Task Force on Tree Mortality and the International Tree Mortality Network Initiative.

Dr. Cindy Prescott is a professor at the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Canada, and obtained her PhD in Terrestrial Ecology from the University of Calgary, Canada. She received the Canadian Forestry Scientific Achievement Award in 2005, holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Helsinki, and Honorary Professor status at Jiangxi Agricultural University.

Dr. Prescott is a world leader in decomposition, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and nutrient availability in forest soils. Her research is both theoretically groundbreaking and has important practical implications. She has elevated the importance of sustainable carbon and nutrient management in forests and has recommended forestry practices based on her research findings. Her recent publications presenting the scientific basis for plant surplus carbon underlying many ecological phenomena are paradigm changing.

Her research has improved our scientific understanding of the interactions between trees and the belowground ecosystem, and the influences of forestry practices on soil organic matter and nutrient availability. It has also improved our ability to restore forests on poor or degraded soils.

Dr. Prescott also served the forest science community as an editor of two major journals: Forest Ecology and Management and Canadian Journal of Forest Research and was the first woman to hold these positions.

Dr. John Sessions is University Distinguished Professor of Forestry at Oregon State University, U.S.A., from where he also obtained his PhD in Forest Management. He is one of the most distinguished and influential professors in the field of forest engineering.

Throughout his career spanning over four decades, Dr. Sessions has made incredible contributions to academia, industry, government, and international organizations, and has inspired numerous students and professionals. His research has been dedicated to developing innovative solutions for managing forests and their resources, covering a wide range of topics including forest economics, logging mechanics, forest biomass supply chain, and heuristic optimization algorithms for complex forest planning problems.

With over 400 publications, Dr. Sessions is one of the most accomplished researchers in forest engineering, and his groundbreaking work has had a profound impact on the direction of forest engineering research, education, and practices worldwide.

In addition to his research and teaching activities, Dr. Sessions is a sought-after speaker at conferences and workshops worldwide and has served as a consultant to government agencies, industry groups, and international organizations across all continents. He has chaired IUFRO Unit 3.06.00 ‘Forest operations in difficult terrain’ and played a crucial role in establishing international partnerships and collaborations in the field of forest engineering.

Dr. Ge Sun is a research hydrologist and project leader at the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station and obtained his PhD from the University of Florida, U.S.A. He is a world-renowned forest hydrologist who has made outstanding contributions to our fundamental knowledge about the relationship between forests and water.

Dr. Sun’s most notable contributions to forest science include effects of management on evapotranspiration and water yield and quantifying forests’ contribution to drinking water supply. By scaling up empirical station-based studies, Dr. Sun led the development of various simulation models including the ecosystem service assessment tool, Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI), that has been widely used for evaluating effects of land use and climate change on national water supply and carbon sequestration.

Dr. Sun has served as Coordinator of IUFRO Working Party 8.01.07 ‘Hydrologic processes and watershed management’ for several years and he also is an active member of the IUFRO Forest and Water Task Force. He co-initiated the IUFRO International Conference on Forest and Water in a Changing Environment, a prime forum for forest hydrologists.

Dr. Sun is a founding member of the US-China Carbon Consortium that promotes international research on carbon and water fluxes to address global climate change, and he also served as an agency science expert for USAID missions in Africa and Asia.

Dr. Chung-Jui (CJ) Tsai, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resource, Department of Genetics, and Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, U.S.A, is a W.N. “Hank” Haynes Professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. She obtained her PhD in Forest Science from the School of Forestry and Wood Products, Michigan Technological University.

Dr. Tsai’s research team pioneered the application of CRISPR genome editing to trees, creating mutant poplars with 100% biallelic editing efficiencies. The bioinformatic pipelines and databases that she developed to facilitate variant-free guide RNA design are applicable to a wide range of animal and plant species with heterozygous genomes. Her work also demonstrated the long-term (>4 years) stability and specificity of CRISPR-mediated edits in vegetatively propagated trees.

Work in Dr. Tsai’s lab has also resulted in the development of several programs and algorithms to address genomics data analysis challenges, and she has significantly contributed to the understanding of the molecular genetics aspects of xylogenesis that have traditionally been under-studied. Furthermore, Dr. Tsai has contributed to the understanding of salicinoids as major defense metabolites of leaves and shoots of Populus and Salix (family Salicaceae).

Dr. Tsai has established herself as a prominent scholar whose work answers fundamental questions concerning wood formation and defense in trees. Her achievements are indeed significant and are integral to our understanding of tree biology thereby advancing forest research.

Dr. Brenda Wingfield is professor at the Department Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa. She obtained her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Wingfield is a world-leading scientist who has published over 450 manuscripts in the discipline of forest health, specifically around speciation and evolution of fungi. Her research has been foundational in understanding the population diversity of pathogens that globally cause disease in commercial plantations or natural forests. It has contributed to developing new methods and approaches to manage or control numerous diseases and provided robust scientific data to aid efforts to reduce or prevent spread of unwanted pathogens internationally.

Dr. Wingfield has thus played a pivotal role in driving applied biotechnology in the forestry industry. Her pioneering work in the use of molecular techniques for the diagnosis of plant diseases has enabled earlier and more accurate detection of pathogens, thereby facilitating the implementation of more effective control measures.

In addition to her research, she has mentored over 100 students and collaborated with researchers across the world. Whilst Dr. Wingfield has not held formal roles within IUFRO she is a regular participant at IUFRO congresses and conferences where she leads or actively participates in group discussions and initiatives looking at global ways to address forest health issues.