The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation hosted the 19th Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference in March, bringing together 180 scientists and professionals. The three-day conference, which is a joint effort between participating universities and the U.S. Forest Service, included concurrent panel sessions, an adjudicated student presentation session, and field tours. Professors John Seiler and Michael Aust served as co-chairs of the local arrangements committee, organizing housing, food, and other details for conference attendees.

Two Virginia Tech students accepted awards for presentations in the Student Oral and Poster Presenter Contests, in which students are judged on their research methods and presentation skills.

Edward Russell, a doctoral student in tree physiology and ecological climatology, received an award for his presentation on the interaction between intensive management practices and water limitation expected in the near future in established Virginia pine plantations. “One of the best things about this particular conference is the opportunity to see what a variety of researchers and practitioners are currently investigating. It’s an opportunity to survey a broad swath of the intellectual forestry world and gain insight from both production and ecological perspectives,” he said.

Sheng-I Yang, who is dual-enrolled as a doctoral student in forest biometrics and a master’s student in statistics, said that this opportunity marked his first professional conference presentation. He accepted an award for his presentation on using statistical analysis to determine the maximum population sizes of loblolly pine crops. “It was my first time doing this and I got to meet so many people from different universities and exchange ideas. I really appreciated the question-and-answer sessions at the end of each talk,” he recalled.

According to Seiler, Virginia Tech students do well historically in the conference’s contest, having taken almost 30 percent of the awards to date. “It’s a very friendly conference for students giving their first talk,” he said. “It’s a testament to the strength of our program.”