Remembering Former FPL Director Robert Youngs

Robert L. Youngs, director of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) from 1975-1985, passed away Saturday, April 25, 2020 in Blacksburg, Virginia at the age of 96.

Robert L. Youngs, FPL Director 1975-1985

Bob first heard of the Lab when he was studying wood technology as an undergrad at the College of Forestry at Syracuse. FPL’s famed Wood Handbook was one of his textbooks. Later, as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Bob’s advisor had previously worked at FPL, and Bob recalled he “was very effusive in his praise of the Laboratory as a place to work.”

Upon graduation, Bob wrote to FPL inquiring about work, but there were no positions available. One year later, he inquired again and his timing was right. FPL had just received some extra funding related to the Korean War, and Bob was hired on to work in wood drying. He continued in this line of research, even studying it as he earned his Ph.D. from Yale, and eventually helped developed the original Dry Kiln Operator’s Manual, one of the Lab’s most popular publications. 

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110 Years of FPL: Our Historic Home

In celebration of 110 years of research at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we are revisiting blog posts that detail some of our most interesting historic people, places, and projects. Enjoy!

Between 1931 and 1932, a new home for FPL was designed and built about a mile west from its first long-term home on the University of Wisconsin (UW) campus. On a site situated adjacent to UW, in the middle of a corn field, the Chicago architectural firm of Holabird and Root planned a design for the state-of-the-art laboratory.

The newly constructed Forest Products Laboratory rose up out of the countryside to the west of the University of Wisconsin.

According to A History of the Architecture of the USDA Forest Service, Building One on the FPL campus “typifies the American Perpendicular or Modernistic phase of the Art Deco style as it was applied to commercial design.” The building is a stand-alone structure of steel and concrete and has a U-shaped plan.

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FPL Researcher Awarded Fulbright Fellowship

Chris Hunt, a research chemist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to work in Tallinn, Estonia from February to August, 2021.

Chris Hunt, FPL research chemist

The Fulbright Program is devoted to increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Hunt proposed to work on improved techniques for characterizing wood veneer surfaces with respect to bonding performance. His application also included the goal of promoting FPL to European institutions as a destination for scholars wanting to conduct wood science.

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Throwback Thursday: FPL’s 1920 Bowling Team

For a blog on wood research, Lab Notes features a surprising amount of posts about sports.

Our researchers’ work has touched the world of basketball because of the floors, baseball because of the bats, and bowling because of the pins (and maybe also because we’re located in Wisconsin, home to more bowling alleys than any other state in the nation).

It’s bowling that gets a mention again today, after librarian Julie Blankenburg found a few gems in the historic records of the FPL library, photos of a team from 1920 and a bowling banquet.

FPL bowling team, 1920
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Researchers Honored with Department, Agency Accolades

Several Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) employees were recently honored by Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen and USDA Under Secretary Jim Hubbard at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The 2019 Chief’s Awards were presented to three current employees and one retiree.

Junyong Zhu, FPL research general engineer, was presented with a Chief’s Award for his work supporting the Forest Service goal of applying knowledge globally. Junyong’s work contributed to the USDA goal of facilitating rural prosperity and economic development, and he was also selected to receive the Natural Resources and Environment 2019 Under Secretary’s Award for his work in wood and woody biomass utilization.

Junyong Zhu (center) received awards from both Forest Service Chief Christiansen (right) and USDA Under Secretary Hubbard (left).
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