Forest Products Laboratory: A Legacy of Women Researchers

When the doors of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) opened in 1910, Eloise Gerry shouldered her way through as the first female scientist employed by the Forest Service. Her tenacity, moxie, and remarkable talent produced a storied 44-year career with over 120 publications.

Eloise Gerry, first FPL & Forest Service woman scientist.

Every month of the year, and especially during Women’s History month, FPL celebrates the legacy and precedent Gerry set. This month we would like to showcase some of the incredible women scientists that have followed in her extraordinary footsteps.

Like nearly all remarkable stories, they are often most powerful when told straight from the woman herself.

Take a moment to meet the women who are positively changing the world through forest products research and making it a better place to inhabit:

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FPL Sends Historic Legacy Mahogany to Help Restore U.S. Capitol

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol building was the target of an attack that left it ransacked and vandalized. The destruction of many irreplaceable historical wooden artifacts and objects, including doors, intricate millwork, moldings, desks, and podiums, was extensive.

Enter Nathan Kamprath, U.S. Army DEVCOM and leader of a current joint project between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). Recognizing the significance of the damage, Kamprath contacted FPL research engineer Robert Ross for assistance with the U.S. Capitol repair. He then connected Ross with Architect of the Capitol (AOC) historic preservation specialists overseeing the restoration of the U.S. Capitol building. 

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Forest Products Laboratory and Northern Research Station Welcome New Director

Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen on Monday named Dr. Cynthia “Cindi” West Director of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and Northern Research Station (NRS).

Dr. West replaces Tony Ferguson who retired from the Forest Service this past December after serving as Lab and Station Director for nearly four years. She officially starts her new job on Monday, February 15.

Dr. Cynthia West
Incoming FPL and NRS Station Director

“My career has been focused on creating a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. The Forest Products Lab and Northern Research Station will play an important role in that future. I am excited to work with FPL and NRS employees, partners, and stakeholders to deliver the knowledge and technology to reach this vision,” explained West when asked about her transition to FPL and NRS.

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FPL Researcher Featured in Engineering News-Record

A rendering of the 25-story Ascent building currently under construction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo credit: Korb + Associates
Laura Hasburgh
Building and Fire Sciences
Materials Research Engineer

Engineering News-Record recently featured Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) materials research engineer, Laura Hasburgh and her expert consultation on the Ascent construction project in Milwaukee. At 25 stories, the Ascent building is making history as the soon-to-be tallest timber building in the world. And because of its unprecedented height and exposed mass timber interior, Hasburgh was contacted to lend her fire testing expertise.

The top eighteen floors of the Ascent will be framed in mass timber and the interior architectural design features exposed glued-laminated timber (glulam) framing and cross-laminated timber (CLT) slabs to showcase the natural beauty of the wood. But with these design and material choices, the Ascent’s fire safety planning needed to be carefully considered.

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FPL Researcher Featured on National Public Radio

Brian Brashaw
Forest Products Marketing Unit
Program Manager

Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) Brian Brashaw was featured in an National Public Radio (NPR) segment about the soon-to-be world’s tallest timber building currently under construction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Ascent building will boast 25 stories, 18 of which will be framed in mass timber. The upscale apartment complex is slated for completion in 2022. Right now, the cement foundation is being laid. Brashaw anticipates the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) “to start flying,” or rather, construction crane hoisted pre-fabricated mass timber sections to begin installation in early summer 2021.  

FPL is excited about its participation in helping the Ascent rise among the tallest modern wood structures in the world.

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