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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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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Experts Offer “Three Perspectives on Wood” at Madison College Event

The Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program at Madison College recently hosted a speaking event offering their students, as well as builders, designers, and woodworkers, “Three Perspectives on Wood” to understand how to source and use wood properly for best performance.

Chris Hunt, a research chemist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), was one of the invited speakers. For more than 25 years, Hunt has studied ways to make better use of wood. His presentation, titled “Why Does Wood Do That?” focused on how understanding the structure of wood can improve one’s carpentry and woodworking skills.

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International Recognition Awarded to FPL Scientist

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) recently presented their Scientific Achievement Award to Junyong (JY) Zhu, a research general engineer at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL).

IUFRO President Mike Wingfield congratulates Junyong Zhu.

The IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award is given in recognition of outstanding individual scientific achievements within the fields of research covered by the Union. Ten scientists from around the world were presented with this prestigious award during the 2019 IUOFRO World Congress in Curitiba, Brazil.

JY is part of the Fiber and Chemical Sciences research work unit at FPL, and his research focuses on bringing value to underutilized materials through the generation of products such as biofuels and nanocellulose.  

Congratulations, JY, on this well-deserved honor!

L to R: IUFRO Executive Director Alexander Buck, IUFRO President Mike Wingfield, Junyong Zhu, Forest Service Deputy Chief Alex Friend