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 Featured in America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell – Courtesy of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell

On October 21st, 2020, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) director, Tony Ferguson, represented FPL in a panel discussion for the premier of the most recent episodes of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell (AFCL). FPL was featured in a segment showcasing its long history of forest products research, testing, and innovation.

Tony Ferguson
FPL Director

Director Ferguson articulated that FPL has had a long history of being a champion in innovative land and forest use. The FPL segment of AFCL captured this message and the spirit of its history in a tantalizing, bite-sized featurette.  

The two 25-minute episodes, Wisconsin North and South, covered the scope and interconnected nature of Wisconsin’s forests and conservation work while giving a nod to FPL’s connection to it all.

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FPL Celebrates 110 Years of Innovation

Today, June 4, 2020, marks 110 years since the doors opened at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and a world of possibility opened with them.

We could never summarize in one blog post all the incredible advances in the world of wood that have occurred since then. In fact, FPL has produced more than 20,000 publications over the years, all of which are available to anyone who finds them useful, be they fellow researchers, industry partners, or homeowners with a project to tackle. (Many are digitized here.)

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110 Years of FPL: Fancy Flooring of the ’50s

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!

In the 1950s, FPL researchers were challenged with how to use waste wood as flooring.

During the wood flooring manufacturing process, many of the cut pieces were too short to be used as conventional flooring, so researchers demonstrated ways of combining short pieces of wood into designs that could be installed in decorative ways, just like tiles.

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