Forest Products Laboratory Says Good-Bye to Director Dr. Christopher Risbrudt

Dr. Christopher Risbrudt FPL Station Director, September 2001 to April 2011
USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory

Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) says good-bye to esteemed station director, Dr. Christopher Risbrudt, and dearly regarded community member.

From September 2001 to April 2011, Dr. Risbrudt served as FPL’s director. Passionate about his work and the future of the lab, he explained during a 2011 interview that the ten years he spent as FPL director were “among the most rewarding of my career, and while there is probably never a good time to retire, this feels like the right time because FPL seems well-positioned to move forward.”

Risbrudt’s leadership left FPL with a strong legacy. Under his direction, research at FPL focused on the sustainability of wood and wood products development and improving forest health. He also streamlined the laboratory’s work into five broad future-oriented areas: (biorefiningnanotechnologyadvanced structuresadvanced composites, and underutilized woody biomass) and encouraged collaborative research efforts and technology transfer activities.

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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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Tony Ferguson Named FPL Director

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced that Tony Ferguson has been selected as Director of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and the Northern Research Station.


Tony Ferguson has been named Director of the Forest Products Laboratory.

Ferguson has been acting in this role for the past eight months, guiding the workforce and overseeing innovative advances occurring at both units. “We look forward to the effective, steady leadership he will continue to contribute to the Forest Service,” said Tidwell.

Ferguson is excited for the opportunity to build on what he accomplished as acting Director. “It’s great to continue working with the Station and Lab,” he said. “The work we are doing is very important and is changing people lives.”

Ferguson’s career in public service spans 32 years, and includes time spent with both the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. A native Tennessean, Ferguson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

We welcome Tony as the official Director of FPL and look forward to furthering our mission under his leadership.