Areas of Wood Science Research

I enjoy the responses I get when somebody asks me about my educational background.  Once I tell them that I studied “wood science” they often are puzzled.  What is that?   

During my career, I have performed proprietary third-party mechanical, physical, and chemical tests for new and existing wood-based products, biocides, coatings, etc. so that they could gain approval/re-registration from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Wood science is extremely important for utilizing one of the world’s most widely used natural resources, not many are aware of the types of research that goes into this field. 

Below are some of the main areas of wood science research. As technology advances, these areas also continue to evolve.

Biodeterioration, Materials Protection, & Product Durability

This is the research of wood decay, and the information gathered through this research has a wide-range of industrial applications. Improvement in the science of wood product durability is a result of this type of research. For those who want to learn more about how to sustainably design and manage wood products, this is the field of research for them.

Composite Materials

Wood composite materials research ranges from composite manufacturing to formaldehyde-free adhesives to the study of composite fracturing. All of this is important when trying to understand the ever-changing applications of wood composites and the diverse range of materials that can be used to make them.

Forest Products Business and Marketing

Forest product innovation relies on the research of business management and marketing strategies for these products.  Those who study this area learn marketing in renewable materials, corporate responsibility, and how to use the competitiveness of the industry as an advantage.

Green Building and Environmental Performance

The use of wood in green building and sustainable design has increased and so has the research of this area. The development of reliable wood-based green materials is in high demand as the market for green products continues to grow.

Timber Engineering, Mechanics, & Structural Design

Timber engineering and structural wood design involves advanced mathematical and engineering, including the studying of materials and components, the performance of structural systems and fasteners, and the design of wood structures. This research helps determine the integrity of wood structures.

Wood Aesthetics & Natural Coloration

The natural coloration of wood by fungi—or spalting—is another area of wood science research that some find fascinating. This field of study explores this process and sometimes unexpected aesthetic or commercial opportunities come along as a result.

Wood BioEnergy

Perhaps the fasting growing area of wood research is bioenergy and includes many agricultural residues that are not even wood such as sugar cane bagasse, corn stover, etc.  This research identifies cost effective methods of converting wood and other raw materials into pellets and thermos-chemical methods to develop energy such as pyrolysis, gasification, super critical conversion, and liquefaction.

For more information on wood science research, please visit drtoddshupe.com

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and building materials, wood decay and degradation, and wood science. Shupe worked as a professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, and Board Member for Gulf South Men and a Team Leader for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.