New Forest Biology Research Center opens at UC Davis 

A Forest Biology Research Center has been created at UC Davis, bringing good news for students, researchers and all of us who like to breathe clean air.

“Trees are as important as agriculture to the landscape of California and the world,” says UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences Professor David Neale, a forest geneticist and the driving force forestbehind the new center. “Creation of the center culminates the work of many people over many years to bring a visible presence to forest biology research and education on the UC Davis campus.”

UC Davis is a prime location for forest biology research and education because of its proximity to the Sierra and Coastal Mountain forest ecosystems and its extensive faculty expertise in all aspects of forest biology, says UC Davis Plant Ecology Professor Mark Schwartz, director of the John Muir Institute for the Environment (JMIE) where the new center is located.

“The creation of this forest-focused center is both an affirmation of what UC Davis has been doing really well for a long time, and a big step forward in JMIE’s efforts to rally faculty expertise around the central environmental issues facing California and the world”, Schwartz says. “As California joins Europe in adopting carbon standards, developing a better understanding of the role of forests in carbon sequestration has become a priority for environmental organizations.”

The new center will also provide framework for the cross-disciplinary work so central to forest biology.

“Forest biology draws from many of the core biological sciences such as genetics, ecology, plant pathology, entomology, plant biology, geography as more,” Neale explains. “Before this framework was in place, graduate students could study genetics with me, for example, but they couldn’t really go broader into other areas of forest biology. Now when they come to UC Davis to do graduate work in, say, ecology, they will also have access to interdisciplinary work in forest biology.”

The Forest Biology Research Center is working to develop a Certificate program in Forest Biology which can be awarded along with a degree from an existing graduate program. A core course called “Introduction to Forest Biology” will be required to earn the Certificate and will be offered for the first time in Spring Quarter 2011.

You can find details on the course here. The center will also be hosting a weekly seminar series each Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the John Muir Institute for the Environment Barn.   

At the Forest Biology Research Center website, you can also learn more about the 24 UC Davis faculty and affiliated members of the US Forest Service who founded the center. They look forward to working with others to help develop forest biology research and education at UC Davis.

In addition to Neale and Schwartz, the executive committee includes UC Davis Plant Pathology Professor Dave Rizzo, UC Davis Plant Biology Professor Alison Berry and Research Ecologist Malcolm North with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences.