W&J Professor, Students Part of Project Recognized by USDA Forest Service as 2019 Research Highlight

Created: January 24, 2020
Last Updated: January 27, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 24, 2020) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has recognized the work of a team of scientists and foresters that includes a W&J professor and students as one of its 2019 research highlights.

For the past two years, the team has worked on the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania to monitor the health of ash trees affected by emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect from Asia that already has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across the United States and Canada. Associate Professor of Biology Jason Kilgore, Ph.D., is part of the research team, along with three W&J students who also served as interns and were supported in part by the College’s Mazingira Fund.

“This project grew out of collaboration between W&J and the USDA Forest Service to better understand forest response to the loss of an entire genus of trees, the ashes, and gives W&J students the unique opportunity to develop field-based skills while working with Forest Service professionals,” Kilgore said.

W&J students Vikram Singh, Jesse Reardon, and Dawlton Nelson have interned with the project, and Alexander Skowron will intern during the summer of 2020.

A nearly $16,000 annual grant awarded by the USDA Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry branch allows for an expanded ash monitoring effort as well as an expanded team. W&J joined the monitoring effort to help establish how the spread of EAB is affecting the health of ash trees on the Allegheny National Forest.

The research team includes Dr. Kilgore, Kathleen Knight (Northern Research Station), Charles Flower (Northern Research Station), Alejandro Royo (Northern Research Station), William Oldland (State and Private Forestry), and Andrea Hille (Allegheny National Forest). Washington & Jefferson College undergraduate students gain research experience as they assess the health of ash trees in long-term monitoring plots on the ANF.

Data collected on the Allegheny National Forest are helping scientists better understand the effects of EAB across different landscapes and informs Satellite Detection Surveys of EAB, performed by the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Health Assessment and Applied Sciences Team. The results of this work are also used to update EAB models in the National Insect and Disease Risk Map. The research will aid forest managers and policy makers in planning for and responding to, and ultimately mitigating, the effects of EAB.

 

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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