Highlights from the 119th Annual Meeting of the AWPA

Dr. J. Brent Hiskey

The 119th Annual Meeting of the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) was held in Tucson, Arizona, April 3-5, 2023. Highlights of this year’s meeting include the keynote address, “Copper is More Than a Red Metal,” by Dr. J. Brent Hiskey, Professor of Mining and Geological Engineering and Cimetta Chair in the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona. Hiskey notes, “Copper is an essential trace element present in all body tissues…the body cannot make its own copper. You must get it from food… Copper works with iron to help the body form red blood cells.”

Thirty-six research and technical presentations were given over the three day meeting with topics on education, research, environmental and regulatory considerations, public utility issues, treated wood reuse, and new and emerging wood treatments and coatings.

Allison DeFord, Executive Director North America Forest Foundation

In the Education and Student Fellowship Presentations, Allison DeFord, Executive Director of the North America Forest Foundation, led with the presentation, “Secret to Creating a Healthier Future for the Next Generation, the Industry, and the Planet.” Below are a few statistics:

- Wood is the only naturally renewable building material.

- During a year, 100 trees can remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide, as well as pull 430 pounds of other pollutants from the air.

- In 2020, the carbon benefit for reported softwood projects was equivalent to taking 945,100 cars off the road for a year, or 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

- Due to responsible forest management, the softwood industry was able to plant 3 new trees for every 1 harvested in 2020.

- North America has more certified forests than anywhere else in the world. Modern forestry standards ensure a continuous cycle of growing, harvesting, and replanting.

- Scientists estimate lumber manufacturing consumes just 4% of the energy used by all raw materials manufacturers. Steel and concrete manufacturers consume 56%. A steel stud requires 21 times as much energy to produce and releases 15 times the sulfur dioxide as a wood 2×4. Producing concrete emits up to 3 times more carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbon that lumber production.

Liang Liang, University of Idaho, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Liang-Liang-52

Graduate students from Mississippi State University (MSU) and the University of Idaho (UI), spoke on the following research: “Expanding the Market for Timber Industrial Mats Manufactured from Hardwood Cross Laminated Timber (CLT),” by Mercy Ogunruku, MSU; The “Antifungal Properties and Fire Resistance of Phytic Acid Treated Wood,” by Liang Liang, UI; and “The Development of Preservative Treated CLT: Effects of Panel Layup and Thickness on Bonding Performance,” by Franklin Quin, MSU.

Dr. Laura Hasburgh, https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/about/people/lehasburgh

The Colley/Hartford Memorial Lecture was given by Dr. Laura Hasburgh, Material Research Engineer with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory on “Fire Protection Research at the Forest Products Laboratory.”

Dr. Andy Zahora, Sr. Research Scientist, Viance, LLC

The Research Symposium presentations were given by Dr. Tamara Franca, Assistant Professor, MSU; Dr. Andy Zahora, Sr. Research Scientist at Viance, LLC; Dr. Fred Franca, Assistant Professor, MSU; Dr. Gerald Presley, Assistant Professor, Oregon State University (OSU); and Dr. Mark Mankowski with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory.

To mention a few of the topics in the technical sessions, presentations included “Treated Wood: Reuse/Recycling in a Circular Economy,” by Jeff Morrell, University of the Sunshine Coast; “Overview of Surface Treatments,” by Dr. Geoff Webb Dean of the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) Inspector Training School; and “Development of AI to Monitor Water Ingress into Wood Treated with Coatings and Preservatives, by Dr. Kevin Ragon with MSU.”

Bob Baeppler recipient of the AWPA 2023 Award of Merit

Bob Baeppler received the 2023 AWPA Award of Merit. A 45-year active member of the AWPA, Bob participated in, and led a wide range of technical committees and task groups, serving as president of the AWPA in 2018. Bob’s career in this industry includes every facet of wood pole production—buying, peeling, grading, drying, treating, and finally selling them, plus about the same experience with crossties. He has sold oil and preservative into treating plants, learning from those that had been in the business longer than he had. Read more of a life lesson he learned in this industry. Bob's current role is Business Development Manager for Viance, LLC.


AWPA President, Kevin Archer, Director of R&D for Viance, LLC presided over the annual meeting, turning over the gavel to Andrew Kudick, President of Intec Services for the 2023-2024 term.

Find out more about the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA).