Building Materials and Composites Stories
Sustainable Bioproducts Doctoral Student Passionate about Wood Science Research
Graduate student Lon Yeary has been interested in wood science since childhood, spending time with his father in the USDA Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wisconsin. After receiving his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2018, he took the advice of his advisor, Dr. Bob Ross, and is now pursuing a sustainable bioproducts doctorate and non-thesis civil engineering master's at Mississippi State. Yeary has conducted three projects for his degree programs. One was a study of a light frame wood truss roof collapse of a 50-year-old building, which was published in Wood and Fiber Science in 2021. Another project focused on developing a two-way support system for CLT building connections that resists both sheer and uplift.
The third project examined reinforcing steel fasteners in wood laminates to avoid stress-induced failure of the wood. Yeary's main goal as a graduate student was to improve wood structures while also educating people about the value of them.
Opening an Envelope
FWRC researchers are studying long-term durability of treated and untreated cross-laminated timber, or CLT, walls. Despite building codes requiring preservative treatments for wood with ground contact, little to no research has been done to test the long-term durability of treated or untreated cross-laminated timber walls. Dr. Hyungsuk “Thomas” Lim, an assistant professor in the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts and researcher in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, has been working to fill that research gap. Because it is wood, CLT can be a more affordable alternative to masonry, concrete, or steel in the construction of larger buildings. In addition to be a more cost-effective alternative, the use of CLT reduces the carbon footprint of construction while simultaneously contributing to the forestry industry.
“The project is about developing building technology and figuring out the best ways to install these renewable products so that the structure has maximized durability,” Lim said. “CLT is being used in residential, industrial, educational, and civic buildings, as well as many other types of structures. Maximizing the durability of CLT could help expand its applications in the building and construction industry of the Southeast.” This research is funded by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, with materials provided by Shuqualak Lumber and Henkel Corporation.
Take the Stairs
The Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association has partnered with scientists in the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center to assess the wood commonly used in constructing stairs. Dr. Fred França, assistant research professor in the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, is co-principal investigator on a three-year study that evaluates design values of domestic species in stair and guard construction. The team is conducting destructive testing on 300 boards from each species and assessing four mechanical properties including static bending, compression parallel to the grain, compression perpendicular to the grain, and Janka hardness—the resistance of wood to denting and wear. While the research is still ongoing, França hopes the ultimate findings will help stair builders and manufacturers select for wood species that result in sturdier steps.