Distinguished international expert appointed to the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life

Professor Jeff Morrell of Oregon State University has been appointed as Director of the National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life for a term of five years.

The Centre is a strategic initiative led by FWPA, and is a partnership between industry, academia and government designed to put Australia at the forefront of international best practice, and use evidence-based data, systems and tools to underpin consumer confidence in the performance of timber products.

In particular, the goal over the next five years is to develop a predictive, evidence-based model to enable architects and building specifiers to more easily choose the right timber for the right task, accurately forecasting structural performance and design life.

Professor Morrell is currently a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Wood Science & Engineering at Oregon State University and is a former President of the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) and the International Research Group on Wood Protection.

He has extensive standards development experience through his involvement in AWPA and currently chairs the Committee on Treatment Standards for Utility Poles, which has seen him work with a variety of treaters on quality control, particularly with difficult-to-treat species.

Although based in his home country of the USA for most of his career, Professor Morrell has spent a number of years working in Australia on sabbatical, focussing on wood protection and durability. This important work has seen him become a well-known and respected figure within both the Australian and international industries, and amongst the local research community. 

Professor Morrell said: “I am looking forward to working with the recently-appointed industry steering committee and with students, who will become future leaders in Australian Forestry. My goal is to ensure that Australian industry has access to the world’s leading research and best practice, and to build links between industry, academia and customers.”

Managing Director of FWPA, Ric Sinclair, said he was delighted to welcome an expert of Professor Morrell’s calibre.

“Jeff has a long held interest in Australia’s forest and wood industry, and it is exciting to hear his enthusiasm for maximising the many opportunities that exist here. We believe he is the perfect fit for the role, having spent extended periods of time working within and familiarising himself with the Australian industry, while also bringing a fresh perspective thanks to his vast international experience and impressive body of work,” he said.

“With our industry steering committee now established and this appointment, the Centre is in the strongest position to deliver the best possible outcomes for our industry both domestically and on the world stage.”

The Centre was launched in 2016 under the leadership of Founding Fellow Professor Phil Evans and is based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, although it takes a national and international approach.

Other partners investing in the Centre include the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). 

JM 18