4 June 2020

The ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Forest Value has become a launching pad for high-calibre, industry-ready University of Tasmania research higher degree graduates and postdoctoral fellows with broad perspectives of the forest industry.

Established in 2015, with $3.6 million funding from the ARC, and additional funding from industry partners and the University of Tasmania, the Centre is celebrating the final stages of its first intake of students, as they embark on the next step in their careers and continue to contribute to the development of the forest industry both in Australia and internationally.

The Centre has three broad themes operating across the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Tasmania: forest production, restoration and certification (Biological Sciences), product development (Architecture and Design), and supply chain and information management (Information and Communication Technology).

Centre Deputy Director, Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra, says that over the past five years the Centre has achieved what it was designed for, to provide opportunities for candidates and fellows to pursue industrial training, build research capacity within the forest industries and wood products sector and provide evidence-based solutions to industry identified problems.

“It’s been a busy yet exciting time for everyone at the Centre, as we focussed on one of our main aims – to produce industry-ready higher degree by research graduates and postdoctoral fellows with broad perspectives of the forest industry,” Associate Professor O’Reilly-Wapstra says.

“The Centre combines a diverse set of partners from forest growers, to restoration managers to wood producers. Our PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows work closely with industry and other stakeholders across the forest management landscape and within the forest products supply chain. Such experiences and skills are in demand in the sector”.

“Our valued industry collaborators have been committed to supporting our candidates and fellows for the 4-5 years, to help drive the Centre's research activity. Outcomes will enhance productivity, profitably and sustainability along the forest industries supply chain and drive innovation in forest restoration and environmental planting activities.”

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the road to PhD completion has been relatively uninterrupted for candidates at the latter stages of their projects, with another group of candidates set to complete by the end of 2020.



Centre for Forest Value PhD candidate highlights

Mohammad Derikvand was one of the Centre’s first candidates to complete his PhD on developing mass-laminated timber products. He secured a post-doctoral fellowship in Finland where he has been working for the past six months.

Mohammad’s PhD identified practical methods for producing mass laminated timber from fibre-grown plantation Eucalyptus nitens for structural timber flooring systems in the built environment.

A main highlight of Mohammad’s PhD journey was the high level of interaction with the Centre’s industry partners.

PhD candidate, Nicolò Camarretta, started his postdoctoral fellowship at Gӧttingen University in Germany in 2020. His PhD measured and assessed structural complexity in environmental restoration plantings.

Nicolò credits the support of industrial partners at Greening Australia in the early days for the valuable insights on the work they carried out in Tasmanian Midlands.

Heesung Woo also completed his PhD this year where he investigated mechanisms within forest industry supply chains to optimise the value and utilisation of eucalypt forest residues for bioenergy and bio-based product markets.

Heesung is now based in South Korea at the School of Forest Sciences and Landscape Architecture, Kyungpook National University, Daegu.

While some graduates have pursued career opportunities overseas, the opportunity to remain in Tasmania was possible for the Centre’s postdoctoral fellow Nathan Kotlarewski who secured a role with Cross Laminated Timber Panels Tasmania (CLTP).

Dr Kotlarewski worked closely with the timber industry across northern Tasmania and will continue to do so, focussing on manufacturing solid timber buildings and structures for international and domestic markets.

The Centre’s students are also racking up their fair share of national awards, with PhD Candidate Sean Krisanski recently receiving the 2020 Science and Innovation Award from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

The award will help Sean develop an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to make it possible to collect forest canopy samples more safely, at a lower cost and at a much larger scale than existing canopy sample collection techniques.


Fellow PhD Candidate Zara Marais’ quick and articulate presentations earned her the 2019 Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) Wiley Student Prize for ‘Outstanding Student Speed Talk’.

For Zara, the platform was ideal. She was able to discuss some of the big issues facing today’s world with more than 600 ecologists at the ESA Conference in Launceston.

On track to submit her PhD at the end of 2020, Zara’s thesis looks at the business case for trees on farms. Using developed models, Zara’s project will assess how the benefits of trees on farms varies between planting for timber production and native forests established for restoration/ecosystem services.

Top image: Centre for Forest Value Deputy Director Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra (right) with the two of the Centre for Forest Value's PhD Candidates Michelle Balasso and Sean Krisanski.

All images courtesy of the University of Tasmania.