Harris Sherman, under secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment., left; Joseph Jakes, research materials engineer, Forest Products Laboratory; and Michael Rains, acting FPL director.
Harris Sherman, under secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment., left; Joseph Jakes, research materials engineer, Forest Products Laboratory; and Michael Rains, acting FPL director.

WASHINGTON - Research to improve wood adhesives through the use of nanotechnology earned Dr. Joseph Jakes a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Jakes, a research materials engineer at the Forest Produstcs Lab in Madison, WI, was one of three USDA Agricultural Department to receive what is considered "the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers."

Jakes exploration of wood at the nanoscale has resulted in the development of new high-performance wood-based composite materials, including those utilizing nanocellulose. Jakes' goal is the development of new and improved forest products that lead to the efficient utilization and management of forest resources.

Jakes is author of Developing Tools to Assess Mechanical Properties of Wood Cell Walls. Jakes' scientific paper notes,"Nanoindentation is a tool capable of probing mechanical properties at the sub-micrometer level, such as in wood cell walls, individual components in a wood-based composite, coatings, adhesive bond lines, etc." Using this tool, Jakes writes, will help develop "advanced wood-based nanocomposites and to better understand wood-adhesive interactions."

Other USDA PECASE winners include Dr. Ian Kaplan for his s research on pests and beneficial insects in plant systems and Dr. Christina Swaggerty, a member of the USDA ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, College Station, Texas, for her research to enhance the safety, security and wholesomeness of the U.S. food supply.

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