Christopher W. Fields-Johnson of Blacksburg, a Virginia Tech senior majoring in forestry and forest resource management at the College of Natural Resources, was awarded a Virginia Academy of Science Undergraduate Research Grant for 2007-2008.

Fields-Johnson is using the $500 grant to do research with forestry professor Carolyn A. Copenheaver on pre-European forests in Giles County, Va.

Fields-Johnson is studying species-site specific relationships in pre-European settlement forests of Giles County.

“My research focuses on reconstructing the pre-European forest composition of Giles County by mapping witness trees from the first land surveys that were conducted from 1785-1817,” Fields-Johnson said. He was inspired to work on this by Copenheaver’s advanced forest ecology class. The research will be carried out in Rye Hollow and along Sinking Creek in Giles County, and will be used to determine how pre-settlement vegetation composition was associated with soils and topography in Giles County.

Fields-Johnson added, “This grant goes a long way toward paying for visits to the county records offices to collect our data on early settlement forest composition in Giles County. Dr. Copenheaver and I have gathered up a large body of information this semester. We will be analyzing that data and collecting more in the spring before I present our finding to the Virginia Academy of Science next May.”

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.

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