Reflections by a member of the Editorial Board

Razmišljanje člana uredniškega odbora


  • Kevin T. Smith



I thank Co-Editors Ass. Prof. Dr. Jože Kropivšek and Prof. Dr. Katarina Čufar for the opportunity to serve as an Editorial Board member of Les/Wood, an international journal firmly grounded in the broad sweep of Slovene wood science and technology. The Editorial Board works to extend the relevance and impact of Les/Wood within and beyond Slovenia to the international community of wood science and technology in the broadest sense. We see the journal as a tool to support research and development of specific technologies, as well as to develop common terminology.

I would like to use this opportunity to sketch out how I came to be involved with wood science in Slovenia. In retrospect that involvement seems inevitable, but the path was not always clear at the time! After completing my postgraduate education in plant pathology and mycology in the USA in 1982, I accepted my current position as supervisory plant physiologist for the USDA Forest Service, a US federal land management agency with a strong commitment to research & development and to international forestry.

Throughout my career, my personal research has involved tree growth and wood decay in response to injury, infection, and environmental change. These tree responses affect forest health, the economic value of wood for art and industry, the tree-ring record of environmental conditions, and the performance of trees in urban and community environments.

My USDA FS mentor and colleague Dr. Walter Shortle met Prof. Dr. Niko Torelli and Prof. Dr. Katarina Čufar at the IAWA conference in Hamburg (1983) and at the IUFRO World Conference 1996 in Ljubljana, where the two of them were local organizers. Afterwards they obtained a joint Yugoslav American Project, “Possible alterations of wood in air polluted trees”, which defined my earlier collaborations with Professor Torelli and Katarina Čufar on silver fir decline in Slovenia and Europe. Later, Katarina Čufar, Dr. Tom Levanič, and I identified changes in the climatic responses of silver fir in Slovenia and of red spruce in the northeastern US. I also worked with Dr. Primož Oven on special considerations for the health and safety of city trees. Later, Katarina Čufar and I both served on the Executive Council of the Tree Ring Society, an international association for dendrochronological research. We co-taught a tree biology section at the Dendro Fieldweek as part of the World Dendro conference 2010 in Finland. We found that our combination of research experience both intensified and broadened our understanding and presentation of wood structure and function. Since then, we have worked to provide Slovene students and scientists a platform to share techniques and experiences that both extend the science and community of scientists in the international research community.

As an active researcher, I see Les/Wood as noteworthy because of the potential breadth of articles reporting on topics from wood mechanical properties to technologies and industrial processing to underlying anatomy and the biological processes that result in wood formation and preservation. In addition to the high level of scholarship and technical expertise within Les/Wood, I find collegiality of spirit, openness of approach, and pride of history and context. These qualities lift up and support ongoing and future research for Slovenia, its geographic surroundings, and the broader world research community. I’m excited at the prospect of Les/Wood extending its traditional strengths to meet the critical need for wood science to optimize wood utilization, ecological understanding, and cultural patrimony.


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How to Cite

Smith, K. T. (2021). Reflections by a member of the Editorial Board: Razmišljanje člana uredniškega odbora. Les/Wood, 70(2), 3-4.