URSA Engage Program 2013
Position Descriptions for Students to Apply For


Faculty Name & Department/School: Dr. David Smith,  Forestry, Wood Science & Engineering


Research Project Title:   Extraction of essential oils from Douglas fir biomass. 


Project Overview: 

My research is focused on exploring ways to generate economic value from forest biomass.  The market for Douglas fir needle oil appears to be underserved.  This work will help us understand if it might be viable for local Christmas tree growers or biomass processors to make a business out of extracting essential oils.

The student will acquire Douglas fir biomass from several different sources, including Christmas tree clippings, prescriptive forestry treatments, and harvest residues.  Essential oils will be extracted by steam and microwave distillation techniques.  Yields will be calculated and evaluated with respect to source, time of year of harvest, and age after harvest.  We will also compare microwave distillation with steam distillation for energy intensity and yield.



What skills will students obtain in this project? 

Sample collection. Analytical and quantitative chemistry. Data management and analysis.



Student research tasks: 

I will prepare a test plan and teach the student how to do the experimental work.  We will initially travel together to collect field samples, but after gaining some experience, I will expect him/her to collect and process them on their own.  We will schedule weekly meetings to review progress and discuss next steps.  I will set an expectation that they will prepare a poster describing the results of the study suitable for presentation at a local conference.



Period of work - Spring and Fall


Number of hours per week expected of student:  5-10  


Preferred Faculty Contact Information:

(note - applications are NOT sent to mentors - see instructions)


q Yes    x No:   Human Subjects 

q Yes    xNo:   Live Vertebrate Animals

q Yes    x  No:   Recombinant DNA Molecules Transgenic Plants or Animal, and/or Infectious Agents of Plants, Animals, or Humans

q Yes    x  No:   Ionizing Radiation

q Yes    x  No:   Chemical Carcinogens

q Yes    x  No:   Scuba Diving, Free Diving

q Yes    x  No:   Small Boating Operations


If you are interested in applying for this position, you MUST complete the student application HERE and email it to Dr. Kevin Ahern at ahernk@onid.orst.edu

Do NOT email your application to the faculty mentor.