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US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Barbara L. Illman

Supervisory Plant Pathologist
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: 608-231-9231
Contact Barbara L. Illman


Current Research

Research covers four major areas. (1) Characterization of fungal mechanisms of wood decay at the micro- and nano-scale levels with solid state physics methods available only at large x-ray/IR/UV generating synchrotrons. Results will aid formulation of nanosensors to detect fungal activity in wood, and advance fundamental understanding of decay. (2) Pesticides in wood are produced by trees as natural defense chemicals against insects and fungi. Our goals are to develop methods for isolation, identification and pesticide screening of these extractives to (a) identify and remove inhibitors of microbial fermentation during biomass conversion to ethanol and other chemicals, (b) identify pesticides and provide methods for commercial rosin applications, and (c) provide fundamental knowledge about the chemical ecology of trees, insects and fungi. (3) The mycoremediation goal is to develop landfill-alternatives for managing waste wood treated with CCA, ACQ, creosote or pentachlorophenol. Seven patents were awarded for fungal strains and mycoremediation processes. (4) Preventing the introduction of invasive species is the first step and most cost-effective element in the Forest Service strategy to control invasive species. Our goals have been to develop methods to kill invasives in wood during international trade and to provide technical support to quarantine agencies for international standards to slow the spread of invasives worldwide.

Research Interests

  • Characterization of fungal mechanisms of wood decay at the micro- and nanoscale levels with solid state physics methods available only at large x-ray/IR/UV generating synchrotrons.
  • Isolate and identify natural pesticides in wood inhibiting fermentation of biomass conversion to fuel ethanol and other chemicals, especially during value prior to pulping processes (VPP)
  • Isolate and characterize natural pesticides involved in chemical ecology of wood, insects and fungi.
  • Mycoremediation of waste wood treated with toxic chemicals, especially chromium copper arsenate (CCA) and pentachlorophenol (PCP)
  • Prevent introduction of invasive species by developing methods to kill invasives in wood and providing scientific support to quarantine agencies for international phytosanitary standards for wood during international trade.

Education

  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, Ph.D. Plant Pathology and Biochemistry,
  • Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN, M.S. Biology and Biochemistry,
  • Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN, B.S. Biology and Biochemistry,

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Last updated on : 12/11/2013