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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Sam with the P2000 laser micropipette puller and a recently pulled micropipette (tip diameter < 100 nm).

Samuel L. Zelinka

Materials Research Engineer
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: 608-231-9277


Current Research

For most materials, temperature is the most important environmental variable: properties like strength and electrical conductivity vary enormously depending on temperature. But in wood, moisture replaces temperature as the most important environmental variable. Moisture within the wood affects the mechanical properties of wood and can change physical properties such electrical conduction by as much as ten orders of magnitude (ten billion times). Many of the challenges of using wood as an engineering material (e.g. decay, corrosion of fasteners, and dimensional instability), arise from changes in the wood moisture content or an abundance of moisture within the wood.

Wood-moisture relations have been studied since the 1950's, and have thus far been characterized empirically. Our research interests focus on developing a mechanistic understanding of wood-moisture relations so that more durable wood products can be created.

Research Interests

  • Electrical properties of wood
  • Corrosion of metal fasteners in wood
  • Fundamental research on wood-moisture relations
  • Microfluidics

Why This Research is Important

Most "wood failures" are really "moisture failures".  Except in extreme events (earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc.), wood fails in service because (1) it is attacked by mold, decay fungi, or other wood-degrading organisms or (2) it is weakened by splitting/checking caused by dimensional instability through moisture cycles- neither of which happen if the wood remains dry. The ultimate goal of my research is a transformative change in the way people understand how wood absorbs moisture, resulting in completely new methods of wood protection

Education

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ph.D. , 2009
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, M.S. , 2006
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. , 2005

Professional Organizations

  • American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), Member (2008 - Current)
    Non-voting member of D07.
  • ASTM International, Member (2008 - Current)
    Voting member of G01 and the following Subcommittees: G01.05, G01.11, G01.14, G01.14.01
  • National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), Vice Chairman (2010 - 2012)
    Vice Chairman of STG 38.
  • National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), Member (2008 - 2012)
    Member of Specific Technology Groups (STG):02, 04, 28, 46, 60, 62, and Technology Exchange Groups (TEG) 097X, 189X, 232X, 311X, 428X

Awards & Recognition

  • Presidential Early Career Scientist Award (PECASE), 2011
    The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.
  • Forest Service Award for Early Career Scientists, 2011
    The award recognizes scientists who are at the beginning of their research careers and have demonstrated, through personal accomplishments, outstanding capability and exceptional promise for significant future achievement.
  • Greater Madison Federal Agency Association Federal Employee of the Year (technical), 2011
    This award recognizes an employee whose sustained performance has made the greatest impact in meeting and achieving the goals, mission and overall success of his/her organization.
  • Finalist- Hertz Fellowship, 2005
    The Graduate Fellowships of the Hertz Foundation are widely considered to be among the most prestigious offered anywhere. 70 finalists are selected from over 700 applicants.
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, 2004
    Widely considered the most eminent award in the U.S. conferred upon undergraduates studying the sciences, Goldwater Scholarships support study in the fields of mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences.

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Highlights

HighlightTitleYear


FPL-2010-005
A percolation model for water and electrical conduction in wood with implications for durability

Recently, researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory and University of Wisconsin have developed a new model of electrical conduction in wood ...

2010


FPL-2010-001
Centennial Edition, Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material

The Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material serves as a primary reference document for a wide variety of users-from the general publ ...

2010


FPL-2011-03
Corrosion of metals in wood

Corrosion data are necessary for the safe design and construction of wood decks and patios. Previous research was unable to calculate corrosion ...

2011


FPL-2013-141
Desk Reference on Fastener Corrosion Created for Engineers

Fastener corrosion is a design consideration when building exterior wood structures. Forest Products Laboratory researchers recently developed a ...

2013


FPL-2012-24
Water Freezing in Wood: How Low Can It Go

The freezing and melting of water in wood gives clues about how water bonds to wood during processes such as wood decay and fastener corrosion

2012


Last updated on : 12/08/2014