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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Joseph Jakes

Joseph Jakes

Research Materials Engineer
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
United States

Phone: 608-231-9308
Contact Joseph Jakes

Current Research

Our primary goal is to develop and implement experimental techniques for the study of material properties of micrometer-sized volumes of materials, such as modified wood cell walls. Much of our work has been focused around a technique called nanoindentation, which assesses mechanical properties from sub-micrometer volumes of materials. Major research objectives include:

  • Developing advanced nanoindentation protocols to probe cell walls in wood and other similarly-sized materials
  • Indentifying and coordinating complimentary experimental techniques, such as molecular-scale characterization techniques, to further increase the value of the nanoindentation results
  • Using the nanoindentation and complimentary characterizations to develop structure-property relationships that lead to better understanding and control of material properties
The original motivation for our work was to study wood cell wall modifications such as adhesive infiltration into cell walls, bulk chemical modifications, biological decay, genetic modifications, and changes in moisture content. However, our techniques and expertise are applicable to a wide variety of materials and have been used to study other materials including nanocellulose-based composites and bulk polymers.

Research Interests

  • Material structure-property relationships with an emphasis on mechanical behavior
  • Advanced nanoindentation techniques to assess mechanical behavior at micrometer length scales and below
  • Advanced chemical and structural material characterization techniques, especially techniques that probe at the micrometer length scale and below
  • Discovery and study of new wood-inspired material phenomena


  • University of Wisconsin at Madison, B.S. Chemical and Biological Engineering 2005
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison, M.S. Materials Science 2007
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ph.D. Materials Science 2010

Professional Experience

  • Associate Visiting Scientist, Engineering department - University of Wisconsin-Madison
    2011 - Current

Professional Organizations

  • Materials Research Society (MRS), Member
  • Forest Products Society (FPS), Member
  • Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST), Member

Awards & Recognition

  • Presidential Award for Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) , 2012
    For innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, and for exceptional potential to shape the future through intellectual and inspired leadership.
  • Research & Development Deputy Chief’s Early Career Scientist Award , 2012
    Annual award recognizing the top scientist in the Forest Servcie at the beginning of their research career and having demonstrated, through personal accomplishments, outstanding capability and exceptional promise for significant future achievement.
  • GMFAA Technical Employee of the Year , 2012
    Award given to top federal technical employee of the year in the greater Madison, WI area.
  • Forest Products Society 1st Place Wood Award, 2008
    Annual award given to top graduate student in forest products research by the Forest Products Society.
  • Adhesion Society Peebles Award for Graduate Research in Adhesion Science, 2008
    Award given to top graduate students in adhesion science fields.

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Advancing Understanding of Wood Damage Mechanisms

Forest Service researchers examined the diffusion of ions in wood using synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence microscopy. The researchers found ...


Developing tools to assess mechanical properties of wood cell walls

Nanoindentation is a tool capable of probing mechanical properties at the sub-micrometer level, such as in wood cell walls, individual component ...


Improving Moisture Durability of Forest Products Using Small-angle Neutron Scattering

Moisture is the underlying cause of numerous durability issues in forest products, including decay, lack of dimensional stability, and fastener ...


Mechanism for Diffusion through Wood Cell Walls

USDA Forest Service researchers discovered that diffusion occurs through unmodified wood cell walls via a solid polymer diffusion mechanism, whi ...


New Insight into Wood Damage Mechanisms

Wood fails because bad things start to happen when wood gets wet. Dimensional stability, mold growth, fungal attack, fastener corrosion, all are ...


Scientists study how water changes wood

Water causes a host of wood damage mechanisms such as mold, decay, fastener corrosion, and splitting. This research elucidates how water chan ...


Understanding how the organization and interactions of the atoms that compose wood control its mechanical properties

To expand the uses and efficient utilization of wood, Forest Service researchers strive to learn how manipulate its molecular-scale structure t ...


X-Ray Methods to Observe and Quantify Adhesive Penetration into Wood

To accelerate development of new and improved wood adhesives for engineered wood products, researchers are working to understand the optimal adh ...


Last updated on : 07/01/2020