Dec. 6, 2019
Division of Agriculture, UAM forestry professor wins research award
By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
- UAM professor honored for forestry research
- Babst focuses on biochemistry of forest ecosystems
MONTICELLO, Ark. — Benjamin Babst, an assistant professor with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture based in Monticello, has been honored with the 2019 Ouachita Society of American Foresters award for forestry research.
Babst’s research focuses on the biochemistry of forest ecosystems and how they respond to management practices. He began his research two decades ago and has continued his research at the University of Arkansas at Monticello for the past five years. Babst is part of the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty.
Trees face constant change and Babst said the goal of his research is to understand how trees react when their environment changes.
“Trees are very responsive to what is happening around them,” he said. “They change what they are doing in response to environmental cues. For example, when insects attack, trees can often sense the attack and produce biochemicals that are toxic or taste bad to protect themselves.
In flood, trees find themselves deprived of oxygen and “some species are badly damaged,” Babst said. “Although we don’t know all of the details, other tree species can tolerate flooding by changing how they function, such as altering their metabolism.
“Locally, most trees are dormant, or inactive, during winter. Some oak species appear to have some ability to tolerate flooding when they are dormant, but when trees begin to become active and grow in the spring, stresses like flooding can cause damage,” he said.
Babst is currently working on a study to help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission “know when to flood their manmade green tree reservoirs without harming the forests,” he said.
Babst says he doesn’t do his research alone.
“Many students have contributed to my research projects,” he said. “Richard Sample, a recent M.S. graduate, helped pioneer my research about flood effects on trees. Jimmy Cook just completed another study showing how several important oak species respond to winter flooding that extends into spring.”
Babst accepted the award Nov. 21, at the organization’s state meeting held at Mount Magazine in the Ouachita National Forest.
The award recognizes distinguished research in forestry and disciplines allied to forestry and forest resource management that has resulted in substantial advances in the knowledge and practice of forestry at any level.
“Dr. Babst is very deserving of this award,” said Phil Tappe, director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center for the Division of Agriculture and dean of the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources at UAM. “He has dedicated his career to furthering our understanding of tree physiology and translating that knowledge to applied forest management. This award is a testament to his years of commitment and passion.”
UAM Professor and Associate Dean of Academics, Robert Ficklin nominated Babst for the award. In his nomination letter, Ficklin said the “nature of this exciting work in tree ecophysiology is both basic and applied, and better-informed forest management practices will be possible because of his efforts.”
The Arkansas Forest Resources Center, part of the Division of Agriculture, houses forestry and wildlife extension and research faculty across the state. The center and UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources are a University of Arkansas System Center of Excellence.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
About the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources
The mission of the University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources is to nurture the intellectual and personal development of students, enlarge the body of knowledge in forestry, agriculture, and natural resource management, disseminate new ideas and technology, and promote the use of creative, science-based solutions that enhance the quality of life of people and communities.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your county extension office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture