Pro­fes­sor Philip Evans heads Na­tional Cen­tre for Tim­ber

Australasian Timber - - NEWS -

A LEAD­ING re­searcher from the world’s largest univer­sity wood and forestry pro­gram is to be ap­pointed as Foun­da­tion Fel­low for Aus­tralia’s Na­tional Cen­tre for Tim­ber Dura­bil­ity and De­sign Life.

Pro­fes­sor Philip Evans will take on the po­si­tion while main­tain­ing an on­go­ing role as BC Lead­er­ship Chair in the Fac­ulty of Forestry at Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia – an ar­range­ment which en­ables con­tin­ual knowl­edge shar­ing and ac­cess to mul­ti­ple sources of re­search fund­ing.

A strate­gic ini­tia­tive of the in­dus­try group For­est & Wood Prod­ucts Aus­tralia (FWPA), the Cen­tre is a part­ner­ship be­tween in­dus­try, academia and gov­ern­ment. It was launched late last year and is based at the Univer­sity of the Sun­shine Coast.

The Cen­tre is de­signed to put Aus­tralia at the fore­front of in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice, and use an ev­i­dence-based ap­proach to en­sure de­sign guides and stan­dards re­main world class in the light of cli­mate change, new en­gi­neered tim­bers and changes in build­ing de­sign.

“As Foun­da­tion Fel­low, I’m there to es­tab­lish the Cen­tre and set the ini­tial re­search di­rec­tion, which will be handed over within five years or so to a new gen­er­a­tion that we will train,” he said.

“If you look around the in­dus­try, we’re not get­ting any younger. It’s es­sen­tial we train tal­ented young peo­ple in the field – the value of that to this in­dus­try is im­mense.

“Through a net­work that the Cen­tre will es­tab­lish, we will have ac­cess to some of the bright­est minds in the best uni­ver­si­ties in Aus­tralia and around the world. This Cen­tre is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence and ap­ply the knowl­edge I have gained over the last 33 years.”

The Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of FWPA, Ric Sin­clair, said Pro­fes­sor Philip Evans was a per­fect fit for the role.

“Phil is heav­ily en­gaged with in­dus­try, and is a world-class op­er­a­tor, with ex­pe­ri­ence in the UK, North Amer­ica and Aus­tralia,” he said.

“Phil worked at The ANU be­tween 1985 and 2001 and is still an Hon­orary Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Ap­plied Math­e­mat­ics at the ANU. He is an Aus­tralian cit­i­zen and knows the Aus­tralian in­dus­try very well. Many of his for­mer stu­dents went on to become to­day’s in­dus­try lead­ers.”

Ric said the Cen­tre would ini­tially fo­cus its ef­forts on the de­vel­op­ment of ev­i­dence-based data, sys­tems and tools to un­der­pin con­sumer con­fi­dence in the per­for­mance of tim­ber prod­ucts.

Over time, the Cen­tre would also cre­ate worldlead­ing pre­dic­tive mod­els to en­able ar­chi­tects and build­ing spec­i­fiers to more eas­ily choose the ap­pro­pri­ate tim­ber prod­ucts for spe­cific end uses and tasks, he said.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­dus­try, Pro­fes­sor Evans has been in­volved in the cre­ation of many prod­ucts, most re­cently novel com­pos­ite wood floor­ing that does not swell at the edges when ex­posed to water.

“It’s im­por­tant to meet the needs of academia while at the same time pro­duc­ing out­puts that in­dus­try can use, whether that’s in terms of re­duc­ing costs or new prod­ucts,” said Philip, whose aca­demic work mainly fo­cuses on the sur­face prop­er­ties of wood.

“My work has demon­strated that what we do in the lab is only about ten per cent of what is re­quired to take a wood prod­uct to mar­ket. In­dus­try is a cru­cial part­ner in the in­no­va­tion land­scape, and it’s a good omen that Aus­tralia’s tim­ber in­dus­try is firmly be­hind the Na­tional Cen­tre for Tim­ber Dura­bil­ity and De­sign Life”.

Many of the chal­lenges fac­ing the in­dus­try were global, he said, in­clud­ing the loss of tra­di­tional preser­va­tives and the use of more com­plex dura­bil­ity sys­tems, against a back­drop of in­creas­ing reg­u­la­tory com­plex­ity.

The Cen­tre’s found­ing part­ners in­clude the Univer­sity of Queens­land and the Queens­land Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries, how­ever, its work will be na­tional and in­ter­na­tional in scope.

■ Pro­fes­sor Philip Evans to head Na­tional Cen­tre for Tim­ber Dura­bil­ity and De­sign Life.

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