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I am Adam Taylor and I have been a member for … a while, since my undergraduate days at the University of Toronto. My first IRG conference was Whistler, where I remember the Canadian Olympic Cooking Team (or something like that) serving us a meal and, as a student, having to assist with slide carousels (!) for the speakers. A speaker who’s slides I had (I have forgotten who and won’t try to remember) berated me during his presentation because some of his slides were upside down (as if I had anything to do with that). But that didn’t discourage me from joining IRG and enjoying the company of so many nice people.
As a kid, I jumped back and forth between the USA and Canada and ended up going to the University of Toronto to study biology. My heart wasn’t in it, and I dropped out after a couple years to visit Europe (including visiting Yugoslavia – Kosovo had an unsettling feeling, as if something important was going to happen…) and to live in Mexico. I have a few stories about Mexico if you want to ask me sometime.
I planted trees in Canada to finance my travels, and this experience suggested that forestry was the profession for me: earn a living being outside. So, I attended the University of Toronto’s Forestry School – the first such school in Canada – and became a member of its last graduating class, as the program was closed due to accounting wisdom. My forestry studies required me to take a few wood-science classes, some of which were taught by Paul Cooper. His teaching changed my life, and I switched to the wood science major and learned to love science, and wood durability and protection science in particular. But so much for working outside. I had a great summer job working for Craig Wilson of (then) Timber Specialties, travelling around to treating plants all over Canada. At the University of Toronto, I also met my future wife Stephanie, who has stuck it out for 28 years and counting.
I followed Paul Cooper to the University of New Brunswick, in the eastern reaches of Canada. He had departed for UNB a year before I graduated from the Toronto, and he went back to Toronto the year before I finished my Master’s degree – I didn’t seem to take the hint! I then went to the opposite side of North America, to study under Jeff Morrell at Oregon State University. Jeff let me choose what I wanted to study, which ended up being the relationship of tree growth to natural durability.
After graduation, I almost went back to Canada, to work with Jeff’s evil twin Paul Morris at (then) Forintek. But Stephanie and I chose to remain in the USA, so that she could finish the arduous process of getting US citizenship. We took the only other option available and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, a place with a bad reputation, where I took a job at the University of Tennessee doing Extension, a role I had never heard of. Eighteen years on, I realize it was a lucky break. Knoxville is nice (as I hope you will discover in 2024) and Extension suits me well: lots of variety and freedom. My career here also has been helped along immeasurably by the encouragement and assistance of Nisus’ Jeff Lloyd, who now owes me $10 for saying so.
Currently I am working on adding preservatives to CLT and looking forward to spending 6 months in Finland starting in January 2023, where I’ll be thinking about carbon dynamics of forests and their wood products.
I used to have hobbies, for example brewing beer, hiking, and renovating my house. But now I just spend my time with my three children and (many more than three) pets, cooking on one of my four wood-burning appliances (oven/pit/grill/smoker) and floating on my boat.
I enjoy my membership in IRG. Among many benefits, it has provided me with the opportunity for many visits and visitors, which have enriched my life. I look forward to welcoming many of you for a visit to Knoxville in 2024!
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This bio was written for the September 2022 IRG newsletter.