Tara L. Bal

Tara L. Bal


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  • Assistant Professor, Forest Health
  • Master of Forestry Degree Program Director
  • Wood Protection Group, Microbiology/Pathology Lab Leader
  • Certified Forester, Society of American Foresters
  • PhD, Forest Science, Michigan Technological University
  • M.S. Forest Ecology and Management, Michigan Technological University
  • B.S. in Forestry, Purdue University


My research, which focuses on forest health, and its biotic and abiotic influencing factors, helps provide scientific foundation for management policies and the ecological response to changes in forest health conditions.  Influencing factors I have studied include forest entomology, pathology, invasive species ecology, climate, nutrients, and anthropogenic  impacts.  Forest Health is a key driver of management in many forested systems and is becoming the main focus for managers more often as new diseases, pests and plants are introduced in our global economy.

Innovative research and monitoring of forest conditions are vitally important to the sustainability and diversity of our forests, but I also believe that well educated students and an informed public will do more for this than what research I could ever carry out. Besides, being outside and seeing people's amazed reactions to earthworms evading a mustard solution or aquatic insects coming up in a net is just great fun!

In addition to teaching and research, I'm also an advisor to the Master of Forestry students.  My goal is to prepare students to be professionals across a range of forestry fields.  Mentorship, networking, communication, and other professional skills are emphasized in addition to students coursework. 

Teaching Interests

  • Forest Health
  • Insect Ecology
  • Maple Syrup Culture & Management
  • Natural Resources Communication
  • Vegetation and Pathology

Areas of Expertise

  • Forest Health Management and Monitoring
  • Earthworm Invasion Ecology
  • Wood Decay Testing
  • Insect, Fungi, and Environmental Education
  • Forest Education, Diversity and Inclusion in Forestry and Natural Resources