2012 Research Award Honors Forestry Professor Andrew Storer

Professor Andrew Storer (SFRES) is an entomologist by training, but according to enthusiastic professional colleagues, the professor who shared the University’s 2012 Research Award with Professor Robert Nemiroff (Physics) is so much more.

“In my 30-year career, I have rarely found one professor’s scholarly endeavor to be as connected, focused and relevant as Dr. Storer’s,” said Frank J. Sapio, director of the US Forest Service’s Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team. “As natural resource managers, we are better off because of the tools that Dr. Storer’s work has led to.”

Storer, who has been on the faculty of Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science since 2001, is best known for his research on the spread and management of the emerald ash borer that is threatening ash trees in Michigan and surrounding states. But he also studies a wide variety of insects and insect-borne tree diseases such as beech bark disease, pitch canker disease, and mahogany shoot borer, as well as invasive plants.  

“Most of our work seeks to evaluate the causes and effects of declines in forest health,” Storer explains. “Our overall goal is to have sufficient understanding of these systems to be able to develop and test management tools to reduce the long-term negative impacts of the declines in forest health that they cause.”

When the emerald ash borer first appeared in Michigan in 2002—long before the first beetle appeared in the Keweenaw—Storer immediately volunteered his expertise to the state’s Department of Natural Resources and the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. “Without the research results provided by Dr. Storer, our ability to cope with the emerald ash borer outbreak in the Lake States would have been severely compromised,” said Joseph G. O’Brien, a plant pathologist with the US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station.

Storer’s work has focused on assessing the effects of management practices on ash tree mortality caused by the emerald ash borer. With US Forest Service and State of Michigan funding for the Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) project, Storer, his colleagues and students have been assessing the effectiveness of management tools such as biological control, insecticide injections and attracting beetles to groups of trap trees that are stressed by girdling. They are also investigating the characteristics of ash trees in southeast Michigan that appear to be tolerant or resistant to emerald ash borer and developing improved techniques of spotting the presence of the beetle in new areas.

Although the emerald ash borer research could keep him busy full-time, Storer also is re-measuring beech bark disease plots throughout Michigan that were established in 2001-2003. “This enables us to evaluate the impacts of the exotic beech bark disease complex that is devastating beech resources in many parts of the state, and to identify potentially resistant trees that could be used in reforestation efforts in the future,” he said.

Storer’s research team is also investigating the potential causes of increased sugar maple dieback in the western UP and neighboring states. They have established long term monitoring plots for annual data collection.

In his research overseas, “We continue to look at forest management practices for growing mahogany in Ghana,” Storer said. Plantations of mahogany have generally failed in the past due to the mahogany shoot borer—a moth that destroys the newly growing shoots of young trees. “By selecting trees that are tolerant of damage caused by this insect and growing them under the right conditions, we hope to be able to develop mahogany as a plantation tree, thus reducing the exploitation of mahogany in natural forests,” he explained.

SFRES Dean Peg Gale nominated Storer for the 2012 Research Award. “Professor Storer is an internationally recognized expert in the field of entomology who has a very large influence on the science of invasive species as it relates to insects and diseases,” she said. “His influence on the next generation of scientists has been huge, and his contribution to his profession and the science of insects, diseases and invasive species deserves to be recognized.”

Director of Michigan Tech’s Honors Institute and director of graduate studies in SFRES, Storer has been recognized in the past for his teaching and mentoring. He won the University’s Graduate Mentor Award in 2004 and 2009 and the SFRES Teaching Award in 2003 and 2006.

He earned a BA and MA from St. Anne’s College at the University of Oxford, England,  and a PhD in Forest Entomology from the University of Oxford.

“It is an honor to be selected for the Research Award,” Storer said. “I thank Dean Peg Gale and my colleagues for their support and collaboration, the committee for selecting me, and all of the undergraduate and graduate students and other researchers who work in our group on a range of forest health issues.“

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.