Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2023 Recipient – Samuel Opoku

During my master’s degree program, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana under the supervision of Prof. Emmanuel Opuni-Frimpong. There, I worked on Clean Development Mechanism and Mahogany projects, funded by International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). The passion and zeal I demonstrated in the research activities made me realize I had an interest in a long-term career in ecological and forestry research. Though I joined the forestry industry upon obtaining my master’s degree, I always had my mind and heart fixed on returning to a research environment to contribute to finding solutions to numerous ecological challenges faced as a society.

It was, therefore, refreshing when I was awarded a graduate scholarship to study PhD in Forest Science at Michigan Technological University under the advisement of Dr. Andrew J. Burton. Since joining MTU, I have been working on the Face Wood Decomposition Experiment (FWDE) project funded by NSF, where logs of trembling aspen, paper birch, and loblolly pine with distinct isotopic signatures were deployed across nine diverse forest sites of the conterminous United States to monitor wood decomposition and carbon transfer to soil. On this project, I have worked to improve our understanding of terrestrial carbon cycling by analyzing soils collected beneath the decomposing logs and quantified the proportions of the logs’ carbon moved into soil carbon pools. I have also examined the mechanisms (e.g., site, log species type, and termites) that drive the logs’ carbon incorporation into soil pools. For the first time, my doctoral research is providing this important information critical to advancing terrestrial carbon modeling and as well improve soil carbon sequestration management options in response to management practices and climate-related impacts.

I sincerely thank my advisor Dr. Andrew J. Burton, who has been unrelenting in his support and guidance throughout my PhD journey. My sincere gratitude to my committee members and the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science for their support throughout my stay in the program. I am also grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel, the Dean and the Graduate school for awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. The Fellowship would let me stay focused on completing my PhD dissertation during the coming summer

One response to “Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2023 Recipient – Samuel Opoku

  1. I’m interested in your research and how it may relate to a housing development. I live on Austin Lake, Portage, MI. The properties behind us are in the planning commission stage with 174 houses, 54 town houses,and 374 apartment units. Parts of this land are wet lands and the rest is natural with trees both fallen and live, grasses, wild flowers, and wild life. All may be gone. If you can, could you send me information that might help my community better understand saving this environment. If possible, at a level we will be able to present to a board that does not have your expertise.
    Thank you for your consideration.
    Beth Kalleward

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