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Susan Day honored with top arboriculture research award

September 12, 2017

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Susan Day

Susan Day, associate professor of urban forestry in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, is this year’s recipient of the International Society of Arboriculture’s L.C. Chadwick Award of Arboricultural Research. This award of distinction is given to individuals to recognize their investigation and analysis and its valuable contribution to arboriculture.

The International Society of Arboriculture, with more than 30,000 members worldwide, supports tree care research and education around the world and offers the only internationally recognized certification program in the industry.

Day serves on the faculty of the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and has a joint appointment in the College of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Horticulture. Her research focuses on finding practical information to improve tree health and canopy cover in urban environments.

“Dr. Day’s research helps urban forest managers, communities, and the public have a better understanding about trees,” said Michelle Mitchell, board president of the International Society of Arboriculture. “She has published a multitude of publications and papers focused on soil management and the health of urban trees.”

With a long-standing interest in soil compaction, Day has most recently published a suite of papers, articles, and materials relating to Soil Profile Rebuilding, a technique for rehabilitating soils degraded by land development.

“Arborists and urban foresters have a difficult time dealing with soil compaction because it’s not easy to communicate how it can impact trees, and it’s a challenging problem to fix,” Day explained. “I look at the soil and think if we can manage it well, we will create better opportunities for the urban forest.”

Day also helped develop the soil credits for the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), the nation’s most comprehensive system for rating the sustainable design, construction, and maintenance of built landscapes. Modeled after the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, SITES includes best practices in landscape architecture, ecological restoration, and related fields, as well as knowledge gained through peer-reviewed literature, case-study precedents, and more than 100 pilot projects.

The L.C. Chadwick Award is named in honor of a horticulture researcher and professor who helped organize the International Shade Tree Conference, which later became the International Society of Arboriculture. “We all benefit from L.C. Chadwick’s legacy today. I applaud his ability to ‘think big’ and imagine a future that builds upon past achievements in arboriculture,” said Day, who received the society’s Early Career Scientist Award in 2010.

Day earned her bachelor’s degree at Yale University, her master’s at Cornell University, and her doctorate at Virginia Tech.

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