Memorial Scholarship Honours Influential UBC Professor of Wood Science

On April 5 2016 Dr. David Barrett, UBC alumnus and Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Forestry, passed away after a valiant fight against cancer. In his memory, family members, friends and colleagues have established a scholarship for graduate students with an interest in wood science.

“In creating the scholarship, we wanted to honour Dave’s enormous contributions to wood science and the forest industry,” says Barry Ford, Marketing Director for Offshore Markets at Coast Forest Products Association, and a longtime friend. “We want to help students of a similar mind pursue their interests.”

Dave Barrett was a leader in wood mechanics and timber engineering. He graduated from UBC in 1965, and received a PhD in Wood Science at the University of California Berkeley. He joined UBC in 1984, became head of the Wood Science department in 1993, and played a major role in establishing the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing in 1996.

“When Dave joined UBC there really wasn’t the sophisticated wood science program there is today,” says Greg Wirtz, Dave’s stepson. “The body of research he undertook drew students to UBC from around the world.”

Frank Lam is the Senior Chair Professor of Wood Building Design and Construction in the Faculty of Forestry, and he worked closely with Dave over many years. “Dave made significant contributions in the field of wood science and timber engineering,” he says. “He helped shape the renewal of UBC’s Wood Science education. His research in the area of ingrade testing, stress volume effects and load duration effects had national and international impacts.”

Barry Ford cites Dave’s work on Canada Tsuga as an example of how he helped facilitate international trade. In the period after the massive earthquake in Kobe, Japan in 1995, Japanese building standards were raised and Canadian forest companies had to meet them.

“Dave helped the Japanese Ministry of Construction develop new test methods, and helped Canadian forest companies meet the new standards,” Barry says. “He was very adept at understanding the timber industry, and he was able to match wood science and research to the needs of the marketplace.”

Greg Wirtz agrees. “Dave was an academic, but a practical one. He worked closely with a lot of local and regional forest product companies to develop standards for our lumber that are compatible with international requirements,” he says.

The Dr. J. David Barrett Memorial Scholarship in Wood Science is available to outstanding graduate students with preference for those with a demonstrated interest in timber engineering and/or wood science. The inaugural award went to P.K.M. Moniruzzaman, a PhD candidate whose research focuses on the stability of cross-laminated timber wall systems. P.K. received an MSc in Civil Engineering from UBC Okanagan and a BSc in Civil Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. P.K. has received three previous student awards from UBC.

Greg, Barry and Frank welcome interested alumni and friends to contribute to this scholarship fund in tribute to Dave’s influential legacy in wood science and his deep love of forests and the outdoors. Contributions can be made at