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Stellenbosch student boasts world’s best PhD thesis in Wood Science for 2022

The International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS) recently announced that Dr Adefemi Alade, who completed his PhD in Wood Science at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2022, had won their coveted annual doctoral award.

The award recognises outstanding dissertation research at doctoral level by students globally. Adefemi was supervised by Profs Brand Wessels and Luvuyo Tyhoda from SU’s Department of Forest and Wood Science. His dissertation examined the effect of durability treatment on adhesive bonding of Eucalyptus grandis wood.

The use of new engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) has increased exponentially in the developed world over the past few years. However, the adoption of these materials as building elements proves problematic in some parts of the world where wood bio-deterioration is a concern. CLT members cannot be treated after production because of dimensional constraints of treatment facilities. Treatment of lamellas before gluing is most effective, but poses technical problems relating to adhesion in the glue line.

In his study of potential treatment options and adhesive systems to manufacture durable CLT components from the wood of the Eucalyptus grandis, Adefemi identified viable and greener process pathways that could be readily adopted by industry. His study results were accepted for publication in various scientific journals. He has since taken up a position as postdoctoral fellow at the University of Idaho, United States.

The first and second runners-up for the IAWS award were Drs Lu Yu (University of Tennessee, United States) and Ondrej Dvoracek (Graz University of Technology, Austria) respectively.

* For more on Adefemi’s thesis, consult the IAWS website at

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