Jesse Randall has been named director of Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch’s Forest Biomass Innovation Center in Escanaba.
Randall succeeds Ray Miller, who retired after a 40-year career in forestry.
As director, Randall is charged with providing leadership for research initiatives that aim to increase timber yields and sustainability while reducing costs of production. His appointment also includes outreach through MSU Extension.
Michigan is home to 20 million acres of forest land. The forest product industry provides more than 96,000 jobs and pumps $20 billion into the state’s economy, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Randall is expected to build on this strong foundation.
“A hallmark of MSU is strategically pairing research with outreach, and Jesse brings a great blend of those two important aspects of our operation,” said Doug Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch. “We have a long research history in the Upper Peninsula, and we understand the value of the forest resource to Michigan’s economy. I’m confident that Jesse’s skills and experience will lead us into the future.”
Randall, who assumed the director role in April 2018, returns to MSU after more than a decade at Iowa State University. He earned a doctoral degree from the MSU Department of Forestry.
In Iowa, Randall worked as an associate professor and forestry extension specialist. His research and outreach efforts included the implementation of healthy forest management practices that promote sustainability of the timber industry, as well as Christmas tree fertilization in the Midwest.
He also diversified programming offered in forestry extension, in addition to adapting new technology for faster delivery of information to a much broader audience.
“My short-term goal is to reach out and meet with as many U.P. partners as possible across a broad swath of forestry and forestry-related industries,” Randall said. “I also plan to spend time on the MSU campus to interact with the Department of Forestry and build a clearer picture of the expertise and interests of faculty to more effectively pair them with stakeholder-identified needs. I view part of this position as a conduit between local U.P. stakeholders and campus.”
Established in 1986 in Escanaba, the Forest Biomass Innovation Center — one of three MSU AgBioResearch facilities located in the Upper Peninsula — encompasses 1,745 acres. The mission is to increase sustainable use of wood and expand the bioeconomy of Michigan.