David’s research on syrup production has both applied- and basic-science components. One of his projects focuses on developing best management practices for harvesting sap and producing syrup from a wide range of deciduous, woody angiosperms other than maples, birches, and walnuts. Another focuses on making sap harvesting more efficient by developing tapping methods that maximize sap yields while minimizing tap hole size. To address these practical research objectives, an in-depth knowledge of tree anatomy and physiology is required. Consequently, these projects will also determine the environmental drivers of sap flow and sap pressurization in different species, how wood anatomy and physiology respond to these environmental factors to cause sap flow and sap pressurization, how different species compartmentalize tap hole wounds, and how whole-tree carbohydrate storage is affected by tapping.
Prior to graduate school, David ran The Crooked Chimney in Lee, New Hampshire, for several years, where he produced birch and sycamore syrup commercially. His experiences in the syrup industry have been instrumental in informing his research. David’s work as a producer and as a scientist has been featured in The Sugarmaker’s Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup From Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees by Michael Farrell, Northern Woodlands, the Associated Press, the New Hampshire Union Leader, Living on Earth, New Hampshire Public Radio, From the Forest, INSPIRED, UNH Today, and Science Friday.
Under the guidance of Karl Guillard, David studied carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling in the soil under cool-season turfgrass ecosystems at the University of Connecticut for his MS. Currently, N fertilization of cool-season turfgrass lawns is done at a set rate, regardless of soil N mineralization potentials; if soil N mineralization potentials can be accurately predicted by soil tests, it is likely that N fertilization requirements can be predicted more accurately, and in areas where N mineralization potential is high, N fertilizer inputs can be reduced without compromising turfgrass performance. The Solvita® Soil CO2-Burst and the Solvita® Labile Amino-Nitrogen soil tests were evaluated for their potential to predict turfgrass performance and for their potential to predict the probability of turfgrass responding to additional N fertilization.
Before graduate school, David worked on a variety of farms, nurseries, and landscaping crews.