Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis

Principal Research Fellow, Forest Products Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University

Beltane fellow: 1 March 2011 – 30 Aug 2011

Dan is a civil engineer by training, who now specialises, primarily, in the mechanical performance of timber for structural engineering and timber grading.  In addition to this, he has undertaken several initiatives concerned with addressing the training and HR needs of the Scottish forest and timber industries including gender equality.

In his position at the Forest Products Research Institute (FPRI) ‐ a multi‐discipline research unit within Edinburgh Napier University – he undertakes research, consultancy and knowledge transfer as well as project management, student supervision, provision of CPD for practitioners and science communication to the public.  His previous engagement projects have including the investigation of public opinion and perceptions of forestry and timber, and, in particular, communicating with school children.  He is involved in a number of regular public engagement activities, such as the schools construction challenge, as well as one-off projects such as the Beltane Challenges “Wood Biomechanics in 3D” and “The Chemistry of Autumn”.  He was also one of the first performers for Bright Club Edinburgh and is heavily involved in its ongoing organisation.

Dan’s Fellowship is titled “Photography for Forests”. To coincide with the UN has declaring 2011 as the “International Year of Forests” to raise awareness of sustainable management and conservation of all types of forest., and to help raise public awareness of these issues in the UK, he proposed holding two related photography competitions. The aim being to encourage people to visit forests, and to help to publicise good existing sources of information (e.g. forest education initiative, forestry commission, and the woodland trust).  The idea was to create one competition for the general public, with the topic “what the forest means to me” grouped into a number of themes related to science (e.g. biodiversity, resources, energy, biology) – and another, ostensibly for people who work in the forest industries, for portraits of the people who work with trees and wood in jobs that use science and engineering; the objective being to widen the public awareness of the science‐based jobs in forestry and timber production, and to challenge stereotypes (including those around gender).  The Fellowship will work to raise public awareness of forests and their role in the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the UK, as well as improving the public understanding of sustainable forestry to have better informed consumers in the future. The fellowship will stimulate discussion around issues such as climate change, carbon sequestration, renewable materials, bioenergy, ecology and the role of the public and private sector in forest management.


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