Michael Wolcott, Ph.D.
Regents Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Louisiana-Pacific Distinguished Professor of Wood Materials and Engineering
Director, Institute for Sustainable Design
Your home or community may already be designed and constructed using advanced materials Michael Wolcott has been developing. As director of the Institute for Sustainable Design at WSU, he is at the forefront of new approaches to natural fiber composites and biopolymers—his specialty—to produce a broader range of durable, earth-friendly products which promise even better performance.
“As you move forward in your career,” he says, “you’ve got to look at some of these broader issues.”
And so he does. Today Dr. Wolcott is known for providing vision and encouraging new methodologies that have moved sustainable building products forward in fresh directions. He advocates a more holistic approach through the Institute for Sustainable Design, expanding the scope and enhancing the vision of the industry.
Dr. Wolcott is actually a founding member and was the first director of the Institute, which he helped organize in 2008 with several other professors who pooled their experiences in developing green buildings and materials. He also served as principal investigator and project manager for five research contracts from the Office of Naval Research—each aimed at producing sustainable infrastructure materials that perform better while helping the environment.
Dr. Wolcott's research is published in nearly 100 manuscripts, and he regularly presents his work at international conferences. He has served as principal investigator on over 40 academic research projects and managed over 75 industrial product research and development projects with more than 30 companies.
It’s no surprise Dr. Wolcott has received numerous honors for his innovation—including two George Marra Awards for excellence in wood research, the Wood Award for excellence in graduate research, and the Cahn Award for applied surface science research. He was named a fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science in 2012, received a Career Achievement Award in 2009 from Virginia Tech, and at WSU was voted Outstanding Research Faculty (twice) and Outstanding Teaching Faculty, and also received the Anjan Bose Outstanding Researcher Award. In 1997 he was chosen for a Louisiana-Pacific Endowed Professorship of Wood Materials and Engineering.
Before coming to WSU in 1996, Dr. Wolcott served as assistant professor of wood science at West Virginia University. From 1985 to 1989 he was a teaching assistant while working on research and his graduate project.
In addition to research, Dr. Wolcott teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering—including the new Integrated Design Experience (IDeX). This course allies a variety of disciplines, from construction management and architecture to agriculture, to develop sustainable design projects. He’s always looking to inspire a new generation of students.
“I’m a real believer in the land-grant system,” he says. “The best measure of impact and success is when you drive your research into the world outside of academia, but then you bring those experiences back into the classroom to provide a better experience for students. My goals have always been towards this end.”
Dr. Wolcott earned his doctorate in Materials Engineering Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, his master’s degree in Forestry from the University of Maine, and his bachelor’s in Wood Science, also from the University of Maine.