Ray Guries, emeritus professor in the UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, is the newest member of the Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame. His induction took place on Sept. 12 during a ceremony at the Wisconsin Society of American Foresters annual meeting.
The Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame was founded in 1984 by a group of public and private forestry organizations to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the practice and progress of forestry in Wisconsin. The honor recognizes Guries’ substantial contributions to teaching, student advising and research in forest genetics and tree breeding.
Guries’ research program included managing the Wisconsin Tree Improvement Program in concert with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to ensure the state’s tree planting program used the best adapted and most productive seed available. Results of his work with red pine, jack pine, eastern white pine, black walnut and other species have been published in regional tree improvement conference proceedings and have formed the basis for current progeny tests and seed orchard development in Wisconsin.
Guries is also respected for his work on the selection and breeding of Dutch elm disease resistant elms. The elm breeding program at UW-Madison was initiated in 1957 by the late Eugene Smalley and grew significantly with Guries’ arrival. Many acres of new elm trials were established in the 1980s and 1990s, and several plant patents were issued for Dutch elm disease resistant elms. The “New Horizon” elm, one of Smalley and Guries’ selections, is among the most commonly planted boulevard trees in Wisconsin. Interest in the Dutch elm disease program also spread to Europe, where several of Guries’ disease-resistant selections are marketed.
In addition to his research, Guries was always deeply engaged in forestry education, including public outreach and formal instruction at UW-Madison. He taught a course for undergraduates and several graduate-level courses, and he was also involved in leading a 10-day field trip for students to visit forest industries in other states.
Over the course of his 34 years with UW-Madison, Guries served as an academic advisor for hundreds of students. He was the faculty advisor for the Forestry Club, UW-Madison’s student chapter of the Society of American Foresters. Guries also served as major advisor to 35 master’s students and 13 doctoral candidates, and he served on mentoring committees for an additional 200 graduate students.
“His counsel and desire to create opportunities for students had no limits. He always gave his time freely to help a student succeed,” said Brian Beisel, who received his forestry degree in 1981.
Guries took on various leadership roles, including chair of his department from 2002-2009 and interim vice-dean and associate dean for research for the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from 2009-2011. He is a long-time member of several forestry and conservation associations, and his teaching and research have been recognized over the years with several awards.
“Ray is remarkable for his commitment to teaching and advising,” said Scott Bowe, a fellow professor of forest and wildlife ecology. “The same can be said about his commitment to faculty and staff, and his years of service to the UW. This is a well-deserved honor.”