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Nicole M. Stark

Nicole M. Stark
Research Chemical Engineer
Forest Biopolymer Science and Engineering
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
United States
Current Research
Dr. Nicole Stark's research focuses on the durability of wood-plastic composites from polymers and wood-derived. Nicole is interested in characterizing fundamental changes in surface chemistry and morphology that occur during weathering, and uses innovative processing techniques and treatments to improve weathering performance. Her research also includes incorporating alternative raw materials such as biopolymers, low-value woody biomass, and biorefinery residuals into high-value composites.

Research Interest
  • Composites from wood or other natural fibers and plastics
  • Coating wood composites for improved durability
  • Chemical modification and pre-treatment of wood fibers for enhanced composite durability
  • Changes in surface chemistry of wood-plastic composites during photodegradation
  • Moisture performance and fire performance of wood-plastic composites
  • Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, Ph.D., Forest Science,
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, M.S., Mechanical Engineering,
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, B.S., Chemical Engineering,
Professional Organizations
  • Board Member,  Forest Products Society (FPS),  2013 - Current
  • Member,  Society of Plastics Engineers,  2004 - Current
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Evaluation of Various Fire Retardants for Use in Wood Flour/Polyethylene Composites

Year: 2010
Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) represent a class of materials increasingly used in residential construction and furniture-making. The fire performance of WPCs is not well understood, however, and there is little information regarding the effectiveness of various fire retardants in the public domain....

Wood-Plastic Composites Improved with Fiber Pre-Treatment

Year: 2013
Scientists determine the dimensional stability of wood-plastic composites can be improved by treating wood sawdust and particles derived from beetle-killed trees with potassium methyl siliconate before incorporating the wood into high-density polyethylene.

New Drying Process Gives Black Locust Wood Exotic Appearance

Year: 2012
Heat treatment that prevents discoloration increases uses of this fast growing wood

Wood Flour Extraction Improves Moisture Performance of Wood-Plastic Composites

Year: 2014
Improving the moisture performance of wood-plastic composites provides a potential avenue toward improving the product's overall durability. Forest Service scientists evaluated methods for pre-treating the wood flour before incorporation into the plastic matrix as a strategy to improve composite per...

Renewable, Biodegradable Polylactic Acid-Cellulose Nanocrystal Composites for Packaging Applications

Year: 2016
Packaging research conducted at the Forest Products Laboratory is aimed at developing fully biobased composites containing cellulose nanomaterials for packaging applications. Cellulose nanomaterials exhibit a number of interesting properties and have been demonstrated to improve the barrier performa...

Improving biopolymers for packaging applications using surface-tailored cellulose nanocrystals

Year: 2017
Demand is rapidly increasing for environmentally friendly packaging materials that are derived from renewable resources and are biodegradable, but many of these “green” polymers do not perform as well as traditional, fossil fuel-derived polymers. By adding tailored cellulose nanocrystals, which are ...

Modifying Cellulose Nanomaterials for Wet Compounding into Polylactic Acid

Year: 2018
Cellulose nanomaterials (CNMs) have been demonstrated to significantly improve various properties, including mechanical and barrier performance, of polymer composites, but one of the major impediments for producing these cellulose nanocomposites is the profound challenge of drying the nanomaterials ...

Wet Compounding of Cellulose Nanomaterials into Biodegradable Polymers

Year: 2019
Research at the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory has shown that cellulose nanomaterials can improve the barrier properties of polymer films, and such improvements can lead to an increased shelf-life for food. But compounding cellulose nanomaterials into thermoplastic polymers presents ...

Centennial Edition, Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material

Year: 2010
The Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material serves as a primary reference document for a wide variety of users-from the general public through architects and design engineers who use wood in highly engineered structures.