My name is Austin Garren, and I am a PhD student at Virginia Tech in the Forestry program. I was born and raised in Hooper’s Creek, North Carolina, which is about 30 minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina. My family has lived in the same area of Western North Carolina (WNC) for well over 200 years, and I am proud to call that area my home. After I graduated high school, I moved to Cullowhee, NC and attended Western Carolina University for my undergraduate program. I graduated with honors from Western with my Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship and a Cognate in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. From there, I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia and attended Virginia Tech, earning my Master’s of Forestry. My research during my master’s degree was focused on the soil impacts resulting from using a tethered (or cable-assisted) forwarder on steep slopes ranging from 50-80% in Brazil. I am now currently working on my PhD in Forestry. My current research is on the productivity, costs, environmental impacts, and characteristics of operations harvesting logging residues used for bioenergy, and on stakeholder expectations, opinions, and general outlooks regarding the current state and future of using woody biomass for bioenergy. While I enjoy my research, I love to teach, and my goal in getting my PhD is to eventually end up back at Western Carolina University as a professor in the Natural Resource Conservation and Management program. I am an avid outdoorsman, and in my free time I enjoy many hobbies, including hiking, backpacking, running, fishing, hunting, and woodworking. I am deeply passionate about the natural world, and specifically about the Southern Appalachian region of the United States. I hope through my research and teaching that I can have a positive impact on both the land and the people in the area that I call home.