Featured Alumni

Faculty of Forestry | School of Graduate Studies

Laercio Couto

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

There was probably only one thing that made Laércio Couto happier than winning two soccer championships while studying at the University of Toronto in the late 1970s -- the birth of his daughter Michelle. And to top it off, the Brazilian-born Couto, who earned a PhD in Forestry at U of T, saw his daughter earn a degree in Forestry as well from his alma mater.

Today, Dr. Couto, is a retired full professor and a former head of the Forestry Department at the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil, and an adjunct professor at U of T. He has published more than 100 scientific papers and lectured in many countries. In the 90's, he was involved in the planning, design and installation of the biggest and most modern eucalypt-based sawmill in the world, located in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

"The great thing about the U of T was living and studying in a multicultural environment with students from all over the world living in peace together, like the song from John Lennon — Imagine."

Dr. Couto lauds the professors who helped him at U of T about how they prepared him for a career when he returned to Brazil. "Returning to Brazil with my PhD, I introduced the teaching of agroforestry systems at undergraduate and graduate levels and also the use of personal computers in forest planning with emphasis on simulation techniques."

After getting his PhD, he went to Colorado State University and also worked on a short rotation wood crops project at the Oak Ridge National Lab. He credits his PhD thesis and the work he did in the U.S. with helping him win the World Bioenergy Award in 2010, finishing first among 70 researchers from around the world. "I think this was the most important fact of my professional life and it started with my PhD thesis [at U of T]."

He says U of T played a very important role in the advancement of forestry in Brazil by training researchers there, mainly through its Brazilian partner, the Federal University of Vicosa.

The constant search and fight to be the best in all areas of human knowledge makes U of T stand out from other universities, Dr. Couto says. "U of T is always looking to be the university, not only a university."

As an adjunct professor at U of T, he has helped organize two technical trips by masters students to Brazil.

"There is an invisible bond that keeps all former U of T students and professors and staff glued to each other in a multicultural mosaic of fantastic human beings," he says.  "The feeling of being part of a team, a Dream Team, and the sensation of being useful and working as a coach for a young and bright generation of students makes me very proud and happy to continue to serve as an adjunct professor."


Published Nov. 28, 2013

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