Dendroarchaeology expert to talk tree-ring dating and historic structures on campus on Sept. 19

September 12, 2012
Dr. Henri D. Grissino-Mayer cores a salt barn at the headquarters area in the Valles Caldera National Preserve of New Mexico.


PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville will host Dr. Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, professor and director of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science, as he addresses the application of tree-ring dating in determining the authenticity and age of historical structures and objects, as well as how that information can shed light on past climate variability. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. in Ullsvik Hall’s Harry and Laura Nohr Gallery.

Grissino-Mayer’s research, which spans more than 25 years and is focused primarily in the southeastern United States, has been featured on the Discovery Channel, History Channel and CourtTV, as well as in The New York Times.

Some of his most well-known projects are the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace cabin, which Grissino-Mayer determined was built 50 years after Lincoln moved away from Hodgenville, Ky., and a $20 million instrument thought to be the “Messiah” violin constructed by Antonio Stradivari, which, thankfully for investors, turned out to be the real thing.

 Grissino-Mayer's work at the salt barn attracted the attention of one curious horse.


“History tends to get distorted, and sometimes we make things older than they really are,” said Grissino-Mayer, who said he’s a little bit history detective in addition to being a scientist and researcher. “There is a real need for historical accuracy, and using tree-ring dating, and other characteristics, to determine the authenticity of a structure or object is a great way to use science to answer real-world questions.”

Grissino-Mayer said the best outcome of his talk at UW-Platteville would be for the audience members to come away with a new love for science and appreciation for its many applications.

During the day of the presentation, Grissino-Mayer will also address students in Dr. Evan Larson’s Planet Earth course and meet with faculty and staff on campus who are involved in or interested in research that is related to dendroarchaeology.

The event is part of the Keys to the Past, Insight to the Future: Paleoecology and the Importance of Environmental History series sponsored by the UW-Platteville Tree-Ring, Earth and Environmental Science Laboratory; College of Liberal Arts and Education; and College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture.

Larson, co-director of the UW-Platteville TREES Laboratory and assistant professor of geography, arranged the series to bring numerous examples to campus of how people are studying past environments and climates to inform management and natural resource planning for the future.

For more information, contact Larson at (608) 342-6139 or

Contact: Dr. Evan Larson, assistant professor, UW-Platteville Geography Program, (608) 342-6139,

Written by: Barbara Weinbrenner, communications specialist, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191,


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