A major component and contribution to the success of this program has been to put a high emphasis on the importance of research and education. The NCSU- Cooperative Tree Improvement Program has helped to educate and train over 226 graduate students, and there have been numerous research collaborations with other academic programs, both from within NCSU and with external universities. We hold academics as the foundation from which the entire program can continue to grow. Assistantships (MS or PhD) are available to work with the Cooperative. Options for areas of research are numerous, including Genetic Variation Studies, Modeling and Development of Breeding Strategies, Testing and Selection, Seed Orchard Management, Molecular Marker Studies, and the use of Clonal Propagation in breeding and forest plantation establishment.