Welcome to the College of Forestry! What do you do around here?

I’m an instructor in the Wood Science + Engineering Department. I’m teaching some of the art and design classes.

What was your journey to this position like?

I lived and worked in Denver for the past 25 years. I designed and made custom furniture there and also taught art and design classes. I landed in that career after earning a history degree and working in construction. After that, I gravitated toward fine woodworking and furniture making. Years later I went back to school to get my master’s degree in furniture design, and that’s when I shifted to academia.

What’s your favorite part of your work?

My favorite part of teaching art and design is helping students solve problems- giving them a space where they can find solutions to their design problems. I especially like when I can facilitate an “ ah-ha” moment.

What do you do outside work?

I don’t know yet! It was a challenge to get caught up and start classes so soon after moving to a new place, but I’m looking forward to learning about the rivers in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Back in Denver, I also trained in traditional Japanese martial arts. I also like to play soccer and make things when I can.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

We have a cat and a dog. I’m an animal person! I also really love horses. My wife grew up on a cattle ranch in Utah, so we both love to ride when we can.

Conventional timber harvesting has no effect on carbon levels in the mineral soils of the western Pacific Northwest for at least 3 1/2 years after harvest, according to recently-published research by Oregon State University and Weyerhaeuser Company.

The study is important because soils contain a large percentage of the total carbon in forests – generally about half of it – and understanding soil carbon response to clear-cuts and other forest management practices is vital in determining carbon balance in any given stand as well as the overall landscape.

Stable carbon levels in the ground means less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. An important greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide’s concentration in the atmosphere has risen 30 percent since the start of the Industrial Age.

Historic in its scope, this collaborative and long-term effort between Jeff Hatten of the OSU College of Forestry and Scott Holub of Weyerhaeuser monitored nine managed Douglas-fir forest stands in Oregon and Washington, before and after conventional timber harvest and replanting, and involved more than 50,000 soil samples from 2700 sample points, thus far.  Continued monitoring of soil carbon with additional rounds of sampling is planned at these sites for decades to come.

“Our original hypothesis that timber harvesting would decrease soil carbon in the short term was disproven,” said Hatten, a soils researcher in the college’s Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management. “And I think it’s fair to say this has been the most extensive sampling ever conducted to determine if harvesting has an impact on soil carbon.”

“The no-result was remarkable,” he said. “Even where you have the highest soil temperatures and the highest soil moistures – the strongest environment for decomposition that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – harvesting doesn’t seem to have an impact in the areas we studied. And the results likely extend to similar areas, probably totaling many millions of hectares in the Northwest.”

Across all the sites combined, after harvest, the scientists found negligible change (+2%) in mineral soil carbon content and a 184 percent hike in forest floor carbon, the result of harvest residue.

Modern harvest methods are designed to cause minimal soil disturbance, and the stable soil carbon would seem to reflect that, the researchers said.

“Concern about rising atmospheric carbon dioxideconcentrations has heightened interest in the role that forests play in carbon sequestration, storage and cycling,” Hatten said. “Living trees sequester and store carbon, but less recognition has been given to soils’ role. We have plans to resample these sites in coming years and decades to look at the longer-term impacts.”

Citation:

Holub, S.M. and Hatten, J.A. 2019. Soil Carbon Storage in Douglas-Fir Forests of Western Oregon and Washington Before and After Modern Timber Harvesting Practices. Soil Science Society of America Journal 83(1):S175-S186.

Abstract available here: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/sssaj/abstracts/83/s1/S175

What is your job?

There are a few different pieces. I oversee the help desk with Paul and provide back-up support there. I also purchase all the electronics for the college and manage the computer labs.

How did you end up here in this position?
I’m from Corvallis, and I used to work for a biotech company, but I was interested in getting out of that industry and ended up here.

What’s your favorite part of your work?

The variety. There’s something different going on every day.

Tell us about your family.

I’m married, and I have three children who are seven, five and one.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
When I get my own free time, I like to play softball and hunt and fish. I’m taking my oldest son along with me, and that’s really fun.

What do you hunt?

Elk, deer, turkey, duck and geese. I fish for steelhead and salmon. I enjoy it because it’s a challenge. I also really like to be outside and teach my son about ethical hunting and gun safety along with a lot of life lessons. Mostly he just plays, makes a lot of noise and scares the fish away.

Watching anything interesting lately?
The new season of American Horror Story.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would be?
Steak and potatoes. I’m the main cook in our house, and I could probably live off of that.

What’s a household chore you don’t enjoy?

Washing silverware. We do have a dishwasher, but with two little boys eating so much food, it’s usually faster to hand wash it because we go through so much.

What’s new?

This fall I’m starting a new position in FERM as an assistant professor of wildlife ecology. I will teach courses related to forest ecology and wildlife, but my research program will still be focused on understanding wildlife that inhabits forests – mostly managed forests. This is a new chapter for me, and I’m really excited about it.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I get to pursue knowledge in areas that are of interest to me, but that are also relevant to how we manage our forests.

What do you do when you’re not working

I spend time with my family. We have two young kids, our son is four and a half and our daughter is almost two. My son is interested in tractors and machinery, so this summer we went to the Oregon Steam Up, which is a gathering of people with old style tractors back to the steam era. That’s something we never would have done otherwise. We also like to hike and explore the outdoors, and go to the Corvallis Knights baseball games.

Are you reading anything interesting lately?

I’m reading a book about the rise and the fall of the Comanche called Empire of the Summer Moon. Since I spent time in Kansas, I like things about Western exploration, native tribes and mountain men. I love Edward Abbey’s work as well, and would highly recommend it (especially Desert Solitaire. I try to read something non-work related before I go to bed every night.

You study birds. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Despite studying birds for 20 years, I’m still not a morning person. Some people bounce out of bed, but when I get up, I think, ‘Oh no, what have I done?!?’ If I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning for work or kids, I’ll sleep in as long as I can.

How do you like to stay active?

When I can, I like to play basketball at Dixon. My Labrador has a lot of energy, so sometimes I take her hiking or trail running.

If you were going to sing a song at karaoke, what would it be?

“Two of a Kind Working on a Full House” by Garth Brooks.

Do you like country music?

Not as a general rule, but for some reason, I got one of his albums years ago, and I really liked it.

Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is causing the Earth to warm, oceans to acidify and climates to change. Because tree growth captures atmospheric carbon, some scientists and environmental advocacy groups promote massive tree planting as a solution to climate change.

A group of 46 scientists from around the world, led by Joseph Veldman of Texas A&M University, are urging caution regarding plans to address climate change through massive tree planting.

These scientists teamed up with Veldman, whose research focuses on the fire ecology of savannas and forests of Texas and Tropical America, to publish a message of concern in the journal Science.

 “While tree planting can be good in some deforested areas, tree planting in Earth’s natural grasslands destroys plant and animal habitat and will not sequester enough carbon to compensate for fossil fuel emissions,” Veldman says. “Few people realize that planting trees in the wrong places can actually damage ecosystems, increase wildfire intensity and exacerbate global warming.”

The new publication is a critique of another recent paper in Science, which claimed global, large-scale tree planting could capture 205 gigatons of carbon, or one-third of the carbon dioxide emitted since the industrial revolution.

 “Because the estimate of 205 gigatons of carbon was so large, in July 2019, headlines around the world declared tree planting to be the best solution to climate change,” Veldman said. We now know those headlines were wrong.”

In their critique, Veldman and his collaborators write that serious methodological flaws led to a five-fold overestimate of the potential for new trees to mitigate climate change. Among the problems, they point out that the original study assumed that soils in ecosystems without trees contain no carbon, when in fact many ecosystems such as savannas and peatlands, contain more carbon in soils than in the above-ground vegetation.

The study also neglected the fact that coniferous forests in boreal and high mountain regions absorb more sunlight and emit more heat than treeless areas, and actually exacerbate rather than mitigate global warming.

Finally, Veldman and his collaborators argue tree planting in grasslands and savannas, as proposed by the original article’s research team, is damaging to the environment.

“Ancient grasslands and savannas contain immense biodiversity and provide services to humanity, such as livestock forage and groundwater recharge,” Veldman says. “We worry that a myopic focus on tree planting will reduce the capacity of people to adapt to climate change while distracting from efforts to conserve intact ecosystems and reduce fossil fuel consumption.”

Co-author Christopher Still of the Oregon State University College of Forestry, adds,  “Careful and targeted afforestation and reforestation can help with the climate crisis, but only if done in certain regions and with appropriate safeguards for biodiversity, water availability, and in concert with local communities. ”

What is your job here in the College of Forestry?

I’m an accountant in the business center, and I focus on payroll.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy getting to interact with a variety of groups and people including the college’s employees, HR and central payroll. There are great people all across this campus. Having good colleagues makes any job more enjoyable and that’s something really nice about being at OSU.

What was your journey to the college like?

I went into accounting because I wanted to have a stable career. I worked in public accounting for a while. I was a CPA, and that was not the right atmosphere for me. I was looking for better work-life balance. I had a good friend who used to work in the business office here, so I knew it was a great place to be.

Being an accountant for the College of Forestry also gives me a sense of connection to my family, because there are foresters, millwrights and wildlife biologists in my family. I got my accounting degree from Humboldt State University and while I was there I worked as an accountant for just under five years at Green Diamond Resource Company, which is a large timber company focused on Redwood and Douglas Fir.  So even though I don’t personally have any experience in forestry, I really enjoy having a sense of connection to that world.

You started in June. What have you learned about the college so far?

I’ve learned a lot thanks to the field trips we take as business office staff. Those help us get familiar with different projects and work going on. Jim Rivers taught us about his work with marbled murrelets, and we got to take a tour of the Emmerson lab before it opened.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I like to go on waterfall hikes. There are some really nice ones around here. My favorite is near Eugene: Salt Creek and Diamond Falls. It’s breath-taking natural beauty that isn’t as crowded with people as most other waterfall trails. It’s only a three-mile loop and isn’t far off the road, so it’s very accessible for any random weekend.

Are you a cat or a dog person?

I’m a dog person, both big and small dogs. I have two teacup Chihuahuas, but my boyfriend has a cat, so of course I love our cat. She has three-legs, and she’s a cancer survivor. Since our three pets are all under 10 pounds, we’re hoping to add some balance next year by adding a larger dog to our family.

If you were going to compete in the Olympics, what sport would you participate in?

Swimming. I used to swim in high school. I was never assertive enough to enjoy participating in contact or team sports, but I enjoy watching sports with friends.

What’s your favorite food?

Lasagna. I really like Italian food and pasta of all kinds.

Welcome to the College of Forestry! What do you do here?

Thank you!  I’m the new FES graduate coordinator. I started late-June 2019. 

How is it going so far?

It’s great!  I have to give a big shout out to my predecessor, Jessica Bagley, because she left me so many detailed and thorough resources that have helped me get settled into my new role.  As a student at the University of Oregon, I had a student job assisting the program manager of an online graduate program and then was the student intern of their Office of Internal Audit, so I’ve had some experience in higher education administration.  Thanks to those factors, it’s been a smooth transition into this role.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

So far, I love getting to know everyone here in FES and in the College of Forestry.  It was very quiet over the summer, so now that more people are back from fieldwork and vacations, it’s nice to be able to meet more faculty, staff, and students. The subject area is also very interesting to me because of how interdisciplinary the FES department is.  I studied accounting in school, so it’s refreshing to be exposed to topics like nature, wildlife, and the way humanity interacts with and impacts the environment.

What do you do when you’re not working?

Every weekend, our family tries to explore a different part of Oregon’s outdoors. Recently, we’ve been to Clear Lake, and it was beautiful.  We’ve been to some parts of the coast and the Cascades.  I’ve also started taking an adult ballet class, which is really challenging and fun.

Are you watching anything interesting right now?

Since the beginning of September, my husband and I have been watching (foreign)horror films.  Halloween is our family’s favorite holiday, so we usually start gearing up for it as early as we can!

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

I think I would probably be a koala because they just go with the flow. They love naps and usually just hang out, but they can be a little feisty, too.  

Are you a morning bird or a night owl?

I used to be a night owl, but I’ve turned into a morning person because of my commute to work from Eugene.  It was rough getting used to my schedule, but now I’ve found it’s nice to be awake before everyone else is, to have some uninterrupted time to myself.

Do you have a go-to Karaoke song?

‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin with anyone who’ll do the duet with me!  My mom’s side of the family is actually very into Karaoke.  She and my aunts have been guilty of staying up until 5 a.m. having cocktails and Karaoke battles. 

What sport would you play in the Olympics?

Women’s Indoor Volleyball.  I played competitively in school and club teams for about 8 years until I had some knee injuries.  It’s still my favorite sport to watch because of the athleticism, strategy, and teamwork involved.

What is your job?

I’m an assistant professor here in the college. My job involves teaching courses about integrating tourism, human communities and wildlife conservation goals to promote sustainability in areas with high levels of biodiversity and human-wildlife conflict. I also do research in those areas. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

Both teaching and research. I love research because I find new perspectives and ways of understanding potential causes and solutions to human-wildlife conflict. I love teaching because I enjoy interacting with my students. Being in the classroom is one of my most rewarding experiences. When I hear students say that an interaction with them has created a life-changing experience – I know that I am making a difference.

How did you end up in your field?

After growing up in Uganda as a refugee from Rwanda, I went back to my father’s country for university. One day, the bus I was on broke down in a rainforest (Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda). I didn’t even know forests like that existed in Rwanda. I talked to the people who managed the forests, and they offered me a volunteer position teaching English to tourist guides. That opportunity led to over ten years managing a conservation program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, after finishing my degree in business management. I spent years walking the forest, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to solidify my career in conservation. I did a master’s degree in conservation and tourism at the University of Kent in England, a Ph.D. at Clemson University, and the quest for answers to conservation challenges in developing countries took off from there. I’m still searching for answers about how to preserve forests and the wellbeing of human communities in high-level biodiversity areas.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I come from Africa, and we are communal, so I like to spend time with my family. By that, I don’t just mean my wife and children. It’s a huge network of people that fit the definition of family: first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, people I grew up with. We take trips to see them and remain close to them. And here, we’ve been able to create a family network and we maintain that communal lifestyle.

Other than that, we like to spend time in the forests. We went to Yellowstone National Park this summer, and that was an amazing experience for our family.

What is your favorite spot to visit in Oregon?

I love the shores of the Pacific Ocean. I love that most of the shores are protected, but also accessible to the public. My other favorite spot is Redwoods in southern Oregon!

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to fix cars, really old cars from the 50s and 60s. I like to pick them up from junkyards and fix them up. My favorite are German cars because of the straightforward engineering, geared toward safety and durability. I haven’t done that much in the past few years, but I hope to again soon.

What have you been watching lately?

I enjoy watching TED talks. I draw inspiration from people who have been successful. Being in a culture different from your own often challenging, but TED talks and motivational speeches reenergize me and remind me that I am here for a reason, and I do have something important to contribute.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Banana. I grew up eating it, and I love it.

If you could play any sport in the Olympics. What would it be?

Soccer.

While earning his master’s degree at Oregon State, Preston Green conducted research on cable-assisted harvesting, a safer way to harvest timber, on the McDonald Forest. The McDonald Forest is owned and operated by the College of Forestry. Just minutes from Corvallis, the forest is often utilized as space for graduate, undergraduate and faculty research. It’s also a living classroom for students conducting labs and a recreation resource for the public.

Preston says, “The College Forests, to me, are a place that epitomizes the potential a forest can have. A forest can provide for so many different uses and when the right management and stakeholders are brought together, everybody can truly win. My research was a great example and why I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work on the College Forest – not only for the generation of wood products that help support the College of Forestry and the local community but also for the forest health and scientific knowledge that has reached audiences worldwide.”