Emily Burkhart: embracing undergraduate research

Emily watching the sunset

Emily Burkhart, a natural resources student, loves being part of the Oregon State community. As a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success, the Natural Resources Club, an intern at Avery Nature House and student arboretum specialist technician at Peavy Arboretum, she’s always reaching out and getting involved.

During the summer of 2017, Burkhart worked in Starkey Experimental Forest. Research in the riparian forest focuses on small mammals, cow and deer in relation to one another and the ecosystems they inhabit.

“When people think of ecosystem management and habitat relations, a lot of people think of large mammals and carnivores, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that it starts at a smaller level,” Burkhart says.

Burkhart spent two weeks checking about 200 traps every day to collect data on animals to learn about population dynamics in areas near water.

Species analyzed ranged from flying squirrels to jumping mice. The small mammals in these locations eat butterflies and their larvae as a food source, so researchers wanted to know population numbers and the roles they play in the conservation of species.

“Overall I processed and collected data on around 1,054 animals,” Burkhart says. “Once an animal was in a trap, we would tag its ears and collect data on its sex, age, weight, previous captures and reproductive state.”

Burkhart says she learned a lot from the experience and had a great time.

“At Starkey, I got to meet 25-year-old elk, explore Eastern Oregon and understand the importance of small species,” Burkhart says. “My amazing team made it a really great experience.”

Burkhart says she is grateful for her College of Forestry experience and how it opened her eyes to the world around her.

During the summer of 2018, Burkhart took part in a faculty-led study abroad experience to Malaysian Borneo. Back home in Corvallis, she enjoys spending time in the forest.

“We are so lucky to have the College Research Forests only 12 minutes away from campus.

By working at the arboretum, I really learned how these managed forests operate, and how much it gives back to us in research, recreation and pure happiness,” Burkhart says. “People really need to go check out the arboretum at least once in their life because one visit can leave such a positive, everlasting impact.”

Cody Knight: serving others through working with renewable materials

Cody Knight and crew

Renewable materials student Cody Knight is a recipient of three scholarships: the Lois & Dick Kearns Scholarship, John R. Snellstrom Scholarship and the Friends of Renewable Materials–Roseburg Forest Products Wood Science and Engineering Scholarship. Before coming to Oregon State, Knight served in the military.

The financial support he receives and his experience in the military inspired him to serve others through his work in the renewable materials program.

“My military experience left me asking a lot of questions about humanity, sustainability the western world and material possessions,” Knight says. “I want to create products from renewable materials that aid in sustainability.”

Knight, who grew up in northern Idaho, remembers spending summers at the lake, sleeping in log cabins.

“There, it was easy to appreciate the beauty of nature,” he says. “I want to preserve that beauty and those kinds of experiences for future generations.”

He’s working to reach his goals through hands-on learning activities outside the classroom. Knight has participated in undergraduate research with Arijit Sinha, associate professor of renewable materials at Oregon State. Knight is helping conduct testing on Freres Lumber’s new mass plywood panel product.

“I was also selected for the Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates (REEU) program,” Knight says. “This is a three-month long mentored research program with students at Oregon State and from colleges across the United States.”

Knight says his research will evaluate the shear strength of plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) after it has experienced varying degrees of temperatures and cooling times to get a clear picture of the mechanical strength of both products in the event of fire and seismic activity.

“The importance of this is plywood and OSB are typically used in residential housing for the exterior sheathing, which provides lateral support and stability for the structure,” Knight says. “Little research has been done to test their behaviors under these conditions, and I’m excited to find some answers.”

Job Shadow Program helps students find focus

Junior Tourism, Recreation and Adventure Leadership student Chris Galbreath has a passion for the outdoors, but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he landed at Oregon State. When he learned about the recreation management field in an introductory course, he felt a spark.

“I could see myself in a position like that, and decide that’s what I wanted to do,” Galbreath said.

To further explore his potential field, during spring term 2017, Galbreath participated in the job shadow program, facilitated by the College of Forestry’s Office of Student Resources and Engagement. Job shadows are usually short, one-day experiences during which students follow professionals in their chosen field to learn more about what they do.

“The office helped me explore what kind of job shadow opportunities were available, and I decide to job shadow an interpreter at the Yaquina Head Interpretive Center.”

From there, Galbreath communicated with the professionals there, who invited him out for a day to learn more about their positions and the work done at the lighthouse’s protected area.

“The day I went, there was a school group coming in, so I got to see how they deal with those as opposed to the general public,” Galbreath says.

He also explored tide pools and hiking trails.

“Before I went to do the job shadow, I didn’t have an idea of what they do, but while I was there I got to see how they manage people and how they run the business. It gives you a good insight into what this particular section of the job world looks like, and then you can reflect on that,” Galbreath says.

Galbreath enjoyed the field of interpretation so much that he spent the summer interning with the Oregon Department of Forestry as interpreter at the Tillamook Forest Center.

“My job there was to learn material about the forest and pass that on to the public so they understand it and can go have a great time out in the forest as well,” he says.

Galbreath was the first student to participate in the job shadow program, and there are many opportunities available.

Brooke Harrington in the Office of Student Resources and Engagement says the job shadow program is a great way to explore future employment opportunities.

“These opportunities are a way to start exploring different career paths, make important industry connections and see how classroom work can create success in the work place,” Harrington says. “The goal of this program is to connect students with short-term opportunities that can help them make important career and academic decisions.”