Staff Q&A: Madison Dudley

  • How long have you been at Oregon State?

Since 2008, which is when I started my undergraduate degree here in exercise and sports science. At the time, Oregon State had the best (and most affordable) pre-med program in the state. I think it was my sophomore year when I decided to switch to pre-physical therapy.  Later during my undergrad is when I got a student worker job in the FERM department, and fortunately for me, it turned into something full time after I graduated.

 

  • So how did you end up in your current role instead of becoming a physical therapist?

I had an opportunity to continue in the department after I graduated, while I applied for graduate school. About two years ago, I was admitted to a doctorate program in physical therapy in Southern California, but the cost was outrageous.  With little to no funding offered through the program, the loan expense to have that career would’ve taken me 25+ years to pay off, so I knew it would be a choice that I’d be stuck with for years, and I wasn’t sure I loved it that much!

 

  • What is your favorite part about your job?

It sounds kind of sad, but I promise that it’s not: I love being able to help students actually achieve their goals in ways that I didn’t.  Let me phrase that better by saying I’m still helping people meet objectives, just in academia instead of mobility. It’s a different kind of fulfillment.

  • What does your life look like outside work?

I’m married to my husband, John, and we have a corgi named Remington. We enjoy camping and riding ATVs on the coast, getting dirty in the sand and mountains. During the summers, we float the river and go boating and tubing near Prineville with family. We’re pretty outdoorsy and make a habit of visiting at least one new thing in Oregon every year.

  • What are your hobbies?

Baking is my main hobby. I’ve made a number of wedding cakes and other goodies for friends, family and even people here in the college. My grandmother was a professional baker. She taught my dad and my dad passed those skills on to me. From that lineage, we have a lot of great family recipes for a variety of sugary treats. Decorating cookies is probably my favorite; it’s the least stressful and allows me to be creative. I’ve always loved to draw and paint, and baking allows me to do that with food.  Other than that, I enjoy reading, crafting, and watching too much TV.

  • What are you watching right now?

I just finished the latest season of Big Brother. It’s my one guilty-pleasure reality show that my husband can’t stand. I’m a forever Grey’s Anatomy fan, but my husband and I like to watch comedies and crime dramas together.  Right now, we love The Good Place and Elementary.

  • If you were famous, what would you be famous for?

Probably baking. My best friend and I co-own our business, which is not a real business, at least not yet.  She and I have talked about starting a blog of all our successes (and failures), and dream about having our own show on the Food Network someday.

 

  • Which game show would you be super awesome at?

Wheel of Fortune, hands down. I’m good with puzzles and watched it a lot growing up. We lived in the mountains, with terrible dial-up internet and very few TV channels, so my parents exposed us to a lot of games – both board games and game shows – because there wasn’t much else to do!

Staff Q&A: Chris Smith

  • How long have you been at Oregon State?

I came in 2006, so that’s getting close to 12 years ago. I packed a U-haul and moved from Washington, where I was working at Eastern Washington University. I also worked at The Heart Institute in Spokane. Before that, I was in New Mexico, which is where I grew up.

Chris loves photography. He says for awhile he had a “thing for puddles.”
  • Were you always interested in technology?

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist and generally moved into art and technology just kind of found its way into my life. I still paint and make art in Photoshop and do other artsy stuff.

  • What is your favorite part about your job?

The people and the variety.

  • What does your life look like outside work?

I’m a homebody. I love being at home because I can paint and hang out and make food.

Chris’s cat
  • What are your hobbies?

Art, guitar, reading, hanging out with my cat and just hanging out in general.

  • You’re really into music. So what was the first concert you ever went to?

The first band I ever saw was called Level 42, and it wasn’t until I was 19 or 20. I grew up in rural New Mexico, so to see a concert, it was a four-hour drive.

  • What was the last concert you’ve been to?

I saw Foo Fighters a little while ago, that was cool!

Faculty Q&A: Ashley D’Antonio

 

  • How long have you been at Oregon State?

I’m starting my third year here this fall.

 

  • Where did you come from?

I came from Utah State University, where I did my graduate work and a post doc. I’m originally from Pennsylvania. Before I went to graduate school, I worked as a high school science teacher in Wisconsin. I liked teaching, but high school teaching was exhausting, so after two years I went back to grad school so I could teach at the university level.

Ashley in the field
  • Did you always want to work in and study recreation?

I always wanted to be a scientist. When I was little I wanted to be a marine biologist, but I could never equalize during SCUBA training. I always wanted to do some sort of conservation-oriented science.

 

  • What is your favorite part about your job?

I like the balance of interacting with and teaching undergraduates and working with graduate students and conducting research. I also get to travel to many of the parks I study to set up projects and present to managers. I feel really lucky to travel to places for work that most people go for vacation.

Knitting
  • What does your life look like outside work?

I’m a huge knitter. Anytime I’m sitting down, I’m knitting. I also do a lot of yoga and hiking and a little bit of trail running.

 

  • Those are all very meditative hobbies. How did you get into them?

I’ve done yoga since I was 18. It’s really the only form of exercise I’ve been consistent with, and I got into knitting during grad school when I was looking for a new hobby and hoping to meet new people. I started a knitting group at Utah State. Now I knit with people in the college occasionally.

Blanket
  • What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever knitted?

My knitting group made a National Park centennial blanket. We released the patterns for sale and donated the money we made back to the parks.

 

  • Anything interesting you’ve read, watched or listened to lately?

I’ve been watching ‘Atypical’ on Netflix. My younger sister works with students with autism, and the show is about a family affected by autism, so it’s really interesting. I also just read a book called ‘Educated: A memoir,’ and I recommend that to everyone.

 

  • If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

Maybe broccoli because it looks like a tree. It’s also my favorite vegetable.

Ashley’s LEGOs
  • You have a lot of LEGOs in your office. What’s the story with that?

I’ve always loved playing with LEGOs, and they’re making really fun sets now, so I have a set of women scientists and a National Parks set. Science can be a bit too serious sometimes, so I think they add some whimsy into my office and makes my students feel more comfortable.

Staff Q&A: Brooke Harrington

Brooke Harrington – Program Assistant – Office of Student Resources & Engagement

  • How long have you been at Oregon State?

Four years. I came from a lot of different places. I worked at Eastern Oregon University in Salem, and before that, I was a stay-at-home mom for eight years. I’ve moved and lived in a lot of different places, but I grew up in Dallas, and three of my uncles attended Oregon State, so I was happy to end up here. One of my uncles even has a bridge and plaque inside Reser Stadium because of a donation he made.

Brooke’s uncle’s bridge at Reser Stadium
  • What is your favorite part about your job?

I love interacting with our students. We see all kinds of undergraduate and graduate students come through and we get to help them in a variety of ways: finding a job or internship,  scholarships, or matching them up in the Mentored Employment Program. In everything we do, we’re seeking to better connect them to the college or potential future employers to help enhance their experience. I love the feeling of contributing to students’ education in some way, as well as to the overall mission of the college.

Brooke’s daughters
  • What does your life look like outside of work?

I have a crazy, blended family with a total of six kids. We have a full house. It’s crazy with lots of people, with lots of personality, going in lots of different directions. We also have a dog and two cats. When I’m not working, I try to get outside a little bit. We took up kayaking this summer. I also like to garden, read, listen to music and take my dog on walks.

  • Did you have a good summer?

I had a pretty calm summer. I did a lot of small staycations at home with the kids. We didn’t really travel too far out of the area, but that’s OK because I love it here in Oregon.

  • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An ice skater or a fighter pilot.

  • If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with all the extra time?

I would fit in more walks or workouts.

  • What’s your favorite thing to watch on TV?

Sports. We are big fans of the Beavers and the Trail Bazers.

  • Would you rather have unlimited sushi for life or unlimited tacos for life?

Tacos every day! Or some type of Mexican food. That’s my absolute favorite.

Staff Q&A: Michelle Maller

decorated cakes

Michelle Maller – Education/Internship Coordinator – WSE

  • When you were young, what job did you think you would have?

I wanted to be a veterinarian really badly, and then I wanted to work for the FBI or CIA.

  • What is your job now?

Half of my job is working with students, getting them internships or job opportunities and “momming” them, basically. The other half is split between working with industry and recruitment with high school and community college specific to our renewable materials programs.

  • How long have you been at Oregon State?

Fourteen years. I started working here as an undergraduate. I was a butcher at Clark Meat Center, and I just kept on going. This is my sixth position at OSU. I’ve been at the College of Forestry Since 2013.

  • What’s your favorite part about your job?

It’s different every day, and I get to be with people all the time.

  • What did you do this summer?

I traveled a little bit for work stuff this summer. I hung out with my kids a lot. I also got a bunch of tattoos. I have 12 tattoos. A few of them are of birds because I’m a bird nerd.

Otter the dog
Otter the dog
  • What does your life look like outside of work?

I have been married for seven years. We just celebrated our anniversary, and he’s great. He brews beer at Sky High. I have two delightful children. My daughter Arlie is four and a half, and my son Tate is three. We have a really dumb basset hound named Otter who has no purpose in life. I’ve pretty much always lived in Corvallis, and I’m a fourth-generation Oregon State Beaver.

  • Your husband brews beer, so what is your favorite beer?

I am lucky because he brews things for me and brings them home. I like sours, Berliner Weisse and Flemish red ales.

  • If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would bake all the time. I love to bake. I make a lot of birthday cakes for other people, weird cookies and bread.

  • What in pop culture do you love right now?

I love the Great British Baking Show, and I’m a closeted Big Brother fan. I’ve watched every single season. I think it’s really interesting – a really interesting portrait of human dynamics.

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.”

A new focus on forest landscapes

leaves

To solve a large problem you often have to come at it from a different angle. It is an approach Ian Munanura, assistant professor of nature-based tourism and human well-being at Oregon State, took after starting his research in human wellness and forest landscapes.

“In my research, I explore aspects of human well-being constraints and how they influence the health of forest landscapes” Munanura says.

“I also ask questions about how forest landscapes benefit humans. For example, how can tourism on forest landscapes improve human wellness, strengthen the resilience of forest communities and reduce negative human impact on forest landscapes?”

To answer this question, Munanura conducts a series of surveys and interviews of forest adjacent communities in Oregon, Rwanda, Uganda and Indonesia. He also hopes to expand his research program to Tanzania and Malaysia. To broaden the experiential learning opportunities for College of Forestry students, Munanura will use his international research network to deliver summer study abroad classes in countries where he has active research programs.

During his research interviews, Munanura asks questions such as: What is the nature of adversity stressing the livelihoods of families in forest communities?

How do families in forest communities function during adversity? What are the strengths (or vulnerabilities) of families in forest communities that could enable (or challenge) them to cope with adversity and maintain wellbeing?

How do the vulnerabilities of forest communities negatively affect forest landscapes?; and many others. Munanura thinks the answers to these questions will contribute to the understanding of important factors responsible for human-wildlife coexistence.

“Once we unpack the complexity of human health constraints and identify the aspects of those constraints that threaten our forest landscapes the most, we can adapt nature-based tourism programs to benefit communities, people and our forests,” Munanura says.

The inspiration for looking beyond the material aspects of human well-being came from Munanura’s own life experiences and growing up with limited access to material resources. Munanura says his family’s wellbeing recovered from destitution when his mother became spiritually active.

“Her mindset and emotions changed, and it enabled us to function better as a family despite limited access to material resources,” Munanura says. “In my work over the past 15 years, I have paid more attention to material wealth as a solution to improve the wellness of humans and forest landscapes. I strongly believed that degradation of forest landscapes was caused by lack of jobs and financial resources.”

However, Munanura says that attempts to address forest degradation by providing jobs and financial resources have shown little success. His research in Rwanda confirmed forest degradation is largely influenced by the most economically empowered residents in nearby communities.

“That challenged me to look at my own personal experiences. I realized there is more to improving human and forest wellbeing than money,” Munanura says. “Perhaps, there are non-fi nancial aspects of human well-being that have the potential to strengthen forest communities and forest landscapes.”

Munanura says his research is inspiring his students and helping them understand the limitations of the poverty driven narrative of forest landscape degradation.

“I encourage my students to think broadly and consider how human adversity, emotional, social and material resource constraints could impact the health of forest landscapes,” Munanura says. “Forest managers and other natural resources professionals are better served with a nuanced understanding of human constraints, how they impact the health of forest landscapes, and the potential solutions from nature-based tourism that can improve overall human and landscape well-being.”

Lessons from Klamath County

burned trees

Klamath County Forestry Extension Agent Daniel Leavell began his forestry and fire career in early 1973 at the Forest Fire Laboratory in Riverside, California, and continued later that year at the Oregon State campus. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from OSU, and has been working and continuing his education in both industries ever since.

Leavell, who also holds a master’s degree from OSU and a doctoral degree from the University of Montana, started his current extension position with the Oregon State College of Forestry in 2014 and hit the ground running in Klamath and Lake Counties.

“We’re all working together to reach a common goal,” Leavell says. “It’s been extremely satisfying for me to play a role in these efforts – especially to see results happening on the ground.”

 

Klamath Community College Partnership

In 2014, the main fire district in Klamath Falls and Klamath Community College (KCC) began talking about the possibility of developing a formal program and facility that could support the training and education of first responders in the fields of fire, emergency medical services, law enforcement and more.

“We all agreed it was a community need and wanted to pursue it, and I offered assistance,” Leavell says.

Leavell was involved in wildland firefighting from 1978 to 2012 and with volunteer structure fire departments from 2006 to 2016. This experience allowed him to bring together other partners including the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Air National Guard Fire Department at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls.

Leavell says it is important for first responders to attain national, state and local certifications. Many in emergency services also desire academic credit, but these are not required to obtain certified skills needed for the job. However, academic credit and degrees provide a competitive edge for job searches. Skills and experience count.

“Many first responders want certifications and academic credit,” Leavell says. “So we set up an organization to do that.”

The Klamath Basin Public Safety Training Center began with the goal of offering participants a two-year degree with options in structure and wildland fire, emergency medical and law enforcement.

Oregon State and KCC signed an agreement to test the concept and designed a curriculum for a two-year program focused on the basic academies of medical and fire sufficient to obtain certificates and credits. As proof of the concept, the program organized, created and implemented a structure fire academy during winter and spring terms in 2015 and 2016. The 14-week program involved 30 future professional, structure firefighters.

“They went through live fire training, ladder training and other exercises,” Leavell says. “Practical skills, scientific education and leadership training were also implemented, and at the end of the program they earned 12 academic credits and state certificates for structural firefighting.”

Leavell says the next step is to formalize the transfer program between KCC and Oregon State.

“This was needed,” Leavell stresses. “It will really benefit small communities with busy fire stations.”

Managing landscapes

One reason Leavell came to work in Klamath County was because he knew there were forward thinking forest managers working in and near the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

“The community here really works together,” Leavell says. “And when I got here, a group of private landowners and public land managers had been meeting and agreed to start work on a very large but successful project.”

Together, Leavell and the other managers were able to create maps and make risk assessments for 30,000 acres of private forest and 110,000 acres of National Forest.

“Within a year of completing the mapping, we were awarded $4 million in grants to begin implementing the projects we found were necessary during the mapping process.”

Throughout the process, Leavell worked one-on-one with landowners to help them create and implement management plans and pick projects that would benefit each forest.

Leavell says public and private land managers were able to work together to conserve resources during thinning efforts.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he says. “If a landowner can get grant money it’s easier for everyone to get a project done, and our reward is better management for the health and safety of the forests, communities and those responding to disturbances.”

Leavell and his team hope to publish the results of the project so their strategies can be implemented statewide.

 

Making a difference

These projects and more make working for the Oregon State Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Service in Klamath and Lake Counties a fulfilling experience for Leavell. He hopes to see even more results in the future by bringing people together to make our forests and communities healthier.

“I love to sit down at the table and talk to people to see how we can overcome barriers, capitalize on our strengths, shore up our weaknesses and see how we can come together for a common goal that really gets results,” Leavell says. “Extension is in a unique position to facilitate, coordinate and bring partners together to fulfill our mission, which has no underlying agenda other than to benefit the community.”

Wildfire affects water

Kevin Bladon in the field

Large wildfires can devastate the landscape, destroy structures and threaten communities. Once they’re extinguished and the direct threats are gone, the general public often moves on and breathes a little easier. However, Kevin Bladon, assistant professor of forest hydrology at Oregon State, says the effects of large wildfires on water quantity and quality can last for decades.

“Smaller, low severity fires can actually have positive outcomes for aquatic ecosystems,” Bladon says. “However, the larger fires, which we’ve seen more of in recent years, are the ones that cause us the most problems in terms of impacts on water,” Bladon says. “Fires used to be more frequent and less severe, but because of fire suppression and current forest management approaches, there are a lot more contiguous fuels in our forests. When combined with a warmer, drier climate this has increased the occurrence of large wildfires in many parts of the western U.S.”

Bladon says high-severity fire can increase annual streamflow, peak flows and shift the timing of snowmelt to streams to earlier in the year. Additionally, large fires can increase temperatures, sediment and nutrients in streams, which can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and recreational value.

The sediment and nutrients in headwater streams can also travel downstream and into community drinking water sources.

“While our drinking water treatment plants can, and do, remove sediment, nutrients and other contaminants from our water after wildfires, the question is, ‘How much are we willing to pay for this?’ These are expensive costs that get passed to taxpayers for many years after a fire,” Bladon says.

So far, Bladon’s studies have been conducted in Oregon, California, Colorado, Tennessee and Canada. As large wildfires continue to occur in the West, he plans to keep his eyes and research on the west side of the Cascades.

“Historically, there haven’t been a lot of fires on the west side of the Cascades compared to east side forests,” he says. “But they are appearing more and more, and the potential impacts on our water supply is something researchers need to continue to investigate.”

Bladon says it’s an exciting time to be studying hydrology as it relates to wildfire because the scientific community and the public are striving to understand how large wildfires impact our water supplies.

“Oregonians tend to be very proud of our water, healthy rivers, recreational opportunities and our many breweries, to name a few things,” Bladon says. “Given that two-thirds of our water supply originates in forests, it’s critical to protect those things that make our state such a great place.”