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.

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.

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.

What is your job?

I’m the research computing systems administrator. In that role, I do many things. I’m making sure the virtual machine platform is running. I run our backup system, SQL Servers, and I take care of the few Microsoft websites we still have running.

How did you end up at Oregon State?

I went to school here. I studied computer science and psychology. I went down to the University of Oregon to do a cognitive neuroscience program when my friend Ken West called and asked if I wanted a job in the College of Forestry. I thought, money or more school? Money or more school? I decided to take the job.

What’s your favorite part of your work?

That it’s never the same thing every day. Right now, I’m working with Mariapaola Riggio to help get censors into the new building, and that’s been especially interesting.

What are your interests outside of work?

I like woodworking, scuba diving and martial arts. I was involved with Boy ScoutTroop 1 in Corvallis, and both my boys are Eagles.  Now, I’m the Eagle Advancement for Benton district.

How did you learn about woodworking?

My father-in-law taught me the basics when I needed to make a table for the first tiny apartment my wife and I shared. I also took Seri Robinson’s woodturning classes. I recently bought a lathe, and now I’m hooked on turning.

What about scuba diving?

I’m a PADI Open Water Instructor and I took my first scuba class here at Oregon State in 1993. There are a lot of opportunities here, and if you can find a way to take advantage of them, you’ll never be bored.

Tell me about your family.

My wife and I have been married for 26 years. I met her when I was working as a student. I installed her Ethernet card. We have two sons. They are 22 and 18.

What have you been watching on Netflix lately?

Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey. We’re really excited for the movie.

What are your favorite foods?

I love Japanese, Thai, Mexican…

Did you make any tragic fashion choices during your youth?

I did have a Shaun Cassidy haircut.

How did you end up at your role here in the College of Forestry?

I’ve been here about three years as the help desk coordinator. I schedule the student workers and manage the help desk to make sure tickets get completed and everything is functional. I’m originally from Portland, and I went to school here at Oregon State. I worked as a student worker for the College of Business. After graduation, I stuck around Corvallis. I love working at my alma mater.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

I like staying relevant in a technological world where technologies are always growing. I get to do research and interact with students – who usually know more than I do. I like to stay relevant.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I play racquetball about three times a week. I also like biking and camping. This summer, I’ve been gardening a lot.

Where do you like to go camping?

Anywhere in the Willamette Valley, really. It’s easy enough to go an hour out and find a slew of spots near rivers or lakes.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

I would say I’m a dog person, but my girlfriend and I have two cats. They’re kind of dog-like. They play fetch.

What’s your favorite Karaoke song?

I sing Karaoke from time to time. Queen songs are great for Karaoke. My favorite is probably ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’

What are you reading right now?

I’m listening to the Dark Tower series on audiobook right now. I’m in an audiobook club. I usually listen to books on my commute to and from Philomath.

If your house was on fire, and you could only grab three objects to save, what would you choose?

  1. A bay of external hard drives with all my media content.
  2. My motorcycle jacket that I’ve had for years.
  3. My backpacking backpack with all my gear.
How did you end up at Oregon State?

My wife got a job at Oregon State in the Crop and Soil Science Department, and we moved to Corvallis in fall of 2009. I worked remotely on my post-doc until 2010, at which point I began a research position the fisheries and wildlife department .  In 2015, I transitioned to a tenure track position with ajoint appointment between Forest Ecosystems and Society and the Department of Fisheries Wildlife. I have to say that I really enjoy working in two departments. Of course, I go to two faculty meetings and serve on more committees, but it’s been a great fit for me in terms of my research interests and potential for collaboration.

 

What’s your favorite part about your job?

I love working with graduate students. They do amazing work. I love building rapport with them and seeing them going through the learning process where at the end of their time they are writing really stellar thesis drafts.

 

You won a dean’s award this year, and were recently awarded tenure. How does it feel?

It’s great. Gaining tenure is a weight off my shoulders. I think any faculty member would tell you that there’s no time when you’re not thinking about work and I’m hoping to take at least a bit of a breath next year sometime and start to unwind a little. I won the dean’s award for graduate student mentorship.  I have a great group of students and really all I did was what I like to do the most (talk a lot to students about science).

 

What are your plans for summer?

I have an NSF grant to do work in Yellowstone. I’m headed out there for a couple weeks. Then I’ll visit family back East, and when we get back to Oregon I’ll catch up on my projects here – one at HJ Andrews and one on managed forest landscapes in the Coast and Cascade Ranges, then back to Yellowstone for a week. I’ll recover after that and spend time with my kids. We hope to spend a few weekends camping on the coast.

 

What kinds of things are your kids into?

They both do gymnastics at KidSprit, and my oldest is taking riding lessons from Michele Justice’s daughter, which has been a cool College of Forestry connection.

 

What else do you do when you’re not working?

I’m enjoying experiencing children’s literature again through my kids. I’m reading them lots of Shel Silverstein and Rahl Dahl. We’ve also recently started skiing as a family. I’m looking forward to reclaiming more of my old hobbies like wood working, fishing and playing hockey. Hopefully I can gain better work-life balance in the coming year and start integrating those back into my life.