The College of Forestry’s world-class students and faculty conduct innovative research across the entirety of the forest landscape. Our research happens in labs and outdoors– on public and private lands across the state and in the College’s own 15,000 acres of College Research Forests as well as around the nation and the world. 

The College of Forestry received over $11.2 million in new and continuing awards for FY 2020, an increase of 31% from the previous year and the highest total since FY 2016. The awards support College of Forestry research that advances scientific knowledge critical to the health of forests, people and communities.

Here are some examples of the new awards:

Wood Identification & Screening Center
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service
Principal Investigator Eric Hansen
$1,087,945

Preparing Leaders in Collaborative Forest Management in an Era of Wildfire
Sponsor: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Principal Investigator Troy E. Hall, Co- Principal Investigators Reem Hajjar and Meg Krawchuk
$178,498

CAREER: Unveiling the role of catchment physiography in the hydrologic response of headwater streams
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator Catalina Segura
$757,896

Collaborative Research: MRA: A lineage-based framework to advance grassland macroecology and Earth System Modeling
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator Christopher J. Still, Co-Principal Investigators Daniel Griffith, William Riley, Jesse Nippert, Stephanie Pau, Brent Helliker
$1,489,831 (OSU portion $594,131)

Eager: Using Historic Art to Explore Legacies and Lost Function in Eastern US Forests
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator Dana Warren, Co-Principal Investigators Peter Betjemann, David Shaw, William Keeton, Isabel Munck
$147,490

Evaluation of Maintenance of Post-Fire Forest Cover in National Forests
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service
Principal Investigator Temesgen Hailemariam
$74,000

Effectiveness of Class II Watercourse and Lake Protection Zone (WLPZ) Forest Practice Rules (FPRs) and Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan (AHCP) Riparian Prescriptions at Maintaining or Restoring Canopy Closure, Stream Water Temperature, Primary Productivity
Sponsor: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Principal Investigator Kevin D. Bladon, Co-Principal Investigator Catalina Segura
$694,371

Advancing the characterization and management of community wildfire risk
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service
Principal Investigator Meg Krawchuk
$250,000

Reliable achievement of Douglas-fir stand management objectives using real time precision forestry
Sponsor: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Principal Investigator Bogdan M. Strimbu
$313,263

Assistant professor Catalina Segura has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Italy.  She will study rainfall-runoff generation response in spring 2021 at the University of Florence. 

Catalina joined the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management in 2013 and runs the Watershed Processes Lab. The goal of her research program is to understand the physical processes that control the movement of water and sediment and the effects that the variability of these processes have on water availability, water quality, and stream ecology.

If you’re interested in a career dedicated to improving our forest ecosystems, learn more about our undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

In this lecture, associate professor Mariapaola Riggio introduces us to the sensor network in the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center.  This new building in OSU’s Oregon Forest Science Complex is a pioneer mass timber building showcasing innovative forest products and novel engineering solutions. Data are currently collected from a comprehensive sensor network in the building and investigated to cross-check assumptions made during the design phase. This truly makes it a living laboratory, and the monitoring data will provide many lessons for students, researchers and the mass timber industry.

Professor Riggio has been with the Department of Wood Science and Engineering since 2015. Her research interests include architecture, structural engineering, structural health, timber mechanics, and building design. Her work has led to important collaborations with the University of Oregon and the advancement of mass timber initiatives. Our undergraduate degree in renewable materials and graduate degree in wood science can lead to a career with innovative products and engineering solutions.

—This lecture was part of the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home lecture series, featuring presentations by College of Forestry professors, students, and researchers.

In “CLT industry enters 2020s (to face a different world than imagined),” professor Lech Muszyński looked into his crystal ball to see how the global pandemic is going to impact the future of this budding industry. Cross laminated timber (CLT) is an innovative wood panel product made from gluing layers of solid-sawn lumber together, and has been gaining in popularity.  Will that continue?

Lech Muszyński is professor of novel composite materials and advanced manufacturing in the Wood Science and Engineering department. His work has led to innovations across a number of mass timber products, including cross-laminated timber. Our undergraduate degree in renewable materials and graduate degree in wood science can lead to a career creating innovative products and building a sustainable economy.

—This lecture was part of the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home lecture series, featuring presentations by College of Forestry professors, students, and researchers.

Jim Ayorekire, a visiting Fulbright scholar at the College of Forestry, recently gave a presentation as part of our Stay at Home Lecture Series.  Dr. Ayorekire joined us in November 2019 from Makerere University in Uganda where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism.  He talked about his research and experiences at OSU.

During his time in the College of Forestry, Jim co-taught a course in the Tourism, Recreation and Adventure Leadership degree program.  In TRAL 354 (Communities, Natural Areas, and Sustainable Tourism), he was able to share Eastern African experiences, giving the students a global perspective. In his research, he studies human-gorilla conflict in the greater Virunga landscape of Rwanda and Uganda.  This was a valuable perspective for our students!  We welcome scholars and students from all over the world to collaborate with us in our classrooms, forests and labs.

–Dr. Jim Ayorekire holds a PhD in Sustainable Tourism Management from the University of Cape Town – South Africa and a Master’s degree in Land Use & Regional Development Planning from Makerere University. His research centers on the role of tourism as a driver for natural resource conservation, and enhancement of community livelihoods and inclusive development. He also has extensive experience in knowledge transfer and curriculum design and has been focusing on innovative program and curriculum development in Tourism, Forestry, and Resource Management.

The annual Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium (WFGRS) showcases graduate and undergraduate student research. This year, the symposium partnered with the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home Lecture Series to share student’s research through a series of 5-to-12 minute online presentations. Over the course of four webinars, topics such as ecology, forest management, forest products, and human uses were explored.

In the first session, Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis kicked off the symposium with opening remarks, followed by seven presentations ranging from sustainable forest certification costs and benefits to early successional forests of the Klamath-Siskiyou region.

In the second session, students presented their research proposals on topics as broad as riparian restoration, wildfire effects on water quality, timber faller safety, and more.

For the third session, presentations included Tree Mortality in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest and The Economic Consequence of a Log Export Tax in Oregon.

In the final session, student presentations ranged from the use of low-grade cross laminated timber to comparing the performance of Douglas-fir and western hemlock seedlings in different nursery containers.

-The Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium is organized entirely by College of Forestry graduate students. The purpose of this symposium is to promote academic excellence by challenging students to present their work to and receive feedback from their academic and professional peers on their proposed and current research from a diverse audience, fostering student engagement, enthusiasm, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

If you are interested in learning more about our education and research programs, please visit our website.

Assistant professor Dr. Jim Rivers was a featured speaker in the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home Lecture Series.  In his talk “Uncovering the hidden world of a secretive seabird,” Jim shared findings from the Oregon Marbled Murrelet Project.  Listen in to hear about the life cycle of this amazing bird and the challenges researchers face in tracking them down.

Jim is the principal investigator of the Forest Animal Ecology lab at Oregon State University.  Members of his lab group work on a variety of organisms, including forest-nesting seabirds, woodpeckers, early-successional songbirds, and native insect pollinators, and much of the research they undertake has implications for applied management issues. If you’re interested in a career dedicated to improving our forest ecosystems, learn more about our undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

–Dr. Jim Rivers is assistant professor of wildlife ecology in the Forest Engineering, Resources & Management department.  His research is centered on understanding the behavioral, physiological and ecological mechanisms that are linked to animal vital rates.

When the State of Oregon needed to increase revenue for outdoor recreation facilities and maintenance, they turned to Oregon State University for answers to their questions, and for scientific data to help inform their decisions.

A study completed by Randy Rosenberger, professor and College of Forestry Associate Dean for Student Success, connected outdoor activities on trails to health savings by utilizing and recalibrating a tool called the Outdoor Recreation Health Impacts Estimator. The tool was originally developed to focus on transportation decisions (walking, cycling or utilizing public transportation as opposed to driving) to estimate changes in life expectancy and quality of life.

The tool converts positive health effects into monetary unit, and even includes the cost of treating certain diseases as well as the loss of productivity illnesses cause.

The study became part of the 2019-2023 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

“In my research, I quantify things that aren’t normally quantified,” Rosenberger says. “Things like recreation aren’t traded in markets with prices. They don’t have voices. This study gives them a voice, and I think through it, people are starting to realize that recreation is at the nexus of everything. It’s not just something we like to do if we have the time. It’s creating healthier communities and saving those same communities money on health services.”

Rosenberger replicated the study for the McDonald and Dunn Forests, two of the College Research Forests. The college owns more than 15,000 acres of working forests around the state that are utilized for research, outreach and education with some open to the public for recreation. He found that recreation on the Research Forests saved $754,395 in cost of illness savings in 2017 alone. This data can now be used by private and public agencies for planning, budgeting, assessment and grant applications.

By The Numbers

In 2017, the McDonald-Dunn College Research Forests saw 17,271 individual recreation visitors who accounted for more than 155,000 total visits.

McDonald-Dunn Recreation Activity

Walking/Hiking51.5%
Dog Walking19%
Running/jogging16%
Mountain Biking12%
Horseback riding/misc1.5%

Recreation visits to the McDonald and Dunn Forests resulted in $754,395 in cost of illness savings, or health benefits, associated with eight chronic illnesses; and accounted for 14 percent of the total health benefits estimated for all of Benton County ($5.4 million).

Did You Know?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorousintensity aerobic physical activity.

60 percent of adults in Oregon meet this recommendation. 63 percent of adults in Benton County meet this.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

The story of Oak Creek: From storage facility to top-notch greenhouse

Visitors to the Oak Creek Greenhouse on Western Boulevard in Corvallis enjoy world-class technology and a variety of seedling studies – plants growing in just about every place one can look. But it wasn’t always like that.

When Assistant Professor Carlos Gonzalez-Benecke arrived at Oregon State in 2015, he toured all of the facilities that were available to him for research projects. One was the Oak Creek Greenhouse, but unfortunately, at the time, it could only facilitate small seedling studies due to the large amounts of timber and nursery materials stored there.

“Once I became oriented with my work here, I made revitalizing the greenhouse a priority,” he says.

Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis and a team of graduate students (Carson Alberg, Matthew Davis, Kaitlin Gerber, Rebecca Sheridan and Christina St. John) shared the vision for a functioning greenhouse that took advantage of all the space and potential the Oak Creek location offered. So, everyone worked together to quickly clean out the space.

Once the space was clear, Gonzalez-Benecke considered what greenhouse characteristics plants like Douglas-fir seedlings need to have to thrive while making the space as flexible as possible for a variety of uses. “Plants need resources to grow: water, nutrients and radiation,” Gonzalez-Benecke says.

Nutrients are easily provided by fertilizers, but Gonzalez-Benecke gave more thought to water and radiation.

“We wanted to be able to manipulate those factors,” he explains. “This is why we installed an extensive irrigation system, as well as fixing the roof that allows us to better adjust environmental conditions inside the greenhouse. We can provide more light or provide a total black out in certain sections of the greenhouse.”

The heating system and fans also manipulate factors including temperature, relative humidity and air movement.

The greenhouse hosts several research projects for the College of Forestry and the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“For our purposes, the greenhouse is perfect,” Gonzalez-Benecke says. “We are proud of it, and we are happy to be a resource for the college and the broader campus community. We invite visitors and members of the industry to come tour it.”

One of Gonzalez-Benecke’s Ph.D. students, Patricio Alzugaray, has a long-term study of Douglas fir seedlings at the greenhouse.

Seedlings can be produced in a wide array of containers, and Alzugaray is testing the benefits and disadvantages of using biodegradable, paper containers. The first phase of the study involved growing the seedlings inside the greenhouse and taking root morphology and physiology measurements.

In October 2019, Alzugaray outplanted the seedlings on five sites across the region. He will continue to monitor their growth and performance.

“It is invigorating to see the quality of research coming out of the Oak Creek Greenhouse, especially considering Oregon State’s historic strength in advancing forest regeneration,” Davis says. “Access to world-class facilities like this help our students and our faculty make discoveries that will sustain healthy forest landscapes in Oregon and beyond.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

Five acres of Peavy Arboretum are filled with utility poles. But why?

“It’s our pole farm,” answers Senior Faculty Research Assistant Jed Cappellazzi. “We are growing them!”

He’s only joking, of course. Cappellazzi and fellow Senior Faculty Research Assistant Matthew Konkler co-facilitate the College of Forestry’s Utility Pole Research Cooperative, and the five acres of poles at Peavy Arboretum only make up a small piece of the cooperative’s unique, world-class research.

The co-op’s membership includes energy, chemical and timber companies from every region of the United States and some parts of Canada. Co-op members are happy to host researchers to study utility poles in use across the country, but there are many external factors affecting poles already in use.

“We don’t always know the history of these poles,” Cappellazzi says. “And they’re vulnerable to more external stimuli including things like car accidents. If something like that happened, we would lose all of our replication with the study we’re running.”

Konkler says that the five acres at Peavy Arboretum is different and well protected.

“That’s where we’re really free to experiment,” he says. “Our industry partners really appreciate the space because the weather at the Arboretum causes poles to deteriorate pretty quickly. So, even in the long-term studies we’re running, we’re able to get answers to their questions relatively quickly.”

The Arboretum has about 30 active studies. Studies began at that site when the first post installed on January 7, 1928. Some of the older poles still stand, although they are not being studied.

The utility pole co-op was founded in the 1980s and charged with developing fumigants to help preserve utility poles. Since then, its focus has changed and it now addresses a variety of wood related issues that improve the performance of wood, allowing poles to last longer and make utilities more competitive.

Assistant Professor Gerald Presley joined Oregon State in 2019 to oversee the co-op. He says its future is exciting.

“It’s great to be in a position to do applied research with wood-based products,” he says. “Wood utility poles are an essential part of our national infrastructure and have advantages over steel alternatives. Not least among these is that they are a renewable resource grown and manufactured right here in Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

Chemical leaching and fire mitigation are a few of the next big issues in the industry that the co-op plans to tackle in Peavy Arboretum and beyond.

“When it comes down to it, we’re trying to protect the investment of wood poles,” Konkler says. “We do our best to look comprehensively at the forest and wood products industry to understand everything that goes into creating, establishing and maintaining these poles.” •

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.