Graduates of the College of Forestry are our most valuable resource. Our alumni serve as a critical bridge between the university and the world, connecting Oregon State University and its students to communities and employers. They inspire our students to make a difference and they shape the world we live in.

This year, we honor the outstanding accomplishments of three College of Forestry alumni.

Randy Hereford
1977, B.S., Forest Engineering and Forest Management

Randy joined Starker Forests in 1978 and became President and CEO in 2019. Randy’s primary responsibilities have been directing timber harvest planning, log marketing, road construction, and fire management. With his broad experience, he has served on a multitude of advisory boards on county, state and national levels. He is currently a board member of the Oregon Forest and Industries Council (OFIC), the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), and Keep Oregon Green. Over the years, he has participated in a number of OSU College of Forestry advisory boards, and served on several Forest Protective Associations. Randy has been a member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) since he was a college student at OSU, and is a SAF Certified Forester. Bringing his leadership and personal history in forestry to the table, Randy participated in and was a signer of the new Private Forest Accord which will impact forestry in Oregon for decades to come.

Valerie Hipkins
1989, M.S., Forestry and Genetics
1994, Ph.D, Forestry and Genetics

Valerie serves as the Associate Deputy Chief for Research and Development in the Washington Office of the US Forest Service. Prior to this position, she was the Assistant Regional Director in the North Atlantic-Appalachian Region of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She has also held assignments in the Forest Service as Acting Station Director at the Pacific Southwest Research Station, the Acting National lead for Reforestation and Nurseries, and the Director of the National Forest Genetics Lab. Valerie received her B.S. in Forestry from Humboldt State University, and her MS and PhD in Forestry and Genetics from Oregon State University.

 

 

 

 

Kendall Conroy
2016, B.S. Renewable Resources
2018, M.S. Wood Science and Engineering

Kendall is the Marketing Director at Timber Products. Prior to her director role she was the Marketing Manager, and before getting into marketing she was a Technical Sales Representative at RedBuilt. Over the course of her short career, Kendall’s goal has always been to help people build more sustainably, encouraging the use of wood products over non-renewable resources. Kendall gained this mindset during her time at Oregon State University, where she earned a B.S. in Renewable Materials, a B.S. in Sustainability, and a M.S. in Wood Science & Engineering.

Jenna Deibel graduated from the College of Forestry in March 2023 with a Master of Natural Resources (MNR) with a focus in Policy. She also received her Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources with an option in Tourism, Recreation, and Adventure Leadership from the college in December 2021. She recently started her position as an Extension Forester in central Oregon.

Does one class, teacher or experience really stand out?
The class that stands out to me as a pivotal experience was Recreation Resource Management with Dr. Mark Needham, which I took Fall Term freshman year. While the course was totally fascinating to me as an ambitious wilderness ranger wannabe, what was truly life-changing was how Mark instantly recognized my passion for the field and agreed to advise my Honors thesis. He later recommended me to my then Department Head, Dr. Troy Hall, for a seasonal role as a field data technician on the Mt. Hood National Forest recording wilderness campsite inventories and visitor encounters.

Because Mark and Troy took a chance on an eager student, the Forest Service hired me back for several summers as a trail crew member and wilderness ranger. I then became the guinea pig for the MNR Accelerated Master’s Program, conducted the Baseline Wilderness Character Monitoring Assessment for the Ochoco National Forest, and ended up teaching Recreation Resource Management at the OSU Cascades campus when it was offered for the first time last term! Instructing that class was really a full-circle moment for me. Not only did I get to teach the same class that captured my attention seven years ago, but I got to supplement the material with my own lived experiences, which was so fun.

How did COF prepare you for your career?
CoF not only gave me job opportunities, but also provided a space on campus to foster the skills and knowledge I needed to succeed after graduating. First off, the natural resource education I received at CoF was phenomenal and gave me a strong foundation in ecosystem sciences. Additionally, I attribute the confidence I have presenting and connecting with stakeholders to my time as a Student Ambassador for CoF, where I was responsible for touring prospective students and working alongside Extension folks at events. In short, I wouldn’t be where I am today without CoF!

I’d also like to give a shout out to the Adventure Leadership Institute (ALI) on campus, which isn’t housed in CoF, but many CoF students work for and take classes with the ALI. A CoF graduate is even their Trips Coordinator! While there, I received my Wilderness First Responder certification, took many awesome classes, and was a trip leader for a short time. Being a part of the ALI gave me tangible skills that directly supported my career and experience leading and teaching in the woods.

What are your main duties as an Extension Forester?
I think the answer to that question will largely be determined by what I learn about the central Oregon community’s needs during the following months! Generally, I am a non-formal educational resource for the public on forestry and natural resources topics in the region. Topics I could be contacted about might include how to improve the resiliency of a timber stand to mountain pine beetle, or assistance with Forest Protection Act policy interpretation, or even helping form connections with landowners and their local ODFW wildlife biologist, and everything in between! Once I have some time to formally assess the forestry-related needs of the community and how to properly respond, I will be able to start offering workshops and resources to help address those needs, whatever they may be.

And you know I have to ask this, what is your favorite tree?
Well, I’m originally from the Bay Area, so growing up it was the California black oak. I have many fond memories spending entire afternoons exploring their branches and observing the small micro-ecosystems that reside in their nooks and crannies. Since moving to central Oregon, however, I’ve quickly fallen in love with the quaking aspen. Just like I used to spend hours with the oaks, now I can lay in the grass and watch the aspen leaves quake until the sun sets!

Anything else you would like to share?
I would just like to express how honored I am to serve as central Oregon’s next Extension Forester. I worked with one of my predecessors, Dr. Stephen Fitzgerald, during my time as a CoF ambassador, and I saw just how powerful effective scientific communication could be. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who are not only brilliant but are able to communicate their wealth of knowledge in an accessible way so everyone can benefit from it. I’m excited to learn from and work alongside them, and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve already received since starting last week!

FY2023: a record year for research
Bolstered by a big jump in funding from U.S. government agencies, Oregon State University’s research awards in the last fiscal year surged to $480 million, a university record. The College of Forestry also closed out its best-ever year with $25 million in research grants and contracts for FY 2023.

Left: Faculty research assistant and master’s student Ashley Russell and Associate Dean Cristina Eisenberg. Russell is working with Eisenberg in the Indigenous Natural Resource Office and is a Miluk Coos and Pamunkey descendent, an enrolled citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Coos Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians and assistant director of culture and natural resources for the Tribes. Photo: Karl Maasdam

Cristina Eisenberg named a Beaver Research Champion
Cristina Eisenberg, the associate dean for inclusive excellence and Maybelle Clark Macdonald director of Tribal initiatives in natural resources, was named an Oregon State Beaver Research Champion. Eisenberg leads the Indigenous Natural Resource Office, and within it, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Lab. In partnership with five Sovereign Tribes in Oregon, her team is weaving together Indigenous Knowledge with western science to help the Bureau of Land Management adapt its forests in Oregon to be more resilient to climate change. Eisenberg and Dean Tom DeLuca recently received a $1M grant to work with leaders from the U.S. Forest Service and Tribal Nations to convene a series of Tribal roundtables around the Pacific Northwest. This work is in direct response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14072, which calls for conserving and safeguarding mature and old-growth forests.

Pacific Northwest’s semiconductor and sustainable timber industries to be strengthened by two tech hubs
The White House, through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, announced the designation of 31 Tech Hubs. Oregon State is the only university to lead two. The Pacific Northwest Mass Timber Tech Hub, led by TallWood Design Institute, a collaboration between Oregon State’s College of Forestry, College of Engineering and the University of Oregon, aims to be a global leader in mass timber design and manufacturing manufacturing, with a goal of reducing the construction industry’s carbon footprint and improving housing affordability.

Revision of Pacific Northwest bee ID key to support identification of native pollinators
Associate Professor Jim Rivers, in collaboration with OSU Extension, Oregon Department of Agriculture and Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, developed several bee ID keys to support native bee identification in the Pacific Northwest. The last version of the bee key was published in 1969. Given the growing interest in native pollinator conservation, the new bee ID keys will have a strong impact on bee research in the region.

Forest modeling shows which harvest rotations lead to maximum carbon sequestration
Forest modeling completed on the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest by College of Forestry graduate
student Catherine Carlisle and professors Temesgen Hailemariam and Stephen Fitzgerald, shows that a site’s productivity — an indicator of how fast trees grow and how much biomass they accumulate — is the main factor that determines which time period between timber harvests allows for maximum above-ground carbon sequestration. Over a 240- year projection timeframe, scientists found that for highly productive stands, 60-year rotations with low-intensity thinning at 40 years led to the greatest carbon storage (in the standing trees plus what was removed from the thinning). For stands on less productive sites, they found carbon storage was maximized by rotation periods of 80 years or 120 years.

Update from the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest
On August 5, 2023, a lightning strike ignited a wildfire within the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and Long-term Ecological Research site in Oregon’s Cascade mountains, ultimately burning across 70% of the forest. The fire, dubbed the Lookout Fire because the ignition point was on Lookout Mountain, burned 25,000 acres, incinerating long-term, decades-old research plots and altering study sites.

2023 also marked 75 years of ecological data collection, and 42 years of Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) inquiry. The Andrews, as it’s affectionately known, also celebrated a successful midterm review by the National Science Foundation.

Throughout the challenges and celebrations, the H.J. Andrews community continues to make discoveries about the forest and engage with forest managers, teachers, students of all levels, artists, writers, musicians and many other groups.

Bridging gaps between forestry and engineering to better understand community resilience to wildfire
Wildfire researchers from Oregon State University, including College of Forestry Assistant Professor Chris Dunn, have received $750,000 for multiple projects to advance the science of wildfire risk and resilience. The strategies include embedding a doctoral student in Ashland, Oregon, the site of the largest primarily urban blaze in Oregon history that occurred in 2020; planning a global center for transdisciplinary wildfire research on community resilience; and creating a wildfire risk and resilience graduate program jointly advised by faculty in OSU’s colleges of engineering and forestry.

Researchers from 6 countries are coming together to advance mass timber adoption

Approaching research with an international lens enables Oregon State University to enter a global dialogue — and take steps towards changing the world. One example? The Converging Design project, a powerful international mass timber research collaboration spearheaded jointly by a team from Oregon State, Colorado State University, Stanford and Penn State University.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and private industry, the project’s aim is to investigate the seismic resilience of mass timber and its strength as a low-carbon structural building material. This is important, as this data is critically needed to help speed along the development and adoption of building codes, showcase the sustainability of the material and increase the manufacturing of modular and prefabricated mass timber structures that will result in widespread U.S. adoption, as seen in other countries around the world.

To gather the necessary test data, the research team is conducting a shake-table test on a six-story mass timber building at the national shake-table testing site at the University of California San Diego. Part of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure, the shake-table is the largest in the world.

Originally 10 stories tall, the test building was constructed by the Colorado School of Mines, with the support of international partners including the University College London in the U.K, University of Canterbury in New Zealand, University of Kyoto in Japan, and University of Camerino in Italy. To gather the seismic data needed for this project,the structure only needed to be six stories, so prior to the testing, the OSU teams deconstructed the top four stories of the building. The salvaged components are being repurposed into refugee housing in Tijuana, Mexico, showcasing the potential for mass timber reuse.“It’s exciting to work with such a diverse group of both academic and industry partners,’’ said Andre Barbosa, the Glenn Willis Holcomb professor in structural engineering at the College of Engineering. “This unique project is one of the first demonstrations of mass timber reuse and of mass timber’s seismic resilience.”

Barbosa, in collaboration with Arijit Sinha, professor of wood science and engineering and JELD-WEN chair in wood-based composites science at the College of Forestry, originally started investigating the systems using a three-story mass timber structure. The test structure was built inside the Oregon State University A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory lab at the TallWood Design Institute. This allowed the team to investigate initial design methods, assumptions and obtain results before refining them for the larger six story building seismic testing at UC San Diego.

“This work is vitally important to validate the use of mass timber and other technologies as vehicles to make buildings safer and more resistant to earthquake activity while simultaneously storing carbon,” Sinha said. “This creates a synergistic combination for enhanced structural and environmental performance.”

The test structure will undergo a three-phase test process (see below), employing different seismic lateral force-resisting systems in each test. These systems employ a variety of vertical elements in the construction of buildings to help transfer lateral loads like heavy winds or earthquake ground motion shaking. They also allow a building to rock, sway and dissipate the energy, and self-center after shaking, therefore minimizing damage.

The project tests different resilient lateral force resisting systems (LFRS) over three phases to advance seismic resiliency. Phase 1 involves testing post-tensioned rocking wall systems (both cross-laminated timber [CLT] and mass plywood panels [MPP]) similar in nature to the LFRS used in the College of Forestry’s Peavy Forest Science Center. This system uses steel U-shaped flexural plates for energy dissipation and tensioned rods for self-centering action. Phase 2 features post-tensioned MPP shear walls reinforced with buckling-restrained braces (BRBs), which are placed at the bottom of the walls instead of along their entire length, such as with U-shaped flexural plates. Phase 3 will explore a hybrid wood-steel system, replacing the mass timber shear walls with a resilient steel moment/braced frame hybrid system, but keeping mass timber floors.

In November 2023, the Converging Design team completed Phase 1. They found the mass timber structure experienced virtually no damage after nearly fifty ground motion shakes from the shake-table, demonstrating the resilience of the building system. Phase 2, completed in January 2024, showcased the resilient nature of the post-tensioned mass timber walls with buckling-restrained braces. The remaining phase of testing is expected to be complete by spring 2024. Follow along and find live updates on the TallWood Design Institute website!

One way to strengthen international collaboration is to join global organizations. Another way? Lead them.

Woodam Chung, the Stewart professor of forest operations at the College of Forestry, was recently elected as the vice president for divisions of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). IUFRO is the most prestigious international forestry organization in the world, and since 2014, Chung has been the chair of IUFRO Division 3 Forest Operations Engineering and Management. He will begin his five-year term as vice president in June 2024 at the 26th World Congress held in Stockholm, Sweden.

“I am honored to do the work of guiding IUFRO’s nine divisions, and I firmly believe international collaboration and relationship-building are keys to success in our shared future,” said Chung. “Navigating the complexities of our world and finding innovative solutions to global challenges requires our collective effort.”

Established in 1892, IUFRO unites about 630 member organizations in more than 115 countries representing over 15,000 scientists. Structured by nine scientific divisions that encompass over 50 research groups, it also has 180 working parties based on research disciplines. IUFRO’s goal is to advance research excellence and knowledge-sharing and promote the development of science-based solutions to forest related challenges to benefit forests and people worldwide. The College of Forestry is a proud member.

IUFRO Management Committee members (including Woodam Chung, second from left) and leadership from University of Energy and Natural Resource in Ghana, September 2023.

Besides meeting every five years at Congress, the IUFRO management committee, an executive branch of the IUFRO board, meets twice a year, selecting a location or region where they can help establish or boost the IUFRO network. In the spring of 2023, the management committee met in Dehradun, India, and in the fall of 2023, they met in Accra, Ghana. While in Ghana, IUFRO members visited the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani, the Forest Research Institute of Ghana in Kumasi, the Resource Management Support Center in Kumasi, and the Forestry Commission in Accra—all IUFRO member organizations. As a result of this work, the 27th IUFRO World Congress will be held in Africa for the
first time in 2029, in Nairobi, Kenya.

“It’s vitally important to meet local forest scientists, build a research and collaboration network, and encourage local scientists to participate in IUFRO activities,” said Chung. “Our international exchanges of knowledge, experiences and even mistakes improve our understanding and foster innovation.”

In fact, Chung says, new ideas often emerge from intersections of diverse industries, disciplines and cultures. And he knows this firsthand. Originally from South Korea, Chung has made a conscious decision to live and work far from his home country, learning, teaching and collaborating with a diverse group of international scholars, students and colleagues in the United States. He previously worked at the University of Montana and received his Ph.D. from Oregon State.

“Living and working in a global context has been my conscious choice,” Chung said. “In the past, I have had chances to find positions in Korea, but I chose to stay here because I believed it would offer more opportunities for global engagement despite the challenges of language and cultural barriers.”

Chung says global challenges such as climate change, deforestation, wildfires, illegal logging and the aging and diminishing workforce in the forest sector are issues not limited to local boundaries. As Chung looks to his new role leading IUFRO, he encourages others to build networks capable of collectively addressing challenges by combining their resources, expertise and experiences. And to those who’ve made the decision to come to Oregon State far from their home countries, Chung applauds their courage and enthusiasm for embracing global collaborations and navigating the challenges that come with it.

JOIN US IN STOCKHOLM
The College of Forestry will be at the IUFRO World Congress in June 2024. Find us at our booth in the Expo Hall. For more information, contact rona.bryan@oregonstate.edu.

2024 IUFRO AWARDS
Three members of the College of Forestry community will receive awards at the World Congress this June:

John Sessions
OSU Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Home country: USA
Award: IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award

Pipiet Larasatie
Ph.D. Wood Science and Engineering, ‘21
Home country: Indonesia
Award: IUFRO Outstanding Doctoral Research Award

Kamana Poudel
Ph.D. Forest Engineering,Resources & Management, ‘24
Home country: Nepal
Award: IUFRO InternationalStudent Award

PERU
Mariapaola Riggio, associate professor, and Patricia Vega, director of the Wood Based Composite Center, recently welcomed a group of distinguished USDA Cochran Fellows from Peru. The fellows, associated with universities across Peru, explored a diverse range of wood products manufacturers, cutting-edge research at laboratories and observed construction practices at various sites in the Pacific Northwest to learn about the U.S. construction industry and softwood products. The visit was made possible through the USDA Cochran Fellowship Program that promotes the utilization of high-quality U.S. softwood products and aligns with the broader vision of fostering a sustainable construction sector in Peru.

Mariapaola Riggio
Patricia Vega

Special thanks: City of Portland, KPFF Consulting Engineers, Jensen Hughes, Michael Thrailkill, CORRIM, Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute, Truebeck Construction, Andersen Construction, APA (The Engineered Wood Association), Freres Engineered Wood, Modern Building Systems, Boise Cascade, Roseburg Forest Products, Interfor, Royal Pacific, University of Oregon, TallWood Design Institute and the COF Wood Science and Engineering Department.

In partnership with United States Agency for International Development and the U.S. Forest Service International programs, Associate Professor Reem Hajjar has been leading a College of Forestry initiative to enhance teaching and research capacity at two Peruvian forestry universities, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, and Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana. The initiative will ultimately graduate 12 Peruvian students from the college’s Master of Natural Resources program. In addition to the MNR degrees, post-doctoral scholar Jazmin Gonzales Tovar led research with the students as co-researchers, working with various Indigenous peoples, on making informal forest institutions and enterprises in the Pervuian Amazon more visible.

Reem Hajjar
Jazmin Gonzales Tovar

ECUADOR
Building on the success of the Peru project, Hajjar is working with USFS International Programs to have eight Ecuadorian students from various universities and government agencies complete the college’s Forests and Climate Change Certificate, as well as pedagogy and leadership classes, to advance these topics in their home institutions.

PANAMA
In collaboration with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Centro de Estudios y Acción Social Panameño, Associate Professor Reem Hajjar is initiating a research collaboration on forest restoration governance in the Indigenous territory in Panama — Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca — to better understand how international forest carbon projects interact with local and traditional customs, institutions and livelihoods.

CAMBODIA, THAILAND, VIETNAM
Hajjar is also continuing her National Science Foundation funded work on community forestry in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, in collaboration with The Center for People and Forests, a regional NGO, to assess the impacts of community forests on forest cover, forest biodiversity and community livelihoods.

BRAZIL, PANAMA, SOUTHEAST ASIA (PAN-TROPICAL)
Assistant Professor Loren Albert and her research group are tackling two international projects. The first, funded by NSF, focuses on the ecohydrology of Amazon forests. The other, funded by NASA, aims to advance scientists’ ability to estimate flows of carbon between forests and the atmosphere from space with remote sensing, and includes a partnership with Brazilian faculty to lead a field course for Brazilian graduate students to learn more about concepts in tropical forest ecology and physiology.

INDIA
When world leaders convened in New Delhi for the 2023 G20 Summit, they were handed policy briefs by Think 20 (T20) engagement group to inform their decisions, including one led by Associate Professor Rajat Panwar. As a lead author of one of the policy briefs produced by a T20 taskforce focused on accelerating sustainable development goals, Panwar worked in partnership with four other experts to produce the policy brief, “Aligning G20 Industrial Policies with Biodiversity Conservation.” Panwar is also lead author for the “Bioeconomy Assessment for Latin America and the Carribean” conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with Jazmin Tovar as co-author.

UGANDA
Associate Professor Ian Munanura collaborated with Pennsylvania State University, Shared Planet (a U.K. based NGO), Makerere University, and wildlife conservation institutions in Uganda to investigate research needs for managing human-wildlife conflicts. This collaborative effort culminated in the establishment of the Network for Human-Wildlife Conflict Research in Africa. The primary goal of this network is to establish an online platform dedicated to fostering collaborative research on wildlife conflict and shared knowledge creation to bridge the gap between research and practice in addressing human-wildlife conflict issues.

ETHIOPIA
The College of Forestry International Programs Office recently hosted delegates from Ethiopian Forestry Development, Amhara Forest Enterprise, Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise, and CIFORICRAF, for a nine-day tour of Oregon. They explored forest and fire ecology, tree seed improvement and genetic conservation, timber industry operations and other critical topics. This visit was to support World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in their responsibility for implementing the Provision of Adequate Tree Seed Portfolios in Ethiopia, in coordination with the EFD, the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia.

Special thanks: OSU Extension, U.S. Forest Service, Starker Forests, Sierra Pacific Industries and the Corvallis Sister City Association.

Katy Kavanaugh
Woodam Chung

SOUTH KOREA
At the request of the Korea National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) — which is establishing landscape level forest management experiments in South Korea in collaboration with the College of Forestry — Associate Dean for Research Katy Kavanaugh and Eric Thompson, CEO of Thompson Timber, traveled to South Korea to give a talk on public and private land management in Oregon. Professor Woodam Chung and Matt Mattioda with Miller Timber Services were also invited to speak at the International Symposium on Forest Engineering Technology for the Establishment of Future Forest Management. The events, held back-to-back in South Korea, included panel discussions as well as visits to timber harvesting and road construction sites in Kangwon Province, providing a detailed look at forest management activities in South Korea.

CANADA
David Hamilton, a forest engineering Ph.D. student from Vancouver, Canada, is collaborating with Edison Motors of Merrit, Canada, the inventors of the first electric log truck (ELT), to map ELT range. Hamilton has invented multiple tools for mapping ELT range across a forest landscape to help alleviate range anxiety amongst policy makers, truck manufacturers and buyers. Last summer, he collaborated with OSU’s innovation team to develop a patent based on his research. In Fall of 2023, Hamilton and Professor John Sessions were awarded a $15,000 Accelerator Innovation and Development grant from OSU to improve and implement his tool, in collaboration with Edison.

When world leaders convened in New Delhi for the 2023 G20 Summit, they were handed policy briefs by Think 20 (T20) engagement group to inform their decisions, including one led by Associate Professor Rajat Panwar. As a lead author of one of the policy briefs produced by a T20 taskforce focused on accelerating sustainable development goals, Panwar worked in partnership with four other experts to produce the policy brief, “Aligning G20 Industrial Policies with Biodiversity Conservation.” Panwar is also lead author for the “Bioeconomy Assessment for Latin America and the Carribean” conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with Jazmin Tovar as co-author.

Can you tell me a little bit about your research and why you find it so compelling?
My research focuses on sustainable business practices. Current projects explore two key areas: (i) how business practices impact biodiversity loss and deforestation, and potential solutions, and (ii) building a sustainable bioeconomy.

Growing up in India during a period of rapid economic expansion, I witnessed the development-conservation debate come alive. Within a decade, the natural landscape surrounding my village transformed into monoculture plantations feeding newly built paper mills and plywood factories. The region was subsequently designated a “dark zone” due to critically low water levels. Disappointingly, most villagers seemed content. The belief that environmental loss was an inevitable price for escaping poverty, increasing income, and generating local jobs ran just too deep. I recall an elder in the village saying, with a sentiment I now challenge, “Sustainability comes after breakfast.”

These experiences profoundly impacted me. My academic work is dedicated to finding ways for both sustainability and breakfast to be on the table, ensuring a future where meeting human needs does not come at the cost of the environment. It is both daunting and fascinating.

Did you begin your career studying deforestation or did you pivot from something else?
I did not. Actually, my initial post-MBA job was at Coca-Cola. However, only six months into it, I sensed the need for self-reflection. I went on a brief retreat to a quaint Himalayan town, where I resided in a Buddhist monastery. Although my intention was a week-long stay, I ended up remaining for nine months! Within the first week, I decided to not return to my corporate job.

It was during this period that I became engaged with local community members reliant on locally sourced non-wood forest products (NWFPs). We explored various cooperative models for marketing these products, none of which worked. Later, I transitioned to the Forest Research Institute of India, studying community-based forest management in the northwest Himalayas (across India and Nepal). I also contributed to research on ecotourism social enterprises in Asia and Africa.

And then, as any discerning individual would do, I came to OSU College of Forestry to pursue doctoral studies !! Thus, my entry into the world of forests was both fortuitous and meandering. I consider myself fortunate for the journey though.

You have had many accomplishments in your career, including working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, being a Senior Fellow, Sustainable palm oil initiative, at the Center for Responsible Business in New Delhi, India, consulting for the G20 as a member of T20 (Think 20), acting as the lead author for the business and biodiversity assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and recently being selected as a lead author for the National Nature Assessment being conducted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Which accomplishment or experience was most meaningful for you and why?
Not any of those. The most significant work I have engaged in has taken place within classrooms. I have had the privilege to teach in several countries, spanning various levels and settings — business schools, forestry schools, and liberal arts institutions. Much of what I know stems from the insightful questions posed by students, many of which have evolved into my research endeavors. Moreover, my transdisciplinary research is a direct result of my teaching across diverse disciplines to both traditional students and participants in executive education programs.

Your earned your graduate degree from OSU in 2008 and returned in 2021 as an associate professor of responsible and sustainable business. Can you tell me a bit about what the College of Forestry means to you?
This is home. I felt a sense of belonging when I first arrived here in 2004, and it felt like leaving home when I departed in 2008. Despite Thomas Wolfe’s famous assertion, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” returning in 2021 truly felt like a homecoming. Some things have changed, such as this new building, but the essence of the culture—marked by kindness, compassion, and honesty—has remained steadfast and will continue to endure. Being a member of the College is integral to my identity. That is what the College of Forestry means to me.

Who or what has influenced you the most, either during your career or regarding your research?
My professional journey has been profoundly shaped by a cohort of exceptional mentors. Eric Hansen, in particular, has fostered the development of critical thinking skills within me, encouraging a balanced and objective approach to analysis, despite our spirited disagreements on most things. Alix Gitelman’s guidance instilled the importance of intellectual humility and a commitment to rigorous inquiry. Kathleen Dean Moore’s influence cultivated in me a deep sense of empathy. Rob Kozak honed my pedagogical skills, and Michael Barnett helped enhance my writing abilities. Padam Bhjovaid’s mentorship ignited my creative spark, and Jeffrey Sachs’s passionate advocacy has inspired my commitment to social justice.

However, my most profound and personal growth occurred during my time in the monastery and within the surrounding communities. Reflecting on that period holds a special significance— how many of us have spent their formative period in a monastery!

What’s next for you and your research?
My research is moving towards conservation finance, though the specific research streams are still crystallizing for me. The upcoming two years are packed with commitments to IPBES and National Nature Assessment. It has been several years since I have done a book project, so that avenue might also be on the horizon.

Loren Albert is an assistant professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, who along with her research group is tackling two international projects. The first, funded by NSF, focuses on the ecohydrology of Amazon forests. The other, funded by NASA, aims to advance scientists’ ability to estimate flows of carbon between forests and the atmosphere from space with remote sensing, and includes a partnership with Brazilian faculty to lead a field course for Brazilian graduate students to learn more about concepts in tropical forest ecology and physiology.

In as simple of terms as possible, can you please tell us more about your research?
I study how forest photosynthesis responds to climate change, and I scale up from trees to ecosystems and landscapes to consider how forests can impact climate as well. I study tropical forests since they contain and photosynthesize a vast amount of carbon, as well as forests here at home in the Pacific Northwest.

What question or challenge were you setting out to address when you started this work?
Can we estimate photosynthesis from space? We’re entering a new era of remote sensing with new technology from NASA and private companies that collects massive amounts of data on forest structure and function. Some of these remote sensing signals are linked to photosynthesis, but it remains challenging to estimate photosynthesis from these signals. We set out to integrate remote sensing with models, and measurements of tree anatomy and physiology, to clarify how remote sensing signals are linked to photosynthesis.

Who else is involved in this research?
Our team consists of scientists from Central America, Brazil, Netherlands and Asia, as well as the United States. We’re interdisciplinary as well. We’re integrating plant physiology with ecology and remote sensing, and I’m excited about how we’re building bridges between these fields.

Why does this work matter?
Each year, humans are emitting more than 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants on the land are taking up somewhere around a third of that CO2, and whatever CO2 is not taken up by plants and the ocean stays in the atmosphere and contributes to climate change. While the causes of climate change are well understood, we need to know more about how much CO2 plants will continue taking up so that we can predict the trajectory of climate change. Of course, forests are key among land plants because they store and take up so much carbon. In other words, how much will plants, especially forests, help us mitigate climate change? This is a big picture question that many scientists are working on. The contribution of my group right now focuses on understanding more about the drivers of photosynthetic carbon uptake in forests across space and through time.

What do you hope the impact will be?
I hope that we can gain a better understanding of the role of forests in Earth’s carbon budget, improve the models that predict future climate (through development of forest physiology in those models), and generally understand more about the flows of carbon, water, and energy between forests and the atmosphere. On the human side, I hope that we can build long-lasting collaborations and friendships with scientists working in the Amazon, train students, and launch careers of the next generation of scientists.

What has surprised you about this research?
We’re learning that individual tree species in the tropics greatly impact the rate and seasonality of photosynthetic carbon uptake. On the one hand, all trees photosynthesize, but on the other hand, the differences in leaf shape, size, canopy architecture, and many other features greatly affect photosynthesis. The tropics are so diverse. There are thousands of tree species in places like the Amazon, and their differences really impact the carbon cycle.

How does this work differ from other work in the field?
We are melding ‘ground data’ (the measurements we make on plants when we do fieldwork) with models to simulate what we expect to see from space. In model parameterization, it is still common to rely on plant physiology data from crops. It is rare to find research that spans scales from individual leaf measurements, to trees, to landscapes, where the research team is making all those measurements across those spatial scales at the same site.

What’s next for this research?
My group is planning a field campaign in the Brazilian Amazon this summer, where we will fly drones, collect leaves to measure leaf traits and physiology, and exchange knowledge with our Brazilian collaborators. We sleep in hammocks in a field station at the edge of the forest, listening to the forest night sounds. We’re looking forward to it.

And finally, is there anything you wish I would’ve asked you about this research that you’d like to share?
I want to emphasize how none of this research would be possible without the welcome and efforts of our international collaborators. We all share an atmosphere on this Earth, and productive forests, whether in the tropics or the Pacific Northwest, are helping shape the future for all of us. The role of these forests in the carbon cycle is a question we all have a stake in.

Rona Bryan graduated in fall 2022, with a degree in Natural Resources with an individualized specialty option in art, education, and outreach in ecology and a minor in fisheries. Those focuses were informed by her previous degree in art, her passion for visual storytelling and human connections in science communication, and a slight obsession with fish.

Why did you choose OSU College of Forestry?
I chose OSU College of Forestry because it was the first time in my academic journey that I felt truly welcome and at home. In my first appointment with my COF advisor, I shared my struggle to find a rigorous program that would enable me to study and eventually work at the intersection of art and ecology. She smiled and said, “Well, you can take a breath, because you’ve found the right place.”

Does one class, teacher or experience really stand out?
I loved any class that had a big term project requiring regular fieldwork. I think we often associate online degrees with being glued to a laptop all day, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth with my Ecampus NR program. I’m still amazed at how much time I spent outdoors while earning my degree!

One of my all-times favorite classes was Urban Ecology (FW 418/518) with Dr. Doug Reese. I designed and conducted a study investigating differences in wetland and aquatic plant species composition in urban, downstream, and upstream habitat on the Willamette River. Doug was super supportive in lending his expertise to help me wrangle all the data into something cohesive, and I had the time of my life spending hours down by the river – mostly in the pouring rain – with my plant ID books, waterproof camera, and quadrat.

How did COF prepare you for your career?
It took me seven years to finish my first undergraduate degree, with lots of stops and starts along the way. I had the privilege of traveling, working, and studying internationally, and I spent over a decade in hospitality and service before realizing that – while I loved the community and human connection aspects of those fields – I was missing the “hook” that would help me bring personal meaning to my work. COF allowed me to find just that, and I went from a student worker position to a staff position with the International Programs office before starting my current (and awesome) event coordinator role just a few months ago!

What is one piece of advice you’d give to current or potential students?
Don’t ignore what brings you joy – even if it’s totally unexpected! I used to avoid science as a rule but eventually had to enroll in something, so I chose ecology – and in that class, I became a different person. I went from dragging myself out of bed most mornings to getting up early to practice identifying tree species. I went from hiding in the back of the class to happily wading into the near-freezing creek behind the school to test pH and dissolved oxygen. At the time, I ignored all of that because I felt obligated and expected to continue with the arts, and I moved an ocean away without knowing that the right school for me was just a two-hour drive from my hometown. With that said, try not to worry too much about accidentally picking the “wrong” path. No matter what I was doing, that fierce joy I felt in nature was a loud and persistent voice whenever I was feeling lost or trying to make a major decision, and eventually – at what I think was exactly the right time – I was ready to listen.

What are your favorite hobbies?
Currently, I’m really enjoying embroidery art, working on improving my graphic design skills, and taking wildlife-watching walks in my neighborhood park.

Students in WSE 425/525, Timber Tectonics in the Digital Age, recently assembled their prototype for a covered park shelter in the Peavy Forest Science Center Atrium. The course is a collaboration between OSU’s Department of Wood Science and Engineering and U of O’s Department of Architecture.

Co-led by OSU’s Mariapaola Riggio and UO’s Nancy Cheng, the course explores timber structural systems and creates new technical and design possibilities using digital techniques, modeling and tools.

Prototype of the structure

This year, students partnered with the city of Salem to create a prototype for a covered structure or shelter for a park. Permanent shelters are expensive and a cheaper alternative that can be deployed quickly is in great demand. Inspired by the circular economy, students were charged with creating a design which minimizes waste, uses components cut from scraps and promotes reuse.

With the support of TallWood Design Institute and material donated from Roseburg Forest Products, the class first built a scale model and then a prototype at Oregon State’s A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab. The structure uses a bottom-up, kit-like approach and is designed for disassembly. The components are interconnected using wood-to-wood joints and include engineered wood panels.

The prototype is on display in the College of Forestry’s George W. Peavy Forest Science Center atrium through the month of March, watch a timelapse of the assembly.