What are you studying?
My project is on dwarf mistletoe in western hemlock. Dwarf mistletoe is an aerial parasite of trees. I’m working to quantify how it changes the structure of hemlock crowns and sapwood area.
How did you end up studying tree diseases at Oregon State?
I learned to climb trees as an undergraduate at the University of Washington. After that, I worked as a forester and arborist. I wanted to keep climbing trees. I found Dave Shaw online and told him that I knew how to climb trees and do canopy research, so we came up with this project because he wanted to do more with dwarf mistletoe and western hemlock. Part of the project is canopy mapping, and I’d done that before as well. We thought we could incorporate forest pathology into this canopy study, which isn’t done very often in big trees.
You’ll finish up in June. What’s next?
I’m not totally sure, but something to do with forest health. I’ll probably do public work. I’m on the search right now.
What do you do now when you’re not studying or working on your thesis?
I like to hike and go out and climb trees for fun. My goal is to get out at least once a week. I started drawing recently, which has been kind of cool. I want to get to a point where I could put a drawing in a paper I publish. I mostly draw trees and mushrooms.
What’s the biggest tree you’ve climbed?
I’m not sure. I have climbed a giant sequoia that was over 300 feet tall, but I’m not exactly sure how high up I got. The hemlocks I study are about 50 meters tall.
What’s the scariest part of tree climbing?
You shoot the anchor into the tree with a crossbow, and the first few times you do it, you’re never sure if you’ve done it right, but you just have to do it. When you get up there, you might realize that a tiny branch or a dead branch was holding all of your weight.
Have you traveled much?
When I graduated from undergrad, I did a tour of almost all of the national parks in the west. I lived out of my car for three months until I ran out of money and hiked and climbed trees.
What trees will you climb next?
I want to climb a redwood and a really tall species of Eucalyptus tree in Australia.
What’s your favorite national park?
Grand Tetons. It’s so beautiful. When I was there, I saw bears, moose and a few different types of deer. Being in the mountains is crazy. It’s very rugged, but there are also a lot of flowers. The flowers might be my favorite part of national parks.