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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
If you could play any sport in the
Olympics. What would it be?
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?
You just started at Oregon State/the TallWood Design Institute. What do you?
I’m the technical manager. Right now, I’m working on getting our space in the A.A. ‘Red’ Emmerson Advanced Wood Product Laboratory set up and functional. Eventually, I’ll manage and run the projects and tests that go on here in our space.
What’s your background? How did you end up at Oregon State?
I grew up in a small village in Germany where I did an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. During university in Berlin, I did a co-op program at the University of British Columbia and ended up moving there permanently. When the opportunity at TDI came up I didn’t hesitate.
How is it going? Are you getting settled in?
I’m used to big moves. The move from Germany to Canada was a big adjustment that took a long time. From Canada to the U.S., there are definitely still some cultural differences that I’m getting used to.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
I’m excited for challenges. I’ve already faced some in terms of getting our lab set up and running. Having that finished is something I’m looking forward to as well as the combination of hands-on work, programming and seeing final products. That’s a huge reward. I could never do a full-time desk job. That would drive me crazy.
What excites you about the work you do with mass timber?
I’m excited for the mass timber revolution that is happening right now. It’s amazing to see more architects embrace it in North America and watch how people build with it. I’m also really interested in lifecycle assessment of mass timber buildings.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I used to travel a lot for work, so when I’m not working, I like to stay closer to home. I like alpine touring in the winter and mountain biking in the summer, let me know if you want to ride bikes. I rode my bicycle from Vancouver to San Francisco on the 101 once. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to have outdoor adventures. I’d like to get involved with the trail building community here in Corvallis, I used to build a lot on the North Shore in Vancouver.
What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled?
New Zealand. I did a two-month bike trip there once, all over the islands.
What are you watching or listening to right now?
Well, I just cancelled my Netflix subscription. But I did watch The Boys on Amazon, and really enjoyed that. I also saw one of my favorite bands, The National, over Labor Day weekend.
Your colleagues have noticed you carry green tea around with you. Is that your favorite drink?
I switch to green tea after my one cup of coffee in the morning. I’m obsessed with coffee gadgets and have five different styles of coffee makers. When I moved here, I brought a five-pound bag of beans with me from my old neighborhood in Vancouver, so I haven’t learned about the good, local coffee here in Oregon yet.
Andreja Kutnar arrived in Oregon on September 1, 2006. The visiting
Ph.D. student from Slovenia had never been to the U.S. before. She was nervous
and excited, and found herself surprised at the cultural differences she
encountered. Her friendly neighbor gifted her a bike to get around town; she
discovered it didn’t matter that her English wasn’t perfect; and, she was able
to build a vast network of friends and colleagues. During her first six-month
visit she worked with Fred Kamke, JELD-WEN Chair of Wood-based Composites Science,
on wood densification and bonding. Kutnar completed all of the experimentation
for her dissertation.
She returned in 2009 for a post-doc before she joined the faculty of the University of Primorska in Slovenia. Soon she had funding for graduate students of her own.
“I wanted to bring an American over because I like the culture and
the mentality. I like the way people communicate and how they appreciate
diversity,” Kutnar says. “I wanted to stay involved with these people and the
research I fell in love with at Oregon State.”
It felt natural for Kutnar to offer her Ph.D. spot to Mike Burnard,
who earned his master’s degree in Wood Science at Oregon State in 2012. Eric
Hansen, head of the Wood Science and Engineering Department, called Burnard a ‘superstar
master’s student’, but there was no funding for his Ph.D. at Oregon State. Just
before he committed to attend the University of British Columbia, Kutnar swooped
in and recruited him.
“I thought I might come to Europe to do a post-doc or sometime else
later in my career,” Burnard says, “But it worked out that I could actually
complete my Ph.D. at the University of Primorska. This will be a more permanent
solution so that’s great.”
Burnard, Hansen and Kutnar worked together toward a big success in 2017
when the European Union and the government of Slovenia awarded Kutnar 45
million euros to create the ‘InnoRenew CoE: Renewable Materials and Healthy
Environments Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence’ research institute.
“The EU does this in a variety of areas,” Hansen explains, “But
this was the first focused on wood products, and it’s interesting because
there’s not much primary processing of wood products in Slovenia. Much of the
processing is in neighboring Austria.”
Scott Leavengood, professor and director of the Oregon Wood Innovation
“You would expect something like this to exist in Scandinavia or somewhere
else in Alpine Europe, but instead there will soon be 60-70 scientists researching
wood in various aspects on the coast of Slovenia near the border of Croatia. It’s
awe-inspiring,” he says.
Kutnar continues to recruit American students from Oregon State as
well as experts from throughout Europe, Brazil, India and Iran as InnoRenew CoE
researches renewable materials and sustainable buildings.
Other OSU-transplants to Slovenia include Matthew Schwarzkopf and
David DeVellance, who earned their Ph.D. degrees at the College of Forestry, as
well as former faculty member Amy Simmons.
Kutnar says InnoRenew’s goals include building a new facility and
expanding throughout the continent and the world. For now, collaboration with Oregon
State continues. Hansen and Leavengood participate in collaborative research
projects with Kutnar and her team in Slovenia. Mariapaola Riggio, assistant
professor of wood design and architecture, serves on InnoRenew’s Council of
Experts and advises on the development of strategies and scientific challenges within
“It’s an honor to serve on the Council of Experts,” Riggio says. “My
role is to consult on the scientific program of the institute with the
executive board and director, advise them on important areas of research and
groups for projects and to suggest individual projects to be implemented by the
institute and director.”
Riggio also collaborates with InnoRenew’s researchers on several projects,
including investigating the perception and performance of biomaterials in architecture,
researching nondestructive assessment of cross-laminated timber structures and implementing
a monitoring project of InnoRenew’s new facility.
Additionally, almost a dozen Oregon State faculty, staff and
graduate students have traveled to Slovenia, and Kutnar co-leads a short-term study
abroad experience for students from Oregon State and European universities.
There, students learn about InnoRenew up close.
“It’s fun to have the students from Oregon State come in the summer,” Burnard says. “I was able to study abroad in Scandinavia during my time at Oregon State, and it was such a great experience. It’s amazing to see students come here and be awed by the beauty of Slovenia and the differences in the wood products industry. For many of them, it’s a place they had never heard of before they signed up for the program. It opens their eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.”
Scion in New Zealand is a
beacon for international researchers in the forestry and wood products industries.
More than half-a-dozen Oregon State researchers have connections to Scion, an
institute that specializes in research, science and technology development for
the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials and other biomaterial
A sabbatical hotspot
“Just imagine the College of Forestry with fewer students, and even more focused on research,” says Scott Leavengood, professor and director of the Oregon Wood Innovation Center, who took a sabbatical in New Zealand and worked at Scion in 2016. “Scion has hundreds of researchers and visiting students from around the globe dedicated to forestry and forest products innovation in New Zealand.”
Associate Professor Jeff Hatten also spent his spring 2019 sabbatical there working on projects related to forest nutrition dynamics. He says one aspect of Scion’s mission is to grow trees faster and more sustainably to create better wood products and healthier forests.
“It leads to forward-thinking problem
solving around those issues,” says Hatten. “It’s an area of study I haven’t focused
on in my career,” Hatten says. “I’m piecing information together and learning
more about what Scion has done to manage for Radiata Pine and Douglas-fir.”
Radiata Pine is the largest plantation species
in New Zealand. Douglas-fir is also popular, and locals sometimes refer to it
as ‘Oregon fir.’
Hatten says the two species are very different but thrive in similar soils.
“There are a lot of similarities between
New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest,” Hatten says. “This means there are also
similar problems in terms of how we grow and harvest trees. I’m interested in
learning more about the problems and helping solve them here and back in
Problem-solving tree diseases
Ph.D. Student Michael Gordon hasn’t
been to New Zealand – yet – but he’s working with Distinguished Professor Steve
Strauss and Assistant Professor Jared LeBoldus, using gene transfer methods
developed by Scion to produce a disease-resistant Douglas-fir tree. While
genetically modifying trees is common in species like poplar (cottonwoods and
aspens), it’s uncommon in plantation species important in Oregon, like Douglas fir.
The team is using host-induced gene
silencing, widely called ‘HIGS’ by scientists, to encourage trees to successfully
resist diseases like Swiss needle cast — and to do it by tweaking the natural
mechanisms by which trees and their pathogens interact.
Scion scientists will insert the OSU-designed
genes into Douglas-fir and send micro-propagated plants to Oregon State where
they will grow in a greenhouse. When acclimated, they will be planted in a USDA-regulated
field trial and monitored for growth and disease resistance. Gordon says the project
is at the cutting edge, and he does not know if it will be successful. However,
similar projects with crop plants have seen success, and if successful, this
project could open up new and exciting ways to control Swiss needle cast
and many other forest diseases.
Pressing on: more work to be done
In April 2019, Liam Gilson, a graduate student studying sustainable forest management and advised by Doug Maguire, the N.B. and Jacqueline Giustina Professor of Forest Management, presented his New Zealand-related research at the Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium hosted by Oregon State.
Gilson’s project compares growth rates of Douglas fir in the
Pacific Northwest and New Zealand’s South Island.
Douglas fir grows faster in the Southern Hemisphere, compared to
its native climate in the Pacific Northwest, but little research points to why.
“My project used a group of plantings in western Oregon and the
South Island of New Zealand that originated from the same seed lot,” Gilson
says. “The project investigates the interplay between genetics and
environmental conditions within and between these two radically different geographic
locations separated by 7,400 miles. The results will help to develop strategies
to minimize risks of plantation damage as our climate changes, inform the
choice of genetic material for future plantings and strengthen the case for
gene conservation in the context of Douglas-fi r breeding in New Zealand.”
With these and other projects and collaborations in the works, the exchange of ideas, research and people between Oregon State and Scion will likely continue, as New Zealand continues to promote the use of sustainable forestry practices and strive toward an even greener economy.
Corinne Walters decided to study civil engineering at Oregon State because, “a high school math teacher told me I would be a good civil engineer,” she says.
She took an introduction to forest engineering class her freshman year to fulfill a requirement, but instead, found a passion.
“My professor, Jim Kiser, Richard Strachan Scholar in Fire and Silviculture, taught us all the best things about forestry,” Walters remembers. “So, I decided to switch my major to forest engineering.”
She says the allure of working outside instead of behind a desk on a
computer all day was enticing. Walters’s parents are both in the forest
industry, but she never considered following in their footsteps. She also never
thought she would study abroad.
“There’s a lot of pressure as an engineering student to finish
all your coursework, so I just didn’t think I would have the time and flexibility
to make it work,” she says.
But when Walters found out about a short-term, faculty-led study
abroad experience in Chile, she realized that studying abroad was possible for
“It was so fun, and it opened my eyes to all the possibilities that are out there,” she says. “The College of Forestry offers so much for students when it comes to international experiences.”
After her initial experience in Chile, she became hungry for more international
“I’d interned for great companies here in the U.S., and I
wanted to do something different and out of my comfort zone for the summer
before my senior year,” she says.
She ended up in New Zealand, working for one of the largest timber
companies in the country.
Together with another intern, Walters worked on the layout for permanent
“They measure the height, diameter and form of the trees about
every five years to get an idea of how they’re growing,” Walters says.
“They work with a lot of different seedlings from different locations and
compare seed sources in an attempt to grow the healthiest trees they can to
produce the best wood products.”
Walters graduated in June 2019 and is working for Miami Corporation
in McMinnville. She says her international experience gave her knowledge to draw
upon during the interview process.
“Most of all, it’s great to be connected to the international
forest industry,” she says. “I think that’s important.”
She says she plans on leveraging international relationships moving
“For example, there are a lot of similarities between the
forest industry in the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand,” she says.
“If I have a question, I can call up my old supervisor or coworker and see
what he or she thinks about an issue or technique.”
Walters encourages other students to take advantage of international
“It’s easy to get connected if you want to,” she says. “The forestry community is close-knit and brings people together all over the world.”