Nathan is a double major in renewable materials and forestry in the College of Forestry. This summer, he participated in our faculty-led program to the Italian Alps. Tradition and Innovation in the Wood Construction Industry: A Journey in the Italian Alps explored the past of European wood architecture and the future of timber engineering in the beautiful Dolomites of Italy.

What originally interested you in studying abroad?
I really wanted to go to Italy, and I thought the program sounded interesting.

What surprised you most during your travels? Why?
Everything. I felt almost constantly surprised. If I have to pick I would say I was most surprised at how purposeful the wilderness is. In the United States, I am never quite sure if a wild place is protected, or just hasn’t been built on yet. In Italy, it was clear by the resort-style “huts” deep in the mountains that they mean to leave that forest a forest. It was also interesting to me to see how close each town was to the next town. It seems like it would make it harder to get horribly lost.

How did your time abroad influence your thoughts on your field of study?
I feel like this trip really cemented in me the idea that my career could be international, and that I would like to do that, at least for part of it.

If you had to pick one, what was your all-time favorite experience while abroad? Why was it so meaningful?
Just talking to people on transit. I feel like I am supposed to have a flashier answer, but I met so many interesting characters in between activities for the program. I was surprised at how few Americans there were, but how many other friendly English-speakers wanted to get to know someone far from home. I guess everyone on transit is a traveler, no matter how many kilometers they cross.

What advice would you give to students considering an international experience?
Stay longer if you can, and rest one of the days you are gone. Don’t be afraid to apply.

What I did this summer is a profile series of students, faculty and staff in the College of Forestry. Did you have a great job, vacation, or field research experience? Contact CoFThisWeek@oregonstate.edu and we will be in touch!

Sophia Brownlee, Class of 2024, is a natural resources major (ecological restoration option) in the College of Forestry, and this summer she worked for Chaco on their Fit For Adventure tour. This tour travels around the country offering on site repairs to keep their sandals on feet (and out of landfills) longer.

Describe the day-to-day of your summer job.
Our activation typically runs 12:00pm to 6:00pm which allows us a leisurely morning. I’ll either bike to work or catch a ride with the rest of the crew in one of our vans. Once we arrive at our activation, where the Chaco bus is staged, we begin to unload all of our equipment and set up the activation space. This includes a large table for checkout, a display table with the try-on Chacos and Chillos, and a design table featuring webbing options for folks’ custom sandals. Once activation begins I’ll either work on the ground getting people fitted in their Chacos, diagnosing Chaco repairs, completing transactions, and sharing stories and fond memories involving Chaco footwear. Otherwise, I work on the bus making and repairing the sandals themselves!

What’s one memory that stands out from your experience working this summer?
One thing that’s really stuck with me from working this summer is how excited people are to repair their Chacos. We offer free repairs to customers to promote sustainability and longevity of the shoes. I’ve worked with a few customers who were overwhelmed with joy that we were in their city and could repair their sandals, saving them from the landfill. They share stories of how important their Chacos are to them; how many states, rivers, trails, and countries their shoes have traversed. We get people who are so emotionally attached to their Chacos, they have a hard time saying goodbye! It brings us a lot of joy to salvage such a sentimental thing.  

What was your favorite place you traveled for this job?
Bozeman, Montana. Without a doubt. The people there were just lovely, and they were incredibly stoked to have us visit. On the bus, we have a capacity of 45 custom sandals/repairs, any additional orders we send to our factory in Michigan. On one of the days in Bozeman, we hit our capacity just an hour after opening! Bozeman has a great community of outdoor adventurers, and we felt right at home. The scenery was also spectacular, and we even got to witness an epic thunderstorm while rafting on the Gallatin river! I can’t wait to visit again, hopefully for a ski trip.    

How will your job this summer help you in your classes or future career?
This job opened my mind to the world of marketing and promotion, something I hadn’t been exposed to. It also piqued my interest in product development and design, which I’m considering adding to my curriculum at Oregon State. Besides the job itself, traveling and experiencing new cities has given me an appreciation for what we have in Oregon that may seem so commonplace, but does not exist, or is less accepted in other places. For example, bike lanes, quality tap water, a $13.50 minimum wage, and government-funded programs to help students access quality, local food are not available in most of the places we’ve traveled.   

Describe your perfect pair of Chacos.
This is a tough one! My favorite style of Chacos is the classic Z/1. I haven’t owned a pair of Chacos with the toe-strap (a Z/2), but I’d be willing to try ‘em out. The perfect pair of Chacos starts with a perfect fit, which is contingent upon the size, of course, and how the straps are adjusted. As for the design, it would be paralyzing to try to pick out even a handful of webbing options I’d consider my favorite, however, off the top of my head, the NRS, National Parks, and Grateful Dead collections are super rad.

What I did this summer is a profile series of students, faculty and staff in the College of Forestry. Did you have a great job, vacation, or field research experience? Contact CoFThisWeek@oregonstate.edu and we will be in touch!

The Dean’s Dinner is a yearly celebration of our scholarship recipients, donors, and college community. With student recruitment and enrollment in the College of Forestry at an all-time high with over 1000 undergraduates and over 250 graduate students there was a lot to celebrate this year!

Dean Tom Deluca started the formal awards ceremony by recognizing professor emeritus Richard Waring for being the recipient of the 2020 International Marcus Wallenberg Prize for his work in developing a revolutionary computer model to predict forest growth in a changing climate.

Randy Rosenberger, Associate Dean for Student Engagement, acknowledged the work of the student clubs and organizations: Xi Sigma Pi, SAF Student Chapter, Forest Utilization Society, the Forestry Club, the Natural Resources Club, and the International Forestry Students Association. The College of Forestry Ambassadors help us recruit prospective students, represent college academic programs to legislators and key stakeholders, work with alumni groups, and represent the College at many on and off campus events. Randy recognized them for their service to the College, which is in addition to their outstanding academic performances, involvement in extracurricular activities, family responsibilities, jobs, and community connections.

The winner of the Pack Essay Award was ecampus student Duane Ackley, senior in natural resources. His essay was titled “Dying Mens’ Future”. The Photo of the Year award went to Kelly Lynne Burke, a natural resources student, for their picture titled “Patagonia Rainbows.” Each year the College of Forestry is honored and privileged to award graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships to deserving new and returning students.  These awards are made possible through the generous contributions and continued support from our scholarship and fellowship donors. The College of Forestry’s Scholarship Committee reviewed 316 applications, and 215 students were selected to receive scholarships scholarship offers totaling $774,250 for the 2022-2023 academic year.  The students who were able to attend came up in small groups for congratulations with the Dean, pictured below.

Hannah Proffitt has received the Oregon State University (OSU) Outstanding Student Award from the Oregon Society of American Foresters (OSAF). Proffitt accepted the award at the virtual 2022 OSAF Annual Meeting on April 28, 2022.

The OSU Outstanding Student Award is to be presented annually to an Oregon State University forestry student who is a member of the Society of American Foresters; participates regularly in OSU SAF activities, including a leadership role of some kind; represents the OSU SAF Student Chapter at state or national SAF gatherings; and who demonstrates good academic standing, good citizenship, and excellence in extracurricular and professional work activities. 

Proffitt is a graduating senior in the College of Forestry who has been active in the student chapter throughout her academic career. She was part of the team that salvaged the remainder of the Christmas Tree Farm and has led the efforts out there for two years, even through COVID. In addition to being a solid student, Proffitt has worked for the College Forests and stays involved with university functions like the Career Fair.

John Bailey, a professor in the department of forest engineering, resources & management at OSU who nominated Proffitt, shared, “During a recent maintenance work party weekend on the Christmas Tree Farm, I worked with Hannah mowing for a couple of hours along with another student. Her commitment and energy are infectious even in these odd times.”

In recognition of Proffitt’s award, a donation was made in her name to the OSU Student Chapter.

OSAF and its 15 local chapters represent all segments the forestry profession within the state. The society includes public and private practitioners, researchers, administrators, educators, and forestry students. Its mission is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethics of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

After a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, OSU relaunched 11 faculty-led programs abroad and 5 were from College of Forestry! One group of 15 students traveled to the Aysén Region of Chile, part of Northern Patagonia.

Associate professor Carlos Gonzales-Benecke and Ph.D. student Claudio Guevara from the department of forest engineering, resources and management, along with assistant professor Daniel Soto of the Universidad de Aysen in Coyhaique, Chile, led the program that explored the diverse forests and dramatic landscapes of the area. Chilean newspaper El Divisadero featured the trip, interviewed the students, and shot a documentary.

Bri Rose participated in the trip and loved learning about the native species of Chile. Her advice? “As a student, there are many scholarships and grants to apply for that will help cover travel expenses. So, my advice is to go. Apply for those trips. Leave the country. Get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you will grow so much as person.”

Next up? Borneo, Italy and New Zealand. The College of Forestry International Programs office offers study and internship programs from the biodiverse rainforests of Borneo to state-of-the-art wood manufacturing facilities in the Austrian Alps, and frequently host interns and exchange students from around the world.

On April 27, 2022, Beavers everywhere came together for Dam Proud Day, a 24-hour online event dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of the Oregon State University community. As part of this event, we raised over $72,000 for College of Forestry scholarships, which help ensure all of our students can afford this world-renowned education.

The amount raised is equivalent to over 23 additional scholarships for College of Forestry students. For many students, scholarships are life-changing, and financial gifts of all sizes can help. For example, $120 in scholarship support is equal to more than 10 hours of work at $12/hour – that’s 10 more hours a student can use to study or to participate in professional organizations, leadership training or other opportunities, making the most of their time at Oregon State.

Thank you to the 81 generous donors who gave anywhere from $5 to $25,000!

No one loves mushrooms as much as Ray Van Court loves mushrooms.

Their favorite food? Matsutake mushrooms. Their favorite hobby? Mushroom hunting. Their favorite time of the year? Mushroom season.

In fact, Van Court loves mushrooms so much they quit their corporate job to pursue ways to make the world a better place through fungi.

As a PhD candidate in wood science and graduate research assistant, Van Court is working on a project with assistant professor of forest-based bio-products Gerald Presley. Together, they use ectomycorrhizal fungi to bioremediate heavy metal-treated wood waste.

“Preservatives are critical to retaining the structural integrity of wood, but disposal of treated wood is problematic,” Van Court says. “Wood treated with metals including arsenic and copper is disposed of in landfills, often unlined, where these toxic metals can move into the environment. Preventing the migration of these metals, and potentially recovering them, could reduce the ecological impact of these contaminants.”

Certain species of ectomycorrhizal fungi are known to tolerate high metal environments, and initial work has shown that they may reduce metal toxicity. These mechanisms include binding them, transporting them, and producing compounds that stabilize the metals. Introducing fungi particularly adept at immobilizing metals in contaminated sites could reduce the environmental impact of toxic metal migration. The resulting retention of bound metals may also allow for reclamation.

This, says Van Court, represents a long-term solution to the problem of treated wood waste with little required inputs – all ectomycorrhizal fungi need is trees to associate with.

To test this idea, Van Court and Presley are performing a multi-stage lab experiment, screening 20 different species of ectomycorrhizal fungi in plate culture against three toxic metals.

“This screening will identify which species best tolerate and uptake metals used in wood preservatives and is an enormous increase in species and metals compared to previous research,” says Van Court.

In the second stage of the research, trees will be inoculated with the best performing fungi and planted in heavy metal-treated mesocosms, controlled containers that replicate natural environments. Trees and fungi will grow together in the metal contaminated system for a few months, after which their effect on metal will be measured. This initial work will test the effectiveness of the fungal system and pave the way for future field research.

While doing the research, Van Court was surprised by the scarcity of technologies related to ectomycorrhizal fungi and the limited knowledge on fungi growth. The fungi are usually in symbiosis with trees and for many species very little is known regarding how to replicate what the tree or other organisms in the ecosystem typically provide to the fungus.

“Admittedly, they are much harder to grow and maintain than decay fungi, but they represent a lot of untapped potential,” Van Court says. “As all kinds of products – from medicines to packaging material – have come from decay fungi, what new sustainable products might come from ectomycorrhizal ones? With new analytical and genetic tools, I think we are poised to learn much more about these fungi, and I am excited to see where this research and other projects can go.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Nathan Vega, an undergraduate student double majoring in renewable materials and forestry, has always had an interest in the fields of renewable energy and forest-based bioenergy.

“I am especially interested in biochar for its potential to help with wildfire prevention, energy production and agricultural management,” Vega says.

Biochar is a carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance made by burning organic material, like agricultural or forestry waste, at low oxygen levels in a process called pyrolysis. Biochar can be used as a soil enhancer or as a way to sequester carbon. The energy or heat created during the conversion can also be captured and used as clean energy.

“Biochar is part of something called the circular economy,” Vega says. “And the foundation of this economy is a transition to renewable energy and materials.”

An alternative to the traditional linear economy, the circular economy is restorative or regenerative by design. It seeks to reduce waste and material use, recover resources at the end of a product’s life, and channel them back into production, significantly reducing pressure on the environment.

Vega jumped at an opportunity to work within the circular economy, assisting Scott Leavengood, director of Oregon Wood Innovation Center, in testing Portland, Oregon, based Sankofa Lumber’s new line of panel products known as “SecondStory.”

“SecondStory” panels are unique in that they are composed of reclaimed structural building materials, including lumber, oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood. Sankofa refers to these panels as architectural surfaces and advises using them for purposes like flooring, casework and wall cladding. “SecondStory” panels are currently installed in the Oregon State women’s gymnastics facility locker room.

Leavengood and Vega tested the panels to determine qualities like hardness, bond and bending strength and moisture performance. They measured the panels’ performance based on comparable products like
particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and hardwood plywood. The Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator, powered by VertueLab and CleanTech Alliance, funded the testing.

“For entrepreneurs working with any kind of new material or new product, the first question they always get from potential customers is ‘what’s it like?’ or in other words, how does the product compare to what’s on the market now?’ says Leavengood. “We were able to help Sankofa Lumber answer these questions since Nathan put the product through a workout.”

Bond strength is critical for composite products. Leavengood and Vega found the strength excellent even after products were exposed to high humidity and water submersion for several days.

Focusing on his classes and assisting Leavengood with his research projects provided Vega with support and something to focus on during the pandemic.

“Everyone at the College of Forestry was very welcoming and friendly,” Vega says, “Plus, this job was a great part of the last year-and-a-half as it let me get out of the house and listen to music while I did the experiments.”

Vega is a recipient of the Friends of Renewable Materials Seneca Scholarship, Powers Scholarship, and Presidential Scholarship from the College of Forestry. He said receiving the scholarships has been essential to ensuring his success at Oregon State.

“These scholarships have allowed me to pursue my education without distraction or worry,” Vega says. “It’s been such a relief to find that I am so supported.”

When Vega is not studying, he likes to spend his free time reading, gardening, cooking, listening to music, hiking and playing the drums. He also likes to spend his time with his friends and family and he recently joined the college’s logging sports team.

After graduation, Vega wants to work in bioenergy, specifically biochar production from forest biomass as a carbon-negative energy source.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Caitlyn Reilley has worn many hats during her time at Oregon State University.

First, she was an undergraduate pursuing a career as a clinical dietician. Then, after realizing how heavily social, economic, and environmental factors influence individual health outcomes, she switched gears to focus on community-level health. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health in 2016, securing a job as an outreach coordinator for the Linus Pauling Institute, a nutrition research institute at OSU.

While working as the outreach coordinator, Reilley began eyeing opportunities to return to school to study environmental policy. She learned about the opportunity to join the College of Forestry as the coordinator for the Elliott State Research Forest project.

“The Elliott project coordinator role was such a unique opportunity to bring my skillset to a project situated at the intersection of public lands policy, natural resource management, and rural community well-being,” Reilley says. “It was also fulfilling to help the College envision a path forward for the Elliott that benefits local communities while providing critical research into the best way to deliver the myriad of social, economic, and ecological values our forests provide.”

According to Reilley, developing a proposal for a research forest was often messy and included many difficult conversations. Overall, however, it was a joyful experience for her and gave her confidence in the ability of humans to work together to solve complex natural resource issues.

It also confirmed her desire to study natural resources management. As a current graduate student in sustainable forest management with a concentration in economics and policy, Reilley is working with Mindy Crandall, assistant professor of forest policy and economics. Crandall’s research focuses on the role that natural resources, especially forests, play in human well-being.

Together, she and Crandall are a part of a collaborative project studying the human dimensions of wildfire with researchers at the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. Her master’s research explores community vulnerability to wildfire and the social drivers of human-caused fire ignitions.

“The majority of fires in Oregon are started by people, and research into what drives these human-caused fires can help inform fire prevention strategies,” Reilley says.

Reilley’s research into socially vulnerable populations allowed her to support the implementation of Senate Bill 762 (SB 762), Oregon’s omnibus wildfire bill allocating millions for landscape scale forest restoration and community wildfire preparedness projects.

“As a part of this project, we are identifying and mapping socially vulnerable communities to help allocate resources provided by SB 762,” says Reilley. “Not all communities are equally equipped to prevent or respond to wildfire and it has been really encouraging to see how much interest there is in using this type of data to prioritize funding and support for communities that need it most.”

When Reilley is not in front of her computer analyzing data, she is in the forest and enjoys long-distance running and mountain biking with her Australian shepherd pup Ginger.

“Thanks to a rigorous Ginger-driven training plan, I was able to complete my first Ironman triathlon last summer in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho,” Reilley says. “I also recently started building live edge furniture. I love to hunt for unique slabs of wood and am slowly building my arsenal of power tools.”

“I’ve learned so much from working with College of Forestry faculty these past three years. The Elliott project and implementation of SB 762 have provided incredible opportunities to see first-hand how the research informs real world management and policy decisions that promote healthy ecosystems and communities. Oregon communities are really at the heart of the work I’ve been able to be a part of here in the College, and I feel so fortunate for that.”

As the recipient of two scholarships from the College of Forestry: the Hal Salwasser Fellowship and the Lu Alexander Graduate Fellowship, Reilley is looking forward to using her scholarships to present her research at conferences this spring. After graduating this summer, she plans to continue working in the wildfire policy realm and hopes that her future career path never takes her too far from her home here in Oregon.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Rootstock, a new resource for students, faculty and staff of the College of Forestry, opened on January 11, 2022. Located on the first floor of the Peavy Forest Science Center on the campus of Oregon State University, Rootstock is a community space providing food and resources to those in need.

“OSU is already doing a wonderful job of addressing issues of food insecurity and the OSU Human Services Resource Center provides great resources and programs for students in need,” said Jessica Fitzmorris, outreach and event manager at the College of Forestry. “We are not trying to duplicate their efforts, but rather work with them to provide additional resources, education, and experiences for College of Forestry students to meet immediate needs.”

Food insecurity remains a significant problem in Oregon and among OSU students. According to research by Mark Edwards, professor of Sociology and Director of OPAL (OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory) at the School of Public Policy, 24% of OSU students on the Corvallis campus are estimated to be food insecure. Though there is not specific food insecurity data related to College of Forestry students, 34% of College of Forestry students have high financial need compared to 28% of OSU’s population. College of Forestry students also have the 4th highest financial need of OSU Colleges.

After former College of Forestry dean Anthony Davis’ staff attended an event highlighting food insecurity faced by Forestry students, a seed was planted for the idea of Rootstock. With the opening of the new Peavy Forest Science Center building, Fitzmorris saw the opportunity to house a food pantry in the event kitchen. Rootstock also includes a drop off space on the 2nd floor of Peavy where people can donate fresh food from their gardens. College of Forestry event organizers are also encouraged to use to-go containers to save leftover food to be distributed later to students.

Other College of Forestry staff, including Madison Dudley, the curriculum and accreditation coordinator for the department of forestry engineering and resources management and Terralyn Vandetta, director of computing forestry resources, joined Fitzmorris to brainstorm what kind of products could be stocked in the pantry. Students will find food for meals, snacks, condiments, as well as menstrual products, and cleaning supplies. They will also receive information about programs available to them through the OSU Human Services Resource Center, including SNAP benefits and textbook loaning programs.

Rootstock food pantry

The food pantry will be open on Tuesdays from 1:00-3:30, with other times available by appointment. To donate non-perishable food items (not expired), garden produce, eggs from your chickens, toiletry items, household cleaning supplies, or cash, contact Jessica Fitzmorris (jessica.fitzmorris@oregonstate.edu). Volunteers are also needed during pantry hours.

Students can follow the Twitter accounts @eatfreeosu and @cof_rootstock for announcements about event leftovers. More information can be found within the Rootstock website, including educational events and community resources.