Oregon State University assistant professor of global change conservation Takuya Iwamura wants to address the pressing matters of biodiversity conservation and a sustainable future through his research.

“International agreements such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have brought global attention to the importance of ecological integrity for our survival. I believe our research can contribute to turning the tide to increase the chance of a better existence in the future under global change,” Iwamura says.

To address the sustainability issues arising from human and nature interactions, he applies a holistic approach based on quantitative methods such as remote sensing, GIS and computational modeling to forest, animal and human activities.

Iwamura thinks this mixed approach is more appealing to a broader audience who is not necessarily interested in traditional scientific communication such as mathematical formulas.

“Computational modeling and simulation is a more accessible format to tell a strong and moving story about science and research,” Iwamura says. “Many people want to know about biodiversity extinction and human health risks, and when you see a human character moving in an actual landscape and encountering, for example, snakes in the field in our model, it captures your imagination.”

One example of Iwamura’s work is building a spatially explicit human-snake interaction model to explain snakebite risk in Sri Lanka.

He and his team applied mixed research methods based on remote sensing, snake observation, and social interviews related to farmer behaviors. They combined this information using agent-based modeling (ABM), a bottom-up computational simulation approach to model human agents in a realistic landscape.

“We created a computational unit to represent a farmer’s behavior and see how they move across a virtual landscape,” says Iwamura. “We then estimated snakebite occurrences based on potential snake distribution and overlap with humans, which is temperature and precipitation sensitive.”

Iwamura and his team discovered that the type of farming a farmer does, whether rice, rubber or tea, significantly affects the risks associated with snakebites.

As farmers choose different farming methods to adapt to a changing climate and snakes also shift spatially and temporally to adapt to climate change scenarios, snakebite risk adjusts.

“Revealing the mechanism of human and nature interactions is the key to many pressing problems that our planet faces,” says Iwamura. “I believe our approach will be useful to understand how society and ecology adapt to recent global changes, including climatic and land-use changes.”

As a faculty member in the forest, ecosystems and society department, Iwamura researches ways for human beings and nature to coexist. After studying complex systems and artificial intelligence, he worked as a business consultant in Tokyo to learn problem-solving with the hope of applying tools for business management to solve environmental issues.

He moved to the United States to study environmental management at Duke University. He discovered his interest in biodiversity conservation, working first as an intern at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, D.C. He was intrigued by academics and research, which led him to Australia to pursue his PhD in spatial resource allocation with Professor Hugh Possingham, who later served as chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy.

“Working with Hugh taught me a lot, especially about impactful science for environmental problem solving,” says Iwamura.

After his time in Australia, Iwamura moved back to the U.S. for a postdoctoral position at Stanford University. He studied geography with Professor Eric Lambin and gained experience working with and researching Indigenous communities with Dr. José Fragoso.

“This was a perfect transition, and it broadened my horizon quite a bit into the human side of things,” says Iwamura.

Iwamura then moved to Israel to be an assistant professor at Tel Aviv University. All those moves forced Iwamura to do the hard work of learning a different language and culture, shaping him into a global citizen adept at navigating human and social dimensions and viewing experiences and life through multiple lenses.

Iwamura believes an interdisciplinary approach is the key for solving ecological problems. He is interested in revealing the mechanism to explain how nature and humans interact using the scientific domain of social-ecological systems.

Iwamura joined the OSU College of Forestry in January 2021 and looks forward to an in-person fall resumption and working with many people across campus.

“I am particularly excited with the collaborative nature of OSU. I have already started some work at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, where I met many researchers and friends. It feels good to know we have such a strong community,” says Iwamura.

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

The Oregon State University College of Forestry welcomes Professor Holly Ober as the Associate Dean for Science Outreach and Program Leader for Forestry and Natural Resources Extension

“I am thrilled to join the OSU College of Forestry,” says Dr. Ober. “The breadth and depth of the expertise of individuals involved in Extension and Outreach within the college are impressive. The Forestry and Natural Resources Extension program at OSU is one of the largest and most comprehensive natural resource Extension programs in the country, and widely recognized as one of the best.”

Previously Dr. Holly Ober served as Associate Program Leader for Natural Resources for the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. In the role, she provided leadership for approximately 150 county and state faculty. Dr. Ober was also a Professor and Extension Specialist, conducting applied, interdisciplinary research to increase understanding of the mechanisms that influence wildlife habitat selection and productivity in forests to inform conservation and management strategies. She raised over $2.2 million in external funding and nearly $300,000 in internal funding, advised 11 graduate students, three undergraduate interns, and two post-doctoral researchers during her career. She has authored 42 peer-reviewed articles in wildlife, forestry, and inter-disciplinary journals.

As an Extension Specialist, she taught agency employees and private landowners to sustainably manage natural areas and improve stewardship of forests to provide habitat for wildlife. She led multi-day Extension workshops for natural resource managers, gave presentations to Extension audiences, produced peer-reviewed Extension documents to serve as a resource, and wrote several journal articles on the scholarship and importance of Extension.

Dr. Ober received her PhD from Oregon State University in Forest Science and Wildlife Biology in 2008. 

“Dr. Ober brings a great deal of experience, knowledge, and energy to this position,” says Tom DeLuca, Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of the College of Forestry. “We were fortunate to attract her back to OSU from her position at Florida.”

Ober believes the need to convey information about the management of Oregon’s forests and the production of forest products has never been greater as we collectively grapple with complex issues.

“Just as teaching is essential to training the next generation of scientists, and research is essential to generating better understanding, Extension and outreach are essential to ensuring that scientific knowledge gets into the hands of people who need it to make sound decisions outside the formal university setting,” Ober says.

The Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST) presented Dr. Eric Hansen, College of Forestry professor of forest products marketing and head of the department of wood science & engineering, the Distinguished Service Award.

This award recognizes distinguished service to the wood science and technology profession. Such service may have been made in any educational, technological, scientific or professional area directly related to the profession of wood science and technology in furtherance of the objectives of the Society as outlined in its constitution and bylaws.  Past Recipients

Congratulations to our 2021 Oregon State University College of Forestry graduates and awardees!

As part of the 2021 OSU Spring Commencement, the College awarded more than 200 undergraduate degrees, 54 master’s degrees and 26 graduate certificates.  13 students earned their doctoral degree as part of the ceremonies, the highest degree one can receive at OSU.

Commencement also provides an opportunity to announce our annual student, staff and faculty awards. Congratulations to our graduates and awardees.

Pack Essay award – Karra Showen
Created by Charles Lathrop Pack, the Pack Essay Award encourages sound communication skills for forestry and natural resource professionals.

Robert Aufderheide Award – Ashley D’Antonio
This award recognizes the outstanding instructor or professor on the teaching staff at the College of Forestry

Julie Kliewer Mentor Award Mindy Crandall
This award, also known as the XSP Mentor Award, is presented to the faculty or staff member who provides outstanding mentorship to students.

12th Annual Photo of the Year Contest – Jessica Blunn, for her photo “Legacies,” taken in the Holiday Farm Fire in the western Cascades.

Culture of Writing Award – Jay Sharpe and Rachel Villarreal
This award recognizes an individual’s ability to create a culture in which writing is taught, practiced, modeled, valued, and remembered.

Kelly Axe Award- Paul Catino
This award goes to a graduating senior who helps or cooperates tirelessly behind the scenes to advance the College. This award is unique in that the recipient generally receives little recognition for all of their efforts.

Harold Bowerman Leadership Award – Hanna Girod
Since 1976, the College annually recognizes a senior who demonstrates outstanding service to the College or University. The student selected exemplifies the Fernhopper Spirit through demonstrated leadership, unique contributions, and enthusiastic participation in student club activities and College programs.

Paul & Neva Dunn Outstanding Senior Award – Stacey Dunkley
The Dunn Outstanding Senior Award goes to the College’s outstanding graduating senior based on high academic achievement combined with professional ability.

Outstanding Senior Awards
Andrea Jacobs, E-Campus Natural Resources
Julian Kirchler, Natural Resources, Corvallis Campus
Cameron Castle, Tourism, Recreation, and Adventure Leadership
Quinn Smesrud, Renewable Materials
Gracie Stutzman, Forest Engineering
Ashley Backen, Forestry
Cody Irish, Forest Engineering/Civil Engineering

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

A study completed by Randy Rosenberger, professor and College of Forestry associate dean for student success, connected outdoor activities on trails to health savings by utilizing and recalibrating a tool called the Outdoor Recreation Health Impacts Estimator. The tool was initially developed to focus on transportation decisions (walking, cycling or using public transportation instead of driving) to estimate changes in life expectancy and quality of life.

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

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

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

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

The OSU Research Forests also serve as living laboratories and outdoor classrooms for OSU students, researchers, and generations of Oregonians, reimagining how people learn and relate to their natural resources and forest ecosystems. Over 145,000 annual visitors hike, bike, run and explore the trails of these working forests. All operations on the forests – including recreation and trails – are self-funded through timber harvests.

For OSU students, the Research Forests are an invaluable opportunity to experience hands-on education, where they can put the research and techniques they’re reading about in their textbooks into action. Whether it’s measuring precipitation, stream flow, or practicing timber harvesting skills, OSU students can learn the work by doing.

“I think this is the best time to be studying within the College because we are at such a turning point when it comes to how we are going to work with our forests,” says Allison Starkenburg, a recent graduate of the college’s natural resources program. “There’s an intersection between recreation and the constant new opportunities to learn and conduct research.”

OSU offers tours and demonstrations within the Research Forests and, in 2020, also launched the Forest Discovery Trail. This trail is dedicated to the memory of Dr. William Ferrell, the OSU College of Forestry’s first forest ecologist hired in 1955 who went on to study forest carbon capture and storage. His groundbreaking research paved the way for forest management as a climate change mitigation tool and continues to impact old-growth conservation. Dr. Ferrell’s family and friend made contributions to the Forest Discovery Program fund to support The Forest Discovery Trail and encourage students in grades K-5 to explore a wide range of forest concepts, including ecology, wildlife and the Indigenous history of the land.

The popular research forests had to temporarily close in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, staff quickly adapted and reopened in May 2020 with precautions and guidelines in place.

Though Rosenberger was able to quantify the monetary value of outdoor recreation’s impact on health savings, the impact of having these forests accessible to local communities in 2020 during a global pandemic felt immeasurable. The OSU research forests proudly served as a refuge for the community to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, connect with nature and connect with each other.

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

Recreation Activity
Walking/Hiking          51.5%
Dog Walking              19.0%
Running/Jogging      16.0%
Mountain Biking       12.0%
Horseback riding/misc   1.5%

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

This story was part of the College of Forestry’s 2019-2020 Biennial Report.

$30K+ Raised

The Governor’s State Employees Food Drive at Oregon State University has a long tradition of success. Every year during the month of February, the University comes together and plans a wide variety of food and fund-raising activities to help the hungry. Proceeds from the Corvallis campus benefit the non-profit agencies served in Linn-Benton Food Share. These agencies include local food pantries, the OSU food pantry, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, day care centers, shelter homes and gleaning groups in Linn and Benton counties.

To support the university wide food drive, the College of Forestry raises money in partnership with staff, students and faculty through bake sales, weekly soup lunches, donations, payroll contributions, raffles and other events.

Due to the efforts of our generous and enthusiastic supporters, the college once again received the Top Banana award in 2019 and 2020. The Top Banana is awarded to the college or unit that contributes the most money during the annual food drive. Since it’s difficult to ensure food donations are fresh and not expired, the college focuses on raising money for Linn Benton Food Share. For every dollar raised, the Food Share is able to provide three meals for community members in need. In 2019, the college raised $14,876, the equivalent of 44,628 individual meals. In 2020, the college successfully raised $15,314, the equivalent of 45,942 individual meals. As an added bonus, our friends at Stahlbush Island Farms donated 15,600 pounds of canned food to the Food Bank on our behalf.

“The food drive effort is personally important to me. Not so many years ago I was a single mom of three kids with little income,” said Jessica Fitzmorris, outreach and administrative manager at the college and co-chair of the college Food Drive Committee. “Food insecurity in my life was a real problem and it was programs like the food bank that made it possible for me to provide enough food for my family. I’m extremely proud to be a part of the college’s efforts each year to raise so much money for community members in need.”

Terralyn Vandetta, director of forestry computing resources for the college and co-chair of the college Food Drive Committee has actively volunteered on the Food Drive Committee for over 20 years. She attended her first Food Drive meeting in 1999 after joining the Forest Science Department as a way to get more involved with the college. The rest, according to Vandetta, is history. “While the people have changed over the years, the College of Forestry’s commitment to community has never wavered. I am so proud to be a part of this community that helps to ensure that everybody eats,” Vandetta said.

Special Thanks
2020 Food Drive Committee

Madison Dudley, Chelsey Durling, Christina Fierro, Jessica Fitzmorris (co-chair), Lindsay Golly, Michelle Greene, Angela Haney, Allison Starkenburg, Faith Sully, Juliet Sutton, Terralyn Vandetta (co-chair), Sharon Whalen and Adrienne Wonhof

2019 Food Drive Committee
Jessica Bagley, Madison Dudley, Chelsey Durling, Christina Fierro, Jessica Fitzmorris (co-chair), Angela Haney, Brooke Harrington, Nicole Kent, LeeAnn Mikkelson, Callie Newton, Lauren Rennan, Faith Sully, Jennah Stillman, Juliet Sutton, Terralyn Vandetta (co-chair) and Adrienne Wonhof

This story was part of the College of Forestry’s 2019-2020 Biennial Report.

Transforming commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion into action
The College of Forestry focuses on creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where staff and students, regardless of race, culture, gender identity, disability and sexual orientation are valued, supported and know they belong.

“We want to support and facilitate increased participation in DEI learning and action among the College of Forestry faculty, staff and students,” says Tom DeLuca, Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of the OSU College of Forestry. “By increasing awareness of how many among us participate in and gain influence from systems of privilege and oppression, we can be better equipped to counter these systems and create a more diverse, equitable and welcoming community in our college, university and nation.”

Responding to the events of the past few years, including the murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, the College of Forestry has made a strong commitment to building awareness and breaking down the barriers that oppress and suppress Black, Indigenous and other people of color within our country, the college and the broader fields of natural resources and forestry.

In the Fall of 2019, the college restructured the DEI committee into a seven-member workgroup to advance the actions in the DEI strategic plan and provide learning opportunities for the entire college. The college also established three taskforces to address curriculum and pedagogy, community building and inclusion, and recruitment and retention. Now, in addition to the college leadership team, 25 people are actively involved in achieving shared DEI goals. Led by Michele Justice, DEI Workgroup Lead, they have coordinated numerous events for college stakeholders to expand knowledge and change the college’s institutional culture.

Sampling of DEI accomplishments AND IMPACTS
• In June 2020, Bill Ripple, distinguished professor of ecology and Richardson Chair, generously funded the purchase of an anti-racist book for any staff member who requested one and distributed over 125 books. The college also launched a Commitment to Change scholarship, providing funds for DEI-related professional growth activities for all employees and graduate students.

Michelle Maller, WSE internship and education coordinator, helped create “Breaking the Grain,” a women’s group designed to encourage networking and mentoring for females working in the forest products industry in the Pacific Northwest. Members meet quarterly for discussion and interaction with students from the Wood Science and Engineering program.

• The College of Forestry established new relationships with Hampton, Florida A&M and Tuskegee (all Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Kootenai Salish College as part of a submission to USDA’s Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) for a Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates Fellowships programs.

• The college designed and positioned outside the Dean’s office in the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center a statement acknowledging that the land currently occupied by OSU is the traditional homeland of the Kalapuya.

• Faculty have been working to incorporate DEI in meaningful ways into classes and mentoring. Associate professor Meg Krawchuk included a new syllabus statement on pronouns and an open discussion of pronoun use with her classes on the first day. Assistant professor Ashley D’Antonio and Troy Hall, professor and Forest Ecosystems and Society Department head, hosted joint lab group discussions around diverse perspectives, such as the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

• Assistant professor Reem Hajjar developed modules on decolonizing methodologies for her research methods class.

• Every request for proposal issued by the College of Forestry Research Office for internally-funded projects now requires a description of how the project addresses equity and inclusion of diverse perspectives.

• The Research Forests faculty, staff and student team developed and engaged in informal pieces of training focused on understanding Oregon’s history of racism, white privilege and implicit bias. The training focused on what they can do as land managers, teachers, and students to advance the representation of BIPOC in outdoor recreation.

Student Groups & Organizations
• College of Forestry ambassadors participated in the Equal Opportunity and Access responsible employee training program, the Social Change Workshop with Community Engagement and Leadership, and helped with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge program.

• The Traditional Ecological Knowledge Club (TEKC) was formally established in Spring 2020 and hosts events to educate student peers and the wider community on Indigenous ways of understanding the natural world.

Student Recruitment & Admissions
• International students bring diversity to the College of Forestry, comprising more than 30% of the college’s graduate student population.

• Female students now represent 39 percent of the college undergraduate student population while underrepresented minorities (self-reported) make up 12 percent of the student body. Over the past five years, enrollment of female students is up 49 percent, while enrollment of underrepresented minorities is up 30 percent.

• 10 percent of COF students are Veterans or military-connected (compared to 3 percent of OSU’s student population), and 32 percent self-identify as the first in their families to attend college (compared to 24 percent of OSU’s student population).

This story was part of the College of Forestry’s 2019-2020 Biennial Report.

The College of Forestry is committed to addressing personal and systemic forms of privilege and oppression, adopting anti-racist practices and engaging in teaching, learning and research that supports the eradication of racism and the pursuit of equity in higher education and the field of natural resources.

To engage students in this important work, Eric Jones, a faculty instructor with Ecampus, created a course called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Natural Resource Management for students enrolled in the Master of Natural Resources program (MNR). The College of Forestry’s MNR program, offered through Ecampus, is consistently recognized as one of the top natural resources programs in the country and provides a platform for equity in higher education, serving a non-traditional student demographic who often have additional commitments, such as family obligations, job responsibilities and financial constraints.

Jones’ course examined the systemic dynamics of historical inequality and power differentials in natural resource management. It covered concepts like implicit bias, structural racism, assimilation, cultural competency, intersectionality, agency and social justice.

Jones’ goal with the course was to help students understand how the many different pieces that encompass DEI can be brought together in a cohesive framework to analyze real-world problems and recommend solutions that support the principles of DEI. Jones also wanted students to recognize and challenge their own cultural biases and learn listening and facilitation techniques to identify, understand and manage diverse and conflicting views of individuals and groups.

“This class was full of amazing people,” Jones says, “and every participant came to the class already equipped with an understanding of pieces of DEI principles.”

Jones’ original plan was to co-develop and co-teach the course with a colleague that identifies as an underrepresented person. He began the initial planning stages with that colleague and then COVID-19 turned the world upside down, forcing him to scale back and create the first version of the course himself.

“However,” Jones says, “I do not want to be a gatekeeper that isn’t open to fresh perspectives and energy or somebody else teaching the course altogether.”

Jones explains that it wasn’t hard to identify critical topics essential to include within the course, but distilling their complexity and fitting them all together into a meaningful eleven-week term for students proved far more challenging and time-consuming than anticipated.

“For one, I had to be positive that how I understood issues reflected current scholarly thinking, so I did an extensive literature review and read more than I had since graduate school,” he explains. “I drew inspiration and courage from the never-ending headlines of hate, inequity, and injustice that characterized spring and summer 2020. I appreciated the positive public messaging and reassurance from OSU administrators, colleagues, and students during this time.”

Jones’ interests and professional experience helped him develop and teach the course. In 1997, Jones was a fellow in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Community-based Environmental Protection Program, which closely aligned with the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. In 1998, he co-founded and co-managed the now-retired Institute for Culture and Ecology for 13 years, which had the explicit mission of bringing social science to natural resource problem-solving.

“Analyzing systems of power, justice, and equity to protect and promote cultural diversity and inclusiveness were commonplace in our projects,” he says.

Jones had reservations about teaching this course online because the subject matter can be emotionally taxing. He places a premium on fostering discussion spaces where people feel safe and supported to express critical thinking and share experiences and was unsure if he could create that kind of environment online.

“I feel safer teaching these kinds of emotionally charged subjects on-campus, but I’m not sure that is justified,” Jones says. “I’ve come to learn over the years that some students thrive in the online environment. What I’ve found is that it is better for me to actively participate in the online discussions, letting students have space to interact with each other, but also for us to interact as a community.”

Jones was impressed with the thoughtful responses and high engagement from students.

“I wanted the class to feel that they could engage deeply with difficult and often tragic subject matter such as systemic racism, unethical science, and cultural appropriation and come out the other end feeling more hopeful and more empowered,” he explains.

“Did this happen? Based on the feedback I received, it seems participants generally felt hopeful and empowered, but while that is nice, what matters to me is what they do in the future. Lasting social change takes a long time. It is tough to measure the underlying catalysts, but I will say the students are extraordinary individuals. They give me great hope for a future where someday DEI principles are woven into the way people think, and societies work.” Learn more about DEI in the College of Forestry.

This story was part of the College of Forestry’s 2019-2020 Biennial Report.

In March 2020, during week 10 of the winter term and shortly after faculty and staff began moving into the newly constructed George W. Peavy Forest Science Center, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic. COVID-19 completely changed the landscape of higher education, and as the pandemic continued to spread and the remainder of 2020 shifted alongside it, the College of Forestry quickly adapted to support students.

“During this challenging time, staff and faculty adapted quickly, working to provide ideas, courses and programs that met students where they were at with real solutions to complete research and support their progress towards their academic goals,” said Tom DeLuca, the Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of the College of Forestry.

When stay-at-home and social distancing orders came down from the governor’s office in March, Ethan Harris, a senior in forest engineering, had to change course to complete his senior capstone project. Instead of surveying a stand on Starker Forests lands in the Oregon Coast range to appraise its value, develop a harvest plan and coordinate with mills and truckers, he had to cancel his survey work and timber cruises and coordinate team project meetings virtually through Zoom. Woodam Chung, Stewart Professor of Forest Operations, helped Harris find available data and complete the project.

Another senior, Wade Christensen, had a similar experience for his capstone project. Help arrived in the form of remotely sensed LIDAR data from a leading expert in the field, Bogdan Strimbu, assistant professor in forest biometrics and geomatics. Allowing for differences between direct observation and point clouds, Christensen estimated timber volumes and completed his work.

Both Harris and Christensen graduated on time, but they are examples of the stressful scramble brought on by pandemic restrictions last spring. Adjusting capstone projects, jumping into remote classes, recalibrating internships, filling gaps in students’ resources — all fell to faculty, advisors and support staff.

For Nicole Kent, manager of advising & academic relations for the College of Forestry, the shift became all-consuming. She and her team make sure that the college’s nearly 1,000 undergraduates get the courses and experiences they need. They also conduct student orientations and other events.

Only about half of those students are on the Corvallis campus. Others work at OSU Cascades in Bend, at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande or through Ecampus. “We were already doing a lot of remote teaching. That gave the college a head start in adjusting to the pandemic,” Kent said.

Most students in Corvallis are there because they want to learn in person — in the forest, on field trips, in labs, face to face. With COVID restrictions in place, students saw internships and other work-experience opportunities evaporate. Some courses were cancelled and others shifted to the computer screen.

Nevertheless, the College of Forestry prides itself on producing work-ready graduates, so advisors and faculty shifted gears to find alternatives. They determined what courses would provide the required learning outcomes and kept students on the path to graduation.

“I can’t say enough about how wonderful the Student Services team is and how hard they have worked,” Kent said. “They were all at home working remotely. They stepped up to show such great care and compassion for our students.”

Those efforts included finding financial help when income had suddenly dried up. The OSU Foundation led an effort that saw over 3,000 donors contribute over $1 million for Beavers Care, an initiative to make a difference for OSU students, faculty and staff in urgent need of emergency support. College staff navigated the federal CARES Act to determine who was eligible for assistance and who was not. Staff also identified additional university resources to help fill gaps in their personal lives, such as access to groceries and medications.

Even laboratory-based classes, which usually take place in person, transformed to adapt to remote delivery. Wood science and engineering professor Lech Muszynski successfully adapted his renewable materials laboratory class. The class utilized a combination of online lectures, team assignments, video clips with recorded lab routines and procedures, discussions and publicly available web content. Elements of Muszynski’s innovative class strategies were shared with the OSU campus community as part of a best practice webinar series.

Staff in the college’s IT office also made extraordinary efforts to ensure all students had access to computers and the internet at home. During the same weeks the college was moving into the new Peavy Forest Science Center building, IT was assisting students with Zoom meeting software, loaner computers and off-campus access to computer labs.

Throughout the year, OSU and the college communicated with students, sending updates about available resources and helping people who were struggling with isolation.

“As this crisis unfolded and continues to unfold, we believe it is more critical than ever to support each other,” DeLuca said. “Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our community and we will continue to do everything we can to support academic success and the College of Forestry community.”

This story was part of the College of Forestry’s 2019-2020 Biennial Report.

On February 9, we recognized our 2020 Dean’s Award recipients and retirees with an awards ceremony and celebration on Zoom. Since 1990, the Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement have recognized outstanding contributions by our community members that significantly advanced the mission of the College.

For outstanding achievement in Fostering Undergraduate Student Success, Woody Chung, Bogdan Strimbu and Austin Finster were recognized for their herculean efforts to digitize a forest. Due to the pandemic, access to the research forest wasn’t available for the typical capstone experience. Students noted that Woody’s positive, encouraging attitude, Bogdan’s adaptability, and Austin’s dedication all contributed to a great outcome for the term.

Zowie DeLeon from the Dean’s Office was recognized for outstanding achievement in Contributions as a Student Worker. Nominators noted that Zowie was a leader to her office mates and participated in hiring and training fellow student workers.

Two graduate students were recognized for outstanding achievement in Graduate Student LeadershipKatie Nicolato and Skye Greenler. Nominators noted that one of Katie’s greatest strengths is the comprehensive experience she brings to her program and the FERM department, including getting her FAA Remote Pilot Certificate, becoming President for the OSU American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and serving on the WFGRS planning committee. Skye’s nominator wrote that she has established a superb academic and leadership record with us here in the College, including exemplary performance on her qualifying exams. She has shown strong leadership and professional qualities, including service as president of our Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE) chapter and on the WFGRS planning committee.

Outstanding achievement in the Mentorship of Graduate Students went to Ashley D’Antonio and Mariapaola Riggio. Students who nominated Dr. D’Antonio noted they value her thoughtful leadership and her commitment to promoting principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) which includes a reading group that relates to issues of DEI in the outdoors. Dr. Riggio’s nominator noted that she is an exceptional role model for each graduate student that she has mentored. They said, “her encouragement of my research and opportunities surrounding it has been a key focus of my experience in the College of Forestry. So much, that I wanted to continue to work with Dr. Riggio as a PhD student.”

Misty Magers was recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Distinction to the College. Nominators noted that she is an exceptional office manager with a deep wisdom about the department, and a seemingly endless capacity to remember details. 

The Pauline Barto Award for Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion went to Adrienne Wonhof. Nominators noted that Adrienne has been the voice to department heads and college leadership to maintain flexibility and create remote working conditions that cultivate inclusive environments. She has ignited a passion within colleagues to strive for equality and diversity.

Retirees Doug Maguire, Mike Bondi, Rakesh Gupta, Jim Johnson, Chal Landgren, and Milo Clauson were recognized for their service to the college. Rakesh served as a Professor in Wood Science and Engineering from 1991 to 2020 and has studied the behavior of wood frame structures under extreme loads (from natural disasters) to the mechanical properties and behavior of wood and wood composites.In 2006, Jim Johnson accepted the Associate Dean position for Extension and Outreach. Jim is most proud of the programs he had a hand in starting, the students he taught and mentored, and the outstanding colleagues he hired. Professor Landgren has served as Extension Christmas Tree Specialist at Oregon State University since 2008, when the position was created by the state legislature. Milo joined WSE in 1987.  His work supported material testing classes, graduate and undergraduate student research programs, and timber engineering faculty.