What was your life like before becoming a Ph.D. student at Oregon State?

I finished my undergrad in 2007 at Georgetown University with a B.A. in Theology. As you can probably guess, theology is a virtually non-marketable degree – theology majors either 1) go to seminary, or 2) earn doctorates, then teach future theology students. I had zero interest in either of those career paths. But at the time I didn’t particularly care about job prospects, since about halfway through college I decided I wanted to go to culinary school, and eventually open my own bakery.

After graduating I moved to New York City, where I was professionally trained in classic French pastry. But after just a few months working in the food industry, I became sadly disillusioned. I realized that, unless you’re extremely talented and extremely lucky, a career in baking means hard physical labor, big egos, low creative freedom and even lower wages.

I stuck with it for a while, but I also started looking around for other opportunities. I spent a fair amount of time trying to market my non-marketable theology degree (fail). Eventually, I suppose around 2011, I gave up the hope of getting myself on any sort of career track, and instead resigned myself to a series of dead-end jobs. Fortunately, since those jobs offered no intellectual stimulation whatsoever, I had plenty of time and mental energy to do some soul searching as well. By 2013, with more than a few oven burns on my arms and way too much retail experience under my belt, I decided to go back to grad school and (hopefully) re-tool myself to work in some field related to environmental conservation and sustainability.

What has your experience been like?

It’s been a challenge, for sure. Coming from a non-science, non-NR background I had a steep learning curve, and I never really found a strong research focus. Generally I concentrate on ethics in conservation, but within that concentration I’ve thought and written on a range of topics, including wildlife management, forest management, and even a little climate change. I’ve also dabbled in conservation psychology, particularly for my dissertation work. So I’m pretty interdisciplinary. Recently I’ve also come to realize that I’m most interested in asking questions that don’t have clear or unequivocally “right” answers. I think I’d argue that many if not most of the ethical issues we face in environmental management and conservation meet that condition…which is really overwhelming, but at least I know I won’t run out of things to think about any time soon.

You work as an instructor. What’s that like?

I really enjoy teaching, and I feel lucky to have had a chance to do a fair amount of it as a graduate student. Right now I’m teaching an online graduate course, SNR 522 Basic Beliefs and Ethics in Natural Resources. It’s been a good term – probably the most diverse and engaged group I’ve had yet.


Will you continue to do that now that you’re wrapping up your Ph.D.? What’s next?

I’ll be starting a post doc position in summer through the HJ Andrews Long-Term Ecological Research program. They supported me throughout my grad program, so I’m happy to have a chance to stay with that community, and hopefully make myself useful. And yes, I’m also hoping to continue teaching my class. I’d gladly accept any opportunities to teach additional classes as well.

Have you read any good books lately?

Lately I’ve been reading some stuff by a local Eugene author, Barry Lopez. He wrote this amazing essay for Harper’s magazine, called “Polar Light” – a mentor sent it to me a few months ago, and it sort of got me hooked. I picked up Winter Count, which is a book of short stories, and I was done with it in one evening. That same night I ordered Arctic Dreams, which is what I’m still reading now (it’s been slow going – I tend to fall asleep after a couple pages). Anyway, this one is non-fiction, and conveys Lopez’ lifelong fascination with the arctic region. It’s such a different place than anywhere else on Earth, so I’ve enjoyed learning a bit of that history and ecology. But more than that I appreciate his ability to translate his observations of the arctic region into these insightful and frankly beautiful reflections on humanity. He’s a great writer.

What’s your favorite food?

Cake. And salad.


If you were one of the seven dwarfs, which would you be?

Some combination of Sleepy and Grumpy…Slumpy?

What’s in the trunk of your car right now?

Sheets (an effort to control the profusion of dog hair in my car…which in actuality is an exercise in futility); reusable grocery bags; and a large pink umbrella, which I bought at an old-fashioned pharmacy in New York City back in 2008.

How long have you been at Oregon State?

I moved here from Alaska in 2008 with eight kids in tow to attend graduate school at Oregon State. I graduated in 2010 with a master’s in adult education and a specialization in virtual learning environments. Soon after that I was hired as an OSU Ecampus advisor for the natural resources program. In 2014, I became the program coordinator for natural resources and I’ve been here ever since.

Awesome. What should people know about the program?

The program has seen steady growth since its inception. We’ve had two big curriculum revisions- most recently in the summer of 2018. Our revisions help us adapt to the changes in the field of resource management, the needs of employers, and the interests of the students. We are constantly analyzing and making sure we’re meeting their needs.


Tell me about the students you advise.

I love our students! They’re on the forefront of whatever is going on in the world. Right now there’s a huge interest in issues like sustainability, climate change, food issues and more. Our students go everywhere and do all kinds of jobs from land management to environmental education to law.

Do you have a natural resources background?

No. My bachelor’s degree is in visual communications. I became interested in natural resources and education while living in rural Alaska for 20 years. I homeschooled my eight children, and we often had moose and other wildlife wandering through our back yard. Most of our family memories are intimately connected with wilderness or wildlife.


Wow. Tell us more about that experience.

Alaska was one of the first states to have a state-funded homeschool program, and I got very involved in a leadership role in alternative education. My kids used an online curriculum and that was how I first got involved with online education. It was great because we lived in the middle of nowhere, but my kids had the opportunity to participate in scientific field studies and communicate with people all over the world.

Tell us about your large family!

The tribe has grown up and I have only one left in the house. She will graduate from high school in 2019. The other seven are either in college or already finished with their degree; four have graduated or are currently at Oregon State, one graduated from the University of Oregon, one from Western Oregon University, one currently taking a gap year.  It’s important to me that they not carry a lot of student debt, so they all worked and paid their own ways through school. I am really proud of my kids.


What do you do when you’re not working?

I love gardening and cooking and spending time with my expanding family as my kids get married. My son is getting married this summer, and his fiancé has a six-year-old son, so I’m becoming a grandmother, and I’m loving it. We are a very nerdy family. We get together on Mondays and play Dungeons and Dragons.


What do you like to cook?

I love baking bread. I’m working on perfecting my sourdough right now.

Robert Rose is a senior studying renewable materials. He landed at Oregon State after growing up in New Mexico, a stint in the Air Force and working in Japan as a Department of Defense contractor.

With his first bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Rose had broad knowledge of the construction industry, but wanted to switch roles.

“A few friends told me about the College of Forestry at Oregon State, which led me to discover the renewable materials program, and it seemed like a good fit,” he says. “I wanted to learn about what renewable materials are and how to apply renewable products to the field of construction.”

The father of three considers school his job right now. He finished his renewable materials coursework and is now focused on business classes for the marketing and management option within the degree program.

Rose says one of his favorite areas to study is mass timber. He says his dream job is working with innovative products within the construction industry.

“I’m hoping I can take the knowledge and experience I gained here and translate it into getting plugged back into the workforce,” Rose says.

He says he’s excited about mass timber because of its unexpected construction potential.

“People just don’t really think about wood as a suitable material for large-scale construction projects,” Rose says. “But once you start learning about the properties behind it, it’s really intriguing and interesting. There’s also an aesthetic piece to it that I really like, so overall it makes for an interesting material to work with.”

During summer 2017, Rose completed an internship with Accsys Technologies. He worked with the College of Forestry’s Office of International Programs to travel abroad to the company’s headquarters in The Netherlands for a week where he observed the manufacturing process for Accoya wood products.

Once he returned home, Rose worked with Scott Leavengood,  director of the Oregon Wood Innovation Center, to test a variety of modified wood products including acetylated red alder similar to the wood that will be used on the exterior cladding of the new George W. Peavy Forest Science Center building.

“Robert is an exceptional student and employee,” Leavengood says. “His natural curiosity; attention to detail and ability to organize, plan and conduct his work independently are strong assets for any researcher.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about our undergraduate programs here

Senior Vanessa Mckinney is passionate about forestry, natural resources and conservation.

The Eureka, California, native came to Oregon State to study forest management, but after participating in field school decided – with the help of an advisor – that the natural resources major would be a better fit.

“Coming to Oregon felt like a new opportunity for me,” Mckinney said. “Here at Oregon State, and in the state of Oregon in general, everyone encourages students to get out into the woods and into the field and find out how we can make a change for the better.”

Mckinney stays as active as she can, participating in a variety of hands-on learning opportunities.

During summer 2018, Mckinney worked with a graduate student to reopen the greenhouse at the Oak Creek building on the Oregon State campus. The neglected space is now an active research facility again.

“I helped graduate students get seedlings going,” Mckinney says. “It was really rewarding to make that area a productive space for research again.”

Mckinney also participated in the Mentored Employment Program (MEP), which provides College of Forestry undergraduate students paid opportunities to work with faculty members on research projects or to gain field experience.

Mckinney worked with Carlos Gonzalez-Benecke, assistant professor, and Maxwell Wightman, faculty research assistant, on a project for the Vegetation Management Research Cooperative (VMRC). She said that before working with the VMRC, she began to question her future and interest in natural resources and forest management.

“I was wondering if I really wanted to be here,” she says. “But getting  into the field with the VMRC gave me a new sense of confidence. I gained real experience with real data that I knew was going to be applied. This added to my OSU experience.”

Mckinney’s data ended up in the lab, and will eventually have real applications for land managers and other scientists.

“Working with her as a mentor through the program was a wonderful experience,” Wightman says. “I worked closely with her in the field and saw her grow in skill and confidence. Her work with the VMRC was so exceptional that we immediately hired her as a student employee once her time with MEP ended.”

In her spare time, Mckinney also volunteers with Oregon State Community Service and has participated in the Polar Plunge event for the Special Olympics. She plans to attend graduate school and eventually hopes to work with children and youth, teaching them about forestry, natural resources and conservation.

“As a child, I was captivated by the outdoors at an early age,” Mckinney says. “If we captivate children at an early age, they can become leaders in managing and protecting our natural resources for the future.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about our undergraduate programs here

The Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) is up for renewal in 2020. According to the State of Oregon, the FPA “sets standards for all commercial activities involving the establishment, management or harvesting of trees on Oregon’s forestlands.

Oregon law gives the Board of Forestry primary responsibility to interpret the FPA and set rules for forest practices.”

Assistant Professor Kevin Bladon has a vested interest in the FPA because of his work in and with harvesting in riparian areas. He says this practice is one of the reasons the act exists. “In the 1950s and 60s, before FPA, logging companies were harvesting next to streams, and a lot of sediment was ending up in the water.”

This had negative impacts on water sources, quality,  temperature and more. To prove this, scientists at the Oregon State College of Forestry conducted a study of the Alsea Watershed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

For six years, scientists made pre-harvest measurements and observations. Next, over a two-year period, they observed harvest and the change that occurred in respect to the nearby streams. Bladon says the stream temperature rose from a standard 13.9 degrees Celsius to up to 29.4 degrees Celsius.

“That’s more than double the original temperature,” Bladon says. “That has major impacts on fish habitat and the laying and survival of eggs. There was also increased sediment. None of the results were good, and all of this information was built into FPA.”

FPA passed in 1971. Major amendments were made in 1992 with added water and geographic classifications.

“It’s cool to look back on that time and the regulations that have been developed and know this study happened just down the road from us,” Bladon says.

He had a chance to return to the Alsea Watershed when it was harvested again in 2009 and 2015 to conduct a one-of-a-kind study. Work like this will influence FPA and other policy decisions in Oregon and beyond.

“Going back to the same watersheds, it’s clear the FPA had a positive impact,” Bladon says. “We were able to show that based on the stream temperature and amount of sediment, FPA regulations are appropriate and working well for the landscape.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about college research here

In FY 2017 and 2018, the College of Forestry and the TallWood Design Institute helped bring an exciting new engineered wood product to market: the mass plywood panel (MPP).

Freres Lumber Company of Lyons, Oregon, introduced the new-to-market, veneer-based product.

It’s something Tyler and Kyle Freres have been dreaming about since a 2015 trip to Austria.

“We visited a few facilities that were producing cross-laminated timber (CLT) really efficiently, and we felt we could achieve the same kind of product with veneer,” Freres says.

As soon as they returned to Lyons, they started gluing panels together. He says that working with Oregon State University has helped his company refine the product.

Arijit Sinha, associate professor of renewable materials at Oregon State, led the testing.

“During phase one testing, we helped Freres identify the layup pattern they wanted to use,” Sinha says. “And during phase two we tested an optimized layup at different thicknesses that they eventually took to market in 2018.”

Phase two included bending tests to characterize the strength and stiffness of the product. Later, connections,  performance acoustics characteristics, and shear wall application of the product will be tested.

MPP, like CLT, can be used as a substitute for traditional building materials.

The college is committed to working with industry partners like Freres to promote mass timber solutions.

“We are devoted to seeking out innovative partners like Freres Lumber and D.R. Johnson, who want to create sustainable solutions that improve our forest landscapes and ecosystems while also creating economic vitality,” says Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis. Freres says the advantages of MPP are that is uses 20-30 percent less wood than CLT; large format panels can be manufactured at the production facility to minimize waste and labor on job sites; and the light weight of the panels can help save on transportation costs and logistics during construction.

“We are a good example of a family business working within our rural community to come up with something new and innovative,” Freres says. “It’s also been great to have the experts and the researchers at Oregon State working with us on this project. We have a very close relationship, and appreciate all the extra hands involved in producing MPP.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about our renewable materials program here.

After a walk across the United States and an epic 48-hour experience in Grand Canyon National Park, junior Josh Lewis knew he had to study forestry.

The park rangers took care of him and gave him advice during his hike through the canyon.

“I hiked from north to south, and due to snow, I had to hike backwards and go back around,” Lewis explains.

But his spirit wasn’t deterred.

“I tried to have the mindset that this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and I get to see it twice,” Lewis says. “And, thanks to the rangers, I realized my dream of working on and managing public lands.”

Lewis was born in the Pacific Northwest and spent time in rural Idaho as a child, before his family moved on to bigger cities.

“I think starting out in nature really shapes you,” he says. “I’ve worked a lot of different kinds of jobs, and after a while, they  all get old. I’ve been studying forestry for about three years now, and it still excites me because of the connection to the natural landscape.”

Lewis now calls Maui home, and first studied at the University of Hawai‘i, but took a break to complete his long walk when he realized he wasn’t working toward a particular goal. Since arriving at Oregon State, he’s kept his head in his books and focused on his classes. He says that since entering professional school, he’s hit a groove, and is enjoying his upper-level forestry classes.

He marks field school as one of the best Oregon State experiences so far.

“It felt like class, but it was really self-driven,” Lewis says. “I needed a lot of time to finish some of the exercises we did because going in, I wasn’t completely confident in my forestry skills.”

Field school orients students to the professional forestry  program and reinforces skills they’ve learned in the classroom by allowing students to practice in a real-world setting.

Lewis says one of the benefits of field school was getting to know his fellow classmates.

“During field school, we spent all day in the woods together and lived together at night,” he says. “It was an A-plus experience.”

Lewis’s goal is to work at Haleakala¯ National Park on Maui, but he says staying put in Oregon is a great backup plan.

“I love it here,” he says. “It’s beautiful, and it’s not really that far from the islands.”

He encourages anyone interested in the outdoors to consider studying forestry at Oregon State.

“I’m earning marketable skills in an industry that will allow me to work outside,” Lewis says. “My experience has been seamless. Everyone is friendly, and I love the atmosphere of my classes.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about our undergraduate programs here.

When Bill and Marion Collins moved onto 160 acres near Gold Hill in Jackson County, they had no idea what to do with their land or how to manage it.

The couple used their small farm to raise horses, rabbits and chickens for about 13 years. Their interest turned to forestry after visiting the Oregon Small Woodland booth at the county fair.

“The OSU Extension Service had a booth at the county fair, and I talked to the person about my problems,” says Bill Collins.

“We ended up working together to build seven miles of roads throughout the property.” The roads opened up new possibilities for the Collins’ land and initiated their first phase of forest management, which included selective harvesting.

“It went well, and harvesting made us a little money,” Collins said. “I got a lot of help from Oregon State, and we went from there.”

Collins was part of one of the first Master Woodland Manager classes offered in Jackson and Josephine Counties.

Stephen Fitzgerald, director of the Oregon State College of Forestry Research Forests, taught part of the course.

“It’s been wonderful to keep up with the Collins family over the years,” Fitzgerald says. “Their forest is incredibly well managed and well taken care of. It’s an example to foresters of what good stewardship looks like.”

Max Bennett, Jackson and Josephine County forestry extension agent, says the Collins’ property was one of the first private woodlands he visited when he started his position in 2000.

“They worked a lot with my predecessor,” Bennett says. “And they’ve been very generous with their property and with their time over the years. I’ve used their properties to host classes, tours and workshops on topics like basic woodland management, small-scale timber harvesting and thinning.”

Collins says it’s important to him to give back, “because the community helped me,” he says.

In 2018, Collins took his love for the community and extension to another level when he, along with his family, decided to donate his land to Oregon State University.

“We are really excited about this donation,” says Zak Hansen, director of of development for the College of Forestry. “We’ve had a couple of these kinds of forests donated in the past, and it’s a great opportunity for extension agents in those areas to use the land as a resource for their programs.”

Fitzgerald says he is excited to have another parcel under the Research Forest banner.

“With this land, we will continue our tradition of providing excellent teaching and extension outreach,” he says. “It gives me peace of mind to know that the land is close to an extension station.

There will be a strong OSU presence, and we will make sure it’s well utilized.”

Bennett agrees.

“This is an opportunity to continue doing what we’ve been doing on this property for many years,” he says. “We will continue to use it as a demonstration site and as an example of a very well-managed, multi-generational working forest.”

Bennett says many of the small woodland owners he works with in Jackson and Josephine Counties are concerned about issues of forest health and fire, and the Collins property will help him address and educate the public about those issues.

While the donation process took time, Collins still encourages others to consider donating their land.

“The process was worth it,” Collins said. “We’re very proud to be part of the newly-created ‘Collins Demonstration Forest’ here in Jackson County.”

The Collins’ will continue living on their property as long as they choose. When they leave, their house and its five acres will be held or sold at the discretion of the OSU

Foundation, and the money will be used for extension programming and scholarships, with preference given to students from Jackson and Josephine Counties. The bulk of the donated acreage will be held for at least 20 years.

“If it’s working the way it should be in 20 years, we will continue to hold on to it,” Hansen says. “This gift is a wonderful portrait of the Collins’ appreciation for the extension programs and their care for future generations.

For more information about how to donate land to the College of Forestry, contact Zak Hansen at the OSU Foundation: zak.hansen@osufoundation.org.

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about the College Research Forests.

Thinking about planning on the landscape level can be overwhelming for forest managers. To help understand the complexities of land management and decision making, a collaborative team of Oregon State University researchers, the United States Forest Service, state agencies and private land owners worked together to help tailor a simulation modeling program called Envision.

The software was developed by a team led by John Bolte, professor and department head of Biological and Ecological Engineering in the College of Agricultural Sciences. It is an integrated modeling platform for coupled human and natural systems analyses.

The open source, GIS-based tool is helpful for planning and environmental assessments. It uses graphs, maps and data to demonstrate how landscape processes interact and how vegetation may change over time. For example, data can spatially depict where wildfire, prescribed fire, thinning and succession may occur over time under different land  management scenarios. If land managers are interested in a specific model output, such as dense forest habitat, timber volume or homes affected by wildfire, this can be summarized graphically.

Restoration fire in the Deschutes National Forest

OSU Research Associate Ana Barros, Senior Faculty Research Assistant Michelle Day, Assistant Professor Meg Krawchuk, and Forest Service partners collaborated and utilized the software to model wildfire and forest management scenarios on the Deschutes National Forest. The work included taking a look at the impact of restoration wildfire. These are wildfires caused by lightning that ignite in low risk areas when the weather conditions are mild. They are managed to help achieve forest restoration goals such as reducing understory fuels or thinning dense forests.

“What happens if we have more restoration fire?” asks Barros. “We want to explore this idea of letting wildland fire do some of the work we need to do in terms of restoration.”

The group modeled fires in the Deschutes National Forest and looked at factors like smoke, habitat for species like the northern spotted owl, and how much restoration can accomplish in terms of preventing devastating and out-of-control wildfire.

Modeling like this allowed the team to identify tradeoffs including cost, smoke and safety to help make science-based recommendations to land managers. Results suggested that, although there are trade-offs, restoration wildfire can improve forest resilience and contribute to restoration efforts in fire-adapted forests.

“Restoration fire is not a magic solution,” Barros says. “But it does improve resilience in forests.”

Collaborative forest management in Eastern Oregon

Oregon State, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW), took Envision to land managers and communities in Eastern Oregon.

In a project funded by the college’s Institute for Working Forest Landscapes and the PNW, a research team worked with managers and forest collaborative stakeholders to test how different management strategies might yield different future landscape outcomes for wildfire, fish and wildlife, timber production and other important values.

The collaborative groups the team worked with, including the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and the Lakeview Stewardship Group, were able to apply the results of the modeling to their dialogue and decision-making processes.

“The model provided a good conversation starter when looking at a specific area and how it fits into the larger landscape,” says Emily Jane Davis, assistant professor and extension specialist. “This type of data can help make forest management decisions more effective by aiding discussions about current conditions, future choices and outcomes.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about college research here

This year’s Dean’s Dinner was held on May 14, after the grand opening of the A. A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory.

After opening remarks from Anthony Davis, Interim Dean for the College of Forestry, three outstanding alumni were honored. Jim Johnson, interim department head of Forest Engineering, Resources & Management, presented the award to Mike Cloughesy. Mike graduated from OSU with a M.S. in Forest Science in 1983 and is currently the Director of Forestry for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, a statewide forestry education agency. He is responsible for the development and implementation of OFRI’s forestry education programs for landowners and the general public.

Troy Hall, department head of Forest Ecosystems and Society, presented the award to Cristina Eisenberg. Cristina graduated from OSU with a PH.D. in Forestry and Wildlife in 2012. She has worked as the Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, an organization based in Boston, Massachusetts since 2014.

Eric Hansen, department head of Wood Science and Engineering, presented the award to Jerrold E. Winandy. Jerrold graduated from OSU with a PH.D. in Wood Science and Engineering in 1993. He is now principal partner of Winandy & Associates LLC and an adjunct professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Congratulations to each of our outstanding alumni!

Each year the College of Forestry is honored and privileged to award graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships to deserving new and returning students. 134 undergraduate students were selected to receive scholarships totaling $486,060 for the 2019-20 academic year. Nicole Kent, our head advisor, helped congratulate these students. Twenty six graduate students, both Master- and PhD- level, received college fellowships totaling just over $121,500 for the 2019-20 academic year.

Donor contributions make a difference in the lives of our students by allowing them to fulfill their dreams of a college education, and to be successful contributors in our communities after graduation. These are the stewards of our forest ecosystems and economies, and I cannot think of a greater return on investment than their education. Donors and alumni, thank you for your wonderful generosity and outstanding contributions to the College!

To honor the dedication shown by those who support students in the College, two faculty awards were presented. The Xi Sigma Pi Julie Kliever Mentorship Award went to Bogdan Strimbu and the Aufderheide Award to Laurie Schimleck.

The evening wrapped up with two student awards. The winner of the Pack Essay Award was Paul B. Pliess for his essay: “Multicultural Stakeholders in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”. The Photo of the Year award went to Graham Lyons, for his photo taken in the California Coastal Redwoods.