As a forest soil scientist, Tom DeLuca has worked in Sweden, the United Kingdom, China, the Rocky Mountains and other far-flung places. He has focused on elemental, environmental and silvicultural cycles that link forest productivity to the soil ecosystem and human activity. He has served in leadership positions at Bangor University in the U.K., the University of Washington and University of Montana.

But when the chance came to advance the legacy of his friend and colleague Thomas Maness and direct one of the world’s leading forestry programs, he jumped. “I’ve known Oregon State as the premier forestry program in the nation, if not the world,” says DeLuca, who succeeds Maness as the Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of the OSU College of Forestry.

In 2012, at about the time that Maness became dean, DeLuca was hired as director of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. “We gave talks at the same professional meetings, hit it off and became friends.”

DeLuca says he and Maness shared similar perspectives about the future of forestry. “Thomas started things in motion as dean that I’m excited to pick up and advance. For example, if OSU becomes the steward of the Elliott State Forest, we would have a tremendous opportunity to push the limits of what sustainable forest management looks like on the landscape. How can we meet our needs for fiber without degrading habitat?

“I see forestry as a key element of a sustainable future on Earth. Our survival as a species ties directly to forests and all of the attributes that we depend on — whether it’s clean water, air, forest products or diversity of species.”

As a boy growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, DeLuca enjoyed spending time outdoors. His family dabbled in farming and he learned about the value of early mornings and the self-sufficiency demanded by agricultural work. They made frequent backpacking trips to the forests of Idaho and Montana. His strong connection to the woods and the West motivates him today.

“I spend as much time outdoors as I can. I love to be in the woods. I do a fair amount of trail running, skiing and cycling,” he says. As young parents, he and his wife Denise took their three sons Vince, Emile and Henry on outdoor excursions nearly every weekend to instill that same love of the land.

DeLuca has a fondness for books about the land and people pushing their limits — whether physical, emotional or mental. He also enjoys a wide variety of music. However, when it comes to personal accomplishments, he reflects on his own family with gratitude and happiness: “Raising those three boys is probably the best thing I can point to in my life to date.”

It follows that DeLuca places the College of Forestry’s educational mission at the top of his priorities. Kids growing up in urban areas often lack familiarity with rural landscapes, he says, and may associate forestry primarily with clear-cuts.

He notes, however, that in the 1890s, the science of forestry developed in response to the destructive practices of an earlier age. “Forestry was the first environmental science practiced at a landscape level in the United States. We need to reclaim that ground. We need to recapture peoples’ and kids’ imagination around forestry.”

DeLuca believes educational excellence means producing graduates who combine a deep understanding of forest ecosystems with a conservation ethic and strong communication skills.

Toward that end, DeLuca sees his leadership role as enabling faculty and students. “It’s not about me; it’s about us as a college. It’s my job to help create the conditions in which people can do their best work,” he says. “It takes systems thinking and an integration of practice to create an effective team.”

DeLuca recognizes the college has leading institutes and departments, which bring a diversity of perspectives and collaborations to the sustainability challenge. By connecting students with current research, faculty create an exceptional educational experience. Across the state, the OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Program carries the learning to communities that are dealing with issues from wildfire to economic dislocation.

The college has also benefited from the leadership of Anthony S. Davis as interim dean, says DeLuca. “He seized the momentum created by Dean Maness and moved the college forward on multiple fronts, including the completion of the Oregon Forest Science Complex, exploring the creation of the Elliott State Research Forest and the establishment of the Wood Identification and Screening Center at OSU.”

In his research, DeLuca has found the enduring footprint of human activity across the world. For example, in Sweden, where he conducted field work with ecologists and archaeologists, northern forests were regarded as pristine and untouched by humans. However, the Sámi people had managed those forests and alpine tundra for millennia, just as Native peoples exerted a strong influence on forests in North America.

“We have to recognize that humans are part of the landscape,” he says. “They are and always will be.”

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

The College of Forestry’s world-class students and faculty conduct innovative research across the entirety of the forest landscape. Our research happens in labs and outdoors– on public and private lands across the state and in the College’s own 15,000 acres of College Research Forests as well as around the nation and the world. 

The College of Forestry received over $11.2 million in new and continuing awards for FY 2020, an increase of 31% from the previous year and the highest total since FY 2016. The awards support College of Forestry research that advances scientific knowledge critical to the health of forests, people and communities.

Here are some examples of the new awards:

Wood Identification & Screening Center
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service
Principal Investigator Eric Hansen
$1,087,945

Preparing Leaders in Collaborative Forest Management in an Era of Wildfire
Sponsor: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Principal Investigator Troy E. Hall, Co- Principal Investigators Reem Hajjar and Meg Krawchuk
$178,498

CAREER: Unveiling the role of catchment physiography in the hydrologic response of headwater streams
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator Catalina Segura
$757,896

Collaborative Research: MRA: A lineage-based framework to advance grassland macroecology and Earth System Modeling
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator Christopher J. Still, Co-Principal Investigators Daniel Griffith, William Riley, Jesse Nippert, Stephanie Pau, Brent Helliker
$1,489,831 (OSU portion $594,131)

Eager: Using Historic Art to Explore Legacies and Lost Function in Eastern US Forests
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator Dana Warren, Co-Principal Investigators Peter Betjemann, David Shaw, William Keeton, Isabel Munck
$147,490

Evaluation of Maintenance of Post-Fire Forest Cover in National Forests
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service
Principal Investigator Temesgen Hailemariam
$74,000

Effectiveness of Class II Watercourse and Lake Protection Zone (WLPZ) Forest Practice Rules (FPRs) and Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan (AHCP) Riparian Prescriptions at Maintaining or Restoring Canopy Closure, Stream Water Temperature, Primary Productivity
Sponsor: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Principal Investigator Kevin D. Bladon, Co-Principal Investigator Catalina Segura
$694,371

Advancing the characterization and management of community wildfire risk
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service
Principal Investigator Meg Krawchuk
$250,000

Reliable achievement of Douglas-fir stand management objectives using real time precision forestry
Sponsor: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Principal Investigator Bogdan M. Strimbu
$313,263

McKenzie Huber and Autumn Granger

College of Forestry advisors McKenzie Huber and Autumn Granger have been recognized as the Oregon Academic Advising Association Advisors of the Year for 2020!  Autumn is a first generation college student herself, and understands the importance of having someone to help guide you. McKenzie has her Ed.M. in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University and has dedicated her career to academic advising.

Our advisors assist students in making the most of their educational opportunity and stay with their students from orientation to graduation. Learn more about our undergraduate degree options and take a virtual tour today!

Assistant professor Catalina Segura has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Italy.  She will study rainfall-runoff generation response in spring 2021 at the University of Florence. 

Catalina joined the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management in 2013 and runs the Watershed Processes Lab. The goal of her research program is to understand the physical processes that control the movement of water and sediment and the effects that the variability of these processes have on water availability, water quality, and stream ecology.

If you’re interested in a career dedicated to improving our forest ecosystems, learn more about our undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

In this lecture, associate professor Mariapaola Riggio introduces us to the sensor network in the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center.  This new building in OSU’s Oregon Forest Science Complex is a pioneer mass timber building showcasing innovative forest products and novel engineering solutions. Data are currently collected from a comprehensive sensor network in the building and investigated to cross-check assumptions made during the design phase. This truly makes it a living laboratory, and the monitoring data will provide many lessons for students, researchers and the mass timber industry.

Professor Riggio has been with the Department of Wood Science and Engineering since 2015. Her research interests include architecture, structural engineering, structural health, timber mechanics, and building design. Her work has led to important collaborations with the University of Oregon and the advancement of mass timber initiatives. Our undergraduate degree in renewable materials and graduate degree in wood science can lead to a career with innovative products and engineering solutions.

—This lecture was part of the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home lecture series, featuring presentations by College of Forestry professors, students, and researchers.

In “CLT industry enters 2020s (to face a different world than imagined),” professor Lech Muszyński looked into his crystal ball to see how the global pandemic is going to impact the future of this budding industry. Cross laminated timber (CLT) is an innovative wood panel product made from gluing layers of solid-sawn lumber together, and has been gaining in popularity.  Will that continue?

Lech Muszyński is professor of novel composite materials and advanced manufacturing in the Wood Science and Engineering department. His work has led to innovations across a number of mass timber products, including cross-laminated timber. Our undergraduate degree in renewable materials and graduate degree in wood science can lead to a career creating innovative products and building a sustainable economy.

—This lecture was part of the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home lecture series, featuring presentations by College of Forestry professors, students, and researchers.

Jim Ayorekire, a visiting Fulbright scholar at the College of Forestry, recently gave a presentation as part of our Stay at Home Lecture Series.  Dr. Ayorekire joined us in November 2019 from Makerere University in Uganda where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism.  He talked about his research and experiences at OSU.

During his time in the College of Forestry, Jim co-taught a course in the Tourism, Recreation and Adventure Leadership degree program.  In TRAL 354 (Communities, Natural Areas, and Sustainable Tourism), he was able to share Eastern African experiences, giving the students a global perspective. In his research, he studies human-gorilla conflict in the greater Virunga landscape of Rwanda and Uganda.  This was a valuable perspective for our students!  We welcome scholars and students from all over the world to collaborate with us in our classrooms, forests and labs.

–Dr. Jim Ayorekire holds a PhD in Sustainable Tourism Management from the University of Cape Town – South Africa and a Master’s degree in Land Use & Regional Development Planning from Makerere University. His research centers on the role of tourism as a driver for natural resource conservation, and enhancement of community livelihoods and inclusive development. He also has extensive experience in knowledge transfer and curriculum design and has been focusing on innovative program and curriculum development in Tourism, Forestry, and Resource Management.

The annual Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium (WFGRS) showcases graduate and undergraduate student research. This year, the symposium partnered with the College of Forestry’s Stay at Home Lecture Series to share student’s research through a series of 5-to-12 minute online presentations. Over the course of four webinars, topics such as ecology, forest management, forest products, and human uses were explored.

In the first session, Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis kicked off the symposium with opening remarks, followed by seven presentations ranging from sustainable forest certification costs and benefits to early successional forests of the Klamath-Siskiyou region.

In the second session, students presented their research proposals on topics as broad as riparian restoration, wildfire effects on water quality, timber faller safety, and more.

For the third session, presentations included Tree Mortality in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest and The Economic Consequence of a Log Export Tax in Oregon.

In the final session, student presentations ranged from the use of low-grade cross laminated timber to comparing the performance of Douglas-fir and western hemlock seedlings in different nursery containers.

-The Western Forestry Graduate Research Symposium is organized entirely by College of Forestry graduate students. The purpose of this symposium is to promote academic excellence by challenging students to present their work to and receive feedback from their academic and professional peers on their proposed and current research from a diverse audience, fostering student engagement, enthusiasm, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

If you are interested in learning more about our education and research programs, please visit our website.

Where are you from? Where did you go to college?

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!), but I went to school in enemy territory at the University of Minnesota (Ski-U-Mah) where I received my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

What brought you to OSU? What is your role in the College of Forestry?

My husband and I moved to Oregon when he started a graduate program at UO. I was looking to make an industry change as I had previously only worked in professional sports, and was interested in opportunities within higher education. I saw the perfect job posted for a senior graphic designer at the College of Forestry and pounced on it! I currently act as the college’s Art Director. It has been my favorite job by far, even with the hour and a half commute!

What’s your favorite part about working for the College of Forestry?

The people and the subject matter. I work with a great team and love feeling like the work I do makes a difference.

What do you like to do outside of work? Hobbies, family, volunteer work, etc.

I have a 7 month old baby, Zoe. She takes up most of my free time outside of work. On weekends, we like to go on easy hikes and take our dog, Oliver, to the dog park. My family is incredibly dedicated to the TV show “Survivor” (yes, it’s still on!) and look forward to watching it every Wednesday night! When I can, I like to read mystery/thriller fiction and historical nonfiction. I highly recommend Tana French for the former and Erik Larson for the latter!

What’s your favorite food?

I LOVE mexican food. I could have rice and beans for every meal.

What’s your favorite time of the year? Why?

Summers in Oregon are hard to beat. The weather is beautiful.

Do you have any pets?

Yes! I have an adorable Pomeranian-mix, Oliver, and I am completely obsessed with him. It is my unbiased opinion that he is the world’s bestest, cutest and floofiest puppy dog.

What is something funny, interesting, or crazy that has happened to you in the past year?

I had a baby 7 months ago and life with her has been been every kind of funny, interesting and crazy! She keeps me on my toes!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Why?

I just want to be a witch in the Harry Potter universe. I am a Hufflepuff, by the way.

Where are you from? Where did you go to college?

I grew up near Milwaukee, Wisconsin and also spent a lot of my time in the southwest part of the state, where my father’s family live and farm. I attended the University of Wisconsin (Madison) for my Bachelor of Science degree (Forest Science and Natural Resources).

What brought you to OSU? What is your role in the College of Forestry?

My husband, Jacob, and I moved to Corvallis from Denver in early 2016. My husband is a veteran of the Marine Corps, and it was time for him to finish his Bachelor’s degree under the G.I. Bill. OSU seemed like a great option. We were both intrigued by the PNW. For Jacob, it was the coastline and for me, the forests.

I work for the COF Research Forests, managing the forest inventory, GIS, and reforestation programs.

What’s your favorite part about working for the College of Forestry?

It’s really fulfilling to work with students on building their professional skillsets. I’ve been fortunate to work with highly motivated, bright, and curious student workers. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned [and am still learning] with them and vice versa.

What do you like to do outside of work? Hobbies, family, volunteer work, etc.

I’m a part-time master’s student in the Sustainable Forest Management program, so that takes up a bit of my time. I enjoy vegetable gardening and general tinkering around my home. My husband and I both enjoy camping, fishing, backpacking and hiking.

What’s your favorite food?

For cooking, I like putting a healthy spin on American food. When eating out, I like restaurants that prepare more elaborate things that I can’t make [well] – like Japanese, Indian, and Thai food.

What’s your favorite time of the year? Why?

Fall – for sure! I prefer the cooler, refreshing temperatures, changing colors, and mist.

Do you have any pets?

I have one cat named Mesa.

What is something funny, interesting, or crazy that has happened to you in the past year?

Well, Covid-19 has been a real showstopper!

Back in July, my husband and I went to New Jersey for a good friend’s wedding. Due to thunderstorms, our flight home got delayed for a couple of days. We literally only had the shirts on our backs. After some hand-washing of laundry in the motel, we decided to use the bonus-day to tour Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I was blown away by the history museum, and it was an unexpected, memorable change of events for us, especially on Fourth of July weekend.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Why?

I would be able to stop time, so I could fit in all of the fun that I want to have in this life.