It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of the passing of one of our alumni.

Richard Stephen Knutson

Richard Stephen Knutson (Steve to his many friends) was born 19 March 1941 in Springfield, Oregon and died 7 April 2024 in Corbett, Oregon.

Steve was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin T. and Bernice Knutson, and by his siblings Joan, Alice, and Dana. Steve is survived by his nephews, Zachary and Garth Chouteau. 

Steve graduated in 1959 from Beaverton High School and attended Reed College on a full scholarship. Steve was always interested in science and completed the coursework at Oregon State University for a PhD in Chemistry. 

Steve was very adventurous and while at Reed he was a member of the Reed Outing Club and began rock climbing and mountaineering. He climbed Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier and many other peaks in the Cascades. He rock climbed in the Columbia Gorge, Smith Rocks and other climbing areas in Oregon,  Washington and California. Steve pioneered a number of first ascents of Cascade peaks and rock climbing routes. I’m told there is still a piton embedded in what was at that time the tallest building on the Reed College campus, from the time Steve climbed the building in the early sixties.  Steve had a climbing accident on Mt. Hood where he fell and slid down the Palmer Glacier for several hundred feet and received a broken jaw and several broken bones. He was one of the first helicopter rescues from the mountain. Afterward Steve joined the mountain rescue team that rescued him, to show his appreciation.

Continuing his thirst for adventure, he attended the Jim Russell School of Racing and raced his Triumph TR3 in local sports car events

Steve developed an interest in cave exploring and became well-known for caving in America, Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru. He led a five year plus project of exploring and mapping of the main cave at Oregon Caves National Monument. During this effort he discovered bones including the skull of a prehistoric mountain lion. His work resulted in a map that is still being sold at the gift shop there. He participated in a 1974 expedition to Castleguard Cave in Canada. He participated in many expeditions to caves in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru. He led Lost World Explorations to explore these caves, always wanting to “go where no one had gone before” and experience the thrill of new discoveries. One of his Peru expeditions was featured in an episode on the History Channel titled “Mummies of the Clouds” in which Steve led the camera crew into the cave to film the indigenous cave burials of the Chachapoya culture of the Northern Andes. This was the first proof that prehistoric humans in the area mummified their dead and placed them deep into caves. Steve contributed his data from these trips to the archaeology department of Peru’s government

Steve wrote many articles for various caving publications and was the author of a book: “Oregon Caves, The Pioneer Exploration and the New Discoveries.” He was the editor of American Caving Accidents from 1976 to 1993.  His long membership in the National Speleological Society and his contributions led to his being named an NSS Fellow in 1977 and to his receiving the Lew Bicking Award in 1989 for exceptional service in cave exploration and mapping.

Steve’s working career centered around his desire to experience and contribute to preserving the great natural resources of our world. He worked for the National Park Service at Mammoth Cave and Oregon Caves National Parks. He worked for Shasta National Forest as a surveyor and fire fighter. 

In recent years, Steve had some health problems. He had a bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and suffered chemo and radiation treatments and in 2023 his heart slowed and he had a pacemaker surgically inserted. But being Steve, he ignored any health problems and was recently hiking with a 40-pound pack getting in shape for trips to the Marble Mountains. He is greatly missed by all his friends and associates. Keep the carbide light of his legacy glowing!

Jack_L_Ryan_Pic_2Jack Lewis Ryan passed away on March 20, 2016, surrounded by his loving family.  He was born in Dallas, Oregon on May 14, 1933, to Charles W. Ryan and Cornie A. (Lewis) Ryan, both of east Tennessee.  Jack grew up and thrived on a beautiful small farm in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range, in the community of Bridgeport.  His early years were spent learning to farm, raise livestock, cook, harvest and preserve fruit and vegetables, and doing whatever was required to maintain the farm and help his family.  He enjoyed swimming in the Little Luckiamute River, which ran through the farm, with his younger brother Pat and neighborhood children, and later as a teen-ager building small dams and holding all-night bonfires on the beach.  In Jack’s formative years he hunted and fished, and experienced the joys of nature, a life-time pursuit.  In his adult years he would return “home” to the farm to hold his famous fish fries for his childhood friends and family.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents, brother George “Pat” Ryan, and first wife Dorothy Ryan.  He is survived by his former wife, JoAnn Ryan of West Richland, son Rex Ryan of Pasco, stepdaughters Barronelle Stutzman (Darold) of  the Tri-Cities, and Thora Ziegler of Riverside, California, step-grandchildren Troy Woody (Dawn) and Dawn Persinger, (Marc), numerous step-great-grandchildren, nieces Ann Signal and Cynthia Ryan, and many close friends.

Jack attended the one-room Bridgeport Grade School, and later, Dallas High School.  He left home at sixteen to study at Oregon State College (now Oregon State University), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry in 1953, and a Master of Science Degree in Chemistry in 1956.  He was the youngest person at that time to graduate with a master’s degree from OSC.  His professional career spanned over fifty years at the Hanford Site, primarily with Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  He made significant scientific and technical contributions in fundamental and applied inorganic, physical, and analytical chemistry of the actinide elements, in addition to the chemistry of the lanthanide and d-group transition elements.  The breadth of his work led to noteworthy contributions in inorganic preparative chemistry, coordination chemistry, ion exchange and solvent extraction chemistry, absorption spectroscopy, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, and nonaqueous chemistry of these elements.

His works related to anion-exchange purification of plutonium and neptunium, the solubility and thermodynamics of the actinide oxides and hydroxides, and the electrolytic dissolution of plutonium dioxide are of particular significance to actinide separations in the nuclear industry.  His accomplishments in these areas were reflected in various plant applications at Rocky Flats, Los Alamos, Hanford, and in other countries.  In 1974, Jack co-invented catalyzed electrolytic dissolution of plutonium oxide.  The merit of this invention is evidenced by the installation of plant-scale processes using this technology in France and the United Kingdom.

In addition to his research contributions in the laboratory, Jack prepared invited reviews of actinide-element ion exchange for the esteemed “Gmelin Handbuch der Anorganischen Chemie” and of actinide-absorption spectra.  Jack also gave invited lectures and short courses in the fields of actinide chemistry, actinide-absorption spectra, and actinide ion exchange, and educated scientists and engineers in the Hanford area through teaching graduate-level chemistry courses in “Lanthanide and Actinide Chemistry” and “Ion Exchange Chromatography”.  His original works in actinide chemistry are published in numerous scientific journals and books and are recognized by chemists worldwide.  He authored more than one hundred technical articles during his career.  Some of Jack’s contributions to chemistry are catalogued in the Library of Congress.

Jack consulted in the field of actinide chemistry as related to laser-isotope separation, nuclear-weapons proliferation, and actinide-chemical processing.  He consulted on the causes of chemical explosions in actinide purification processes and served on a committee reviewing actinide-processing plant safety.  Additionally, Jack consulted on safety considerations related to the use of organic ion-exchange resins in the clean-up of Three-Mile Island contamination.

In 1999, the Actinide Separations Conference recognized the importance of Jack’s contributions by honoring him with the Glenn T. Seaborg Actinide Separations Award, a national award recognizing significant and lasting contributions to separating actinide elements.

Jack was a sixty-year member of the American Chemical Society (past chair of the local section and recipient of “1991 Chemist of the Year” award), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi.

Jack was an avid and skilled outdoorsman.  He found great joy in hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, hunting, fishing, crabbing, mushrooming, gardening, cutting firewood, and roaming the land searching for wild foods, abandoned crops, and usable discarded items.  He piled more than a dozen cords of firewood on his driveway, which allowed him to heat his house for years without using his electric heating system.  Nearly every year he filled his deer and elk tags, brought home many limits of fish and chukars, harvested dozens of gallons of wild mushrooms, and grew hundreds of pounds of produce in his organic garden.  Nothing went to waste – Jack canned and froze all of his bounty so that it could be enjoyed all year long, and shared with many.

He was happiest when family and friends accompanied him on his forays, taking many solo trips when they were not available.  It was common for Jack to venture miles off the roads and trails in search of the ultimate hunting or fishing experience.  No cliff, blackberry bramble, poison ivy patch, rattlesnake habitat, angry bear, or below-zero temperature could stop him.  Picking his way through five miles of forest at night with ninety pounds of elk meat on his back repetitively in five round trips was routine for him each hunting season.  He was at home with nature and all of its rigors.  His lineage can be traced to Meriwether Lewis, which comes as no surprise.

Jack truly was a unique individual.  He was frugal to a fault, spending only a thousand dollars each year on food and clothing items.  His favorite shopping experience was poking around Goodwill.  He enjoyed going barefoot and performed all of his gardening duties, including spading, without shoes.  Television was an unnecessary luxury.  The local newspaper, National Geographic magazine, and various technical journals provided Jack ample information to stay well-informed.  He was stubborn yet fair, and honest and loyal in his interactions with others.  He was a keen observer of his surroundings and work activities, and enjoyed recounting his observations in detail.  Jack’s friends marveled at the incongruity of his incredible memory for detail, but lack of recollection that he had told them the same story several times before.

The legendary Jack Ryan’s family and friends will cherish his memory for decades to come, recounting stories of adventure among themselves, and never, ever, forgetting the kind, generous, amazing, independent wild mountain man who Jack was.  He leaves us in awe of an interesting and adventurous life well-lived. His ashes will be scattered in several beautiful nature locations that were very special to him.

“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend.”  ~  Jim Harrison

In lieu of flowers, please contribute to The National Geographic Society.


A remembrance service and memorial will be announced at a later time.

Melissa Schultz  (April 26, 1977 - February 7, 2015) You will be missed.
Melissa Schultz
(April 26, 1977 – February 7, 2015)
You will be missed.

A Tribute to Melissa M. Schultz

(April 26, 1977-February 7, 2015)

I met Melissa Schultz in the Fall of 1999 when she entered OSU’s PhD program in Analytical Chemistry. In the Spring of 2000, Melissa became a member of Professor Jennifer Field’s and my research groups. At the much too early age of 37, Melissa was killed Saturday evening, 7 February 2015, in a two-vehicle accident a little north of The College of Wooster in Ohio where she had reached the rank of Associate Professor of Chemistry. Behind this stark fact lies the story of a wonderful person who became an excellent scientist, an outstanding college teacher, and an ardent champion of science among elementary and middle school students, particularly young women.

At Oregon State, Melissa was an exemplary graduate student. She was solid academically and a dynamo in her research. During her time as a graduate student she received the American Chemical Society Environmental Chemistry Graduate Student Award, the David Shoemaker Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, and the Shirley R. Kuse Award for Outstanding Women in Science and Engineering. It was her personality and energy, however, that for me set her apart as a special student. Melissa energized everyone in the laboratory. She cultivated an esprit de corps, catalyzed a special chemistry if you will, between the students, post docs, and technical staff that were part of the mass spectrometry laboratory between 2000 and 2004. She organized social and athletic events. She was a leader and an inspiration to her fellow students. Melissa carried her passion for science and teaching with her after she graduated from OSU. Her post-doctoral work on antidepressants in environmental and biological matrices at the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver (2004-2006), where she was a National Research Council post-doctoral fellow, was highlighted in Nature News and Science News. By all accounts, she was an outstanding, motivating teacher as well as an innovative researcher at the College of Wooster, and her leadership carried over into the city of Wooster’s community where she worked to inspire young people, especially girls, to study science.

Melissa’s death is a profound loss to all at OSU who knew her. It is my hope that her story will inspire all students of science, present and future, as did the example she set while she lived.

Those wishing to learn more of Melissa’s life and family can do so by reading obituaries at and A memorial Mass was held for Melissa on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, 527 Beall Ave., Wooster, Ohio.



Doug Barofsky, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry

Mark McCambridge, former vice president for Finance and Administration at Oregon State University, died Thursday, Jan. 16, from cancer. He was 62.

McCambridge was born in Seattle, Wash., and graduated from Santa Clara University in California. He joined OSU in 1994 as director of Business Services. Before coming to OSU he was executive director of the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation. He held several positions at OSU before being named vice president in 2001. McCambridge retired from OSU in July 2013.

“Mark McCambridge was a very special friend of mine,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “And he was a great friend of many, many people at Oregon State University, within higher education in Oregon and throughout the Corvallis community. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

“Mark was instrumental in helping to plan the success that OSU is achieving today, and he championed the highest level of public service and fiscal transparency. He accomplished so much and touched so many lives because of his basic decency, integrity, compassion and sense of service. His word was his bond.”  [read more…]

Originally published in LIFE@OSU a publication of the office of News and Research Communications