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!

Emily Frechette grew up in Portland Oregon, and after attending Saint Mary’s Academy in downtown Portland, she came to OSU to remain close to family and to stay surrounded by nature. Emily has a great love for running, reading, listening to music and cooking. Since high school her favorite book has been Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Emily’s passion for chemistry stems from the unknown of it all. She feels that it is a subject that will never be fully understood, and appreciates the broad and significant variety in real world applications, that the research can offer.

She got into research early on, and has been working with Zinc-based MOFs since her freshman year.  She got in contact with Dr. Stylianou, who brought her into the lab that she works in today. After graduation she plans on continuing her education and going to medical school.

My name is Evan Park and I use she/her/hers pronouns. I grew up in bend, Oregon. Freshman and sophomore year I attended Bend Senior High School (Bend, OR). Junior and senior year I attended American Overseas School of Rome (Rome, Italy). I chose to pursue chemistry because I am very intrigued by the ability of chemistry to observe and predict reactions at the molecular level, and how widely this skill can be applied. After learning about the scientific explanations behind climate change and environmental disasters, I decided that it was my goal to use chemistry to solve these problems someday. I chose OSU because the environment and community are so welcoming and conducive to growth, and the science programs here are challenging and distinguished. I also chose to come here for the opportunity of trying out for the rowing team with no prior experience, which has proven to be an amazing experience after three years of learning how to row, excelling within my team, and even competing at the international stage in the sport. Post-graduation, I am planning on attending a graduate program to pursue a master’s degree in chemistry. I will use my final year of NCAA athletic eligibility to continue rowing at the collegiate level, and potentially pursue athletics at the national team level after that. Outside of school and rowing, I enjoy playing bass guitar with my friends, being in nature, and playing with my roommate’s cat. My favorite book is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, because it leaves you with so many questions and ideas that you can read it over and over again! My favorite food is authentic Italian cacio e pepe pasta. I am proud to announce that I broke the OSU women’s rowing 2000 meter erg record this February, thanks to the support and encouragement of my coaches and teammates. The Oregon State women’s rowing team has offered me an amazing environment to explore and exceed my own expectations of myself both physically and mentally, and I have learned countless lessons about grit, teamwork, and the rewards of raw, hard work. Last summer, I was accepted into the Under 23 National Team selection camp, where I made the top boat, the women’s open weight 8+, and travelled to Plovdiv, Bulgaria for the Under 23 World Rowing Championships. After winning our first heat in a comeback race, my boat won in the finals by open water, taking home gold medals for the USA. My experience there is reflective of the daily hard work, time management, and effort that I put in at OSU, balancing my chemistry demands, 9 rowing practices per week, and holding an executive role on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a Student Athlete Leadership Team representative.

Congratulations are in order for OSU Chemistry! We were selected to receive a 24-25 University Graduate Laurels Block Grant.

Laurels awards are one-year grants and funds awarded are for disbursement during the 2024-2025 academic year. Summer 2024 tuition waivers are also allowable for students admitted in that term. As a reminder, tuition support offered through this award is intended to assist with the recruitment of new graduate students to OSU admitted during the 2024-2025 academic year. As such, you may only award funds associated with this award to newly admitted students as defined in the Laurels Award RFP.

Congratulations to our Fall 2023 Honor Roll Students. Keep up the good work, all!

Abo Al Haija, Enas
Baumgartner, Trinity
Beeman, Carley
Bianco, Giuliano
Borne, Parker
Branstrom, Brillig
Brown, Katrina
Coe, Madeline
Colling, Prongbaramee
Doyle, Tyler
Dunne, Rachel
Fix, Emily
Frechette, Emily
Friesen, Emma
Fritz, Elise
Garrison, Audrey
Gray, Matthew
Groening, Christina-Ann
Guilleux, Hannah
Hanson-McBride, Ireland
Hardeman, Jayden
Henningsen, Jack
Holden, Elliot
Hounton, Nicholas
Jeffrey, Nikayla
Johnson, Marieke
Johnston, Michael
Kenny, Mitchell
Koenigsberg, Seiji
Kondybko, Yulia
Kucirka, Rhyan
Lee, Phoebe
Linsday, Taylor
Loescher, Andrew
Lovdokken, James
Lowe, Sydney
Ly, Eric
Mashino, Hailey
McCarthy, Mollie
Mcguire, Emma
Moser, Brooke
Munoz, Trenton
Murphy, Molly
Nelson, Isabella
Neubert, Mckenna
Nieves Lira, Citlali
Park, Evan
Phan, Brandon
Qin, Catherine
Qin, Jianyao
Ruparel, Dhwani
Ryan, Samantha
Scherzinger, Sabrina
Seo, Hyunjun
Stanley, Kayla
Stein, Julia
Tence, Jonathan
Ward, Oakley
Wasserlein, Owen
White, Jackson
Williams, Nicholas
Wise, Michael
Wolfe, Samuel
Ziegler, Olivia

Chemist Marilyn Mackiewicz was chosen as a Scialog fellow by the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement. She will work with a group of 50 fellows who are committed to accelerating progress in the chemical sciences and laboratory animation. Together, they will collaborate on projects integrating advances in automation and AI to answer crucial questions in fundamental research. Awesome job, Marilyn! 

Chemist Wei Kong was awarded $110K from the American Chemical Society for her project entitled, “Superfluid helium droplets as microreactors for studies of photochemistry of fossil fuel hydrocarbons: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the corresponding endoperoxides”

Carley Beeman grew up in Golden, Colorado and attended Golden High School. She enjoyed high school chemistry classes, loved the puzzle and challenge behind the science, and thought she wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy or medical research.

Carley chose OSU for the strong academics and athletics present- coming to Oregon State allowed her to pursue Division 1 gymnastics while simultaneously getting an undergraduate degree in chemistry. She notes that the people here at OSU are also genuine and caring, and it felt like home. Carley joined Dr. Kolluri’s lab this term, researching pathways regulating cell cycle, cell death, and differentiation in relation to cancer cells. She was drawn to this research after taking part in the ASPET research fellowship at the University of Michigan last summer, where she studied the respiratory depression pathway of opioids in mice brains. After graduation, Carley hopes to pursue her PhD in a biomedical science field.

            Outside of school, she loves spending time in nature with friends, camping and hiking. Her favorite book is the Giver, and favorite food is tacos al pastor. She has two brothers, making her the only girl in the family, and loves springtime in Corvallis when everything is in bloom.

Helen White grew up on Vashon Island, Washington where she attended Vashon Island High School. She chose to study chemistry because of her interest in radiochemistry, and because it paired well with her Radiation Health Physics degree.

Helen decided to go to OSU because of the campus and proximity to everyone she cares about. Compared to other schools, Oregon State had more to offer–academic and otherwise–so there wasn’t a doubt in her mind when it came to choosing a university.

Currently, Helen is performing research in the radiation center on campus with Dr. Chemey’s group. In the winter she will transfer projects from analyzing crystalline structures they were creating in the lab to working on a radiochemical separations project. Previously, she worked on a computational project using a DFT program in order to simulate metal hexaboride structures and explore their capabilities in holding radioactive waste materials. To get into research, Helen emailed and asked around professors she was interested in working with. Since then, she notes it has been an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. Helen plans on attending graduate school immediately after graduation, hoping to pursue a PhD in radiochemistry and focus on working in nuclear waste management.

Outside of school and work, she loves to be outside and enjoys going for walks, bouldering, running, and frolicking, all the things she says help keep her sane. Beyond that, she loves to read, which can be a much-needed break from chemistry. Right now, Helen’s favorite book is The Wall by Marlen Haushofer. It is a short, devastating, dystopian fiction that was written in 1963 which talks about a woman’s experience a person in a way that is not normally explored.

Helen’s favorite food is saltine crackers. She is the first in her family to go to college, which she adds is “an immeasurable privilege, especially in the state of the world now where a bachelor’s degree may afford a person a well-paying job.” She says that her biggest hope is to move into a financial place in her life where she can support those who have supported her in the past.