Class of 2023 graduate Josh Kesling’s undergraduate experience was shaped by a passion for the environment, specifically marine ecosystems. With an H.B.S. in Natural Resources and specializations in marine and freshwater conservation, he is excited to continue exploring these environments and working to ensure a sustainable future.
Josh chose to attend Oregon State University because of its renowned College of Forestry and its world class programs. He was especially attracted to the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society and its focus on the conservation of forest and aquatic resources in critical socio-ecological environments. He chose to join the Honors College because of its interdisciplinary nature, which he felt would help develop his communication skills. He also wanted the ability to work closely with professors on research through the thesis process.
Josh’s favorite Honors College memory was taking Resilience, the Personal and the Political with Dr. Carmel Finley. He felt the course was foundational for his research, and he appreciated how Dr. Finley approached the topic, encouraging students to apply the class’s ideas of resilience to their own work. Taking colloquia classes such as this shaped Josh’s Honors College experience by helping him develop his communication skills through small group discussions on interdisciplinary topics.
Josh’s honors thesis investigated whether west coast marine protected area management strategies fit the needs of various marine wildlife. He measured marine protected area effectiveness through two factors: the degree of habitat connectivity strength and overall biodiversity level. He found that biodiversity levels and the amount of viable habitat were higher in no-take areas, which raises questions about the importance of zoning large swaths of coastal and pelagic areas under fully protected titles.
This fall, Josh will transition to the east coast for graduate school at Yale University. His research will focus on ecosystem management and conservation, but he hopes to also examine coastal environments. He is excited for this new challenge, saying “the Yale School of the Environment has a stake in a variety of continents, landscapes, ecosystems and societies, and I cannot wait to collaborate with students and professors to restore human-environment relationships in the face of such rapid and unbridled global change.”
Josh’s advice for current and future HC students is to talk to and get to know as many people at Oregon State and in the honors community as possible, saying, “During your four short years, you will cross paths with familiar and unfamiliar faces, and I implore each of you to strike connections with these people. Use the Honors College and your major department’s people and resources to your advantage by utilizing office hours, professional networks, mixing social activities and other events. Your advisors, administrators and faculty members will see your industrious behavior, and they want to elucidate multiple life paths for you. Let them know the real you, and you will be happily surprised!” He also advises that it’s alright to change your course of study. College is about evolving, and it often takes time to find your passion and happiness.
By Kate McHugh, Public Information Representative