Research in the College of Forestry is conducted under the auspices of the Institute for Working Forest Landscapes and the original Forest Research Laboratory, which is supported by state and federal appropriations and by research grants from public and private sources (see Oregon Revised Statute 526.225).
The College enjoys a strong working relationship with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Laboratory, all all with facilities on or near the OSU campus.. The activities of these and other OSU departments on campus combine to form the largest concentration of forest science research in North America.
The following is a detailed listing of key research programs, collaborations, and facilities:
Forests for Research and Learning
College Forests -- The OSU College Forests are living laboratories where active forest management practices provide teaching, research, and demonstration opportunities for students of all ages, forest managers, and Oregonians. The College Forests comprise the McDonald-Dunn, Spaulding, Marchel, and Blodgett forest properties, totaling about 14,000 acres.
HJ Andrews Experimental Forest LTER -- The mission of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest is to support research on forests, streams, and watersheds, and to foster strong collaboration among ecosystem science, education, natural resource management, and the humanities. Located in the western Cascade mountains of Oregon, the 16,000-acre site is administered cooperatively by Oregon State University, the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the Willamette National Forest. The Andrews Forest has been a US Forest Service Experimental Forest since 1948, and a National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site since 1980. Facilities, including labs, offices, and housing, are available for research and workshop use. Researchers and graduate students interested in conducting work at the Andrews Forest are welcomed and encouraged—participants benefit from a rich data history and from collaborations across disciplines.
Cooperative Chemical Analytical Laboratory -- The mission of the Cooperative Chemical Analytical Laboratory (CCAL) is to provide high quality, trace-level analysis of nutrients, ions, and physical properties of natural waters in a timely and economic manner. CCAL is one of a few facilities on the west coast of the US where low concentrations of these aqueous constituents can be reliably measured. Data produced by CCAL allow direct comparisons among diverse studies, creating a legacy of data that grows with each new study. By standardizing detection and measurement of the chemical and physical properties of water, and by eliminating the need and expense of establishing duplicate facilities, CCAL operations are beneficial to both cooperative and individual research projects.
Fish and Wildlife Habitat in Managed Forests -- The mission of the program is to provide new information about fish and wildlife habitat within Oregon's actively managed forests through research, technology transfer, and service activities. Current priorities for new program activities favor those that contribute to the scientific information base that supports the Oregon Forest Practices Act and also Oregon's actively managed federal forest lands. The goals are to provide the Information needed by forest managers to guide responsible stewardship of fish and wildlife habitat resources consistent with land management objectives, and by policy makers to establish and evaluate informed forest policy and regulations.
Research Cooperatives -- The College of Forestry provides science leadership for 11 research cooperatives that conduct research and apply the results to solve problems, develop new products, support long-term field studies, and develop decision support tools. There are currently 107 unique private industry members and eight government agencies that make up the membership of the research cooperatives. A CoF faculty member leads each cooperative and members work together to develop a mutually agreeable program of research, pool dues payments to support the cooperative’s operating budget, and provide significant in-kind support to leverage dues payments.
Forest, Wildlife, and Landscape Ecology
Members of FES examine how species and systems interact, using tools such as simulation modeling, remote sensing, spatial statistics, and animated visualizations. Current work explores how carbon dynamics vary from the stand to the landscape, as well as how forest management affects carbon sequestration rates. Other research is examining the role of predators in structuring ecological communities, emphasizing the role of keystone species in community regulation. Still others in the department study bird and insect response to different forest management practices.
Genetics and Physiology
Forest genetics research in FES focuses on the genomics, biotechnology, ecological genetics, physiological genetics, and breeding of forest trees, especially poplars and Douglas-fir. Poplar research explores what genes do (functional genomics), while Douglas-fir research looks for the genetic underpinnings of wood quality and adaptations such as cold hardiness. Research in tree physiology explores the physiological mechanisms of growth and ecology of forest trees, such as aging processes in forest trees, why plants produce the structures they do, and how that influences resulting wood quality.
Integrated Social and Ecological Systems
Our researchers study how human values and behaviors drive and respond to changes in natural ecosystems. This includes understanding effective governance and stakeholder engagement processes for making decisions about resource management. Some FES researchers study how to improve communication process among scientists, land managers, and the public. Other researchers analyze forest management policies for their impacts on public lands, private forests, and human communities. These efforts extend from studies of barriers to small urban communities applying green infrastructure to landscape-scale interactions between climate, fire, and forests.
Science of Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Management
Members of FES examine the impact of disturbances such as fire on the age class structure and habitat suitability of forests, with an eye toward understanding how management can be used to restore desired forest conditions. Others are exploring silvicultural practices that maintain ecosystem resilience and adaptability, while providing services such as timber, habitat, and clean water. Another line of research focuses on the biological control of introduced insect pests. Still other research uses spatial statistics for stream networks to understand the factors that affect the spatial distribution of fish in headwater streams.
Social Science, Policy, and Natural Resources
Our researchers study different forms of governance and stakeholder engagement to identify effective approaches for decision making. This includes understanding communication among scientists, land managers, and the public. Other department members use systematic evidence-based reviews to inform educational programs for forest owners, while some researchers test the effectiveness of different educational programs and materials.
Members of FES are studying the complexities of terrestrial ecosystems and the interactions between ecosystems and the atmosphere. One challenge is to quantify changes in biogeochemical cycles and forest characteristics, diagnose the causes of change, and develop predictions of how human activities may affect the global environment in the future. This involves understanding biogeochemical cycles from the scale of decomposing logs to the role of clouds in the ecological structure and function of forests.
Sustainable Recreation and Tourism
Research in recreation explores the motivations and experiences of visitors to parks, marine protected areas, and developed recreation settings, as well as public attitudes toward resource management. Other FES members work to develop ecotourism venues that benefit both natural ecosystems and local human livelihoods.
Forest Residues and Bioenergy
Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA)
Oregon State University is a collaborating institution in the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) led by Washington State University. This five-year $37.5 million USDA NIFA funded grant is to build a supply chain for aviation biofuel with the goal of increasing efficiency in from forestry operations to conversion processes. Using primarily softwood forest harvest residues, the project aims to create a sustainable industry to produce aviation biofuels and important co-products. NARA Publications
Forest Sector Market Modeling
The Timber Assessment Market Model (TAMM) system is one of the best known examples of forest sector models. Since its inception in the late 1970's, TAMM has undergone a number of extensions and revisions designed to improve the realism of its projections and the utility of its output to resource analysts and policy makers.
Forest Biometrics, Geomatics, and Mensuration
Aerial Information Systems Laboratory
The relative ease at which missions can be planned and flown makes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) a perfect fit for forest management applications. Our Aerial Information Systems (AIS) laboratory is investigating a wide range of lightweight sensors for UAV application on both fixed wing and helicopters to support forest management, forest engineering, forest protection, wildlife habitat, and search and rescue operations. AIS Publications
Forest Measurements and Biometrics Lab
The Forest Measurements and Biometrics Lab (FMBL) focuses on three major areas and seeks to develop or extend: 1) imputation methods that support dynamic forest inventory, silvicultural planning, and habitat analysis; 2) sampling and statistical methods to characterize and quantify status and change of selected attributes including biomass and carbon and 3) application of LiDAR to forest measurements and assessments.
In addition to integrating the three themes of my research with other disciplines of forestry, this endeavor has helped the FMB program to achieve a regional and a national recognition, and identify some of the most significant challenges.
Drawn to opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, I have led a group of prominent scientists to identify the status and future needs of forest measurements and biometrics in the Pacific Northwest, culminating in a recent article in the Journal of Forestry.
GIS and Spatial Analysis Resources
Currently, FE 357 GIS and Forest Engineering Applications, is offered to students who wish to learn more about GIS and other spatial tool applications in forestry.
Remote Sensing Laboratory
Remote sensing of terrestrial ecosystems uses observations collected from satellites to airborne platforms to research towers to obtain information about vegetation over land and relate this data to models of the carbon, water and energy cycle regionally and globally. One aspect of this work is studying the links between vegetation structure and function, which can be obtained for instance using multi-angle optical systems, but also from airborne and terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR) data.
Our group also studies changes in vegetation and vegetation cover over time using time series of satellite data. This research includes mapping of land cover and land use change and ecosystem disturbance as well as degradation of vegetation over time. Remote sensing is very much interdisciplinary in that it builds on mechanistic approaches based on plant physiology, ecosystem and atmospheric science and requires collaborations across related earth science fields.
Forest Operations Research Group
The Forest Operations Research Group strives to provide leadership and expertise for forest managers and contractors worldwide to improve efficiencies while accomplishing goals in a sustainable and environmentally aware manner. Forest Operations Group Publications
Photo: Harvesting simulator installed February 2014, in the College of Forestry Harvesting Simulation Laboratory as a joint project between Ponsse and the College.
Our research is multidisciplinary and seeks to investigate the interactions between fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology at multiple scales ranging from individual stream reaches through small catchments up to the whole continent! Our research strategy incorporates both field-based studies and data modeling utilizing detailed laboratory analysis such as water stable isotopes, streambed grain size distribution analysis, or benthic chlorophyll a concentrations. The idea is to find how the physical landscape influences the interactions among different components of the ecosystem. Some of the questions we are interested in answering are:
- How does water aggregate in space and time within a watershed?
- What are the effects of climate change and land cover type on hydrologic flow paths?
- What are the relations among sediment transport, water quality, and stream ecology?
- How does the frequency and intensity of extreme hydrologic events change due to climate change?
Forest Soils Lab
The mission of our group is to understand the interaction of humans with forest ecosystems in the interest of sustainable management of forest, soil, and water resources. We utilize a balanced approach of basic and applied research to examine the links between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at multiple scales through the study of soil, water, sediment, nutrients, and carbon. Further, we engage and educate students to manage land responsibly in the face of climate change, population growth and other pressures on natural resources. http://forestsoilslab.forestry.oregonstate.edu/
Timber Engineering, Mechanics and Structural Design: Research to advance the state-of-the-art in timber engineering and structural wood design including:
(1) behavior of constituent materials, components, and assemblies
(2) performance of structural systems under structural and environmental loading/demand, and
(3) engineering design of wood structures.
Dr. Rakesh Gupta: timber engineering/mechanics, structural engineering, mechanical properties of wood
Dr. John Nairn: mechanics and fracture of wood
Green Building/Sustainable Design: Research to expand the use of wood in green building/sustainable design. Understanding the needs of green materials end-users, and facilitate development and characterization of green materials to establish material statistics so that products can be used in the industry with confidence and reliability.
Dr. Christopher Knowles: understanding needs and preferences of designers; development of local markets for forest products
Dr. Arijit Sinha: developing integrated, intelligent, multi-disciplinary systems for achieving sustainability, product development for efficient use of renewable materials in the built environment.
Composite Materials: Advanced materials can be made from various forms of wood in combination with adhesive and other materials such as plastic, metal or cement. These materials can be engineered for a variety of applications and desired properties. OSU research in this area focuses on applications, manufacture and more fundamental aspects of composite science. Faculty programs include:
Dr. Kaichang Li: adhesive chemistry, wood-plastic materials
Dr. John Simonsen: cellulose nanocomposites, wood-plastic composite materials
Dr. Lech Muszyński: mechanics of wood composites
Dr. Rakesh Gupta: mechanical properties/behavior of composites
Dr. Fred Kamke: composite design, processing, and performance
Dr. John Nairn: mechanics and fracture of wood composites, interfacial adhesion
Green Building Materials Laboratory -- The Oregon BEST Green Building Materials Laboratory includes research activities from the Schools of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering and Civil and Construction Engineering and the Department of Wood Science and Engineering. Equipment housed in this Oregon BEST Signature Laboratory will allow OSU researchers to characterize, develop and test high performance sustainable materials for a wide variety of applications including buildings and transportation infrastructure. It also enables OSU to continue to recruit top faculty, researchers and students to the OSU campus.
Bioenergy and Environmental Performance:
Bioenergy systems using wood and ag residues; drying technologies.
Dr. Michael Milota: wood drying, air emissions, combustion systems
Professor David Smith: biofuels, energy conversion systems
Forest Products Business and Marketing:
Innovation is a key to future success in most businesses, and especially in forest products. Marketing and business management strategies to facilitate forest industry competitiveness are at the heart of our research program in this area.
Dr. Eric Hansen: environmental marketing, innovation management
Dr. Christopher Knowles: global markets and trade, local marketing
Dr. Scott Leavengood: quality management, innovation, commercialization of lesser-known species
Oregon Wood Innovation Center – “Connecting people, ideas, resources.” OWIC’s mission is to improve the competitiveness of Oregon’s wood products industry by fostering innovation in products, processes, and business systems. A key function of the Center is to serve as the primary link between university research and needs and opportunities in the forest industry.
Wood Utilization Research Program: After 28 years, the Wood Utilization Research Program came to close with the issuance of its final report in 2014. Authorized and funded by Congress in PL89-106 in 1985, the program began with only three Centers for Wood Utilization Research and subsequently grew into a consortium of 13 partner universities devoted to maintaining a globally competitive U.S. forest products industry. A key strength was the flexibility for individual centers to address a regional issues within the context of a national strategic plan. With contributions to new science, technology, management approaches, and business practices, WUR research and technology transfer activities have enhanced the competitiveness of the U.S. forest products industry, maintained or expanded sustainable and environmentally acceptable forest operations and product manufacturing, and led to more efficient uses of renewable, wood-based materials for the benefit of Americans.