CoF Research in the News

Ph.D. student teaming up with undergraduates to develop UAV for wetland monitoring

Kate Fickas, a PhD student in Forest Ecosystems and Society and a member of the Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing in Ecology (LARSE), has been working with a team of senior engineering undergraduates from the OSU School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering’s capstone design program to build an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), ‘The Swamp Skimmer’, for wetland monitoring.

The engineers assembled the vertical take-off and landing quad-copter from parts, designed and 3-D printed a custom gimbal for the UAV’s two-sensor system, and hand-machined innovative aluminum landing gear. The Swamp Skimmer’s optical system contains a red-green-blue true color sensor along with a shortwave-infrared sensor to help capture specific ecological and hydrological features of wetlands. The Swamp Skimmer will be used to help validate wetland classifications of Landsat satellite imagery across the United States as well as monitor spatio-temporal dynamics of restored wetlands at fine temporal and spatial resolutions. LARSE is currently hiring licensed pilots for FAA regulated UAV flights, please contact Kate at if you are interested. Fickas is advised by Warren Cohen, USDA Forest Service/courtesy OSU faculty member.

Picture: MIME engineer John Diebold and Fickas holding The Swamp Skimmer. 

Triad Machinery Donates Log Loader to College of Forestry

At the 2016 Oregon Logging Conference in Eugene, Ore., Doug Summers, president of Triad Machinery, introduced the College of Forestry to its newest piece of equipment, a log loader valued at $108,000. The donation will give students the opportunity to train utilizing modern equipment technology while conducting logging operations on the College Research Forests.

Triad Machinery has been a partner with the College for nearly a decade, donating over $1-million in equipment for use by forestry students. The equipment has been an integral part of senior instructor Jeff Wimer’s Student Logging Training Program.

If interested in making an in-kind donation to enhance the overall student experience, contact Zak Hansen, COF director of development, at 541-737-4016.

KPFF Engineers Partners With NCAWPMD for Structural Research on Framework Project

KPFF Consulting Engineers has partnered with the National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design, to conduct structural testing for the “Framework” project. The project, a 12-story tall wood building designed by Lever Architecture in Portland, is anticipated to create one of the first tall timber structures in the country. Structural testing at the Center will verify the performance of critical aspects of the wood lateral force-resisting system.

Once completed, the series of physical tests will provide data on structural performance of building subassemblies for project and increase the state of knowledge of mass-timber systems for building applications in the United States.

Oregon State University faculty members who will be working on the project include assistant professor of structural engineering Andre Barbosa, professor of structural engineering Christopher Higgins, and assistant professor of renewable materials Arijit Sinha.

Study shows forest thinning changes movement patterns, habitat use by martens

“There are two main reasons that martens avoid open forests,” said Katie Moriarty, a post-doctoral research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at Oregon State University. “Martens eat a lot of food – up to a quarter of their body weight a day. It would be like you eating 100 hamburgers. They need downed logs and dense sapling cover to hunt successfully."

Ancient bones point to shifting grassland species as climate changes

In a report in Science Advances, an analysis was done of mammoth and bison hair, teeth and bones, along with other data. It concludes that a changing climate — particularly increasing rainfall and not just atmospheric carbon dioxide — explains the expansion of grassland plants during the latter part of the Neogene, a geologic era that includes the present. The research was led by Jennifer Cotton as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Utah and in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Co-authors include Christopher J. Still of the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.

Dread is vanishing from the animal world. Here’s why that’s a bad thing.

“For the first time in 70 years, the park has a complete suite of predators and prey,” Oregon State University forest ecologist William Ripple, a co-author on the study, told The Washington Post in 2004. “This is a grand experiment.”

Fungal pigments provide commercial opportunity for paint and dye manufacturers

But while the microorganisms can be grown in solution, capturing the pigments has required the use of toxic solvents, said Sara Robinson, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Forestry. Robinson has now found a way to use oils to harvest the pigments, and OSU has applied for a provisional patent on the technique.

Taking Stock of Recovery

Graduate student Jonathan Batchelor worked with William Ripple, a Distinguished Professor of Forestry, to compare 64 pairs of photos taken over 23 years. Only 6 percent of what was bare soil in the early 1990s remained in that condition when new photos were taken in 2013 and 2014. Fourfold increases in willows and rushes were among the results they reported last year in the journal Environmental Management.

Forest corridors prove critical to biodiversity and pollination success in the tropics

“Wooded corridors remain abundant in many tropical landscapes,” said Matthew Betts, co-author and assistant professor at Oregon State. “But as agricultural land use is expanding rapidly, quick action will be required to avert the disappearance of corridor elements between fragments. Otherwise, there may substantial losses of connectivity between forest remnants, leading to accelerated biodiversity loss.”

Selecting, Planting, and Caring for a New Tree

This book is published as both an interactive app designed for tablet devices and as a downloadable pdf. Both versions cover basic information on choosing a planting site, selecting the right species for the site, proper planting techniques, and first-year care. Authored by Paul Ries and Stephen Fitzgerald.