The Ward K. Richardson Family Forestry Faculty Endowment

When she passed away in 1992, Kaye Richardson left to the College of Forestry a parcel of second-growth timber land which was the largest single gift Oregon State University has ever received. Valued at $13.3 million and sold for $23.8 million, the Richardson tract has established an endowment, named in honor of Kaye Richardson's father, Ward Richardson, that will fund three forestry chairs.

Ms. Richardson was her father's partner for many years in managing their family tree farm in the Oregon Coast Range. The family decided before Mr. Richardson's death in 1973 that the farm would go to OSU after Kaye's lifetime. Kaye, an only child, never married.

In keeping with the Richardson family's practice of progressive forest management, the Ward K. Richardson Family endowed chairs are directed toward a theme of understanding and explaining the implications of changes in the use and management of forest resources on society. All three chairs will emphasize improved social understanding of forest resources, as well as improved forest practices, policies, and utilization.

The Chair in Forest Science will work to describe the fundamentals of forest structure, growth, and change, to aid in making sound public policy decisions. The Chair in Forest Operations and Watershed Sciences will emphasize the development of economical and environmentally sound forest resource operations to meet society's growing demands for wood, water, fish, wildlife, recreation, and other values from forests. The Chair in Wood Science and Forest Products will focus on the efficient use of forest resources to meet the growing needs of society for wood products.


Mark Harmon

Professor Mark Harmon is the first holder of the Richardson Chair in Forest Science.

Dr. Harmon's research focuses on the processes of ecosystems in forests, from how nutrients move through the cycles of growth, death, and decomposition, to studies modeling the impact and function of dead wood in forests worldwide.

In his research, Dr. Harmon has collaborated on projects around the globe: in Mexico, where he studied forests suffering from hurricane damage; Russia, where he studied the northern taiga forests; and China, where he compared old-growth coniferous and deciduous forests to those in Oregon.

Dr. Harmon received his bachelor's degree in biology from Amherst College, his master's degree in ecology from the University of Tennessee, and his doctorate in botany from Oregon State University. Upon finishing his Ph.D., he continued working at OSU, first as a researcher and later as a professor of Forest Science in the College of Forestry. He has taught classes in Global Change for the Honors College, Introduction to Spatial Modeling, and The Global Carbon Cycle. In 1990 he was honored with the Dean's Award for Outstanding Achievement in the College of Forestry, and in 1998 he was named the Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor for the Department of Forest Science.

Dr. Harmon has attracted more than $14 million in research grants and awards from such organizations as the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the USDA Forest Service. Much of this funding has supported the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, where he serves as lead scientist from OSU.

Funding from the Richardson Chair will assist Dr. Harmon as he expands and integrates research programs to understand ecological cycles and characteristics that affect the long-term integrity and productivity of healthy forests. The results of his research will continue to have a positive impact on forest policy and management worldwide.


John A. Nairn

Professor John A. Nairn holds the Richardson Chair in Wood Science and Forest Products.

Dr. Nairn’s research focuses on mechanical properties as engineering materials. He investigates why materials such as wood composites and fiberboards fracture or fail. His other research interests include the study of nanocomposites, the effect of residual heat stresses in composites, and the durability of composites.

Funding from the Richardson chair will allow Dr. Nairn to focus on bringing new areas of composites science and computational mechanics to wood science. He is also interested in developing more environmentally-friendly materials by combining natural fibers such as hemp, flax, or wood fibers with the appropriate matrix to have expanded applications in the construction and automotive industries.

Before his arrival at OSU in 2006, Dr. Nairn was an engineering professor at University of Utah for more than 20 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Dartmouth College and his doctorate in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Nairn also worked as a staff scientist for the Central Research & Development Department at E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Inc., in Wilmington, Delaware before moving to Utah in 1986.

Dr. Nairn has written over 120 papers including six book chapters. He is the author of several scientific computer applications that are available for free download on his web site. He has attracted over $4 million is grants and contracts funded by such organizations as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, NASA, Boeing, and the DuPont Company. His awards include a Fulbright Fellowship at the Imperial College in London and a Student’s Choice Award for Teaching at the University of Utah.



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