Not everyone gets what they expect when they decide on a career. Diane Haase, a senior faculty research assistant in Forest Science, grew disillusioned with her chosen field during the early part of her college career. “I went into forestry kind of naďve,” she says. “I didn’t really envision myself walking around, painting trees for harvest, and that’s what some of my summer jobs were. I began to wonder where I would fit in the field of forestry.”
While out one day doing field work with the Forest Service during the summer between her junior and senior year at Humboldt State University, her boss made an offhand comment about working with seedlings. “It was like a little light bulb went off in my head,” Haase explains, “That was exactly what I wanted to do. I went back for my senior year and met with my professor, who was in biology and forestry, and he said that I should talk to Dr. Robin Rose at Oregon State University.”
After graduation in 1989, she came to OSU as Rose’s graduate student, earning her M.S. in Forest Science in 1991. At the College of Forestry, Haase became involved with several research projects while working with the Nursery Technology Cooperative (NTC) program—the same program she works with today. Originally, Haase planned to work at OSU for only a short while before heading into the nursery industry, “But that plan changed,” she notes, “I’ve been here for fifteen years now and I’m very happy here. I don’t think I would have been as happy working at a nursery because it’s really farming, with day-in day-out watering, irrigation, fertilization, and supervision of other employees. Here, I get to really work with trees and what makes them grow, as well as many other topics.”
At present, Haase is researching the effect of environmental conditions and time of outplant on reforestation success. She explains, “This study will increase our understating about the relationships among soil temperature and soil water at the time of planting with how well the seedlings perform. This will be very useful for fall planting operations which can often be risky if site conditions and fall weather are not favorable for seedling growth and survival.”
Additionally, she is working on a project to research dormancy induction, the process of ‘hardening off’ seedlings so that they will be able to withstand stresses associated with handling and environment (especially freezing). One method utilizes “black out” technology. “Through the use of blankets to shut out light, scientists are essentially shortening the day that the plants experience. That is one of the strongest signals for a seedling to begin to change biochemically, which includes stopping growth, starting a nice, firm bud, lignifying the stem, and becoming more cold hardy,” she explains.
Those projects, along with several others are designed to to further the goals of the Nursery Technology Cooperative. “Cooperators in the NTC identify seedling issues in either the nursery or the field, and we explore them, putting them in a scientific context,” she says. “My number one goal is to help discover what aspects of seedling quality and what treatments or practices will yield the best growing, surviving trees.”
Bio of Diane Haaase written by Bryan Bernart, Editorial Assistant, Forestry Communications Group, College of Forestry