"I donít have any formal education in forestry," says Terralyn Vandetta, a computer administrator for the College of Forestry. "Iím here because I am a UNIX systems administrator."
Coming from a family of OSU graduates, however, Vandetta found that working here came naturally to her. "My grandfather graduated from the College of Forestry in logging engineering in 1940, and my dad graduated from OSU as well," she says. "When the position opened up, I was happy to come here. Itís a good fit."
Vandetta is also an OSU grad. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Computer Science in 1988, Vandetta went on to work at the Environmental Protection Agency through a cooperative agreement with Oregon State.
"Thereís quite a traffic pattern, you might say, from the EPA to the College of Forestry," she notes, "and also from the College of Forestry to the FSL next door. It feels like everyone knows everyone else."
At the EPA, she assisted with collecting Metadata, or information about the collected data, for various research projects before eventually entering UNIX systems administration. "I did that for six or seven years before coming here," she says. "While the job contained some formal training, much of my learning was informal, and so I ended up with a variety of skills that I brought with me to forestry."
Much of Vandettaís day-to-day work at the College takes place via email communication that includes questions and requests for assistance from people in the College. She also checks log files on the machines to make sure that all of them are still up and running the way theyíre supposed to. "Every day is different, when you work in a position that requires constant troubleshooting," Vandetta says. "Thatís what I like about this position, actually."
Vandetta also installs new software that people might need as they work on a project. "This often happens with research groups," she says. "Once they identify what they need, they ask me to download and install it for them."
Her other main duty involves maintaining the new Linux cluster in Richardson Hall, which was installed in spring 2006. "The cluster is a kind of computer that is composed of 32 separate nodes. A node, in this instance, refers to a server computer that has the capability to stand alone. However, we use our cluster of 32 nodes as one, networked computer system," she explains. "They all have the same operating system, running Red Hat Linux, and they wait for the master machine to give them a job to do. All the machines communicate to the same disk space so their results can all be loaded into the same space and the data processed by the master."
At present, this group of machines is used for two different research projects. One project is using the cluster to simulate the carbon budget of Oregon, particularly as influenced by forest growth, harvest, and disturbance. This effort is to help researchers understand the global carbon cycle. The other group is doing numerical modeling of the mechanical and fracture properties of wood and wood-based composites. Two recent projects were on effective modulus of wood as a function of the growth ring orientation and modeling of composites with imperfect interfaces between phases.
With so many different projects and responsibilities, is there one part of her job that Vandetta likes best? "The thing I enjoy most about my position here is the people in the College of Forestry," she says. "They all seem to be particularly passionate about their work. I, as part of the computing resources team, believe itís our goal to help them with their research, whether thatís in assisting them to move to new technologies, figuring out how to do their research more efficiently, or perhaps facilitating when theyíve found a new way of working. We want to be able to empower them to continue with their research and teaching."
Bio of Terralyn Vandetta written by Bryan Bernart, Editorial Assistant, Forestry Communications Group, College of Forestry