The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Fred Stormshak Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

December 22, 2015


“Unravelling the Secrets of Animal Reproduction”  December 22, 2015  Location: Withycombe Hall, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Stormshak discusses his upbringing on his family's dairy farm near Enumclaw, Washington. He likewise reflects on his experience of school growing up, and the circumstances by which he chose to enroll at Washington State College. He then recalls the laboratory experience that led to his switching majors from Agricultural Education to Dairy Science, and the research project on progesterone in the corpus luteum of cows that eventually formed the nucleus of his master's work at WSC.

From there, Stormshak reflects on his move to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he spent five years in pursuit of his doctorate in Endocrinology. In this, Stormshak speaks of the transition to studying at a much larger university, and details the struggles that preceded his eventual success in developing a method to measure progesterone in samples of blood.

The remainder of the session focuses on Stormshak's work at and memories of Oregon State University. He begins by describing the process by which he returned to the Pacific Northwest, sharing his impressions of the Animal Sciences department at the time, and recalling specific individuals who were important to him in those early years, Jim Oldfield in particular. He then traces the broad themes of his scholarly work while at OSU, detailing his research on animal reproduction, and also noting side projects on mink peltage - including the 1987 vandalization of the OSU Mink Farm - the impact on sheep of high voltage power lines and cotton seed ingestion, and the outcomes of his formal affiliations with OSU's School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics.

Of particular note are Stormshak's comments on his work studying male-oriented rams. After detailing the background behind this program, Stormshak lends his thoughts on the media confusion and controversy that emerged from the research, and speaks of the personal toll that it took on him.

The interview concludes with Stormshak's thoughts on change in the Animal Sciences department, as well as his opinions on the positioning of Oregon State University as it looks toward its sesquicentennial.