Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Bev Law Oral History Interview, January 5, 2018

Oregon State University
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:00 - Introduction

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Today is January 5th, 2018.

Segment Synopsis: Date and location of interview. Introduction of Dr. Bev Law, Professor of Forest Ecosystems and Society Department. Introduction to focus of interview: research and global warming.

Keywords: Climate Change; Forest Ecosystems and Society

Subjects: Climatic changes--Research; Oregon State University. College of Forestry

00:00:23 - Growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Law discusses growing up on a lake in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her father was a manager and her mother taught art. Law talks about her grandfather as an important influence on her, especially in developing an early understanding of forest cycles. She also discusses the importance of spending time outdoors throughout her life.

Keywords: Growing up in Saint Paul, Minnesota; Outdoor Recreation

Subjects: Minnesota--Saint Paul; Outdoor recreation

00:02:03 - Undergraduate Studies at University of Florida

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What influenced your decision to attend college?

Segment Synopsis: Law discusses attending the University of Florida and studying Forest Resources and Conservation in the southeast. She describes working on different research projects as a student in order to pay for college.

Keywords: Forest Resources and Conservation; University of Florida

Subjects: University of Florida. School of Forest Resources and Conservation

00:03:16 - Work Following Bachelor's Degree

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Where did you end up going after you graduated?

Segment Synopsis: Law discusses working at AT&T following her bachelor's degree. She describes working as a researcher at the University of Florida before getting a job with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Corvallis, Oregon. She discusses her work with the EPA on acid rain and on developing the US Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring program. She recalls enjoying working for the EPA, and the communication skills she gained while there.

Keywords: AT&T; Acid Rain; Environmental Protection Agency; USFS Forest Health Monitoring Program

Subjects: AT & T (Firm); Acid rain; United States. Environmental Protection Agency; United States. Forest Health Protection

00:04:31 - Graduate Studies at Oregon State University / Staying in Academia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What influenced your decision to return to school and pursue a PhD?

Segment Synopsis: Law recalls working with Dick Waring, her future graduate advisor, as an EPA employee and his encouragement for her to return to school. She chose to pursue a PhD when a NASA funded project came up. She describes the quality of researchers in the Forest Science Program at that time, and her experience as a graduate student teacher. Law stayed at OSU to work as a post-doctoral researcher and discusses what influenced her desire to stay in academia and her long-time interest in policy. She also describes the beginning of her relationship to the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences as a post-doc.

Keywords: College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences; Ecophysiology; Graduate Studies in Forest Science; Oregon State University

Subjects: Doctor of philosophy degree; Forest plants--Ecophysiology; Oregon State University. College of Forestry; Oregon State University. College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences

00:08:41 - Director of TERRA-PNW

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And you're the Director of TERRA-Pacific Northwest group?

Segment Synopsis: Law describes being the principle investigator on a 20 year long EPA research project on landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. She discusses gathering data on carbon and water cycling between forests and atmosphere.

Keywords: Forest-Atmosphere Cycles; Oregon Forests Research; TERRA-PNW

Subjects: Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry)--Research; Forests and forestry--Research; Hydrologic cycle

00:10:01 - Data Collection and Technology

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Can you talk about how the technology has changed over your career, in terms of capturing that data?

Segment Synopsis: Law discusses how her research group was at the forefront of micrometeorology technology. She describes how capturing atmospheric field data across different landscapes works and discusses a recent project on the Oregon urban-suburban-agriculture forestry gradient. Law describes the different national and global research networks her research towers are a part of, including the AmeriFlux program that she helped to develop. She explains how her group is able to differentiate carbon sources when analyzing data and how they use this data when developing models.

Keywords: AmeriFlux; Atmospheric Research and Modeling; Micrometeorology

Subjects: Atmosphere--Research--Data processing; Forests and forestry--Mathematical models; Micrometeorology

00:15:51 - Anthropogenic Climate Change and Research

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Has anthropogenic climate change always been a part of your research with carbon exchange? When did that enter the picture?

Segment Synopsis: Law recalls an early research experience that made her recognize the high amount of carbon dioxide humans were releasing into the environment. She describes how this influenced her interests in considering the effects of increased carbon dioxide levels on plants.

Keywords: Anthropogenic Climate Change; Carbon Dioxide and Plants

Subjects: Atmospheric carbon dioxide--Measurement; Climatic changes--Effect of human beings on

00:17:43 - Modeling Technology

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Can you talk about how modeling technology or language has changed through your career?

Segment Synopsis: Law describes modeling technology in the early part of her career and how it has improved and increased in complexity over time. She explains how a collaborative earth system model (the Community Land Model) is used and improved upon by her group. Law discusses the significance of vegetation mortality in terms of water availability and biodiversity. She emphasizes the importance of understanding current and potential human impact on the environment and in communicating it to policy makers.

Keywords: Changes in Simulation Modeling; Climate Change Research and Policy; Climate Change and Biodiversity; Community Land Model; Vegetation and Atmosphere Modeling

Subjects: Biodiversity--Climatic factors; Climatic changes--Research--Government policy; Forests and forestry--Measurement--Mathematical models

00:25:43 - Forests as Carbon Sinks

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You've written about forests as carbon sinks. Can you talk about how forests store carbon?

Segment Synopsis: Law explains how forests, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest, have the potential to store carbon for hundreds of years when trees are not harvested. She describes how her research group has tracked how carbon moves from forest to wood products to atmosphere based on life cycle assessments. Law also discusses how land management agencies and timber companies have responded to the idea of managing forests as carbon sinks.

Keywords: Climate Change and Land Management; Forests as Carbon Sinks

Subjects: Carbon dioxide sinks; Land use--Management

00:31:25 - Forest Nutrient Cycles and Climate Change / Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What are ways in which forest nutrient cycles can be changed or disrupted by global climate change?

Segment Synopsis: Law explains how carbon and nitrogen are used by forest vegetation and the effect of increased levels of carbon dioxide on these nutrient cycles. She describes the effect of fertilizing nitrogen-depleted forest soils on nitrogen dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Law discusses her work on a Natural Research Council committee's assessment of greenhouse gases emissions for treaty agreements. She also describes how methane gas was discovered to be leaking from a natural gas pipeline in California, emphasizing the significance of long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Keywords: Forest Nutrient Cycles; Greenhouse gases; Increased Carbon Dioxide and Forests; National Research Council; Nitrogen Cycle and Forests

Subjects: Forest plants--Effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide on; Forest soils--Nitrogen content; Greenhouse gases; National Research Council (U.S.)

00:36:06 - Forest Disturbance and Carbon Storage

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Could you talk about your work on disturbance, in terms of releasing carbon into the atmosphere, and comparing human disturbance versus, like logging, versus natural disturbance, naturally occurring wildfires?

Segment Synopsis: Law compares contributors to tree mortality (logging, fires, and beetle infestation). She relates this to carbon storage in the forest and land management techniques for keeping carbon in Pacific Northwest forests, using currency as a metaphor for carbon.

Keywords: Forest Disturbance; Forest Management and Climate Change; Human Impacts on Forests

Subjects: Forest management; Logging; Wildfires

00:42:28 - Bioenergy from Wood Biomass and Carbon Emissions

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Can you talk about how bioenergy plays a role in carbon sequestration, and maybe compare the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast?

Segment Synopsis: Law discusses her research into carbon emissions of bioenergy from wood biomass. She describes her work in Oregon and the western U.S., in addition to the bioenergy industry in the southeast U.S. She conveys that the high amount of carbon emitted during the bioenergy process does not make this a renewable energy, despite the fact that this industry is subsidized as such. Law describes her efforts, alongside other scientists, to convey to politicians that this form of bioenergy is not carbon neutral.

Keywords: Bioenergy and Carbon Emissions; Bioenergy from Wood Biomass

Subjects: Biomass energy; Forest biomass

00:52:33 - Communicating Science to Politicians

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You've mentioned your work with Oregon Global Warming Commission and then you've also testified before Congress and Senate. How has your experience in communicating science to politicians been?

Segment Synopsis: Law compares her experience in communicating science to political staffers and politicians. She conveys the difficulty of getting politicians to listen to scientists. Law describes her experience in testifying before Congress under both the Bush and Obama administrations. She discusses the importance of conveying information to different levels of an organization.

Keywords: Communicating to Politicians; Science Communication

Subjects: Communication in science

00:58:07 - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How did you get involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

Segment Synopsis: Law describes her work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an expert on forest disturbance and developing observational networks.

Keywords: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Subjects: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

01:00:08 - Broader Climate Change Discussion / Conclusion

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now I'm gonna move on to some broader questions on climate change. What were your earliest conversations on climate change like and how have they shifted over time?

Segment Synopsis: Law discusses broader aspects of climate change with respect to communication, collaboration, policy, and education. She recalls her earliest observations on human impacts on the environment as a child and later observations on carbon measurements as a researcher. She describes conversations with other scientists around changes in seasonal phenology. Law discusses collaborating with a variety of researchers at OSU, as a part of the Center for Analysis and Environmental Change and the Oregon Climate Research Institute, in order to answer bigger questions around climate change. She touches on ways in which OSU could better facilitate climate change research. Law reflects on how she has and will cope with diminished funding to climate change research. She discusses policy shifts she would like to see around carbon storage in forests and subsidizing solar energy. She describes education discrepancies in the U.S. and globally that should be addressed, and what universities may look like in the future. Law expresses hope about the future of the planet and her sense of responsibility in protecting it.

Keywords: Climate Change; Global Warming

Subjects: Climatic changes--Social aspects; Global warming