Malcolm came to OSU as a freshman exploratory studies/undeclared major in Fall 2005 and entered the Botany major in Fall 2006. He had an interest in science from high school but the first year at OSU of large enrollment bacc core classes did not really help him to get to know people or figure out which major to opt for. It was Ken Johnson’s BOT 350 Introductory Plant Pathology, a small interactive class with lab time and field excursions, that stimulated his interest. At this point Malcolm became a lot more engaged in his education trying out higher level and split level classes to challenge himself. He really liked that Botany and Plant Pathology was a relatively small department allowing him to get to know the professors and fellow students.
While at OSU he became involved with the BPP Club serving as Vice President in 2008 and President in 2009. He applied for and obtained research funding as an undergraduate to work on two separate research projects, funded by the OSU Student Sustainability Center, the Corvallis Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, and the Portland Garden Club Katherine R. Pamplin Fund, one of which led to publication in the Journal of Urban Ecosystems. Ultimately it was a job posting on the BPP undergrad listserve that led his transition from working as a student researcher to the job where he works today.
Summers and winter breaks, Malcolm took various positions with Forest Service as Biological Science Aid, Riparian Restoration Crew Leader, Certified Wildland Firefighter, and as Program Leader with Multnomah Education Service District Outdoor School, experiences which developed skills related to habitat surveys, restoration programs, and project management.
Since graduating Malcolm completed the undergraduate research project he began with John Lambrinos (OSU Horticulture) on the potential value of mosses for stormwater management in urban environments. He began a position at the Northwest Habitat Institute, a small non-profit, to conduct seasonal botanical surveys. This became a permanent position, through learning ArcGIS and Microsoft Access that enabled him to do in-office habitat evaluations and mapping outside the fieldwork season. He primarily works on habitat evaluation and botanical surveys on a wide variety of projects primarily located in western Oregon but also in Washington, California, and New Mexico. In addition he does remote habitat assessments, and map creation, while also aiding in data preparation, interpretation and report/grant writing.
Malcolm’s advice: “I would suggest new students try out a few higher level classes in majors they are interested in early on. It will give them a much better idea of what to expect latter on and likely challenge and engage them far more than lecture hall or introductory classes. I also recommend working a variety of summer jobs throughout your college career when you are not yet committed to any one track and can try out different things. I do think it is a good idea for most people to take at least a year off between their undergraduate degree and any advanced degree and to get some work experience.”