Astonished Barb!


Barb is a writer of literary fiction and a participant in this astonishing and wonderful world. Semi-retired from her position as professor of tree physiology and forest ecology, she straddles life in town and in her off-grid cabin in the woods.


Barb is writing novels (see Current Writing Projects) and research papers (see her university website).

Education and academicsBL_161022atLL (3) (small)

Barb grew up in a quiet corner of Los Altos Hills, a town on the border between roadless open space and development.  She cut apricots in the orchards as her first paying job. She got a BA from Swarthmore College, an MS from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and a PhD from Stanford, although the path meandered through a community college, jobs in Alaska, Texas, and New Hampshire, and volunteering in the Peace Corps in an indigenous village in Guatemala.  She moved to Corvallis, Oregon for a faculty position after a post-doc at Berkeley, and spent 19 years in the Dept. of Wood Science & Engineering before moving to the Dept. of Forest Ecosystems & Society.  Her MS research was on effects of disturbances on which plants grow back into tundra, and her PhD was on the effects of the shape of a plant–poison oak, which grows as a vine or a shrub–on how it holds itself up and how it moves water to the leaves.  Her research has concentrated on structure and function relationships in plants, especially related to biomechanics and water transport, and on wood quality. She’s taught many classes related to wood anatomy and function, tree physiology, forest biology, global issues in renewable resources, and forests and civilization.

See how I dealt with working with poison oak for my dissertation here:  Poison Oak


CabinQuiltBarb is happiest when she can walk or ride her bike to where she needs to go, can spend time working or hiking in relatively natural areas, and can have contact some way or another with her dog and her family–husband, grown kids, siblings, father, and others.  Other people find her too busy most of the time; that’s certainly true, but when she’s busy with cool things, it’s how she likes it.  She gets energized spending time with people–students, family, friends, strangers–but needs to mix that with much time alone, which may be why the career in science and the avocation of writing are so vital to her.


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