CAS Heroes

The College of Agricultural Sciences represents a talented, multidisciplinary group of professionals across the entire state of Oregon. During these unpredictable and challenging times, our people continually demonstrate their tenacity, innovation and commitment to our students, our research, and our communities. In recognition of those efforts, we recognize exceptional service with our “CAS Hero” awards – honoring an individual every month who continually goes above and beyond in serving that commitment. It is open to all College staff and faculty. Nominations are accepted online and reviewed weekly. Recipients will receive a certificate and a gift card.

Kyle Christopher Harrison

Farm manager at the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center (CBARC)

Kyle joined CBARC in 2018 and has demonstrated in that time that he can do it all: he is a highly skilled farmer, welder, rancher, and mechanic. He is meticulous, brilliant, and is always willing to lend a hand – even if he is in the middle of another critical task. Kyle starts his day at CBARC well before dawn and measures his days in acres, not hours. Kyle responds to after hours and weekend issues that arise at CBARC, and gracefully handles any challenge thrown his way.

Kyle grew up on a dryland wheat ranch in Lexington, OR and provides CBARC research teams with a critical real-world perspective on dryland farming that is greatly appreciated by all. On weekends, Kyle can be found farming and ranching with his family back home. He simply does not stop working, nor does he stop smiling!

At the onset of COVID, Kyle continued his regular daily activities and also took on additional tasks at the station when work from home orders began. Kyle has greatly elevated the CBARC team in professionalism, efficiency, and organization. His “can-do” attitude is an incredible asset to Oregon State University, The College of Agricultural Sciences, CBARC, and stakeholders of Oregon Wheat.

One CBARC team mate said it best: “A man of more talents than words! He’s kind, expedient, pragmatic, down-home, and on the dot!”

When CBARC personnel were surveyed, the following adjectives were used to describe Kyle: hardworking, good-humored, reliable, dependable, mature, dedicated, respectful, humorous, always in a good mood, conscientious, even-keeled, accommodating, friendly, and punctual.

Thank you, Kyle!

Dr. Melissa Haendel

Dr. Melissa Haendel has been a long-standing visionary, advocate, and practitioner of open science. This year she has put these incredible attributes to work on COVID-19. She co-founded the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) in July, which not only represents the largest cohort of COVID-19 patients in the U.S., it is the largest openly-available limited dataset in US history.

Equally important, N3C sets a new precedent for collaborative, reproducible analytics on data for Electronic Health Records (EHR) at a national scale. Over 1,200 collaborators from over 300 institutions across 44 states and 13 foreign countries are already contributing. Dozens of projects using these data are simultaneously underway and new results are continually being submitted. In addition, the harmonization, cohort construction, unit standardization, and analytic pipelines from this project are fully transparent and reproducible.

The broad health applications of the N3C Cohort findings may change clinical practice about COVID-19 internationally and its success is due in large part to Dr. Haendel working tirelessly with little regard to her own professional rewards. This is notoriously difficult work that is inherently collaborative. Dr. Haendel is a gifted team builder with a passion for helping others find a voice and a place at the table. Whether ethnic and gender minorities, people from emerging nations, the economically disadvantaged, or citizen scientists, you will find Dr. Haendel not only advocating for their inclusion, but marshalling the resources and opportunities to help them succeed. Dr. Haendel empowers the community to perform open and reproducible science and she leads by example. Her kind of innovative, collaborative team-science approach is what biomedical research needs to make fundamental discoveries and to make a lasting impact on healthcare.

In addition to her scientific acumen and tenacious spirit, she has also led her team through extraordinary challenges including forest fires, birth of children, family members with COVID-19, childcare issues, and more. Through it all, Dr. Haendel has been compassionate and understanding, while still managing to advance this vital work.

It is our great pleasure to nominate Dr. Haendel for this month’s College of Agricultural Sciences heroes award for her considerable contributions to science and people.