A wildlife research biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Brent Wolf couldn't be happier with the career path he's found. “Coming to Oregon was a great choice, I love living out here,” he said. Wolf is also a graduate student in the College of Science’s two-year online Graduate Program in Data Analytics, a flexible program that allows him to continue working the job he loves while getting his degree. He was drawn to the program as a way to get a leg up in his current role, and so far it has paid off. “Going for the M.S. in data analytics has opened some doors for me that were previously closed,” he said.
Finding fulfillment with wildlife research
Wolf mapped out his career path early. “I grew up watching Steve Irwin and BBC nature shows, plus I enjoy being able to be outside and solve problems. Wildlife is just a good fit for all of that,” Wolf said. As a research biologist, he collects and analyzes data on a variety of Oregon species, including black-tailed deer, Columbian white-tailed deer and the American marten.
After graduating from the Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S. in ecology and marine biology, Wolf encountered some of the drawbacks of working with wildlife: low pay and frequent moves between seasonal jobs. “ODFW is the first spot where I actually have a permanent job with upward mobility,” he said.
To make a bigger impact at ODFW, Wolf decided to go back to school for data analytics. Oregon State’s award-winning Ecampus program “jumped out because it was an M.S. and offered some courses that I really wanted to take,” he said. Unlike most online learning opportunities, Ecampus courses are taught by the same faculty who teach in-person, giving students access to experienced, committed professionals in every field.
“I really enjoyed Professor Lan Xue, especially her survival statistics course,” said Wolf. “It’s really hard to get good at something like that without some instruction.”