Neither Ron nor Ann Berg is originally from Oregon, but taking a leap of faith to leave home and attend Oregon State University for graduate school changed their lives forever. Now, the couple is looking to give back to the institution that brought them together.
Ron Berg (M.S. ’71, Ph.D. ’74) grew up and attended college in San Jose, California. Like nearly half the students in Oregon State’s College of Science, he had the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research in an area of applied microbiology. “That really piqued my interest in furthering my education,” he said. “Oregon State University was one of the few universities at the time offering graduate studies in applied and industrial microbiology.”
Jim Craig, his mentor at San Jose State, had completed his Ph.D. at Oregon State and had encouraged Ron to apply. Following his acceptance into the Department of Microbiology in the spring of 1968, Ron began a journey that would lead to advanced degrees in microbiology under the guidance of Andy Anderson and Bill Sandine.
“Oregon State University was one of the few universities at the time offering graduate studies in applied and industrial microbiology.”
Fifteen months later, Ann Berg (nee Moran) graduated with her bachelor’s degree in biology from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, where she had grown up. “With a biology major, the world is your oyster,” she said. As an only child, though, she wanted more of an adventure for graduate school. “I decided it was time to leave home and follow Horace Greeley’s advice ‘Go West’.”
Her friend’s father had been stationed at Camp Adair, an army base near Corvallis during WWII and talked fondly of the Willamette Valley. So together, they decided to apply to Oregon State University. When Ann was admitted to the College of Science’s graduate program in microbiology, she packed her bags and headed 2,000 miles west to start a life on the other side of the country. “And that’s how I went from midtown Manhattan to downtown Corvallis,” she said.
Ann and Ron met in February of 1970 and attended an OSU-Stanford basketball game for their first date. Three months later they were engaged, and then married in 1971.
“A good deal of this background came from my experience at OSU. Not just microbiology, but also the ability to connect the dots, seeing and understanding complex relationships to solve unique problems.”