COAS celebrates 50th anniversary

Fifty years ago, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education approved the establishment of an oceanography department at Oregon State University, launching a program that half a century later would be recognized around the world for its scientific achievements.

The College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences will commemorate its anniversary July 17-19 with a series of events, some of which that are free and open to the public.

The oceanography recognition weekend coincides with da Vinci Days, an annual festival coordinated by OSU and the City of Corvallis that celebrates science and innovation.

“The oceanography program at Oregon State has grown in size and prestige over the years and today is recognized as one of the best programs of its kind in the world,” said Robert Holman, a professor of oceanography who specializes in beach processes. “The da Vinci Days celebration is a chance for the public to look behind the scenes of what takes place, both at OSU and around the world, and talk to some of the leading experts in their fields.”

On Saturday, July 18, the college will present a series of short talks on some of Oregon’s most pressing oceanographic issues and host an open house that will provide the public with a glimpse of some of their sophisticated ocean instrumentation, including undersea gliders, airborne robotic planes and ocean moorings.

Research exhibits will provide information on polar programs, satellite remote sensing, and earthquakes. A number of demonstrations and other activities also are scheduled.

The science symposium featuring the series of talks will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday (July 18) in LaSells Stewart Center and run for two hours. Among the topics and presenters are:

•    “The Oregon ‘Dead Zone,’” by Jack Barth, 9:05 a.m.;
•    “Ocean Acidification,” by Burke Hales, 9:20 a.m.;
•    “Harmful Algal Blooms,” by Peter Strutton, 9:35 a.m.;
•    “Educational Outreach in Ocean Observing,” by Sarah Mikulak, 9:50 a.m.
•    “Deep Exploration,” by Bob Collier, 10:20 a.m.;
•    “The Physics of Beaches,” by Tuba Ozkan-Haller, 10:30 a.m.;
•    “Atmospheric Humidity and Influenza,” by Jeff Shaman, 10:50 a.m.

The open house at Burt Hall, located near the corner of 26th Street and Monroe Avenue, will run from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Chris Goldfinger, an OSU marine geologist, will give the public keynote address for da Vinci Days on Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. in the CH2M-Hill Alumni Center ballroom. His free public talk, “Cascadia Great Earthquakes: The Riddle of the Sands,” will focus on the potential for a huge Pacific Northwest quake and how frequently they have happened in the not-so-distant past.

Goldfinger conducted research in Indonesia following the devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and says that that region is eerily similar geologically to that of the Pacific Northwest.

In its 50 years, the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences has become – along with Woods Hole and Scripps – one of the nation’s premier marine science programs. It has annual research funding of nearly $30 million and is known for its strengths in near-shore studies that encompass climate change,  coastal physical oceanography, satellite monitoring of the oceans, and geophysics and other areas.

~ Mark Floyd

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