Oceanography at OSU turned 50 years old this July at the same time that the Corvallis da Vinci Days festival hosted its 21st annual celebration of science and art. The college and festival combined forces to enhance the experience of both returning alumni and of festival goers.
Da Vinci Days chose a water theme – H2OH! – in honor of the anniversary. Shuttles ferried people between the COAS open house, da Vinci days and the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Lab where participants had the opportunity to build model structures and test them against lab generated tsunamis.
Brenda VanDevelder, executive director of da Vinci Days, thought the collaboration was a success.
“There was excitement for the opportunity to visit the labs,” she said. “The whole vision [of da Vinci Days] is to showcase Corvallis and OSU is such a big part of Corvallis.”
The college selected the weekend of July 17-19 to coincide with da Vinci Days, to give alumni families another reason to visit Corvallis in the summer and to join in the general celebration of science.
The college ranks among the top ocean research programs. Faculty members provide leadership for university, state and federal positions and the college brings in a large and steady amount of research funding to the university each year — $30 million last year.
Alumni events began Friday evening with a reception in the courtyard of Burt Hall. Old friends, many of whom spent weeks at sea under harrowing conditions together, discussed their trajectories after leaving the university. In all, more than 250 alumni – including some of the first graduates and faculty – returned to mark the occasion.
On Saturday morning the college hosted the Science Symposium, a series of presentations that highlighted some of the issues currently being investigated by COAS. Presentations included discussions of the Pacific ‘Dead Zone’, deep sea exploration, ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms and the connections between atmospheric humidity and influenza.
In the afternoon, COAS hosted its first open house in a decade. Participants walked through labs, viewed displays and spoke with researchers. On display were mooring devices used to anchor buoys and sensors in the open ocean, all terrain vehicles equipped to help monitor tidal zones, torpedo shaped autonomous ocean gliders, and artifacts from research trips to the Arctic and some of the deepest parts of the ocean. The walls of Burt Hall were lined with numerous posters and computer displays next to which graduate students and researchers answered questions and discussed their projects.
Labs such as the W.M. Keck Collaboratory for Plasma Spectrometry and the Electron Microprobe Facility were open with the directors giving tours. Samples from the OSU Core Laboratory were on display with lab attendants explaining how the cores are used and pointing out events, such as gigantic volcanic eruptions, that they reveal.
Rob Holman, COAS professor and event chair estimated that between 800 and 1000 people drifted through the three-hour event.
“We were filled to the gills,” he said, “and no one was bored.”
~ Rhett Register