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Upcoming Events - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 2:04pm
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th St., Corvallis, $. Tickets and info: cosusymphony.org or call 541-752-2361. OSU students free with ID
LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th St., Corvallis, $. Tickets and info: cosusymphony.org or call 541-752-2361. OSU students free with ID
Upcoming Events - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 2:04pm
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Thank you for your interest in the US Student Fulbright program. Fulbright grants are for research, teaching, project or course work in any eligible country.
See: press release for competition opening.
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 1:15pm
Like the auto industry, trucking companies are looking for new ways to cut fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A partnership between Oregon State University and Daimler Trucks North America is making inroads by developing an 18-wheeler that combines high strength for heavy payloads and increased fuel efficiency for sustainable performance.
Part of the Super Truck program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and Daimler, this effort already has yielded promising early results: a prototype carbon-fiber chassis rail and an innovative design for cruise control. The partnership began in 2009 when Daimler contacted John Parmigiani, a research assistant professor in Oregon State’s School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME), seeking ideas. Daimler is the leading commercial truck manufacturer in North America.
Parmigiani led a research project to replace the rails, key chassis components that run from front to back, with lighter materials. By using carbon fiber — the same material used for rocket nose cones — instead of steel, Daimler achieved significant weight reduction.
“Carbon fiber is a great material to use. The weight difference is amazing.”
— John Parmigiani
The partnership with Oregon State was a positive experience, says Derek Rotz, a senior manager in advanced engineering for Daimler — so positive, in fact, that the company hired Brian Benson, one of the graduate students who worked on the project.
“We learned a lot about the design,” Rotz adds. “There still needs to be more work done before we put the carbon fiber rails into mass production, because they are more expensive.”
The next step will be to integrate the rails into a production prototype. Headquartered in Portland, Daimler Trucks North America manufactured 141,000 vehicles in 2012. Its brands include Freightliner, Western Star, Freightliner Custom Chassis, Thomas Built Buses and Detroit.
In a separate project, MIME professor Kagan Tumer used “intelligent systems” to create an adaptive cruise control that improves fuel efficiency.
THE OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY ADVANTAGE delivers bottom-line benefits for business through access to career-ready graduates and world-class research. To discover what the Venture Accelerator and the Industry Partnership Program can do for your business, contact Ron Adams, Executive Associate Vice President for Research, Oregon State University, A312 Kerr Administration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331, 541-737-7722.
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 1:06pm
Adapting to climate change requires two key things: good data and boots on the ground. As oceans rise, icecaps melt, snowpack diminishes, wildfires rage and aquifers dry up, coupling science to action becomes ever more urgent. But the barriers to linking science to practical action are formidable, often springing from deep disparities in worldview among researchers and “information users,” says Oregon State sociologist Denise Lach. Scientists and decision makers, she notes, may hold “different notions of truth and knowledge.”
Breaking through these barriers is the intent behind a pilot project in Idaho’s Big Wood River Basin, where a diverse group of local stakeholders has been meeting regularly with OSU climate and social scientists to talk about and plan for climate-driven changes in water quality and availability. Convening and hosting this “knowledge-to-action network” is the Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) based at Oregon State. By fall, the network will have developed and analyzed alternative scenarios based on climate models, land-use practices and population growth.
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 12:58pm
Over the next 10 years, Oregon State University will be at the forefront of a ship building project that will “revitalize and transform” coastal-ocean science in the United States, says oceanographer and former U.S. Navy and NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad, the university’s vice president of research. OSU has been designated as the lead institution for the design, building and launching of as many as three state-of-the-art research vessels funded by the National Science Foundation.
Officials expect the vessels to be positioned on the East Coast, the West Coast and the Gulf Coast, depending on research needs and available funds. The 175-foot vessels will be “floating, multi-use laboratories” that are “more seaworthy and environmentally green” than previous research vessels, says Mark Abbott, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. The first ship will hit the water in 2019 or 2020.
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 11:49am
As you sip your favorite Oregon wine, do you ever wonder what happened to the discarded remains of those luscious grapes? Typically, the seeds, skins and stems from the nation’s 4 million tons of wine grapes have been tossed out — until now.
The pulpy leftovers of juicing and crushing, called “pomace,” are finding their way into products as diverse as gluten-free muffins, biodegradable flowerpots and edible food wrappings, thanks to Oregon State Extension researcher Yanyun Zhao and cereal chemist Andrew Ross. Loaded with antioxidants and dietary fiber, pomace also controls bacteria and preserves fats, making it versatile as well as nutritious.
“We now know that pomace can be a sustainable source of material for a wide range of goods,” says Zhao.
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 11:34am
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sometimes referred to as “drones,” have been the focus of recent international attention because of their military use. However, these systems also have many domestic uses that are practical and benign and should be embraced for their potential to save money and lives.
UAVs are an emerging industry that Oregon can help lead, and the state would be wise to support it. Oregon State University has formed a consortium with industry, government and others to develop the use of these aerial systems, a potential multi-billion dollar job growth engine that will also provide significant benefits to society.
Under a mandate from Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration will establish several test sites for UAVs by 2015, and one of those sites could be in Oregon. Our state offers a unique combination of research excellence, varied terrain, relevant industry and local applications in agriculture and forestry.
There’s not much that UAVs can do that a pilot in a small plane couldn’t do, but they can do it more safely and at much lower cost. UAVs can monitor and help manage wildfires or support a search and rescue mission. They can help forest-product industries plant trees to avoid wind or heat damage. They can monitor wildlife, improve irrigation, detect crop-disease outbreaks and gauge environmental health.
Decades of experience in remote sensing have drawn OSU to this venture. Our oceanographers use NASA satellites to monitor global phytoplankton productivity and identify harmful algal blooms. We use optical remote sensing to detect earthquake faults, assess wildfire impacts on forests and measure tsunami inundation patterns. We have instruments on the International Space Station to study shoals and ocean shores.
We have already formed the OSU Unmanned Vehicle System Research Consortium to bring a national UAV test center to Oregon. The business and job potential is high. With more than 300 companies and nearly 7,000 employees, Oregon’s aviation sector sees UAV technology as a natural extension of industry within our state that already is building helicopters, small aircraft and aviation components. OSU and industry partners n-Link and Prioria have conducted the state’s first FAA-sanctioned mission – a UAV flight over McDonald Forest near Corvallis that provided live video of the research forest.
We recognize that the transition toward the civilian benefits of UAVs has raised privacy concerns. Protection from prying cameras where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy is a legitimate concern, legally protected by current law and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
This technology will be developed somewhere in the United States. Because of Oregon’s comprehensive scientific and industry experience, and our state’s ideal geography, we can choose to be a leader in this exciting venture. That choice would be good for Oregon business, industry, researchers, workers and our environment.
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 11:27am
The widespread availability of knowledge is a key element of Oregon State’s land grant mission. Since 2006, OSU Libraries and Press has maintained a publicly available repository (ScholarsArchive@OSU) of scientific papers and student theses and dissertations. This archive — and ones like it at other universities — could be a cost-effective solution for a new federal initiative to make more research information available to the public.
Traditional channels of scholarly publication preclude access by the general public who, in the case of state and federally funded research, paid the bills. Journals that charge an annual subscription fee restrict information to those who are affiliated with institutions that can pay the fee. Costs vary widely but can be as much as $20,000 a year or more.
Recognizing the continued role of publishers and the need to facilitate public access, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a policy memorandum on February 22. It directs federal agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development expenditures to work with stakeholders to make articles and research data associated with federally funded research freely available to the public within 12 months of publication.
The OSTP policy directive is a significant milestone for public access to scholarship. It benefits OSU researchers by increasing the readership and impact of their scholarship. It also provides accountability to the public by enhancing access to the scholarship they funded.
In fiscal year 2012, OSU researchers received more than $176 million in funding from federal agencies. What the OSTP directive means for these scientists will depend on agency requirements still in development, but the existing National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy may serve as a model to other agencies. The NIH requires articles that result from NIH funding to be available in the freely accessible PubMed Central database within 12 months of publication. While individual agencies are charged with developing policies, the memorandum does encourage interagency cooperation in order to make the processes and, potentially, the systems uniform.
ScholarsArchive@OSU already provides access to thousands of faculty and student articles and was recently ranked seventh among U.S. single institution repositories. The use of institutional repositories to preserve and make federally funded research available to the public has several benefits. It leverages infrastructure that is largely in place, and it enables institutions to monitor and ensure policy compliance for their own authors.
For scholars, access to the work of their peers is fundamental to the advancement of research. Making well-organized research data more widely available encourages reuse and supports inter- and intra-disciplinary collaboration. It also enables the private sector to leverage public research and invest in and develop new products and services.
Last year, the National Science Foundation began requiring the inclusion of data management plans as part of grant proposals. The Oregon State University Libraries and Press supports OSU faculty in meeting this and other federal data requirements. Our services are likely to evolve to support new agency requirements that result from the directive.
Editor’s note: Michael Boock is head of Oregon State’s Center for Digital Scholarship and and associate professor with OSU Libraries and Press
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 10:53am
In tune with nature’s seasonal shadings, nomads once roamed across the grasslands of Inner Mongolia on China’s northern frontier. For generations, bands of herders moved across the landscape — matching the dietary needs of livestock to the cycles of plants, striking an ecological and cultural balance.
But that ancient pattern is teetering, warns Oregon State graduate anthropology student Tom Conte, who lived with a group of herders while he studied their changing way of life. Pressure from encroaching modernization is threatening traditional patterns of migration and collaboration, he concludes. The grasslands that stretch forever under an endless sky are also stressed. The longtime symbiosis between grazing and growing, which mutually benefited lifeways, livestock and landscapes, is badly frayed.
Less Grass, More Sand
Bumping along a dirt track, it takes 45 minutes to reach houses outside the tiny village of Dashimo, where Conte stayed while interviewing herders for his master’s thesis. The sparsely populated landscape gives the impression of boundless space, a foreign sensation to a guy of Italian ancestry raised in the Bronx. “There’ve been times in history when an Italian has met with Mongolians — Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, for example,” he jokes. “This is more Joe Pesci than Marco Polo.”
The ground that surrounds Dashimo reveals a troubling ecological process that’s stripping vegetation from arid lands in Inner Mongolia and elsewhere around the world: desertification. Dashimo’s once-lush sea of grass is giving way to sand. A symptom of land privatization — a land-use policy implemented by the Chinese government in the 1970s — desert encroachment is undermining the livelihoods and traditions of herders, according to Conte.
“It’s important to study these things because they’re disappearing,” he says.“Studies show the desert expands more than 10,000 square kilometers a year in China.”
The issues surrounding grassland degradation are complex in this remote region, home mainly to ethnic Mongolians and a minority of Han Chinese (As a whole, Han Chinese comprise about 80 percent of Inner Mongolia’s population of almost 25 million). The herders are being pushed aside to make way for industrialization, mining and privatization, Conte explains.
“Originally the land was managed collectively, until the Chinese government decided to privatize,” he says. “Privatization worked really well in terms of agriculture. But pastoralism is different. Privately managed land has led to widespread degradation of the grassland. Animals eat everything, and the desert expands.”
It’s a tense issue in China. In 2011, a herder was killed by a coal truck as he was trying to stop a mining convoy that was driving across prairie land. His death sparked the biggest wave of demonstrations Inner Mongolia had seen in decades. The region is China’s largest coal producer. It’s also the largest supplier of rare-earth metals in the world — materials that end up in products consumed in the West, like smart phones, solar panels and wind turbines.
Many herders began settling about 20 years ago as the government forced them onto single plots of land that fail to meet all their animals’ needs. Families that once cooperated are now living separately. While some rent additional land where they can move their animals, the land policy, overall, spurs dangerous overgrazing, Conte says. “If you stay in one place, you exhaust the resources.”
But overgrazing is just one outcome of settlement. Another is the loss of traditional kin-based ties that bound herders and enabled cooperation in moving livestock to prime forage, a problem Conte is addressing in his research. “Herders believe that ecological degradation has increased and cooperation has decreased,” he sums up.
Lessons from America
The danger to the herders’ culture, as well as to the land, mirrors our own history, argues Bryan Tilt, Conte’s thesis adviser and an associate professor of anthropology. “The situation of minority populations in China is not unlike the American Indian story,” Tilt says. “Only in folks of this region, the changes are much more recent. There is an element of culture loss that’s happening.”
“We know a lot of people think the nomadic lifestyle is romantic because herders are tied to the land,” Conte says. “But it’s not just romantic. There are concrete data showing that the ways the people manage land is sustainable. And better. Different animals — goats, sheep, camels, horses, yaks — have different water and plant species preferences given the season. A lot of traditional ecological knowledge went into the decision of where to move and when.”
All of the herders Conte interviewed — those who have settled as well as those who still migrate — are feeling the strain in an altered landscape. “You can’t work with people and not have a sense of empathy or wanting to effect change for the better.”
OSU's Global Impact - Tue, 05/21/2013 - 9:25am
Pending approval by the State Legislature, Oregon State plans to create an inspiring teaching laboratory and promote active learning in a new classroom building. Planned by Boora Architects in Portland, the new facility has been designed with faculty input and includes:
- A 600-seat arena classroom in the round
- A parliamentary-style room where students face each other across an aisle
- Lecture halls in which teachers can easily reach every seat
- Flexible seating arrangements that allow students to work in groups
- Space for three programs that develop and support new learning strategies — the Center for Teaching and Learning, Technology Across the Curriculum and Media Services — and room to demonstrate new concepts for student engagement
OSU's Global Impact - Mon, 05/20/2013 - 4:49pm
Why would binoculars be an essential tool for a scholar of Renaissance literature during a study tour of Europe? What does crawling around on a castle floor have to do with researching the writings of Shakespeare and Spenser? Why would a professor of 15th- and 16th-century poetry and drama desperately need a therapeutic massage after a day of intense investigation? The answer is tapestries.
Massive, intricate, otherworldly weavings called “arras” were commissioned by European royals and nobles to adorn the walls of their palaces and estates. Peopled with life-sized figures depicting scripture, myth and legend as well as hunting, falconry and winemaking, they brought color and life to drab, drafty halls. But adornment was only part of the purpose of these colossal works of art, says Rebecca Olson, who has spent more than a decade studying their role in literature and, by extension, in Renaissance society. They also reinforced power and inspired loyalty by evoking tradition and royal status.
“I use the analogy of Kindles and e-readers and how they retain some of the elements of an actual book.”
— Rebecca Olson
“These tapestries were everywhere,” says Olson, an assistant professor in the Oregon State University School of Writing, Literature and Film. “Besides the magnificent large-scale hangings, there were smaller, cheaper versions adorning humbler settings. They were as ubiquitous as TV is today. They had practical uses, educational uses, political uses. You can’t really understand Renaissance literature unless you understand how they were used and how people thought about them.”
Crafted of wool and threaded with strands of silk, gold and silver, the most impressive tapestries sometimes unfurled 30 feet long and soared 15 feet high, all the better to awe, educate and even intimidate the viewer. Studying them can be a workout. Olson once slid herself along the cold stones of Hampton Court Palace to view the underside of an arras laid out on a rack for repairs. To examine details at the top, she often resorts to peering upward through a pair of binoculars. After days of scrutinizing every last detail, she can wind up with a serious crick.
“Just to look at them is very physical,” says Olson. “You’re moving because you can’t take them all in at once, so you’re craning your neck, you’re bending down, you’re walking up to look closely, you’re stepping back. My neck often hurts quite a bit.”
Stories from the Past
The first arras hangings she saw with her own eyes were in the banquet hall of England’s Hampton Court Palace. Even as frayed and faded as the massive tapestries were, she found them enchanting, particularly the heroic scenes depicting the labors of Hercules. The 500-year-old weavings felt like silent emissaries from Shakespeare’s era. As she gazed on them — realizing that the Bard’s contemporaries had sat among these very hangings eating, drinking and watching live actors perform — her arms prickled with goose bumps.
In the years since, she has discovered a rich — and largely overlooked — literary and historical presence for the arras, which she documents in her upcoming book, Arras Hanging: The Textile that Determined Modern Literature and Drama (University of Delaware Press, in press). The arras was, for instance, central to one of Shakespeare’s most dramatic scenes: Hamlet’s stabbing of Polonius. In Act III when Lord Polonius plots with Hamlet’s mother and stepfather to hide behind a tapestry to eavesdrop (“Behind the arras I’ll convey myself”), he makes a fatal mistake. Hamlet, hearing the hidden voice, thrusts his sword through the arras (translated as a “curtain” in some editions), killing Polonius.
“The idea of a prince damaging one of these very expensive tapestries really makes us wonder about Hamlet’s sanity in that scene,” Olson says. Modern audiences, she adds, would fail to grasp the import of his action without the historical context. “It’s like when a rock star smashes his expensive guitar. It has real shock value.”
In Book III of Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queen, one of the great classics of Renaissance literature, the writer devotes 18 stanzas to the virgin warrior Britomart’s night in a room draped floor to ceiling with arras tapestries (“For round about, the wals yclothed were With goodly arras of great majesty, Wouen with gold and silke…”). On the tapestries were bawdy scenes of debauchery and sensuality, which Spenser introduced to contrast with Britomart’s chastity.
Inspired to Reverence
For the rich and the royal, arras hangings were status symbols. They depicted ancient stories of valor and virtue. Often designed to inspire viewers to be braver and better, they also were instruments of political propaganda and puffery. King Henry VIII favored images of King David in an attempt to associate himself with the great biblical figure. Queen Elizabeth I lined her outer chambers with woven figures of small size, yet as the visitor proceeded toward her inner chambers, the figures got bigger and bigger. “They were supposed to make you feel smaller and smaller, so by the time you got to the queen you just felt tiny,” says Olson.
Olson’s research has taken her to the Tower of London and to the National Archives of the United Kingdom, where she scoured ancient ledgers and inventories for clues to ownership and transport of arras hangings. She also has found evidence that tapestries were used to teach a young prince about the Battle of Troy, and that queens gave birth in chambers swathed in weavings.
As important as the woven images is the literary symbolism embedded in the act of weaving. Olson points out that the words “text” and “textile” derive from the same Latin roots texo and texere — “weaving” or “to weave.” Even though the loom has largely disappeared from daily life, the metaphor (to weave a story, spin a tale, follow a narrative thread) has survived all these centuries, cropping up in our most advanced communications lingo (the Web, the Net, an email thread).
Just as many moderns cling nostalgically to bound books of paper and ink, Olson notes, medieval Europeans would have felt attached to stories told upon the tactile surface of a weaving, even as the printing press was beginning to push the technology.
OSU's Global Impact - Mon, 05/20/2013 - 3:42pm
Hybrids meet less often in actual classrooms, but when they do, their sessions resemble hands-on workshops where students solve problems and apply their knowledge. Done well, hybrids can improve learning and help students get more mileage out of education.
Nationally, college faculty have been experimenting with hybrid courses for many years, but they are only now gaining traction in standard curricula, says Kahn, an instructional designer for Oregon State University’s Extended Campus and the Center for Teaching and Learning. Test scores and grades show they are at least as effective as traditional classrooms. Moreover, they appear to help students prepare more effectively for class.
“Think of education as a whole — what is it? Is it just the transfer of information? If that’s the case, then Harvard has a problem, and all other universities have a problem too.”
— Eric Mazur, physicist, Harvard Magazine
“If you walk into classrooms today, you’re likely to see someone reading PowerPoint slides to students. In 10 years, if you walk around the hallways, you’ll see something substantially different,” says Kahn. “Nobody will be talking about hybrid courses. They will be the norm.”
Teaching in this fashion requires a sea change in academia. The hallowed “sage on the stage” tradition — an instructor who lectures uninterrupted for 50 minutes or more, students who sit passively and take notes — is giving way to a more interactive process leavened by Wi-Fi and the Web. The shift pushes against centuries of ingrained pedagogical practice, so Kahn leads OSU faculty members in their own course of study. Through collaborations that he calls Learning Communities, instructors are creating hybrid courses that fit their teaching styles and disciplines.
The move to hybrids is only one example of a broader trend at Oregon State. As one-way information delivery moves online, face-to-face classes are getting recharged. Students are engaging in debates, creating videos, building three-dimensional models, visualizing ideas and even reviewing each other’s exams. Instructors roam the room and vary the pace by challenging students to solve problems or address questions in small groups.
To advance this vision, a new classroom building is on the drawing boards, one that will offer unusual room arrangements and a hub for faculty who want to conduct research on new teaching methods (see “Flexibility to Learn” sidebar).
Jon Dorbolo directs Oregon State’s Technology Across the Curriculum program and was recognized by the Center for Digital Education (an educational research institute in Folsom,
California) last fall as one of 50 Top Innovators in Education. He works with faculty members on methods for stimulating student engagement. “Ultimately what we work for academically,” he says, “is for our students to see themselves as scholars. Not as passive recipients of information but as active scholars, researchers.”
Teaching, he adds, is an example of the scientific method in action. “Every lecture is a hypothesis. An instructor goes in there saying, ‘I’m going to communicate in this fashion, with the expectation that what I’m doing — the examples I’m giving, the analogies I’m using, what I’m drawing on the board, the questions I ask — is going to have an effect on the learner. If they (the students) pay attention and follow along with me, by the end of this, they ought to be different than they were before.’”
Measuring student learning is typically done through exams, which Dorbolo calls “this blunt and unsatisfying instrument.” Ultimately, evidence of teaching effectiveness, faculty members say, lies in the ability of students to think creatively and apply new knowledge.
The foundation for this new approach comes down to how people learn. “We have to allow the integration of knowledge,” says Kay Sagmiller, director of the OSU Center for Teaching and Learning. That requires active engagement in an environment in which students feel welcome, safe and confident. “Our challenge is to figure out how to open up the hearts and minds of those in the classroom to integrate what we offer into their existing knowledge,” she adds.
“Many faculty members don’t want to talk to a sea of faces. They prefer to engage with each person,” adds Dedra Demaree, assistant professor of physics who studies instructional methods in introductory courses. In her research, she has focused on how her own teaching affects student engagement. “My general philosophy is that I want to be able to quantify things so I can measure outcomes. But,” she says, “there are a lot of deep things you can’t get to by measurement.”
Classroom as Studio
While Demaree teaches first- and second-year students in lecture halls, she has also designed a classroom — a “physics studio” — that invites student participation. Instead of facing forward in rows, students work together at round tables. They get out of their seats to demonstrate concepts on electronic displays positioned around the room. A low-friction floor enables them to experiment with phenomena such as momentum and inertia.
With her graduate student team, Demaree analyzes videos of activity in class to understand what students actually do as she leads a discussion. She wants to know if they are disconnected or partially or fully engaged and how they are engaging in and interpreting discourse in the classroom. The team complements those analyses with interviews of students to delve deeply into the learning process.
Demaree’s group has shown that even small unintentional cues from the instructor can make a big difference for students. For example, in two separate sections of a class, Demaree gave two different messages about her expectations. “I told one section, ‘Remember this course is for everyone, even if you’ve never had physics before. We should all be able to reason through the process.’” To the other group, she said, “We started this on Friday and you should already know the answer.” Her explanation stimulated engagement in the first group and depressed it in the second. “The difference in engagement was phenomenal,” she says.
Pushing this educational shift, adds Kahn, is communication technology that students already know and trust. From laptops to smart phones to tablets, students have many opportunities to get information and exercise their brains. “Students are quite adept at accessing information. They’re going to use these devices no matter what. Why not try to get them to use those tools to accomplish the learning outcomes of the course? For better or worse,” he says, “they’re going to educate themselves.”
“In general,” says Sagmiller, “we underestimate how complex teaching and learning and assessment are. It’s exceedingly complex. It’s hard. Anybody who thinks it’s easy should stand up in a classroom of 600 undergraduates and give it a go and see how that feels. Or be held captive in a classroom with 35 kindergartners.”
Engagement Across the Curriculum
Many Oregon State faculty members are challenging their students in new ways. Here are a few examples from across campus.
Applets for Algebra. Scott Peterson wants students to think mathematically, not just to memorize formulas. He teaches introductory algebra, a fundamental course for most students. Online, he provides applets, software that allows students to visually perform mathematical tasks. Two of three weekly classes are spent in active exploration of algebraic concepts. In weekly lectures, he prompts students to discuss problems. He monitors conversations and tracks solutions through a rapid response system known as a clicker. He uses the results as a springboard for deeper discussion. About 2,000 OSU students take introductory algebra every year. Next fall, all sections are scheduled to adopt Peterson’s methods.
Roaming with an iPad. Devon Quick typically has 500 to 600 students in her introduction to human anatomy and physiology class. Like Peterson, she uses clickers, and she posts her lectures and other materials online for students to review. During class, she roams the room with an iPad. Using software from Doceri.com, she draws and manipulates images on a screen at the front of the room. She may hand the iPad to a student to demonstrate a concept. In surveys, 88 percent of her students have indicated that they like her use of the iPad and feel it makes the class more interactive.
Hybrid Versus Traditional. In two sections of Introduction to Psychology (300 or more students), Kathy Becker-Blease compared a hybrid to a traditional teaching approach. Each section used the same classroom, time of day, learning objectives, textbook and exam questions. Through quizzes, exams and homework scores, Becker-Blease found that student learning was equivalent. She also works with textbook publishers who offer online “diagnostic quizzing.” Students get immediate feedback as they answer questions, and instructors see how individuals and the class as a whole perform. Becker-Blease says students come to class better prepared. She is planning research to analyze the effectiveness of this approach.
Collaborative Testing. Tests need not be a cause for jitters. Engineering professor John Selker’s high-tech secret: two pens with different colors. After students complete their tests with one pen, he hands out the second and has them work in groups to identify mistakes and come up with the right answers. Students get full credit for their initial work in the first color and partial credit for writing corrections in the second color. By working out solutions with their peers, students fill in knowledge gaps and strengthen peer relationships. “At last,” says Selker, “the smartest student is also the most popular!”
Video Demonstrations. An engineering course, Strength of Materials, focuses on the forces that push, pull, bend and break everything from steel to carbon fiber. To help his 230 students master the mathematics and the concepts, Joseph Zaworski created 35 short online videos. Playable on any device from desktop computer to mobile phone, they allow students to pause and review as often as necessary. Between classes, students review videos and read the textbook. Class meetings include quizzes and team-based problem solving. Zaworski uses software from TopHatMonacle.com to monitor student responses and address common concerns.On the Drawingboard
A new learning laboratory will be a seedbed for the latest concepts in active teaching and learning to Oregon State.
OSU's Global Impact - Mon, 05/20/2013 - 12:49pm
It was dinnertime at the Milston-Clements home. The hubbub of feeding a 6-month-old baby and a hungry toddler was at full clamor when a ringtone interrupted. Handing off the jar of creamed spinach to her husband, Ruth grabbed her cell phone.
“Ruth, we have a broken pipe.”
As manager of Oregon State’s Salmon Disease Lab, Ruth Milston-Clements is on-call 24/7. With a network of alarms protecting the facility’s 25,000 research fish from disasters both natural and human (power outages, floods, equipment malfunctions, vandalism), she’s accustomed to running out the door at odd times. It happens once a month, on average.
So this dinnertime call seemed fairly routine. A researcher had accidentally backed her truck into a water pipe supplying 30 fiberglass tanks full of fingerlings, the caller reported. Quickly, an onsite technician cranked down the valve to stop the flow. He then rigged a fix that should hold till morning. However, the margin of error between life and death is, for a fish, as thin as a fin. “Without water flow or oxygen, the fish will suffocate in about 20 minutes,” says Milston-Clements, a fish biologist who grew up in Lancaster, England. In her field, there’s no such thing as an excess of caution. So, after tucking her little girls into bed, she spent the next few hours at the lab helping to construct a temporary backup system in case the quick fix failed before morning. It was after midnight when she finally flopped into bed.
The 3 a.m. ringtone blaring from her nightstand jolted her upright. “My heart started beating really loud, and I was hyperventilating,” she recalls. The electronic message from the lab’s security company read: Zone 1, low water. “This is the worst! This is what I’ve been dreading! Thousands of fish could die!” she moaned to her husband as she threw on her sweats and rubber boots and headed out once again.
In fact, no fish died that night. The second alarm turned out to be a minor malfunction unrelated to the burst pipe. But the adrenaline rush highlights what’s at stake in a live-animal research facility.
Crabs Count, Too
Of the 600,000 animals used in Oregon State’s research and teaching programs, 80 percent are aquatic species. Most of these half-million water dwellers are housed in fiberglass tanks on and around the Corvallis campus or at a research hatchery in the Alsea River Basin. Some live in simulated streams or raceways. Still others are on display in touch tanks or seawater aquariums at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. They come in outrageous colors and preposterous designs: pouty, big-eyed rockfish in shimmery golds and coppers; pincushion-like sea urchins bristling with purple spines; a giant Pacific octopus, its suction-cupped arms undulating around a bulbous orange body. The charismatic Chinook salmon, the elusive black prickleback, the tendrilled basket star, the diminutive zebrafish — more than 400 species in total — all are members of Oregon State’s aquatic animal community.
The vertebrates among them are subject to the rigorous protocols of humane treatment laid out by the AAALAC (Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International) and overseen by OSU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (see Terra, “The Ethic of Care,” Fall 2012; and “Caring for Cows,” Winter 2013). But the ethical distinction between the spined and the spineless has blurred in recent years. In the same way that the animal-care ethos for rodents and livestock has evolved, so have sensibilities for aquatic animals of all kinds. Just ask Tim Miller-Morgan. In his two-decade career, OSU’s aquatic veterinarian has witnessed an ethical sea change.
Take the case of the ailing crustaceans, for example. Miller-Morgan was moonlighting at the Oregon Aquarium a few years back when he noticed that the spider crabs were lethargic and droopy-mouthed. In the old days, he says, a sick crab would have been euthanized. “The attitude was, ‘It’s only an invertebrate; let’s just get another one.’” But instead of discarding the crabs, he drew their blood and discovered a bacterial infection. He treated the animals with antibiotic injections and medicated feed. “Typically, this wasn’t something that was done,” says Miller-Morgan, who also serves as backup veterinarian for OSU Attending Veterinarian Helen Diggs. “But now we understand that we shouldn’t look at these animals as disposable. We brought them into captivity, and we have an obligation to keep them as long as we can, as close to their natural lifespan as possible — or even longer.”
It’s today’s students, he says, who are driving the new morality. In the aquatic-medicine classes he teaches at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, questions about animal welfare are top-of-mind among the Millennials, also known as Gen Y. “Eight or nine years ago, students started telling me, ‘We’d like to hear information on what we know about fish welfare, how we assess welfare, what do we know about pain?’ That was a new thing.”
He hears the same kinds of queries from students enrolled in the aquarium science program he helped develop at Oregon Coast Community College. It boils down to a centuries-old debate among philosophers, scientists, veterinarians, farmers, ranchers, aquarists, and pet owners: What is our obligation to captive animals?
For researcher David Noakes, the answer is crystal clear. “We have an inordinate responsibility,” says Noakes, who directs the Oregon Hatchery Research Center run jointly by Oregon State and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). “We need to go to extraordinary lengths.”
It’s the Water
Because of the extraordinary lengths taken by Noakes and his staff, international scientists flock to the research center on Fall Creek, a tributary of the Alsea River, which ripples prettily through a mixed woodland of fir, aspens and big-leaf maple. From faraway nations like Japan, China, Iceland and South Korea, they come to conduct studies on the secrets of salmon navigation, the impact of temperature on sexual maturity, the ability of steelhead to negotiate woody debris, and other hot topics in fish biology. “This is the only place on the planet that has everything in one location for salmonid research,” explains Joseph O’Neil, a senior ODFW technician who lives onsite at the hatchery. “It’s the No. 1 destination in the world.”
If O’Neil were to tell you that water is the most critical component for fish husbandry, you might be tempted to say “duh.” But “water” doesn’t come close to conveying the complexity of the systems that support research fish. When O’Neil says, “Fish need water,” he’s not talking about any old water. Whether it fills a 50-gallon fiberglass tank full of Coho smolts, a 40,000-gallon simulated stream stocked with brook trout, or racks of incubation trays, flushing a million salmon eggs at a rate of five gallons per minute, the water O’Neil is talking about is some of the world’s most pampered. Pumped mainly from Fall Creek, this water may be treated with UV sterilization, carbon filtration or aeration so it’s free of viruses and bacteria. O’Neil’s also talking about precise temperature regulation matched to each species’ native environment and each animal’s stage of life. Eight miles of underground pipe circulate up to 2,500 gallons of freshwater a minute and return it to Fall Creek.
Out here in the Siuslaw National Forest, where the nearest town is picturesque Alsea, population 1,153, things do indeed go wrong. The power fails when gale-force winds howl through the hills; the property floods when biblical rains push the creeks beyond their banks; outdoor tanks crack and pipes rupture when branches crash to the ground. The staff takes pride in being able to improvise a solution or jury-rig a repair for just about any piece of equipment, even amidst the wildest squall, wettest deluge or blackest night.
How to Ship a Fish
In Oregon State fish circles, they’re known as “The Two Carries.” The self-described “guard dogs” of OSU’s zebrafish lab, Cari Buchner and Carrie Barton make a solemn commitment each morning when they punch in their pass codes at the high-security building across the river from downtown Corvallis. Tens of thousands of lives hinge on the skill and vigilance of these fish-husbandry professionals.
Barton and Buchner are co-managers of OSU’s Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory. The species they oversee — a type of minnow that has been dubbed the “new lab rat” for its growing popularity among biomedical researchers — multiplies fast, matures quickly, shares important disease processes with humans, and rapidly regenerates certain body parts and organs. Best of all, it’s transparent during development. Researchers can see what’s happening inside, literally.
For these reasons, zebrafish make great animal models for medical and environmental research.
“The water here is probably cleaner than most people drink at home,” Buchner attests. That level of purity applies even to water flowing into the staff restrooms, toilets included. If you are granted a visit to Sinnhuber, expect this email in your inbox: “Due to our biosecurity protocols we need to ask that you refrain from any contact with other aquatic species, labs, water sources — especially home aquariums, pet stores and outdoor fish habitats — for 24 hours prior to your visit.” Once you arrive, anticipate being asked to sanitize your hands and slip sterile booties over your shoes.
No one here is taking any chances of jeopardizing the lab’s highly specialized, technically sophisticated, razor-edged enterprise: raising fish that are free of the pathogen Pseudoloma neurophilia, rampant in the commercial aquarium trade and common in many research facilities. “Every fish in this room will be tested for that specific pathogen,” says Buchner. Newly arriving fish are raised, spawned and rigorously tested in a quarantine chamber before their offspring can join the general population.
These uniquely healthy zebrafish are in demand not only at Oregon State but also at other labs. So a couple of years ago, Sinnhuber decided to sell them on its website at a nominal cost. But safely shipping live fish is as tricky as it sounds. The package has to be double-bagged, foam insulated, heat controlled and hand-delivered on the tarmac for transfer to the airplane. For months, Barton and Buchner worked with FedEx, testing various containers and running multiple mock shipments, climaxing with a battery of bumping, shaking, dropping, crushing and tumbling trials.
“The container has to be 100 percent secure,” Barton explains. “It has to hold up even when someone says, ‘Oops, that box fell off the forklift.’” (All this TLC comes at a price, ranging from $50 to $500 for U.S. shipments to $1,700 for international deliveries.)
Soon after becoming a Certified Research Fish Shipper, the lab passed a harrowing real-life test when a container of fish en route to Australia got held up in customs during the hottest part of the summer. Despite an extra five days of travel, the fish arrived in perfect health and were spawning within a fortnight.
Fish Food a la Carte
A “happy tank” is the gold standard in a fish lab. When Ruth Milston-Clements lifts the lid of a tank and sees the sleek, silvery smolts schooling round and round in vigorous uniformity, she can rest easy. But if the fish are “dancing” or “flashing” or “looking a bit itchy,” she immediately calls in the lab pathologist. The telltale signs of trouble recently showed up among some rainbow trout. A scale swipe revealed a parasite called Gyrodactalus. She treated the tank with a hydrogen peroxide solution and monitored the fishes’ behavior every 10 minutes for an hour. They revived. Happy tank.
Fish like it when someone lifts the lid on their tank. That’s because it usually means mealtime. Over at Sinnhuber, the two Carries show off their brand-new commercial-grade kitchen where they concoct customized diets to researchers’ specs.
The proteins, carbs, oils, vitamins and minerals are tightly calibrated for optimal animal health. For many studies, researchers order special formulas. One of those researchers had a terrifying jolt a week before Christmas when he discovered his supply of custom fish food wasn’t going to last through his experiment. So while most people were baking gingerbread cookies and fig puddings, Barton was down at the lab whipping up an emergency ration of experimental fish food. “I went into my superhero mode,” Barton says with a satisfied grin. She saved the day — and the study.
“Basic care for aquatic animals is much more intricate than it is for most mammals,” she observes. “It’s really a science unto itself.”
Saturday, May 18, 2013 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Come join the Pride Center, we’ll be exploring the Finley Wildlife Refuge south of Corvallis. This excursion will be roughly 2.6 miles and of easy intensity with a portion of the trail lead by a guide that will educate us on the Refuge and local wildlife.
Stop by or call the Pride Center to get more information on this event or to RSVP.
Saturday, May 18, 2013 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Cool Shoes, the distinguished Oregon State University Ballroom Dance Company, will perform its annual spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, at Corvallis High School, 1400 N.W. Van Buren Ave.
Tickets $10 general, $8 students/seniors
For more information
Saturday, May 18, 2013 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
This is the required general pre-departure orientation for all IDEA study abroad students going abroad for Summer or Fall (incl. Academic Year 13-14).
Students should have completed the BlackBoard orientation prior to coming to this orientation. If you have any questions, please contact your study abroad advisor: http://oregonstate.edu/international/contact/idea
Upcoming Events - Fri, 05/17/2013 - 2:05pm
Friday, May 17, 2013 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Join us for the Grand Opening of the Native American Longhouse - Eena Haws!
Learn more at http://oregonstate.edu/urm/events/nal Note that 26th street will be closed Friday afternoon for installation of the tent. The main program begins at 4 p.m. followed by tours and refreshments.
Upcoming Events - Fri, 05/17/2013 - 2:05pm
Friday, May 17, 2013 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Cool Shoes, the distinguished Oregon State University Ballroom Dance Company, will perform its annual spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, at Corvallis High School, 1400 N.W. Van Buren Ave.
Tickets $10 general, $8 students/seniors
For more information
OSU's Global Impact - Wed, 05/15/2013 - 11:33am
Fighting a war of independence should be turmoil enough for a small country, but in 1970, the people of Bangladesh also had to deal with a deadly cholera outbreak. This water-borne disease threatened the country’s plentiful surface water and put public health at risk. To solve this crisis, the government, together with international aid agencies, dug thousands of wells. But the clean water they hoped to deliver created a new crisis, what one researcher calls the largest mass poisoning on the planet.
Fast-forward 20 years. Symptoms of arsenic toxicity were beginning to appear in the population. Skin lesions were misdiagnosed as leprosy and led to social exclusion. Worse, skin lesions are a potential precursor to cancer.
Molly Kile, an environmental epidemiologist at Oregon State University, and her Harvard mentor David Christianie first traveled to Bangladesh in 2003 to study the health effects associated with arsenic in drinking water. “Our efforts have largely been understanding the epidemiology (of arsenic exposure) and the human health risk associated with it,” says Kile. She first traveled to Bangladesh as a doctoral student at Harvard and has returned more than 20 times.
Scientists know that exposure to high levels of arsenic can lead to cancer, but Kile, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, wants to know how the metal affects other aspects of health, such as reproduction and child development. Local groups, she says, can effectively translate her results into disease prevention, but many participants in her research are among the most vulnerable in the country.
“By and large, the populations that are affected by arsenic in Bangladesh are the rural populations,” she says, “and about 60% of Bangladesh lives on less than $2 a day. So these are places of absolute poverty.”
Reproductive health effects stem from the fact that the toxic metal crosses the placenta and exposes the fetus. Low birth weight and spontaneous abortions have been associated with arsenic exposure in utero. Kile also uses genetics to look for variations among individuals that increase or decrease susceptibility to skin lesions.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of arsenic is its invisibility. “You can’t taste arsenic. You can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you have no idea its there unless you test for it,” she adds.
Not being able to detect arsenic by sight or taste has raised the stakes for communities that lack the resources to test or treat their drinking water. Kile’s favorite way to test for arsenic in people may come as a surprise: the human toenail.
Toenails are composed of keratin, which contains chemical combinations of sulfur and hydrogen called sulfhydryl groups. As arsenic in the body binds with these sulfhydryl groups, it accumulates in the toenail.
“So keratin is mostly sulfhydral, as is your hair,” says Kile. “Any inorganic arsenic that is circulating in your body will want to bind to a sulfhydral group. So your toenails, your hair, and even your skin all come into equilibrium with the arsenic in your body. You can take a toenail clipping, and you get a lovely integrated exposure of what that person has been exposed to.”
Kile calls the health crisis in Bangladesh a preventable disaster. Arsenic was known to be present in large parts of western Asia, but that wasn’t considered in the 1970s when the country transitioned to groundwater.
“And it was seen as the public health triumph of its day, only to find out that it’s now the largest mass poisoning on the planet,” says Kile. “That’s one of the messages of this: This was completely preventable.”
Research elsewhere suggests that as exposure declines, skin lesions may go away with time, but such studies are still in progress.
Despite Kile’s start with arsenic being half-a-world away, the issue isn’t so far from home. She calls Oregon “arsenic country” and has been conducting water-testing workshops in communities east of the Cascades. In the United States, technology can remove arsenic from drinking water. So far, there have been no arsenic-related health problems recorded in Oregon.
“It really is across Oregon,” she adds. “Eugene, Salem…and across the border too. This is a Pacific Northwest Issue.”
Scientists estimate that up to 100 million people are exposed to elevated levels of arsenic in Bangladesh alone. Whether you are drawing from a well in Bangladesh or Oregon, researchers like Kile are racing to fully understand the impacts of this invisible contaminant.
Listen to a podcast with Kile.
For more information about arsenic in drinking water in Bangladesh:
D. van Halem, S. A. Bakker, G. L. Amy, and J. C. van Dijk, “Arsenic in drinking water: a worldwide water quality concern for water supply companies,” in the Journal Drinking Water Engineering and Science, 2009,
Manouchehr Amini; Karim C. Abbaspour; Michael Berg; Lenny Winkel; Stephan J. Hug; Eduard Hoehn; Hong Yang; C. Annette Johnson; “Statistical Modeling of Global Geogenic Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42, 3669-3675.t © 2008 American Chemical Society
Chowdhury, M. A. I., Uddin, M. T., Ahmed, M. F., Ali, M. A. and Uddin, S. M.: How does arsenic contamination of groundwater cause severity and health hazard in Bangladesh, J. Appl. Sci., 6(6), 1275-1286, 2006
Upcoming Events - Sun, 05/12/2013 - 2:03pm
Sunday, May 12, 2013 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Korean Night is a cultural event to introduce Korean culture to Oregon State University Community by Korean Student Association sponsored by ISOSU and SEAC. Traditional & modern performances will be shown with Koran Food.
Every OSU students are more than welcome!