Oregon State University

Research news

Sophisticated radiation detector designed for broad public use

News - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 11:08am
07/10/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

A small, inexpensive radiation detector developed at OSU may help people around the world better understand radiation, and help detect risks if any are present.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nuclear engineers at Oregon State University have developed a small, portable and  inexpensive radiation detection device that should help people all over the world better understand the radiation around them, its type and intensity, and whether or not it poses a health risk.

The device was developed in part due to public demand following the nuclear incident in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, when many regional residents were unsure what level of radiation they were being exposed to and whether their homes, food, environment and drinking water were safe.

Devices that could provide that type of information were costly and not readily available to the general public, and experts realized there was a demand for improved systems that could provide convenient, accurate information at a low cost. The new system should eventually be available for less than $150.

Findings on the new technology were just published in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, a professional journal. The systems are not yet available for commercial sale.

Beyond the extremely rare occasion of a radiological or nuclear incident, the new technology may also help interested consumers learn more about the world of radiation surrounding us, the constant exposure they receive – everything from a concrete wall to the air we breathe, soils around us or a granite kitchen counter top – and how to understand routine radiation exposure as a part of normal life.

“With a device such as this, people will be better able to understand and examine the environment in which they live,” said Abi Farsoni, an associate professor of nuclear engineering in the OSU College of Engineering. “Radiation is a natural part of our lives that many people don’t understand, but in some cases there’s also a need to measure it accurately in case something could be a health concern. This technology will accomplish both those goals.”

Of some interest, the researchers said, is that the technology being used in the new device provides measurements of radiation that are not only less expensive but also more efficient and accurate than many existing technologies that cost far more. Because of that, the system may find use not just by consumers but in laboratories and industries around the world that deal with radioactive material. This could include scientific research, medical treatments, emergency response, nuclear power plants or industrial needs.

The system is a miniaturized gamma ray spectrometer, which means it can measure not only the intensity of radiation but also identify the type of radionuclide that is creating it. Such a system is far more sophisticated than old-fashioned “Geiger counters” that provide only minimal information about the presence and level of radioactivity.

“The incident at Fukushima made us realize that many people wanted, but were not able to afford, a simple technology to tell them if their environment, food or water was safe,” Farsoni said. “This portable system, smaller than a golf ball, can do that, and it will also have wireless connectivity so it could be used remotely, or connected to the Internet.”

The system combines digital electronics with a fairly new type of “scintillation detector” that gives it the virtues of small size, durability, operation at room temperature, good energy resolution, low power consumption and light weight, while being able to measure radiation levels and identify the radionuclides producing them.

Various models may be developed for different needs, researchers said, one of which might be the ability to measure radon gas and check homes with possible concerns for that type of radiation exposure, which can sometimes come from soils, rocks, concrete walls or foundations.

“There are a lot of misconceptions by many people about radioactivity and natural background radiation, and technology of this type may help address some of those issues,” Farsoni said. “Sometimes, there are also real concerns, and the device will be able to identify them. And of some importance to us, we want the technology to be very simple and affordable so anyone can obtain and use it.”

The new device will ultimately be commercialized after final development is completed, researchers said.

College of Engineering Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Abi Farsoni, 541-737-9645

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



Small detection device

Categories: Research news

Review: Lead ammunition can be deadly, though mitigation may help

News - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 2:19pm
07/09/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

A review of scientific studies on lead ammunition found that lead ingestion accounts for illness and mortality in more than 120 bird species in North America, but mitigation will be challenging.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The ingestion of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle accounts for illness and mortality in more than 120 different species of birds in North America, according to a newly published review of scientific studies on the issue.

What impact that has at the population level for species is less clear, the researchers say, as is how to deal with the growing controversy over the use of lead for hunting and fishing. The lead issue is complex and steps to mitigate the impacts will be challenging – from cost and performance factors to manufacturing output – but they are possible, the authors point out.

“Although lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in the United States since 1991, and in Canada since 1999, exposure to lead remains a problem for many bird species,” said Susan Haig, supervisory wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author on the study. “However, we did find several examples of ways wildlife managers have helped reduce exposure of birds to lead.”

The review of scientific studies, conducted by biologists from several different institutions and agencies, was published in the July edition of the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications. A companion perspective article, written by Clinton Epps, an associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University, examines the challenges of transitioning to non-lead ammunition.

In their papers, the researchers do not call for any policy changes, but they outline some of the challenges of reducing the use of lead and explore tactics that have been used to reduce lead exposure.

“Shifting to non-lead alternatives is a lot more complicated than some people think,” said Epps, who has hunted for more than 30 years. “Any efforts to shift hunters and fishermen from using lead needs to be well-informed and collaborative. Everyone concerned with this issue must be prepared to invest time, money, and expertise to work not only with hunters and fishermen, but with ammunition and tackle manufacturers.”

Epps has looked at copper bullets as one less-toxic alternative to lead and notes that they generally work well in modern firearms commonly used for big game hunting. However, effective non-lead alternatives have not yet been developed for all types of hunting firearms, he added.

In the review article, the researchers outline the availability of non-lead ammunition in October 2013 in 35 different calibers and 51 rifle-cartridge configurations at three major online retailers. Of the non-lead options sold by those retailers, only a small proportion was actually in stock: Cabela’s had non-lead ammunition in 18 percent of available sizes; Cheaper Than Dirt, 27 percent; and Bass Pro Shops, 10 percent.

“Non-lead bullets can be difficult to find in all calibers needed, but availability is improving,” Epps said. “Premium quality hunting ammunition costs about the same for lead-based and non-lead options, but I see a lot of people using the cheaper options, which invariably contain lead, so cost may be an issue – particularly for high-volume users.”

The physical properties of lead – including high density, low melting point, malleability and resistance to corrosion – have made it popular in the manufacturing of ammunition and fishing sinkers. However, many birds are sensitive to lead exposure, affecting the structure and function of kidneys, bones, the central nervous system and the blood system. Impacts range from lethargy and anorexia, to reproductive issues and death.

In their review, the researchers noted that lead has widely varying impacts.

  • One study of common loon carcasses found across six New England states found that about 23 percent (118 of 522) of the deaths were caused by ingestion of lead fishing tackle and ammunition;
  • California condors are extremely susceptible to lead poisoning and suffer significant mortality, yet a related species known as turkey vultures can survive with greater and longer exposure to lead;
  • Few studies have been done on population-level impacts of lead with the most complete studies conducted on waterfowl, where deaths from lead poisoning are estimated to be 2-3 percent overall, and 4 percent in mallard ducks.

A survey by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2013 found that 69,000 metric tons (a metric ton is about 2,204 pounds) of lead were used in the production of ammunition in the United States in one year. Annual estimates of lead fishing weights sold in the U.S. equal 3,977 metric tons.

Birds and other animals ingest lead in different ways, according to Haig. Loons, for example, were found to have swallowed lead sinkers and jigs, perhaps mistaking them for prey. Scavengers including condors and eagles often feed on carcasses of animals killed by hunters and cannot avoid incidental lead ingestion.

“Some birds use lead pellets or fragments as grit to aid in digestion after consuming it at hunting areas or shooting ranges,” said Haig, who is a courtesy professor of wildlife ecology at OSU. “Another potentially important lead source is recreational shooting of ground squirrels, which leaves lead-laced carcasses available to be eaten by golden eagles, Swainson’s hawks and other birds of prey.

“We found one estimate that more than 1.1 million ground squirrels were shot in one state during a one-year period,” she added. “It would be helpful to better understand what kinds of risk this poses to raptor scavengers.”

The review outlines some steps to reduce lead exposure to birds, including redistributing shot in the surface soil by cultivating sediments; raising water levels in wetlands to reduce access by feeding birds; and providing alternative uncontaminated food sources.

“Managers have found a number of ways to reduce the risk of lead exposure to birds while preserving the important role hunting plays in wildlife conservation,” Haig said.

One example cited involved Arizona Game and Fish working with other groups in that state on a voluntary approach to the issue.

“They formed a coalition to educate hunters about the negative effects of lead,” Haig pointed out. “The result was more than 80 percent compliance with voluntary non-lead ammunition use among hunters on the Kaibab Plateau and no birds were found with lead poisoning the following year.”

Other authors on the review include Jesse D’Elia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; Collin Eagles-Smith, U.S. Geological Survey and OSU Fisheries and Wildlife; Garth Herring, U.S. Geological Survey; Jeanne M. Fair, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Jennifer Gervais, Oregon Wildlife Institute and OSU Fisheries and Wildlife; James W. Rivers, OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society; and John H. Schulz, University of Missouri.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Susan Haig, 541-750-0981, susan_haig@usgs.gov; Clint Epps, 541-737-2478, Clinton.epps@oregonstate.edu

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 


magpie feedng on a carcass

Categories: Research news

SAR11, oceans’ most abundant organism, has ability to create methane

News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 9:47am
07/07/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

A new study by researchers at Oregon State University demonstrates the ability of some strains of the oceans’ most abundant organism – SAR11 – to generate methane.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The oxygen-rich surface waters of the world’s major oceans are supersaturated with methane – a powerful greenhouse gas that is roughly 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – yet little is known about the source of this methane.

Now a new study by researchers at Oregon State University demonstrates the ability of some strains of the oceans’ most abundant organism – SAR11 – to generate methane as a byproduct of breaking down a compound for its phosphorus.

Results of the study are being published this week in Nature Communications. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

“Anaerobic methane biogenesis was the only process known to produce methane in the oceans and that requires environments with very low levels of oxygen,” said Angelicque “Angel” White, a researcher in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author on the study. “In the vast central gyres of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the surface waters have lots of oxygen from mixing with the atmosphere – and yet they also have lots of methane, hence the term ‘marine methane paradox.’

“We’ve now learned that certain strains of SAR11, when starved for phosphorus, turn to a compound known as methylphosphonic acid,” White added. “The organisms produce enzymes that can break this compound apart, freeing up phosphorus that can be used for growth – and leaving methane behind.”

The discovery is an important piece of the puzzle in understanding the Earth’s methane cycle, scientists say. It builds on a series of studies conducted by researchers from several institutions around the world over the past several years.

Previous research has shown that adding methylphosphonic acid, or MPn, to seawater produces methane, though no one knew exactly how. Then a laboratory study led by David Karl of the University of Hawaii and OSU’s White found that an organism called Trichodesmium could break down MPn and thus it could be a potential source of phosphorus, which is a critical mineral essential to every living organism.

However, Trichodesmium are rare in the marine environment and unlikely to be the only source for vast methane deposits in the surface waters.

So White turned to Steve Giovannoni, a distinguished professor of microbiology at OSU, who not only maintains the world’s largest bank of SAR11 strains, but who also discovered and identified SAR11 in 1990. In a series of experiments, White, Giovannoni, and graduate students Paul Carini and Emily Campbell tested the capacity of different SAR11 strains to consume MPn and cleave off methane.

“We found that some did produce a methane byproduct, and some didn’t,” White said. “Just as some humans have a different capacity for breaking down compounds for nutrition than others, so do these organisms. The bottom line is that this shows phosphate-starved bacterioplankton have the capability of producing methane and doing so in oxygen-rich waters.”

SAR11 is the smallest free-living cell known and also has the smallest genome, or genetic structure, of any independent cell. Yet it dominates life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die, and plays a huge role in the cycling of carbon on Earth.

These bacteria are so dominant that their combined weight exceeds that of all the fish in the world's oceans, scientists say. In a marine environment that's low in nutrients and other resources, they are able to survive and replicate in extraordinary numbers – a milliliter of seawater, for instance, might contain 500,000 of these cells.

"The ocean is a competitive environment and these bacteria apparently won the race," said Giovannoni, a professor in OSU’s College of Science. "Our analysis of the SAR11 genome indicates that they became the dominant life form in the oceans largely by being the simplest.”

“Their ability to cleave off methane is an interesting finding because it provides a partial explanation for why methane is so abundant in the high-oxygen waters of the mid-ocean regions,” Giovannoni added. “Just how much they contribute to the methane budget still needs to be determined.”

Since the discovery of SAR11, scientists have been interested in their role in the Earth’s carbon budget. Now their possible implication in methane creation gives the study of these bacteria new importance.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Angel White, 541-737-6397; awhite@coas.oregonstate.edu; Steve Giovannoni, 541-737-1835, steve.giovannoni@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Questions and answers on pest management from OSU experts

News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 9:40am
07/03/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page

CORVALLIS, Ore. – What to do about garden pests, including insects, plant diseases and weeds, can be a challenge for gardeners who want to effectively manage the pests without damage to the environment and human health.

The question-and-answer series below illustrates a strategy called Integrated Pest Management, a systematic approach to identify pests and use tactics that are cultural, physical, biological or chemical.

The least toxic and effective methods are always considered first, according to Oregon State University researchers Andy Hulting, a weed control specialist, and Gail Langellotto, an entomologist.

Q: How do I know if I have pest problems in my garden?

A: Check your plants regularly for pest damage such as missing leaves, flowers or fruit or changes in color, texture or size. Most plant problems in home gardens are caused by poor growing conditions, temperature extremes, poor water management or compacted soil. Look under leaves and use a flashlight after dark, which is when many insects are active.

Q: How do I identify what is causing the problem?

A: Often it's not a pest, but another problem such as sun scald or nutrient deficiencies. "Don't apply pesticides without understanding the problem you are trying to solve," Langellotto advised. "Many insects are beneficial and actually help gardens grow better. Others do no damage." Some insect pests can be dislodged with simple methods such as shaking the plant or spraying with a high-pressure stream of water.

Your local OSU Extension office and its Master Gardeners can help correctly identify the culprit and at what point in the pest's life cycle it is most susceptible to control measures.

Q: What pest management tool should I use?

A: Integrated Pest Management utilizes a combination of methods to keep pest populations at an acceptable level, with the least toxic and effective first.

  • Cultural methods: Choose healthy plants that are not prone to pest problems, plant them where they will grow well and rotate where annuals are planted to avoid buildup of disease populations.
  • Physical methods: Pull or dig weeds and hand-pick or trap insect pests off of plants. Row covers designed to extend the gardening season have been found to also keep insect pests away from plants.
  • Biological methods: Garden plants can attract beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps and green lacewings, to help keep pests at bay. Some of the more common ones are alyssum, coreopsis and sunflower.  The flowers of plants in the Apiaceae family (including carrots, parsnips, celery, parsnip, cilantro and dill) are known to be especially good at attracting parasitic wasps and other beneficial insects.

Q: When and how should I use chemical methods?

A: Some pest problems are difficult to manage without chemical pesticides.  However, chemicals can affect human health and be toxic to other organisms. Thus, use them judiciously and only after you are confident you have identified the pest, have chosen an appropriate pesticide, and that other methods are not likely to provide acceptable levels of control.  Read all label directions before choosing and using pesticides in the garden. 

"If you want to utilize biological controls in the garden, avoid broad-spectrum insecticides whenever possible," Langellotto said. "They may help you manage your insect pests, but they also kill other insects they contact, including beneficial ones."

Q: What precautions should I take with chemical pesticides?

A: If you decide to use a chemical, check the label to make sure your intended use or site is included on the label. Then choose one that is least harmful to the environment and to the applicator, specific to the pest and least harmful to beneficial organisms.

Pesticides labeled "Caution" are the least toxic to humans, "Warning" are more toxic, and "Danger-Poison" (with a skull and crossbones), are the most toxic. The law requires that you read the label. Be sure to wear protective clothing, especially eye protection, gloves and long pants.

Pesticides are more concentrated than they used to be, according to Hulting, and are made for very specific uses. "You might need only a fraction of an ounce to treat a large area or number of plants, perhaps less than in previous years," he said. "Don't use more product than the label specifies. More is not better."

Q: Where can I get more specific information?

A: For fact sheets, frequently asked questions and podcasts on pesticide use, check online at http://npic.orst.edu/ or call the National Pesticide Information Center at OSU at 1-800-858-7378.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Gail Langellotto, 541-737-5175;

Andy Hulting, 541-737-5098

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



As green lacewing larvae grow, they benefit gardens by eating immature pests. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

Oregon State University hires new director for School of Arts and Communication

News - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 1:35pm
07/03/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Lee Ann Garrison, an administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been named the director of the School of Arts and Communication.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Lee Ann Garrison, an administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been named the director of the School of Arts and Communication in the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.

Garrison has been executive director of the Design Research Institute at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin. An art and design professor, Garrison also is the interim associate dean for curricular design and innovation in the Lubar School of Business and interim associate dean of academic and student affairs at the Zilber School of Public Health.

Garrison comes to Corvallis with a strong background in curriculum development and creating collaborative teaching and research opportunities at UW-Milwaukee. She will continue to use those skills as director of the School of Arts and Communication.

At Oregon State, Garrison will work to elevate the arts on campus and throughout the community, and also to create opportunities for students and faculty to work with others in the arts and beyond. 

“As an artist, Lee Ann is a bridge-builder who’s been especially adept at working across many disciplines in a university setting,” said Lawrence Rodgers, executive dean of the Division of Arts and Science. “She has a history as an especially accomplished administrator known for her ability to build coalitions and collaborate in a large institution.” 

Garrison will begin her new position Aug. 11.

College of Liberal Arts Source: 

Celene Carillo, 541-737-2137 or Celene.carillo@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU students to run across Oregon this summer promoting health and physical activity

News - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 9:03am
07/03/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

The Health Extension Run 2014 was designed to inspire Oregonians to improve their health through better eating and exercise.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University students and brothers Jeremiah and Isaiah Godby will spend their summer running across Oregon in an effort to encourage Oregonians to improve their health through better eating and exercise.

The “Health Extension Run 2014” was designed to inspire Oregonians to take charge of their health and educate community residents about the role the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences and OSU Extension Service offices in each county play in building healthy communities. The event coincides with the recent accreditation of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

The run begins July 7 on the Oregon State campus in Corvallis and is expected to finish Sept. 5 at OSU. The Godbys plan to run 1,675 miles through 30 Oregon counties, with stops in many communities along the route for public events such as health festivals and county fairs. OSU students, alumni and all other supporters are encouraged to run or walk with the brothers in their communities.

Jeremiah, 21, and Isaiah, 23, are exercise and sports science majors in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. They said they are motivated to run in hopes that they can inspire others to get more exercise, eat better and make other health improvements.

Jeremiah Godby is an example of the difference exercise can make. After he decided to cut back on video-game playing and began running in high school, he lost 45 pounds.

“I feel so much better,” he said. “I just enjoy life more.”

He and his brother took up long-distance running as a form of advocacy and, after completing similar long runs in the past, volunteered for this summer’s Health Extension Run. 

“We just want to inspire people to live a balanced life,” said Isaiah Godby. “It’s not as complicated as people think. Walk an extra block or park your car further away in the parking lot.”

The run will kick off at 9:30 a.m. on July 7 with a short send-off ceremony on the steps of the Memorial Union quad on the Oregon State campus in Corvallis. The Godbys will then run around the OSU campus before heading north on Highway 99.

The brothers will run about 32 miles a day, traveling north from Corvallis to Astoria, down the Oregon Coast, across to Eugene and then south to Medford before heading east to Klamath Falls, where they’ll participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center. From Klamath Falls, they’ll run to Bend, Prineville, John Day, Burns and Ontario.

The Godbys also will spend a day in Boise, Idaho, where they’ll run through the city and participate in a Beavers alumni event. For more information or to register for that event, visit http://bit.ly/1rf1gOT.

From Boise, the runners will head back to Ontario, where they’ll head north to Baker City and LaGrande, then work their way back west through towns including Pendleton, Heppner, Condon, The Dalles and Hood River. They’ll be in Portland for a few days before running to Salem for the Oregon State Fair, then to Albany before wrapping in Corvallis on Sept. 5.

Find more information about events in the community at http://bit.ly/V9zK8a and follow along with the Godbys on their blog, http://bit.ly/1z65ue8.

Editor's note: Video b-roll is available to download for use with this news release: http://health.oregonstate.edu/broll/healthextensionrun. College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Isaiah Godby, 530-574-7420 or godbyi@onid.oregonstate.edu; Jeremiah Godby, 530-574-7421 or godbyj@onid.oregonstate.edu; Kathryn Stroppel, 541-737-6612 or Kathryn.Stroppel@oregonstate.edu

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 

Jeremiah, left, and Isaiah Godby

Categories: Research news

OSU to observe Veterans Day as official holiday beginning in 2015

News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 4:04pm
07/01/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Oregon State University will begin observing Veterans Day as an official holiday beginning in 2015.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will begin observing Veterans Day as an official holiday beginning in 2015.

The decision was announced today by OSU President Edward J. Ray, after consultation with both the OSU Faculty Senate and the Associated Students of Oregon State University.

“I am proud that the university will begin honoring our veterans with the observance of this national holiday,” Ray said. “This is a meaningful decision. Last year, Oregon State had 1,025 students who received veteran educational benefits – the most of any university in Oregon – and it is important that we recognize and honor the many sacrifices that our nation’s veterans have made.”

Veterans now account for about one out of every 25 students at OSU. A range of programs have been initiated or expanded to help support the university’s student veterans.

Ray also announced that the university will begin its academic year earlier in 2015, with the first day of classes scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 23, that year.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Steve Clark, 503-502-8217, steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 


OSU students, supporters at

2013 Veterans Day parade

Categories: Research news

OSU receives federal grant to study academic outcomes of Oregon’s English learners

News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 3:47pm
07/01/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Oregon State University will receive a grant of nearly $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to investigate what happens to Oregon students who begin school as English language learners.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has won a grant of nearly $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to investigate what happens to Oregon students who begin school as English language learners.

Researchers will use the grant to examine the academic performance of current and former English language learners and determine how best to support their academic achievement, said Karen Thompson, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Education, who will lead the study.

“Being able to see, over a long period of time, how a student is doing is very important,” Thompson said. “Some students might need ongoing assistance even after they are considered proficient in English, while others might achieve at very high levels.”

Students who do not speak English proficiently when they enter school are considered English language learners. When students master the language, they are no longer considered English language learners and are reclassified as English proficient students.

Some states continue to monitor former English language learners throughout their school careers, but until recently, Oregon has only monitored them for two years, as required by the federal government, Thompson said.

The grant, from the education department’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences, will give investigators the opportunity to assess the longer-term academic success of students who enter school as English language learners, including graduation rates, she said. Researchers will also collect and analyze data about how current and former English language learners are faring in different types of programs, including dual-language programs, which have greatly expanded in Oregon schools in recent years, Thompson said.

The grant runs from Aug. 1 through July 31, 2016. The Oregon Department of Education and WestEd, a nonprofit education research agency, are partnering with OSU on the project. David Bautista, an assistant superintendent at the Oregon Department of Education, will serve as co-principal investigator.

The three agencies have established the Oregon English Learner Alliance in an effort to improve educational outcomes for Oregon’s English language learners. The alliance is part of a larger effort by the Oregon Department of Education to improve educational outcomes for students learning English.

The number of English language learners in Oregon has grown dramatically over the last 20 years and now makes up about 10 percent of the state’s kindergarten- through 12th-grade population. The number of reclassified students also has grown, making it more important than ever to understand how those students do in school once they’re no longer receiving extra help to learn English, Thompson said.

If researchers identify areas where current and former English language learners do well, they want to examine practices in those classrooms or schools and share the best of them with other educators, Thompson said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This work will be supported by U.S. Department of Education grant number R305H140072. The amount of federal funding is $399,928, the non-federal funding for the project is $29,009 and the project’s total funding is $428,937. Of the total funding, 93 percent is federal and 7 percent is non-federal.

College of Education Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Karen Thompson, 541-737-2988, Karen.Thompson@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Video games could provide venue for exploring sustainability concepts

News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 9:54am
07/01/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Video games have the potential to educate the public and encourage development of creative solutions to social, economic and environmental problems, said OSU’s Shawna Kelly.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Could playing video games help people understand and address global sustainability issues such as pollution, drought or climate change? At least two researchers believe so, outlining their argument in a concept paper published in the journal “First Monday.”

Video games have the potential to educate the public and encourage development of creative solutions to social, economic and environmental problems, said Oregon State University’s Shawna Kelly, one of the two authors of the article.

“Video games encourage creative and strategic thinking, which could help people make sense of complex problems,” said Kelly, who teaches new media communications in the School of Arts and Communication at Oregon State’s College of Liberal Arts.

“Entertainment has always been a space for exposing people to new ideas. Using video games, it’s possible to introduce sustainability concepts to the mass public in a way that’s not pedantic, that’s not educational,” Kelly said. “Instead, it could be fun and it could be challenging.”

Kelly wrote the paper with Bonnie Nardi, an anthropologist with University of California, Irvine's Department of Informatics, who studies sustainability, collapse-preparedness and information technology. 

Kelly and Nardi identified four key areas in which video games could support sustainable practices. The areas are:

  • Shift away from growth as the end goal of a game. Uncontrollable growth is unsustainable and asks little of players’ imaginations.
  • Emphasize scavenging instead of combat to collect resources. Encourage players to interact with their environment in creative ways instead of simply looking for targets.
  • Offer complex avenues for social interaction. Move beyond “us versus them” and focus on other types of social collaborations.
  • Encourage strategizing with resources such as scenarios that incorporate long-term consequences and interdependencies of resource use.

Some video games already are using some of the elements Kelly and Nardi recommend. Economics-based games such as “EVE Online” challenge players to strategize between their short-term personal resource demands and the long-term needs of a larger group of players, their corporation. “DayZ” is a combat simulation game that requires players to scavenge for resources and work with other players, deciding on their own which players are friends and which are enemies.

Those are the kinds of game mechanics that make video games fun and challenging, but those mechanics also could be used to encourage players to think about real problems related to sustainability, Kelly said.

The culture of video gaming rewards people for solving problems and coming up with unique solutions. There is a common interest and connection among players, and knowledge is easily shared via game-specific wikis, message boards, instant messaging and more, Kelly pointed out.

“There’s a huge set of people out there who love to problem-solve,” she said. “Why not harness that power that is already there?”

That doesn’t mean someone should go out and develop “The Sustainability Game,” Kelly said. While video games have proven to be a good educational tool, there is a sense that those who play video games for entertainment don’t want forced educational components, she said.

“The attitude is ‘don’t make me learn something,’ ” Kelly said. “Instead, make the problems accessible to the gaming community and see what emerges.”

Kelly plans to continue exploring the relationship between video games and sustainability through additional research supported by OSU’s New Media Communications department. She’s planning to conduct a systematic survey of the use of sustainability concepts in current video games during the 2014-15 school year using undergraduate student research assistants and resources from New Media Communications.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Shawna Kelly, Shawna.kelly@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Oregon honeybee losses continue at economically unsustainable rate, OSU survey finds

News - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 9:48am
06/30/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

More than one in five commercial honeybee hives in Oregon did not survive last winter, continuing a financially challenging trend for professional beekeepers.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than one in five commercial honeybee hives in Oregon did not survive last winter, continuing a financially challenging trend for professional beekeepers.

Between Oct. 1 and March 31, Oregon beekeepers reported a 21.1 percent loss in colonies of the crucial crop pollinators, according to a survey by Oregon State University. The latest figures are a slight improvement over the state's average annual loss of 22 percent over the past six years.

Nationally, commercial beekeepers reported a 23.2 percent decline last winter, according to a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, a countrywide collaboration among research labs focusing on honeybee declines. An average of about 30 percent of colonies nationwide has died each winter over the past decade.

"These are challenging times for beekeeping and we have reason to be alarmed," said Ramesh Sagili, an entomologist with Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences who has been conducting honeybee colony loss surveys for the past five years. "While 10-15 percent loss of colonies is considered acceptable, current rates of decline could drive professional beekeepers out of business."

To replace lost colonies, beekeepers must split healthy hives of 50,000 bees or more – a process that takes months and adds substantial costs for labor, new queens and equipment. However, as these lost colonies are replaced, there is not a drop in the total number of hives each year, according to Sagili.

The United States is home to 2.6 million managed honey bee colonies, according to the Bee Informed Partnership.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture credits honeybees with pollinating more than $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S., including pears, blueberries, cherries, apples, and vegetable seeds such as broccoli, mustard, carrots and onions. Many nut trees also rely on bees for pollination, including nearly 900,000 acres of almond trees in California, according to the USDA.

Bee colonies are in significant decline for a variety of reasons, according to Sagili. He said these include Varroa mites, which transmit viral diseases to bees; poor nutrition from a restricted diet resulting from large-scale monocropping; and exposure to pesticides when bees are foraging for nectar and pollen.

"We wish there was an easy answer," said Sagili, who is also a honeybee expert with the OSU Extension Service. “Each of these factors add stress to the bees and compromise their immune systems.”

OSU is home to the Honey Bee Lab, which tests beekeepers' honeybees for mites, diseases and protein levels for a small fee. The lab is estimated to save Oregon's beekeepers about $1.4 million a year in reduced costs for medications, according to Sagili.

More information on the nationwide survey of 2013-14 honeybee colony losses is at http://beeinformed.org/2014/05/colony-loss-2013-2014. Sagili and entomologist Dewey Caron are also co-authors of the nationwide survey; Caron helped conduct OSU's survey and process data.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Ramesh Sagili, 541-737-5460

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



Oregon State University entomologist Ramesh Sagili blows smoke in a hive to calm bees. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

“Molecular movie” technology may enable big gains in bioimaging, health research

News - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 9:23am
06/30/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

OSU researchers have created a new type of imaging technology fast enough to capture life processes as they occur at the molecular level.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers today announced the creation of an imaging technology more powerful than anything that has existed before, and is fast enough to observe life processes as they actually happen at the molecular level.

Chemical and biological actions can now be measured as they are occurring or, in old-fashioned movie parlance, one frame at a time. This will allow creation of improved biosensors to study everything from nerve impulses to cancer metastasis as it occurs.

The measurements, created by the use of short pulse lasers and bioluminescent proteins, are made in femtoseconds, which is one-millionth of one-billionth of a second. A femtosecond, compared to one second, is about the same as one second compared to 32 million years.

That’s a pretty fast shutter speed, and it should change the way biological research and physical chemistry are being done, scientists say.

Findings on the new technology were published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Alberta.

“With this technology we’re going to be able to slow down the observation of living processes and understand the exact sequences of biochemical reactions,” said Chong Fang, an assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science, and lead author on the research.

“We believe this is the first time ever that you can really see chemistry in action inside a biosensor,” he said. “This is a much more powerful tool to study, understand and tune biological processes.”

The system uses advanced pulse laser technology that is fairly new and builds upon the use of “green fluorescent proteins” that are popular in bioimaging and biomedicine. These remarkable proteins glow when light is shined upon them. Their discovery in 1962, and the applications that followed, were the basis for a Nobel Prize in 2008.

Existing biosensor systems, however, are created largely by random chance or trial and error. By comparison, the speed of the new approach will allow scientists to “see” what is happening at the molecular level and create whatever kind of sensor they want by rational design. This will improve the study of everything from cell metabolism to nerve impulses, how a flu virus infects a person, or how a malignant tumor spreads.

“For decades, to create the sensors we have now, people have been largely shooting in the dark,” Fang said. “This is a fundamental breakthrough in how to create biosensors for medical research from the bottom up. It’s like daylight has finally come.”

The technology, for instance, can follow the proton transfer associated with the movement of calcium ions – one of the most basic aspects of almost all living systems, and also one of the fastest. This movement of protons is integral to everything from respiration to cell metabolism and even plant photosynthesis.  Scientists will now be able to identify what is going on, one step at a time, and then use that knowledge to create customized biosensors for improved imaging of life processes.

“If you think of this in photographic terms,” Fang said, “we now have a camera fast enough to capture the molecular dance of life. We’re making molecular movies. And with this, we’re going to be able to create sensors that answer some important, new questions in biophysics, biochemistry, materials science and biomedical problems.”

The research was supported by OSU, the University of Alberta, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Chong Fang, 541-737-6704

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



Molecular movies

Categories: Research news

Research may yield new ways to treat antibiotic-resistant TB

News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 8:53am
06/27/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

OSU researchers are making progress toward new drugs to treat tuberculosis, which are badly needed as problems increase with antibiotic resistance.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists in the United States and India have successfully modified the precursor to one of the drugs used to treat tuberculosis, an important first step toward new drugs that can transcend antibiotic resistance issues that experts consider a serious threat to global health.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, indicate that a new compound, 24-desmethylrifampicin, has much better antibacterial activity than rifampicin against multi-drug-resistant strains of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

Rifampicin and related drugs are important antibiotics, the key to an effective “drug cocktail” that already takes about six months of treatment to cure tuberculosis, even if everything goes well. But two forms of tuberculosis, referred to as “multi-drug-resistant,” or MDR, and “extensively drug-resistant,” or XDR, have become resistant to rifampicin.

In 1993, resurging levels of tuberculosis due to this antibiotic resistance led the World Health Organization to declare it a global health emergency. Today more than 1 million people around the world are dying each year from tuberculosis, and after AIDS it remains the second most common cause of death by infectious disease.

“We believe these findings are an important new avenue toward treatment of multi-drug-resistant TB,” said Taifo Mahmud, a professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, and a corresponding author on the new publication.

“Rifampicin is the most effective drug against tuberculosis, and it’s very difficult to achieve a cure without it,” Mahmud said. “The approach we’re using should be able to create one or more analogs that could help take the place of rifampicin in TB therapy.”

A combination of genetic modification and synthetic drug development was used to create the new compound, which so far has only been developed in laboratory, not commercial quantities. Further development and testing will be necessary before it is ready for human use, researchers said.

Drug resistance in rifampicin and related antibiotics has occurred when their bacterial RNA polymerase enzymes mutate, Mahmud said, leaving them largely unaffected by antibiotics that work by inhibiting RNA synthesis. The new approach works by modifying the drug so it can effectively bind to this mutated enzyme and once again achieve its effectiveness.

“We found out how the antibiotic-producing bacteria make this compound, and then genetically modified that system to remove one part of the backbone of the molecule,” Mahmud said. “Understanding this whole process should allow us to create not just this one, but a range of different analogs that can be tested for their efficacy as new antibiotics.”

In human history and before the advent of antibiotics, tuberculosis was one of the great infectious disease killers in the world. At its peak in the 1800s in Europe, it was the cause of death of one in four people. It’s still a major concern in the developing world, where drugs are often not available to treat it, and it often causes death in tandem with HIV infection.

As the bacterial strains of this disease that are multi- or extensively-drug-resistant increase in number, so too does the difficulty of treating it. Instead of a six-month regimen, these drug-resistant strains can take 18 months to several years to treat, with antibiotics that are more toxic and less effective.

Collaborators on this research were from the University of Delhi and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India. The research has been supported by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon.

The approach used in this research “holds great potential to generate more rifamycin analogs to combat the threat of MDR strains of M. tuberculosis, and/or other life-threatening pathogens,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

College of Pharmacy Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Taifo Mahmud, 541-737-9679

Categories: Research news

Storksdieck to head OSU STEM Learning Research Center

News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 4:35pm
06/25/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Martin Storksdieck has been named head of the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Martin Storksdieck, an international leader in the study of how people of all ages learn “STEM” subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics both in and out of school, has been named head of the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning at Oregon State University.

This unique research center, online at http://stem.science.oregonstate.edu, was established two years ago to study how individuals with diverse life circumstances and identities become lifelong STEM learners, practitioners and researchers.

Storksdieck does research on voluntary, or “free choice” learning, and how learning is connected to behaviors, identities and beliefs. He recently served as director of the board on science education at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

“I am delighted to join OSU and honored to be given the opportunity to shape the Center’s focus,” Storksdieck said. “In my new role I will help create a strong OSU community around STEM learning research that is of national and international significance.”

Generic OSU Source: 

Julie Risien, 541-737-8664

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



Martin Storksdieck

Categories: Research news

NSF awards $200,000 to develop technology to treat sepsis, a global killer

News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 1:57pm
06/25/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Technology created at OSU may one day help prevent sepsis and save thousands of lives around the world.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The National Science Foundation has just awarded $200,000 to engineers at Oregon State University who have developed a new technology that they believe could revolutionize the treatment and prevention of sepsis.

Sepsis is a “hidden killer” that in the United States actually kills more people every year than AIDS, prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.

More commonly called “blood poisoning,” sepsis can quickly turn a modest infection into a whole-body inflammation, based on a dysfunctional immune response to endotoxins that are released from the cell walls of bacteria. When severe, this can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

When treatment is begun early enough, sepsis can sometimes be successfully treated with antibiotics. But they are not always effective and the mortality rate for the condition is still 28-50 percent. About one in every four people in a hospital emergency room is there because of sepsis, and millions of people die from it around the world every year, according to reports in the New England Journal of Medicine and other studies.

In pioneering research, OSU experts have used microchannel technology and special coatings to create a small device through which blood could be processed, removing the problematic endotoxins and preventing sepsis. Several recent professional publications have reported on their progress.

“More work remains to be done, and the support from the National Science Foundation will be instrumental in that,” said Adam Higgins, principal investigator on the grant and an assistant professor in the OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. “When complete, we believe this technology will treat sepsis effectively at low cost, or even prevent it when used as a prophylactic treatment.”

This technology may finally offer a way to tackle sepsis other than antibiotics, the researchers said.

“This doesn’t just kill bacteria and leave floating fragments behind, it sticks to and removes the circulating bacteria and endotoxin particles that might help trigger a sepsis reaction,” said Karl Schilke, the OSU Callahan Faculty Scholar in Chemical Engineering.

“We hope to emboss the device out of low-cost polymers, so it should be inexpensive enough that it can be used once and then discarded,” Schilke said. “The low cost would also allow treatment even before sepsis is apparent. Anytime there’s a concern about sepsis developing – due to an injury, a wound, an operation, or an infection – you could get ahead of the problem.”

“A big part of the problem with sepsis is that it moves so rapidly,” said Joe McGuire, professor and head of the OSU Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. “By the time it’s apparent what the problem is, it’s often too late to treat it.

“If given early enough, antibiotics and other treatments can sometimes, but not always, stop this process,” McGuire said. “Once these bacterial fragments are in the blood stream the antibiotics won’t always work. You can have successfully eradicated the living bacteria even as you’re dying.”

The approach being developed at the OSU College of Engineering is to move blood through a very small processor, about the size of a coffee mug, and literally grab the endotoxins and remove them.

Microchannels make this possible. They can provide accelerated heat and mass transfer as fluids move through tiny tubes the width of a human hair. Applications are already being studied in everything from heat exchangers to solar energy. They can be produced in mass quantity at low cost, stamped onto a range of metals or plastics, and used to process a large volume of liquid in a comparatively short time.

In the system developed at Oregon State, blood can be pumped through thousands of microchannels that are coated with what researchers call “pendant polymer brushes,” with repeating chains of carbon and oxygen atoms anchored on the surface. This helps prevent blood proteins and cells from sticking or coagulating. On the end of each pendant chain is a peptide – or bioactive agent – that binds tightly to the endotoxin and removes it from the blood, which then goes directly back to the patient.

Sepsis is fairly common. It can develop after an injury from an automobile accident, a dirty wound, an extended operation in a hospital that carries a risk of infection, or infectious illnesses in people with weak or compromised immune systems.

In the U.S., more than $20 billion was spent on this problem in 2011. It’s the single most expensive cause of health problems that require hospitalization.

College of Engineering Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Adam Higgins, 541-737-6245

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



Sepsis device

Categories: Research news

Study links Greenland ice sheet collapse, sea level rise 400,000 years ago

News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 10:03am
06/25/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

A new study suggests that a warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold, raising global sea levels some 4-6 meters.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study suggests that a warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold, resulting in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland and raising global sea levels some 4-6 meters.

The study is one of the first to zero in on how the vast Greenland ice sheet responded to warmer temperatures during that period, which were caused by changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

Results of the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, are being published this week in the journal Nature.

“The climate 400,000 years ago was not that much different than what we see today, or at least what is predicted for the end of the century,” said Anders Carlson, an associate professor at Oregon State University and co-author on the study. “The forcing was different, but what is important is that the region crossed the threshold allowing the southern portion of the ice sheet to all but disappear.

“This may give us a better sense of what may happen in the future as temperatures continue rising,” Carlson added.

Few reliable models and little proxy data exist to document the extent of the Greenland ice sheet loss during a period known as the Marine Isotope Stage 11. This was an exceptionally long warm period between ice ages that resulted in a global sea level rise of about 6-13 meters above present. However, scientists have been unsure of how much sea level rise could be attributed to Greenland, and how much may have resulted from the melting of Antarctic ice sheets or other causes.

To find the answer, the researchers examined sediment cores collected off the coast of Greenland from what is called the Eirik Drift. During several years of research, they sampled the chemistry of the glacial stream sediment on the island and discovered that different parts of Greenland have unique chemical features. During the presence of ice sheets, the sediments are scraped off and carried into the water where they are deposited in the Eirik Drift.

“Each terrain has a distinct fingerprint,” Carlson noted. “They also have different tectonic histories and so changes between the terrains allow us to predict how old the sediments are, as well as where they came from. The sediments are only deposited when there is significant ice to erode the terrain. The absence of terrestrial deposits in the sediment suggests the absence of ice.

“Not only can we estimate how much ice there was,” he added, “but the isotopic signature can tell us where ice was present, or from where it was missing.”

This first “ice sheet tracer” utilizes strontium, lead and neodymium isotopes to track the terrestrial chemistry.

The researchers’ analysis of the scope of the ice loss suggests that deglaciation in southern Greenland 400,000 years ago would have accounted for at least four meters – and possibly up to six meters – of global sea level rise. Other studies have shown, however, that sea levels during that period were at least six meters above present, and may have been as much as 13 meters higher.

Carlson said the ice sheet loss likely went beyond the southern edges of Greenland, though not all the way to the center, which has not been ice-free for at least one million years.

In their Nature article, the researchers contrasted the events of Marine Isotope Stage 11 with another warming period that occurred about 125,000 years ago and resulted in a sea level rise of 5-10 meters. Their analysis of the sediment record suggests that not as much of the Greenland ice sheet was lost – in fact, only enough to contribute to a sea level rise of less than 2.5 meters.

“However, other studies have shown that Antarctica may have been unstable at the time and melting there may have made up the difference,” Carlson pointed out.

The researchers say the discovery of an ice sheet tracer that can be documented through sediment core analysis is a major step to understanding the history of ice sheets in Greenland – and their impact on global climate and sea level changes. They acknowledge the need for more widespread coring data and temperature reconstructions.

“This is the first step toward more complete knowledge of the ice history,” Carlson said, “but it is an important one.”

Lead author on the Nature study is Alberto Reyes, who worked as a postdoctoral researcher for Carlson when both were at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Carlson is now on the faculty in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Anders Carlson, 541-737-3625; acarlson@coas.oregonstate.edu

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 

 

Categories: Research news

OSU gains state’s first accredited school of public health

News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 8:57am
06/24/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Oregon State University's College of Public Health and Human Sciences is the first school of public health in Oregon to earn accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences was granted accreditation today, making it the first school of public health in Oregon to earn that recognition.

The accreditation, from the Council on Education for Public Health, means OSU has the only accredited school of public health between San Francisco and Seattle. The distinction elevates the College of Public Health and Human Sciences’ visibility and stature, increases its ability to attract and retain committed students and world-class faculty, and helps the college continue its mission of education, research and outreach, OSU officials say. The recognition also allows the college to support a qualified work force in Oregon and beyond.

The college is a leader in efforts to redesign and integrate the public health curriculum. Harvard and Columbia University are among the handful of other accredited schools in the United States using this approach. At Oregon State, faculty members already work across disciplines in public health and the human sciences.

“Integration is where the future of public health is headed,” said Tammy Bray, dean of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “We believe a life-span, interdisciplinary approach will make the greatest impact on society’s most complex public health issues, which don’t come in discipline-shaped blocks.”

Helping Oregonians become healthier at all stages of life, with an emphasis on prevention and outreach, is a central focus of the college.

“Our faculty in OSU Extension, including programs in 4-H and Family and Community Health, have worked with their neighbors in every county in Oregon for 100 years to create local solutions to their health challenges,” Bray said. “Of the nation’s 50-plus schools of public health, we’re the only one with that level of community outreach built in.”

Bray said receiving accreditation means that experts in the field of public health agree that the College of Public Health and Human Sciences is of high quality; has the curriculum, faculty and resources needed to continue meeting high standards; and produces graduates that have the knowledge and skills to succeed in their fields.

The council awarded the College of Public Health and Human Sciences a five-year accreditation, the maximum granted. The decision follows an extensive and rigorous review of the college’s academic programs that took more than four years to complete. The college’s accreditation will be up for review and renewal in 2019.

“This accreditation establishes our role as a credible leader in public health in Oregon and beyond,” Bray said. “It comes at a time when a spotlight is on the public’s health like never before, and we are uniquely positioned to work with our communities in creating healthy environments that enhance lifelong health and well-being.”

This year, the college extended its reach beyond state and national borders by launching the new Center for Global Health, which joins three existing research centers – the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families; the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health; and the Center for Healthy Aging Research.

The college serves more than 3,500 undergraduate and 300 graduate students, and its alumni go on to work in a variety of positions in high-demand health care settings, including federal and state health agencies, hospitals and clinics, community organizations, county health departments, non-governmental organizations and many more.

“Public health is an increasingly relevant and vital profession. At OSU, enrollment in our public health programs is up 116 percent over the last five years, a trend that’s still on the rise,” Bray said.

“That’s a good thing for the public, because more than three times the number of current public health graduates is needed to meet the health needs of the future,” she said. “Our graduates will be well prepared to work collaboratively to solve current and emerging public health challenges not only in Oregon but across the globe.”

About the Council on Education for Public Health: The council is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs that prepare students for careers in public health. The primary professional degree in these programs is the Master of Public Health.

Editor's Note: Video b-roll is available to download for use with this news release: http://health.oregonstate.edu/broll/accreditation

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Tammy Bray, 541-737-3256, tammy.bray@oregonstate.edu

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Dean Tammy Bray



Norm Hord (left) is the Celia Strickland and G. Kenneth Austin III Endowed Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Categories: Research news

Artisan cheese startups face six-digit costs, finds OSU study

News - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 9:48am
06/23/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Aspiring artisan cheese makers should be prepared to shell out at least $250,000 to set up operations, according to an Oregon State University study.

OSU researchers developed a tool for predicting artisan cheese startup and operating costs based on a number of factors, including types of milk (like goat, cow and sheep), cheese types (such as cheddar, blue and mozzarella), labor expenses, creamery location, marketing; and even the fuel needed to transport products to farmers markets.

"We wanted to give cheese entrepreneurs a realistic idea about what they're getting into," said Lisbeth Goddik, a food science and technology professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences and co-author of the study. “In this industry, lack of economic data has sometimes made it difficult to craft a business plan, obtain financing and plan for the future.”

OSU's study is the first to estimate costs for Oregon artisan cheese makers, Goddik pointed out. OSU researchers interviewed large- and small-scale cheese companies in Oregon and studied their expenses.

They found that a large-scale artisan cheese company producing 60,000 pounds a year faces startup costs of $623,874, assuming the company purchases its own processing and aging facilities. First-year operation costs are an additional $620,094, the researchers estimated.

A smaller operation producing 7,500 pounds a year would spend about $267,248 to set up processing and aging operations, with a first-year production cost of $65,245.

"Since profits are unlikely in the first few years, access to sufficient capital is critical to survival," said Cathy Durham, an applied economics professor at OSU who works at OSU's Food Innovation Center in Portland. She also is a co-author of the study.

"Despite the challenges,” Goddik added, “the industry is active.”

In Oregon, the number of artisan cheese manufacturers jumped from three in 1999 to 20 in 2014, according to dairy plant licenses with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).

OSU's economic model is adaptable so cheese makers around the world can tailor it to their location and account for other attributes that affect cost. OSU researchers have used the tool in consulting with Oregon cheese startups, as well as artisan cheese entrepreneurs from Canada, Europe and New Zealand.

Goddik provides training for all levels of artisan cheese makers, including improvements in product quality, shelf life and safety. She consults closely with them to solve specific challenges and serves as a technical liaison with the ODA's Food Safety Division.

Goddik, Durham and former OSU graduate student Andrea Bouma co-authored the study, which was published in the Journal of Dairy Science. The study was funded by the Eckelman Endowment at OSU.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Lisbeth Goddik, 541-737-8322; Cathy Durham, 503-872-6671

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 



Five-pound rounds of "Sublimity" cheese sit in an aging facility at the Oregon Gourmet cheese plant in Albany, Oregon. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)



Cheese ages at Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese in Molalla. Oregon is home to 20 artisan cheese manufacturers. (Photo by Tiffany Woods.)

Categories: Research news

Ron Adams named interim research VP at OSU

News - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 3:55pm
06/20/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Oregon State University has named Ron Adams as interim vice president for Research, effective July 1.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has named Ron Adams as interim vice president for Research, effective July 1.

Adams, former dean of the College of Engineering at OSU, has spent the past three years as executive associate vice president for research at Oregon State – a new position designed to boost the university’s partnerships with industry and spin out more companies based on Oregon State’s research discoveries.

He succeeds Rick Spinrad, who accepted a position as chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington, D.C.

“This is an important leadership position for Oregon State at a time of exceptional research growth for the university,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “I look forward to working with Ron as we advance OSU’s research activities and begin a national search for a new vice president.”

Adams leads the OSU Advantage program, which helps commercialize innovations, launch new companies, connect existing business with faculty expertise and student talent, and provide Oregon with the work-ready graduates needed for economic progress.

“This Advantage effort remains important to OSU's mission and strategy and we will expand its impact in the coming year,” Adams said. “In a broader sense, the collaborative culture of OSU will continue to create opportunities to increase the university's impact through discoveries from major research programs like the National Science Foundation Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry.”

“We will increase our efforts to help foster these opportunities by working with faculty across disciplines in order to address major challenges such as of health and wellness, food/water safety and security, impacts of climate change on forests and other natural resources, and the availability of clean energy.”

Prior to his appointment as executive associate vice president, Adams was the engineering dean for 13 years, leading the college through a period of remarkable growth. The College of Engineering doubled the size of its Ph.D. program, tripled its research funding and helped spin off more than a dozen companies.

Before returning to OSU as dean after a previous stint on the faculty, Adams worked at Tektronix for more than 14 years, including serving as vice president of technology and as a senior Tektronix fellow.

Adams earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from OSU and his M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served in the U.S. Air Force and worked at MIT Lincoln Labs before joining the OSU faculty as an assistant, and then associate professor of mechanical engineering. He took a leave from OSU to lead a team at Tektronix working on developing color printing technologies.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Ed Ray, 541-737-4133; ed.ray@oregonstate.edu

Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: 


Ron Adams

Categories: Research news

New ‘Philosophy of Phish’ course at OSU aims to engage students in curriculum

News - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 10:41am
06/19/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

Stephanie Jenkins plans to explore the relationship between philosophy, music and social change with her students in a new course on the band Phish. 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In an effort to make a challenging curriculum more accessible and engaging for students, a professor at Oregon State University will teach a philosophy course on the band Phish this summer.

Stephanie Jenkins, an assistant professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts at OSU, plans to explore the relationship between philosophy, music and social change with her students in a course she has dubbed “Philosophy School of Phish.”

“I have to find what students are passionate about in order to speak to them about philosophy,” Jenkins said. “Phish, or any pop culture topic, elicits interest and engages them. It’s really about teaching effectively in ways that students will remember and use for the rest of their lives.”

The course begins June 23 and runs for eight weeks. It is a distance education course offered online through Oregon State University Ecampus and enrollment is not limited to Oregon State students. Phish fans from all over the country could participate in the course. For information, visit http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/.

The course, a special section of PHL 360: Philosophy and the Arts, was designed as a philosophy of music class. Other musicians could easily be substituted as case studies, but Jenkins chose Phish because she’s a fan and is familiar with the group’s large and loyal following.

“One of the benefits of doing a rigorous philosophical study of a band is that it gives students tools to articulate why they like the concerts and how the band’s music has philosophical and spiritual components,” Jenkins said.

The practice of philosophy involves exploring questions about ethics, politics, beauty and more. Students learn to clarify and articulate their own beliefs, analyze ideas and acquire critical thinking skills.

Along with required readings from philosophers such as Kant, Tolstoy and Nietzsche, students in Jenkins’ class will be required to attend Phish concerts during the band’s summer tour or watch them via webcasts online. The experiential component is critical to engaging students with the curriculum, Jenkins said.

“I can lecture forever, but they’ll never remember it,” she said. “When you give students an experience, you give them a basis for relating to the content. It’s like field work.”

Phish is known for improvising and blending elements of a variety of musical genres. Fans follow the group from concert to concert and each show can vary widely as the musicians improvise. The band, which was founded in the 1980s, is releasing a new album later this month and will launch a new tour July 1 in Massachusetts. Other stops include New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and more. 

Jenkins will follow the tour. She’ll attend concerts, teach, conduct research on the practice of public philosophy and hold philosophy events at concert venues along the way. Students from outside Oregon who are taking the course online would have a chance to meet their professor in person during the tour.

The public events also are an opportunity for Jenkins to discuss Phish and the philosophy of music with fans or anyone else who might to join in the discussion.

“It’s a way for people to engage in academic conversations and maybe inspire people to actually read philosophy,” she said. “Today, we think of philosophy as something really abstract that scholars do. But Socrates and others did philosophy in the city, in the public square.”

To find out more about the public events, visit Jenkins’ website, http://philosophyschoolofphish.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @scjenkins.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Stephanie Jenkins, 541-737-6517, Stephanie.jenkins@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU seeks participants for new health promotion program

News - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 9:53am
06/19/2014 Thumbnail:  Promote to OSU home page:  Not Promote to the OSU home page Teaser: 

The program is aimed at people ages 18 and older who have limited mobility and is part of a research project on how physical activity of people with a mobility disability.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers who are organizing Physical Activity Centered Education, a new health promotion program aimed at people with physical mobility issues, are seeking participants from the Corvallis area.

Megan MacDonald, assistant professor in exercise and sport science at Oregon State University, is creating the program based on a successful model developed at a medical facility in Texas.

The program is aimed at people ages 18 and older who have limited mobility – defined as having difficulty walking one block, or using an assistive device such as a walker, cane or wheelchair.

Participants must be able to communicate in English, attend the program once a week for 90 minutes during an eight-week period, and will receive up to $75 for taking part. It will take place in the Movement Studies in Disabilities Lab in the Women’s Building on the OSU campus.

This is part of a research project on how a health promotion program can influence the physical activity of people with a mobility disability. It helps people learn social and behavioral skills to become healthier, such as setting goals, rewarding themselves for making their goals, and how to overcome barriers to being healthy and active.

To learn more information on qualifications for the program and to sign up to participate, email health.disability@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6928.

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Megan MacDonald, 541-737-6928; megan.macdonald@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Contact Info

Research Office
Oregon State University
A312 Kerr Administration
Corvallis, OR
97331-2140
Phone 541-737-3467
Fax 541-737-9041
Copyright ©  2014 Oregon State University
Disclaimer

Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development

Office of Sponsored Programs

OSU Advantage

Incentive Programs