Oregon State University

Research news

Annual Klatowa Eena Powwow set at OSU

News - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 10:15am
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Oregon State University’s 38th annual Klatowa Eena Powwow will take place on Saturday, May 17, in Gill Coliseum on campus. 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s 38th annual Klatowa Eena Powwow will take place on Saturday, May 17, in Gill Coliseum on campus.

Grand Entry takes place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Host Drum is the Blacklodge Singers; Honor Drum is Little River Singers. Emcee is Nick Sixkiller.

In addition to the powwow, the annual salmon bake takes place in the Memorial Union quad from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, May 16.  A meet and greet at the Eena Haws Native American Longhouse will follow at 5 p.m. The longhouse is located at 311 S.W. 26th St.

The meet and greet will feature the 1491s, a Native American sketch comedy group. The 1491s will also perform May 17 during the powwow, beginning at 5 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

For additional information: http://oregonstate.edu/nal/

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Eena Haws Native American Longhouse: 541-737-2783 

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Categories: Research news

Engineering Expo to showcase student projects

News - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 4:13pm
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The 15th annual Engineering Expo on Friday, May 16, will feature a wide range of student projects from all engineering disciplines.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 15th annual Engineering Expo featuring student projects from across all engineering disciplines will be held Friday, May 16, at the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

The event showcases nearly 200 student-built projects, including at least 30 that focus on sustainability and 50 industry-sponsored projects. Also featured are a Robo*Palooza, an award-winning Mars rover, and First robots. The event is free and open to the public, and will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kelley Engineering Center.

More information is available online at http://engineering.oregonstate.edu/expo2014, or by calling 541-737-3101. Follow the Expo on Twitter at #EngrExpo2014.

The various displays offer an exciting learning opportunity for anyone, organizers say, and may be of particular interest to high school students who are considering a career in engineering.

"The Expo is a collaborative and hands-on experience that helps our graduates transition seamlessly into their careers, and offers immediate value to their employers in today’s competitive job market," said Scott Ashford, dean of the College of Engineering. “It demonstrates the importance of research and industry-university partnership in creating top-notch engineering talent.” 

Among the various displays will be:

  • A campus shuttle tracking app that provides real-time locations on your phone, making it easier to park and get around campus;
  • A segmented radius solar collector that will significantly improve solar energy collection for remote locations;
  • An irrigation system to transport water for agricultural use to the Valley of Peace in Belize; 
  • A student-built rocket for the 2014 Intercollegiate Rocketry Engineering Competition;
  • An ordinary cell phone that can detect gamma radiation with the built-in light sensor.
College of Engineering Media Contact: 

Abby Metzger, 541-737-3295

Source: 

Scott Ashford

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Engineering Expo

Categories: Research news

White House appoints OSU’s Spinrad as NOAA’s chief scientist

News - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 3:55pm
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The White House announced today the appointment of Rick Spinrad, vice president for research at OSU, as chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The White House announced today the appointment of Richard (Rick) Spinrad, the vice president for research at Oregon State University since July 2010, as chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Spinrad will resign from his position as vice president and take a leave of absence from the Oregon State faculty to accept the NOAA appointment, which begins in July. He is a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

As NOAA’s chief scientist, Spinrad will help drive the policy and program direction for all science and technology priorities at the agency and advise NOAA Administrator Kathy Sullivan and agency program leaders on research matters.

“I am honored to be appointed to this position at such a critical time,” Spinrad said. “The issues that NOAA is addressing relate to natural hazards, resource management and the optimal application of research to solve problems. Being asked to help guide the agency’s scientific agenda is a humbling and exciting opportunity.”

OSU President Edward J. Ray praised Spinrad, and pointed to the long list of Oregon State faculty and administrators who recently have held high-ranking federal appointments, including former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and others.

“Rick Spinrad has provided exceptional leadership to the university’s research enterprise,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “He has successfully increased our research partnerships with industry, spearheaded the drive for a marine studies campus in Newport, and helped OSU secure a major grant to design and oversee the construction of as many as three new ships for the United States research fleet.

“We will miss his many contributions, but we know that he will make an outstanding addition to the NOAA administration.”

Under Spinrad’s leadership, the last fiscal year was OSU’s best ever in technology licensing as the university signed 88 new licenses with organizations in the fields of information technology, agriculture, industrial materials, biotechnology, forest products, healthy aging and manufacturing. OSU also received a record $7.7 million in licensing and royalty income, and research funding from the private sector reached $36 million – a 65 percent increase over the last five years.

A key component of OSU’s growth in industry partnerships under Spinrad was the launch of a new initiative in January 2013 called the Oregon State University Advantage, which is designed to boost the university’s impact on job creation and economic progress in Oregon and beyond. The program has increased access by private industry to OSU’s faculty and researchers and allows companies to take better advantage of the university’s unique capabilities.

Spinrad also played an integral role in the launch of the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network known as Oregon RAIN and the selection of OSU – along with public and private partners in Alaska and Hawaii – to run a center to investigate the civilian use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

He also was a member of the Corvallis Economic Development Commission.

“It was a difficult decision to leave OSU at this time,” Spinrad said. “Our success in research of late and the exciting prospects for the university’s future are testimony to the extraordinary skills and capabilities of our faculty, staff, students and administrators. I will watch OSU’s continued growth with a sense of confidence and pride in the university community.”

Before coming to OSU, Spinrad was assistant administrator for research at NOAA. He also has been the research director for the U.S. Navy; taught oceanography at two universities; directed a major national non-profit organization; was president of a private company; and worked as a research scientist.

Spinrad received his master’s (1978) and doctoral (1982) degrees in oceanography from OSU.

An interim vice president for OSU research will be appointed in the near future.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Rick Spinrad, 541-737-0662; rick.spinrad@oregonstate.edu; Steve Clark, 503-502-8217; steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

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Rick Spinrad

Categories: Research news

Exact outline of melanoma could lead to new diagnostic tools, therapies

News - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 1:27pm
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OSU pharmacy researchers have discovered a biochemical process that can cause normal skin cells to turn into cancerous melanoma cells.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University have identified a specific biochemical process that can cause normal and healthy skin cells to transform into cancerous melanoma cells, which should help predict melanoma vulnerability and could also lead to future therapies.

More than 70,000 cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, develop in the U.S. every year.

The work was published today in PLoS Genetics, in work supported by the National Institutes of Health.

“We believe this is a breakthrough in understanding exactly what leads to cancer formation in melanoma,” said Arup Indra, an associate professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy. “We’ve found that some of the mechanisms which ordinarily prevent cancer are being switched around and actually help promote it.

“In melanoma, the immune system is getting thrown into reverse,” he said. “Immune cells that previously were attracted to help deal with a problem are instead repulsed.”

The key to this process, the researchers said, is a protein called retinoid-X-receptor, or RXR. When present in an adequate amount, the RXR protein aids the proper operation of the immune response in the skin. Primary players in this are skin cells called melanocytes, which produce protective pigments, or melanin, in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight – in simple terms, a suntan.

Even with this protection, however, both melanocytes and other skin cells called keratinocytes routinely suffer genetic damage. Sometimes the damage can be repaired, and at other times the immune response – in the presence of adequate levels of RXR in the melanocytes – will kill the defective skin cells before they become malignant.

When expressed levels of RXR are too low in the melanocytes, however, this protective process breaks down. The chemicals that can help control mutated cells are actually suppressed, and the conditions for cancer promoted. DNA-mutated melanocytes begin to thrive at the same time other skin cells die and free up space for the growing, mutating melanocytes. The ultimate result can be the malignancy known as melanoma, which in turn can spread from the skin throughout the body.

“When there isn’t enough RXR, the melanocytes that exist to help shield against cancer ultimately become part of the problem,” Indra said. “It’s routine to have genetic damage from sunlight, because normally those cells can be repaired or killed if necessary. It’s the breakdown of these control processes that result in cancer, and that happens when RXR levels get too low.”

This process has not before been outlined in its entirety, Indra said, and the new findings open several possibilities. One would be a diagnostic test to determine when RXR levels are lower than they should be – which would set the stage for melanoma and possibly other cancers, but also with careful monitoring facilitate earlier diagnosis.

Beyond that, mechanisms may be developed to stabilize or stimulate the levels of RXR expression, and form the basis for a therapy. This might be done through diet or a “nanocarrier” drug that could deliver RXR to cells, Indra said.

“It’s quite possible that a new and effective therapy can now be developed, based on increasing levels of RXR,” Indra said.

Researchers in France and at the Knight Cancer Institute of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore., contributed to this research.

College of Pharmacy Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Arup Indra, 541-737-5775

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Melanoma formation

Categories: Research news

OSU’s Mote part of national climate report

News - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 10:18am
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OSU's Philip Mote co-authored the National Climate Assessment report’s Northwest chapter and served on the advisory committee for the overall report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama on Tuesday released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive report to date on how climate change is affecting the United States.

The report concludes that the Northwest United States may experience warmer temperatures; increased occurrences of troubling phenomena such as major wildfires, ocean acidification and coastal erosion; and potentially dramatic changes to its agriculture and ecosystems.

Oregon State University’s Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, co-authored the report’s Northwest chapter and served on the advisory committee for the overall report.

One important potential impact is dwindling mountain snow, according to Mote. “Climate models continue to project snow will melt earlier in the season.”

Climate scenarios for the Northwest disagree on exactly how precipitation will change in the future. However, most scientists agree that as the Northwest warms, the region will see more rain and less snow.

 “This decrease in snowpack is potentially troubling for many communities that rely on snowpack for agriculture and municipal water,” Mote said.

Mote, who was in Washington D.C. for the release of the report, said the region’s snow loss is due to increasing temperatures, which could rise in the northwest by anywhere from 3.3 to 9.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, according to the report.

“Changes in climate include a drying trend in the summer months, which will complicate the agriculture sector,” said University of Idaho agriculture researcher Sanford Eigenbrode, coauthor on the Northwest chapter.

Eigenbrode said Northwest farmers could see their crops threatened due to drought and extreme heat.

Major changes to the Northwest’s forests are expected by the 2040s, according to the report.

“A lot of the new research we present has to do with projected changes in ecosystems due to disturbances from fire, insect mortality in forests and how vegetation might change due to climate,” said Jeremy Littell, a research ecologist at the Department of Interior’s Alaska Climate Science Center and another chapter co-author.

Littell said many of the changes that are expected for Northwest forests could happen quickly.

“We often think of vegetation change as slow, but one point we make in the chapter is, given the rate of disturbance in the Northwest, we think the systems will change faster than we otherwise would expect,” Littell said.

Other potential changes covered by the report include what is referred to as ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification is the popular name for the process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean making the world’s seawater less basic and hence more difficult for animals such as oysters to construct their calcium carbonate shells.

Ocean acidification is expected to increase along the Northwest’s coasts, according to the report.

“The coast is one of those areas where risk is going to be focused,” said Amy Snover, director of the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington and another co-author.

Global sea levels have risen by eight inches since that late 1800s. Worldwide, sea levels are projected to rise by another 1-4 feet by the end of the century.

In the Northwest, sea levels are rising slightly slower than the world average due to the region’s unique tectonic geology, which has been slowly raising the Northwest coastline. However, this will not last forever, Snover said.

“The point is sea level rise will be different in different places, but under pretty much all scenarios the rising sea will exceed what’s been seen before and it will do so at an accelerating rate,” Snover said. 

Rising sea levels are expected to increase erosion of the region’s beaches and affect coastal ecosystems and communities. 

Snover said the report’s Northwest chapter represents just a quick snapshot of the climate research and data that is now available.

“The good news is we know a lot about what to expect from climate change – this report and the attention that is coming to it is an opportunity to highlight that,” Snover said.

In December, Mote, Snover and OCCRI’s Meghan Dalton, published a 270-page assessment report covering the northwest. The report, Climate Change in the Northwest, further details the findings in the Northwest chapter.

The report’s national findings conclude climate change is caused primarily by human activity. The report states the impacts of climate change are already widespread across the United States. These impacts – which include effects to infrastructure, agriculture and human health – will persist as extreme storms, droughts and high temperatures are projected to continue into the future, according to the report.

The report notes adaptation to climate change is becoming more prevalent across the country.     

Climate Change in the Northwest is available through Island Press or can be downloaded from occri.net. The third U.S. National Climate Assessment can be found on the White House website and on nca2014.globalchange.gov

 

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact: 

Nathan Gilles, 541-737-5703

Source: 

Philip Mote, 541-737-5694; pmote@coas.oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU solar projects provide cost savings, reduce carbon emissions

News - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 10:40am
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Oregon State University this spring has brought the largest of its ground-mounted solar arrays online as part of the Oregon University System’s “Solar by Degrees” program.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University this spring has brought the largest of its ground-mounted solar arrays online as part of the Oregon University System’s “Solar by Degrees” program.

The university now has three solar project sites in Corvallis covering some 10 acres collectively that have the capacity to generate more than 2.6 million kilowatt-hours of power per year. The system not only provides cost savings by providing solar energy for less than current utility power rates, it helps Oregon State reduce its carbon footprint in a way that doesn’t cost the university money up front.

The arrays were constructed and are owned and operated by SolarCity, which has worked with OSU and the Oregon Institute of Technology for several years on the Solar by Degrees programs. The company’s collaboration with OSU has not been limited to the Corvallis campus, according to Brandon Trelstad, the university’s sustainability coordinator.

“The way the partnership works is that SolarCity installs the solar arrays at no cost to the university, and OSU simply pays for solar energy that they produce – at a lower rate than they would pay for utility power,” Trelstad said.

This past fall, SolarCity completed a 431-kilowatt installation at OSU’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Experiment Station in Eastern Oregon, and another 221-kilowatt solar project at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora. Annual electrical output from all five OSU solar sites is approximately equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 255,025 gallons of gasoline or 477 passenger vehicles, according to US Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

“This is another step toward meeting OSU’s aggressive carbon emissions reduction targets,” Trelstad said. “It also saves the university money and provides some unique research and educational opportunities. Advancements like Solar by Degrees don’t come along often and I’m glad that OSU has been able to maximize our use of the groundwork laid by the Oregon University System.”

Two of the sites in Corvallis have operated for more than a year, but the latest site in Corvallis - which is located near 35th Street and Campus Way – just went online. Each installation is “grid-tied,” which means it seamlessly provides power when the sun shines and blends in utility power when it doesn’t.

At the branch Experiment Stations, the arrays not only save money, they provide an example of how solar power can work in a rural and/or agricultural setting.

“The solar array at Hermiston is expected to reduce our electricity costs by about half – a savings of about $30,000 in the first year and could increase in the future depending on electricity costs,” said Philip B. Hamm, director of the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Experiment Station.

“This allows us to provide more financial support toward our mission, which is to provide new research-based information to clients.”

Michael Bondi, director of the North Willamette Research and Extension Center located just south of Wilsonville, said the center at the end of February received its first electrical utility bill since the project was launched.

“For that month, we reduced our cost from the previous year by 50 percent,” Bondi said. “I like how that looks, especially in the middle of winter and a lot of gray days. Based on the design specs for the project, we expect to reduce our electrical usage from the grid by 80 to 85 percent each year.

“I’d say we are well on the way to that goal.”

“This will likely be the largest scale installations we complete here,” said Trelstad. “However, over the next few years, we will look for additional opportunities to install solar panels on roofs since we already have used much of the compatible ground space.”

At two of the three Corvallis installations, the College of Agricultural Sciences is grazing sheep next to the solar arrays, which is how the land previously was used. “This is a great way to optimize land use and not consume productive ground solely with solar installations,” Trelstad noted.  At the Aurora location, a bee and insect pollinator habitat area is being planned. At the Hermiston location, the area had never been used for research given its irregular shape and lack of water availability, but now benefits the campus to provide solar power in an otherwise unusable space.

More information on the arrays, including photos and electricity production information, is available at: http://oregonstate.edu/sustainability/ground-mounted-photovoltaic-arrays

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Brandon Trelstad, 541-737-3307, Brandon.trelstad@oregonstate.edu; Phil Hamm, 541-567-6337; philip.b.hamm@oregonstate.edu; Michael Bondi, 503-705-2434; Michael.bondi@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Former director of Hatfield Center Lavern Weber dies Monday

News - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 9:25am
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Lavern Weber, director of Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center for a quarter-century died Monday. He was 80.

NEWPORT, Ore. – Lavern Weber, director of Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center for a quarter-century and a leader in the development of Newport as a marine science education and research center, died Monday. He was 80.

Weber led the Newport-based OSU center from 1977 until his retirement in 2002. In addition to directing the Hatfield Center, he also served as director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies (CIMRS) and as superintendent of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES), which was the nation’s first experiment station dedicated to coastal issues.

“Lavern Weber was heavily involved in nearly everything that went on at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and in Newport, contributing significantly to these and to the OSU community,” said Robert Cowen, who now directs the Hatfield Marine Science Center. “He will be missed.”

Weber graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 1958 and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington, where he served on the faculty from 1964-69. He joined the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in 1969 and later had a faculty appointment in pharmacy and worked as assistant dean of the graduate school before moving into his role at the Newport center in 1977.

Under his leadership, the center grew as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service and Vents Programs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife became established at the OSU facility. Weber also oversaw the expansion of student and faculty housing, the remodeling of the Visitor’s Center, expanded ship operations, and construction of several buildings, including the Guin Library.

Weber received the OSU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor Award in 1992. He was president of the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation, served for a dozen years on the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Management Commission, and in 2000-01 was president of the National Association of Marine Laboratories.

“He was a wonderful citizen of Newport, participating in a variety of organizations, including chairing the board of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts,” said Janet Webster, head librarian for the Hatfield Marine Science Center. He mentored numerous graduate students and faculty in his years as a professor, director and associate dean (in the College of Agricultural Sciences). OSU and Newport will miss him.”

Plans for a memorial service will be announced later.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Maryann Bozza, 541-867-0234; Robert Cowen, 541-867-0211

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Lavern Webber

Categories: Research news

Writer Tobias Wolff to receive Stone Award from OSU

News - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 9:19am
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Award-winning American writer Tobias Wolff will receive Oregon State University’s Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement at a special event in Portland May 21.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Award-winning American writer Tobias Wolff will receive Oregon State University’s Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement  at a special event in Portland May 21.

The biennial Stone Award recognizes a major American author who has created a body of critically-acclaimed work and has mentored young writers. Wolff is the second recipient of the honor, which was established in 2011.

The award ceremony, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Art Museum, will include an on-stage interview with Wolff about his work and the presentation of the award. A reception and book-signing will follow. Tickets are required and are available at the museum’s ticket office or online: http://bit.ly/1hJXdVh.

On May 22, Wolff will appear at a free public reading, question-and-answer session and book signing at OSU’s main campus in Corvallis. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the CH2M HILL Alumni Center, 725 S.W. 26th St.

Wolff, who teaches creative writing at Stanford University, is best known for his work in two genres: the short story and the memoir. His first short story collection, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” was published in 1981. Wolff chronicled his early life in two memoirs, “In Pharaoh’s Army” (1994) and “This Boy’s Life” (1989), which was turned into a 1993 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

“Tobias Wolff is a master storyteller – generous, compassionate, keenly observant,” said Keith Scribner, a professor of English and creative writing at OSU. Scribner became friends with Wolff while he was teaching at Stanford. 

“When we read his novels, memoirs, and short stories, we come away richer for the experience in part because we know ourselves better,” Scribner said. “He is one of our nation’s preeminent writers and has mentored countless students who’ve had the good fortune to work with him.”

The Stone Award was established by Patrick and Vicki Stone to spotlight OSU’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, which is in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film. The honorarium for the award is $20,000, making it one of the most substantial awards for lifetime literary achievement offered by any university in the country. The first honoree was Joyce Carol Oates in 2012.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Keith Scribner, 541-737-1645, keith.scribner@oregonstate.edu

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Tobias Wolff

Categories: Research news

Corvallis Science Pub focuses on the future of the oceans

News - Tue, 05/06/2014 - 10:39am
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Warming ocean temperatures, rising acidity and reduced biological productivity threaten the livelihoods of about 2 billion people who depend on marine ecosystems, according to a report by an international team of 29 scientists last fall.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Warming ocean temperatures, rising acidity and reduced biological productivity threaten the livelihoods of about 2 billion people who depend on marine ecosystems, according to a report by an international team of 29 scientists last fall.

At the May 12 Corvallis Science Pub, Andrew Thurber, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University who helped to conceive the study, will discuss how the oceans are responding to a changing climate. The Science Pub presentation, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. in the Majestic Theater located at 115 S.W. Second St. in Corvallis.

“What is really sobering about these findings is that they don’t even include other impacts to the world’s oceans such as sea level rise, pollution, over-fishing, and increasing storm intensity and frequency,” he said. “All of these could compound the problem significantly.”

Thurber’s research focuses on deep-sea ecosystems, particularly the role of invertebrates in recycling nutrients and sequestering carbon. He has conducted experiments under seasonal sea ice in Antarctica and explored communities that live around methane seeps near New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Thurber received his Ph.D. from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation.

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact:  Nick Houtman Source: 

Andrew Thurber, 541-737-8251

Categories: Research news

Artist DJ Spooky to perform free concert at Oregon State

News - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 10:59am
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Composer, multimedia artist and author Paul D. Miller, also known as DJ Spooky, will perform a free concert on Friday, May 9, at Oregon State University. 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Composer, multimedia artist and author Paul D. Miller, also known as DJ Spooky, will perform a free concert on Friday, May 9, beginning at 7:30 p.m.at Oregon State University.  

Miller will be joined by OSU musicians Dana Reason and Michael Gamble. The show will be held in the Construction & Engineering Hall at the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis.

Miller is known for his genre-bending art, vast catalogue of music and work in environmental awareness and social justice. In addition to collaborating with musicians such as Chuck D, Thurston Moore and Yoko Ono, Miller has travelled the world to perform.

Miller was the first artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and his work has appeared in The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, The Venice Biennial for Architecture and other museums.

He is the executive editor of “Origin Magazine,” which focuses on the intersection of art, yoga and new ideas. He is the composer of the multimedia performance piece “Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica.” Miller also is the author of “Book of Ice,” a multimedia, multidisciplinary study of Antarctica that contemplates climate change and humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

The concert is sponsored by the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word and the College of Liberal Arts Music Department’s “Between the Cracks” series. In advance of his Corvallis appearance, Miller will be writer-in-residence for the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, which is co-sponsored by Spring Creek and the U.S. Forest Service.  

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Contact: Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198

Categories: Research news

Marijuana policy expert to give McCall Lecture

News - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 10:56am
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Mason Tvert, a leader of the campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado, will speak at Oregon State University on Tuesday, May 13.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project – and a leader of the campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado – will deliver the annual Gov. Tom McCall Memorial Lecture at Oregon State University on Tuesday, May 13.

In his lecture, “The Road to Legal Marijuana in America,” Tvert will share insights on the past, present and future of marijuana policy in the United States.

The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Construction and Engineering Hall in the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St. The lecture is free and open to the public. It is presented by the OSU College of Liberal Arts and the School of Public Policy.

As director of communications, Tvert oversees the Marijuana Policy Project’s media strategy and online outreach efforts out of the organization's Denver office. Before joining the lobbying organization, he co-directed the successful campaign in support of Amendment 64, the 2012 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

Previously, Tvert co-founded and directed Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. He is a member of the SAFER board of directors and a member of the advisory board for Marijuana Majority.

The OSU lectureship is named after Tom McCall, who was Oregon’s governor from 1967-75. Past lecturers have included several Oregon governors; Washington Post columnists David Broder and William Raspberry; political analyst Floyd McKay; Dennis Dimick of National Geographic magazine; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

David Bernell, 541-737-6281, david.bernell@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Asian & Pacific Cultural Center groundbreaking set May 5

News - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 1:59pm
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A ceremonial groundbreaking for the Oregon State University Asian & Pacific Cultural Center will take place at 3 p.m., Monday, May 5.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A ceremonial groundbreaking for the Oregon State University Asian & Pacific Cultural Center will take place at 3 p.m., Monday, May 5, in a celebration tent located in the Fairbanks Hall parking lot on Jefferson Street, just west of 26th Street.

The new center is one of four cultural centers on campus to receive a new home. It is being designed by Jones & Jones Architecture of Seattle, who also designed the other three centers, including the Eena Haws Native American Longhouse and the Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez, both of which are now open. The Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center will also be moving into a new building.

The Asian & Pacific Cultural Center has been located in an older former home on the northwest corner of campus. The new building will be built just west of the Fairbanks Hall parking lot on Jefferson Street, and just east of the new Austin Hall. Like the previous centers, the new center will include a gathering hall, a student lounge, a study area and offices as well as a kitchen and quiet space. 

For more information on the groundbreaking, visit oregonstate.edu/apcc or call 541-737-6522. A Facebook event page has been created at https://www.facebook.com/events/672401872808854/

 

A sketch of the new center can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/14083589445/

 

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Reagan Le, 541-737-6361, 

Categories: Research news

Fairbanks Gallery at OSU to exhibit work of artist Royal Nebeker

News - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 10:07am
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'Dreams & Memories,' an exhibit of prints and monoprints opens May 5 in the Fairbanks Gallery at Oregon State University.

“Dreams & Memories,” an exhibit of prints and monoprints by artist Royal Nebeker, opens May 5 in the Fairbanks Gallery at Oregon State University.

The gallery is located in Fairbanks Hall, 220 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and the gallery is free and open to the public. The exhibit runs through May 28.

As an artist, Nebeker creates personalized narratives based on dreams and memories, often embellished with words and notations that help tell the story. Some of his works are based on personal events, others on literature. Through powerful and enigmatic imagery, Nebeker paints what arts historian Stephen C. McGough has called a reflective journey of the artist's life, exploring such universal themes as hope, fear, joy, anguish, sexuality, spirituality, power, vulnerability and the dynamics of personal relationships.

Throughout his career, Nebeker has focused on the human figure. His work is strongly influenced by  Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, the German Expressionists, Vienna Secessionist artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and others.

A prolific painter and printmaker, he has been featured in countless solo and group exhibitions over the past four decades and his work is included in public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe.

Nebeker studied in California at the Claremont College and Otis Art Institute, earned a master of fine arts degree from Brigham Young University in 1970 and completed a post graduate degree from the National School of Fine Arts in Oslo in 1972.

College of Liberal Arts Source: 

Douglas Russell, 541-737-5009, drussell@oregonstate.edu

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"Dreamland" by Royal Nebeker



"Lone Ranger and Tonto" by Royal Nebeker

Categories: Research news

Business ethics focus of May 7 lecture at Oregon State University

News - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 9:47am
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John Hall, owner and CEO of 16 Degree Advisory, will discuss the importance of business ethics at a free public lecture at OSU. 

John Hall, owner and CEO of 16 Degree Advisory, will discuss the importance of business ethics at a free public lecture beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at Oregon State University.  

The event will be held in the Austin Auditorium at the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis.

Hall’s talk, “Making Ethical Decisions When Success Is Defined by Profits,” is part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings business leaders from across the United States to Oregon State’s campus to address a variety of today’s most relevant business topics. The series is sponsored by the OSU College of Business.

Portland-based 16 Degree Advisory delivers a compass for forward-thinking business leaders who want to bring clarity to their organizational direction, who are seeking to get more from their employees and who are looking to bring increased stability and efficiency to all business functions. Taking a new approach as a “certified” ethics and compliance professional, Hall applies a servant leadership approach toward building and growing businesses.

Before launching 16 Degree Advisory, Hall was the co-founder and owner of EthicsPoint, Inc., which later became the $100 million software company NAVEX Global, where Hall was the chief ethics and compliance officer.

College of Business Source: 

Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, Jenn.Casey@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU scientists part of national APLU report outlining research challenges

News - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 2:09pm
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Four OSU researchers played a key role in the creation and release of a report outlining six "grand challenges" facing the United States over the next decade.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The national Association of Public and Land-grant Universities released a report today outlining six “grand challenges” facing the United States over the next decade in the areas of sustainability water, climate change, agriculture, energy and education.

The APLU project was co-chaired by W. Daniel Edge, head of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. The report is available online at: http://bit.ly/1ksH2ud

The “Science, Education, and Outreach Roadmap for Natural Resources” is the first comprehensive, nationwide report on research, education and outreach needs for natural resources the country’s university community has ever attempted, Edge said.

“The report identifies critical natural resources issues that interdisciplinary research programs need to focus on over the next 5-10 years in order to address emerging challenges,” Edge noted. “We hope that policy-makers and federal agencies will adopt recommendations in the roadmap when developing near-term research priorities and strategies.”

The six grand challenges addressed in the report are: 

  • Sustainability: The need to conserve and manage natural landscapes and maintain environmental quality while optimizing renewable resource productivity to meet increasing human demands for natural resources, particularly with respect to increasing water, food, and energy demands.
  • Water: The need to restore, protect and conserve watersheds for biodiversity, water resources, pollution reduction and water security.
  • Climate Change: The need to understand the impacts of climate change on our environment, including such aspects as disease transmission, air quality, water supply, ecosystems, fire, species survival, and pest risk. Further, a comprehensive strategy is needed for managing natural resources to adapt to climate change.
  • Agriculture: The need to develop a sustainable, profitable, and environmentally responsible agriculture industry.
  • Energy: The need to identify new and alternative renewable energy sources and improve the efficiency of existing renewable resource-based energy to meet increasing energy demands while reducing the ecological footprint of energy production and consumption.
  • Education: The need to maintain and strengthen natural resources education at our schools at all levels in order to have the informed citizenry, civic leaders, and practicing professionals needed to sustain the natural resources of the United States.

 

Three other OSU researchers were co-authors on the report, including Hal Salwasser, a professor and former dean of the College of Forestry; JunJie Wu, the Emery N. Castle Endowed Chair in Resource and Rural Economics; and George Boehlert, former director of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Wu played a key role in the climate change chapter in identifying the need to better understand the tradeoffs between investing now in climate change adaptation measures versus the long-term risk of not adopting new policies.

Edge and Boehlert contributed to the energy chapter, which focuses primarily on renewable energy.

“The natural resources issues with traditional sources of energy already are well-understood,” Boehlert said, “with the possible exception of fracking. As the country moves more into renewable energy areas, there are many more uncertainties with respect to natural resources that need to be understood and addressed. There are no energy sources that do not have some environmental issues.”

Salwasser was an author on the sustainability chapter that identifies many issues associated with natural resource use, including rangelands, forestry, fisheries and wildlife and biodiversity. The authors contend the challenge is to use these resources in a sustainable manner meeting both human and ecosystem needs.

The project was sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Oregon State University, which partnered with APLU and authors from numerous institutions.

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Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Dan Edge, 541-737-2810; Daniel.edge@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU Theatre to perform ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ in May

News - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 10:01am
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Performances of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” will be begin May 8.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Theatre will present Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” at several performances in May.

The tragic and poetic tale of fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on May 8-10 and May 16-17; and at 2 p.m. on May 18 on the main stage in Withycombe Hall, 2901 S.W. Campus Way, Corvallis.

 “The masterpiece has been performed throughout the world in virtually every language because it speaks to the strength and frailty of human interactions when combat and violence too easily replace our thirst for love and caring,” said George Caldwell, director and scenic designer.

“A Streetcar Named Desire,” originally premiered in 1947 and has remained one of the most popular and memorable works in the American dramatic canon. After having lost the family estate to a series of misfortunes, the elegant and refined DuBois comes to the New Orleans French Quarter to stay with her sister, Stella.

Soon after her arrival, a vicious struggle for power erupts between the mannered Blanche and Stella’s bullying, boorish husband, Stanley Kowalski. Tensions run high as Stanley becomes obsessed with exposing Blanche’s long-buried secrets and dismantling her carefully structured persona.

The cast features OSU students Mike Beaton as Doctor; Nick Diaz-Hui as Pablo; Brian Greer as the Collector; Davey Kashuba as Mitch; J. Garrett Luna as the Piano Player; Anna Mahaffey as Blanche; Chris Peterman as Steve; Brittany Potter as Stella; Bryanna Rainwater as Eunice; Alex Reis as Stanley; Erin Wallerstein as the Nurse; and Emily Zellner-Gisler as the Flower Vendor.

Tickets are $12 for general admission; $10 seniors; $8 youth/student; and $5 for OSU students. They can be purchased at the OSU Theatre Box Office by calling 541-737-2784 or online at http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/school-arts-and-communication/theatre.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Elizabeth Helman, Elizabeth.helman@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Legacy of Oregon Gov. Tom McCall featured at Corvallis Science Pub

OSU News Releases - Tue, 11/05/2013 - 9:40am
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The late Oregon Gov. Tom McCall’s pioneering fight to clean up the state’s waterways and to control development in the late 1960s still resonates today.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The late Oregon Gov. Tom McCall’s pioneering fight to clean up the state’s waterways and to control development in the late 1960s still resonates today. At the Nov. 11 Corvallis Science Pub, Oregon State University historian Bill Robbins will discuss the significance of McCall’s leadership.

Robbins will also show McCall’s famous documentary, Pollution in Paradise, which aired on KGW-TV in 1962.

The Science Pub presentation begins at 6 p.m. in the Old World Deli located at 341 S.W. Second St. in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public. 

“With an aristocratic, East Coast family background and a large-sized ego, McCall proved himself a man of the people, one who inspired deep affection for his adopted and beloved state,” Robbins said. “In a significantly less-polarized political environment, he worked across party lines to achieve significant policy objectives that we live with to the present day.”

Robbins is an emeritus distinguished professor of history at Oregon State and the author of 12 books, including Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940 (1997); Landscapes of Conflict: The Oregon Story, 1940-2000 (2005); and Oregon: This Storied Land (2006). 

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

 

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Generic OSU Media Contact:  Nick Houtman Source: 

Bill Robbins, 541-602-3867

Categories: Research news

New 4-H program aims to prepare culturally diverse youth for college

OSU News Releases - Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:46am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – High school students will explore college and career opportunities in a new 4-H program coordinated by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

The 4-H Outreach Leadership Institute aims to prepare high school students from diverse cultural backgrounds to attend college and pursue a variety of career paths, according to organizer Mario Magaña, an outreach specialist for OSU Extension 4-H. Magaña hopes the leadership institute will reach Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and African-Americans, as well as rural Caucasians who would be first-generation college students.

It's set for Nov. 15-17 at OSU in Corvallis, with additional multi-day sessions in March of 2014 at OSU and May of 2014 at the Oregon 4-H Conference and Education Center in Salem. The leadership institute is an expansion of the former 4-H Camp Counselor Trainings and the replacement of the high school International Summer Camp.

"I really believe that high school is the time to expose kids to college information and leadership activities," Magaña said. "The leadership institute will help them gain the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to apply for competitive scholarships and to apply for top universities. If kids start attending the leadership institute during their freshman year, we're going to mentor them three times a year for every year of their high school careers."

On the OSU campus in Corvallis, students will get hands-on practice from several Oregon universities on how to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, fill out a college application, write a college admissions essay and compose a personal biography. They will learn about careers from OSU student and faculty mentors in engineering, forestry, veterinary medicine, health and nutrition, fisheries and wildlife, solar energy, wave energy, science and robotics.

The session in May in Salem will train students to become camp counselors for 4-H International Summer Camps in 2014. It will offer students activities to develop leadership skills. Activities will include campfire skits, games, songs and role-plays. Workshops will teach students about a camp counselor's roles and responsibilities, as well as camp rules and regulations. Students will also learn about the physical and educational activities that will take place during summer camps, ranging from swimming to archery to building Lego robotics, as well as other workshops related to science, engineering and technology.  

Jessica Casas of Salem participated in 4-H International Summer Camps as a camper and counselor. She is a sophomore at OSU majoring in sociology and hopes to earn her master's degree in public policy.

"I did see myself in college, but I did not know how I was going to get there,” Casas said. “I got to know about the resources available when I attended 4-H International Summer Camps. After I got to meet Latino and Latina students attending college and getting financial aid, I talked to my mom and knew I was going to college."  

Now Casas is attending OSU on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Her ultimate career goal is to represent Latinos in government-level legislature, with the hope of creating positive change in public policy for the Latino community. She is already on the path to pursuing that dream. At the leadership institute, Casas will coach students on applying for the competitive Gates Millennium Scholarship, which includes writing eight essays. 

Applications to the leadership institute are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. High school students in grades 9-12 from anywhere in Oregon are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to attend but an application is required. Students can apply at http://bit.ly/Outreach_Institute.

The Oregon Outreach project, which oversees the leadership institute, is an initiative of the OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. Oregon Outreach aims to support and expand the quality and quantity of community-based, culturally relevant educational programs for underserved populations. For more information, go to http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/oregonoutreach.

4-H is the largest out-of-school youth development program nationwide. The OSU Extension Service administrates Oregon's 4-H program within OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. 4-H reached nearly 117,000 youth in kindergarten through 12th grade via a network of 8,534 volunteers in 2012. Activities focus on areas like healthy living, civic engagement, science and animal care. Learn more about 4-H at: http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu.

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Mario Magaña, 541-737-0925

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Students at a past 4-H International Summer Camp learn about engineering concepts in a hands-on activity. The Oregon State University Extension Service coordinates the camps. (Photo by Mario Magaña.)

Categories: Research news

Climate report: Wildfires, snowmelt, coastal issues top Northwest risks

OSU News Releases - Fri, 11/01/2013 - 11:07am
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The Northwest is facing increased risks from the decline of forest health, earlier snowmelt, and issues facing the coastal region, according to a new climate assessment report.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Northwest is facing increased risks from the decline of forest health, earlier snowmelt leading to low summer stream flows, and an array of issues facing the coastal region, according to a new climate assessment report.

Written by a team of scientists coordinated by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI) at Oregon State University, the report is the first regional climate assessment released since 1999. Both the 1999 report and the 2013 version were produced as part of the U.S. National Climate Assessment; both Washington and Oregon produced state-level reports in 2009 and 2010.

OSU’s Philip Mote, director of the institute and one of three editors of the 270-page report (as well as the 1999 report), said the document incorporates a lot of new science as well as some additional dimensions – including the impact of climate change on human health and tribal issues. A summary of the report is available online at: http://occri.net/reports

Amy Snover, director of the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, said there are a number of issues facing the Northwest as a result of climate change.

“As we looked across both economic and ecological dimensions, the three that stood out were less snow, more wildfires and challenges to the coastal environment and infrastructure,” said Snover, who is one of the editors on the report.

The report outlines how these three issues are affected by climate change.

“Studies are showing that snowmelt is occurring earlier and earlier and that is leading to a decline in stream flows in summer,” Mote said. “Northwest forests are facing a huge increase in wildfires, disease and other disturbances that are both direct and indirect results of climate change. And coastal issues are mounting and varied, from sea level rise and inundation, to ocean acidification. Increased wave heights in recent decades also threaten coastal dwellings, roads and other infrastructure.”

OCCRI’s Meghan Dalton, lead editor on the report, notes that 2,800 miles of coastal roads are in the 100-year floodplain and some highways may face inundation with just two feet of sea level rise. Sea levels are expected to rise as much as 56 inches, or nearly five feet, by the year 2100.

Earlier snowmelt is a significant concern in the Northwest, where reservoir systems are utilized to maximize water storage. But, Dalton said, the Columbia River basin has a storage capacity that is smaller than its annual flow volume and is “ill-equipped to handle the projected shift to earlier snowmelt…and will likely be forced to pass much of these earlier flows out of the system.”

The earlier peak stream flow may significantly reduce summer hydroelectric power production, and slightly increase winter power production.

The report was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through the Oregon Legislature’s support of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at OSU, and by in-kind contributions from the authors’ institutions.

Mote said new research has led to improved climate models, which suggest that the Northwest will warm by a range of three to 14 degrees (Fahrenheit) by the year 2100. “The lower range will only be possible if greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.” In contrast, the Northwest warmed by 1.3 degrees from the period of 1895 to 2011.

Future precipitation is harder to project, the report notes, with models forecasting a range from a 10 percent decrease to an 18 percent increase by 2100. Most models do suggest that more precipitation will fall as rain and earlier snowmelt will change river flow patterns.

That could be an issue for agriculture in the future as the “Northwest’s diverse crops depend on adequate water supplies and temperature ranges, which are projected to change during the 21st century,” the report notes. Pinpointing the impacts on agriculture will be difficult, said Sanford Eigenbrode of the University of Idaho, another co-author.

“As carbon dioxide levels rise, yields will increase for some plants, and more rainfall in winter could mean wetter soils in the spring, benefitting some crops,” Eigenbrode pointed out. “Those same conditions could adversely affect other crops. It is very difficult to say how changing climate will affect agriculture overall in the Northwest, but we can say that the availability of summer water will be a concern.”

Mote said there may be additional variables affecting agriculture, such what impacts the changing climate has on pests, diseases and invasive species.

“However, the agricultural sector is resilient and can respond more quickly to new conditions than some other sectors like forestry, where it takes 40 years or longer for trees to reach a harvestable age,” noted Mote, who is a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

The Northwest has not to date been vulnerable to many climate-related health risks, the report notes, but impacts of climate change in the future are more likely to be negative than positive. Concerns include increased morbidity and mortality from heat-related illness, air pollution and allergenic disease, and the emergence of infectious diseases.

“In Oregon, one study showed that each 10-degree (F) increase in daily maximum temperature was associated with a nearly three-fold increase of heat-related illness,” said Jeff Bethel, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the co-authors of the report. “The threshold for triggering heat-related illness – especially among the elderly – isn’t much.”

Northwest tribes may face a greater impact from climate change because of their reliance on natural resources. Fish, shellfish, game and plant species could be adversely affected by a warming climate, resulting in a multitude of impacts.

“When tribes ceded their lands and were restricted to small areas, it resulted in a loss of access to many species that lived there,” said Kathy Lynn, coordinator of the Tribal Climate Change Project at the University of Oregon and a co-author of the report. “Climate change may further reduce the abundance of resources. That carries a profound cultural significance far beyond what we can document from an economic standpoint.”

Snover said that the climate changes projected for the coming decades mean that many of the assumptions “inherent in decisions, infrastructure and policies – where to build, what to grow where, and how to manage variable water sources to meet multiple needs – will become increasingly incorrect.

“Whether the ultimate consequences of the climate impacts outlined in this report are severe or mild depends in part on how well we prepare our communities, economies and natural systems for the changes we know are coming,” Snover said.

Other lead co-authors on the report are Rick Raymondi, Idaho Department of Water Resources; W. Spencer Reeder, Cascadia Consulting Group; Patty Glick, National Wildlife Federation; Susan Capalbo, OSU; and Jeremy Littell, U.S. Geological Survey.

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

Philip Mote, 541-737-5694; pmote@coas.oregonstate.edu; Amy Snover, 206-221-0222; aksnover@uw.edu

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Coastal issues

Snowmelt

Wildfires

Categories: Research news

“Flipping the switch” reveals new compounds with antibiotic potential

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:49pm
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OSU biochemists have unlocked some of the genetic constraints on a common fungus, in work that may lead to important new antibiotics.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that one gene in a common fungus acts as a master regulator, and deleting it has opened access to a wealth of new compounds that have never before been studied – with the potential to identify new antibiotics.

The finding was announced today in the journal PLOS Genetics, in research supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.

Scientists succeeded in flipping a genetic switch that had silenced more than 2,000 genes in this fungus, the cereal pathogen Fusarium graminearum. Until now this had kept it from producing novel compounds that may have useful properties, particularly for use in medicine but also perhaps in agriculture, industry, or biofuel production.

“About a third of the genome of many fungi has always been silent in the laboratory,” said Michael Freitag, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science. “Many fungi have antibacterial properties. It was no accident that penicillin was discovered from a fungus, and the genes for these compounds are usually in the silent regions of genomes.

“What we haven’t been able to do is turn on more of the genome of these fungi, see the full range of compounds that could be produced by expression of their genes,” he said. “Our finding should open the door to the study of dozens of new compounds, and we’ll probably see some biochemistry we’ve never seen before.”

In the past, the search for new antibiotics was usually done by changing the environment in which a fungus or other life form grew, and see if those changes generated the formation of a compound with antibiotic properties.

“The problem is, with the approaches of the past we’ve already found most of the low-hanging fruit, and that’s why we’ve had to search in places like deep sea vents or corals to find anything new,” Freitag said. “With traditional approaches there’s not that much left to be discovered. But now that we can change the genome-wide expression of fungi, we may see a whole new range of compounds we didn’t even know existed.”

The gene that was deleted in this case regulates the methylation of histones, the proteins around which DNA is wound, Freitag said. Creating a mutant without this gene allowed new expression, or overexpression of about 25 percent of the genome of this fungus, and the formation of many “secondary metabolites,” the researchers found.

The gene that was deleted, kmt6, encodes a master regulator that affects the expression of hundreds of genetic pathways, researchers say. It’s been conserved through millions of years, in life forms as diverse as plants, fungi, fruit flies and humans.

The discovery of new antibiotics is of increasing importance, researchers say, as bacteria, parasites and fungi are becoming increasingly resistant to older drugs.

“Our studies will open the door to future precise ‘epigenetic engineering’ of gene clusters that generate bioactive compounds, e.g. putative mycotoxins, antibiotics and industrial feedstocks,” the researchers wrote in the conclusion of their report.

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Michael Freitag, 541-737-4845

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Pigments produced





Fungus on corn

Categories: Research news

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