Oregon State University

Research news

Phillips named director for OSU Office of Research Development

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/29/2013 - 10:45am
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Mary Phillips has been named director for the Office of Research Development, a new unit within the Research Office, effective Dec. 1.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mary Phillips has been named director for the Office of Research Development, a new unit within the Research Office, effective Dec. 1.

Phillips is associate director for the Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development, where she oversees the management of intellectual property and licensing of OSU inventions. In her new role, Phillips will work with faculty and academic units to identify and pursue major funding opportunities, including federal, non-profit and corporate sources.

The creation of the Office for Research Development is a proactive step by the Research Office that addresses the challenge and goals articulated in the OSU research agenda by providing strategic institutional support for successful proposal development, Phillips said.

"What excites me about this position is the role I will play in developing new approaches that will enable our faculty to be highly competitive in securing grant funding in these times of dwindling federal funding and sequestration," Phillips noted. "This in itself is a grand challenge."

Vice President for Research Rick Spinrad said there is a lot of untapped potential for building OSU’s capacity and reputation.

“By establishing an Office of Research Development, we have created the structure to engage in strategic positioning of our research enterprise, long before specific solicitations for research are issued,” Spinrad said. “As part of OSU’s research agenda we are striving to diversify our sponsorship base.  We’ve done this very successfully with our industry engagement (40 percent increase in two years), now we have the staff and organization to start doing the same with other sponsors, notably federal agencies.”

Spinrad anticipates that OSU will dramatically increase the number of federal agencies supporting its research, and that OSU will take a much more forward-leaning posture in driving the research interests of traditional sponsors. 

“In addition, Mary’s role will allow us to be much more effective in strengthening our proposal efforts - for example by being more strategic in how we address ‘broader impacts,’” Spinrad said. “This is particularly important as general decreases in federal funding for research make for an even more competitive environment.”

Phillips will be supported by an advisory group that will consist of senior faculty representing each of the divisions within the university.

Prior to joining OSU in 2006, Phillips began her career in university technology transfer in 2001 at Oregon Health and Science University. She has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine and gained postdoctoral experience in the areas of laser spectroscopy and molecular biology at the University of Oregon. 

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Mary Phillips

541-737-4437

Categories: Research news

Cascadia Lifelines Program begun to aid earthquake preparation

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:50am
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A new Cascadia Lifelines Program led by OSU and involving private industry will expedite the research needed to address the subduction zone earthquake looming in Oregon's future.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University and eight partners from government and private industry this month began studies for the Cascadia Lifelines Program, a research initiative to help improve critical infrastructure performance during an anticipated major earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

The program, coordinated by the OSU School of Civil and Construction Engineering, will immediately begin five research projects with $1.5 million contributed by the partners. Recent work such as the Oregon Resilience Plan has helped to define the potential problems, experts say, and this new initiative will begin to address them in work that may take 50 years or more to implement.

Looming in Oregon’s future is a massive earthquake of about magnitude 9.0, which could significantly damage Pacific Northwest roads, bridges, buildings, sewers, gas and water lines, electrical system and much more.

“Compared to the level of earthquake preparedness even in California and Washington, it’s clear that Oregon is bringing up the rear,” said Scott Ashford, director of the new program. He is the Kearney Professor of Engineering in the OSU College of Engineering, and an international expert who has studied the impact of subduction zone earthquakes in much of the Pacific Rim – including Japan’s major disaster of March, 2011.

“Most of Oregon’s buildings, roads, bridges and infrastructure were built at a time when it was believed the state was not subject to major earthquakes,” Ashford said. “Because of that we’re going to face serious levels of destruction. But with programs like this and the commitment of our partners, there’s a great deal we can do to proactively prepare for this disaster, and get our lifelines back up and running after the event.”

Those “lifelines,” Ashford said, are the key not just to saving lives and minimizing damage, but aiding in recovery of the region following a disaster that scientists say is a near certainty. The list of participating partners reflects agencies and companies that understand the challenges they will face, Ashford said.

The partners include the Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland General Electric, Northwest Natural Gas, the Bonneville Power Administration, Port of Portland, Portland Water Bureau, Eugene Water and Electric Board, and Tualatin Valley Water District.

“When I studied areas that had been hard-hit by earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand and Japan, it became apparent that money spent to prepare for and minimize damage from the earthquake was hugely cost-effective,” Ashford said. “One utility company in New Zealand said they saved about $10 for every $1 they had spent in retrofitting and rebuilding their infrastructure.

“This impressed upon me that we do not have to just wait for the earthquake to happen,” he said. “There’s a lot we can do to prepare for it right now that will make a difference. And we have the expertise right here at OSU – in engineering, business, earth sciences, health – to get these programs up and running.”

The initial subjects OSU researchers will focus on in the new program include:

  • Studies of soil liquefaction, which can greatly reduce the strength of soils and lead to road, bridge, building and other critical infrastructure facility failure;
  • Cost effective improvements that could be done to existing and older infrastructure;
  • Evacuation routes for Oregonians to use following a major earthquake;
  • Tools to plan for hazards and anticipate risks;
  • Where and how earthquakes could trigger landslides in Oregon.

Ashford said the consortium will seek additional federal support for the needed research, and also more partners both in government and private industry.

OSU will also continue its collaboration with PEER, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, which includes work by the leading academic institutions in this field on the West Coast. The Cascadia Lifelines Program will add an emphasis on subduction zone earthquakes, which can behave quite differently and produce shaking that lasts for minutes, instead of the type of strike-slip quakes most common in California that last for tens of seconds. And the utility lifelines work will be focused on the specific challenges facing Oregon.

Aside from some of the infrastructure not being built to withstand major earthquakes, Oregon and the Willamette Valley may face particular risks from liquefaction, in which soil can develop the consistency of “pea soup” and lose much of its strength. Liquefaction helped cause much of the damage in Japan, which has still not recovered from the destruction more than two years after the event.

College of Engineering Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Scott Ashford, 541-737-4934

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Sinking structures


Video of liquefaction in Japan:

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Categories: Research news

It's time to enroll in OSU Extension's Master Gardener training

OSU News Releases - Mon, 10/28/2013 - 9:38am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – If you call yourself a "gardening geek" or simply want to know more about the natural world, now's the time to sign up for the Oregon State University Extension Service's annual Master Gardener training.

But don't be intimidated by the "master" part of a title that describes a dedicated volunteer force, said Gail Langellotto, the statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program.

"The class is meant to be accessible to people from across a variety of educational backgrounds who have a passion for learning more about horticulture," Langellotto said. "The 'Master' title is used to designate volunteers for Oregon State University Extension Service, such as Master Food Preservers. More than anything, Master Gardeners have a good understanding of how to use research-based information to help people plan, plant and maintain sustainable gardens."

Master Gardeners are trained by the OSU Extension Service and offer reliable, relevant and reachable information and educational opportunities. They answer questions at OSU Extension offices, farmers markets and community events. They create and manage demonstration gardens, school gardens and community gardens. They also coordinate gardens at correctional facilities, health care centers and libraries. In addition, they host garden tours, workshops and classes.

A total of 4,160 Master Gardeners donated 194,898 hours of their time across Oregon in 2012, according to Langellotto.

The OSU Extension Service offers its Master Gardener training in 30 of Oregon's 36 counties. For a list of trainings and local coordinators, go to http://bit.ly/OSU_MGLocations. Registration deadlines vary by county.

Master Gardener training typically kicks off in January, though starting dates vary by county. Trainees take a series of classes from local and OSU experts on subjects ranging from botany basics to pest identification.

Master Gardeners volunteer their time so that they can teach others in their community about sustainable gardening. Master Gardener training fees vary by county and reflect local costs. OSU Extension requires a basic application. Those who want to work with children as part of their volunteer service must also undergo a background history check. Candidates must explain in a statement their reasons for volunteering and describe their volunteer history.

For those who work during the day, Extension offices in Lane County, central Oregon and Hood River offer night and Saturday classes. OSU's Professional and Noncredit Education unit offers an online version of the training at https://pne.oregonstate.edu/catalog/master-gardener-online.

Sign up to receive more information by e-mail about Master Gardener training at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/signup. OSU Extension also offers the following publications on the topic: "An Introduction to Being a Master Gardener Volunteer" at http://bit.ly/Intro_MG and a brochure at http://bit.ly/MG_Brochure.

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Gail Langellotto, 541-737-5175

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Master Gardeners trained by the Oregon State University Extension Service place plants in the soil in a demonstration garden at the entrance to the Benton County Fairgrounds. (Photo by Ryan Creason.)

Categories: Research news

Excess omega-3 fatty acids could lead to negative health effects

OSU News Releases - Mon, 10/28/2013 - 9:19am
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A new review suggests that excess omega-3 fatty acids could have unintended health consequences, and that evidence-based dietary standards need to be established.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new review suggests that omega-3 fatty acids taken in excess could have unintended health consequences in certain situations, and that dietary standards based on the best available evidence need to be established.

“What looked like a slam dunk a few years ago may not be as clear cut as we thought,” said Norman Hord, associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and a coauthor on the paper.

“We are seeing the potential for negative effects at really high levels of omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Because we lack valid biomarkers for exposure and knowledge of who might be at risk if consuming excessive amounts, it isn’t possible to determine an upper limit at this time.”

Previous research led by Michigan State University’s Jenifer Fenton and her collaborators found that feeding mice large amounts of dietary omega-3 fatty acids led to increased risk of colitis and immune alteration. Those results were published in Cancer Research in 2010.

As a follow-up, in the current issue of the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids, Fenton and her co-authors, including Hord, reviewed the literature and discuss the potential adverse health outcomes that could result from excess consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies have shown that omega-3s, also known as long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), are associated with lower risk of sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular disease outcomes.

“We were inspired to review the literature based on our findings after recent publications showed increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and atrial fibrillation in those with high blood levels of LCPUFAs,” Fenton said.

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which is one of the reasons they can be beneficial to heart health and inflammatory issues. However, the researchers said excess amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can alter immune function sometimes in ways that may lead to a dysfunctional immune response to a viral or bacterial infection.

“The dysfunctional immune response to excessive omega-3 fatty acid consumption can affect the body’s ability to fight microbial pathogens, like bacteria,” Hord said.

Generally, the researchers point out that the amounts of fish oil used in most studies are typically above what one could consume from foods or usual dosage of a dietary supplement. However, an increasing amount of products, such as eggs, bread, butters, oils and orange juice, are being “fortified” with omega-3s. Hord said this fortified food, coupled with fish oil supplement use, increases the potential for consuming these high levels.

“Overall, we support the dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association to eat fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, lake trout or sardines, at least two times a week, and for those at risk of coronary artery disease to talk to their doctor about supplements,” he said.

“Our main concern here is the hyper-supplemented individual, who may be taking high-dose omega-3 supplements and eating four to five omega-3-enriched foods per day,” Hord added. “This could potentially get someone to an excessive amount. As our paper indicates, there may be subgroups of those who may be at risk from consuming excess amounts of these fatty acids.”

Hord said there are no evidence-based standards for omega-3 intake and no way to tell who might be at health risk if they consume too high a level of these fatty acids.

“We’re not against using fish oil supplements appropriately, but there is a potential for risk,” Hord said. “As is all true with any nutrient, taking too much can have negative effects. We need to establish clear biomarkers through clinical trials. This is necessary in order for us to know who is eating adequate amounts of these nutrients and who may be deficient or eating too much.

“Until we establish valid biomarkers of omega-3 exposure, making good evidence-based dietary recommendations across potential dietary exposure ranges will not be possible.”

Sanjoy Ghosh from University of BC-Okanagan, Canada and Eric Gurzell from Michigan State University also contributed to this study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Norman Hord, 541-737-5923

Categories: Research news

Breakthrough in study of aluminum should yield new technological advances

OSU News Releases - Fri, 10/25/2013 - 4:48pm
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Researchers have discovered a new way to study aqueous aluminum - a fundamental advance that should open doors to many new technologies and products.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon today announced a scientific advance that has eluded researchers for more than 100 years – a platform to study and fully understand the aqueous chemistry of aluminum, one of the world’s most important metals.

The findings, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, should open the door to significant advances in electronics and many other fields, ranging from manufacturing to construction, agriculture and drinking water treatment.

Aluminum, in solution with water, affects the biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and anthrosphere, the scientists said in their report. It may be second only to iron in its importance to human civilization. But for a century or more, and despite the multitude of products based on it, there has been no effective way to explore the enormous variety and complexity of compounds that aluminum forms in water.

Now there is.

“This integrated platform to study aqueous aluminum is a major scientific advance,” said Douglas Keszler, a distinguished professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science, and director of the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry.

“Research that can be done with the new platform should have important technological implications,” Keszler said. “Now we can understand aqueous aluminum clusters, see what’s there, how the atomic structure is arranged.”

Chong Fang, an assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science, called the platform “a powerful new toolset.” It’s a way to synthesize aqueous aluminum clusters in a controlled way; analyze them with new laser techniques; and use computational chemistry to interpret the results. It’s simple and easy to use, and may be expanded to do research on other metal atoms.

“A diverse team of scientists came together to solve an important problem and open new research opportunities,” said Paul Cheong, also an OSU assistant professor of chemistry.

The fundamental importance of aluminum to life and modern civilization helps explain the significance of the advance, researchers say. It’s the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, but almost never is found in its natural state. The deposition and migration of aluminum as a mineral ore is controlled by its aqueous chemistry. It’s found in all drinking water and used worldwide for water treatment. Aqueous aluminum plays significant roles in soil chemistry and plant growth.

Aluminum is ubiquitous in cooking, eating utensils, food packaging, construction, and the automotive and aircraft industries. It’s almost 100 percent recyclable, but in commercial use is a fairly modern metal. Before electrolytic processes were developed in the late 1800s to produce it inexpensively, it was once as costly as silver.

Now, aluminum is increasingly important in electronics, particularly as a “green” component that’s cheap, widely available and environmentally benign.

Besides developing the new platform, this study also discovered one behavior for aluminum in water that had not been previously observed. This is a “flat cluster” of one form of aluminum oxide that’s relevant to large scale productions of thin films and nanoparticles, and may find applications in transistors, solar energy cells, corrosion protection, catalytic converters and other uses.

Ultimately, researchers say they expect new technologies, “green” products, lowered equipment costs, and aluminum applications that work better, cost less and have high performance.

The research was made possible, in part, by collaboration between chemists at OSU and the University of Oregon, through the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry. This is a collaboration of six research universities, which is sponsored and funded by the National Science Foundation.

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Douglas Keszler, 541-737-6736

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Aluminum manufacturing

Categories: Research news

Bike safety, alternative transportation focus of this year’s OSU Be Bright! Be Seen! event

OSU News Releases - Fri, 10/25/2013 - 1:38pm
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In an effort to encourage bike and pedestrian safety, Oregon State University is inviting the public to the Memorial Union quad on Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., for a special Be Bright! Be Seen! event.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In an effort to encourage bike and pedestrian safety on campus and around Corvallis, Oregon State University is inviting the public to the Memorial Union quad on Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., for a special Be Bright! Be Seen! event.

Just in time for Daylight Saving Time on Nov. 3, the Be Bright! event will feature a variety of illuminated giveaways, educational materials, and the chance to get bicycles registered by Campus Public Safety. Additionally, a number of OSU, city and county organizations will be on-hand to give out prizes and discuss a variety of alternative transportation programs available for OSU students, staff and faculty, as well as the general public.

Bike lights, reflective gear and even some coveted illuminated umbrellas will be given away during the event.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 70 percent of pedestrian deaths occur at night, and three out of four occur in urban areas. Making yourself visible as a pedestrian or bicyclist can be a life or death issue.

The Be Bright! Be Seen! public safety campaign is sponsored by OSU and the city of Corvallis, and includes a variety of partners, including the OSU Student Sustainability Initiative, Campus Public Safety and the Alternative Transportation Advisory Committee.

For more information, visit http://oregonstate.edu/main/be-bright

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-3808

Categories: Research news

Learning takes root at OSU-supported school gardens

OSU News Releases - Fri, 10/25/2013 - 10:11am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Students across the state are getting their hands dirty in school gardens and learning where their food comes from with the help of the Oregon State University Extension Service.

A 22-page report, "Oregon State University School and Youth Gardens," describes the OSU Extension Service's role in supporting 132 gardens in 27 counties from Seaside to Portland to Ontario with 154 staffers and volunteers. The report lists each garden, school and town served by OSU Extension.

"This report shows that school gardens are important not just in teaching kids about nutrition and health, but also in learning valuable skills in agriculture, biology, leadership development and making a difference in their communities," said Maureen Hosty, 4-H youth development faculty with OSU Extension and lead author of the report.

Hotsy developed the report as part of her work representing OSU on the steering committee for the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network. OSU Extension staffers and volunteers with all program areas, including 4-H, Master Gardeners and Family and Community Health, are involved. They help plan, implement and organize projects, provide on-site consultations, train teachers and students, develop curriculum and support after-school clubs.

School gardens such as the one run by Walt Morey Middle School in Troutdale have benefited. The school built a 9,000-square-foot rain garden in 2008 to manage stormwater runoff. An Extension-trained Master Gardener helped organize the project, and students selected and planted the landscape in 2008. The school also works with 4-H Wildlife Stewards, an OSU Extension 4-H program of trained volunteers who help students and teachers create wildlife habitats for schools.

Sixth-grade science teacher Michele O'Brien said children collect weather data, observe the garden's natural environment, identify wildlife, study wetlands, write about their experiences in journals and make charts and graphs of their observations. Master Gardeners help maintain the rain garden in the summer and work alongside students during the school year.

"That first class of students who helped build it in 2008 has now graduated from high school," O'Brien said. "When I periodically run into them, they ask about the rain garden. Some of them have gone onto career paths in environmental science in college, and I think the rain garden got them thinking about that. The impact has been tremendous. Without Master Gardeners working with us between their volunteer hours and expertise, it would have been extremely difficult to do this project." 

Lea Bates, a coach with Lookingglass Elementary School in Roseburg, coordinated the school's garden for more than 20 years with the support of OSU Extension and other community partners. The large garden includes vegetables, fruit trees, grapes, ornamental plants and even a butterfly garden. Children learn about horticulture, nutrition, math, science and language arts as they weed, plant, water and participate in an after-school 4-H club.  

"It's been a wonderful project for the kids and an opportunity for them to supplement what they're learning in the classroom," Bates said. "It's real world experience and an educational opportunity that gets kids out of doors. Everyone says it's fun even though it's also work." 

And at Springwater Trail High School in Gresham, English teacher and garden coordinator Paul Kramer receives logistical advice from Extension's 4-H faculty as well as support in curriculum development at the school's one-year-old vegetable garden. Kramer volunteers to coordinate an after-school garden club in which high school students are finishing harvesting lettuce and radishes and learning about cooking and nutrition. They made their own homemade salad dressing, roast beets and pickle cucumbers.

In the process of learning about horticulture, Kramer sees his students gaining aptitude in problem solving and critical thinking. They're also building patience and discipline.                                                                                                                                            

"The most interesting thing they got from the garden was camaraderie and the companionship," Kramer said. "I wasn’t expecting that. Students who would never have hung out together the past were now spending time outside, interacting with another and helping each other."

To download a copy of the report, go to http://bit.ly/OSU_SchoolGardenReport13.

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Maureen Hosty, 541-916-6075

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A student at Concord Elementary School in Milwaukie shows off produce from the school garden to Maggie Thornton Farrington, a Master Naturalist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. OSU Extension supports 132 school and youth gardens throughout Oregon. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

Northwest poets to read from collections on Nov. 8

OSU News Releases - Fri, 10/25/2013 - 9:03am
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Poets Charles Goodrich and Mary Szybist will read from their most recent poetry collections at Oregon State University on Friday, Nov. 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Valley Library rotunda.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Poets Charles Goodrich and Mary Szybist will read from their most recent poetry collections at Oregon State University on Friday, Nov. 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Valley Library rotunda.

A question and answer session and book signing will follow. This is the first reading of the 2013-2014 Literary Northwest Series.

Goodrich is the author of three volumes of poems, “A Scripture of Crows” (2013), “Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden” (2010), and “Insects of South Corvallis” (2003), and a collection of essays, “The Practice of Home” (2004). Goodrich is director for the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word at OSU. 

Joseph Bednarik of The Oregonian wrote, “What is so utterly gorgeous about ‘Going to Seed’ is that Goodrich utilizes the obvious metaphors of a garden – growth, decay, work, interdependence, cycles – and ushers them into eye-opening, heart-expanding, humorous and heady territory.”

Szybist is a 2013 National Book Award Finalist and the author of “Granted” (2003), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and “Incarnadine” (2013). Szybist teaches at Lewis & Clark College and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

Craig Morgan Teicher of NPR says, “Szybist is a humble and compassionate observer of the complicated glory of the world and humanity's ambivalent role in it, as inheritors and interlopers.”

Each year the Literary Northwest Series brings Pacific Northwest writers to OSU. This program is made possible by support from The Valley Library, OSU Press, the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film, the College of Liberal Arts, Kathy Brisker and Tim Steele, and Grass Roots Books and Music.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Rachel Ratner, 516-652-5817

Categories: Research news

Increasing toxicity of algal blooms tied to nutrient enrichment and climate change

OSU News Releases - Thu, 10/24/2013 - 11:33am
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Climate change and an overload of nutrients are increasing the toxicity of some algal blooms in lakes around the world.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nutrient enrichment and climate change are posing yet another concern of growing importance – an apparent increase in the toxicity of some algal blooms in freshwater lakes and estuaries around the world, which threatens aquatic organisms, ecosystem health and human drinking water safety.

As this nutrient enrichment, or “eutrophication” increases, so will the proportion of toxin-producing strains of cyanobacteria in harmful algal blooms, scientists said.

Researchers from Oregon State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will outline recent findings in an analysis Friday in the journal Science.

Cyanobacteria are some of the oldest microorganisms on Earth, dating back about 3.5 billion years to a time when the planet was void of oxygen and barren of most life. These bacteria are believed to have produced the oxygen that paved the way for terrestrial life to evolve. They are highly adaptive and persistent, researchers say, and today are once again adapting to new conditions in a way that threatens some of the life they originally made possible.

A particular concern is Microcystis sp., a near-ubiquitous cyanobacterium that thrives in warm, nutrient-rich and stagnant waters around the world. Like many cyanobacteria, it can regulate its position in the water column, and often forms green, paint-like scums near the surface.

In a high-light, oxidizing environment, microcystin-producing cyanobacteria have a survival advantage over other forms of cyanobacteria that are not toxic. Over time, they can displace the nontoxic strains, resulting in blooms that are increasingly toxic.

“Cyanobacteria are basically the cockroaches of the aquatic world,” said Timothy Otten, a postdoctoral scholar in the OSU College of Science and College of Agricultural Sciences, whose work has been supported by the National Science Foundation. “They're the uninvited guest that just won't leave.”

“When one considers their evolutionary history and the fact that they've persisted even through ice ages and asteroid strikes, it's not surprising they're extremely difficult to remove once they’ve taken hold in a lake,” he said. “For the most part, the best we can do is to try to minimize the conditions that favor their proliferation.”

Researchers lack an extensive historical record of bloom events and their associated toxicities to put current observations into a long-term context.  However, Otten said, “If you go looking for toxin-producing cyanobacteria, chances are you won't have to look very long until you find some.”

There are more than 123,000 lakes greater than 10 acres in size spread across the United States, and based on the last EPA National Lakes Assessment, at least one-third may contain toxin-producing cyanobacteria. Dams; rising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations; droughts; and increased runoff of nutrients from urban and agricultural lands are all compounding the problem.

Many large, eutrophic lakes such as Lake Erie are plagued each year by algal blooms so massive that they are visible from outer space. Dogs have died from drinking contaminated water.

Researchers studying cyanobacterial toxins say it’s improbable that their true function was to be toxic, since they actually predate any predators. New research suggests that the potent liver toxin and possible carcinogen, microcystin, has a protective role in cyanobacteria and helps them respond to oxidative stress. This is probably one of the reasons the genes involved in its biosynthesis are so widespread across cyanobacteria and have been retained over millions of years.

Because of their buoyancy and the location of toxins primarily within the cell, exposure risks are greatest near the water's surface, which raises concerns for swimming, boating and other recreational uses.

Also, since cyanobacteria blooms become entrenched and usually occur every summer in impacted systems, chronic exposure to drinking water containing these compounds is an important concern that needs more attention, Otten said.

“Water quality managers have a toolbox of options to mitigate cyanobacteria toxicity issues, assuming they are aware of the problem and compelled to act,” Otten said. “But there are no formal regulations in place on how to respond to bloom events.

“We need to increase public awareness of these issues,” he said. “With a warming climate, rising carbon dioxide levels, dams on many rivers and overloading of nutrients into our waterways, the magnitude and duration of toxic cyanobacterial blooms is only going to get worse.”

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Tim Otten, 541-737-1796

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Green wake




Toxic bacteria




Toxic algal bloom

Categories: Research news

Eric Allyn keynote speaker for Nov. 21 event honoring family businesses

OSU News Releases - Thu, 10/24/2013 - 11:12am
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A group of 12 Oregon family enterprises will be honored at the 2013 Excellence in Family Business Awards ceremony Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Governor Hotel in Portland.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A group of 12 Oregon family enterprises will be honored at the 2013 Excellence in Family Business Awards ceremony Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Governor Hotel in Portland.

The awards are presented by Oregon State University’s Austin Family Business Program. More than 190 companies have been honored since 1988. The awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in entrepreneurship, community involvement and multi-generational planning.

A new feature this year is keynote speaker Eric Allyn, a fourth-generation member of medical device manufacturer Welch Allyn, Inc. Allyn serves on several family business boards and travels extensively to speak to groups of family business owners because of his strong belief that “family businesses should be and need to be more competitive.”

“Eric Allyn is a strong advocate for family business growth and is willing to share his experience transitioning to nonfamily management to continue Welch Allyn’s global success,” said Sherri Noxel, director of the Austin Family Business Program.

Companies are honored in four categories based on the size of the business.

Also recognized will be Cora Wahl of Wahl Ranches & Co., winner of the student award.

Founded in 1985, the Austin Family Business Program is a university-based family business program providing inspiration, education, outreach, and research to support the success and survival of family businesses.

College of Business Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Sherri Noxel, 541-737-6019

Categories: Research news

Behavior problems in preschool and child care centers may be an issue of genes

OSU News Releases - Thu, 10/24/2013 - 9:02am
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A new study suggests that some children may be genetically predisposed to developing behavioral problems in child care and preschool settings.

BEND, Ore. – A new study suggests that some children may be genetically predisposed to developing behavioral problems in child care and preschool settings.

Previous research has found that some children develop behavior problems at child care centers and preschools, despite the benefit of academic gains. It was never known, however, why some youngsters struggle in these settings and others flourish. The new study indicates that some children may be acting out due to poor self-control and temperament problems that they inherited from their parents.

The study’s lead author Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University-Cascades, said the findings point to the reason that some children develop problem behavior at care centers, despite the best efforts of teachers and caregivers. The results are published online today in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

“Assuming that findings like this are replicated, we can stop worrying so much that all children will develop behavior problems at center-based care facilities, because it has been a concern,” she said. “But some children (with this genetic predisposition) may be better able to manage their behavior in a different setting, in a home or smaller group size.”

Researchers from Oregon State University and other institutions collected data in 10 states from 233 families linked through adoption and obtained genetic data from birth parents as well as the children. They found that birth parents who had high rates of negative emotion and self-control, based on a self-reported temperament scale, were more likely to have children who struggled with behavioral issues such as lack of self-control and anger, in child care centers. They controlled for adoptive parent’s characteristics, and still found a modest effect based on the genetic link.

“We aren’t recommending that children are genetically tested, but parents and caregivers can assess a child’s needs and help them get to a setting that might be more appropriate,” Lipscomb said. “This study helps us to explain why some children struggle so much with large peer groups and heightened social interactions. It may not be a problem with a teacher or parent, but that they are struggling on a biological level.”`

Lipscomb is in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. She is an expert on early childhood development and school readiness, and is particularly interested in adult influences on young children.

Researchers from the University of Oregon, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of California, Riverside, Yale Child Study Center, and Oregon Social Learning Center contributed to this study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

OSU-Cascades Campus Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Shannon Lipscomb, 541-322-3137

Categories: Research news

OSU receives $1.25 million CDC grant to study Medicaid expansion in Oregon

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/22/2013 - 5:02pm
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Oregon State University and the Oregon Health Authority have received $1.25 million from the Centers for Disease Control to study the health impact of opening the Oregon Health Plan to more people.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University and the Oregon Health Authority have received $1.25 million from the Centers for Disease Control to study the health impact of opening the Oregon Health Plan to more people.

The five-year study will evaluate how the health of low-income women and their infants is affected when more of them are eligible for Medicaid health care coverage, i.e., the Oregon Health Plan. According to researchers, this study’s results will inform health reform efforts in Oregon and across the nation, as many states and communities undergo sweeping changes under the Affordable Care Act.

The OSU team will be led by researchers in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, including Marie Harvey, Jeff Luck, Jocelyn Warren and Jangho Yoon.

“Oregon is an ideal state to conduct this study because of its ongoing commitment to Medicaid health care delivery for all, and the commitment of state leaders to collaborate to ensure this program’s success,” said Harvey, associate dean for research in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and one of the grant’s principal investigators.

One of the study’s goals will be to create an integrated, state-level data system that links de-identified Medicaid information with other existing health care data, such as from hospitals and birth and death certificates. This data system will help answer critical questions about the effect of Medicaid expansion on the use of health services and health outcomes among women and their children. A diverse group of county and community groups in the state with interest in maternal and child health will participate in setting research priorities for the study.

The project has been endorsed by Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has led the state’s efforts on implementation of comprehensive reform of Oregon’s Medicaid financing and delivery system. The research will also be helpful as Oregon looks towards the adoption of a more coordinated care model across all types of health care delivery systems.

“This project is an ideal complement to ongoing health system innovation and reforms in Oregon,” said Mike Bonetto, senior health care policy adviser to Gov. Kitzhaber. “This project will play a key role in our action plan by providing concrete data on how we can improve the health care and health outcomes of Medicaid-eligible women and their infants, a particularly vulnerable population.” 

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Marie Harvey, 541-737-3824

Categories: Research news

Football Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus to visit OSU Nov. 1

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/22/2013 - 10:11am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – As a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, Dick Butkus developed a reputation as one of the toughest, most intense players the National Football League had ever seen.

In a story written by Larry Schwartz for ESPN.com, former Green Bay running back MacArthur Lane spoke of the Butkus intimidation factor: “If I had a choice,” he said, “I’d sooner go one-on-one with a grizzly bear. I prayed that I could get up every time Butkus hit me.”

Want to know what makes the Football Hall-of-Fame Dick Butkus tick? You’ll have a chance to ask him a question – about anything.

Butkus will speak at Oregon State University on Friday, Nov. 1, beginning at 12:30 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center (located at 26th Street and Western Boulevard in Corvallis). His free, public presentation, which is sponsored by University Relations and Marketing at OSU, is appropriately titled, “Ask Me Anything.”

The event is free and open to the public, and people may submit questions in advance at: http://bit.ly/H0fnmv

There’s a pretty good chance he won’t even tackle you. While intimidating on the gridiron, Butkus is known as an engaging speaker who has channeled his tenacity into a new cause – fighting against steroid abuse in high school sports. He is the founder of the “I Play Clean” campaign.

Butkus was a two-time All-American at the University of Illinois, where he played center on offense and linebacker on defense. As a Chicago Bear, he was named to the All-NFL team seven times and played in the Pro Bowl eight times before his career was cut short by knee injuries.

For the past 29 years, top linebackers around the country have been honored with the Butkus Award, second only to the Heisman Trophy in name recognition, which is given at the high school, college and professional levels.

Later in the day, Butkus will attend the OSU football game against the USC Trojans, which begins at 6 p.m. in Reser Stadium

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Shelly Signs, 541-737-0724; shelly.signs@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Recent OSU grad touted for creativity to speak on campus Friday

OSU News Releases - Mon, 10/21/2013 - 2:26pm
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CORVALLIS, Ore. - Darrin Crescenzi, a 2007 Oregon State University design graduate named by Fast Company magazine as one of the 100 most creative people in business, will return to OSU this weekend for a free presentation Friday on how “design thinking” opens the door to a wide variety of fields.

The former Nike designer gained notice for an array of work including the initials-and-crown personal logo of NBA superstar LeBron James, the uniforms worn by the American men’s Olympic basketball team in London in 2012, and a wildly popular poster he produced of the sigils (family seals) for the fictional Houses of Westeros in the book and TV hit “Game of Thrones.”

Crescenzi graduated from high school in tiny Gilchrist, Ore., in a class of 14, and is now senior designer in the Manhattan offices of Prophet, a worldwide brand and marketing firm. Joining him in the presentation will be his longtime partner Erin Mintun, also a former Nike designer and a 2007 OSU design graduate. She has special expertise in the role of color in consumer choices, and now works as a style forecaster for companies that must anticipate fashion trends.

Both will show examples of their work. The two designers were featured in the most recent issue of the OSU alumni magazine, the Oregon Stater. That story is available at http://j.mp/crescenzi.

The free public presentation, sponsored by the School of Design and Human Environment in OSU’s College of Business, will run from noon until 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, in the Willamette Room of the CH2M HILL Alumni Center, which is across 26th Street from Reser Stadium. Crescenzi will be in town to accept the OSU Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Award at a ceremony that night at the alumni center, where he will be joined by six fellow alumni who will be honored as OSUAA Alumni Fellows.

The alumni fellow honorees include:

  • The Honorable Jack R. Borsting, College of Science;
  • Martin Goebel, College of Forestry.
  • Sandra Henderson, College of Science;
  • Debra Nelson, College of Veterinary Medicine;
  • Carol Hill Pickard, College of Home Economics;
  • James E. Womack, College of Agricultural Sciences.

Reservations are required to attend the awards gala, which starts at 6 p.m. For more information on this and other Homecoming events, visit www.osualum.com/homecoming.

Alumni Association Media Contact:  Kevin Miller Source: 

Kate Sanders, 541-737-6220

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Erin Mintun and

Darrin Crescenzi

Categories: Research news

New book details the rich history of Northwest newspaper industry

OSU News Releases - Mon, 10/21/2013 - 11:44am
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Two long-time journalists give a detailed account of the rich history of newspapers in the Northwest in a new book just published by Ridenbaugh Press.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two long-time journalists give a detailed account of the rich history of newspapers in the Northwest in a new book just published by Ridenbaugh Press.

"New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are, and Will Be" by Steve Bagwell, managing editor of the McMinnville-based News-Register, and Randy Stapilus, former Idaho reporter, examines the newspaper business in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Bagwell has taught media classes at Oregon State University since 1998.

Print newspapers nationally face an uncertain future as readers increasingly turn to the Internet for their daily news fix. Major changes are in the pipeline at most of the major dailies.

The book by Bagwell and Stapilus reviews every newspaper produced in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington – and there are a lot more than most people might think – covering the papers’ predecessors and evolution into their current form.

“New Editions” traces individual papers' transformation from locally, often family-owned publications to the ownership consolidation of larger groups, and the reasoning behind publishers' and editors' decisions on whether to produce online editions. Many of the region's editors and publishers offer their own comments and observations on the present and future of Northwest newspapers.

“New Editions: The Northwest’s Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be,” is available at bookstores and online at http://www.ridenbaugh.com/index.php/ridenbaugh-book-store/new-editions

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Steve Bagwell, 503-437-5980

Categories: Research news

OSU Extension publishes new field guide to shrubs of Northwest forests

OSU News Releases - Mon, 10/21/2013 - 11:22am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – On your next hike, instead of puzzling over the name of that large upright shrub with tiny white flowers and small red fruits, reach for the new field guide "Shrubs to Know in Pacific Northwest Forests" to quickly identify it as the native red elderberry.

Ed Jensen, a professor in Oregon State University's College of Forestry, authored the full-color, easy-to-use field guide for the OSU Extension Service.

The soft-cover, glossy book, available at http://bit.ly/OSU_ShrubstoKnow, describes nearly 100 different shrubs native to Pacific Northwest forests. It is useful to hikers and plant enthusiasts in Oregon, Washington, northern California, southern British Columbia, the panhandle of Idaho and adjoining parts of western Montana. It features 500 color photographs, an illustrated glossary of shrub terms, individual range maps and complete descriptions for each shrub species. It took Jensen about five years to research, write and photograph all the shrubs for the guide, which was published and designed by OSU's Extension and Experiment Station Communications department. 

The new guide is a companion to his popular "Trees to Know in Oregon" book, originally authored in 1950 by former OSU Extension forester Charles R. Ross. Under Jensen's authorship, "Trees to Know" has undergone several major enhancements and revisions, including the addition of color photos in 2005 and the publication of a 60th anniversary edition in 2010. It has always been one of the most requested publications in the OSU Extension catalog.

"I meet people from all around the state who tell me that 'Trees to Know' helped launch their interest in Oregon's trees and forests," Jensen said. "I think it helps people develop a relationship with the forest when they get to know individual trees. I hope 'Shrubs to Know' will have that same impact."

Jensen teaches courses on tree and shrub identification and runs natural resource education programs at OSU. For about 10 years he served as director of two large continuing education programs for field-based natural resource specialists – the Silviculture Institute and the Natural Resources Institute. 

You can meet Jensen at two upcoming public book signings set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Holiday Craft Fair at the West Linn Lutheran Church and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Authors and Artists Fair at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene. 

The book costs $12, plus shipping and handling, and may be ordered from the OSU Extension catalog at http://bit.ly/OSU_ShrubstoKnow or by calling 1-800-561-6719.

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Ed Jensen, 541-737-2519

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"Shrubs to Know in Pacific Northwest Forests" is a new field guide published by the Oregon State University Extension Service and authored by Ed Jensen, a professor in Oregon State University's College of Forestry. (Photo by OSU's EESC.)

Categories: Research news

Hatfield Marine Science Center finds creative solution to dwindling donations

OSU News Releases - Fri, 10/18/2013 - 10:28am
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Getting a wireless unmanned kiosk at Hatfield took the help of several state agencies.

NEWPORT, Ore. – The Visitor’s Center at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center was facing a serious problem. Donations were dropping, and staff members were trying to figure out why.

Then they hit on a realization. The donation box accepted cash, but very few people carry cash any more. The simple solution was to install a kiosk in the lobby that accepted donations via debit and credit cards.

But that’s when things got complicated. Because of security issues, as a governmental entity, the center wasn’t allowed to operate a wireless payment kiosk. The same issue prevented state workers such as Extension agents from using wireless card swipers when selling items at county fairs.

It all comes down to something called PCI (payment card industry) compliance. These national standards ensure the safety of debit and credit transactions, but to be in legal compliance as a state or governmental agency can be tricky. So Oregon Sea Grant’s Mark Farley, who works at the Hatfield Center, reached out to OSU’s Dee Wendler with the University Administration Business Center on campus, to find out how they could work with the State of Oregon to make compliance possible.

Wendler did some research, and was able to identify a company offering web-based PCI compliant payment services that was already under contract with the State of Oregon. However, recent changes to Oregon laws prevented OSU from utilizing the State’s contract, and prevented the Department of Justice from providing public universities advice or a review of the legal details surrounding the installation of an unmanned kiosk.

That’s when Wallace Rogers, State of Oregon manager of e-Government and Voice Services, stepped in. “It took some thinking outside the box,” Rogers said.

Rogers’ office contracts with an e-Government company, NIC-USA, to provide $1.8 billion in state e-commerce each year, and by contracting with them, Hatfield was able to be PCI compliant without taking on additional risk. Rogers’ office was able to contract with the Department of Justice to do a legal sufficiency review of the proposed Hatfield project.

Working with NIC not only allows Hatfield to install a cellular, wireless, unmanned kiosk (which should be installed by January) but may also open up the opportunity for OSU Extension agents and others who have items for sale to do so at a variety of locations outside of their offices.

“To have the ability to use a card swipe service will increase the efficiency of OSU employees, and increase their ability to do outreach,” Wendler said.

OSU’s Farley is grateful that so many entities came together to help solve what ended up being a rather complicated problem.

“Both the Justice Department and the Treasury Department went out of their way to help us negotiate the process,” Farley said.

Wendler believes if the kiosk is successful, it could be a model for other Oregon universities and state agencies.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Mark Farley, 541-867-0276

Dee Wendler, 541-737-4128

Categories: Research news

OSU addresses parking, traffic challenges for a weekday game on Nov. 1

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/16/2013 - 10:48am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University football team will be showcased in a national prime time game against the University of Southern California in OSU’s Reser Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. on Nov. 1, a rare Friday night game that will bring attention – and a logistical challenge – to the campus.

“We are expecting many of our local and out-of-town fans to come to Corvallis early for the game, which will place some unprecedented demands on parking,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for University Relations and Marketing. “In anticipation of the game, the university has worked to create a ‘phased-in’ parking schedule to better coordinate activities.”

“The goal is to welcome the visitors, yet reduce the impact on OSU students and employees to the greatest extent possible,” Clark added.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the office of Transit and Parking Services will begin implementing the plan on Oct. 31, when some of the first recreational vehicle (RV) patrons arrive.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, some parking lots will be open only to those with athletics-issued game-day parking passes. These include:

  • All Reser Stadium parking lots;
  • The parking garage at 26th Street and Washington Way (except for the fifth level, which will remain available for resident student parking);
  • The gravel parking lot behind the Softball Complex and the Hilton Garden Inn;
  • South Farm parking lot off Brooklane Road.

Other parking areas (listed below) will be available until 1 p.m. for regular faculty/staff business day parking. After 1 p.m., however, entrance to these areas will be limited only to people with athletics-issued game-day parking permits. Employee and student vehicles already parked in these lots may remain until 5 p.m., at which time all vehicles without athletics-issued passes must vacate. Signs will be posted at the entrance of these lots. These include:

  • Lots between 15th Street and 11th Street, off Washington Way;
  • The Benton Place parking lots east of Goss Stadium;
  • Lots off Washington Way adjacent to the Student Legacy Park (intramural fields);
  • The 30th Street parking lots around Peavy Hall, between Jefferson Street and Washington Way;
  • The 30th Street parking lot by Magruder Hall;
  • The 35th Street parking lot at the OSU Foundation building;
  • The lot off 15th Street and Western Boulevard at the University Plaza building;
  • For RVs: The gravel parking lot at 30th Street and Campus Way next to the Motor Pool.

All other Faculty/Staff parking lots that are designated as “Athletics Event” parking on game days are available for regular business-day parking, OSU officials say. However, employees are encouraged to vacate these lots by 5 p.m.

RV’s are only allowed after 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, in the gravel lot off 35th and Campus Way, next to the Motor Pool.  Employees and students who normally park in this location, should give themselves extra time Friday morning to locate a parking space as many may be filled with recreational vehicles.  RV’s are not permitted on campus in any other lot.

A map is available to help visitors, students and employees better understand designated lots. It is available online at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/10275103273/

“We realize that despite our best efforts and intentions, some students and employees may be inconvenienced,” Clark said. “Everyone’s cooperation and understanding is appreciated.”

The Corvallis Transit System map is accessible at: http://www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=884

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-3808 (cell: 503-502-8217)

Categories: Research news

Study concludes climate change will wreak havoc on oceans by 2100

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/16/2013 - 8:35am
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A new study concludes that by 2100, about 98 percent of the world's oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity – and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors.

These biogeochemical changes triggered by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions will not only affect marine habitats and organisms, the researchers say, but will often co-occur in areas that are heavily used by humans.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal PLoS Biology. It was funding by the Norwegian Research Council and Foundation through its support of the International Network for Scientific investigation of deep-sea ecosystems (INDEEP).

“While we estimated that 2 billion people would be impacted by these changes, the most troubling aspect of our results was that we found that many of the environmental stressors will co-occur in areas inhabited by people who can least afford it,” said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study.

“If we look on a global scale, between 400 million and 800 million people are both dependent on the ocean for their livelihood and also make less than $4,000 annually,” Thurber pointed out. “Adapting to climate change is a costly endeavor, whether it is retooling a fishing fleet to target a changing fish stock, or moving to a new area or occupation.”

The researchers say the effect on oceans will also create a burden in higher income areas, though “it is a much larger problem for people who simply do not have the financial resources to adapt.”

“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,” added Thurber, a post-doctoral fellow in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “All of these could compound the problem significantly.”

In their study, the researchers used global distribution maps of 32 marine habitats and biodiversity hotspots and overlaid that with climate models developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, presented in Stockholm, Sweden, this fall. They then compared the results with the latest available data on human use of marine goods and services to estimate the vulnerability of coastal populations worldwide.

The models had a range of outcomes, but all agreed that most of the world’s oceans would suffer negative impacts of varying intensities from the four major stressors. Only a small fraction of the oceans – mostly in Antarctica and to a lesser extent, small areas of the Atlantic – will see potential increases in oxygen or biological productivity, the study noted.

By 2100, nowhere in the world are ocean waters expected to be cooler or less acidic than they are today.

“When you look at overlapping stressors, the Northern Hemisphere appears to be in real trouble,” Thurber said. “The same grim outlook is apparent for the strong upwelling zones off Chile and southern Africa. Another ‘red spot’ is the Pacific Northwest of the United States, which already is seeing the impact of low oxygen and rising acidification.”

It is the combination of stressors that makes upwelling areas – where deep, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface to fertilize the upper water column – of greatest concern, the researchers noted. The models also suggest that marine food webs based on the production of euphausiids and other krill, or tiny marine crustaceans, are highly at-risk.

“A lot of marine animals, including many whale populations, are dependent upon krill or the other organisms that consume krill, for survival – and krill habitat has some of the greatest overlap in all the stressors we looked at,” Thurber said. “On the other hand, coral reefs – even though they didn’t rank as high as other areas for stressor overlap – are in trouble due to just two of the stressors, acidification and temperature. So a low score doesn’t necessarily mean these areas are unlikely to be affected.”

Thurber and three colleagues originally conceived of the idea of the meta-analysis of data to forecast the impact of climate change on the world’s deep sea, an idea that was re-cast when they organized an international workshop that drew many principal investigators of recent climate change studies. Notable among the researchers was Camila Mora of the University of Hawai’i at Mañoa, who spearheaded an effort to include shallow water and the human elements into the data analysis.

“The consequences of these co-occurring changes are massive,” Mora said. “Everything from species survival to abundance, to range size, to body size, to species richness, to ecosystem functioning are affected by changes in ocean biogeochemistry.”

The study is unusual because of its scope, and the analysis of multiple factors. Most previous studies have looked at one variable – such as ocean warming or increasing acidification – but not multiple stressors, or they focused on one geographic area. It also brought the human dimension into play, which few climate change studies have attempted.

“One of the real highlights of the study is its inclusion of the deep sea into our understanding of human impacts on climate,” Thurber said. “We often think of this vast habitat as immune to human activity, but we found that this largest and most stable area of our planet is likely to see multiple impacts from our activities.”

Among the possible biological responses to the four stressors:

  • Although warming off the surface waters in polar regions may lead to enhanced growth and productivity of some species, in a vast majority of the world it likely will lead to species loss, reduced animal density, and enhanced risk of disease;
  • Acidification will increase mortality of calcifying marine invertebrates and likely lead to species loss;
  • Hypoxia, or low oxygen, will cause mortality in many species and could enhance dominance by other species that are hypoxia-tolerant;
  • As productivity declines, many food web structures will be altered and reduced abundance may lead to dominance shifts from large to small species.
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

 Andrew Thurber, 541-737-8251; athurber@coas.oregonstate.edu

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A scarred coral reef

Deep-sea substrate

 

Antarctica

Categories: Research news

Nanotech system, cellular heating may improve treatment of ovarian cancer

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/15/2013 - 2:07pm
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OSU engineers and pharmaceutical researchers have developed an innovative use of nanotechnology and chemotherapy to improve the treatment of ovarian cancer.

The study this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/18PLoY4

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The combination of heat, chemotherapeutic drugs and an innovative delivery system based on nanotechnology may significantly improve the treatment of ovarian cancer while reducing side effects from toxic drugs, researchers at Oregon State University report in a new study.

The findings, so far done only in a laboratory setting, show that this one-two punch of mild hyperthermia and chemotherapy can kill 95 percent of ovarian cancer cells, and scientists say they expect to improve on those results in continued research.

The work is important, they say, because ovarian cancer – one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in women – often develops resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs if it returns after an initial remission. It kills more than 150,000 women around the world every year.

“Ovarian cancer is rarely detected early, and because of that chemotherapy is often needed in addition to surgery,” said Oleh Taratula, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. “It’s essential for the chemotherapy to be as effective as possible the first time it’s used, and we believe this new approach should help with that.”

It’s known that elevated temperatures can help kill cancer cells, but heating just the cancer cells is problematic. The new system incorporates the use of iron oxide nanoparticles that can be coated with a cancer-killing drug and then heated once they are imbedded in the cancer cell.

Other features have also been developed to optimize the new system, in an unusual collaboration between engineers, material science experts and pharmaceutical researchers.

A peptide is used that helps guide the nanoparticle specifically to cancer cells, and the nanoparticle is just the right size – neither too big nor too small – so the immune system will not reject it. A special polyethylene glycol coating further adds to the “stealth” effect of the nanoparticles and keeps them from clumping up. And the interaction between the cancer drug and a polymer on the nanoparticles gets weaker in the acidic environment of cancer cells, aiding release of the drug at the right place.

“The hyperthermia, or heating of cells, is done by subjecting the magnetic nanoparticles to an oscillating, or alternating magnetic field,” said Pallavi Dhagat, an associate professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and co-author on the study. “The nanoparticles absorb energy from the oscillating field and heat up.”

The result, in laboratory tests with ovarian cancer cells, was that a modest dose of the chemotherapeutic drug, combined with heating the cells to about 104 degrees, killed almost all the cells and was far more effective than either the drug or heat treatment would have been by itself.

Doxorubicin, the cancer drug, by itself at the level used in these experiments would leave about 70 percent of the cancer cells alive. With the new approach, only 5 percent were still viable.

The work was published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, as a collaboration of researchers in the OSU College of Pharmacy, College of Engineering, and Ocean NanoTech of Springdale, Ark. It was supported by the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, the PhRMA Foundation and the OSU College of Pharmacy.

“I’m very excited about this delivery system,” Taratula said. “Cancer is always difficult to treat, and this should allow us to use lower levels of the toxic chemotherapeutic drugs, minimize side effects and the development of drug resistance, and still improve the efficacy of the treatment. We’re not trying to kill the cell with heat, but using it to improve the function of the drug.”

Iron oxide particles had been used before in some medical treatments, researchers said, but not with the complete system developed at OSU. Animal tests, and ultimately human trials, will be necessary before the new system is available for use.

Drug delivery systems such as this may later be applied to other forms of cancer, such as prostate or pancreatic cancer, to help improve the efficacy of chemotherapy in those conditions, Taratula said.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Oleh Taratula, 541-737-5785

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Cancer treatment

Categories: Research news

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Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development

Office of Sponsored Programs

Partnering with Industry

Incentive Programs