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New book details the rich history of Northwest newspaper industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

OSU updates resources for protecting bees from pesticides

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 10:31am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – As the worldwide population of honey bees continues to decline, the Oregon State University Extension Service and partners have updated a tool for Pacific Northwest growers and beekeepers to reduce the impacts of pesticides on bees.

The revision of OSU Extension's publication appears after an estimated 50,000 bumble bees died in a Wilsonville parking lot in June. The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed in a June 21 statement that the bee deaths were directly related to a pesticide application on linden trees conducted to control aphids. The episode prompted the ODA to issue a six-month restriction on 18 insecticides containing the active ingredient dinotefuran.

OSU researchers are investigating the effects of broad-spectrum neonicotinoids, such as dinotefuran, on native bees. The work is in progress, according to Ramesh Sagili, an OSU honeybee specialist.

The newly revised publication "How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides" includes the latest research and regulations. Lead authors include Sagili and OSU toxicologist Louisa Hooven. Download the updated version for free online at http://bit.ly/OSU_ReduceBeePoisoning.

"More than 60,000 honey bee colonies pollinate about 50 different crops in Oregon, including blueberries, cherries, pear, apple, clover, meadowfoam and carrot seed," Sagili said. "Without honey bees, you lose an industry worth nearly $500 million from sales of the crops they commercially pollinate."

Nationally, honey bees pollinated about $11.68 billion worth of crops in 2009, according to a 2010 study on the economic value of insect pollinators by Cornell University.

Growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California will find the publication useful, Sagili said. An expanded color-coded chart details active ingredients and trade names of more than 100 conventional and organic pesticides, including toxicity levels to bees and precautions for use.

The publication also describes residual toxicity periods for several pesticides that remain effective for extended periods after they are applied. Additionally, the guide explains how to investigate and report suspected bee poisonings.

Nationwide, honey bee colonies have been declining in recent years due to several factors, including mites, viruses transmitted by mites, malnutrition and improper use of pesticides, Sagili said. In Oregon, about 22 percent of commercial honey bee colonies were lost during the winter of 2012-13, Sagili said. There has been a gradual, sustained decline of managed honey bees since the peak of 5.9 million colonies in 1947, according to the Cornell study. The number of managed colonies reached a low of 2.3 million in 2008, although there were increases in 2009 and 2010, the study said.  

"Growers and beekeepers can work together with this practical document in hand," Sagili said of OSU Extension's publication. "It gives them informative choices."

For example, when commercial beekeeper Harry Vanderpool needed to advise a pear grower on whether an insecticide was acceptable to use around bees, he turned to OSU Extension's publication.  

"That manual has been a blessing," said Vanderpool, who keeps 400 hives in South Salem to pollinate dozens of crops for growers from California to central Oregon. "It's a tool that helps beekeepers and farmers work together in the right way with the right chemical rather than us telling farmers how to farm or farmers telling beekeepers how to keep bees."

You can also find OSU's publication by searching for PNW 591-E in OSU Extension's catalog at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog. The publication was produced in cooperation with OSU, Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Ramesh Sagili, 541-737-5460; Louisa Hooven

Categories: Research news

OSU oceanography dean to speak at ARCS Foundation

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:48am
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Mark Abbott, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, will give the keynote speech at the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation scholars luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in Portland.

The event begins at 11 a.m. at the Portland Art Museum, where 52 ARCS scholars will be honored and present posters of their research. Ticket information is available online at: https://www.arcsfoundation.org/portland/news/portland-chapters-9th-annual-luncheon-celebrates-50-american-science-scholars

Abbott’s talk, “Our Oceans under Pressure,” will outline how human impacts on the world’s oceans are increasing, raising concern for such issues as declining fisheries, sea level rise, pollution, acidification, harmful algal blooms, and marine “dead zones.”

Abbott is president of the Oceanographic Society and a former member of the National Science Board. In 2011, he received the prestigious Jim Gray eScience Award in Stockholm, Sweden, from Microsoft Research for his leadership in blending science and computing technology. He joined the OSU faculty in 1988 and has served as dean of the college since 2001.

Julia Maxson of Oregon Health & Science University will be the featured ARCS Scholar Alumna speaker. Her talk is titled “Using Genetics to Find Better Cancer Treatments.”

Fifty-two scholars at OSU and OHSU will be honored at this ninth annual luncheon.

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

Jean Josephson, ARCS president, jeanjosephson@gmail.com

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Mark Abbott

Categories: Research news

OSU Press publishes book on salmon by acclaimed biologist

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:05am
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Fisheries biologist Jim Lichatowich, an Oregon State alumnus, has written a new book on salmon management and recovery published by the OSU Press.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – For more than 40 years, Jim Lichatowich worked with Pacific salmon as a researcher, resource manager and scientific adviser, and he has seen first-hand the decline of Northwest salmon populations during that time.

In a new book published by the Oregon State University Press, Lichatowich outlines a plan for salmon recovery based on the lessons he has learned during his long career.

His book, “Salmon, People, and Place: A Biologist’s Search for Salmon Recovery,” points out many misconceptions about salmon that have hampered management and limited recovery programs. These programs will continue to fail, he argues, as long as they look at salmon as “products” and ignore their essential relationship with the environment.

Among his suggestions for reforming salmon management and recovery:

  • Holding salmon managers and administrators accountable;
  • Requiring agencies to do more “institutional learning”;
  • Not relying on shifting baselines of data;
  • Undertaking hatchery reform;
  • Returning to place-based salmon management.

John Larison, author of “The Complete Steelheader,” praised the OSU Press book written by Lichatowich. “Part science, part anthropology, part philosophy, this is a revelatory book and essential reading for anyone hoping to understand salmon in the Northwest,” Larison said.

Lichatowich served for years on the Independent Scientific Advisory board for the Columbia River restoration program, as well as on Oregon’s Independent Multidisciplinary Science Team and other science groups in British Columbia and California. He is author of the award-winning book, “Salmon without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis.”

In his newest book, Lichatowich writes: “We enthusiastically accepted the gift of salmon, but failed to treat it with the respect it deserves. We failed to meet our obligation to return the gift in the way that only humans can. We failed to return the gift of salmon with the gift of stewardship.”

Lichatowich is a graduate of OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. He will return to his alma mater in January to present a seminar on his work.

“Salmon, People, and Place” is available in bookstores, online at http://osupress.oregonstate.edu, or can be ordered by calling 1-800-621-2736.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Micki Reaman, 541-737-4620; Micki.reaman@oregonstate.edu

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Categories: Research news

Beyond antibiotics: “PPMOs” offer new approach to bacterial infection

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:31pm
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Researchers have created a fundamentally different way to attack bacterial infection called a PPMO, which appears to function as well or better than an antibiotic.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions today announced the successful use of a new type of antibacterial agent called a PPMO, which appears to function as well or better than an antibiotic, but may be more precise and also solve problems with antibiotic resistance.

In animal studies, one form of PPMO showed significant control of two strains of Acinetobacter, a group of bacteria of global concern that has caused significant mortality among military personnel serving in Middle East combat.

The new PPMOs offer a fundamentally different attack on bacterial infection, researchers say.

They specifically target the underlying genes of a bacterium, whereas conventional antibiotics just disrupt its cellular function and often have broader, unwanted impacts. As they are further developed, PPMOs should offer a completely different and more precise approach to managing bacterial infection, or conceptually almost any disease that has an underlying genetic component.

The findings were published today in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, by researchers from OSU, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Sarepta, Inc., a Corvallis, Ore., firm.

“The mechanism that PPMOs use to kill bacteria is revolutionary,” said Bruce Geller, a professor of microbiology in the OSU College of Science and lead author on the study. “They can be synthesized to target almost any gene, and in that way avoid the development of antibiotic resistance and the negative impacts sometimes associated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.

“Molecular medicine,” Geller said, “is the way of the future.”

PPMO stands for a peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer – a synthetic analog of DNA or RNA that has the ability to silence the expression of specific genes. Compared to conventional antibiotics, which are often found in nature, PPMOs are completely synthesized in the laboratory with a specific genetic target in mind.

In animal laboratory tests against A. baumannii, one of the most dangerous Acinetobacter strains, PPMOs were far more powerful than some conventional antibiotics like ampicillin, and comparable to the strongest antibiotics available today. They were also effective in cases where the bacteria were resistant to antibiotics.

PPMOs have not yet been tested in humans. However, their basic chemical structure, the PMO, has been extensively tested in humans and found safe. Although the addition of the peptide to the PPMO poses an uncertain risk of toxicity, the potency of PPMOs reduces the risk while greatly improving delivery of the PMOs into bacterial cells, Geller said.

Geller said research is being done with Acinetobacter in part because this pathogen has become a huge global problem, and is often spread in hospitals. It can cause respiratory infection, sepsis, and is a special concern to anyone whose immune system is compromised. Wounds in military battle conditions have led to numerous cases in veterans, and A. baumannii is now resistant to many antibiotics. “Urgent new approaches to therapeutics are needed,” the scientists said in their report.

Continued research and eventually human clinical trials will be required before the new compounds are available for health care, the researchers said. This and continued studies have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the other collaborators and the N.L. Tartar fund.

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Editor’s Note: A scanning electron microscope image of A. baumannii is available online (please provide image credit as indicated at web site): http://bit.ly/GztejR

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Bruce Geller, 541-737-1845

Categories: Research news

Interactive “Beaver BarCamp” conference planned at OSU

Fri, 10/11/2013 - 8:32am
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Beaver BarCamp, hosted by the OSU Open Source Lab, will be held Saturday, Oct. 12, and allow participants to explore a wide range of topics.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 12th semiannual Beaver BarCamp, an informal conference where participants can explore anything from science to art, technology, food, art, culture or other topics, will be held Saturday, Oct. 12, at Oregon State University.

The event, which is hosted by the Open Source Lab at OSU, is free and open to the public. It will be at the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and will include presentations by the Corvallis Bicycle Collective, executive in residence Bob Mayes, and Open Source Lab director Lance Albertson.

Introductory science topics will be offered for high school students and interested community members, and participants can attend any portion of the day. A continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack will be provided.

Most sessions at Beaver BarCamp are not predetermined. It allows sharing of ideas and projects, discussions, demos and interaction among attendees, who both provide the sessions and choose the schedule. Anyone can participate in sessions throughout the day or propose their own, based on a project, hobby or research interest. More information is available online at http://beaverbarcamp.org

The Open Source Lab, which provides host and support services to more than 160 open source projects, will also have information sessions at Beaver BarCamp for those who are interested in learning more about the Open Source Lab and opportunities to become involved.

College of Engineering Source:  Melissa Morse
Categories: Research news

Botanist and writer Robin Kimmerer to read from her book Oct. 19

Thu, 10/10/2013 - 2:43pm
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Robin Kimmerer will read from her new book, “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants,” on Saturday, Oct. 19, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Oregon State University’s LaSells Stewart Center, C&E Auditorium.

She’ll be joined by poet Alison Hawthorne Deming for an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of OSU Spring Creek Project’s Long-Term Ecological Reflections program. The program is free and open to all.

As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the majority of indigenous cultures consider plants and animals to be the oldest teachers. In “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Kimmerer shows how other living things – asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass – offer people gifts and lessons.

Jane Goodall said about “Braiding Sweetgrass,” “Robin Kimmerer has written an extraordinary book, showing how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people.”

Kimmerer is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. Her first book, “Gathering Moss,” was awarded the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing.

Since its inception in 2003, Long-Term Ecological Reflections has hosted more than 40 writers-in-residence at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, and sponsored field symposia on challenging topics such as “The Meaning of Watershed Health” and “New Metaphors for Restoration.” 

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198; Charles.goodrich@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU students will be part of global initiative created by President Clinton

Thu, 10/10/2013 - 10:35am
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Oregon State University has become a member institution of the Clinton Global Initiative University, an organization launched by President Bill Clinton to bring together student leaders from around the world.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has become a member institution of the Clinton Global Initiative University, an organization launched by President Bill Clinton to bring together student leaders from around the world.

The program has five focus areas:  education; environment and climate change; peace and human rights; poverty alleviation; and public health.

By becoming part of this network, OSU can send student leaders to the organization’s annual meeting, which includes student leaders and organizers, national and international experts, and some celebrities. The next meeting will be at Arizona State University in March, 2014.

Invited students develop “Commitments to Action,” which are new, specific and measurable initiatives that address challenges on their campus, in their community or on a larger national or global scale.

Laurie Bridges, assistant professor and librarian at OSU, worked closely with Vice Provost for Student Affairs Larry Roper to involve OSU in the CGI University Network. OSU’s emphasis on sustainability, entrepreneurship and social justice ties perfectly with the focus of the program, she said.

“I feel the CGI U is in perfect alignment with the mission and goals of our university,” Bridges said. “Promoting economic, social, cultural and environmental progress is part of OSU’s mission, which CGI University does on a global scale. Through the education they receive at OSU, our students are being prepared to be strong change agents in the world.”

OSU has committed $10,000 for students who participate in CGI University, part of which is offered as seed money for some of the initiatives they propose. The university will also provide support and mentoring to participating student leaders and entrepreneurs.

For more information see http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Laurie Bridges,

541-737-8821

Categories: Research news

OSU researchers helping China’s rarest seabird rebound from near-extinction

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 8:44am
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Researchers from OSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife are working with researchers in China to save one of the world's most endangered seabirds - the Chinese crested tern.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A collaborative project between researchers in Asia and Oregon has helped establish a new breeding colony for one of the world’s most endangered seabirds – the Chinese crested tern, which has a global population estimated at no more than 50 birds.

Until this year, there were only two known breeding colonies for the critically endangered species (Thalasseus bernsteini) – both in island archipelagos close to the east coast of the People’s Republic of China. Once thought to be extinct, there were no recorded sightings of Chinese crested terns from the 1930s until 2000, when a few birds were rediscovered on the Matsu Islands.

This summer an innovative tern colony restoration began, with assistance from students and faculty in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. Dan Roby, a professor of wildlife ecology at OSU, had previously led efforts to relocate populations of Caspian terns from locations along the Columbia River in Oregon, where the birds were consuming significant quantities of juvenile salmon.

“The problem was different in Oregon than it is in China, but the goal was the same – to alter the habitat in a good location in hopes of creating a breeding colony,” Roby said. “The methods also were similar and based on tern restoration techniques developed by Steve Kress of the National Audubon Society. You have to partially clear an island of vegetation, place decoys there, and attract birds using sound.”

In early May of 2013, an international team did just that on a small island in the Jiushan Islands called Tiedun Dao. Chinese crested terns used to breed on the archipelago a decade ago, increasing the chances that restoration could be successful there, Roby said.

The project team included members from the Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau, the Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve, the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, and OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The team members cleared brush off Tiedun Dao, place 300 tern decoys on the island, and used solar-powered playback systems to broadcast recorded vocalizations of both greater crested terns and Chinese crested terns.

“Greater crested terns are not endangered and when they establish colonies, it sometimes attracts the endangered Chinese crested tern,” Roby pointed out. “We thought if we could get them in to colonize the island, their numbers would eventually grow and the Chinese crested terns might follow.

“We just didn’t expect it to happen that quickly,” Roby added.

The researchers thought it might take years – but by July, a handful of greater crested terns were spotted flying over the decoys. By the end of that month, 2,600 greater crested terns had been documented and hundreds of pairs had laid eggs and begun incubating them. To the surprise of the restoration team, 19 adult Chinese crested terns were spotted on the island and at least two pairs laid eggs.

It was the highest single count of the endangered seabird in one location since the species’ rediscovery in 2000.

By late September – despite typhoons and a late start to the breeding season – more than 600 greater crested tern chicks, and at least one Chinese crested tern chick had successfully fledged.

Local officials say they are committed to the protection of the emerging colony.

“We will do our best to ensure good management of the Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve and we also hope to receive more support for the conservation of the tern colony here in Xiangshan,” said Yu Mingquan, deputy director of the provincial Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau.

The success of the colony on Tiedun Dao is a “landmark for contemporary conservation in the region,” said Simba Chan, the senior Asia conservation officer for Birdlife. “No one dared imagine that the first year of such a challenging restoration project would be so successful.”

Funding for the project was provided by numerous sources internationally.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Dan Roby, 541-737-1955; Daniel.Roby@oregonstate.edu

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Categories: Research news

GMOs in agriculture to be Corvallis Science Pub topic

Mon, 10/07/2013 - 5:11pm
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Direct modification of DNA, or genetic engineering, is a tool for plant breeding that has spread at unprecedented speed over the last two decades. At the Oct. 14 Corvallis Science Pub, Steve Strauss, director of Oregon State University’s Outreach in Biotechnology program, will discuss the pros and cons of gene technology for agriculture.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Direct modification of DNA, or genetic engineering, is a tool for plant breeding that has spread at unprecedented speed over the last two decades. At the Oct. 14 Corvallis Science Pub, Steve Strauss, director of Oregon State University’s Outreach in Biotechnology program, will discuss the pros and cons of gene technology for agriculture.

The Science Pub presentation begins at 6 p.m. in the Majestic Theater, at 115 S.W. Second St. in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public. In November, Science Pub will resume at its usual location at the Old World Deli.

Today’s agricultural bounty can be traced to traditional plant breeding and other technologies, but population growth and demands for higher quality food will require large improvements in agricultural productivity, said Strauss. The undesirable environmental and social effects of more intense farming systems also need to be minimized.

“Gene technology is a valuable tool, not a silver bullet,” Strauss added. “It can do a lot, but it must be used with due caution and as part of integrated, ecologically-guided management systems for sustained benefit.”

Biotechnology appears capable of providing major humanitarian benefits to the poor by improving nutrition and food security.

“Despite the fears and growing legal barriers, the stakes in this debate are too high to turn away from,” he said. “We must find socially acceptable ways to move forward.”

While genetic engineering can provide nutritional and agronomic benefits, it has also come up against strong social and legal resistance in many countries, making its future uncertain. Strauss will review what the technology actually is, how it is similar and different from conventional breeding, and how it has impacted agriculture to date. He will also discuss diverse sources of the controversy surrounding it, including the numerous myths and confusing science that pervade the online world.

Strauss is a distinguished professor in the Oregon State College of Forestry and a fellow of the Leopold Leadership Program at Stanford University. He is also the director of the Tree Biosafety and Genomics Research Cooperative at OSU that conducts research on mitigation of risks from genetic engineering in forestry.

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: 

Steve Strauss, 541-737-7568

Categories: Research news

OSU Be Well Walk & Run on Oct. 11

Fri, 10/04/2013 - 9:37am
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Oregon State University is holding the fourth annual Be Well Walk & Run on Oct. 11

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is holding the fourth annual Be Well Walk & Run on Oct. 11 in the Memorial Union Quad. The event is free and open to everyone.

This year’s event includes a five-kilometer running course as well as a one-mile walking course (5k Map / 1-Mile Map). The scenic route will wind participants throughout OSU’s campus, highlighting picturesque buildings and spaces. Costumes are encouraged. 

The event will feature activity stations in the Memorial Union Quad to engage participants in learning about the Healthy Campus Initiative, including physical activity, stress management, nutrition and a smoke-free campus.

Participants can register as individuals or as part of a group.  Early registrants will receive a free 2013 Be Well Walk & Run t-shirt. To register, go to http://bit.ly/19Zo7Rk. The run starts at 3:30 p.m. in the quad, check in begins at 3 p.m.

For more information, go to http://oregonstate.edu/bewell

Accommodations for disabilities may be made by calling Joe Schaffer, 541-737-4884.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Lisa Hoogesteger, 541-737-3343

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Categories: Research news

China honors Oregon State researcher for decade of scientific collaboration

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 4:46pm
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Major advances against some of the world’s most devastating plant diseases are starting to emerge from more than a decade of international scientific collaboration led by Brett Tyler, director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University.

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Major advances against some of the world’s most devastating plant diseases are starting to emerge from more than a decade of international scientific collaboration led by Brett Tyler, director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University. Tyler has fostered collaborative research in China, the United States and Europe on a group of organisms that cause diseases such as late blight in potatoes and soybean root rot. Both diseases cost millions of dollars in annual crop losses worldwide.

The joint research activities have advanced food production by understanding how plants such as potatoes and soybeans resist disease and how the genes responsible for resistance can be incorporated into new varieties. Potatoes developed by European researchers that incorporate these findings are just starting to hit commercial markets, and research is continuing on soybean diseases in the U.S. and China.

The People’s Republic of China recognized Tyler on Sept. 29 for his achievements with its highest civic award for non-Chinese scientists. Tyler, who is also a professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, received the Friendship Award of China for a decade of technical assistance and scientific collaboration with researchers at Nanjing Agricultural University and other Chinese institutions.

“It’s a wonderful bridge across the Pacific with the joint objective of increasing food security,” Tyler said.

Tyler, holder of the Stewart Chair in Gene Research, coordinates a worldwide research program on plant pathogens known to scientists as oomycetes. He and his colleagues have identified plant genes that confer long-term resistance to these pathogens. Scientists have focused on plant and pathogen genetics because the diseases can be so devastating, and pesticides tend to be rapidly evaded by these adaptable organisms.

“I have been working with an expanding circle of collaborators in China,” said Tyler, who has traveled to China 13 times. “We have published papers in top journals and established a growing collaborative research program.” In addition to his collaboration with researchers in Nanjing, he has worked with scientists at the Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University, Tsinghua University, the Beijing Genome Institute, Shandong Agricultural University and Yangzhou University.

Tyler’s Chinese partners — especially Yuanchao Wang at Nanjing and Weixing Shan at the NW Agricultural and Forestry University — have formed a consortium in China to apply the results of their disease resistance work in soybean and potato breeding. At the same time, Tyler has developed a similar network involving 19 institutions in the United States. With funding from the U.S. and Chinese governments, labs on both sides of the Pacific have hosted exchange students, jointly planned experiments and shared data.

“During our ten years of cooperation, Brett has helped to guide our research,” said Wang. “Research on the molecular genetics of oomycetes in China started from our cooperation. Brett helped us set up a great platform of genetic transformation and bioinformatics in Nanjing, and many other groups in China learned how to do this research from my group.”

The Chinese government has invested heavily in research in the last decade, added Tyler. “Our colleagues in China now have research facilities that are equal to or surpass what we have available in the United States,” he said.

Genes that provide long-term resistance to oomycete diseases are just starting to emerge in commercially available crops. “Resistance genes have been used in breeding for a long time, but many of them have been quickly defeated by the pathogens,” said Tyler. “We’ve uncovered why that happens. The pathogen produces a group of proteins that the plant has learned to detect. Unfortunately, these are proteins that the pathogen can quickly change. Now we have started to identify proteins the pathogen cannot change.”

In 2011, the USDA awarded $9.3 million to Tyler and his colleagues to apply their research to the U.S. soybean crop. Tyler’s Chinese collaborators are also contributing to that project. Soybean root rot causes major crop losses in China.

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College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Nick Houtman Source: 

Brett Tyler, 541-737-3686

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Brett Tyler

Categories: Research news

OSU faculty members key contributors to IPCC report

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 9:19am
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Two OSU faculty members were key contributors to the landmark report issue this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations-sponsored group of scientists.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations-sponsored group of scientists, issued its latest report on the state of scientific understanding on climate change. Two Oregon State University faculty members played key roles in the landmark report.

Peter Clark, a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, was one of two coordinating lead authors on a chapter outlining sea level change. He and fellow coordinating lead author John Church of Australia oversaw the efforts of 12 lead authors and several dozen contributing scientists on the science of sea level change.

Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at OSU, was one of 12 lead authors on a chapter looking at the cryosphere, which is comprised of snow, river and lake ice, sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets, and frozen ground. The cryosphere plays a key role in the physical, biological and social environment on much of the Earth’s surface.

“Since the last IPCC report, there has been increased scientific understanding of the physical processes leading to sea level change, and that has helped improve our understanding of what will happen in the future,” Clark said.

“One of the things our group concluded with virtual certainty is that the rate of global mean sea level rise has accelerated over the past two centuries – primarily through the thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers,” Clark added. “Sea level rise will continue to accelerate through the 21st century, and global sea levels could rise by 0.5 meters to at least one meter by the year 2100.”

The rate of that rise will depend on future greenhouse gas emissions.

Among other findings, the sea level chapter also concluded that it is virtually certain that global mean sea level will continue to rise beyond the year 2100, and that substantially higher sea level rise could take place with the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Mote, who also is a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, said analyzing the cryosphere is complex and nuanced, though overall the amount of snow and ice on Earth is declining.

The report notes: “Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent.” Other cryosphere changes include:

  • Greenland and Antarctica are not only losing ice, but the rate of decline is accelerating;
  • The amount of sea ice in September has reached new lows;
  • The June snow cover also has reached new lows and has decreased by an average of 11.7 percent per decade – or 53 percent overall – from 1967 to 2012;
  • The reduction in snow cover can formally be attributed to human influence – work done by Mote and David Rupp of OSU.

 Rick Spinrad, OSU’s vice president for research, praised the efforts of the two OSU faculty members for their contributions to the report.

 "OSU is a global leader in environmental research as reflected by the leadership roles of Dr. Clark and Dr. Mote in this seminal assessment,” Spinrad said. “The impact of the IPCC report will be felt by scientists and policy makers for many years to come."

The IPCC report is comprised of 14 chapters, supported by a mass of supplementary material. A total of 209 lead authors and 50 review editors from 39 countries helped lead the effort, and an additional 600 contributing authors from 32 countries participated in the report. Authors responded to more than 54,000 review comments.

The report is available online at the IPCC site: http://www.ipcc.ch/

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

Peter Clark, 541-737-1247; clarkp@geo.oregonstate.edu;

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

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A shrinking glacier


Rising sea levels

Categories: Research news

Innovative approach could ultimately end deadly disease of sleeping sickness

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 8:32am
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A combination of bacteria in tsetse flies has the potential to significantly reduce or even eliminate the disease of sleeping sickness, an OSU modeling study suggests.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A tag team of two bacteria, one of them genetically modified, has a good chance to reduce or even eliminate the deadly disease African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, researchers at Oregon State University conclude in a recent mathematical modeling study.

African trypanosomiasis, caused by a parasite carried by the tsetse fly, infects 30,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa each year and is almost always fatal without treatment. In a 2008 epidemic, 48,000 people died.

In this research, scientists evaluated the potential for success of a new approach to combat the disease – creating a genetically modified version of the Sodalis bacteria commonly found in the gut of the flies that carry the disease, and using different bacteria called Wolbachia to drive the GMO version of Sodalis into fly populations.

When that’s done, the GMO version of Sodalis would kill the disease-causing trypanosome parasite. According to the analysis published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers say this should work – and could offer a model system for other tropical, insect-carried diseases of even greater importance, including dengue fever and malaria.

“There are a few ‘ifs’ necessary for this to succeed, but none of them look like an obstacle that could not be overcome,” said Jan Medlock, an assistant professor in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences, and lead author on the new report.

“If everything goes right, and we are optimistic that it will, this could be enormously important,” Medlock said. “There’s a potential here to completely solve this disease that has killed many thousands of people, and open new approaches to dealing with even more serious diseases such as malaria.”

Some of the “ifs” include: the transgenic Sodalis has to be reasonably effective at blocking the parasite, at or above a level of about 85 percent; the Wolbachia bacteria, which has some effect on the health of flies affected with it, must not kill too many of them; and the target species of fly has to be a majority of the tsetse flies in the areas being treated.

The research shows that dealing with all of those obstacles should be possible. If so, this might spell the end of a tropical disease that has plagued humans for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. African trypanosomiasis causes serious mental and physical deterioration – including the altered sleep patterns that give the disease its name – and is fatal without treatment. It’s still difficult to treat, and neurologic damage is permanent.

Past efforts to control the disease, including insect traps, insecticide spraying, and use of sterile insects have been of some value, but only in limited areas and the effects were not permanent.

The strength of the new approach, researchers say, is that once the process begins it should spread and be self-sustaining - it should not be necessary to repeatedly take action in the huge geographic areas of Africa. Due to some genetic manipulation, the flies carrying the Wolbachia bacteria should naturally increase their populations and have an inherent survival advantage over conventional tsetse flies.

As the flies carrying transgenic bacteria continue to dominate and their populations spread, trypanosomiasis should fairly rapidly disappear. Whether the mechanism of control could wane in effectiveness over time is an issue that requires further study, scientists said.

Work has begun on the GMO version of Sodalis that has the capability to resist trypanosomes . It’s not yet finalized, Medlock said, but it should be possible, and when complete, the bacteria will be very specific to tsetse flies.

Medlock, an expert in modeling the transmission of various diseases – including human influenza – says the analysis is clear that this approach has significant promise of success. Because of the relatively low infectiousness of the parasite and the ability of Wolbachia to drive the resistance genes, no part of the system has to be 100 percent perfect in order to ultimately achieve near eradication of this disease, he said.

Accomplishing a similar goal with diseases such as malaria may be more difficult, he said, because that disease historically has shown a remarkable ability to mutate and overcome many of the approaches used to attack it. However, at least some near-term gains may be possible, he said.

Collaborators on this study included scientists from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and the Yale School of Public Health. It was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Miriam Weston Trust.

College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Jan Medlock, 541-737-6874

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Tsetse fly

Categories: Research news

International Film Festival shows in Corvallis Oct. 14-20

Wed, 10/02/2013 - 12:00pm
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The fifth International Film Festival, showcasing a diverse array of movies from international cultures, will be held Oct. 14-20 in Corvallis.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The fifth International Film Festival, showcasing a diverse array of movies from international cultures, will be held Oct. 14-20 in Corvallis.

The International Film Festival is organized by Oregon State University’s School of Language, Culture, and Society. Admission is free and open to the public. All screenings are held at the Darkside Cinema, 215 S.W. 4th St. in Corvallis.

OSU faculty member Sebastian Heiduschke strongly encourages patrons to arrive early to get tickets. Reservations are not available. Tickets are available 15 minutes before show times.

The full program can be viewed at: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/slcs/sites/default/files/iffprogram3.pdf

Here is the schedule of film screenings:

Monday, Oct. 14

  • 5 p.m.: “Blancanieves,” Spain, 2012. Set in southern Spain in 1920s, “Blancanieves” is a Spanish twist on the story of Snow White. It was also Spain’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
  • 7 p.m.: “Rentaneko” Japan, 2012. Translated to “Rent-A-Cat,” this drama tells the story of a young lonely woman who only has her cats left, until a man from her past comes back.

Tuesday, Oct. 15

  • 5 p.m.: “Beijing Flickers,” China, 2012. A young man experiences moments of euphoria amid despair as he roams Beijing with other misfit dreamers in this darkly funny portrait of disaffected youth.
  • 7 p.m.: “Parada,” or “The Parade,” Serbia, 2012. Inspired by true events, this comedy features a Serbian crime boss who recruits his war buddies to provide protection for a gay pride march.

Wednesday, Oct. 16

  • 5 p.m.: “Le Repenti” or (The Repentant), Algeria/France, 2012. As Islamist groups continue to spread terror, Rashid, a young Jihadist, leaves the mountains to return to his village.
  • 7 p.m.: “Children of the Wall,” United States, 2012. This documentary chronicles the cultural changes that have happened since the Berlin Wall fell 21 years ago. Director Eric Swartz and producer Sarah Bolton will be in attendance.

Thursday, Oct. 17

  • 5 p.m.: “Aquí y Allá,” or “Here and There,” Mexico, 2012. Pedro returns home to a small mountain village in Guerrero, Mexico, after years of working in the U.S., and struggles to follow his dreams.
  • 7 p.m.: “Oh Boy!” Germany, 2012. This deadpan comedy follows 20-something Niko as he meanders through modern Berlin with no money, no prospects and no girlfriend.

Friday, Oct. 18

  • 4:30 p.m.: “Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights,” India, 2012. An 80-year-old retiree is determined to get the streetlights turned off after sunrise, but he must battle against bureaucracy.
  • 6 p.m.: “Cairo 678” Egypt, 2011. Three Cairo women from different backgrounds warily unite to combat the sexual harassment that has affected each of their lives.
  • 8 p.m.: “Life Kills Me,” Chile, 2007. This comedy is about an unlikely friendship between a grieving cinematographer and a morbidly obsessed drifter.

Saturday, Oct. 19

  • Noon: “Student,” Kazakhstan, 2012. This contemporary adaptation of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” follows a solitary philosophy student against the backdrop of modern Kazakhstan.
  • 2 p.m.: “Sudoeste” or (Southwest), Brazil, 2012. A young woman gives birth on her deathbed to a child who lives her lifetime in a single day, in this hauntingly dreamlike tale of incommensurable life.
  • 4:15 p.m.: “Darbare 111 Dokhtar,” or “About 111 Girls,” Iraq, 2012. An Iranian state official, his driver and a young guide race to stop 111 young Kurdish women from committing suicide in protest.
  • 6:15 p.m.: “Ludwig II,” Germany/Austria, 2012. This epic drama tells the life story of Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, one of the most fascinating monarchs of modern times.

Sunday, Oct. 20

  • 2 p.m.: “Wickie auf grosser Fahrt,” or “Vicky and the Treasure of the Gods,” Germany, 2011. A Viking tot is abducted in this comedy of misadventure and magic.
  • 4 p.m.: “El Fantastico mundo de Juan Orol,” Mexico, 2012. The true story of Mexico’s half-forgotten B-movie master, “involuntary surrealist,” Juan Orol.
  • 6 p.m.: “Paziraie Sadeh,” or “Modest Reception,” Iran, 2012. Two siblings from Tehran travel the mountainous northern countryside, pushing money on locals—a hilarious exercise with themes of power and corruption.
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