OSU officials say the penalty given by the NCAA to OSU baseball pitcher Ben Wetzler is inappropriately harsh, given the mitigating circumstances.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University officials say the penalty imposed Friday by the NCAA staff on pitcher Ben Wetzler, which will cost him 20 percent of his senior season, is too harsh given all of the mitigating factors.
The NCAA began an investigation of Wetzler late last year concerning advice he received from a representative of a sports management group just after the 2013 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Wetzler will be eligible to resume playing for the Beavers on Sunday, March 2, in the fourth game of a four-game series against Wright State University.
As a college junior last year, Wetzler was chosen in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, but chose to return to Oregon State for his senior season to pursue an NCAA championship with his teammates.
The NCAA notified OSU in late November 2013 of its intent to conduct an investigation involving Wetzler. Both OSU and Wetzler fully cooperated with that investigation. During the course of the NCAA’s investigation, OSU learned that the charges were related to communications and actions by an adviser that Wetzler had engaged to advise him about his draft options. Wetzler received no compensation from the adviser.
“While NCAA rules allow a student-athlete to obtain advising services about the draft and contract offers, the adviser may have no contact with a professional organization,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for University Relations and Marketing.
“Although the evidence was unclear, the NCAA found that Wetzler’s adviser did have prohibited contact and that a violation of the ‘spirit’ of the NCAA bylaw occurred,” Clark said. “It was clear from the beginning, however, that there was no intent on the part of Ben Wetzler to circumvent the rules. He was trying to do the right thing.”
“Oregon State University continues to support Ben in this matter,” said Bob De Carolis, OSU’s Athletic Director. “He is a great example of a student-athlete who turned down a significant sum of money from a professional baseball team to return to OSU to complete his academic degree and collegiate eligibility.”
Oregon State proposed a self-imposed penalty on Wetzler of 10 percent of his team’s games, which apparently was not enough for the NCAA, according to Clark.
“This is really a shame. To be clear, Ben received no money, nor did he enter into an agreement with the intent of hiring an agent to negotiate on his behalf,” Clark said. “The violation was a technicality, and we strongly believe that it is overly harsh for him to lose 20 percent of his senior season because of that.
“Oregon State believes that this penalty does not fairly represent Ben’s culpability in the matter or the seriousness of the violation,” Clark said. “This student was looking for a way to deal with the pressures associated with the situation so he could return to school.”
Clark said the complexity of a student-athlete being able to individually evaluate an offer to become a professional athlete, or instead choose to remain in school, is “incredibly daunting and not something we should expect young people to be able to do on their own.
“This is simply what Ben Wetzler did – he sought to understand his options for a professional baseball career versus completing his education and playing out his senior year,” Clark said. “He trusted his adviser to follow the NCAA rules and not negotiate on his behalf. Once he understood his options, he decided to remain a student-athlete for one more year at Oregon State University.
“Let’s review the facts here,” Clark said. “A student-athlete sought advice on whether to go pro or return to school. He received that advice, and now he is being punished by the NCAA for making a decision to complete his education – a decision that we should all applaud. This is inexplicable.”
Clark said the decision by the NCAA suggests that the organization needs to re-evaluate its stance on how best to help student-athletes determine their futures.
“The NCAA should have the best interests of student-athletes in mind, and it should certainly question rules that produce this outcome,” Clark said. “Having seen these amateurism rules in action, OSU believes the NCAA should take a serious look with an eye toward revising the rules on amateur status and find new ways to help student-athletes navigate the high-pressure negotiations of professional sports to make the best life choices.”
De Carolis said that OSU takes its NCAA obligations seriously and works hard to support the success of its student-athletes on and off the playing field.
One of the best pitchers in OSU history, Wetzler has a 24-6 all-time record pitching under Coach Pat Casey – just seven wins shy of breaking Oregon State’s school record for victories. Last year, the southpaw hurler from Clackamas, Ore., went 10-1 with a 2.25 earned run average, winning his last 10 decisions en route to being named to the All-Pac-12 First Team.Generic OSU Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Steve Clark, 503-502-8217
John Frohnmayer, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, will speak about his life experiences and First Amendment issues on Thursday, Feb. 27, at Oregon State University.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – John Frohnmayer, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, will speak about his life experiences and First Amendment issues on Thursday, Feb. 27, at Oregon State University.
The lecture, “Second Thoughts of a First Amendment Radical: Slathering Politics, Religion, Philosophy and Art on Burned American Toast,” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Agriculture Production Room at the LaSells Stewart Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Frohnmayer drew national attention during his tenure as endowment chairman because of his thoughts on the First Amendment. He served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush and was removed after he defended the endowment’s decision to grant money to controversial artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano.
His books, “Leaving Town Alive,” and “Out of Tune: Listening to the First Amendment,” explore the national debate over free speech, government funding of the arts, censorship, politics and obscenity.
Frohnmayer is a former affiliate professor of liberal arts at Oregon State, where he taught about First Amendment issues and ethics. Frohnmayer also made a brief run as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:
Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784 firstname.lastname@example.orgSource:
Marion Rossi, 541-737-4917, email@example.comMultimedia Downloads Photo Download: John Frohnmayer
CORVALLIS, Ore. – As demand for hard cider grows, Oregon State University is offering a new workshop to help entrepreneurs start their own cider startup companies.
"I see this as a second coming for craft cider," said Aaron Brodniak, who will teach the workshop. “We've had a huge amount of interest in craft beer and we're starting to see growth in cider. There's a great need for education in the cider industry just as it is needed for beer.”
Brodniak, who is a brewery business consultant and former head brewer for Pyramid Brewery, said the local food movement has intensified interest in hard cider. And the numbers of new cideries illustrate the industry's growth. The Northwest Cider Association lists 39 cider makers in Oregon and Washington as members. Additionally, Portland hosts Cider Summit PDX, which draws more than 100 artisanal ciders from 29 vendors, according to its website.
OSU's new Craft Cidery Startup Workshop is a mix of online and onsite instruction. The online part will be offered from April 28 to May 9. The onsite portion will take place in Portland from May 12-16. Students will study the basics of business plans, market feasibility, equipment, local and national regulations, distribution and marketing. Students will learn how to connect with orchards to buy apples best suited for cider. OSU's Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) unit developed the course with help from Snowdrift Cider. Registration information is at http://bit.ly/1l2fOOG.
On the beer front, OSU's PACE unit will continue to offer the following courses for craft brewers this spring and summer. They debuted last year, except for the Craft Brewery Startup Workshop II, which is new.
- The Craft Brewery Startup Workshop I at http://bit.ly/1fHDC5X is an onsite workshop at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend from Sept. 8-12. Serious entrepreneurs hoping to start a craft brewery or brewpub will learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship from OSU instructors and Ninkasi Brewing Co. owners and leaders.
- The Craft Brewery Startup Workshop II at http://bit.ly/1fpvchU is April 21-May 9 online and May 10-13 at Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland. Craft brewery entrepreneurs who are within a year of opening a brewery will work with consultants to develop a business plan.
- The Brewing Analytics Course Series at http://bit.ly/1kH1jxd begins May 1 online for six weeks and then continues at OSU's on-campus brewery in Corvallis from June 16-20. It will teach professional and hobbyist brewers the fundamentals of basic microbiology and its role in the brewing process. Concepts are first taught online, then in-person using high-end fermentation equipment.
- Beer Proficiency Testing and Sensory Analysis at http://bit.ly/1fpvzJg is an in-person workshop July 15-18 at OSU's Food Innovation Center in Portland. It teaches students about malting, aroma standards, yeast, descriptive analysis and the brewing process.
"Since our unit is focused on workforce development, we've seen a growing need for training in entrepreneurship, specifically in the context of beer and cider businesses," said Chris LaBelle, the unit's director. "We want to produce entry-level and intermediate-level courses on entrepreneurship, providing students with more information about real startup costs and requirements. We also want to provide students access to successful industry leaders."Generic OSU Media Contact: Denise Ruttan Source:
Chris LaBelle, 541-737-2807Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Society is demanding a higher degree of corporate social responsibility, and OSU engineering advances on sustainable manufacturing are helping to meet that need.
The study this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/1d1A4YE
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Engineers at Oregon State University have developed a new approach toward “sustainable manufacturing” that begins on the factory floor and tries to encompass the totality of manufacturing issues – including economic, environmental, and social impacts.
This approach, they say, builds on previous approaches that considered various facets of sustainability in a more individual manner. Past methods often worked backward from a finished product and rarely incorporated the complexity of human social concerns.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, and reflect part of society’s growing demands for manufacturing systems that protect both people and the environment, while still allowing companies to be economically viable and make a profit on their products.
“People around the world – and many government policies – are now demanding higher standards for corporate social responsibility,” said Karl Haapala, an OSU assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. “In the early days, industry dealt with ‘end-of-pipe’ challenges to reduce pollution or increase efficiency. There’s still a place for that, but we’re trying to solve the problem at the source, to begin the process right at the drawing board or on the shop floor.”
“We want to consider a whole range of issues every step of the way,” Haapala added, “so that sustainability is built into the entire manufacturing process.”
The researchers demonstrated the approach with the production of stainless steel knives, based on an industry project. But the general concepts could be used for virtually any system or product, they said.
With every decision the method considers manufacturing techniques, speed of the operations, environmental impacts, materials, energy used and wastes. Decisions can be based on compliance with laws and regulations, and the effects of different approaches on worker safety and satisfaction.
“This is one of the few approaches to systematically consider the social aspects of the workplace environment, so that people are happy, productive, safe, and can contribute to their families and communities,” said Hao Zhang, a doctoral student in the College of Engineering and graduate research assistant on the study.
“Suppose we make changes that speed up the output of a manufacturing line,” Zhang said. “In theory that might produce more product, but what are the impacts on tool wear, increased down time or worker satisfaction with the job? What about risk of worker injury and the costs associated with that? Every change you make might affect many other issues, but too often those issues are not considered.”
Social components have often been left out in the past, Zhang said, because they were some of the most difficult aspects to scientifically quantify and measure. But health, safety and happiness that start on the workshop floor can ripple through the entire community and society, Haapala said, and they are too important to be pushed aside.
This approach incorporates previous concepts of sustainability that have been found to have proven value, such as “life cycle assessment” of systems that considers the totality of energy used, environmental impacts and other issues. And it lets manufacturers make value judgments about the issues most important to them, so that a system can prioritize one need over another as necessary.
OSU researchers are further developing these approaches in collaboration with Sheldon Manufacturing, Inc., of Cornelius, Ore., a designer and manufacturer of laboratory equipment. This work has been supported by Benchmade Knife Co., Sheldon Manufacturing and the Oregon Metals Initiative.
These demands are a special challenge to small and medium sized companies that may not always have the necessary broad range of engineering expertise, the OSU engineers said. They hope the systems being developed can be implemented at many levels of manufacturing.College of Engineering Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Karl Haapala, 541-737-3122Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
A new study of how men approach their golden years found that how happy individuals are remains relatively stable, but dealing with “hassles” tends to get worse once you are about 65-70 years old.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study of how men approach their golden years found that how happy individuals are remains relatively stable for some 80 percent of the population, but perceptions of unhappiness – or dealing with “hassles” – tends to get worse once you are about 65-70 years old.
The reasons vary, researchers say, but may be because of health issues, cognitive decline or the loss of a spouse or friends.
“In general, life gets better as you age in the sense that older adults on average have fewer hassles – and respond to them better – than younger adults,” said Carolyn Aldwin, a gerontology professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “And they also experienced more uplifts – a least, until their mid-70s.”
“But once you turn 70, how you react to these hassles changes and may be dependent on your resources or your situation in life,” added Aldwin, the Jo Anne Leonard endowed director of OSU’s Center for Healthy Aging Research.
Results of the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs, are being published in the journal Psychology and Aging.
The researchers used data from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, which looked at 1,315 men ages 53 to 85 years of age – predominantly comprised of white males who were initially in good health at entry into the study in the 1960s. This particular study aimed to take a fresh look at the emotional reactions of older adults and evaluate whether three previously established, yet contradictory models of aging had validity.
One of those models, known as the hedonic treadmill model, suggests that how happy or unhappy you are is relatively stable through your life, outside of a few up-or-down blips. A second theory posits that in general things get better as you age, while the third says your life will spiral downhill rapidly once you turn 80.
The new study, led by researchers from Oregon State and Boston University, found some support for all three models, depending on whether you looked at hassles or uplifts – and the age of the men. How men appraised their uplifts was stable, the researchers say, supporting the hedonic treadmill theory. But how they appraised hassles depended on their age: Appraisals got better through their 60s, but then started to become more severe in their 70s.
Nonetheless, Aldwin noted, some men respond more intensely to life’s ups and downs than others, but both the perception and intensity of these events is highly variable among individuals.
“What we found was that among 80 percent of the men in the study, the hassles they encounter from their early 50s on tended to decline until they reached about 65 to 70 years of age, and then they rose,” Aldwin pointed out. “Conversely, about 20 percent of the men perceived experiencing more uplifting events until they turned 65-70 and they begin to decline.”
The study drew from the perceptions of the men over events in their lives that were big and small, positive and negative. Self-regulation – or how they respond to those events – varied, Aldwin said.
“Some older people continue to find sources of happiness late in life despite dealing with family losses, declining health, or a lack of resources,” she said. “You may lose a parent, but gain a grandchild. The kids may leave the house, but you bask in their accomplishments as adults. You find value in gardening, volunteering, caregiving or civic involvement.”
Aging is neither exclusively rosy nor depressing, Aldwin said, and how you react to hassles and uplifts as a 55- to 60-year-old may change as you enter what researchers call “the fourth age,” from 75 to 100, based on your perceptions and/or your life experiences.
“Who falls into these groups and why can begin to tell us what kind of person ultimately may be happy late in life and who may not,” Aldwin said. “Once we find that out, we can begin interventions.”
The researchers on the study, who included Yu-Jin Jeong and Heidi Igarashi of OSU, and Avron Spiro III of Boston University, hope to expand their research beyond the limited VA sample and look at the mental health outlook for aging women, minorities and persons with varied economic and health backgrounds.College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Carolyn Aldwin, 541-737-2024; Carolyn.firstname.lastname@example.org
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A drug used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women may also be able to treat some breast and liver cancers, according to a new study from Oregon State University.
Although clinical trials on patients are still needed, in lab tests researchers found that the drug raloxifene, which is marketed under the brand name Evista by Eli Lilly and Co., killed human breast cancer cells that are "triple-negative” as well as liver cancer cells.
Triple-negative breast cancers represent about 15-20 percent of all breast cancers in the United States and are more common in younger and African-American women, according to a factsheet from the Susan G. Komen organization. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the preferred treatments because triple-negative breast cancers don't respond to typical medications like tamoxifen or trastuzumab. That's because their cells lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone and a protein known as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.
Receptors, which are proteins in or on cells, are like a lock. Hormones act like keys to these receptors to unlock different cellular functions. For example, estrogen causes uncontrolled proliferation of breast cancer cells by binding to a receptor. It's known that raloxifene blocks estrogen from binding to its receptor and thus keeps breast cancer cells from multiplying.
But what OSU researchers discovered is that raloxifene also binds with a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and kills cancer cells that do not have receptors for estrogen, said Ed O’Donnell, a postdoctoral scholar at OSU who conducted the research.
O’Donnell also analyzed survival data on women who had breast cancers that didn't require hormones to fuel the proliferation of the tumor cells. He found an increased survival rate in the women whose breast cancers had higher levels of the AhR protein.
"Our findings are exciting for two reasons," said OSU cancer researcher Siva Kolluri, who led the research, which was published in the journal Cell Death and Disease. "No. 1, our research revealed that we can target a specific protein, the AhR, to potentially develop new drugs for liver cancer and a subset of stubborn breast cancers. That's a major goal of our lab. No. 2, we discovered that raloxifene, a known drug, could potentially be repurposed to treat two distinct types of cancers."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved raloxifene for use in bone loss prevention in post-menopausal women in 1997. In 1999, it was approved for treating postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. In 2007, the agency approved the use of raloxifene for reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis and in post-menopausal women at high risk for invasive breast cancer, which spreads outside the lobules or milk ducts into surrounding breast tissue.
Raloxifene again hit the news in January when the federal government announced that most health insurance plans will be required to offer the prescription medicine at no cost to women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
The OSU research article is called "The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Mediates Raloxifene-induced Apoptosis in Estrogen Receptor Negative Hepatoma and Breast Cancer Cells." It is online at http://hdl.handle.net/1957/45321. OSU researcher William Bisson was a co-author on the paper.
The research was funded by the American Cancer Society, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.Media Contact: Tiffany Woods Source:
Siva Kolluri, 541-737-1799Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Siva Kolluri, a cancer researcher at Oregon State University, uses assays in "well plates" to identify chemical compounds that could kill cancer cells. His lab has found that raloxifene, a drug used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, may also be able to treat some breast and liver cancers. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
Ed O’Donnell reaches for a vial from a shelf in a lab at Oregon State University. O'Donnell, a postdoctoral scholar, conducted research that led to the discovery that raloxifene, a drug used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, may also be able to treat some breast and liver cancers. (Photo by Tiffany Woods.)
Magma sitting 4-5 kilometers beneath the surface of Mount Hood has been stored in near-solid conditions for thousands of years, but that the time it takes to liquefy and potentially erupt is surprisingly short.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study suggests that the magma sitting 4-5 kilometers beneath the surface of Oregon’s Mount Hood has been stored in near-solid conditions for thousands of years, but that the time it takes to liquefy and potentially erupt is surprisingly short – perhaps as little as a couple of months.
The key, scientists say, is to elevate the temperature of the rock to more than 750 degrees Celsius, which can happen when hot magma from deep within the Earth’s crust rises to the surface. It is the mixing of the two types of magma that triggered Mount Hood’s last two eruptions – about 220 and 1,500 years ago, said Adam Kent, an Oregon State University geologist and co-author of the study.
Results of the research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, were published this week in the journal Nature.
“If the temperature of the rock is too cold, the magma is like peanut butter in a refrigerator,” Kent said. “It just isn’t very mobile. For Mount Hood, the threshold seems to be about 750 degrees (C) – if it warms up just 50 to 75 degrees above that, it greatly increases the viscosity of the magma and makes it easier to mobilize.”
Thus the scientists are interested in the temperature at which magma resides in the crust, they say, since it is likely to have important influence over the timing and types of eruptions that could occur. The hotter magma from down deep warms the cooler magma stored at 4-5 kilometers, making it possible for both magmas to mix and to be transported to the surface to eventually produce an eruption.
The good news, Kent said, is that Mount Hood’s eruptions are not particularly violent. Instead of exploding, the magma tends to ooze out the top of the peak. A previous study by Kent and OSU postdoctoral researcher Alison Koleszar found that the mixing of the two magma sources – which have different compositions – is both a trigger to an eruption and a constraining factor on how violent it can be.
“What happens when they mix is what happens when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste in the middle,” said Kent, a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “A big glob kind of plops out the top, but in the case of Mount Hood – it doesn’t blow the mountain to pieces.”
The collaborative study between Oregon State and the University of California, Davis is important because little was known about the physical conditions of magma storage and what it takes to mobilize the magma. Kent and UC-Davis colleague Kari Cooper, also a co-author on the Nature article, set out to find if they could determine how long Mount Hood’s magma chamber has been there, and in what condition.
When Mount Hood’s magma first rose up through the crust into its present-day chamber, it cooled and formed crystals. The researchers were able to document the age of the crystals by the rate of decay of naturally occurring radioactive elements. However, the growth of the crystals is also dictated by temperature – if the rock is too cold, they don’t grow as fast.
Thus the combination of the crystals’ age and apparent growth rate provides a geologic fingerprint for determining the approximate threshold for making the near-solid rock viscous enough to cause an eruption. The diffusion rate of the element strontium, which is also sensitive to temperature, helped validate the findings.
“What we found was that the magma has been stored beneath Mount Hood for at least 20,000 years – and probably more like 100,000 years,” Kent said. “And during the time it’s been there, it’s been in cold storage – like the peanut butter in the fridge – a minimum of 88 percent of the time, and likely more than 99 percent of the time.”
In other words – even though hot magma from below can quickly mobilize the magma chamber at 4-5 kilometers below the surface, most of the time magma is held under conditions that make it difficult for it to erupt.
“What is encouraging from another standpoint is that modern technology should be able to detect when magma is beginning to liquefy, or mobilize,” Kent said, “and that may give us warning of a potential eruption. Monitoring gases, utilizing seismic waves and studying ground deformation through GPS are a few of the techniques that could tell us that things are warming.”
The researchers hope to apply these techniques to other, larger volcanoes to see if they can determine their potential for shifting from cold storage to potential eruption, a development that might bring scientists a step closer to being able to forecast volcanic activity.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Adam Kent, 541-737-1205Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Three elementary school teachers – two from Corvallis and one from Albany – are conducting fieldwork with Oregon State University scientists at the Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica this month.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Three elementary school teachers – two from Corvallis and one from Albany – are conducting fieldwork with Oregon State University scientists at the Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica this month.
As they band birds and track pollinators, the teachers will communicate with their pupils through a blog and enable students to share information with their counterparts in Costa Rica.
The research is supported by a multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation to Matthews Betts, associate professor in the OSU College of Forestry. The goal is to understand how hummingbirds and other pollinators are affected by land use patterns.
Teachers participating in the project include Claudia Argo and Alleya Jack from Garfield Elementary School in Corvallis and Cindy Drouhard from the Timber Ridge School in Albany. They will be at the field station from Feb. 16 to March 1.
“This project has all the elements of a real-world learning experience,” said Kari O’Connell, an educator with Oregon State’s Oregon Natural Resources Education Program. “The students will be doing math, science and art and practicing their language skills. It also involves their families. One of the teachers has already translated information into Spanish so that Spanish-speaking families in Oregon can be involved.”
While in Costa Rica, the teachers will help researchers observe and band hummingbirds, O’Connell added. “They all teach science, so they will be talking with their students about what it’s like to do fieldwork, collect data and interpret it.”
Editor’s note: Teachers will be available for interviews in Costa Rica via email and Skype. To make arrangements, reporters can send email to:
Claudia Argo, Claudia.Argo@corvallis.k12.or.us
Alleya Jack, Alleya.email@example.com
Cindy Drouhard, Cindy.Drouhard@albany.k12.or.us
Kari O’Connell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Drouhard’s blog can be viewed at http://drouhardincostarica.blogspot.comCollege of Forestry Media Contact: Nick Houtman Source:
Kari O'Connell, 541-737-6495Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
This montane tropical cloud forest at Las Cruces Biological Reserve in Costa Rica is the site of another study being led by Matthew Betts. (Photo: Matthew Betts)
This green hermit hummingbird visits a Heloconia tortuosa in Costa Rica. The species is part of an OSU study that tracks hummingbird travels with a tiny radio transmitter attached to its back. Photo by Matt Betts
The northern waterthrush migrates from the Cascades to Costa Rica, where Matthew Betts and his fellow researchers are studying the effects of forest fragmentation on bird behavior and pollination dynamics. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Betts)
Oregon State University has earned the Work-Life Seal of Distinction for 2014 from the WorldatWork's Alliance for Work-Life Progress.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has earned the Work-Life Seal of Distinction for 2014 from the WorldatWork's Alliance for Work-Life Progress.
WorldatWork is an alliance of independent compensation, benefits and human resources organizations representing professionals around the world. The seal is a mark of excellence designed to identify organizational success in work-life effectiveness. OSU was one of 12 universities to receive the honor.
“OSU prides itself on being a great place to work, learn and flourish,” said Rebecca Warner, OSU’s senior vice provost for Academic Affairs. “We are committed to sustaining a healthy environment that enables community members to live productive, balanced and engaged lives. Receiving this Seal of Distinction is a welcome validation of our efforts. “
OSU has an Office of Work-Life, and offers a variety of resources from flexible policies to accommodate employee needs outside the workplace to childcare and family resource options to help placing dual-career spouses at OSU.
Begun in 2012, the AWLP Seal of Distinction assesses the seven categories of work-life effectiveness that comprise a best-in-class work-life portfolio in today's workplace: caring for dependents; health and wellness; workplace flexibility; financial support for economic security; paid and unpaid time off; community involvement and transforming organizational culture.
This year's winners represent a variety of industries – including education, finance, government, health, law, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. They hail from 20 states and the District of Columbia, as well as four international organizations. For a complete list of winners: http://www.worldatwork.org/waw/adimLink?id=74716&from=press4Generic OSU Media Contact: Theresa Hogue Source:
Robyn Pease, 541-737-4852, email@example.com
Scott Ashford, head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University, was today appointed dean of OSU’s College of Engineering.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scott Ashford, head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University, was today appointed dean of OSU’s College of Engineering.
The appointment of Ashford, who is the Kearney Professor of Engineering at OSU, is effective immediately. He previously served as interim dean of the college in 2011-12. Ashford succeeds Sandra Woods, who will remain a tenured OSU professor.
Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, announced the leadership transition on Friday.
“Oregon State University is fully committed to the success of the College of Engineering, its faculty, staff and students, and to building upon the excellent teaching, research and industry collaborations for which the college has long been recognized,” Randhawa said.
“I am confident that Scott Ashford will provide the leadership needed to advance the strategic direction and priorities of the college,” Randhawa added. “Going forward, it is essential to build a leadership team within the college that shares a sense of direction and purpose.”
Ashford, who is an alumnus of OSU, joined the engineering faculty in 2007. His research focus has been on enhancing public safety and reducing economic loss from earthquakes, tsunamis and coastal hazards. He helped create the Cascadia Lifeline Program to help Oregon businesses, governments and utilities prepare for a major earthquake and possible tsunami.
After working in private industry for seven years – mostly with CH2M-HILL – Ashford earned his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. He was on the faculties of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand for two years, and the University of California-San Diego for 11 years, before returning to OSU.College of Engineering Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Steve Clark, 503-502-8217; firstname.lastname@example.orgMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The panelists, including former OSU football players Earnel Durden and Ken Simonton, will discuss the desegregation of football and what is has meant to the Oregon State program.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The history and impact of African American football players at Oregon State University is the focus of a panel discussion that begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, in The Loge at Reser Stadium on the OSU campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Panelists include former Oregon State players Earnel Durden, 1956-58, and Ken Simonton, 1998-2001. Emeritus OSU distinguished professor of English and football historian Michael Oriard, author Herman Brame and sociology professor Dwaine Plaza also will participate. The discussion will focus on the desegregation of football and what is has meant to the Oregon State program.
“Pioneers of Change: Black Football Players at OSU from 1951-Present,” also will include a posthumous tribute to Dave Mann, the first African American football player at the university, who was on the team from 1951-54.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:
Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784; email@example.comSource:
Dwaine Plaza, 541-737-5369, firstname.lastname@example.org
Oregon State University is helping its faculty members develop textbooks in their fields that will be freely accessible online to any student in the world.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is helping its faculty members develop textbooks in their fields that will be freely accessible online to any student in the world.
The open textbook initiative is a collaboration between OSU Libraries, OSU Press and OSU Extended Campus that provides financial, technical and editorial support for faculty members to create “open” texts that aim to reduce costs for students and further position Oregon State as a leader in research and teaching.
“I can’t remember a single year where I haven’t had a student advocacy group come to me and say we need to do something about the cost of textbooks,” said Faye Chadwell, the director of OSU Press and the Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian. “That’s really the driving factor here.”
“We need to make higher education affordable to Oregon State students and students in general because we can provide these resources beyond OSU,” she added.
Four winning proposals from OSU faculty spanning a variety of academic disciplines were chosen for publication in the initiative’s first phase:
- Kevin Ahern and Indira Rajagopal, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics;
- Gita Cherian, Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences;
- Eric Hansen, Department of Wood Science and Engineering;
- John Lambrinos, Department of Horticulture.
Publication of the four books will take place in 2014-15; they will be available in four interactive formats – HTML, PDF, iBooks and ePub – as well as in a print-on-demand edition.
In addition to relieving students of ever-increasing costs, these works will also feature interactive content that enhances learning through video, audio and other multimedia. The textbooks will be incorporated into OSU curriculum and include Creative Commons licenses to facilitate their use at other universities at no cost.
Extended Campus is involved through its new unit, Open Educational Resources and Emerging Technologies (OER), which works with OSU faculty to create open learning modules that can improve learning outcomes by presenting materials in ways that haven’t been possible in the past.
“Faculty know which concepts students generally have a hard time understanding based on how they are presented in the textbooks,” OER director Dianna Fisher said. “We can work with faculty to illustrate these concepts in several ways – through animations, video, text – any way that makes it easier for students to understand and allows them to interact with the text in various ways.”
An Oregon State course in geosciences is using the university’s first open textbook this quarter: “Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest,” by Robert S. Yeats, a professor emeritus in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. The transformation of this title from print to online versions is the initial product of the OSU Libraries, OSU Press, and OSU Extended Campus partnership.
Originally published by OSU Press in 1998 and used widely in college courses throughout the Northwest, the book has been updated to feature video clips of earthquakes where still photos once resided. An animation depicting the movement of tectonic plates replaced the book’s previous line drawings. Plans are under way for Yeats to make additional updates and revisions in the months ahead.
“I’m not sure any university presses are creating open textbooks in partnership with their online learning unit the way OSU is,” Chadwell said. “It really sets the stage for the ongoing transformation of how people teach and learn.
“This is a project that will showcase what OSU is capable of doing, and it fulfills our land grant mission.”
View OSU’s prototype open textbook at http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/oer/Earthquake.pdf. Download it in Adobe Reader to experience full interactivity.Ecampus: Source:
Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray has been elected vice-chair of the board of directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities for 2014.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray has been elected vice-chair of the board of directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities for 2014. He will chair the board in 2015.
The organization is the leading national association dealing with the quality and public understanding of undergraduate liberal education.
Founded in 1915, the association has more than 1,300 member institutions, including accredited public and private colleges, research universities, community colleges and other institutions. Among its goals are to advance liberal education as a global necessity, increase the value of college degrees in the United States, improve student success and promote innovation, and develop social responsibility.
Ray has been president of OSU since July 31 of 2003. Under his leadership, Oregon State completed and adopted a comprehensive strategic plan, launched a campaign that successfully raised more than $1 billion, put a plan in place to transform the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend into a four-year program, and experienced a remarkable growth in enrollment, research funding, and private support.
The OSU president has chaired the NCAA Executive Committee, and served on the board of directors for the American Council on Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Before coming to Oregon State, he was a faculty member and administrator at The Ohio State University for more than 30 years.
Ken Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee University, will chair the AAC&U board in 2014 when Ray is vice-chair.Generic OSU Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Organizers with the Oregon State University Extension Service expect more than 800 woodland owners to attend its three Tree Schools around the state this spring as the forestry sector emerges from a challenging recession.
Woodland owners, arborists, forestry advocates and students will network and gain new skills at Tree School Clackamas on March 22 in Oregon City. Tree School Umpqua will take place March 27 in Roseburg and Tree School East will return to Baker City on April 26.
"Word has gotten out – it’s one of the few opportunities of its kind in the region, and forestry is big in Clackamas County," said Extension forester Glenn Ahrens, who coordinates the event in Oregon City.
Ahrens sent the Tree School Clackamas course catalog to 13,500 private family forest landowners in six counties in the northern Willamette Valley. Those landowners collectively manage more than 400,000 acres of forestland, he said.
The Tree Schools come as the economic outlook has improved for forest products since the industry's low point in 2007, said Michael Bondi, who founded Tree School Clackamas and now directs OSU's North Willamette Research and Extension Center. During 2007 and 2008, attendance hovered around 545. But as the economy slowly turned around, partly thanks to a boost in export markets, more woodland owners returned to the event, he said.
In 2011, harvest volume across all ownerships was 3.65 billion board feet, just 16 percent below pre-recession harvest levels, according to the 2012 Forest Report commissioned by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) at http://theforestreport.org.. More than 75 percent of this harvest came from private land, according to OFRI's report.
Nearly 60 volunteers and 64 instructors will help organize 70 workshops for Tree School Clackamas, which will be held March 22 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Workshops will include weed management, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, a truffle dog demonstration and chainsaw safety. Registration for Tree School Clackamas closes Feb. 21. A schedule is at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/clackamas/forestry. You can register online or call the OSU Extension office at 503-655-8631. Registration costs $45 for Clackamas County residents and $60 for others. Youth ages 13-18 pay $25.
For Tree School East, the OSU Extension Service will offer 24 classes taught by 40-50 instructors. It will take place at Baker High School in Baker City. Classes will include management of weeds, diseases and insects; chainsaw operation; wolves in northeast Oregon; pioneer skills such as flint knapping and Dutch oven cooking; Oregon Trail history; and solar energy. Registration opened Feb. 3 and you can register by calling the Extension office at 541-523-6418 and requesting a booklet. Registration costs $50 for adults and $20 for high school students.
Tree School Umpqua will feature 24 classes taught by 20 instructors at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Workshops will include restoring forests for fire resiliency; beekeeping; identifying native Oregon shrubs; commercial truffle production; enhancing wildlife habitat; and using Google Earth to map woodlands. The event averages about 100 attendees each year. Register by calling the OSU Extension office at 541-672-4461 or visiting the website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/douglas/treeschool. Registration costs $50 for an individual or $90 per couple.Extension Service Media Contact: Denise Ruttan Source:
Glenn Ahrens, 503-722-6718;
Bob Parker, 541-523-6418;
Steve Bowers, 541-672-4461Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The OSU Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “How I Learned to Drive” will show Feb. 13-15 and Feb. 21-22 beginning at 7:30 p.m. on the Withycombe Hall main stage.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “How I Learned to Drive” will show Feb. 13-15 and Feb. 21-22 beginning at 7:30 p.m. on the Withycombe Hall main stage.
A matinee performance will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23 – also at the Withycombe Hall main stage, which is located at 30th and Campus Way in Corvallis.
The powerful exploration of abuse and manipulation blends playwright Paula Vogel’s characteristic wit with raw emotion as she depicts the story of Li’l Bit, a young girl from rural Maryland. Set in the 1960s, Li’l Bit grows up under the shadow of sexual abuse at the hands of her Uncle Peck. The play explores themes of power and control.
“This is a drama about obsession which some compare to Nabokov’s ‘Lolita,’ ” said director Charlotte Headrick, a theater arts professor at OSU. “But unlike ‘Lolita,’ Vogel has filled the play with sharp, biting humor, which makes the drama all the more powerful.”
OSU student Erin Wallerstein portrays Li’l Bit and Corvallis resident Charles Prince plays Uncle Peck in the production. OSU students Alex Reis, Elise Barberis and Annie Parham are featured as the “Greek Chorus,” and play multiple roles conjured from Li’l Bit’s memories.
The Friday evening performances will include post-show discussions that are open to the public.
The play contains subject matter that is not suitable for children, Headrick said.
Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors, $8 for youth/students and $5 for OSU students. They are available for purchase through the OSU Theatre Box Office at 541-737-2784 or online at http://www.oregonstate.edu/dept/theatreCollege of Liberal Arts Media Contact:
Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784; email@example.comSource:
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Carren Moham, a professor of music at Illinois Wesleyan University, will come to OSU to lecture on African-American spirituals and perform a concert of songs by African-American composers.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Carren Moham, a professor of music at Illinois Wesleyan University, will come to Oregon State University to lecture on African-American spirituals and perform a concert of songs by African-American composers.
The lecture, “The Importance of Negro Spirituals to the Underground Railroad,” will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, in the Construction and Engineering Hall at the LaSells Stewart Center. Moham, a soprano, will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, in the Memorial Union lounge.
Both events are free and open to the public. They are sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts.
Moham also will appear with the Willamette Valley Symphony Feb. 22 and 23.
Moham’s research into the virtually unknown and unpublished art songs of African-American composers led her to devise two concert series, “Songs by African-American Women” and “Songs by African-American Composers.” She’ll perform the second series at Oregon State. She has performed the series in many major cities in the United States, Europe and South America, and has performed for former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
While at OSU, Moham also will visit classes in the ethnic studies and music departments.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:
Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784; email@example.comSource:
Celene Carillo, 541-737-2137, firstname.lastname@example.orgMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
OSU veterinary doctors and students are pitching in to help save the lives of 175 alpacas facing serious health problems.
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The last of about 175 imperiled alpacas that are being removed from a farm near Falls City, Ore., will arrive today or early this week at Oregon State University as part of a continuing rescue operation to help care for and save the lives of these animals.
Transport began late last week but only 54 got through, and operations had to be suspended due to the heavy winter storm, a traffic accident and difficult travel conditions. A team of doctors and veterinary students at OSU will now work with the incoming animals to assess their health, do necessary procedures, improve their nutritional status and aid their recovery.
Owners of the ranch that had housed the alpacas are facing legal charges in Polk County. Meanwhile, the College of Veterinary Medicine has volunteered its facilities to help continue the rescue operation that was begun by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue volunteers.
Ultimately, all of the animals will be made available for adoption, officials said.
“The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the few agencies in Oregon that has the ability and expertise to manage an operation of this size,” said Helen Diggs, a professor of veterinary medicine and director of the OSU Laboratory Animal Resources Center. “The Research Office at OSU has also made it clear that we will do what we can to help with this difficult situation.”
Although travel is still difficult, officials hope that most of the remaining alpacas will arrive today or early this week at the Research Animal Isolation Laboratory, one of the campus facilities large enough to handle so many animals at once. Some with special needs are also being treated in the large animal hospital in Magruder Hall on the OSU campus.
“Many of these animals are very thin and we’ve been told that a substantial number have already died,” said Chris Cebra, a professor of large animal internal medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and an expert in the treatment of camelids such as llamas and alpacas.
“From what we’ve seen, we’ll be dealing with malnutrition, heavy parasite loads, some pregnant animals, newborns, and various health conditions,” Cebra said. “We’ll continue to feed the animals, assess and treat medical conditions, check vaccination status, and generally improve their quality of life and suitability for a new home.”
Given the unusually large influx of animals at one time, a number of supervised veterinary students will also work in the rescue operation, allowing them a substantial amount of hands-on training while helping veterinary doctors more quickly and effectively give the entire herd the treatment it needs.
Once the alpacas recover their health, adoption will be possible from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, which is working with Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue to identify suitable placements. Initial inquiries for adopting one or more of the animals may be directed to Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue, at http://www.crosscreekalpacarescue.org/.College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Helen Diggs, 541-737-6213
Chris Cebra, 541-737-4456Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Chinook salmon use the Earth's magnetic field to orient themselves to their river of origin, a new study found, explaining how the fish navigation thousands of miles of open ocean.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A team of scientists last year presented evidence of a correlation between the migration patterns of ocean salmon and the Earth’s magnetic field, suggesting it may help explain how the fish can navigate across thousands of miles of water to find their river of origin.
This week, scientists confirmed the connection between salmon and the magnetic field following a series of experiments at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in the Alsea River basin. Researchers exposed hundreds of juvenile Chinook salmon to different magnetic fields that exist at the latitudinal extremes of their oceanic range. Fish responded to these “simulated magnetic displacements” by swimming in the direction that would bring that toward the center of their marine feeding grounds.
The study, which was funded by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, will be published this month in the forthcoming issue of Current Biology.
“What is particularly exciting about these experiments is that the fish we tested had never left the hatchery and thus we know that their responses were not learned or based on experience, but rather they were inherited,” said Nathan Putman, a postdoctoral researcher in Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and lead author on the study.
“These fish are programmed to know what to do before they ever reach the ocean,” he added.
To test the hypothesis, the researchers constructed a large platform with copper wires running horizontally and vertically around the perimeter. By running electrical current through the wires, the scientists could create a magnetic field and control both the intensity and inclination angle of the field. They then placed 2-inch juvenile salmon called “parr” in 5-gallon buckets and, after an acclimation period, monitored and photographed the direction in which they were swimming.
Fish presented with a magnetic field characteristic of the northern limits of the oceanic range of Chinook salmon were more likely to swim in a southerly direction, while fish encountering a far southern field tended to swim north. In essence, fish possess a “map sense” determining where they are and which way to swim based on the magnetic fields they encounter.
“The evidence is irrefutable,” said co-author David Noakes of OSU, senior scientist at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center and the 2012 recipient of the American Fisheries Society’s Award of Excellence. “I tell people: The fish can detect and respond to the Earth’s magnetic field. There can be no doubt of that.”
Not all of the more than 1,000 fish swam in the same direction, Putman said. But there was a clear preference by the fish for swimming in the direction away from the magnetic field that was “wrong” for them. Fish that remained in the magnetic field of the testing site – near Alsea, Ore. – were randomly oriented, indicating that orientation of fish subjected to magnetic displacements could only be attributable to change in the magnetic field.
“What is really surprising is that these fish were only exposed to the magnetic field we created for about eight minutes,” Putman pointed out. “And the field was not even strong enough to deflect a compass needle.”
Putman said that salmon must be particularly sensitive because the Earth’s magnetic field is relatively weak. Because of that, it may not take much to interfere with their navigational abilities. Many structures contain electrical wires or reinforcing iron that could potentially affect the orientation of fish early in their life cycle, the researchers say.
“Fish are raised in hatcheries where there are electrical and magnetic influences,” Noakes said, “and some will encounter electrical fields while passing through power dams. When they reach the ocean, they may swim by structures or cables that could interfere with navigation. Do these have an impact? We don’t yet know.”
Putman said natural disruptions could include chunks of iron in the Earth’s crust, though “salmon have been dealing with that for thousands of years.”
“Juvenile salmon face their highest mortality during the period when the first enter the ocean,” Putman said, “because they have to adapt to a saltwater environment, find food, avoid predation, and begin their journey. Anything that makes them navigate less efficiently is a concern because if they take a wrong turn and end up in a barren part of the ocean, they are going to starve.”
The magnetic field is likely not the only tool salmon use to navigate, however, Putman noted.
“They likely have a whole suite of navigational aids that help them get where they are going, perhaps including orientation to the sun, sense of smell and others,” Putman said.
The Oregon Hatchery Research Center is funded by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and jointly run by ODFW and Oregon State University.College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Nathan Putman, 205-218-5276; Nathan.email@example.com;
David Noakes, 541-737-1953; firstname.lastname@example.orgMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
salmon to field
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A dog's breed can determine how well it follows human commands, according to a new study from Oregon State University.
The study, which was published this month in the journal Animal Behaviour, found that dogs bred for predatory traits are better at following some human gestures.
"The more we know about the predatory behavioral tendencies of dogs, the better we can predict how successful they might be with humans in different home and working environments," said Monique Udell, an animal scientist at OSU and lead author of the study. “This may allow us to make better placement, ownership and training decisions in the future.”
"We can set dogs up to succeed by capitalizing on each breed's inherent strengths instead of treating all dogs as if they came from the same mold," she added.
OSU tested three breeds of dogs used for specific purposes: hunting, herding and livestock-guarding. In an experiment, dogs watched a researcher point to one of two identical empty cans. If the dog then approached that same can, food was placed on it. The test was repeated 10 times.
When choosing between the two cans, the researchers believe each breed drew on its natural predatory tendency to eye, stalk, chase and ultimately consume food triggered by movement – a pointing human hand, in this case.
Border collies, the herding dogs used in the test, chose the correct can more than 85 percent of the time. Researchers credit their success to the fact that border collies have been bred for exaggerated eye-stalk-chase behavior, hunting traits which dogs inherited from their wolf ancestors.
Airedale terriers also performed well, showing 70 percent success in tests. The hunting dogs have predatory instincts most similar to wolves and are extremely responsive to movement and inclined to follow it.
"These breeds are perceived to have an uncanny ability to read people, like when they anticipate owners taking them for a walk," said Udell, who is also the director of the OSU Human-Animal Interaction Lab and an assistant professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “What people are picking up on is a predisposition in these dogs to watch for movement and respond accordingly.”
Anatolian shepherds, the livestock guarding dogs in the tests, initially responded to human gestures less than 50 percent of the time on average — not a single individual performed above chance.
This finding is consistent with their breeding, said Udell, because Anatolian shepherds have been bred for the absence of predatory traits to encourage them to protect instead of chase livestock. With additional training, however, Anatolian shepherds were able to learn to follow human pointing.
Although researchers are confident that breed helps predict the success of dogs in following human commands, they also note that it is only one factor among many.
"Behavior is not fixed,” Udell said. “A dog’s breed may simply signify a different starting point. If dog owners want their pets to behave in a way that is uncharacteristic of their breed, it is often possible, but may take more training and time. You can teach dogs – young and old – new tricks."
The study is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_DogBehaviorStudy.Generic OSU Media Contact: Daniel Robison Source:
Monique Udell, 541-737-9154Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
OSU pharmacy researchers have discovered the function of a gene that may offer a new avenue to cancer therapies.
The study this story is based on is available online: http://rsc.li/1fcWMim
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a genetic function that helps one of the most important “tumor suppressor” genes to do its job and prevent cancer.
Finding ways to maintain or increase the effectiveness of this gene – called Grp1-associated scaffold protein, or Grasp – could offer an important new avenue for human cancer therapies, scientists said.
The findings were just published in Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, by researchers from OSU and Oregon Health & Science University. The work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The Grasp gene was studied in the skin of mice in this research, but is actually expressed at the highest levels in the brain, heart and lung, studies have shown. It appears to play a fundamental role in the operation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, which is a focus of much modern cancer research.
The p53 gene is involved in repair of DNA damage and, if the damage is too great, causing a mutated cell to die before it can cause further problems, up to and including cancer. Dysfunction of p53 genetic pathways have been linked to more than half of all known cancers - particularly skin, esophageal, colon, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, and head and neck cancers.
“DNA mutations occur constantly in our bodies just by ordinary stresses, something as simple as exposure to sunlight for a few seconds,” said Mark Leid, professor of pharmacology and associate dean for research in the OSU College of Pharmacy, and one of the lead authors on this study.
“Just as constantly, the p53 gene and other tumor suppressors are activated to repair that damage,” Leid said. “And in cases where the damage is too severe to be repaired, p53 will cause the apoptosis, or death of the mutated cell. Almost all of the time, when they are working right, these processes prevent the formation of cancers.”
But the activity and function of p53 can sometimes decline or fail, Leid said, and allow development of cancer. Promising approaches to cancer therapy are now based on activating or stimulating the p53 protein to do its job.
The new study has found that the Grasp gene is significantly involved in maintaining the proper function of p53. When “Grasp” is not being adequately expressed, the p53 protein that has entered the cell nucleus to either repair or destroy the cell comes back out of the nucleus before its work is finished.
“It appears that a primary function of Grasp is to form sort of a halo around the nucleus of a damaged skin cell, and act as kind of a plug to keep the p53 cell inside the nucleus until its work is done,” Leid said. “A drug that could enhance Grasp function might also help enhance the p53 function, and give us a different way to keep this important tumor suppressor working the way that it is supposed to.
“This could be important,” he said.
OSU experts created laboratory mice that lacked the Grasp gene, and so long as the mice were reared in a perfect environment, they developed normally. But when they were exposed to even a mild environmental stress – ultraviolet light similar to moderate sun exposure – they began to develop cellular abnormalities much more rapidly than ordinary mice. Most significantly, mutated skin cells did not die as they should have.
In normal mice, the same moderate light exposure caused a rapid increase in expression of the Grasp gene, allowing the p53 protein to stay in the nucleus and normal protective mechanisms to do their work.
Most current cancer therapies related to the p53 tumor suppression process are directed toward activating the p53 protein, Leid said. A therapy directed toward improving the Grasp gene function would be a different approach toward the same goal, he said, and might improve the efficacy of treatment.College of Pharmacy Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Mark Leid, 541-737-5809