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OSU finds new compound that could treat autoimmune diseases

News - Thu, 03/20/2014 - 10:27am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists at Oregon State University have discovered a chemical compound that could be a safer alternative for treating autoimmune diseases.

Although studies in humans are still needed, the finding could bring hope to people suffering from conditions caused by their immune system attacking their bodies. Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body resulting in diseases such as colitis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

"We mostly treat autoimmune diseases with high-dose corticosteroids or cytotoxic drugs to suppress the immune response, and the side effects can be very difficult to deal with," said lead researcher Nancy Kerkvliet. "But if this chemical works in clinical studies, it could result in a safer alternative to conventional drugs."

Kerkvliet collaborated with OSU professor Siva Kumar Kolluri and other colleagues who tested thousands of chemical compounds and found that one of them, 10-Cl-BBQ, binds to a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) inside T cells, which are essential white blood cells. They found that the chemical and AhR then pass into the nucleus and change the cells into regulatory T cells (called Tregs), which shut down the immune response.

Kerkvliet said 10-Cl-BBQ is different from other treatments used to suppress the immune system because it acts directly in the T cells to turn them into regulatory T cells. She believes this will result in fewer side effects than currently used drugs. The scientists also discovered two other compounds in the benzimidazoisoquinoline (BBQ) family that induced regulatory T cells.

The researchers tested 10-Cl-BBQ in mice that had graft-versus-host disease, a condition in which the immune system tries to eliminate foreign cells. The disease can occur in humans when they receive stem cell or bone marrow transplants. The scientists found that daily injections of 10-Cl-BBQ completely suppressed the disease.

The compound was rapidly metabolized and excreted and wasn't toxic at the dosage used, thereby making it a potential candidate for drug development, said Kerkvliet, a professor of immunotoxicology in OSU's Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

On a cellular level, the chemical works like the notorious environmental contaminant that's known as TCDD, a type of dioxin. But the chemical doesn't have the harmful side effects, Kerkvliet said. TCDD is perhaps best-known for its presence in the jungle-defoliating Agent Orange herbicide used during the Vietnam War. Kerkvliet has spent most of her career studying how the dioxin suppresses immune responses.

"We spent all these years studying dioxin because people have been concerned about its presence in the environment," she said. "Yet, look what we have now discovered from those basic toxicology studies."

The journal PLOS ONE published the research with the title "Benzimidazoisoquinolines: A New Class of Rapidly Metabolized Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) Ligands that Induce AhR-Dependent Tregs and Prevent Murine Graft-Versus-Host Disease." It is online at http://hdl.handle.net/1957/46244.  

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences funded the research.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Tiffany Woods Source: 

Nancy Kerkvliet, 541-737-4387

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Nancy Kerkvliet, a professor of immunotoxicology at Oregon State University, has discovered a chemical compound that could be a safer alternative to current treatments for autoimmune diseases. (Photo by Stephen Ward.)

Categories: Research news

OSU’s Hatfield Center to host regional STEM hub

News - Thu, 03/20/2014 - 9:17am
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NEWPORT, Ore. – One of six regional “STEM” hubs funded by the Oregon Department of Education and serving the Oregon coast from Astoria to Coos Bay will be headquartered at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

A series of meetings will begin next month along the coast to help launch the initiative.

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM hubs are designed to boost the proficiency of K-14 students in these areas.

The Lincoln County School District was awarded a grant of $664,000 to coordinate the effort, partnering with OSU, Oregon Sea Grant, the Tillamook School District, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The new regional STEM hub will expand an existing program called the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, according to Tracy Crews, project manager for the newly formed coastal hub.

“Lincoln and Tillamook counties, along with 23 other partners, have been offering STEM support under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education,” Crews said. “What this new grant will do is allow us to expand the program up and down the coast, and enlist new partners and offer more resources for STEM-related instruction.”

In the first phase of the project, Crews and other hub coordinators will host a series of meetings along the coast to conduct a needs assessment and engage new partners. These meeting are scheduled as follows:

  • Newport: April 17, at Oregon Coast Community College;
  • Astoria: May 1 at Clatsop Community College;
  • Tillamook: May 7 at Tillamook Bay Community College;
  • Coos Bay: May 15, at Southwestern Oregon Community College.

Times and location will be set later, with information available by contact Tracy Crews at 541-867-0329, or tracy.crews@oregonstate.edu. A website is being be developed for the coast STEM hub.

“We hope to engage not only the K-12 schools and community colleges, but industry, local government, scientific agencies, community leaders and parents,” Crews said. “Once we determine some of the needs, we can begin connecting people with the appropriate resources.”

Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

 Tracy Crews, 541-867-0329; tracy.crews@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Researchers find evidence of bighorn sheep on island – now what?

News - Wed, 03/19/2014 - 2:36pm
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Introducing a supposed non-native species into an environment in which they previously had lived - called "unintentional rewilding" - has serious management implications, researchers say.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A research team has found evidence that bighorn sheep inhabited Tiburón Island in the Gulf of California some 1,500 years ago – a surprising find that calls into question just how to manage the population of bighorns that were introduced to the island in 1975.

The experimental introduction almost 40 years ago of what was thought to be a non-native species was intended to create a large breeding population of bighorn sheep at a site safe from predators that could be used to restock bighorn populations on the mainland. The discovery that bighorn sheep previously had lived on the island raises philosophical questions, the researchers say.

They report on the dilemma, which they call “unintentional rewilding,” this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

“This is a microcosm for situations in which animals regarded as non-natives are introduced into an area where they actually lived in the past,” said Clinton Epps, a wildlife ecologist at Oregon State University and co-author on the PLOS ONE article. “There are some interesting implications.

“If, for example, one goal was to restore native habitat and it looked like the introduced animals were having an impact on the flora, the solution might be to remove the animals,” Epps pointed out. “But now you’d have to say, ‘not so fast.’ What is the right thing to do? Does it matter if the animals lived there 10, a hundred, or a thousand years ago?”

The development first began to unfold with the incidental discovery by lead author Ben Wilder of the University of California, Riverside, of a dung mat on the floor of a small cave in the Sierra Kumkaak, a rugged mountain range on the east side of Tiburón Island. Samples of the sheep pellets were sent for DNA sequencing to Oregon State.

“The first thing we had to do was eliminate the possibility that the material had come from deer, mountain goats, domestic sheep or cows, or some other animals,” said Rachel Crowhurst, a faculty research assistant in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “It closely matched bighorn sheep. Then we used a second genetic marker to compare it to the modern population of bighorns on the island – and it was completely different.”

The OSU researchers determined that the sequences from the bighorn sheep that lived on the island some 1,500 years ago exactly matched sequences from desert bighorn sheep living today in Arizona.

In 1975, 16 female and four male bighorn sheep were introduced to Tiburón Island, which is a large, mostly uninhabited island just off the coast of Sonora Mexico. On the mainland, historical land use had decimated populations of wild bighorn sheep. By the mid-1990s, the Tiburon herd had grown to some 500 animals and was considered one of the most successful large mammal introductions in the world.

As it turns out, this supposed introduction was actually an “unintentional rewilding” – a phrase coined by the authors and a concept that has implications for future research, according to Julio Betancourt, a paleo-ecologist with the United State Geological Survey and co-author on the paper.

“Molecular studies will become more than an afterthought in paleo-ecological studies to address previously unanswerable questions about evolutionary responses to climate change,” Betancourt said.

The research by Epps and Crowhurst was supported by Oregon State University.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Clint Epps, 541-737-2478; Clinton.Epps@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

History of hops and brewing chronicled on new OSU archive

News - Tue, 03/18/2014 - 12:36pm
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 The Special Collections & Archives Research Center at OSU Libraries & Press has established the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives. 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon is at the epicenter of a thriving craft-brew industry, and Oregon State University is helping shape the movement – from creating new barley varieties, to offering courses for home brewers, to its growing fermentation science program, which has a Pilot Plant Brewhouse where student brewers create new beers.

Now, the university is going a step further as it actively preserves the rich history of hops and craft brewing.

Recognizing the need to document the intertwined story of hop production and the craft brewing movement in Oregon, the Special Collections & Archives Research Center at OSU Libraries & Press established the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives in summer 2013. This month, the official launch of the online archives will be celebrated in appropriate style with “Tap into History” on March 28 at the McMenamins Mission Theater in Portland.

The archive’s goal is to collect and provide access to records related to hops production and the craft brewing industries in Oregon. The first archive in the United States dedicated to hops and beer, it will bring together a wealth of materials in hardcopy and digital formats enabling people to study and appreciate these movements. The work melds the social and economic aspects of brewing in Oregon with the hard science behind the beer research being done at OSU.

The university already has strong collections related to the history of hops, barley, and fermentation research at OSU, but scholars are gathering resources from beyond the campus as well.

“There are valuable items in historical societies, in the boxes of marketing materials in a brewer’s garage, in the computer records of operations at hop farms, on beer blogs, in social media communities, and in the stories that haven’t been recorded,” said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, archivist for the collection.

“While we are interested in adding new items to build the archive, we also want to be a portal to collections through the state, partnering with people in heritage and history communities, state agencies, hops farmers, craft brewers, home brewers, and the general community to think collectively about how to preserve and provide access to this history.”

The free "Tap into History" event at the Mission Theater, which begins at 7 p.m., includes a panel on brewing history in Oregon. Among the topics:

  • Edmunson-Morton will talk about the project and its impact.
  • Peter Kopp, an agricultural historian, will talk about his use of archival materials and the relevance for researchers.
  • John Foyston, an Oregonian writer since 1987 and noted beer columnist, will talk about his work documenting the Oregon beer scene.
  • Irene Firmat, CEO and co-founder of Full Sail Brewing Company, will talk about her work as a female brewing pioneer.
  • Daniel Sharp, a Ph.D. student in the OSU College of Agriculture's Fermentation Science program, will talk about his research and the program.

The event concludes with screenings from "Hopstories," a collection of short videos showcasing breweries in Oregon, and OPB's Beervana, a documentary about the history of beer and the rise of craft brewing in Oregon. The McMenamins Mission Theater is located at 1624 N.W. Glisan St., Portland.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/brewingarchives

 

 

 

 

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Tiah Edmunson-Morton, 541-737-7387

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Categories: Research news

Mistrust, discrimination influence Latino health care satisfaction

News - Mon, 03/17/2014 - 1:56pm
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Mistrust of the medical community and perceived discrimination by health care providers can affect young Latinos' satisfaction with their health care and could influence health outcomes, affect participation in health care programs and more, researchers say.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mistrust of the medical community and perceived discrimination by health care providers can affect how satisfied young adult Latinos in rural Oregon are with their health care, new research from Oregon State University shows.

Health care satisfaction, or the lack of, could influence health outcomes for patients, affect participation in health care programs under the new Affordable Care Act, and contribute to disparities in health care access for Latinos, said lead researcher Daniel López-Cevallos, associate director of research for the Center for Latino/a Studies and Engagement at OSU

“Health care reform is about people getting insurance so they have access to services, but mistrust may lead people to delay care,” López-Cevallos said.

Findings of the research were published recently in “The Journal of Rural Health.”  The article was co-authored by S. Marie Harvey, associate dean and professor of public health, and Jocelyn T. Warren, assistant research professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Harvey received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the research.

Researchers surveyed 387 young adult Latinos, 18 to 25, living in rural Oregon. Patient satisfaction information was collected as part of a larger study about health issues among young, rural Latinos. Participants were not asked about their immigration status; more than half, about 58 percent, were born outside the U.S. and the average length of U.S. residency was 13.8 years.

The majority of participants, about 73 percent, reported being moderately or very satisfied with their health care. Among those who were not satisfied, medical mistrust and perceived discrimination were identified as factors. Other factors including age and health insurance did not affect satisfaction, the study showed.

The research suggests a need to improve “cultural competency” among health care providers, from the doctors to the receptionists to the lab technicians, so Latinos are treated with respect and dignity, the researchers said. A bilingual/bicultural workforce may be more effective in addressing health issues affecting a patient.

“Trust is huge; it allows patients to disclose concerns and be honest,” Harvey said. “In a previous study we conducted, young adult Latino men reported that ‘confianza,’ a term that encompasses trust, respect, level of communication and confidentiality, affected their access to and use of health care services.  

Efforts to enroll Latinos in health care programs under the Affordable Care Act won’t be successful if patients don’t feel comfortable at their doctor’s office, López-Cevallos said.

“These are young, healthy adults,” he said. “We want them in our health insurance pools to help average the risk and keep costs down. This is an opportunity, but we have a lot of work to do.”

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

S. Marie Harvey, 541-737-3824, Marie.harvey@oregonstate.edu

Daniel López-Cevallos, 541-737-3850, Daniel.lopez-cevallos@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

House committee OKs exemption allowing OSU Experiment Station flexibility to relocate

News - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 11:03am
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OSU's Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center is one step closer to gaining the flexibility to relocate following legislation approved this week by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

HERMISTON, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center, which is mostly located within the city limits, is one step closer to gaining the flexibility to relocate when necessitated by population growth, following legislation approved this week by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

The OSU research and extension center is subject to an obscure federal rule, known as a “reverter,” which would be triggered if changes of use and/or location of the facility were enacted. This rule would lead to ownership of the land and infrastructure reverting back to the federal government.

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved an exclusion to this federal reversionary clause – exempting the OSU facility from the requirement – and forwarded it to the floor of the House for its consideration. Full House consideration has not yet been scheduled.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., led the push to gain the exemption, with support from community stakeholders, local elected officials, OSU agricultural leaders and OSU President Edward J. Ray.

“The growth of Hermiston and the expanding scope of the center will make it desirable to move the center to a more appropriate location in the future,” said Philip B. Hamm, director of the OSU facility. “The move has had the support of city and regional leaders, as well as the agricultural industry that the center supports. Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Walden and his staff, we are now a step closer to resolving this problem.”

The Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center is one of 12 OSU Agricultural Experiment Stations located throughout the state. It has supported agriculture in the Columbia River basin for more than a century. The region is a highly diversified agricultural region where more than 200 different crops are grown.

With its state-of-the-art laboratories, irrigation technology capabilities, research programs and extension efforts, the center supports crops on nearly 500,000 acres of high-value irrigated land, much of it in Morrow and Umatilla counties. In recent years, the center’s research and outreach helped local growers diversify production and convert 30,000 acres of traditional commodity crops to different, high-value crops – resulting in more than $50 million in annual economic returns.

“While the station has no immediate plans to move in the near future, the removal of this reversionary clause will allow OSU to sell the property when development in Hermiston reaches the center’s border,” Hamm said. “It will allow the center to purchase new land, erect laboratories, and install irrigation infrastructure to continue supporting agriculture with new research based on information – as it has for the past 104 years.”

H.R. 3366 provides for “the release of the property interests retained by the United States in certain land conveyed in 1954 by the United States, acting through the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, to the State of Oregon for the establishment of the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center of Oregon State University in Hermiston, Oregon.”

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Philip Hamm, 541-567-6337; philip.b.hamm@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Oregon State University's KBVR FM wins top awards at national conference

News - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 10:42am
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The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System has named KBVR FM best college radio station at a university with more than 10,000 students. 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System has named KBVR FM best college radio station at a university with more than 10,000 students. The station was one of three college radio stations in the country, and the only West Coast station, to be nominated for this category.

A number of KBVR programs and staff also won awards. Matt Walton and Josh Worden won the best play-by-play football broadcast, and Joey Hulbert and Zhian Kamvar won for most innovative radio program with their science program, “Inspiration Dissemination.” Additionally, Megan Cummings won for best production director, and Matt Walton won for best promotions director.

KBVR FM was also a finalist for best overall station. KBVR staff members were finalists for best community news coverage (Jodie Davaz), best program director, (Marissa Solini) and best engineer (Jack Kemp).

IBS, an educational association comprising more than a thousand high school and college broadcast stations and webcasters, announced the winners at its 74th annual IBS New York City conference. All winners and finalists were presented with IBS Golden Microphone Trophies. The conference was attended by KBVR station manager Davaz, KBVR promotions director Matt Walton, and broadcasting adviser Bill Gross.

“I am honored and humbled by receiving these awards,” Walton said. “Josh Worden is a rising star and I am so thankful to be able to work with him. The awards for best station are especially amazing, as they reflect the hard work that every KBVR DJ puts in every day.”

“Joey and I are honored to receive this award,” said Kamvar,  co-host for 'Inspiration Dissemination' and a Ph.D. student at OSU. “We want to thank all the guests we have featured for being as passionate as we are about science communication. They are the real inspiration.”

KBVR broadcasts 24/7 on 88.7 FM from the campus of Oregon State University. The station is student- managed and is programmed by more than 100 student volunteer DJs. Programming includes live music, local news, sports and talk radio shows.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Julia Sandidge, 541-737-4615

Categories: Research news

Two prominent OSU alums to be honored at spring celebration

News - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 10:39am
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Two prominent awards are being presented to Oregon State University alumni next month during the Oregon State Alumni Association’s Spring Awards Celebration.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two prominent awards are being presented to Oregon State University alumni next month during the Oregon State Alumni Association’s Spring Awards Celebration.

Rockne “Rocky” Freitas, chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu, has been named 2014 recipient of the E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award. Penny Yano Atkins of Caldwell, Idaho, is the recipient of the Jean & C.H. “Scram” Graham Leadership Award.

The Lemon award honors alumni “who make significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments and careers bring acclaim to the university.” It is the highest recognition granted by the association.

Freitas is a Beaver football and National Football League great who graduated from OSU in 1968 with a bachelor’s in animal science. He went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and then built a distinguished second career in higher education.

Before being named chancellor of the West O’ahu campus, he was vice president for student affairs and university and community relations for the University of Hawai‘i System. He also was vice president and executive director of the Ke Ali‘i Pauahi Foundation; held leadership positions at Kamehameha Schools and was a trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. He is in the Hawai‘i Sports Hall of Fame and the OSU Sports Hall of Fame.

Named for a former alumni director and his wife – who worked and volunteered on behalf of the association and OSU for almost their entire lives – the Jean & C.H. “Scram” Graham Leadership Award honors individuals who give exemplary service to the alumni association.

Atkins, ’79, is a member of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees, is a College of Business graduate who served on the alumni association’s board of directors from 2003-13, including terms in the crucial positions of treasurer and president.

Contributing in many ways, she established a benchmark for service during her decade on the OSUAA volunteer leadership board. Since stepping down and moving on to her position as an OSU Foundation trustee, she has continued to help the association serve OSU friends and alumni in and around Boise, Idaho.

She and her husband, Gary Atkins, live in Caldwell and are members of the A.L. Strand Society.

Freitas and Atkins will be recognized at the alumni association’s Spring Awards Celebration on April 25 at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center on campus. Tickets are available at www.osualum.com/springawards2014.

Alumni Association Source: 

Kate Sanders, 541-737-6220

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Categories: Research news

Noted researcher to speak at OSU commencement in June

News - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 10:36am
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Ann A. Kiessling, a leader in both stem cell research and reproductive biology, will give the commencement address at Oregon State University’s graduation ceremony this spring.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ann A. Kiessling, director of the independent Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation and a leader in both stem cell research and reproductive biology, will give the commencement address at Oregon State University’s graduation ceremony this spring.

Kiessling also will receive an honorary doctorate from the university at its 145th commencement, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 14, in Reser Stadium.

“Ann Kiessling is a nationally recognized researcher and pioneer whose work in cutting-edge fields of stem cell research and the HIV virus should make for an enlightening talk for our graduates,” said Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray. “She has had a remarkable career that launched at Oregon State, where she earned her Ph.D.”

Kiessling, who has a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics from Oregon State, joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1985, specializing in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology, and working in the Department of Surgery. In the early 1990s, she pioneered reproductive options for couples living with the HIV disease and hepatitis C – techniques that led to the successful births of 121 children free of those diseases.

The Bedford Research Foundation was founded in 1996 as a Massachusetts public charity to support research. By the year 2000, the foundation’s research laboratory expanded to include human stem cell research. To date, the foundation has collaborated with more than 60 clinics globally to find treatment for infectious diseases and spinal cord injuries. Foundation officials say their belief is that international scientific collaboration is fundamentally important to rapid biomedical advances.

Kiessling’s book, “Human Embryonic Stem Cells: An Introduction to the Science and Therapeutic Potential,” published in 2003 and re-released in 2006, is the first textbook on the topic.

Before joining the Harvard University faculty, Kiessling had a faculty appointment at Oregon Health & Science University, where she worked from 1977-85.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111; Sabah.randhawa@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU Board of Trustees endorses future tuition levels, funding requests

News - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 7:25am
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The OSU Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed a plan to continue phasing out the tuition plateau, which gives undergrads who take from 12-15 credit hours a break on tuition.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees on Thursday unanimously endorsed a plan to continue phasing out the university’s tuition plateau, which gives undergraduate students who take from 12-15 credit hours a break on tuition.

The board vote on the tuition plateau Thursday was part of a broader approval by the OSU Board of Trustees to recommend to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education tuition rates and fees for the 2014-15 academic year. While OSU now has its own board, the Board of Higher Education, by law, must authorize any changes in tuition and fees through June 30.

OSU is the last public university in the state to offer the plateau, which has allowed students taking 13-16 hours a term to pay the same tuition as those students taking just 12 hours.

“What the plateau effectively has done is provided a higher tuition rate for students taking class loads above or below the plateau, and a lower rate for students taking 13-15 hours,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for University Relations and Marketing. “This is not equitable.”

Last year, the university’s budget committee, which included student representation, recommended a three-year phasing out of the tuition plateau and in fall 2013, the plateau was reduced from 13-16 credits hours to 13-15 credits. According to the plan endorsed by the OSU board, students next school year will pay reduced tuition for any courses between 13 and 15 credit hours, and then will pay full tuition for all credit hours in the 2015-16 academic year.

Meanwhile, the legislatively mandated tuition freeze will keep Oregon State’s resident undergraduate tuition rate at $189 per credit hour for 2014-15. There will be no increase in “differential tuition surcharges” for high-demand programs such as engineering.

What this means for students taking an average of 15 credit hours per term in 2014-15 is an annual tuition charge of $7,650.

“While this represents an increase from the 2013-14 tuition rate ($6,876 for the year), it is well below the median tuition for Oregon State’s peer institutions, and less than the tuition rate charged by the University of Oregon,” Clark said. The median tuition for OSU’s peer land grant institutions is $9,510; the University of Oregon’s rate in 2013 was $8,280.

The OSU board also voted to increase the tuition rate for most graduate students by 2.1 percent for in-state students, and 3.9 percent for out-of-state students. Tuition for students in pharmacy and veterinary medicine will increase by 3.0 percent, while differential tuition will remain at the same level.

The board also on Thursday unanimously voted to forward a capital projects funding request of $278 million for the 2015-17 biennium to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which must review the plan and incorporate some or all of the recommendations to its budget request to the Oregon Legislature.

The request includes $171.5 million in state-paid bonds, $7.5 million in bonds that would be paid by OSU, and $99 million in projected grants and gifts. State-funded bond projects include campus accessibility improvements, technology infrastructure upgrades, building and program renewals, and renovation of Fairbanks and Magruder halls.

New building projects that would be funded in part by grants and gifts include a new center for advanced wood materials, a new engineering building, further development of the OSU-Cascades campus, and a new building in Newport that would launch the first phase of the marine studies campus initiative at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

In other action:

  • The board adopted its own policies related to: the roles and responsibilities of board members and officers, board committees, the board’s code of ethics, conflict of interest requirements, associated board travel expenses, attendance at university events, and the board calendar;
  • The board voted to ratify the university’s existing mission statement.
Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

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

Categories: Research news

One in five older Americans take medications that work against each other

News - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 10:41am
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Many drugs taken by older Americans who have multiple health problems actually work against each other, and more work is needed to address this problem.

PORTLAND, Ore. – About three out of four older Americans have multiple chronic health conditions, and more than 20 percent of them are being treated with drugs that work at odds with each other – the medication being used for one condition can actually make the other condition worse.

This approach of treating conditions “one at a time” even if the treatments might conflict with one another is common in medicine, experts say, in part because little information exists to guide practitioners in how to consider this problem, weigh alternatives and identify different options.

One of the first studies to examine the prevalence of this issue, however, found that 22.6 percent of study participants received at least one medication that could worsen a coexisting condition. The work was done by researchers in Connecticut and Oregon, and published in PLOS One.

In cases where this “therapeutic competition” exists, the study found that it changed drug treatments in only 16 percent of the cases. The rest of the time, the competing drugs were still prescribed.

“Many physicians are aware of these concerns but there isn’t much information available on what to do about it,” said David Lee, an assistant professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy.

“Drugs tend to focus on one disease at a time, and most physicians treat patients the same way,” Lee said. “As a result, right now we’re probably treating too many conditions with too many medications. There may be times it’s best to just focus on the most serious health problem, rather than use a drug to treat a different condition that could make the more serious health problem even worse.”

More research in this field and more awareness of the scope of the problem are needed, the scientists said. It may be possible to make better value judgments about which health issue is of most concern, whether all the conditions should be treated, or whether this “competition” between drug treatments means one concern should go untreated. It may also be possible in some cases to identify ways to treat both conditions in ways that don’t conflict with one another.

A common issue, for example, is patients who have both coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Beta blockers are often prescribed to treat the heart disease, but those same drugs can cause airway resistance that worsens the COPD.

“There are several types of beta blocker that don’t cause this negative interaction, but many of the other types are still prescribed anyway,” Lee said. “It’s this type of information that would be of value in addressing these issues if it were more widely known and used.”

The chronic conditions in which competing therapies come into play include many common health concerns – coronary artery disease, diabetes, COPD, dementia, heart failure, hypertension, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis and others.

This study was done by researchers from OSU and the Yale University School of Medicine, with 5,815 community-living adults between the years 2007-09. The lead author of the study was Dr. Mary E. Tinetti at Yale University, and it was supported by the National Institutes of Health. The analysis included a nationally representative sample of older adults, and both men and women.

The research identified some of the most common competing chronic conditions, in which medications for one condition may exacerbate the other. They included hypertension and osteoarthritis; hypertension and diabetes; hypertension and COPD; diabetes and coronary artery disease; and hypertension and depression. These issues affect millions of older Americans.

“More than 9 million older adults in the U.S. are being prescribed medications that may be causing them more harm than benefit,” said Jonathan Lorgunpai, a medical student at the Yale School of Medicine and co-author of the study. “Not only is this potentially harmful for individual patients, it is also very wasteful for our health care system.”

Direct competition between medications is just one of the concerns, the report noted. Use of multiple medications can also lead to increased numbers of falls and delirium, dizziness, fatigue and anorexia.

The researchers pointed out that the presence of competing conditions does not necessarily contraindicate the use of needed medications, but rather the need for this competition to be more seriously considered in treatment.

College of Pharmacy Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

David Lee, 503-494-2258

Categories: Research news

OSU names Susie Brubaker-Cole vice provost for Student Affairs

News - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 9:27am
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Susie Brubaker-Cole, the associate provost for Academic Success and Engagement at Oregon State University since 2008, has been named OSU’s vice provost for Student Affairs effective July 1.

CORVALLIS, Ore – Susie Brubaker-Cole, the associate provost for Academic Success and Engagement at Oregon State University since 2008, has been named OSU’s vice provost for Student Affairs effective July 1.

She succeeds Larry Roper, the university’s long-time vice provost who chose to return to a faculty teaching position at OSU after more than 18 years in his administrative leadership role.

“Larry Roper’s leadership at Oregon State has been extraordinary and we are grateful that he is remaining at OSU,” said Sabah Randhawa, the university’s provost and executive vice president. “We also are fortunate that Susie Brubaker-Cole has a well-established track record of success as associate provost and will continue advancing student success and the goals of Student Affairs at OSU.”

As associate provost, Brubaker-Cole works closely with Student Affairs, the university’s academic units and the OSU Faculty Senate to guide and implement student success and engagement initiatives. Her most recent focus has been the development of OSU’s First-Year Experience Initiative, which seeks to help students new to the university succeed academically and socially, ultimately improving retention.

As vice provost for Student Affairs, Brubaker-Cole will provide leadership for a range of student-related departments, programs and initiatives, including Career Services, the Memorial Union, Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services, Intercultural Student Services, Recreational Sports, Student Media, University Housing and Dining, Student Leadership and Involvement, Dean of Student Life Office, Disability Access Services, Student Conduct and Community Standards, New Student Programs and Family Outreach, and others.

Prior to coming to OSU, Brubaker-Cole worked for eight years at Stanford University as associate vice provost for undergraduate education, and concurrently for five years in Stanford’s Student Affairs division as a live-in resident fellow.

She received her bachelor’s degree in French and comparative history of ideas at the University of Washington, and has master’s and doctoral degrees in French literature from Yale University. Brubaker-Cole also lived and studied for nearly five years in several regions of France.

A native Oregonian from Ashland, she began work at the age of 15 at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival selling programs, which she says sparked her interest in theater and cultural affairs. Now a resident of Corvallis, she is passionate about social justice, food security and environmental stewardship. A committed bicyclist, she commutes to work via bicycle and logs more than 3,500 miles annually, rain or shine.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

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Categories: Research news

OSU-Cascades to host Geraldine Brooks as Distinguished Visiting Writer

News - Tue, 03/11/2014 - 3:46pm
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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks will join the faculty of Oregon State University-Cascades in June as a Distinguished Visiting Writer in a residency session from June 9-19.

BEND, Ore. – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks will join the faculty of Oregon State University-Cascades in June as a Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Low Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. The residency session takes place from June 9-19.

The Australian-born Brooks is an author and journalist who spent 11 years as a correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, where her beats focused on some of the world’s most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East.

Students in the OSU-Cascades creative writing program embark on long-distance and individualized courses of study with faculty author mentors, and join fellow students for two 10-day residences each year at Caldera Arts Center outside of Sister, Ore.  Distinguished writers are invited to join the residencies and guide and nurture apprentice writers.

In addition to her journalism background, Brooks is an accomplished author whose fiction debut, “Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague,” was published in 10 countries and was a 2001 Notable Book of the Year for The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

Her second novel, “March,” earned Brooks the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her third book, “People of the Book,” became an instant New York Times bestseller. Her most recent novel is “Caleb’s Crossing.”

While in Central Oregon, Brooks will also participate in the Deschutes Public Library Foundation’s Author! Author! literary series, speaking at Bend High School on June 19. 

OSU-Cascades Campus Source: 

Christine Coffin, 541-322-3152

Categories: Research news

National survey reveals coastal concerns over climate change

News - Tue, 03/11/2014 - 2:06pm
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A survey by multiple Sea Grant organizations found that coastal managers and elected officials in nine states say they see climate change happening – and believe their communities need to adapt.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The American public may be divided over whether climate is changing, but coastal managers and elected officials in nine states say they see the change happening – and believe their communities will need to adapt.

That's one finding from a NOAA Sea Grant research project, led by Oregon Sea Grant at Oregon State University. The projected involved multiple other Sea Grant programs, which surveyed coastal leaders in selected parts of the nation's Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lakes coasts, as well as Hawaii. 

Three-quarters of coastal professionals surveyed – and 70 percent of all participants – said they believe that the climate in their area is changing.

While national polls dating back more than a decade, including several by Gallup, have revealed some public skepticism and polarization about climate change, the Sea Grant findings are in line with a number of recent surveys – including several by the Yale Project on Climate Change and Communication – suggesting a growing majority of  Americans believes the earth's  climate is changing. However, many express uncertainty that anything can be done about it.

The Sea Grant survey was developed to understand what coastal and resource professionals and elected officials think about climate change, where their communities stand in planning for climate adaptation and what kinds of information they need, said project leader Joe Cone, assistant director of Oregon Sea Grant.

Sea Grant programs in Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois-Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington – states that represent most of NOAA's coastal regions – took part, administering the survey between January 2012 and November 2013.

Among 30 questions, survey participants were asked how informed they felt about climate change in their area and whether they thought that the climate in their area is changing.  Participants identified where their agencies and communities stood in planning to adapt to climate change, and hurdles they have encountered and overcome. They also identified climate-related topics important to their work and how much information they had about those topics.

Overall, three-quarters of the 355 coastal/resource professionals who responded felt that the climate in their area is changing.  Most (68 percent) felt that they were moderately- to very well-informed about the local effects of climate change. A common hurdle respondents encountered was a lack of agreement over the importance of those effects. Shoreline change and flooding concerns were among the topics respondents considered important to their own work.

A newly published report by Oregon Sea Grant  presents the combined results for all survey respondents, as well as the responses from each participating state.  

Cone said this national survey, funded in part by Sea Grant's national focus team on hazard resilient coastal communities, represents an initial attempt to understand the opinions and information needs of coastal/resource professionals regarding climate change adaptation and planning.  Participating Sea Grant programs are already using the survey results to assist communities develop local adaptation strategies. In addition, Cone said he hoped that this survey may stimulate additional survey research by Sea Grant, NOAA, and other coastal interests on this vital topic.

The survey report is available as a free download from Oregon Sea Grant at: http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/sgpubs/s14001-national-climate-survey-report

Oregon Sea Grant Media Contact:  Pat Kight Source: 

 Joe Cone, joe.cone@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Oregon State ranks seventh worldwide in agriculture and forestry

News - Fri, 03/07/2014 - 10:41am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been recognized as a world-class center in agriculture and forestry, ranking seventh in a new international survey of more than 200 schools.

For the second year, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings has compiled a list of top agriculture and forestry institutions. The service considered nearly 3,000 universities in 30 subject areas in its overall review.

In 2013, OSU's agriculture and forestry programs placed eighth in the world.

“Our rising world ranking is a testament to the continued great work of our faculty and researchers,” said Dan Arp, dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

“We’re excited about another top global ranking that recognizes the breadth and depth of our research and teaching, and our great partnership with the College of Agricultural Sciences,” said Thomas Maness, dean of OSU’s College of Forestry. “It’s very satisfying to see the excellence of our faculty and students recognized internationally.”

Considered one of the most influential and respected firms surveying higher education, QS World University Rankings uses a variety of metrics to score universities in teaching and research, including academic and employer reputation surveys, the number of articles published in academic journals and the amount of citations generated by publications.

As the state's Land Grant University, Oregon State and its agricultural and forestry programs have been a vital component of the school's mission since its founding in 1870. The College of Agricultural Sciences is Oregon's principal source of knowledge and research in agricultural and food systems, environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences and rural economies.

In recent years, OSU's agricultural programs have also received national top-tier rankings from the Chronicle of Higher Education for research, with wildlife science and conservation biology ranking first, fisheries science second, botany and plant pathology and forest resources at fifth, and agricultural and resource economics seventh.

OSU's College of Forestry has also been recognized as the top university program of its kind in North America by the Journal of Forestry.

The College of Forestry is Oregon’s principal forest-related research institution, strengthening understanding of forested ecosystems, helping forest-based businesses compete globally, and informing public policy that balances environmental protection and economic development. 

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Dan Arp, 541-737-1297;

Tom Maness, 541-737-1585;

Bill Boggess, 541-737-2331

Ann Mary Quarandillo, 541-737-3140

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Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, talks with an OSU student on a research farm. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)



OSU Extension Forestry Educator Tim Delano teaches high school students about forestry in the Hopkins Demonstration Forest near Oregon City, Oregon. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

Cows witnessing wolf attacks suffer symptoms similar to PTSD

News - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 10:39am
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Unlike cows that haven't ever had a run-in with wolves, ones that have can experience stress-related illnesses and have a harder time getting pregnant – meaning decreased profits for ranchers, according to a new study by Oregon State University.

BURNS, Ore. – Unlike cows that haven't ever had a run-in with wolves, ones that have can experience stress-related illnesses and have a harder time getting pregnant – meaning decreased profits for ranchers, according to a new study by Oregon State University.

"When wolves kill or injure livestock, ranchers can document the financial loss," said Reinaldo Cooke, an animal scientist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “But wolf attacks also create bad memories in the herd and cause a stress response known to result in decreased pregnancy rates, lighter calves and a greater likelihood of getting sick. It’s much like post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD – for cows."

After a reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in the last two decades, grey wolves have dispersed through the West and have hunted in livestock grazing areas. Since then, OSU researchers have heard anecdotes from ranchers that cows that have come in contact with wolves are more aggressive, sickly and eat less.

To measure the stress of a wolf attack on cows – and estimate its lingering effects – researchers simulated a wolf encounter with 100 cows. Half of them had never seen a wolf, and the other half had been part of a herd that was previously attacked on the range.

Cows were gathered in a pen scented with wolf urine while pre-recorded wolf howls played over a stereo. Three trained dogs – German Shepherds closely resembling wolves – walked outside the pen.

Researchers found that cortisol, a stress hormone, increased by 30 percent in cows that had previously been exposed to wolves. They bunched up in a corner, formed a protective circle and acted agitated. Their body temperatures also increased rapidly, another indicator of stress. Yet the cows previously unfamiliar with wolves were curious about the dogs and did not show signs of stress.

Multiple studies from Cooke and other researchers have established a link between cow stress and poor performance traits that can cost ranchers.

A 2010 OSU economic analysis estimated that wolves in northeastern Oregon could cost ranchers up to $261 per head of cattle, including $55 for weight loss and $67 for lower pregnancy rates, according to John Williams, an OSU extension agent in Wallowa County who conducted that study. It can be read online at: http://bit.ly/OSU_WolfCowReport.

"In a herd, if you are not raising calves, your cows are not making you money," said David Bohnert, an expert in ruminant nutrition at OSU's Eastern Oregon Agriculture Research Center in Burns. “With stress likely decreasing the proportion of those getting pregnant and causing lighter calves from those that do, a wolf attack can have negative financial ripple effects for some time.”

Both researchers call for further research into ways of successfully managing both wolves and livestock so they can co-exist.

The wolf-cow simulated encounter study, which was funded by the Oregon Beef Council, was published in the Journal of Animal Science and co-authored by Cooke and Bohnert. The text is available at http://bit.ly/OSU_CowWolfStudy.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Reinaldo Cooke, 541-573-4083;

David Bohnert, 541-573-8910

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Oregon State University researchers simulated a wolf encounter with German Shepherds to measure stress levels in beef cows. (Photo by Reinaldo Cooke.)



David Bohnert works with beef cattle at Oregon State University's Eastern Oregon Agriculture Research Center in Burns, Ore. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

Playing with Barbie dolls could limit girls’ career choices, study shows

News - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 9:34am
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In one of the first experiments to explore the influence of fashion dolls, a OSU researcher has found that girls who play with Barbie dolls see fewer career options for themselves than for boys.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In one of the first experiments to explore the influence of fashion dolls, an Oregon State University researcher has found that girls who play with Barbie dolls see fewer career options for themselves than for boys.

“Playing with Barbie has an effect on girls’ ideas about their place in the world,” said Aurora M. Sherman, an associate professor in the School of Psychological Science at OSU. “It creates a limit on the sense of what’s possible for their future. While it’s not a massive effect, it is a measurable and statistically significant effect.”

Findings of the research, conducted by Sherman and Eileen L. Zurbriggen of the University of California, Santa Cruz, were published today in the journal “Sex Roles.” The study was supported by research and start-up funding from the OSU College of Liberal Arts Dean’s office and the School of Psychological Science.

Barbie, introduced in 1959, was the first “fashion doll,” with an emphasis on her clothes and appearance. Past research has found that the way fashion dolls such as Barbie are physically formed and dressed communicates messages of sexualization and objectification to girls. 

Sherman’s experiment was designed to examine how Barbie might influence girls’ career aspirations.

Most of the past research on fashion dolls has been observational study of children and the toys in natural settings. In an actual experiment, the researcher controls a variable - in this case, the type of toy each child played with. 

Girls ages 4 to 7 were randomly assigned to play with one of three dolls: a fashion Barbie with dress and high-heeled shoes; a career Barbie with a doctor’s coat and stethoscope; or a Mrs. Potato Head with accessories such as purses and shoes. Mrs. Potato Head was selected as a neutral doll because the toy is similar in color and texture, but doesn’t have the sexualized characteristics of Barbie.

After a few minutes of play, the girls were asked if they could do any of 10 occupations when they grew up. They were also asked if boys could do those jobs. Half of the careers were traditionally male-dominated and half were female-dominated. 

Girls who played with Barbie thought they could do fewer jobs than boys could do. But girls who played with Mrs. Potato Head reported nearly the same number of possible careers for themselves and for boys. 

There was no difference in results between girls who played with a Barbie wearing a dress and the career-focused, doctor version of the doll.

Childhood development is complex, and playing with one toy isn’t likely to alter a child’s career aspirations, Sherman noted. But toys such as dolls or action figures can influence a child’s ideas about their future, she added.

More research is needed to better understand fashion dolls’ effect on girls, Sherman said. It is possible that some girls are more vulnerable to adverse messages from fashion dolls such as Barbie, she pointed out.  She is working on two other studies now, including one about girls’ perceptions of weight and body image based on doll size and shape. 

“For parents, the most important thing is to look at the child’s toy box and make sure there is a wide variety of toys to play with,” Sherman said.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Aurora Sherman, 541-737-1361 or Aurora.sherman@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU Board of Trustees to consider tuition and fees for 2014-15

News - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 4:13pm
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The Oregon State University Board of Trustees will meet Thursday, March 13, on the OSU campus to approve tuition and fee levels for the 2014-15 academic year.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees will meet Thursday, March 13, on the OSU campus to approve tuition and fee levels for the 2014-15 academic year.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Willamette Room of the CH2M-Hill Alumni Center, located at 725 S.W. 26th St. in Corvallis.

The board also will review the university’s funding request to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for the 2015-17 biennium, and receive updates on OSU’s strategic plan revision and The Campaign for OSU, which recently topped the $1 billion landmark in fund-raising.

Additional reports to the board will be made by OSU President Edward J. Ray, the chairs of the board’s Executive and Audit Committee and the Finance and Administration Committee, and the chair and executive director of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

On Wednesday, March 12, a meeting of the board’s Finance and Administration Committee will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. in the President’s Conference Room on the sixth floor of Kerr Administration Building. The committee will discuss tuition and fee levels, and OSU’s funding request to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and then consider a resolution forwarding those recommendations to the full board on Thursday. This meeting is also open to the public.

People who wish to attend either meeting and need special accommodations should contact Mark Huey in the board’s office at 541-737-8260 at least 72 hours in advance.

Meeting materials for these and other meetings will be posted at:

http://oregonstate.edu/leadership/trustees/meetings.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

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

Categories: Research news

Agricultural Research Foundation funds new OSU research

News - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:55am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Agricultural Research Foundation of Oregon has announced grants totaling $420,314 for projects in agriculture, chemistry, horticulture, and veterinary medicine at Oregon State University.

The 34 research projects funded this year represent a wide range of disciplines, from restoring sustainable environments to fighting disease in food crops, according to Kelvin Koong, the executive director of the Agricultural Research Foundation.

"We support research as broad as possible that enhances productivity and efficiency in agriculture, natural resources and the environment," said Koong. "Research is not restricted to any one college or discipline, as industries use new technology, knowledge and equipment to boost production."

Among the projects selected for the foundation’s funds:

  • The potential for hazelnut livestock feed to improve meat quality, shelf-life and nutrition;
  • Enhancing the nutritional value of oil seeds in poultry diets;
  • Elimination of Vibrio toxins from oysters;
  • Feeding selenium-fertilized hay to pregnant cows to improve calf performance;
  • Activating the immune system of potatoes to control disease;
  • The development of value-added food products from barley.

OSU researchers began using the funds on Feb. 1.

In more than 80 years distributing grants, the Agricultural Research Foundation has given more than $16 million to OSU scientists – in addition to channeling $157 million in donor gifts to the university's researchers.

The foundation is a private, non-profit corporation and an affiliate of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. The board of directors is made up of representatives of numerous segments of Oregon's agriculture industry. Grants awarded during 2014-16 are dedicated to its founding members: William Schoenfeld, Ralph Besse, Judge Guy Boyington and R.L. Clark.

For more information about the Competitive Grants Program, contact Koong at 541-737-4066.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Kelvin Koong, 541-737-4066

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OSU researchers in Astoria make raw oysters safer to eat by removing toxins from the shellfish, a project supported by a grant from the Agricultural Research Foundation. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

OSU website tracks Oregon's economic, social and environmental health

News - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:46am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – The gap between the richest and poorest Oregonians has widened over the past 20 years. On a brighter note, the rates of population and job growth have outpaced the national average.

These tidbits and other data are part of a new website created in part by the Oregon State University Extension Service. The Tracking Oregon's Progress website follows 88 indicators that describe economic, social and environmental progress in each of Oregon's 36 counties from 1990 to 2011.

The Oregon Community Foundation, the OSU Extension Service, OSU's Rural Studies Program, OSU's Valley Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources worked on the project.

People can visit the website at http://bit.ly/1bSCBY6 to download a report. They can also compare conditions and trends throughout the state by creating custom reports. For example, users can view a report and chart that shows that Multnomah County's unemployment rate among Latinos was 10.2 percent between 2007 and 2011 compared with 8.5 percent in rural Oregon in the same years.

The data, which come from the U.S. Census Bureau and a variety of government agencies, are helpful for state legislators, county officials, philanthropists, nonprofit professioaals, state agency professionals, educators and businesses, said Bruce Weber, the director of OSU's Rural Studies Program and lead author of the report.

"If you're in a position to make changes that can improve the economy, society or environment, this gives you some idea of where changes need to be made," said Weber, a professor of applied economics in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"It is valuable for the state to have data to look at trends over time across a wide variety of indicators, from environment to education to crime," said Sonia Worcel, research director for the Oregon Community Foundation.

Statewide highlights from the report include the following:

  • For several decades, the numbers of residents and jobs in Oregon have grown faster than the national average. Oregon's share of the nation's population increased from 1.15 percent in 1990 to 1.24 percent in 2011. Its share of the nation's jobs grew from 1.18 percent in 1990 to 1.25 percent in 2011. 
  • Per capita income in Oregon, or total income divided by population, has been dropping relative to the nation since 1990.
  • The unemployment rate in Oregon has risen since 1990, especially for Oregonians of color.  
  • Overall high school graduation rates increased in Oregon between 2010 and 2012, but there are large differences in high school graduation rates across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Oregon adults and teens have been living more healthily and Oregonians have been living longer, but there have been continuing increases in young teen drug use and disparities between racial and ethnic groups in teen pregnancy and low birth-weight babies.   

The site points to some interesting county-level highlights, according to Lena Etuk, a social demographer with the OSU Extension Service and OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Gilliam County, for example, has the lowest income inequality between its richest and poorest residents, while Benton County has the highest.

Hood River County stands out as a county with one of the state's highest Latino populations at 30 percent and the highest high school graduation rate of that ethnic group at 76 percent.

Wallowa, Sherman, Wasco, Gilliam, Deschutes, and Columbia counties have the highest rates of prenatal care usage, at 80 percent or more. Morrow and Malheur counties have the lowest rates of prenatal care usage. Less than 60 percent of pregnant women in those two counties are seeing doctors before their babies are born.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Bruce Weber, 541-737-1432;

Lena Etuk, 541-737-6121;

Sonia Worcel, 503-227-6846

Categories: Research news

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