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Study finds Oregon’s most common fish at least three distinct species

News - Mon, 05/19/2014 - 9:09am
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A new study has found that the most common fish species in Oregon – the speckled dace – is actually at least three separate and distinct species.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has found that the most common fish species in Oregon – the speckled dace – is actually at least three separate and distinct species.

The findings suggest that Oregon may have greater biological diversity in its native fish populations than previously recognized, said researchers at Oregon State University who led the study. The management implications for the discovery are not yet known.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

The speckled dace is a small minnow that appears in ponds, rivers, springs, lakes and other waterways from Canada to Mexico. It is the most common fish in Oregon, meaning that it appears in more bodies of water than any other fish, the researchers say, yet little is known about its genetic makeup.

“For some reason, the speckled dace has never been fully investigated,” said Kendra Hoekzema, a faculty research assistant in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and lead author on the study. “Yet it varies greatly in genetics and morphology and now we’re finding that more than one species is out there in a small corner of Oregon.

“Who knows how many other species there might be?” she added. “The Great Basin has a lot of springs.”

The study began as a review of the Foskett Spring speckled dace which, as a listed federally threatened subspecies, must be investigated every five years. This particular dace has only been found in a single spring within Warner Valley in southeast Oregon, and as part of her study, Hoekzema collected speckled dace from surrounding basins, including the Warner system, Goose Lake, Lake Abert, Silver Lake and the Malheur River system, as well as Stinking Lake Spring on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

DNA analysis led Hoekzema and co-author Brian Sidlauskas, an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at OSU, to determine that there are three “highly divergent” evolutionary lineages of speckled dace that warrant species-level status – the Malheur stream dace, Stinking Lake Spring dace, and dace from the other four basins combined.

“The speckled dace has been on the books for decades as one species and yet when we look at one small corner of Oregon, we find three distinct species,” Sidlauskas said. “Typically, when we think about new species being discovered, we think about some isolated part of the tropics. This is in our own backyard.”

“It goes to show both how much diversity may exist,” he added, “and how little we know about it.”

Hoekzema said the Stinking Lake Spring dace appeared to have branched off genetically some 2.5 million years ago, while the Foskett Spring dace – and perhaps others – became isolated just 10,000 years ago.

The researchers also recommended that the Foskett Spring dace should be listed as an “Evolutionarily Significant Unit” (ESU) and not a subspecies, a technical status change that would not necessarily affect how it is protected.

Paul Scheerer, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been working at Foskett Spring since 2005 evaluating population status, trends and habitat conditions. He and his colleagues became concerned, Scheerer said, that the speckled daces’ population was declining and that their habitat was shifting from open water vegetated habitat to emergent marsh.

The Bureau of Land Management, ODFW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted controlled burns of some of the vegetation in 2009 and then excavated new pools fed by the spring.

“Foskett speckled dace quickly expanded into the new pools,” Scheerer said, “and since then we’ve experienced a seven-fold increase in the speckled dace to about 13,000 fish. We also introduced dace into nearby, recently restored ponds to expand their abundance and reduce the risk of catastrophic loss.

“The OSU study results suggest there are more dace species out there than we previously knew,” he added. “It will allow us to adequately protect and enhance these unique fish into the future. The work by OSU is invaluable and will allow us to better understand the diversity of the fish fauna that has evolved in these isolated desert basins.”

The management implications on a broader scale are unclear, Sidlauskas said, because while the new species have been recognized as genetically distinct, their full geographic ranges are unknown. Nevertheless, the discovery of a distinct, unrecognized and possibly endemic species within the Malheur refuge underscores the importance of such areas, he added.

“This suggests that the refuge may harbor even more diversity than we knew and highlights the importance of preserving and valuing such wild places,” Sidlauskas said.

Although the minnows, which grow to a length of about three inches, don’t carry the iconic status of Northwest salmon or steelhead, they are important parts of the food web in many areas. Many species of fish-eating fish love them.

“Speckled dace are the bon-bons of the fish world for piscatorial fish,” Sidlauskas said, “and they are likely important prey for birds and other animals as well.”

The study was funded by the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, and the OSU Research Office.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Kendra Hoekzema, 541-737-6035, Kendra.hoekzema@oregonstate.edu; Brian Sidlauskas, 541-737-6789, brian.sidlauskas@oregonstate.edu

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Categories: Research news

Smithsonian mobile exhibit on May 19 explores the human-animal bond

News - Fri, 05/16/2014 - 2:50pm
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A mobil museum exhibit featuring the human/animal bond will be in Corvallis on Monday, May 19.

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The special relationship between humans and animals is explored in a new mobile exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, which will be open in the Reser Stadium parking lot at Oregon State University on Monday, May 19.

“Animal Connections: Our Journey Together,” a custom-built exhibition housed on an 18-wheel truck that expands into 1,000 square feet of space, is traveling throughout the United States. It’s free, and will be open to the public in Corvallis from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Animal Connections” marks the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the exhibit is made possible through the support of founding sponsor Zoetis, Inc., and the AVMA.

A video of the exhibit is available online, at animalconnections.com

The exhibition focuses on animals in the home, on the farm, at the zoo, in the wild and at the veterinary clinic. Visitors are offered a variety of ways to learn through informative displays, dynamic videos and interactive experiences. The exhibit also highlights the roles veterinarians play in the health of animals.

“At the AVMF, we are committed to advancing the well-being and medical care of animals,” said Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director. “This exhibition will not only help inspire the next generation of veterinarians, but improve current animal care through a better understanding of the role animals and veterinarians play in our lives.”

College of Veterinary Medicine Source: 

Lyn Smith-Gloria

Categories: Research news

Linda Bacon to speak about obesity myths and body acceptance at OSU

News - Fri, 05/16/2014 - 1:29pm
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The author of 'Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight,' will speak about weight prejudice and body acceptance in Corvallis on Thursday, May 22.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Linda Bacon, author of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight,” will speak about weight prejudice and body acceptance at Oregon State University in Corvallis on Thursday, May 22.

Bacon’s presentation, “The Next Public Health Challenge: Losing the Anti-Obesity Paradigm,” will examine myths about obesity and problems with a health agenda that is focused on the concept of thinness. She’ll also offer an alternative that does not use weight as a barometer for health or promote weight loss as a means to achieving better health.

Bacon will speak from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Withycombe Theatre, 2901 S.W. Campus Way. The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Healthy Campus Initiatives and the School of Psychological Science in the College of Liberal Arts at OSU.

Bacon is a professor, researcher and author who combines academic expertise and clinical experience to bring together scientific research and practical application. She focuses on well-being rather than weight to help people of all sizes achieve fitness, health and happiness without dieting.

She is an assistant researcher in the nutrition department and teaches nutrition at City College of San Francisco. She holds a doctorate in physiology from the University of California, Davis.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Michelle Klampe Source: 

Patti Watkins, 541-737-9234, pwatkins@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Library receives endowment to fund student research scholarships

News - Thu, 05/15/2014 - 10:57am
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Oregon State University Libraries and Press has received a $100,000 estate gift to endow the Library Undergraduate Research Award. 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Libraries and Press has received a $100,000 estate gift to endow the Library Undergraduate Research Award.

The annual Library Undergraduate Research Award (LURA) recognizes outstanding research, scholarship, and originality in writing a paper or completing a project. The winning students receive a $1000 scholarship and present their research findings at a formal ceremony. This year’s winners are Brittany Backen, a history major; and Arlyn Y. Moreno Luna, a bioresource research major. Backen’s research paper is entitled “Coed Cheesecake:  The 1959 Wrestling Court and the Politics of the Marriage Market at Oregon State College.” Luna’s research paper is on “The Effects of Xanthohumol on Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome in Obese Rats.”

The endowment was created from funds provided by the estate of Gilbert and Marie Cleasby. Marie, a 1952 OSU graduate, majored in home economics and was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She also was a member of the college chorus during her freshman year. She became a master gardener. Gilbert W. Cleasby, M.D., was a well-respected ophthalmologist in the Bay Area.

LURA was created seven years ago as an initiative of the Library Advisory Council. Previous winners have submitted papers on topics ranging from the socio-religious implications of the hijab headscarf to the impact of the grapevine leafroll virus on pinot noir fruit.

“Oregon State University Libraries and Press contributes to student success in many ways,” said Faye A. Chadwell, Donald & Delpha Campbell University Librarian and OSU Press Director. “Funding LURA in perpetuity demonstrates our strong commitment to undergraduates at OSU.”

Previous winning papers are available online in ScholarsArchive@OSU, the university’s institutional repository, at http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/4505.

The Cleasbys’ bequest is part of the $1 billion Campaign for OSU, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. An important part of the campaign, estate gifts and other planned gifts support programs, faculty, and students throughout the university.

 

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Rhonda Hankins, 541-737-4633

Categories: Research news

Study: Targeted funding can help address inequities in early child care programs

News - Thu, 05/15/2014 - 9:36am
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The quality of early child care and education programs is influenced both by funding and by the characteristics of the communities in which the programs operate.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The quality of early child care and education programs is influenced both by funding and by the characteristics of the communities in which the programs operate, new research from Oregon State University shows.

The findings indicate that law- and policy-makers may need to consider the demographics of communities when making funding decisions about early childhood programs, said Bridget Hatfield, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

That’s especially important now because many states, including Oregon, are adopting or revising quality ratings systems that tie funding to program quality, Hatfield said.

Her findings were published recently in “Early Childhood Research Quarterly.” Co-authors were Joanna K. Lower of Lower & Company, Deborah J. Cassidy of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Richard A. Faldowski of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lower received funding for the research from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families. Hatfield received funding for the research from the Institute of Education Sciences at the University of Virginia.

Hatfield studied about 7,000 licensed early child care and education programs in North Carolina, which has one of the nation’s oldest quality rating and improvement systems for early child care and education programs. These systems are used by many states to determine how much government funding an early child care and education program receives.

Oregon and many other states are in the midst of implementing a quality rating system.

Hatfield found that children from low-income communities have less access to high-quality early child care and preschool, even though they are likely to gain more benefits from it.

“There are a lot of barriers to high-quality education in disadvantaged communities,” she said. “Hiring teachers with bachelor’s degrees, providing appropriate school supplies and play equipment – you need money to do all those things.”

Her research also showed that additional government funding can provide a significant boost to the quality of programs in disadvantaged communities. Those programs make bigger quality improvements when they receive extra funding than programs that are in more affluent communities, Hatfield found.

“Just because a program is in a disadvantaged community doesn’t mean it can’t attain high quality,” she said. “The extra money helps the programs in disadvantaged communities close the gap.”

Hatfield studied family child care homes, where child care is provided in a private home, as well as child care centers and preschool programs, including federal programs such as Head Start.

The research shows that quality of child care can vary based on funding, but other factors also affect program quality, Hatfield said. For example, in other research projects, she is studying the interactions between teachers and children in the classroom. That kind of research will help child care program leaders determine how best to spend money they receive to improve their programs.

“If we give people more money, what’s the best way to spend it?” she said. “Do we buy more puzzles for the children or train the teachers to better use the puzzles they have?”

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

Bridget Hatfield, 541-737-6438, Bridget.hatfield@oregonstate.edu

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Bridget Hatfield

Categories: Research news

Extended-release medication offers promise for alcohol, opioid dependence

News - Wed, 05/14/2014 - 12:53pm
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A once-a-month injection of a particular drug appears more effective than other medications in treating alcohol and opioid dependence.

The study this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/1i9n2tD

 

PORTLAND, Ore. – A comparatively new form of a medication for alcohol and opioid dependence that’s injected once a month instead of taken orally once a day appears to be significantly more effective than some other medications – because more patients actually continue the prescribed regimen.

The findings, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment by researchers from Oregon State University and other institutions, offer support for a wider use of medications that may help reduce or prevent substance abuse and related hospital admissions.

The cost savings could offset the cost of the medication, researchers said.

In the past, there has been fairly low use of medications to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. Several treatment options are available, with differing mechanisms of action, and they generally work to reduce the pleasurable feelings associated with drug and alcohol use, thereby discouraging the use of them.

The medication in the study that was found to be more effective than some past approaches was extended-release Naltrexone, which is administered once a month by injection in a medical setting. The research was supported by Alkermes, Inc., the manufacturer of that medication.

“Some of these medications are opioid antagonists, which reduce the euphoric effects of alcohol and some drugs,” said Dan Hartung, an associate professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, and lead author on the study.

“Historically, oral medications for substance abuse have not often been prescribed or found to have a high degree of success, mostly because patients stopped taking them,” Hartung said. “But there are patients who are committed to treating their problems and data showed that they clearly appear to have success with extended-release Naltrexone, which is administered just once a month.”

The issue may be of increased importance, experts said, because of health and prescription drug coverage that is now being made available through the Affordable Care Act. It may make such medications available to many people who previously did not have access to them, and in the process achieve some goals of reducing hospital admissions.

The new meta-analysis combined findings from five other papers, comprising a total of 1,565 patients who received extended-release Naltrexone compared to other therapies for six months, among nearly 60,000 overall patients – the only comprehensive analysis of its type that has been completed.

It found that even though extended-release Naltrexone is expensive – about $1,100 a month – the total health care utilization and costs were generally lower for patients taking it, compared to those using other alcohol-dependence treatments.

They found that significant savings were produced by fewer days of detoxification facility use and inpatient utilization.

Alcohol and drug use disorders affect more than 21 million Americans, the researchers noted in their study – or about 8 percent of the nation’s population. Research in New York found that substance abuse more than doubled the number of preventable hospital re-admissions. But despite this, treatment of alcohol dependence with medications ranks the lowest among 25 health and behavioral conditions.

“There has always been some reluctance on the part of health care practitioners, as well as the patients they are treating, to use prescription medication to treat a substance abuse problem,” Hartung said.  “Medication-assisted therapy is underutilized. With more people having access to these medications, now would be a good time to do further research on the comparative efficacy and use of them.”

Although most studies of extended-release Naltrexone have been six months in duration, longer-term data suggest effectiveness is maintained for longer durations of therapy. Very limited research has been done comparing the efficacy of various drugs for these purposes.

Nationally, even at addiction treatment centers, only 24 percent used pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependence and 34 percent for opioid dependence. Barriers to use include financing, concerns about cost, medical staffing, education and attitudes.

“Given rising pressures to reduce potentially preventable hospital readmissions and other reducible cost and morbidity causes,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion, “the optimization of patient care and management of resources warrant systemic change in the delivery of addiction treatment, in the advancing era of health care reform.”

College of Pharmacy Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Dan Hartung, 503-494-4720

Categories: Research news

National Pesticide Information Center beefs up mobile presence with $5 million award

News - Wed, 05/14/2014 - 11:04am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – People with questions about using pesticides correctly now can get answers on their smartphones and tablets, thanks to expanded online services offered by the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at Oregon State University.

The center, which operates a national hotline, is growing its fleet of mobile apps, interactive content, video tutorials, and webinars for the medical community and state and federal regulators.

The efforts are funded by a five-year, $5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, which announced the award Tuesday.

"The award represents a new vision for our national service that emphasizes modern online and mobile delivery. We want to be where people are when they need us," said Kaci Buhl, project coordinator for the center. "Online content allows us to better fulfill our mission of limiting the misuse of pesticides, reducing risk and promoting public health."

OSU has operated the national service since 1995, which is funded by the EPA in three- to five-year cycles.

Last year, more than 1.8 million visitors accessed NPIC's website, which received over 32 million overall hits. The service also answered questions from more than 17,000 people by phone and email.

The NPIC has also launched four mobile-friendly apps. The most popular, the Pesticide Education and Search Tool (PEST), offers quick, bulleted information on more than a dozen common pests. The four apps aim to be immediately accessible to users and suggest alternatives to pesticides for common urban pests, like fleas, rodents and bed bugs.

The service also continues to add hundreds of pages and new services to its website, including a ZIP code-driven locator for emergency services. It is also beefing up its presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. The NPIC's website and mobile apps can be found at http://npic.orst.edu.

The NPIC's toll-free hotline is available in over 170 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Farsi. Each submitted question is handled by an expert with advanced training in toxicology, food safety, veterinary medicine or other scientific field.

"While we offer a diverse array of services, each one aims to present the latest non-biased information. We encourage our clients to follow label instructions, steer them away from home remedies and direct them to a range of non-chemical options to control pests," said Dave Stone, the center's director and professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The NPIC also collects data on pesticide incidents to inform national surveillance systems. For example, the Centers for Disease Control recently used the NPIC's data to issue an advisory about the misuse of pesticides for bed bug control.

The hotline can be reached at 1-800-858-7378 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday. NPIC's number is displayed prominently on the EPA website and on many product labels.

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Dave Stone, 541-737-4433; Kaci Buhl, 541-737-8330

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NPIC Director Dave Stone will guide the center through a $5 million effort to expand its mobile and online pesticide information services. (Photo by Stephen Ward.)
 



Since 1995, the NPIC's toll-free national hotline has called OSU home and is now available in over 170 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Farsi. (Photo by Stephen Ward.)

Categories: Research news

Study of marine life near Newport finds no red flags for toxicity

News - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 10:34am
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OSU scientists examined coastal marine species near Newport for concentrations of heavy metals and organic pollutants and found no bioaccumulation of significant concern.

NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon State University scientists have examined a variety of coastal marine species near Newport, Ore., for concentrations of heavy metals and organic pollutants and found only trace amounts with no bioaccumulation of significant concern.

Their report is being presented May 19 to the City of Newport, which commissioned the study. It is available online at: http://www.thecityofnewport.net/

Newport city officials were concerned that effluent from a Georgia-Pacific containerboard plant outfall pipe, located some 4,000 feet off Nye Beach, may be exposing some marine life to contaminants. A 2010 study by CH2M-Hill looked for heavy metals in the surrounding water and sediments and found little with which to be concerned. Their study did not investigate marine organisms, however.

“There was some concern that metals and organic pollutants may be bioaccumulating in nearby marine life,” said Sarah Henkel, a marine ecologist at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and primary investigator on the study. “We tested for 137 different chemicals and only detected 38 of them – none at levels that remotely approach concern for humans.”

The City of Newport had asked the OSU researchers to look at a variety of species, including flatfish (speckled sand dab), crustaceans (Dungeness crab and Crangon shrimp), and mollusks (mussels and olive snails) because they could bioaccumulate metals and organic pollutants at different rates. The researchers collected a variety of samples in 2012 near the G-P outfall, as well as at sites north of Yaquina Head and south of Yaquina Bay. In fall of 2013, they also collected and analyzed rock scallops.

The organisms were analyzed for trace metals including copper and lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and congeners, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are used in flame-retardant materials, and other potentially carcinogenic compounds. They also were analyzed for organic-based compounds, which are commonly derived from pesticides.

Not a single organism was found with a bioaccumulation of metals or organic pollutants that approached levels of concern for humans established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the researchers reported.

“The system is pretty darn clean,” said Scott Heppell, a biologist with the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and co-primary investigator on the study.  “I was certainly interested personally going into the study because my family goes crabbing in some of the places we sampled. If we had found anything, we would have had to come up with a new place. But we found nothing approaching the level of intervention for humans and that’s reassuring.”

The OSU researchers did find one area of potential future concern – trace levels of arsenic in mussels at sites both north and south of Yaquina Bay. The arsenic levels were still below the FDA level of concern for human consumption (86 parts per million), Heppell said, but in some cases exceeded the established level of concern for impacts to the mussels themselves, which is 3.6 ppm. Some of the samples analyzed by the researchers reached 5.0 ppm.

“It is still 15 times lower than the threshold for human concern, but there is potential for damage to the mussels themselves,” Heppell said. “It is also worth noting because the arsenic was in virtually all of the mussel samples we collected on beaches from Seal Rock to north of Yaquina Head. There is no way to draw a link to the G-P outfall.

“But because it was so common, it may be a good idea to study mussel populations up and down the entire coast to see what arsenic levels are at beyond our study area.”

Arsenic is often used in pressure-treated lumber and wood preservatives, the researchers noted.

Among other findings:

  • The researchers found three derivatives of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, a pesticide that has been banned for 40 years. Although it was detected at very small amounts, “the fact that it is still present in organisms four decades later shows why it was banned,” Henkel said.
  • No significant bioaccumulation could be attributed to the G-P outfall. In fact, fish, crabs and shrimp collected from subtidal sites away from the outfall often had higher concentrations of metals than those adjacent to the pipe, though still at levels safe for human consumption.
  • Two DDT derivatives (2,4’-DDE and 4,4’-DDD) were found in a single crab sample. Another, hexochloro-benzene, was detected in just two crab samples – at concentrations some 10,000 times less than the toxicity level listed as potentially affecting the crabs themselves.

“It is worth noting that the instrumentation today is so sensitive it can detect trace amounts of compounds at concentrations not possible just a few years ago,” Heppell said.

The OSU researchers praised the City of Newport for seeking data that potentially could have been damaging, yet was important to know.

“This is one of those reports that, thankfully, turns out to be rather boring,” Henkel said.

Other researchers on the project included Selina Heppell, a biologist with the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; and OSU faculty research assistants Kristin Politano and Vincent Politano.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Sarah Henkel, 541-867-0316, sarah.henkel@oregonstate.edu; Scott Heppell, 541-737-1086, scott.heppell@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

Annual Klatowa Eena Powwow set at OSU

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

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

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

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

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

All events are free and open to the public.

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

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Eena Haws Native American Longhouse: 541-737-2783 

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Categories: Research news

Engineering Expo to showcase student projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the various displays will be:

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

Abby Metzger, 541-737-3295

Source: 

Scott Ashford

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Engineering Expo

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Generic OSU Media Contact:  Nick Houtman Source: 

Bill Robbins, 541-602-3867

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Mario Magaña, 541-737-0925

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

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coastal issues

Snowmelt

Wildfires

Categories: Research news

“Flipping the switch” reveals new compounds with antibiotic potential

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Michael Freitag, 541-737-4845

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Pigments produced





Fungus on corn

Categories: Research news

Noted oceanographer to speak Nov. 12 at Hatfield

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/30/2013 - 9:31am
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Don Walsh, a pioneering oceanographer famous for his 1960 dive to the deepest part of the ocean, will visit OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

NEWPORT, Ore. – Don Walsh, a pioneering oceanographer famous for his 1960 dive to the deepest part of the ocean, will visit Newport on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Walsh will give a free public lecture at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. His presentation, “Lunch on Board the Titanic: Two Miles Deep in the Atlantic,” begins at 6:30 p.m. In his talk, Walsh will share his experience diving in a submersible down to the Titanic and other adventures from his career of more than 40 years.

A retired captain from the U.S. Navy, Walsh went on to enjoy a lengthy career as an oceanographer and ocean engineer who explored the deep oceans and polar regions. He has commanded submarines as a naval officer and deep-sea submersibles as a researcher.

In 1960, Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard boarded the bathyscaphe Trieste and descended to the floor of the Mariana Trench in the northern Pacific Ocean – a depth of more than 35,000 feet, or nearly seven miles. It took five hours to reach the seafloor, and at 30,000 feet they heard a loud crack. Upon reaching the bottom, they discovered cracks in the window, and quickly began ascending.

The historic dive received worldwide attention. It also remained a world record dive for 52 years until James Cameron piloted his Deepsea Challenger to the same place in 2012.

Walsh, who has a courtesy appointment in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, will also visit schools in Newport during the week and give a seminar at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. That talk, intended for a research audience, is titled “Going the Last Seven Miles – Looking Backwards at the Future.” It begins at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 in the Hennings Auditorium.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Maryann Bozza, 541-867-0234; maryann.bozza@oregonstate.edu

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Don Walsh

Categories: Research news

Former FBI fugitive Katherine Ann Power returns to Corvallis for talk

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:30am
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A former fugitive who spent 23 years on the run from the FBI is returning to Corvallis to talk for the first time about her experiences.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A former fugitive who spent 23 years on the run from the FBI is returning to Corvallis to talk for the first time about her experiences as a student activist, a wanted criminal, and a woman who now embraces peace activism rather than violent revolution.

Katherine Ann Power has written a book titled “Surrender,” about her life on the run. She will speak on that topic at Oregon State University at noon on Thursday, Oct. 31, in Memorial Union Room 206.

In 1970, while a student at Brandeis University, Power was involved in a bank heist. She and four other activists were hoping to use the money to buy explosives that would help them procure weapons to arm the Black Panthers. During the robbery, one of the participants shot and killed a Boston police officer responding to the crime. Power, who was the getaway driver, escaped capture and disappeared for more than two decades.

She ended up in Lebanon, Ore., working in Corvallis and Albany, as well as teaching cooking classes at Linn-Benton Community College. She took on the name of Alice Metzinger, raised a son and married a local man.

But in 1993, Power decided she had lived in hiding long enough. She negotiated terms of surrender and pled guilty to two counts of armed robbery and manslaughter. She was released from prison in 1999, and returned to Oregon. She completed a master’s degree at Oregon State University in interdisciplinary studies, and taught English as an instructor. She later moved to Boston.

Part of Power’s sentence restricted her from speaking and publishing about her experiences until her 20-year probation period ended in 2013.

The talk, titled “Surrender: Gorilla to Grandmother,” is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the OSU Peace Studies Program, the School of History, Philosophy and Religion and the Annares Project.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Joseph Orosco, 541-737-4335

Categories: Research news

Phillips named director for OSU Office of Research Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Mary Phillips

541-737-4437

Categories: Research news

Cascadia Lifelines Program begun to aid earthquake preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Engineering Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Scott Ashford, 541-737-4934

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Sinking structures


Video of liquefaction in Japan:

http://bit.ly/dK6mfa

 

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extension Service Media Contact:  Denise Ruttan Source: 

Gail Langellotto, 541-737-5175

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

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norman Hord, 541-737-5923

Categories: Research news

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