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OSU Press publishes book on salmon by acclaimed biologist

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

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

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

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

Among his suggestions for reforming salmon management and recovery:

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

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

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Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Science Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Bruce Geller, 541-737-1845

Categories: Research news

Interactive “Beaver BarCamp” conference planned at OSU

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Engineering Source:  Melissa Morse
Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

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

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Laurie Bridges,

541-737-8821

Categories: Research news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding for the project was provided by numerous sources internationally.

College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

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

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Categories: Research news

GMOs in agriculture to be Corvallis Science Pub topic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Generic OSU Media Contact:  Nick Houtman Source: 

Steve Strauss, 541-737-7568

Categories: Research news

OSU Be Well Walk & Run on Oct. 11

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Theresa Hogue Source: 

Lisa Hoogesteger, 541-737-3343

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Categories: Research news

China honors Oregon State researcher for decade of scientific collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact:  Nick Houtman Source: 

Brett Tyler, 541-737-3686

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Brett Tyler

Categories: Research news

OSU faculty members key contributors to IPCC report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A shrinking glacier


Rising sea levels

Categories: Research news

Innovative approach could ultimately end deadly disease of sleeping sickness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact:  David Stauth Source: 

Jan Medlock, 541-737-6874

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Tsetse fly

Categories: Research news

International Film Festival shows in Corvallis Oct. 14-20

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the schedule of film screenings:

Monday, Oct. 14

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

Tuesday, Oct. 15

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

Wednesday, Oct. 16

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

Thursday, Oct. 17

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

Friday, Oct. 18

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

Saturday, Oct. 19

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

Sunday, Oct. 20

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

Sebastian Heiduschke, 541-737-3957

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Categories: Research news

Bumblebee GPS: Oregon State to track native bees with tiny attachable sensors

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/02/2013 - 9:23am
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will design miniature wireless sensors to attach to bumblebees that will provide real-time data on their intriguing behavior.

Many aspects of bumblebees' daily conduct are unknown because of their small size, rapid flight speeds, and hidden underground nests. OSU plans to build sensors that will reveal how these native pollinators search for pollen, nectar and nesting sites – information that will help researchers better understand how these insects assist in the production of crops that depend on pollination to produce fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, tomatoes and dozens of other staples of the Pacific Northwest agricultural economy.

Given recent losses of European honeybees to diseases, mites and colony collapse disorder, bumblebees are becoming increasingly important as agricultural pollinators, said Sujaya Rao, an entomologist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Lack of pollination is a risk to human food production,” said Rao, an expert on native bees. “With our sensors, we are searching for answers to basic questions, such as: Do all members of one colony go to pollinate the same field together? Do bumblebees communicate in the colony where food is located? Are bumblebees loyal as a group?"

"The more we can learn about bumblebees' customs of foraging, pollination and communication,” she added, “the better we can promote horticultural habitats that are friendly to bees in agricultural settings."

Landscaping tactics, such as planting flowers and hedgerows near crops, are believed to promote the presence and population of bumblebees, as well as increase yields.

This multidisciplinary design project will unite Rao with researchers in OSU's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The three-year collaboration begins Oct. 1 and will be supported by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

OSU engineers will test small, lightweight electronic sensors that avoid affecting the bees' natural flight movements. At the same time, researchers will test how to best mount the sensors on the pollinators – likely on the thorax or abdomen.

Each sensor will consist of integrated circuits that broadcast wireless signals about the bee's location and movement. The sensors will be powered by wireless energy transfer instead of batteries, further reducing weight and size.

"New technologies allow us to build sensors with extremely small dimensions," said Arun Natarajan, principal investigator in OSU's High-Speed Integrated Circuits Lab and an assistant professor in EECS. "The concept of placing wireless sensors on insects is a relatively unexplored area, and we're hopeful that our research can have vast applications in the future.”

Once designed and built, OSU researchers first plan to use the sensors to study the six bumblebee species of the Willamette Valley, which vary in size, flight patterns and seasonal activity. These native bees also differ from bumblebees found in eastern Oregon, the East Coast and Europe.

Researchers also hope their sensor designs could be used for tracking other small organisms, such as invasive pests.

Patrick Chiang, an OSU engineering professor and an expert in low-power circuits, will assist in designing the sensors.

"This collaboration is truly unique - engineers and entomologists talk different languages and rarely cross paths," said Rao. "To be working with engineers for an agricultural research project is part of what makes this effort so exciting and distinct."

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Daniel Robison Source: 

Sujaya Rao, 541-737-9038;

Arun Natarajan, 541-737-0606

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OSU entomologist Sujaya Rao will attach small sensors to bumblebees to study the pollinators' habits in agricultural areas. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)




Sensor data will eventually inform the design of horticultural landscapes that attract bumblebees to crops that depend on pollination to produce fruits and vegetables. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)



OSU researchers will first use the sensors to study the six species of bumblebees native to the Willamette Valley. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Categories: Research news

California’s new mental health system helps people live independently

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/02/2013 - 9:16am
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A study by Oregon State University researchers finds that comprehensive, community-based mental health programs in California are helping people with serious mental illness.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new analysis by Oregon State University researchers of California’s mental health system finds that comprehensive, community-based mental health programs are helping people with serious mental illness transition to independent living.

Published in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health, this study has important implications for the way that states finance and deliver mental health programs, and speaks to the effectiveness of well-funded, comprehensive community programs.

In November of 2004, California voters passed the Mental Health Services Act, which allocated more than $3 billion for comprehensive community mental health programs, known as Full Service Partnerships (FSP). While community-based, these programs are different from usual mental health services programs in most states because they provides a more intensive level of care and a broader range of mental health services and supports, such as medication management, crisis intervention, case management and peer support.

It also provides services such as food, housing, respite care and treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse.

“We found that these programs promoted independent living in the community among people who had serious mental illness but had not been served or underserved previously,” said Jangho Yoon, an assistant professor of health policy and health economist in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and lead author of the study. “Overall, it reduced their chance of living on the street or being incarcerated in jails and prisons.”

The researchers looked at data from 43 of California’s 53 counties, resulting in a sample of 9,208 adults over the course of four years. They found that participants who stayed enrolled in the program continuously, without interruption, were 13.5 percent more likely to successfully transition to independent living.

However, they found that non-white patients were less likely to live independently, and more likely to end up in jail or homeless.

“Although FSPs represent the most well-funded comprehensive community-based programs in the country, they are still community programs and therefore program participation is voluntary,” Yoon said.  “My guess is that minorities may not benefit fully from these programs in their communities possibly due to greater stigma, and less family/social supports. But it needs further investigation.”

Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders were also less likely to benefit from the community programs, because of the nature and severity of their mental health issues.

Yoon is an expert on health management policy, specifically policy around the area of mental health. He said other states haven’t followed California’s lead, in part because of the cost of such extensive programming. Yoon said some of the funding made possible by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which includes $460 million for community mental health services for states to use, may help other states to create similar programs.

“Nobody would disagree that the public mental health system has historically been under-funded in the U.S.,” he said. “The message for other states is clear: investment in well-funded, recovery-oriented, comprehensive community mental health programs clearly improves lives of people with serious mental illness, and may also save money from reduced dependency and incarcerations in this population.”

Tim Bruckner of the University of California, Irvine, and Timothy Brown of the University of California, Berkeley, contributed to this study, which was jointly funded by the California Department of Mental Health and the California Health Care Foundation.

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

Jangho Yoon, 541-737-3839

Categories: Research news

Ecampus growth fuels enrollment increase at OSU

OSU News Releases - Wed, 10/02/2013 - 9:00am
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Oregon State University expects to serve some 28,000 students this fall term - an enrollment fueled by a 24 percent growth in the distance learning Ecampus program.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Classes began this week at Oregon State University, and campus officials say they expect about 24,600 students on the main campus in Corvallis this fall.

Another 3,420 students are expected to enroll at OSU through Ecampus, the university’s distance learning program, which has fueled much of the institution’s enrollment growth over the past two to three years. The number of Ecampus students is up an estimated 24 percent over last year.

Overall, Oregon State expects to serve more than 28,000 students this fall term – an all-time record. An additional 900 students are expected to enroll at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend. Final enrollment numbers will be available from the Oregon University System at the end of the fourth week of fall term.

Although OSU’s overall growth is significant, a smaller increase is projected on the Corvallis campus – part of an enrollment management strategy, according to university officials.

 “Our growth this year is right in line with the university’s plan to strategically manage enrollment,” said Kate Peterson, OSU’s assistant provost for enrollment management. “We want to continue to be accessible to Oregonians, increase our international enrollment and become even more diverse, yet moderate the growth on our Corvallis campus.”

Lisa Templeton, executive director of Ecampus, said the increase in distance learning students continues a trend that has seen rapid growth for several years. OSU has been cited as one of the nation’s top 25 online universities for four consecutive years.

“Most of our distance students are adult learners who are working, home with the family or both,” Templeton said. “We also have many students in the military, and military spouses, as well as students who prefer online learning. Our students are usually part-time, and a number of students at the Corvallis campus will take an online course or two that fits into their schedule.”

Among the most popular online programs are computer science and degree programs in natural resources and fisheries and wildlife.

The popularity of OSU with military veterans is not just through Ecampus, OSU officials say. Another area of growth this fall is with military veterans, their families and students on active duty, according to Peterson. “Realistically, we could reach 1,100 students this fall who are receiving military benefits.”

Gus Bedwell, OSU’s Veterans Resources coordinator, said OSU thus far has 974 student veterans drawing Veterans Administration (VA) Education benefits, and an additional 125 students receiving military tuition assistance – some of which also are veterans.

“The university is working hard to welcome these veterans and their families to campus, helping them with VA benefits and providing cultural training not only for the students, but for OSU faculty, staff and the local community,” Bedwell said. “The opening of a Veterans Lounge in 2010 gives our student veterans a safe and comfortable place to congregate and study.”

International student enrollment continues to grow at Oregon State since it began collaborating with INTO University Partnerships in 2008 to recruit students overseas. The INTO OSU program is anticipating a 16 percent increase in enrollment this year to approximately 1,400 students. Combined with other international students, OSU expects an international enrollment of more than 10 percent of its student body on the Corvallis campus, or some 2,800 students.

A quick snapshot of new students this fall at OSU reveals that the incoming class comes from 35 Oregon counties, all 50 states and U.S. territories, and 58 foreign countries. Among the other highlights:

  • Twelve incoming Oregon State University students had perfect SAT scores in math, and 10 had perfect SAT verbal scores;
  • Nine incoming students were National Merit finalists;
  • 52 new students are OSU Presidential Scholars, the university’s most prestigious scholarship. Begun in 2011, scholarships are awarded to exceptional Oregon residents with grade point averages of 3.85 or higher and/or SAT scores of 1,900-plus. Awards are for $8,000 a year.
  • A total of 149 valedictorians from Oregon high schools are enrolling at OSU this fall, increasing the number of high-achieving freshmen – those with high school grade point averages of 3.75 or higher – to an estimated 1,130 students.

OSU is working to welcome and accommodate the new students – and introduce them to initiatives such as the First Year Experience program that help new students succeed, officials say.

The university is building a new residence hall on the southeast end of campus that will help accommodate growth. Construction on the five-story, $28 million building adjacent to Wilson Hall began this summer. When it opens in fall of 2014, it will house an additional 324 students.

The university’s enrollment in fall term of 2012 was 26,393 students, including Ecampus (but not including OSU-Cascades).

Generic OSU Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Kate Peterson, 541-737-0759, kate.peterson@oregonstate.edu

Categories: Research news

OSU Press releases new book on wolves in Oregon

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/01/2013 - 1:28pm
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The reappearance of wolves in Oregon and the impact they have on people from ranchers to conservationists to attorneys is the subject of a new book by the OSU Press.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The reappearance of wolves in Oregon and the impact this apex predator has on people from ranchers to conservationists to attorneys is the subject of a new book by the Oregon State University Press.

“Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country” was written by Aimee Lyn Eaton, a former science communicator at OSU who also has worked as a free-lance writer for the New York Times, National Geographic and other publications.

Eaton describes her experience in seeing wolves first-hand, and meeting many Oregonians most affected by their return. She takes the reader to the State Capitol in Salem, to town hall meetings in rural northeastern Oregon and beyond.

Tom Booth of the OSU Press said the book encourages “a deeper, multi-faceted understanding of the controversial and storied presence of wolves in Oregon.”

Four events are scheduled for the author in Portland and Corvallis next week:

  • Portland: A reading and signing event on Monday, Oct. 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Powell’s, 3723 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.;
  • Portland: A book signing session on Tuesday, Oct. 8, during the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association conference at the Airport Holiday Inn. More information on the conference is available at: www.pnba.org/show.htm
  • Corvallis: A reading and signing event on Tuesday, Oct. 8, beginning at 7 p.m. at Grass Roots Books & Music, 227 S.W. 2nd St.;
  • Corvallis: A reading and signing event on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third floor of OSU’s Valley Library (bring you own lunch).

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

 

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Note to Journalists: Review copies of “Collared” are available by contacting Micki Reaman of The OSU Press at 541-737-4620.

About the OSU Press: The OSU Press plays a vital role in the cultural and literary life of the Pacific Northwest by providing readers with a better understanding of the region. The press specializes in scholarly and general interest books about the history, culture, literature, environment, and natural resources of the state and region.

Media Contact:  Mark Floyd Source: 

Micki Reaman, 541-737-4620

Categories: Research news

Tobias Wolff named recipient of biennial Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement

OSU News Releases - Tue, 10/01/2013 - 8:45am
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Acclaimed author Tobias Wolff is the second winner of Oregon State University’s Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Acclaimed author Tobias Wolff is the second winner of Oregon State University’s Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement.

The biennial award is given to a major American author who has created a body of critically acclaimed work and who has — in the tradition of creative writing at OSU — mentored young writers.

Wolff is best known for his work in two genres: the short story and the memoir. His first short story collection, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” was published in 1981. Wolff chronicled his early life in two memoirs, “In Pharaoh’s Army” (1994) and “This Boy’s Life” (1989), which was turned into a 1993 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

In addition to four short story collections, Wolff is the author of the 2003 novel, “Old School.”

In 1989, Wolff was chosen as recipient of the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story. He also has been awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Fairfax Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, the PEN/Malamud Award for Achievement in the Short Story, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Wolff is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor in the Humanities at Stanford.

Wolff will be presented with the Stone Award at the Portland Art Museum on May 21, and will visit the Oregon State campus in Corvallis on May 22 to give a public reading. In the spring, OSU Master of Fine Arts program students will lead “Everybody Reads” programs featuring a selected book by Wolff, with events at libraries, book clubs and independent bookstores.

The $20,000 Stone Award — one of the largest prizes of its kind given by an American university — was established in 2011 by a gift from Patrick Stone, a 1974 graduate from OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, and his wife, Vicki. In 2012, the inaugural recipient was Joyce Carol Oates. The Stones established the prize to spotlight Oregon State’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, ranked among the top 25 MFA programs in 2012 by Poets & Writers magazine.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Karen Holmberg, 541-737-1661

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Tobias Wolff

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Celebrated memoirist Nick Flynn to read at OSU on Oct. 11

OSU News Releases - Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:31am
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Writer Nick Flynn will read from his work on Friday, Oct. 11, at Oregon State University’s Valley Library rotunda. The free public event begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Writer Nick Flynn will read from his work on Friday, Oct. 11, at Oregon State University’s Valley Library rotunda. The free public event begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing.

Flynn is the author of three memoirs including “The Reenactments” (2013), “The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment” (2010) and “Another … Night in Suck City” (2004). Flynn is also the author of three books of poetry.

Of Flynn’s most recent memoir, “The Reenactments,”  Kirkus Reviews wrote: “Flynn’s determination to better understand his life through the act of writing and remembering has yielded a truly insightful, original work.” Clea Simon of The Boston Globe said Flynn’s writing is “always specific and honest” and “dryly funny.”

His award-winning memoir “Another … Night in Suck City” was turned into the movie “Being Flynn,” starring Robert De Niro and Paul Dano. That book recounted his unusual relationship with his alcoholic father and the suicide of his mother.

Flynn, 52, is a professor of poetry and married to actress Lili Taylor.

Flynn has been awarded fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Amy Lowell Trust, and The Fine Arts Work Center.

The Visiting Writers Series brings nationally-known writers to Oregon State University. The program is made possible by support from The Valley Library, OSU Press, the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film, the College of Liberal Arts, Kathy Brisker and Tim Steele, and Grass Roots Books and Music.

College of Liberal Arts Media Contact:  Angela Yeager Source: 

Rachel Ratner, 516-652-5817

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Nick Flynn

Categories: Research news

Author Paul Bogard to read from his book on Oct. 9

OSU News Releases - Fri, 09/27/2013 - 8:46am
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Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,” will read from his book on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,” will read from his book on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. The reading begins at 7 p.m. at the library, located at 645 N.W. Monroe Ave., Corvallis.

The event is sponsored by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word and Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

In his book, Bogard examines the night and how people experience it, traveling to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Walden Pond, and the Canary Islands to explore degrees of darkness. After talking to astronomers, lighting professionals, nurses, and other night-time workers, Bogard writes about the cultural, social and health implications of a night that’s getting brighter every minute, thanks in part to parking lot lights and streetlights.

Publishers Weekly wrote: “Even readers unable to tell Orion from the Big Dipper will find a new appreciation for the night sky after spending some time with this terrific book.”

A native of Minnesota, Bogard teaches creative nonfiction at James Madison University. He is also editor of the anthology “Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark.” 

College of Liberal Arts Source: 

Carly Lettero, 541-737-6198

Categories: Research news

Researchers describe unusual Mars rock in Science

OSU News Releases - Thu, 09/26/2013 - 11:31am
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The first rock that scientists analyzed on Mars using the Curiosity rover turned out to be a pyramid-shaped “mugearite” that is unlike any other Martian igneous rock ever found.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The first rock that scientists analyzed on Mars with a pair of chemical instruments aboard the Curiosity rover turned out to be a doozy – a pyramid-shaped volcanic rock called a “mugearite” that is unlike any other Martian igneous rock ever found.

Dubbed “Jake_M” – after Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Jake Matijevic – the rock is similar to mugearites found on Earth, typically on ocean islands and in continental rifts. The process through which these rocks form often suggests the presence of water deep below the surface, according to Martin Fisk, an Oregon State University marine geologist and member of the Mars Science Laboratory team.

Results of the analysis were published this week in the journal Science, along with two other papers on Mars’ soils.

“On Earth, we have a pretty good idea how mugearites and rocks like them are formed,” said Fisk, who is a co-author on all three Science articles. “It starts with magma deep within the Earth that crystallizes in the presence of 1-2 percent water. The crystals settle out of the magma and what doesn’t crystallize is the mugearite magma, which can eventually make its way to the surface as a volcanic eruption.”

Fisk, who is a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, said the most common volcanic rocks typically crystallize in a specific order as they cool, beginning with olivine and feldspar. In the presence of water, however, feldspar crystallizes later and the magma will have a composition such as mugearite.

Although this potential evidence for water deep beneath the surface of Mars isn’t ironclad, the scientists say, it adds to the growing body of studies pointing to the presence of water on the Red Planet – an ingredient necessary for life.

“The rock is significant in another way,” Fisk pointed out. “It implies that the interior of Mars is composed of areas with different compositions; it is not well mixed. Perhaps Mars never got homogenized the way Earth has through its plate tectonics and convection processes.”

In another study, scientists examined the soil diversity and hydration of Gale Crater using a ChemCam laser instrument. They found hydrogen in all of the sites sampled, suggesting water, as well as the likely presence of sulphates. Mars was thought to have three stages – an early phase with lots of water, an evaporation phase when the water disappeared leaving behind sulphate salts, and a third phase when the surface soils dried out and oxidized – creating the planet’s red hue.

“ChemCam found hydrogen in almost every place we found iron,” Fisk said.

The third study compared grains of rock on the surface with a darker soil beneath at a site called the Rocknest Sand Shadow. Some of the sand grains are almost perfectly round and may have come from space, Fisk said.

The studies were funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, and supported by several international agencies.

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

Martin Fisk, 541-737-5208; mfisk@coas.oregonstate.edu

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Jake M

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