Oregon’s Commitment for a Better Future
As Oregon’s land grant university, Oregon State is helping achieve a better future by serving as an engaged partner and investor in initiatives that make prosperity possible throughout the state.
Directed by the university’s strategic plan, Oregon State is committed to improving the economy; improving quality of life and our environment; and improving public health and wellness. And while the university’s immediate focus is in many instances the state of Oregon, OSU’s research, education and service span the United States and reach across the world. With these commitments in mind, Oregon State announces the following “next steps” for a better future.
Improving the economy and growing jobs are an essential priority. Oregon State will expand efforts to support the economic recovery by accelerating research-based innovation; increasing university-industry partnerships through sponsored research; and emphasizing new business development and commercialization of research. The university will enhance the key role it already plays in the economy by delivering more graduates with the right knowledge and skills and by engaging with industry to transform breakthrough ideas into high-value products and services.
Public health and preventative health care
Through its one-of-a kind-in-Oregon College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State is focusing on addressing the most challenging health care issues facing the state and the nation, including prevention strategies across all ages. Oregon State’s efforts will include teaching, conducting pioneering research and delivering outreach programs throughout the state; promoting proper nutrition; helping individuals and families to overcome poverty and hunger and change inactive lifestyles; improving the lives of children and older at-risk adults; preventing disease; promoting access to healthcare services; and maximizing the use of environmentally friendly materials in clothing and building materials. Such efforts will promote lifelong health and well being for all.
The next century of engagement and outreach education
The OSU Extension Service recently celebrated its first 100 years. Its focus now turns to the future and providing even better research-based education throughout Oregon’s urban and rural communities. Through a growing Oregon Open Campus initiative, Oregon State is partnering with local community colleges, business organizations, school districts and local governments to provide educational programs unique to the needs of individual communities. Oregon Open Campus programs can serve the more 750,000 Oregonians who may have some college experience but haven’t completed a degree. In addition to Oregon Open Campus programs, OSU’s Extended Campus online curriculum provides learning opportunities statewide that will bolster Oregonians’ quality of life and prosperity, regardless of where they live.
Helping improve the quality of life and economy of the Portland region
Oregon State recognizes the importance of helping foster an improved economy and enhanced quality of life throughout the greater Portland area. The university is committed to work as an investor by creating a regional strategy that helps foster research initiatives to support business clusters targeted in Portland regional economic strategies; build upon Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station programs in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties; support existing Portland area programs offered by Oregon State’s colleges of Business, Public Health, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine; and build upon community engagement efforts by Oregon State faculty, staff and alumni.
Sharing our science, helping leaders chart a course
At a time when choices on complex issues will certainly shape the future, Oregon State is committed to share the depth and breadth of its research to further inform the public, private industry, stakeholder groups and elected officials. Oregon State will launch a series of briefings throughout Oregon, featuring prominent scientists from its faculty, who will share their knowledge on issues such as biofuels, biomass, water policy, climate change, marine sciences, nuclear power, public infrastructure and feeding an ever-increasing world population. Informed with such information, the public, stakeholder groups, business people and elected decision makers will have at their disposal greater knowledge and contextual information to address important issues that for years have remained unresolved
Preventing childhood obesity in rural areas
Why are children in rural communities at greater risk for obesity? Oregon State researchers Deborah John and Kathy Gunter identify several factors: long bus commutes; few resources to support physical activity, recreational sports programs or health education; and lack of healthy food choices.
Now, they’re doing something about it. Funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, John and Gunter are developing an obesity prevention program through OSU Extension that promotes healthy eating and physical activity. Working with school districts, health care providers, parents and volunteer groups, they will begin assessments and field testing in September in Clackamas, Columbia and Klamath counties. The goal is to improve the Body Mass Index (BMI) among five- to eight-year-old children.
Disease prevention and healthy aging
The future of medicine lies not just in treating diseases, but in preventing those that are the leading cause of death in the developed world: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and neurodegenerative disease.
Prevention is the focus of Oregon State’s Linus Pauling Institute and the Center for Healthy Aging Research. Current research projects are investigating the role of vitamin D in protecting immune function and therapeutic uses for lipoic acid, such as anti-inflammatories.
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $2.9 million grant for aging research. New studies have shown some diets can help prevent the loss of mental acuity and brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, while other foods accentuate the problem.
Disease prevention can significantly reduce health care costs. And staying healthier longer offers better quality of life to an aging population.
Oregon may be known for rain, but OSU is helping the state become a leader in the solar power industry.
Oregon State electrical engineer Terri Fiez is also co-founder of Azuray Technologies, which has developed power
optimizing and monitoring electronics that improve reliability, reduce cost and harvest more energy from solar panel arrays.
Transparent electronics discovered by John Wager have been licensed by OSU and Hewlett Packard to a California firm developing solar power devices that offer twice the efficiency at half the cost of traditional solar panels.
Other OSU research is investigating more economical methods for making thin-film solar electronics, including continuous-flow microreactors and inkjet printing. And pyrite, better known as “fool’s gold,” is helping researchers identify related compounds that could be used for low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells.