Oregon State University

U.S. Department of Defense Makes an Impact

DOD support for OSU research during Fiscal Years 2008-2012 totaled almost $78 Million, with almost $13 Million in FY 2012 alone. more data

With Air Force Office of Scientific Research funding, OSU research is expanding the horizon of scientific knowledge through basic research, to support maximum utilization of air, space, and cyberspace.  AFOSR has funded at least 15 OSU Principle Investigators over the past six years.  

Belinda Batten, director of Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy at OSU, and previously head of the OSU School of Mechanical, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering, was previously program manager for dynamics and control at AFOSR.

Here are examples of DOD funds making a difference


Environmental Characterization

HICO images of Florida keys, Korea, and Oregon coastal oceans.

  • Space-Borne Coastal Imaging

Over 2500 images of Earth have been produced by a system developed by the Naval Research Laboratory and installed aboard the international space station. The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) allows better analysis of human impacts and climate change effects, with applications for oil spills, plankton growth, harmful algal blooms, and sediment plumes. OSU manages the data archive and will distribute it to the greater scientific community. Curtiss O. Davis, OSU oceanographer, is project scientist. Read more



  • Marine Mammal Acoustics

    In 2005, one year after joining the OSU faculty, Kelly Benoit-Bird received the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research. This encouraged studies by the pioneering young oceanographer of the interrelationships of animals in different marine environments, using acoustics and other sophisticated technologies. Her innovative uses of sonar in tracking marine creatures from Humboldt squid to spinner dolphins have led to new discoveries about their feeding behavior, movements and even communication. Benoit-Bird has now been selected as one of 23 recipients nationwide of prestigious 2010 MacArthur Fellowships. Read more One recent project funded by ONR is on factors influencing the acoustic behavior and nearshore residence of the gray whale  Read more Spinner Dolphins

  • Conference on Acoustic Communication by Animals

    ONR sponsored, and Oregon State University hosted, a gathering in 2008 at which 250 investigators integrated information across animal taxa. Participants considered acoustic communication, its mechanisms, and the detection of acoustic signals, as well as how communication develops, how it evolved, and its neuroethological basis. The multi-level approach helped advance the field of animal bioacoustics.  Read more  Conference website; media release; ONR report

  • Ocean Dynamics

With ONR funding, work by OSU researchers in the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) led to development of the ocean observing system off Oregon that tracks the complexities of subsurface circulation.  The program set the stage for ongoing advances that will help to predict ocean climate changes, forecast weather, develop pollution controls, aid in rescues and help commercial operations. The NOPP also furthered understanding of wind-driven ocean circulation and how physics structures the ecosystem and can lead to low-oxygen "dead zones." Read more


  • Fluid-structure interactions

With ongoing support from ONR, Solomon Yim has made contributions to naval systems, including vessels, rapidly deployable platforms and cable networks. His career was boosted by the ONR Young Investigator Award, and he was twice US Navy/ASEE Research Fellow. He is acting director of the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at OSU, where his work with the Naval Surface Warfare Center has furthered understanding of fluid-structure interaction systems.

  • Miniature and Microscale

Richard B. Peterson, OSU Mechanical Engineer and Co-Director of the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute (MBI), has made significant contributions to the design and development of heat activated cooling systems and other small-scale power cycles for improving fuel efficiency and fuel utilization in forward deployed areas. Research on integrating systems has been funded by CERDEC/RDECOM. Applications include power and cooling in forward deployed command centers and squad-level power for the dismounted warfighter.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and OSU have conducted significant work in the area of thermoelectric power modules and small-scale power cycles. Through the MBI, research and development work on integrating systems in practical configurations has been funded by DOD and DOE. Partnerships are established for microchannel component fabrication and thermoelectric module development. The MBI has laboratory facilities where heat activated heat pump systems and co-functional systems are developed and tested. The Energy Systems Laboratory is outfitted to conduct research into small-scale energy systems that use microchannel devices for heat transfer components. 


nanoparticleAFOSR–funded OSU researcher Vincent Remcho works on analytical, materials, macro- and nanotechnology. An AFOSR–funded project is on microsystems development for investigating Au nanoparticle syntheis. The objective is to develop methods for manufacturing uniformly-sized inorganic nanoparticles in a microsystem. The work focuses on gold nanoparticles, because of the possibility of manufacturing them with exacting size and shape specificity.  Results of the highly interdisciplinary and collaborative work will have applications in the biofuels/alternative energy arena, in clinical chemistry, in synthetic biology and in furthering nanotechnology. Read more


AFOSR–funded OSU Researcher  Douglas A. Keszler, in Inorganic Chemistry, is a Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Green Materials Chemistry. A recent DOD AFOSR–funded project, "Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing," initiates comprehensive studies of solid-state Mixed Ionic Electronic Conductors [MIECs] formed from semiconducting nanoparticles. They are the focus because of their relevance to device applications and their amenability to study using high vacuum techniques such as photoelectron microscopy.  Read more - Article in US News  Article in Science Daily

The Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative is the leading green nanotechnology effort in the world. It is a thriving collaboration involving faculty and researchers from OSU, with UO, PSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who aim to ensure that the emerging field of nanotechnology develops responsibly, providing new technologies that are inherently safer (greener) by design, in order to protect health, the environment, and the workforce.

The Center for Green Materials Chemistry pursues the study and design of environmentally benign chemistry platforms for the fabrication of high-performance inorganic electronic devices. Researchers are working to revolutionize device fabrication for applications spanning the space from large-area displays and electronics to nanoscale integrated circuits.


Robert TanguayDOD AFOSR–funded OSU's Robert Tanguay, in Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, is Director of the NIEHS Toxicology Training Grant. Read More

An OFOSR grant is enabling his study of safer nanomaterials and nanomanufacturing.  Project tasks include: Rapid in vivo system for determining the biological activity and toxic potential of manufactured nanoparticles; Rapid screening for in vivo effects from nanomaterial exposure; Identification of cellular targets and modes of action of engineered nanomaterials; the development of a nanomaterials effects database; and probing the biological impacts of functionalized nanoparticles. Read more

Tanguay's studies, often using advantages of the zebrafish model, are helping to improve human and environmental health. The nanotechnology division is safely advancing the field of nanotechnology. Researchers in the laboratory utilize interdisciplinary approaches to advance these research areas.

The Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative is the leading green nanotechnology effort in the world. It is a thriving collaboration involving faculty and researchers from OSU, with UO, PSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who aim to ensure that the emerging field of nanotechnology develops responsibly, providing new technologies that are inherently safer (greener) by design, in order to protect health, the environment, and the workforce.


DOD AFOSR–funded OSU Researcher Albrecht Jander has been sponsored by AFOSR for work on Magnetologic Circuits & Architectures for Deeply Pipelined Adaptive Algorithms, for high performance, low power magnetic sensor systems that have applications in navigation, security, and medicine.

  • Hydrogen Production

DOD’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research funding has enabled Roger Ely and OSU colleagues to succeed in getting one type of cyanobacteria to grow and produce hydrogen while encapsulated in a solid state system. This important step demonstrates the feasibility of using biological processes to produce hydrogen – to be used directly as fuel, or in fuel cells to power electric vehicles.

With AFOSR funding,  Ely has continued progress on enhanced biosolar hydrogen production. Biosolar hydrogen production is a promising sustainable energy alternative. Solid state biosolar H2 systems could be designed as biocassettes, as sheets, thin films or designed layers with cells or enzymes encapsulated in a matrix encased in treated glass or other material. They would offer advantages, such as versatility and self-repair, and may produce much more H2 than cells in aqueous photobioreactors. Ely's work will exploit several advantages of cell encapsulation in sol-gel and to achieve maximal H2 production per unit mass of encapsulated cells.


dcco_gapeEnvironmental Responsibility

  • Protecting Species

With support from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Dan Roby's work has helped save, so far, at least 50 million juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River estuary, many belonging to threatened or endangered stocks, by safely relocating the world’s largest Caspian tern colony. A similar management project aims to reduce impact of an even larger colony of double-crested cormorants.  Read News  and Project Website and Dan's Lab



Funding for OSU Research

DOD Offices

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Office of Naval Research

Funding to OSU

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Vessel Operations






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