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April 26, 2016

Terra + Spring 2016

Mother Whales Meet Seafloor Drilling Pygmy blues face industrial hazards in a New Zealand gulf In New Zealand there shines a gulf the color of indigo where whales live. Geographically, it glistens at the nexus of two islands and two seas. Politically, it sits at a different nexus, the classic clash of nature and commerce. Read […]


Out of the Mud
April 26, 2016

Out of the Mud

Oregon State alum directs project to analyze unique 15th century ship

In 2002, the Welsh city of Newport was rocked by the discovery of a wooden ship buried in more than 20 feet of mud along the river Usk. Contractors had been digging a foundation for a new arts center when they struck solid oak timbers. A plan to dispose of the wood and get on […]


April 13, 2016

Doubling Down on Marine Studies

LEADERS AND SCIENTISTS from across Oregon State University are tackling key problems facing the ocean, coastal communities and people who depend on a healthy, thriving marine environment. Our researchers are innovating multi-disciplinary approaches to conservation of threatened species from whales to seabirds to tropical fish. They are investigating the technical, environmental, and social dimensions of […]


A West Coast Wake-Up Call
April 13, 2016

A West Coast Wake-Up Call

Scientists sound alarm about harmful ocean chemistry

The West Coast is a hotspot for ocean acidification, which threatens shellfish and other marine life, a scientific panel warns.


The Internet of Things
April 13, 2016

The Internet of Things

Seamless connectivity is the new holy grail

For devices to connect seamlessly on the Internet, a common underlying technology is needed.


Writing Instructor Wins Oregon Book Award
April 13, 2016

Writing Instructor Wins Oregon Book Award

OSU poet and critic honored for "A Long High Whistle"

DAVID BIESPIEL, AN INSTRUCTOR OF ENGLISH and creative writing at Oregon State University, won an Oregon Book Award for  A Long High Whistle, a collection of essays from his now-discontinued poetry column in The Oregonian, believed to be the longest running poetry column in any newspaper. This is the second Oregon Book Award for the poet […]


April 13, 2016

Mother Whales Meet Seafloor Drilling

Pygmy blues face industrial hazards in a New Zealand gulf

  IN NEW ZEALAND THERE SHINES A MILES-WIDE GULF THE COLOR OF INDIGO where whales live. Geographically, it glistens at the nexus of two islands and two seas. Politically, it sits at a different nexus, the classic clash of nature and commerce. All across New Zealand, a longstanding conflict rages between greens (conservationists, marine biologists, […]


April 7, 2016

Terra+ Photo Gallery: Leigh Torres, Whale Researcher


March 17, 2016

All good things …

Lessons learned off the Oregon coast

We arrived at the dock at Newport Wednesday evening, unloaded our gear from the ship — including all the samples collected on the cruise — and brought it back to OSU. Angel White and her team are packing up most of their instruments and supplies, and shipping them to Hawaii, where they have another research […]


March 17, 2016

Making it all work: the crew

Science is a team sport. Everyone plays a part.

Wednesday is the last day of the cruise – we are zig-zagging back along the coast and will head back to Newport tonight. I am finally getting the hang of walking and living on a continuously rocking boat, including being shuttled across the lab on a rolling office chair when there’s a big swell. I’ve […]


March 17, 2016

Sleeping, showering and working on the ship

Brace yourself and hold on.

There were many firsts for me Monday and Tuesday. On Monday night, I slept for the first time on the ship while it was moving. Laying in my top bunk, swaying side to side, I could hear the water moving and waves hitting the side of the boat. The motion of the ship rocked me […]


March 16, 2016

A rough ride down the Oregon coast

Down to the Umpqua Hydrographic Line

When you plan a research cruise in the winter in Oregon, there’s a good chance the weather will change your plans. That’s what happened to us this weekend. We were finally able to get back out on the ocean on Monday afternoon and we drove south to the Umpqua Hydrographic line – a seven-hour trip. […]


March 16, 2016

Waiting for the weather to clear

On Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Newport. The scientists and crew were closely watching the weather to see when we will be able to head back on the water. The down time gives Goni and his team some time to filter water samples that were collected from the Newport Hydrographic Line on Friday. The […]


Packing up and heading out
March 11, 2016

Packing up and heading out

After a one-day delay due to bad weather, we finally headed out of Corvallis on Thursday afternoon. With the sun shining, we loaded the gear into Miguel’s truck and headed for the coast. On the way to Newport, where the R/V Oceanus is docked, we stopped to take water samples from the Alsea River and […]


Embarking on a research cruise
March 10, 2016

Embarking on a research cruise

Where rivers meet in the sea

Tonight I will fly to Oregon to meet up with scientists from Oregon State University and embark on my first research cruise. I will be an observer aboard the R/V Oceanus, a mid-sized research vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by OSU. We will be out on the ship for a week, traveling […]


In a Forest with Wolves
February 3, 2016

In a Forest with Wolves

When the wind nudges the sugar maples, branches rub together and creak, your head snaps to the right, scanning the downed log, the hillside, the horizon line, hovering at the edges of fear and excitement and hope. Relief for a moment, then another creak-snap-scan. A scat or a print on the trail is a drop […]


Mediating Scientific Conflicts
February 3, 2016

Mediating Scientific Conflicts

A facilitated process for discovery and solution

Conflicts over the management of water, timber, climate change, endangered species and grazing can tear apart communities and have real impacts on local economies. And when scientists are invited to settle the issues, experts can become mired in their own conflicts. Even large multidisciplinary research projects can fall into divisions that threaten the scientific process […]


The Accidental Researcher
February 3, 2016

The Accidental Researcher

How a serendipitous undergraduate research job set me on my path

I count myself an “accidental” researcher. That’s because my career would have turned out quite differently, no doubt, had I not stumbled into a college class that changed everything. I was an undergrad at the University of Iowa in the early 1980s, working in the hematology lab at the teaching hospital to support my studies, […]


January 6, 2016

Atoms for Peas

In the early days of atomic energy, scientists used radioactivity to study plants

The specter of nuclear technology gone wrong haunts the Pacific Northwest. From recent radioactivity traced to Fukushima to issues with waste containment along the Columbia River at Hanford, Washington, citizens have good reason to be suspicious. Radioactive materials can benefit society in many ways: They are used to produce carbon-free electricity, to diagnose disease, and […]


December 30, 2015

Epiphany on the Prairie

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest issue of Terra+, Oregon State University’s research newsletter. We invite you to read this moving essay by an Oregon State University wildlife biologist who has compassion for ranchers when wolves attack their cows and sheep, even as she marvels at the awesome power and beauty of wolves in the […]


Dogs Need Shielding, Too
December 29, 2015

Dogs Need Shielding, Too

Protecting pets from x-rays may reduce cancer risk

Lead aprons and thyroid shields on the bodies and eyes of dogs significantly block harmful scatter radiation and leakage from x-ray tubes.


Searching for Signs of Nascent Disease
December 29, 2015

Searching for Signs of Nascent Disease

Micro-devices may help doctors detect cancers sooner

What if doctors could use a tiny micro-channel device and a simple blood sample to detect cancer very early on — before a patient even shows any symptoms — and avoid invasive biopsy surgeries?


Cougars in “The Blues”
December 29, 2015

Cougars in “The Blues”

How a science writer became an accidental animal handler in the wilds of Oregon

We bushwhacked into a steep, wooded ravine of pine and larch, stepping over sofa-sized boulders and towering mounds of blow-down. At the bottom, where the creek gurgled prettily, the hound suddenly let out a fearsome howl. He had scented the cougar.


December 28, 2015

Cougar Collaring Photo Gallery


Arsenic in Rural Oregon
October 28, 2015

Arsenic in Rural Oregon

Graduate student looked for pattern of contamination

When it comes to water, Lauren Smitherman doesn’t mind getting a little personal. As a graduate student in Water Resources Science at Oregon State University, she asked people in rural Oregon for permission to collect samples of their drinking water. Assured of confidentiality, most people welcomed her into their kitchens where Smitherman ran a stream […]


The Iran Nuclear Accord: Dangerous deal or step toward truce?
October 20, 2015

The Iran Nuclear Accord: Dangerous deal or step toward truce?

Oregon State researchers explore the roots of the accord and its impact on questions of war and peace

Whether it was an olive branch signaling a new era of peace or a trumpet sounding the coming of World War III, the Iran nuclear accord has opened a new chapter for the United States in security and international policy. Republicans and Democrats are lining up on opposite sides of the aisle to tell us […]


A Life of Discovery
October 15, 2015

A Life of Discovery

The “contagion” of research begins with caring mentors

My first scientific experiment happened by chance during a childhood ramble in eastern Iowa. I was 7 or 8, exploring the woods around rural Maquoketa with my grandmother, who loved the outdoors. I picked up a small brown nut and asked, “Granny, is this the kind of nut that’s good to eat?” “Well,” she said […]


Diet and the Microbiome
October 15, 2015

Diet and the Microbiome

Building evidence toward dietary recommendations

The gut microbiome — a teeming mass of bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea and protozoans that live in our lower gastrointestinal tracts — has captured the attention of health-conscious consumers. Through controlled studies with mice, scientists have learned that by manipulating the microbiome, we can induce weight loss, affect pain perception and decrease hormonal responses to […]


Making Your Research Findings Public
October 5, 2015

Making Your Research Findings Public

Help Is Close at Hand for Meeting Federal Data-Sharing Mandates

IN 2012, MORE THAN 65,000 PEOPLE PETITIONED the White House demanding public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research. An official response from John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), was an enthusiastic, “You bet!” (roughly paraphrased). Three years later, open access to the U.S. federal granting system […]


Kids Quizzed About Ocean Sciences
October 5, 2015

Kids Quizzed About Ocean Sciences

Salmon Bowl Creates Knowledge, Leadership, Networks

  THE AIR BRISTLES WITH ANTICIPATION inside Gilfillan Auditorium, whose perforated metal walls hum with the vibration of voices. Just moments before the championship round of a battle of the minds called Salmon Bowl at Oregon State University, everyone is focused on the two surviving teams. As the finalists wait nervously onstage, the earlier-round competitors […]