Category » Terra Blog

After Fukushima
October 12, 2012

After Fukushima

Nuclear power's future remains strong

As concern about climate change has grown, nuclear energy — long a polarizing subject — has gained increasing favorability. Its low carbon footprint, reliable power supply and strong safety record convinced many critics that nuclear power should be a bigger part of our energy mix. That newfound favorability suffered a setback on March 11, 2011, […]


Degrees of Separation
September 26, 2012

Degrees of Separation

Scientists weigh in on biodiversity quest through Facebook

Facebook may be great for cute kitty videos and baby pictures, but who knew it could play a role in science? Brian Sidlauskas, an Oregon State University fish biologist, and his team used the popular social network to advance their study of biodiversity in a South American rain forest. This video produced by Facebook, Degrees […]


Beyond Junk Food
August 24, 2012

Beyond Junk Food

The science of flavor could lead to a better diet

Did you ever wonder why so many people are attracted to junk food? Why ice cream, french fries and soda pop so often win out over brown rice and broccoli? It’s not actually a conspiracy by fast-food companies to bewitch people into eating things that aren’t good for them. Well, not completely. It’s largely due […]


Space Dreams
August 6, 2012

Space Dreams

Don Pettit talks about exploration, colonizing other planets and raising zucchini on the International Space Station

When he’s on Earth, Don Pettit dreams about space. But when he’s in space, he dreams about walking on Earth.  “Dreams may have something to do with humans never being satisfied, which is why we go exploring in the first place,” he says. If there’s a gene for the urge to explore new worlds, Pettit […]


Bug Problems? Call in the Chickens
July 25, 2012

Bug Problems? Call in the Chickens

Oregon State Extension experiments with pest control in organic apple orchard

“Aw, no bugs!” exclaims Betsey Miller after meticulously pouring over a wheelbarrow’s worth of decomposing leaf litter and manure. “The chickens are doing a great job, but it’s still fun for us entomologists to find insects once in a while!” A pen of praiseworthy red-ranger chickens peck away at the grass a few yards away, […]


Science Without Borders
June 29, 2012

Science Without Borders

Want to do science today? Make sure your passport is up to date.

When land grant universities were created 150 years ago, science was already an international activity. Well before the signing of the Morrill Act in 1862, American scientists aboard six U.S. Navy vessels had circumnavigated the globe, collected thousands of plant and animal specimens and mapped parts of the Pacific Ocean from the Columbia River to […]


Life-Saving Science
May 30, 2012

Life-Saving Science

At a recent meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans, I participated in a discussion of early warning systems that give the public time to take cover from tornadoes and to prepare for hurricanes. Today, we have hours or days to get out of harm’s way. Contrast that with the hurricane in Galveston, […]


Evidence for Change
May 25, 2012

Evidence for Change

Rigorous climate science trumps our senses

Some people take a dim view of the idea that Oregon, as well as the rest of the world, could be expected to continue warming in coming decades. They may cite March snowfall in the Willamette Valley or unpublished comparisons of mean temperatures over a given time period in specific places. Appealing as it is, […]


Green mulch
May 25, 2012

Green mulch

More veggies and more fruit = more plastic mulch on farms. Oregon State students look for alternatives.

Bear with me; here’s the problem. Plastic mulch — those shiny sheets spread across row upon row of veggies, strawberries and other crops — enables farmers to produce more types and greater quantities of food. It makes farming more profitable, preserves soil moisture, reduces weeds and saves on labor costs. But this type of mulch […]


Toward a scholarly embrace
April 11, 2012

Toward a scholarly embrace

Environmental Humanities Initiative brings science and the humanities together

Ambling along the oaky trails at Finley Wildlife Refuge last Saturday morning — one of the first days without rain in a long, long time — my two friends and I paused at the edge of a pond along Woodpecker Loop.  Just under the murky surface, several rough-skinned newts were swimming in slow motion, their […]


From concert hall to lecture hall
March 18, 2012

From concert hall to lecture hall

How music set the stage for a life in science

James Cassidy doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a scientist. Two star-shaped earrings dangle from his left ear. A fetching fedora is perched on top of his head. He’s swapped his white lab coat for a charcoal sports jacket. A chic checkered shirt peeks out underneath. His alert grey eyes are framed by dark glasses. […]


Fishing for Facts in Guyana
March 2, 2012

Fishing for Facts in Guyana

For two weeks in 2011, dawn signaled the beginning of another day of fish sampling for Oregon State University professor Brian Sidlauskas and his small team of colleagues and graduate students. Their camp was wedged within a mountainous area of northern South America called the Guyana Shield.


Climate roulette
February 21, 2012

Climate roulette

If you like to gamble, you might think that nature is bluffing. With each passing year, it appears she is not.


Reality check on climate
February 21, 2012

Reality check on climate

Climate science is moving from “what if” to “when,” “how,” and “with what practical consequences.”


River of change
February 20, 2012

River of change

A resilient future for the Willamette River

Although population growth and development will add stress to the Willamette River, environmental restoration projects are already under way.


Learning to think like a planet
February 20, 2012

Learning to think like a planet

In a rapidly changing environment that will challenge human relationships, how can we maintain a respectful and ethical culture?


Communicating about climate change
February 17, 2012

Communicating about climate change

Knowledge of concerns and values leads to a respectful conversation on difficult topics

I remember when I felt that the climate change workshop would go well. After a period of planning and preparation, our Oregon Sea Grant team arrived in Port Orford not knowing how the diverse community group would respond to the issue of a changing local climate when we were all actually face to face. So, […]


Leave it to the beavers
February 15, 2012

Leave it to the beavers

Vanessa Petro wants to find out if these "nuisance" animals will create valuable salmon habitat

It’s on the Oregon state flag and a symbol for Oregon State University: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis). But how much do you really know about these semi-aquatic mammals? Likely, not a lot. It turns out that not even scientists have a firm grasp on beaver ecology, despite the animal’s prominence in the Northwest. […]


Just cook it
January 11, 2012

Just cook it

Visiting science historian Ken Albala challenged Oregon Staters to cook from scratch

I admit it. I’m an armchair chef. I enjoy perusing heavily illustrated cookbooks. I fantasize about delicious dishes, with names like “Gnocchi Gratin with Gorgonzola Dolce.” But when it comes time to make dinner, I’m stumped. I’m usually too intimidated by actual recipes with expensive ingredients and complicated techniques to cook up a meal from […]


Strange bedfellows: magnetism and climate
December 13, 2011

Strange bedfellows: magnetism and climate

What's magnetism got to do with it? An OSU postdoctoral scientist joins an expedition to the Atlantic to look for climate clues.

Chuang Xuan is at sea on the research vessel JOIDES Resolution studying magnetic and climate evidence in deep-sea sediment cores.


Mapmaker for the climate
December 6, 2011

Mapmaker for the climate

OSU grad student will help Web users visualize climate data

If you love 3-D graphics, the daily TV weather maps just keep getting better. With the sweep of an arm, an announcer can set winds and weather systems in motion like the master of ceremonies in a three-ring circus. We can sit back and watch clouds, rain and snow swirl over landscapes from local to […]


Family Matters
October 28, 2011

Family Matters

Patricia Gregg is a pioneer in work-life balance for scientists

When Patricia Gregg received an e-mail invitation from first lady Michelle Obama asking for her social security number, she assumed it was a scam. But on September 26, Gregg found herself at a White House event shaking hands with the First Lady herself. Gregg sat in the second row as one of 14 select scientists […]


What’s in a Name?
October 26, 2011

What’s in a Name?

In a new college of public health, community partnerships are key

In “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare famously penned, “What’s in a name?” I’ve been asked that many times since our college changed its name in July. It may not have meant much to Juliet in the case of her beloved, but for the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, it speaks to the very essence […]


Heading for Health
October 26, 2011

Heading for Health

Research puts exercise and healthy food on the map

A woman hesitates to leave her home for fear of falling and breaking her hip. A child, enjoying fries and a soft drink in the backseat of the car, learns habits that may endanger his long-term health. A man with kidney problems faces a future hooked up to a dialysis machine in a clinic for […]


Bug Zoo
October 12, 2011

Bug Zoo

OSU’s arthropod museum provides a window on the past and clues to our future

The other day, I found myself sharing a room with 3 million dead bugs.


Hydro-deja vu: 50 Years of Water Resources Research at OSU
September 15, 2011

Hydro-deja vu: 50 Years of Water Resources Research at OSU

A statewide water research program has addressed critical issues for Oregon

“The Congress has found that we have entered a period in which acute water shortages are hampering our industries, our agriculture, our recreation, and our individual health and happiness.”


Speaking of Plastic
September 14, 2011

Speaking of Plastic

Plastic doesn't belong in the ocean, but let's get real

You might have heard a few supposed facts about plastic in the ocean: 1) There is a massive swirling gyre of plastic, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” between California and Japan that is twice the size of Texas; and 2) this plastic debris outweighs plankton and is growing in size. Interestingly, the scientific literature does […]


Growing Expectations
September 9, 2011

Growing Expectations

OSU's international research is breaking new ground

I departed Oregon State University with a deep education, fun memories and well-respected degrees. Yet, moving along in my career and across the continent, I rarely looked back.


Going camping? Watch out for hitchhikers.
July 15, 2011

Going camping? Watch out for hitchhikers.

Boots, boats and campfire wood can carry exotic seeds, plants and other non-natives into the wilderness.


Building a Better Student
May 31, 2011

Building a Better Student

One research project at a time

When undergraduate students do hands-on research with eminent professors on projects that matter, everyone wins. Students become better thinkers and citizens; the professors who mentor them become better teachers and researchers. Employers get access to employees with critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills that are so important in an economy increasingly dependent on innovation […]