Category » Inquiry

Across the Cultural Divide
July 8, 2014

Across the Cultural Divide

OSU art student portrays the tools of science

For an artist, science can be confusing, full of numbers, variables and technical terms. Whereas for a scientist, art can seem like a fantasy, a distraction from the real world. Such differences lie behind the classic chasm between art and science, which British scientist and author C. P. Snow immortalized in his famous 1959 speech, […]


Delving Into Censorship
May 23, 2014

Delving Into Censorship

The past seemed familiar to Matthew Schuck when he began scouring the Valley Library Archives for clues to censorship during WWI.


“I Feel Like Two People” (“Me siento como dos personas”)
January 24, 2014

“I Feel Like Two People” (“Me siento como dos personas”)

The Latino spirit imbues both the heart and the intellect of Kayla García, professor, writer and translator

Kayla García was 16 the first time she conversed with a native Spanish speaker. Riding in the front seat of a taxi in Mexico City, the high school girl from La Crosse, Wisconsin, found herself chatting comfortably with the cabbie just minutes after deplaning. Traveling with her younger sister and her feisty 80-year-old great aunt, […]


High Beams
January 24, 2014

High Beams

Electron microscopes light up the world of the small

For a place that takes pictures with what amounts to controlled bursts of lightning, the lab is quiet, almost hushed. Standing in the entrance to Oregon State University’s Electron Microscopy Facility (EMF), you might hear researchers’ soft voices as they discuss the best way to see pollen on a bee’s tongue or to look at […]


Viral Diagnostics
January 23, 2014

Viral Diagnostics

Electron microscope helps pinpoint a disease-causing virus

Rocky Baker, supervisor of the virology lab in the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, identified this influenza virus in pet ferrets whose owner had come down with the flu. Ferrets are susceptible, he says, and the owner was concerned that his animals became sick after contact with a family member who had influenza symptoms. […]


Through the Needle
January 23, 2014

Through the Needle

Disease reduces Douglas-fir growth, costs more than $200 million annually

On the surface of a Douglas-fir needle, the spore of a fungal pathogen, Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii, germinates and sends forth threads (hyphae). It matures into an organism that will grow inside the needle and reproduce. By interfering with the tree’s ability to exchange air and water, it shuts down photosynthesis. Thus starts a disease known as […]


Oysters on Acid
January 23, 2014

Oysters on Acid

Ocean acidification dooms young oysters

The oceans are about 30 percent more acidic than they were a century ago, and scientists are beginning to understand the consequences for marine ecosystems. Oysters may provide an early warning of what’s to come. George Waldbusser, a biogeochemist in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and Elizabeth Brunner, a master’s student, conducted […]


Nanocrystals for Solar
January 23, 2014

Nanocrystals for Solar

Function follows form in molecular structure

In Alex Chang’s lab in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, researchers arrange atoms in precise patterns to create materials with novel electrical and heat-transfer properties. Chang and his colleagues use electron microscopy to visualize and analyze structures that are often only a few atoms thick. “The EM facility is very important for […]


Illuminating Plankton
January 23, 2014

Illuminating Plankton

Consuelo Carbonell-Moore has made it her life’s work to document the diversity of one of the ocean’s most abundant life forms: dinoflagellates, a type of plankton. These organisms are no mere bystanders in marine ecosystems. Some produce life-giving oxygen. Others influence the formation of coral reefs. In coastal waters, they can bloom as “red tides” […]


Proof of Pollination
January 23, 2014

Proof of Pollination

As honeybees pick up pollen and nectar, they pollinate about one-third of the plants in the human diet. “Growers rent honeybees to pollinate their crops, and we are taking a close look to see what kinds of pollen the bees are actually collecting,” says Sujaya Rao, entomologist in Crop and Soil Science. Using a scanning […]


Where Growth Meets Decay
October 10, 2013

Where Growth Meets Decay

Fungal pigments stain wood with surprising beauty

Bowls made of hardwoods like curly soft maple, sugar maple, box elder and buckeye oak are adorned with pigments made by fungi whose ecological role is, ironically, to decompose wood.


Creating Great Writers
August 28, 2013

Creating Great Writers

The peaks of the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon are still snow-capped in July. The lake is clear and still. The sun shines down hard, and writers at Summer Fishtrap chase shade even at breakfast. Guzzling coffee among them is Jon Ross, a creative writing graduate student at Oregon State University, who wears a tentative […]


Of Texts and Textiles
May 24, 2013

Of Texts and Textiles

Tapestries loom large in Renaissance literature and modern metaphor

For the rich and the royal, arras hangings were status symbols. They depicted ancient stories of valor and virtue. Often designed to inspire viewers to be braver and better, they also were instruments of political propaganda and puffery.


Connective Tissue
May 22, 2013

Connective Tissue

Hope grows where facts and values intersect

When Michael P. Nelson talks about his work, he mentions carcasses and cadavers to a startling degree — startling because Nelson is not a physician or a veterinarian or even a biologist. He’s a philosopher. So at first glance, necropsy seems an odd topic of discourse.  But it starts to make sense when you notice […]


Posture for the Planet
February 14, 2013

Posture for the Planet

Green Yoga combines inner peace with ecological consciousness

For many people, yoga is a form of relaxation. But in India, the birthplace of the exercise, yoga is beginning to stretch beyond the boundaries of one’s self and into the ecological realm. A new movement called “Green Yoga” encourages men and women who practice yoga — called yogis and yoginis — to strive for […]


Parum Aqua Flora
October 9, 2012

Parum Aqua Flora

  Artist statement — Sidnee Snell. I was originally attracted to the lacy quality of sections of Angelicque White’s photograph. However, as I began to work with it, a floral image began to appear. Although I have no idea whether the plankton should be considered flora or fauna, I decided to follow that theme. The […]


The Heart of Mass
July 25, 2012

The Heart of Mass

Discovery of the Higgs opens a new chapter in the exploration of nature

The term “God particle” tends to rankle physicists. The flippant reference to the recently discovered particle believed to be the Higgs boson was coined by Leon Lederman, the former director of the Department of Energy’s Fermilab and Nobel Prize winning physicist. But, says Ken Krane, nuclear scientist and emeritus professor of physics at Oregon State […]


Plates of Honor
May 30, 2012

Plates of Honor

Julie Green memorializes final meal choices by death-row prisoners

In 1997, Julie Green had just moved to Norman, Oklahoma, when she sat down to read the local paper with her morning tea and toast. As she was looking at the column of news from around the state, she was riveted by an item describing an execution that had happened the previous night. The column […]


The Oh! Zone
May 29, 2012

The Oh! Zone

Far-out findings from science

Ancient Blood Brothers Like the “sloth moth,” which lives only in the fur of the ambling two-toed and three-toed mammals, the “bat fly” exists only in the fur of the winged, cave-dwelling mammals. Now scientists know that the flea-like, blood-sucking fly has been hanging around with bats for at least 20 million years. That’s because […]


X-ray vision
May 24, 2012

X-ray vision

Discarded data may hold the key to a sharper view of proteins and other molecules

There’s nothing like a new pair of eyeglasses to bring fine details into sharp relief. For scientists who study the large molecules of life from proteins to DNA, the equivalent of new lenses has come in the form of an advanced method for analyzing data from X-ray crystallography experiments. Reported in this week’s issue of […]


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, […]


Botanist leads international fungal genome project
December 22, 2011

Botanist leads international fungal genome project

Joey Spatafora's goal: 1,000 fungal genomes in five years

Fungi are master recyclers, turning waste into nutrients and providing humankind with everything from penicillin to pale ale. Although fungi are members of one of the world’s most diverse kingdoms, we know relatively little about them. That is about to change. A new study headed by Joseph Spatafora, an Oregon State University professor of botany […]


October 31, 2011

Bridging the Nuclear Divide

Historian connects scientists and Navajo people

Nothing could have prepared Linda Richards for her visit to the Navajo Nation in 1986. The landscape was littered with piles of uranium debris. Signs warning of radioactive contamination were hung on playgrounds and living areas. The water wasn’t safe to drink. Families were living in homes made of radioactive materials. “Many of the people […]


Rice Paddy People
October 27, 2011

Rice Paddy People

In a rural village, farmers fight industrial pollution

The young Chinese laborer was desperate. Like millions of other migrant workers in China’s dash to industrialize, he had left his home and family to work in a factory in the rural interior. Now, environmental officials had closed the zinc smelter in Futian where he worked, and without a job, nearly out of money and […]


Love of Language
October 27, 2011

Love of Language

As a college student, Bryan Tilt spent three years in South Korea and returned with a love for a new culture and its language. “I don’t know that I would have gotten into anthropology without that experience. It just opened up doors for me that I didn’t even know existed, let alone knew how to […]


Free-Choice Science
June 8, 2011

Free-Choice Science

Study confirms benefits of learning centers, museums

In a world confronted with greenhouse gases, emergent diseases, energy shortages, natural disasters, habitat loss, species extinctions and a thousand other urgent issues, public understanding of science is more essential than ever. Now, an OSU study reveals a powerful vehicle for enhancing science literacy in local communities: science museums. Science museums like the Oregon Museum […]


Cultural Designer
June 3, 2011

Cultural Designer

Contemporary images respect Ojibway traditions

Neebinnaukzhik means “summer evening” in the Ojibway (also known as Chippewa) language of the Great Lakes region. When Neebinnaukzhik Southall was growing up, she made handcrafts — friendship bracelets, dream catchers and beaded animals — and sold them to family and friends. She called her business Summer’s Specials.


A Name for Home: King Island
December 1, 2010

A Name for Home: King Island

If identity is linked to places on the landscape, names for those places become part of shared culture. An OSU research project has helped to document the culture of King Island, Alaska.


Jon Lewis on The Godfather
November 15, 2010

Jon Lewis on The Godfather

OSU professor Jon Lewis reflects on how The Godfather came to be the blockbuster that boosted the sagging fortunes of Paramount Pictures.