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On a Wing and a Dare
October 10, 2013

On a Wing and a Dare

Pilotless aircraft monitor the environment

On a warm afternoon last summer in the hills west of Corvallis, three Oregon State University students went hiking in the McDonald-Dunn Forest when they became “lost.” A few scattered belongings — a backpack, shoes, a shirt — marked their trail in an emergency response exercise. Rather than send out a full-scale operation on foot […]


An Elegant Matrix
October 10, 2013

An Elegant Matrix

Woody waste finds new markets in biochar

In the Northwest, where tons of biomass rots in forests or burns in slash piles, the conversion of waste into biochar is an environmental and economic win-win.


Forests at Risk
October 10, 2013

Forests at Risk

USDA grant fuels research on fire, drought, insects

“The margin between life and death in the forest can be rather small,” says Oregon State climate scientist Philip Mote. As wildfires widen, insects invade and drought deepens, the razor-thin margin for tree survival becomes ever thinner. A five-year, $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will speed the search for answers — […]


An Iceberg Roars
October 10, 2013

An Iceberg Roars

Listening to the frozen ocean

What is the sound of an iceberg disintegrating? Would you believe it’s as loud as a hundred supertankers plying the open seas? OSU scientists were astounded recently when they listened to recordings of an iceberg that had formed in Antarctica, floated into the open ocean, and eventually melted and broke apart. Scientists have dubbed this […]


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.


Through the Ice
October 10, 2013

Through the Ice

On the Antarctic seafloor, life thrives in surprising abundance

Andrew Thurber is a self-described “connoisseur of worms.” He finds these wriggling, sinuous creatures, many with jaws and enough legs to propel an army, to be “enticing.” In the Antarctic, where he dives through the ice in the name of science, a type of worm known as a nemertean can reach 7 feet long. Giant […]


End-of-Life Dilemma
October 10, 2013

End-of-Life Dilemma

Hospice workers struggle with assisted death

When dying people choose to hasten death with a doctor’s help, their caregivers often face a troubling dilemma. In particular, hospice — the final stop for many terminal patients — poses an overlooked problem, OSU researchers report. That’s because hospice objects to physician-assisted death, yet most patients who choose assisted death are in hospice care. […]


Biological Origami and Naked Mole Rats
October 10, 2013

Biological Origami and Naked Mole Rats

Seeking the secrets of longevity in misfolded proteins

A half-ounce flying mammal, a tiny marsupial that glides from tree limb to tree limb, and a hairless, burrowing rodent with supersize front teeth all share a trait that makes them intriguing to researcher Viviana Perez: exceptional longevity. The little brown bat (Myotis lucifungus), common across North America, has been known to live more than […]


New Flu Clues
October 10, 2013

New Flu Clues

Vaccine strategies need rethinking

When flu season rolls around, hundreds of thousands of Americans will get sick. Nearly a quarter-million will be hospitalized. Tens of thousands will die. Despite the risks, only about a third of Americans will get vaccinated. Researchers now say the nation’s vaccination priorities need to shift. That’s because the groups least likely to get the […]


A Cheaper Cell
October 10, 2013

A Cheaper Cell

Antifreeze shows promise in solar cell manufacturing

Faster, cheaper, better. The conventional wisdom says you can’t get all three at the same time. But researchers at Oregon State say otherwise — at least when it comes to new materials for making solar cells. Engineers have found a less expensive, less toxic, better performing — and surprising — substance for solar cell manufacturing: […]


Peak Water
October 10, 2013

Peak Water

Global warming likely to shrink snowpack

Oregon is warming, and snow is waning. The clear, clean water that supplies many of Oregon’s cities and farms originates high in the Cascades. Stored on snowy peaks, the water feeds rivers and aquifers that supply some of the state’s most populous regions. In one key watershed, the McKenzie, snowpack is predicted to drop more […]


“I’ve Never Been So Excited”
October 10, 2013

“I’ve Never Been So Excited”

A young scientist goes to the White House

Portland ninth-grader Meghana Rao was scouring the Web for information on biochar when she stumbled across an intriguing paper by a researcher named Markus Kleber. When she realized he was at Oregon State University, just 90 miles down the freeway from where she was a student at Jesuit High School, she emailed him with “a […]


Seeing the Planet
October 9, 2013

Seeing the Planet

OSU's "remote sensing" story

From satellites, balloons, high-altitude surveillance planes and even a two-seater Cessna, Oregon State scientists have been gathering data on the planet for nearly a half century. Their work has helped manage crops, detect threats to Western forests, track activity in Cascade volcanoes and reveal new details about ocean currents and how they interact with the […]


The Hidden Costs of Research
October 9, 2013

The Hidden Costs of Research

Oregon State's rate for "overhead" is quite low

Imagine for just a moment that you: 1) are independently wealthy; 2) are a genius, and; 3) have a brilliant idea for a research project (for those readers who already satisfy all three criteria, please indulge me a bit of editorial whimsy). You begin your project with every intention of following the scientific method. You […]


Seedbed for Startups
October 9, 2013

Seedbed for Startups

Advantage Accelerator adds fuel to Oregon State’s entrepreneurial fire

Methane-powered engines. Autonomous helicopters. Online shopping assistants. Electricity from wastewater. These new products and the business opportunities they generate are in the pipeline at Oregon State University’s Advantage Accelerator. They are among 14 research concepts or spinoff companies selected to participate in a program that spurs the creation of new companies from university-based research. Five […]


“I Thought I Wanted to Work with Fish”
October 9, 2013

“I Thought I Wanted to Work with Fish”

Profile of an Antarctic scientist

When Andrew Thurber started his journey in marine biology at Hawaii Pacific University, he got a surprise. “I thought I wanted to work with fish,” he says. “Turns out I don’t.” Instead, in an Antarctic research lab, he became enamored with worms. “Worms are incredibly diverse. That was one of the most amazing things to […]


The Economics of Carbon Reduction
September 28, 2013

The Economics of Carbon Reduction

Climate change policy and normative science

To influence policy, research on climate change must incorporate many disciplines and bridge the divide between the natural and social sciences. I see similarities and important differences in the way that research is done in the environmental sciences and in economics. One similarity is that, like climate science, economics research on climate change has been […]


OSU Researchers Part of New Panel on Ocean Acidification, Hypoxia
August 30, 2013

OSU Researchers Part of New Panel on Ocean Acidification, Hypoxia

Governor Kitzhaber has announced that Oregon is joining with the state of California to establish a new panel to focus on the extent, causes, and effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia along the Pacific coastline. Five Oregon State University researchers will participate on the new panel. The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel […]


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 […]


Getting the Lead Out
August 20, 2013

Getting the Lead Out

Erik Dove investigates toxic glazes in Ecuador

An International Studies biology student delves into a health risk in rural Ecuador: lead contamination in local pottery.


Eco-Excellence
July 31, 2013

Eco-Excellence

Five extraordinary students shoulder the task of preserving biodiversity

They all grew up immersed in nature: catching frogs, climbing rocks, diving reefs, combing beaches, camping out. Now, they’re all committed to studying and restoring the natural world, each in his or her own way. For Justin Conner, that means investigating the chytrid fungus and other threats to amphibians. Allison Stringer’s ecosystem studies have taken […]


Mapping the Columbia
July 30, 2013

Mapping the Columbia

Cartography students create atlas for iBooks

The Columbia River Basin comes to life in a new digital atlas produced by Oregon State University cartography students. They have created an iBook — accessible via Apple’s iPad — which combines the look and feel of a traditional paper book with the touch-screen features of a tablet computer. Through colorful maps, animations, photos and […]


“eButterfly” Can Change a Summer Hobby into a Scientific Venture
July 25, 2013

“eButterfly” Can Change a Summer Hobby into a Scientific Venture

Build a virtual butterfly collection

With the arrival of sunny summer days and creation of a new “citizen science” project called eButterfly, every 7-year-old child in the United States and Canada just gained the ability to become a working scientist. This project, which is now online at e-butterfly.org, is one of the first of its type, and will allow everyone […]


Like Birds? Project Seeks Citizen Scientists for Bird Surveys
July 25, 2013

Like Birds? Project Seeks Citizen Scientists for Bird Surveys

Volunteer birders can learn to contribute sitings to national database

Oregon State University researchers are hoping to tap into the state’s growing population of bird-watching enthusiasts to create a volunteer team of “citizen scientists” to gather data on Oregon’s resident and visiting birds. Their project, called Oregon 2020, is seeking to fill some of the large gaps in data about Oregon birds, organizers say. Information […]


da Vinci Days 2013: Stories from the Edge of Science
July 25, 2013

da Vinci Days 2013: Stories from the Edge of Science

Oregon State scientists take audiences on a planetary journey

Leonardo da Vinci combined the practical and the beautiful, the mechanical and artistic. At the 2013 da Vinci Days festival in Corvallis, Oregon State University scientists, engineers and mathematicians shared their journeys under Antarctic sea ice, to an African village, to Mars and through a mathematical landscape.


Singing His Story
July 19, 2013

Singing His Story

OSU master’s student explores deep questions through music

When Joshua Rist walked into the music department’s audition room at Oregon State University in 2009, he aimed to impress the faculty with a composition combining the driving energy of rock ‘n’ roll with the emotional power of a classical symphony. “I had written this piano concerto that was exciting to me, and I thought […]


From Zebrafish to You
July 2, 2013

From Zebrafish to You

Popular aquarium fish provides a window on environmental chemicals

On average, an individual encounters about 80,000 synthetic chemicals every day. So says Robert Tanguay, a toxicologist at Oregon State University. Many of those chemicals — from fire retardants in fabrics to drying agents in paint — are untested for toxicity to people. Tanguay and his research team are working to change that. Their results […]


July 1, 2013

Designing an Experiment from Scratch

A neophyte learns the ropes of doing science

Designing an experiment from scratch is hard enough. Doing it in six months is a staggering feat. But Oregon State University graduate Kristin Jones pulled it off, immersing herself in scholarly papers, writing a detailed proposal, acquiring materials and constructing equipment in preparation for an intensive period of fieldwork — all while working as a […]


Threshold for Thriving
July 1, 2013

Threshold for Thriving

How much forest management is too much for northern house wrens?

Kristin Jones’ research aims to discover whether intensive forestry practices, such as herbicide use, interfere with wrens’ habitat.


A Bird’s-Eye View
June 28, 2013

A Bird’s-Eye View

Planners are looking at landscapes through a wider lens

Miles Hemstrom was a young boy when he began looking at the landscape from a bird’s-eye view. It started when he went fishing with his dad on the Grand Mesa in Colorado. He recalls driving up an old dirt road that wound along the side of a mountain through aspen and spruce-fir forest. “We could […]