Category » Perspectives

The GMO Conundrum
October 10, 2014

The GMO Conundrum

We could lose an important crop-improvement tool to politics and fear

Oregonians will go to the polls on November 4 to decide whether or not to require prominent labels on food containing ingredients made from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The issue of labeling has been around for years, and — déjà vu! — Oregonians have even voted on it before. But the rhetoric has heated […]


Arrested Development
October 10, 2014

Arrested Development

Intellectual property and regulations hinder research

Genetic engineering has become a valuable scientific tool. It has enabled us to gain tremendous insight into the mechanisms of plant reproduction, disease resistance and other useful traits. However, commercial use of this technology has not lived up to expectations and has created serious hurdles for plant breeders. That in turn hampers genetic progress and […]


Big Data Crunch
May 23, 2014

Big Data Crunch

The demand for data analysts is exploding

1.9 billion. That’s the number of results turned up by a Google search on the term “big data.”


Engineers with Soul
January 22, 2014

Engineers with Soul

Humanitarian Engineering combines technical knowledge with social skills

Engineers excel at solving problems. They can design systems that provide clean drinking water, generate electricity from sunlight and improve personal health. While the design of these systems demands technical skill, success or failure ultimately resides with the people who use and maintain them and whose lives depend on them — that is, with a […]


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 […]


Flight Plan
May 21, 2013

Flight Plan

UAV technology can create jobs, save money and lives

UAVs can help manage wildfires, support a search-and-rescue mission, plant trees to avoid wind or heat damage, monitor wildlife, improve irrigation, detect crop-disease outbreaks and gauge environmental health.


Freedom of Access
May 21, 2013

Freedom of Access

The public deserves and needs scientific information

“For scholars, access to the work of their peers is fundamental to the advancement of research.”


Normative Science
January 23, 2013

Normative Science

It is easy — and wrong — for scientists to become stealth policy advocates

Too often, however, scientific information presented to the public and decision-makers is infused with hidden policy preferences. Such science is termed normative, and it is a corruption of the practice of good science.


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, […]


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, […]


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.


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 […]


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 […]


Balance of Power
January 19, 2011

Balance of Power

OSU helps forge national marine energy policy

By Kate Sinner, Director of Federal Relations Renewable ocean wave energy seems like a natural. It promises jobs for Oregon and carbon-free power for the nation. It can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and contribute to economic development. But before we can realize that potential, we need to be careful to find a balance. […]


A Way Forward for Oregon’s O&C Forests
October 19, 2010

A Way Forward for Oregon’s O&C Forests

Any fair-minded reading of the history of the O&C (Oregon and California Railroad) lands in Western Oregon would conclude that they were intended to provide economic support for the 18 counties in which they reside.