Category » Healthy Planet

Under the Hood
September 10, 2012

Under the Hood

Geologists reveal the steady personality of Oregon’s signature peak

Mount Hood last erupted more than 200 years ago, but at Crater Rock, not far from the summit, the signs of volcanic activity are unmistakable. Gas vents and hot springs emit sulfur fumes. Vapors rising from deep under the mountain carve snow caves, which can seem like sanctuaries for climbers but often hold deadly concentrations […]


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, […]


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 […]


Horns of Africa
July 11, 2012

Horns of Africa

Dylan McDowell studies endangered rhinos in Tanzanian reserves

In the place where Dylan McDowell grew up, wildlife meant sea lions, sandpipers, salmon and passing pods of spouting whales. Where he’s going this summer, wildlife means something else entirely, something reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, exotic and fearsome: wildebeests, jackals, baboons, leopards, warthogs. And rhinos that have been poached nearly […]


Sea Urchin
July 11, 2012

Sea Urchin

Caitlyn Clark takes her love of ecology to Ireland's first marine reserve

On her first-ever research trip, Caitlyn Clark trudged up and down hundreds of spongy hummocks spanning miles of arctic tundra, all the while swatting at giant mosquitoes and scanning for hungry polar bears. She was in Manitoba to collect data about the habitats of boreal frogs and stickleback fish for Earthwatch Institute Student Challenge Awards […]


The Earth Burps and Burns
July 11, 2012

The Earth Burps and Burns

WeiLi Hong measures methane emissions in Korean ocean waters

When the Earth burps, WeiLi Hong listens. Whether Earth’s gaseous emissions bubble up from “mud volcanoes” on the planet’s surface or seep out of fissures on the ocean floor, the Oregon State University Ph.D. student has his monitoring gear to the ground. And sometimes, he’s actually in the ground. “I fell in twice,” Hong admits, […]


Legacy of a Whale
July 11, 2012

Legacy of a Whale

Renee Albertson’s childhood encounter led her, decades later, to French Polynesia

Rain was pouring hard the day Renee Albertson first connected, face-to-face, with a marine mammal. She was a 7-year-old visiting British Columbia’s Sealand aquarium (Canada’s now-defunct answer to California’s SeaWorld) with her mom and dad. The daily show had been cancelled because of the downpour. The usual crowds were absent. As the soggy trio from […]


Dolphin Defender
July 3, 2012

Dolphin Defender

Rebecca Hamner boats New Zealand’s coastline collecting DNA from endangered dolphins

A dolphin’s dorsal fin can be as distinctive as a human fingerprint. As the fin slices through the sea, its unique pattern of pigments, nicks and scars relays the animal’s personal story to observers on the surface. Often, scientists can use these markings to ID individual dolphins. But for some species, fin IDs are not […]


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 […]


Floating Dock from Japan Carries Potential Invasive Species
June 7, 2012

Floating Dock from Japan Carries Potential Invasive Species

Starfish, crabs, oysters and algae are among the Asian hitchhikers

When debris from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan began making its way toward the West Coast of the United States, there were fears of possible radiation and chemical contamination as well as costly cleanup. But a floating dock that unexpectedly washed ashore in Newport this week and has been traced back to the […]


Fisher of Rivers
June 6, 2012

Fisher of Rivers

Haley Ohms wades into Dolly Varden research in Japanese streams

A river runs through Haley Ohms’ life. Actually, a whole bunch of rivers. So spending the summer hip-deep in fast-moving water will feel familiar to the Oregon State University graduate student — even if those cold, tumbling waters flow on the other side of the Pacific Rim. The fish will seem familiar, too. The Dolly […]


Running Clear
May 30, 2012

Running Clear

Gary Klinkhammer turned water analysis into environmental protection

The Arctic Ocean, 1997. Gary Klinkhammer had strapped a water chemistry analyzer onto the hull of a retired U.S. Navy nuclear submarine to measure carbon. He had come to this bleak and desolate place looking for organic matter, fertile detritus dumped into the ocean by massive rivers in Siberia and North America. “The Arctic in […]


From Wood to Watts
May 30, 2012

From Wood to Watts

Forest-based fuels could fire up rural development, but at what cost?

About a million years ago in South Africa, a Homo erectus cave dweller used fire on purpose, and some charred bones at the site suggest it may have been for cooking. Thus was born the biofuels industry — and also the first known barbecue. The name of that cave, Wonderwerk, means “miracle” in the Afrikaans […]


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 […]


Tracking the Titans
May 29, 2012

Tracking the Titans

A whale named Varvara is following in the fluke-path of a whale named Flex, who surprised scientists last year by taking an unexpected migratory route from Russia to Oregon. Scientists led by Bruce Mate at the Marine Mammal Institute are following Varvara’s incredible journey via satellite signals from an electronic “tag” she received in September. […]


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 […]


Wood or Oil?
May 23, 2012

Wood or Oil?

“The world is a complicated place and there are consequences for every choice we make,” says Hal Salwasser, dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. “The research cited here (in From Wood to Watts) shows what some of those consequences, good and bad, might be when we transform wood, a carbohydrate renewable over […]


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. […]


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.


Taking stock of wave energy
February 21, 2012

Taking stock of wave energy

Researchers make preparations for an emerging industry

These are the formative years of a West Coast wave energy industry, and scientists are working with businesses, communities and policymakers to gather environmental data, test new technologies and consider the options. Their work is coordinated through the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), a partnership between Oregon State University and the University of […]


Quartet for the Earth
February 21, 2012

Quartet for the Earth

Four students bring distinct perspectives to climate change research

A mountaineer, a world traveler, an athlete and a Chinese scholar pursue answers to climate change questions.


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.”


Green Evolution
February 20, 2012

Green Evolution

Economists evaluate options for farming in a warmer world

East Africa’s farms feed millions, but production is likely to fall if temperatures rise and droughts become more common.


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?


State of Change
February 20, 2012

State of Change

To learn how Oregon is coping with climate change, Terra magazine’s Lee Sherman and OSU Extension photographer Lynn Ketchum traveled across the state talking to stakeholders in seven sectors identified in the Oregon Climate Assessment Report. See how people from Ashland and Florence to Bend, Portland, Pendleton and Salem are using research to meet needs in public health, the environment and the economy.


State of Change: Building Our Shells
February 20, 2012

State of Change: Building Our Shells

“The attitudes of Oregonians toward climate change are somewhat unknown, but small-scale surveys indicate that many residents of our state would consider it a problem worth attention by policymakers.”
– Oregon Climate Assessment Report