Terra in Print: Spring 2007

Spring 2007 cover

Download PDF version

Plowing New Ground

Start over.

Turn over a new leaf. Spring is a time for renewal, for moving ahead. It’s a powerful time, conveying hope and optimism. Salmon return to spawn, birds fly north to nest and people plant crops with an eye on the weather.

These and other signs can feel bittersweet. Fewer salmon are returning, a result of development on land and possible changes at sea. Changing wind patterns are associated with the seasonal appearance of low-oxygen water along the coast, creating a “dead zone.” Oregon’s diverse and productive agricultural sectors face both opportunity and risk as potential sources of new fuels and products to replace foreign oil.

Nevertheless, a sense of optimism and renewal underlies OSU research. How else to explain students who come here to study these and other problems that beg for solutions? In this issue of Terra, read about Patrick Luke who, after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and working on commercial fishing boats, has come to Corvallis to study fisheries management. His goal: to help repair the weakening bond between people and fish.

Science can create the basis for solutions that enable us to renew communities and economies. In the College of Veterinary Medicine, Luiz Bermudez and his team are discovering details about Johne’s disease, which is incurable and is blamed for about $1.5 billion in annual losses to the U.S. dairy industry. Their work is already yielding new ideas for reducing that cost.

Research on potential bioproducts and biofuels thrives on the hope that solutions can be found to our dependence on oil and other fossil energy sources. Algae-generated electricity, new ethanol-based technologies, extruded wood-plastic composites and dandelion-based latex are some of the ideas that are under scrutiny at OSU.

Our cover story suggests that, ironically, renewal sometimes comes from an “ecology of fear.” By controlling populations of deer, elk and other browsers, wolves and cougars enable streamside ecosystems to thrive. We may have these top predators to thank for some of our spring riches.

Nick Houtman, Editor

The Zinc Link

Healthy People, Spring 2007, Terra Blog

When you eat a steaming bowl of tofu and bok choy while sipping a cup of rain-flower tea, you may be doing more than just having dinner. You may also be fighting cancer. Together, the ingredients of a traditional Asian diet — soy, green tea and vegetables in the cabbage family — may create a […]


Teaching Evolution – audio

Departments, Inquiry, Spring 2007

Paul Farber talks about Charles Darwin’s personal quest to understand life’s most fundamental principles. A rare specimen in the soup Marry? Or not marry? The Malthus analogy


On Red Owl Mountain

Features, Healthy Planet, Spring 2007

By Cristina Eisenberg In the rural West, geography defines us. I live with my husband and teenage daughters on the shoulder of Red Owl Mountain, one of the many mountains that make up the Swan Range, which is part of the crazy quilt of ranges that forms the Rocky Mountains in northwest Montana. Our cabin […]


Seed Biology Program Gives Undergrads a Boost

Departments, Spring 2007, Student Research

Learning the secrets of seed germination is helping an OSU student grow her own career as a physician. Jing Sun, a junior in microbiology from Corvallis, Oregon, has wanted to become a doctor ever since a childhood bout with hepatitis A put her in the hospital. “That made a big impression on me, mostly on […]


Fishing for Life

Departments, Earth, Healthy Planet, Spring 2007, Student Research

Every spring, the Umatilla people of northeastern Oregon join other Columbia River tribes in celebrating the return of the salmon. Growing up on the reservation in the foothills of the Blue Mountains east of Pendleton, Patrick Luke learned to appreciate the bond between fish and people. When he wasn’t helping to tend the family’s horses, […]


Young Immigrants

Departments, Healthy People, Inquiry, Spring 2007

Coming of age in a new land is an American story. Children who bridge two cultures — their parents’ homeland and their adopted country — struggle to find a transnational identity and to succeed. In a child’s mind, memories of friends, familiar play places and sounds compete with a strange world and unintelligible language. In […]


Edith Molina: In Her Own Words

Departments, Inquiry, Spring 2007

As an OSU student, Edith Quiroz Molina (Class of 2002) participated in the research that led to the “One and a Half Generation Mexican Youth in Oregon” report. Now living in Troutdale, Oregon, she is the chief executive officer of BilingualHire, a Chicano consulting business in Portland, with two other OSU alumni. She also works […]


Teaching Evolution

Teaching Evolution

Departments, Inquiry, Spring 2007

Most textbooks treat evolution as “just another topic” rather than as the overarching theory that ties life systems together, says OSU Distinguished Professor Paul Farber. “Evolution, which synthesizes the disparate disciplines of the life sciences, rarely emerges in biology courses or texts as the unifying thread that makes sense of all the material,” Farber wrote […]


Mental Health Lifeline

Departments, Healthy People, Innovation, Spring 2007

The most important visitors to Stacy Ramirez’s office walk around her desk and sit in a chair next to her. As they talk, Ramirez catches subtle cues about her visitors’ emotions, whether or not they are taking their pills or maybe hearing voices again. “I can tell by their eyes if there’s something going on […]


Grinding Out Lessons From the Earth

Departments, Earth, Spring 2007

When Jeremiah Oxford, a master’s student from Coos Bay, Oregon, isn’t in class or writing a paper, he puts his mind to that most unacademic of tasks: grinding rocks. Tedious as it might sound, his work in Robert Duncan’s lab in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences isn’t a punishment. Instead, he is preparing […]


A Student’s View

Departments, Earth, Healthy Planet, Spring 2007, Student Research

To become a research scientist and a teacher — that’s Sam VanLaningham’s goal. The OSU Ph.D. student from Ellensburg, Washington, received his master’s degree working with Andrew Meigs in the Department of Geosciences. For his Ph.D., VanLaningham walked next door to study with Bob Duncan and Nick Pisias in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric […]


Lessons From the Zumwalt Prairie

Departments, Earth, Healthy Planet, Spring 2007, Stewardship

When Marcy Cottrell Houle headed to the Zumwalt Prairie in the 1980s with her topo maps, tree-climbing gear and raptor leg bands to study hawks, she assumed wildlife and cows were incompatible. After all, that was the prevailing view — and there were millions of overgrazed acres across the West to prove it. So when […]


Minding the Dairy

Features, Healthy Economy, Spring 2007, Vitality

Little matters more to dairy farmers than the purity of their product and the health of their animals. So when Warren “Buzz” Gibson, co-owner and herd manager at the Lochmead Dairy in Junction City, Oregon, heard six years ago that an incurable cattle disease called Johne’s (pronounced “yo-knees”) could threaten his reputation for quality, he […]


Paratuberculosis (MAP) and a host cell

Features, Healthy Economy, Spring 2007, Vitality

Stories That Heal

Features, Healthy People, Spring 2007

Once upon a time in an Oregon river valley, there lived a woman named Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson. At the big university where she was a teacher and researcher, her students called her Dr. Dale. When visitors walked into Dr. Dale’s office at the College of Education, they noticed something very important about her: She loved working […]


Bibliotherapy in Kenya

Features, Healthy People, Spring 2007, Student Research

It was at the bedside of a dying relative that the idea for Daphne Kagume’s doctoral dissertation took hold. As her beloved uncle succumbed to AIDS in a Kenya hospital, the OSU graduate student witnessed the heartbreaking isolation that so often afflicts AIDS patients in her native country. She resolved to help. With guidance from […]


Forged in Fire

Features, Spring 2007

In the life of a forest, fire can be a frequent and demanding companion. How often the flames visit and whether they stay low, licking the tree trunks, or flare into the canopy, becoming what foresters call a “stand replacement fire,” can determine the character of the forest for centuries. Or until the next fire. […]


Fire Cores

Features, Spring 2007

Nature’s Glue

Features, Spring 2007

Soy may help prevent cancer not only on your kitchen table but also in your kitchen table. Across campus from OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute, where nutrition scientists have been studying soybeans’ place in a healthful diet (see “The Zinc Link,” page 22), another OSU scientist has found a way to use those same protein-rich beans […]


Growing Technology

Features, Healthy Economy, Innovation, Spring 2007

From microbes to plants, OSU researchers are leveraging biological materials to develop a variety of new products. Here are some highlights: Cellulose Power Professor Michael Penner in the Department of Food Science and Technology is studying one of the holy grails of the bio-based fuel industry: the economical conversion of woody plant materials into ethanol […]


High Alert

High Alert

Features, Healthy Planet, Multimedia, Spring 2007, Stewardship

In a remote corner of Zion National Park, a small herd of mule deer browse quietly. Through the sun-dappled canyon burbles North Creek, its waters cool and clear, its banks green and reedy, alive with frogs, butterflies and bird-song. But this pastoral scene in southern Utah has a dark subtext, subtle yet unmistakable in the […]