Stories

Of Spots and Stripes
October 13, 2014

Of Spots and Stripes

Two related owl species compete for the last stands of old-growth forest

To hear Katie Dugger tell it, you’d think catching a baby northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) for scientific banding was as easy as taking a Tootsie Roll from a toddler. “They’re so mellow and laid-back,” the ornithologist says. “If the owl is sitting low enough in a tree, as is often the case, you […]


Back from Prehistory
October 13, 2014

Back from Prehistory

When condors soar again in Oregon, lead ammunition could undo their recovery

The “butifull Buzzard of the Columbia ” was Captain William Clark’s descriptor in 1805 for the prehistoric vultures he observed riding thermals on 9-foot wings in the Columbia River Gorge. Yet just 100 years later, the giant condors were all but gone in Oregon. Now, ornithologist Susan Haig is helping to bring them back. At […]


A Rocky Outlook
October 13, 2014

A Rocky Outlook

Seabirds suffer huge losses to opportunistic predators

A light wind froths across the headland, kicking up the churn below. Just off Yaquina Head, atop a sea stack named Colony Rock, more than 60,000 seabirds huddle in a wing-towing crush. Audible from shore is a raucous din, the collective cry of nesting females incubating eggs and raising chicks while their mates fly in […]


A Moveable Feast
October 13, 2014

A Moveable Feast

Getting fish-eaters to switch from salmon to sardines to carp takes scientific cunning

When Dan Roby floated the idea of relocating 18,000 seabirds in 1999, there was a lot of eye-rolling among wildlife experts in Oregon. “No one believed it would work,” says Roby, an ornithologist at Oregon State University specializing in marine species. But everyone agreed that something had to be done. With suitable seabird habitat shrinking […]


A Delicate Balance
October 11, 2014

A Delicate Balance

Songbirds, cows, bugs and Buteos live in precarious harmony on the prairie

Nothing looks more vulnerable than a meadowlark hatchling: a scrap of fluff, a fraction of an ounce, blind, immobile except for its gaping mouth. As if that’s not enough fragility, the baby bird’s bowl-shaped nest sits on the ground — the same ground where herds of 800-pound cattle may graze. But the threat implied by […]


Small-Scale Science
October 11, 2014

Small-Scale Science

Pint-sized humans study tiny birds facing big problems

Little kids have a lot in common with hummingbirds. Both are small in size, quick in motion and fond of sugar. Plus, kids think hummingbirds are cool. So pairing Oregon schoolchildren with the feisty, orange-throated hummers that share their Willamette Valley habitat seemed like a scientific and educational slam-dunk to ornithologist Matt Betts, a researcher […]


Innovation: Smart Bike Helmet
October 10, 2014

Innovation: Smart Bike Helmet

Alert is sent after an accident

Bike helmets have long proven their worth by helping to prevent head injuries. Now a team of OSU student interns who worked at Intel last summer has turned the durable plastic shells into an emergency beacon, communicator and diagnostic tool in the event of an accident. Equipped with electronics that can detect and analyze a […]


Technical Assistance
October 10, 2014

Technical Assistance

Students develop robots to empower people

Last summer, Ben Arvey took an electric wheelchair for a test drive. He blinked his eyes, and as the Google Glass on his head relayed those small movements through the Internet, the chair moved forward. With no assistance from Arvey, it swerved to avoid a table and then straightened out as though traveling down a […]


Success in STEM fields
October 10, 2014

Success in STEM fields

NSF grants aim to diversify the workforce

Two five-year grants from the National Science Foundation aim to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines, or STEM, at Oregon State University. Through a program known as ADVANCE, OSU will recruit and promote women in STEM fields and implement policies to address needs across race, sexual […]


University of Alaska Joins Wave Energy Partnership
October 7, 2014

University of Alaska Joins Wave Energy Partnership

Wave energy researchers will focus on the tidal inlets and coastal waves of Alaska as a result of a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Until now, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center has been a partnership of Oregon State University and the University of Washington. “Alaska has an enormous energy […]


Small Stressors May Reduce Longevity for Men
October 6, 2014

Small Stressors May Reduce Longevity for Men

Older men who lead high-stress lives, either from chronic everyday hassles or because of a series of significant life events, are likely to die earlier than the average for their peers. “We’re looking at long-term patterns of stress — if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have […]


Aspen Recovery in Yellowstone Spurred by Wildlife Shifts
October 6, 2014

Aspen Recovery in Yellowstone Spurred by Wildlife Shifts

Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park is undergoing dramatic shifts with consequences that are beginning to return the landscape to conditions not seen in nearly a century. In the park’s northeast section, elk have decreased in number in their historic winter range in the Lamar Valley and are now more numerous outside the park. Aspen recovery […]


Partnership Advances the Cutting Edge
October 3, 2014

Partnership Advances the Cutting Edge

Blount International and OSU collaborate on saw technologies

You might expect that the state that produces the country’s largest amount of softwood timber would also host leaders in the chainsaw industry. One of those firms, Blount International in Portland, has increased its focus on new approaches to power systems, production efficiency and consumer safety. As partners in Oregon State’s Advantage program, the company […]


Running with Robots
October 2, 2014

Running with Robots

To understand animal locomotion, engineers look to birds

Hollywood has come a long way since R2-D2 rolled about in Star Wars (1977) with the turn-on-a-dime sophistication of a self-propelled lawn mower. Its companion C-3PO wasn’t much more advanced. It moved with a mechanical grace reminiscent of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Fast forward to the Isaac Asimov inspired sci-fi thriller […]


Oceanography Boot Camp
August 14, 2014

Oceanography Boot Camp

Students take the science helm in Oregon coast research cruise

If they had come home early, you wouldn’t have been surprised. Half of them got seasick. Equipment failed. And the weather changed unexpectedly. But last April, 11 Oregon college students from three institutions — Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Clatsop Community College — stuck it out for four days at sea on […]


August 8, 2014

Living Well on an Altered Planet

"Transformation Without Apocalypse" inspires new narratives on climate change

With reports of climate doomsday on the horizon, many people seek a brighter outlook on the future but aren’t sure where to turn. In February 2014, the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word at Oregon State University hosted a two-day symposium to highlight strategies for coping — and even thriving — […]


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, […]


Oregon State Nuclear Engineers Solve Looming Medical Isotope Shortage
May 29, 2014

Oregon State Nuclear Engineers Solve Looming Medical Isotope Shortage

OSU partners with Northwest Medical Isotopes and Samaritan Health Services

When John Nuslein began experiencing chest pain, he contacted his doctor and underwent a round of tests. But the standard electrocardiogram and cardiac treadmill were inconclusive. It took a nuclear medicine stress test — a procedure in which a radioactive substance is injected into a vein — to visualize two blocked arteries in his heart. […]


Poison in the Blood
May 28, 2014

Poison in the Blood

New treatment could reduce deaths from a hidden killer

A group of researchers in the College of Engineering, however, are working with teams of undergraduate and graduate students on a project that may soon have the whole world talking about sepsis. Finally there may be a way to combat this syndrome with something other than antibiotics — which often don’t work.


Finding Your Inner Einstein
May 28, 2014

Finding Your Inner Einstein

In the lab, the field and the library archive, today’s undergrads are “active scholars”

Tapping into each student’s inner Einstein — that quester of cosmic secrets, that seeker of deeper insights, that finder of new truths — is what happens when undergrads do original research or scholarship under the wing of a professor or a post-doctoral researcher.


Private Eyes
May 28, 2014

Private Eyes

Americans’ personal data are under scrutiny by government spy agencies, commercial search engines and a vast rabble of phishers, sniffers and black-hat hackers

“In human history, there’s never been more surveillance of individuals by the state and by private corporations than there is today,” said Oregon State University historian Christopher McKnight Nichols in April when he appeared on National Public Radio’s Philosophy Talk.


Total Immersion
May 28, 2014

Total Immersion

Diving the world’s waters in search of deeper knowledge

For an elite handful of Oregon State researchers and students in pharmacy, biology, oceanography, zoology, fisheries, marine resources management — even maritime engineering — their other lab is underwater.


Learning to Dive
May 28, 2014

Learning to Dive

OSU’s scientific diving course opens underwater opportunities

It seemed that Kyle Neumann had a dream job: video broadcasting for the Portland Timbers. But something kept nagging at him. “For me, it just wasn’t fulfilling a higher purpose,” says the Oregon State University senior. He wanted to use his video storytelling skills, he decided, not for professional sports but for Planet Earth. First, […]


Raising Spores
May 28, 2014

Raising Spores

Scientists find fungal treasure and start the hunt for new antibiotics

While known mostly as a pathogen of wheat, corn, barley and other cereal grains, a species of fungus called Fusarium Graminearum turns out to be a treasure trove of potential new antibiotics and other natural compounds.


No Stone Unturned
May 28, 2014

No Stone Unturned

Archaeologists on the trail of earliest Americans at Cooper’s Ferry

In the lower Salmon River canyon of Idaho, Loren Davis and his students are uncovering clues to the human story of North America. “The world was so dramatically different at that time,” Davis says. “There were ice sheets and giant lakes, and sea level was much lower. You have to have a geological outlook to make sense of a lot of it.”


Active Ingredients
May 28, 2014

Active Ingredients

Chemists collaborate to form Valliscor

When two Willamette Valley chemists developed methods for producing industrial chemicals with exceptional purity, they saw a business opportunity. The result is a new company: Valliscor.


May 28, 2014

Wanted: A Strong Work Ethic

You might think the No. 1 quality professors seek in an undergraduate researcher is braininess. Yes, brains matter. But there’s another valued trait, perhaps less obvious but at least as important: a strong work ethic. In the labs in Oregon State’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics, work ethic is often the deciding […]


Spirituality, Religion and Health
May 28, 2014

Spirituality, Religion and Health

Benefits reflect prayer, meditation, church attendance

Religious practices and spiritual behaviors have distinct but complementary health benefits. That was the conclusion of a study led by Carolyn Aldwin, professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. She and her colleagues (Crystal Park of the University of Connecticut and Yu-Jin Jeong and Ritwik Nath of OSU) reviewed previously published reports […]


May 28, 2014

The Shining

New Industrial Materials Are Activated by Light

New types of materials that change their shape when exposed to light could lead to advances in hydrogen storage, solar energy, carbon dioxide capture and other fields critical to the nation’s economy. The W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded a $1 million research grant to OSU’s School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering and to […]