Stories

High Beams
January 24, 2014

High Beams

Electron microscopes light up the world of the small

For a place that takes pictures with what amounts to controlled bursts of lightning, the lab is quiet, almost hushed. Standing in the entrance to Oregon State University’s Electron Microscopy Facility (EMF), you might hear researchers’ soft voices as they discuss the best way to see pollen on a bee’s tongue or to look at […]


Partners Raise $1.5 Million for Earthquake Research
January 23, 2014

Partners Raise $1.5 Million for Earthquake Research

Resilience and safety are top priorities

Looming in Oregon’s future is a massive 9.0 earthquake. Roads, bridges, buildings, sewers, gas and water lines and lives are at risk. To meet the threat, Oregon State University and partners from government and industry have created a research initiative known as the Cascadia Lifelines Program. They have raised $1.5 million to support studies of […]


Federal Boost for OSU Spinoff
January 23, 2014

Federal Boost for OSU Spinoff

Department of Energy supports NuScale Power

A promising new form of nuclear power that evolved in part from research more than a decade ago at Oregon State University has received a significant boost: up to $226 million in funding to NuScale Power from the U.S. Department of Energy. NuScale began as a spinoff company based on the pioneering research of OSU […]


Carnivores in Retreat
January 23, 2014

Carnivores in Retreat

Researchers call for global conservation initiative

In ecosystems around the world, the decline of large predators such as lions, wolves and cougars is changing the face of landscapes from the tropics to the Arctic. An analysis of 31 carnivore species shows how threats such as habitat loss, persecution by humans and reductions in prey combine to create global hotspots of carnivore […]


Viral Diagnostics
January 23, 2014

Viral Diagnostics

Electron microscope helps pinpoint a disease-causing virus

Rocky Baker, supervisor of the virology lab in the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, identified this influenza virus in pet ferrets whose owner had come down with the flu. Ferrets are susceptible, he says, and the owner was concerned that his animals became sick after contact with a family member who had influenza symptoms. […]


Through the Needle
January 23, 2014

Through the Needle

Disease reduces Douglas-fir growth, costs more than $200 million annually

On the surface of a Douglas-fir needle, the spore of a fungal pathogen, Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii, germinates and sends forth threads (hyphae). It matures into an organism that will grow inside the needle and reproduce. By interfering with the tree’s ability to exchange air and water, it shuts down photosynthesis. Thus starts a disease known as […]


Oysters on Acid
January 23, 2014

Oysters on Acid

Ocean acidification dooms young oysters

The oceans are about 30 percent more acidic than they were a century ago, and scientists are beginning to understand the consequences for marine ecosystems. Oysters may provide an early warning of what’s to come. George Waldbusser, a biogeochemist in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and Elizabeth Brunner, a master’s student, conducted […]


Nanocrystals for Solar
January 23, 2014

Nanocrystals for Solar

Function follows form in molecular structure

In Alex Chang’s lab in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, researchers arrange atoms in precise patterns to create materials with novel electrical and heat-transfer properties. Chang and his colleagues use electron microscopy to visualize and analyze structures that are often only a few atoms thick. “The EM facility is very important for […]


Illuminating Plankton
January 23, 2014

Illuminating Plankton

Consuelo Carbonell-Moore has made it her life’s work to document the diversity of one of the ocean’s most abundant life forms: dinoflagellates, a type of plankton. These organisms are no mere bystanders in marine ecosystems. Some produce life-giving oxygen. Others influence the formation of coral reefs. In coastal waters, they can bloom as “red tides” […]


Proof of Pollination
January 23, 2014

Proof of Pollination

As honeybees pick up pollen and nectar, they pollinate about one-third of the plants in the human diet. “Growers rent honeybees to pollinate their crops, and we are taking a close look to see what kinds of pollen the bees are actually collecting,” says Sujaya Rao, entomologist in Crop and Soil Science. Using a scanning […]


Neighbors in Tech: Advantage Partners
January 22, 2014

Neighbors in Tech: Advantage Partners

HP and Oregon State collaborate on next-gen products

In most neighborhoods, talk turns to family, weather or sports. But when the neighbors include a global high-tech company and the state’s largest research university, the conversation bends to technology. “In choosing a location for its Advanced Products Division in 1974, key criteria for HP included quality of life and proximity to a great engineering […]


Breed to Feed
January 22, 2014

Breed to Feed

Crop scientists create the plants that keep Oregon farmers in business

Oregon’s $5 billion-a-year agriculture industry needs new breeds of grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Some food crops become vulnerable to disease and pests. Others must evolve to match the changing needs of farmers and consumers. Oregon State University plant breeders have a long legacy of creating new food crops with better yields, healthier nutritional content […]


The Gas Track
January 22, 2014

The Gas Track

OSU-Cascades undergrad builds a lab

For an undergraduate, Josh Tibbitts faced an unusual problem last winter: where to find a source of high-pressure natural gas for a new research lab. We’re not talking about double or triple the pressure that produces the blue flame in your furnace or a kitchen stove — typically less than one-quarter of a pound per […]


“It’s Nice to Say Something”
January 22, 2014

“It’s Nice to Say Something”

Universities mostly watch from the sidelines

For university researchers and students, RINGO meetings are one of the few places they get to speak out and be heard.


Shoring Up Our Coasts
January 22, 2014

Shoring Up Our Coasts

Ocean communities plan for climate change by building trust

As a scholar in environmental communications, Miriah Russo Kelly is digging into the interpersonal dynamics of collaboration and cooperation among people who may share little in common except locale — fishermen and hotel managers, loggers and grocers, political leaders and homeowners, climate scientists and climate skeptics.


Lamprey Brain Trust
January 22, 2014

Lamprey Brain Trust

Northwest scientists confer at research center

“The situation for Pacific lamprey is bad and getting worse,” says OSU fisheries biologist David Noakes, director of the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in Alsea. “We have enormous gaps in our knowledge of even the most basic aspects of life history, ecology and behavior of our native lamprey.” To jumpstart the filling of those gaps, […]


Friending a Fish
January 22, 2014

Friending a Fish

New curriculum brings lamprey to the classroom

One of Earth’s most ancient animals has inhabited some of the modern world’s hottest locations: Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Pacific lamprey last year had a virtual life on social media in the character of “Luna,” an imaginary fish that kids could follow online as she migrated […]


Oregon State Researchers Honored for Achievements
January 10, 2014

Oregon State Researchers Honored for Achievements

Award: Something conferred as a reward for merit; a prize, reward, honor (Oxford English Dictionary)

Remote Sensing of the Oceans Dudley Chelton, Distinguished Professor, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Award: 2013 William T. Pecora Award for achievement in Earth remote sensing Sponsoring organization: NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior For more than 30 years, Chelton as led efforts to improve satellite-derived measurements of the four primary […]


Flight of the Bumblebees
January 10, 2014

Flight of the Bumblebees

Scientists will follow bumblebees with tiny sensors

Responding to the sting of declining honeybee populations, Oregon State University entomologists and engineers are planning to track native bumblebees with tiny sensors. Many aspects of bumblebee behavior are unknown, but better understanding may lead to bee-friendly agricultural practices, says Sujaya Rao, an entomologist in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Lack of pollination is a […]


High Noon for Forest Fires
January 10, 2014

High Noon for Forest Fires

Modelers aim to assist policymakers

Decades of fire suppression have put the Ponderosa pine forests of Eastern Oregon at risk. Despite being adapted to frequent low-intensity fire, they have accumulated high fuel loads. Forest managers must decide when to let low-intensity fires burn and where to invest in costly fuel reduction treatments. With a $1.2 million grant from the National […]


Where the Wild Whales Are
January 9, 2014

Where the Wild Whales Are

Researchers map genetic variation across the seascape

Some researchers are gene hunters. They track wildlife populations by following differences and similarities in genetic profiles. Now a research team led by Scott Baker, associate director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute, is helping scientists visualize genetic information from individual whales across the ocean. A member of Baker’s team, Ph.D. student Dori Dick in the […]


Great IDEA
November 13, 2013

Great IDEA

International Programs helps Oregon State students to study abroad

Oregon State University students increasingly use the globe as their campus. They might live with a family in the Amazon rainforest, go scuba diving in the Caribbean and hear life-changing stories in health clinics in South Africa and India. They witness wildlife management on an African safari ranch and in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. […]


Sustainability, Face to Face
November 11, 2013

Sustainability, Face to Face

A village on the Amazon leaves a powerful impression

Last February, when Lisa Baldinger arrived in Belém, a city of 2 million people on Brazil’s north coast, she didn’t speak a word of Portuguese. “I didn’t even know how to say ‘hello,’” she says. Baldinger had gone to Brazil to learn about grassroots environmental management in the Amazon rainforest. She came home with a […]


Swimming with Sharks
November 4, 2013

Swimming with Sharks

Childhood inspiration led Courtney Jackson to the ocean

For Courtney Jackson, everything began when she saw a shark swim across a television screen. She was in second grade, and the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week took her underwater and face-to-face with fearsome predators. At the end of it, she came to one conclusion: She wanted to be the scientist swimming with the sharks. A […]


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 […]