Stories

Zooplankton Come in Wild Colors and Shapes
May 19, 2016

Zooplankton Come in Wild Colors and Shapes

TINY ZOOPLANKTON, often juvenile fish, feed on their plantlike cousins, the phytoplankton, at the base of the vast marine food web. Photos from the Cowen Lab show them in their wild and whimsical colorfulness, common names from left:  sea butterfly, blue button jellyfish, lookdown, armored searobin, octopus and surgeon-fish. (Photos: Cedric Guigand)     , […]


March 18, 2016

Terra+ Winter 2016

Cougars in “The Blues” How a science writer became an accidental animal handler in the wilds of Oregon. It was a frosty morning in October when we bushwhacked into a steep, wooded ravine of pine and larch, stepping over sofa-sized boulders and towering mounds of blow-down. At the bottom, where the creek gurgled prettily, the […]


At the Apex
February 3, 2016

At the Apex

The return of wolves to Oregon sparks old conflicts and prompts new science about top predators

A cougar, silent and unseen in the thick understory, is emitting a beacon from its tracking collar. “She’s close, about a hundred meters to the north,” says Beth Orning, a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University. Orning has evidence that cougar No. C216 is raising a litter in this hidden ravine.


Grass-Fed Restoration
February 3, 2016

Grass-Fed Restoration

Ranchers, scientists and wildlife share a home on the range

John O’Keeffe’s pick-up truck bumps through a landscape of gnarled sagebrush and bunchgrasses near the Nevada border in southeastern Oregon. “This is good sage-grouse habitat,” O’Keeffe tells me, gesturing across a broad horizon toward the Warner Mountains. He should know. O’Keeffe is a leader in sage-grouse conservation, helping to restore the bird’s habitat of native […]


Taking Stock of Recovery
February 3, 2016

Taking Stock of Recovery

Digital photos become a research tool

Grazing helps to shape ecosystems, but the effects depend on management and the environment. Stream bank or upland meadow? Willow or sagebrush? Over much of the 20th century, cattle grazed in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon. In riparian areas where animals had congregated, channels were eroded and vegetation was sparse. Cattle […]


Forecast for Africa
February 3, 2016

Forecast for Africa

Weather stations serve schools, farmers and fishermen

In the summer of 2012, Zachary Dunn climbed onto the roof of a red-brick schoolhouse in Lela, a small village in southwestern Kenya. A crowd of children milled about on the ground, watching him attach a small weather station to the peak. It was the rainy season, overcast and cool enough for a long-sleeved shirt. […]


School to School
February 3, 2016

School to School

How's the Weather in Your Country?

In the western Kenya city of Kisumo last spring, Leah Tai expected to meet with a few teachers from only three schools. The Oregon State graduate student in Water Resources Engineering was serving as a school program coordinator for TAHMO. In short order, she found herself at a workshop having lunch with 60 teachers. “They […]


Looking for Trouble
February 3, 2016

Looking for Trouble

When weather stations go bad

The reliability of a weather station is subject to the wanderings of wildlife. Frogs crawl into rainfall collection buckets. Insects build nests in air tubes. Rodents chew through wires. And that’s on top of damage from dust, high winds, ice and hail — or simple equipment failure. Maintaining weather station networks is a labor-intensive enterprise, […]


Curious Romps Through Reality
February 3, 2016

Curious Romps Through Reality

Animal icons are Elena Passarello’s latest journey

When Elena Passarello was growing up in Atlanta, she began to write as a way to have “company.” Brought up in a house where she was the only child, she made magazines and newspapers for her imaginary friends to read, she says, smiling at the memory of her earliest literary steps. She found her first […]


Capsules of Chemicals
February 3, 2016

Capsules of Chemicals

Insecticides show more toxicity inside tiny pellets

Packaging certain insecticides inside tiny plastic pellets may amplify their toxicity in the environment, a new study suggests. The same chemical used naked — suspended only in water — was significantly less toxic than its capsulated counterpart, researcher Stacy Harper reported recently in the journal Environment International. The chemical in question (a “pyrethroid” whose active […]


Fat and Bones
February 3, 2016

Fat and Bones

Gene therapy shows promise for saving bone during weight loss

“Yo-yo” dieting isn’t just a problem for your clothing budget as you try to keep up with your fluctuating jean size. It’s also bad for your bones. As unwanted pounds melt away, a dieter’s skeleton typically loses mass and strength. When the pounds come back, the lost bone doesn’t. That conundrum is the focus of […]


February 3, 2016

New Muscular Dystrophy Drug

Advance in personalized medicine

A drug developed in Corvallis and Perth, Australia, to treat a genetic disorder may also represent a promising advance in personalized medicine. Eteplirsen targets Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which leads to muscle degeneration and weakness. The pharmaceutical emerged from research by Patrick Iversen at Oregon State and is now being developed by Sarepta Therapeutics. Duchenne arises […]


Driving on Natural Gas
February 3, 2016

Driving on Natural Gas

New technology can fill up in 15 minutes

A recent graduate of the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator/RAIN Corvallis continues to drive its business forward — including all the way to the White House. Bend-based Onboard Dynamics, which is commercializing research by OSUCascades energy systems engineering professor Chris Hagen, was one of the 32 startup businesses nationwide invited to the first-ever White House […]


Book Notes
February 3, 2016

Book Notes

Recent publications by Oregon State faculty

The Last Love Song Tracy Daugherty This work by professor emeritus Tracy Daugherty is the first printed biography of American writer Joan Didion. The narrative traces her life from her youth in Sacramento to her marriage and partnership with her late husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, and beyond.   The Spark and the Drive Wayne […]


Swimming Through Science
February 3, 2016

Swimming Through Science

Culture and biology connect for an undergraduate from Bend

If science were the Pacific Ocean, Kylie Welch would be halfway to Japan by now. With the persistence of a long-distance swimmer, she has plunged through a double major in biochemistry and anthropology, worked in an oceanography lab and traveled abroad. Still amazed by new experiences, the Oregon State University senior sees herself as a […]


Prehistoric Sampling and Futuristic Forecasting
February 3, 2016

Prehistoric Sampling and Futuristic Forecasting

Climate researchers dig into the past and model the future

For two weeks in the fall of 2015, the whole world convened in Paris to tackle the looming dangers of a warming planet. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates were among the luminaries who took the stage at the 21st annual UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The conference […]


Familiar Faces
February 3, 2016

Familiar Faces

For those with disabilities, a positive identity starts with community

In the midst of a conversation about disability science, student research projects and her own scholarly endeavors, Kathleen Bogart pauses. How will the world be different if she succeeds in her work, the interviewer asks. What will change? A social psychologist at Oregon State University who studies the stigma of being viewed as “disabled,” as […]


Animal Behavior
January 1, 2016

Animal Behavior

The costs of kindness

Walking the dog has been my daily ritual for the better part of 20 years. Our current mutt — a pint-sized rat terrier/blue healer mix  named Roo — loyally defends her home turf and isn’t kind to strangers. When neighbor kids ask if they can pet the cute dog with the inquisitive face, I thank […]


Volcano Comeback
December 23, 2015

Volcano Comeback

Dome-Building Beneath Indonesia’s Lake Toba

At the world’s largest caldera lake, geologists are seeking clues to future volcanic activity, not only at Lake Toba in Indonesia but also at other supervolcano sites around the world, including the one at Yellowstone National Park.


Swallowing the Guilt Pill
October 15, 2015

Swallowing the Guilt Pill

Tim Jensen explains how consumers are led to internalize environmental degradation

“Our emotions are being targeted by corporate interests to internalize the wrongs that have been done to the environment,” explains Tim Jensen.


Biology Through Numbers
October 15, 2015

Biology Through Numbers

Hiring initiative combines science and information technologies

The generation of huge data sets in gene-sequencing and computer-modeling labs challenges scientists to develop new approaches to information. “Genomics and biocomputing are important areas for the university, and we have invested in faculty in this area in the past two hiring cycles,” says Provost Sabah Randhawa. Through the Biological Informatics and Genomics (BIG) initiative, […]


October 15, 2015

New Record for OSU Research, $308.9 Million

Private-sector growth leads the way for Oregon’s largest public research university

Oregon State University research funding reached $308.9 million, its highest level ever, in the fiscal year that ended on June 30. A near doubling of revenues from licensing patented technologies and an 8.5 percent increase in competitive federal funding fueled OSU research on a range of projects including advanced ocean-going research vessels, the health impacts […]


More Microbiome Studies at Oregon State
October 15, 2015

More Microbiome Studies at Oregon State

Researchers explore impacts on cognition, disease and immune function

Your Brain on Microbes Chemicals produced by microbes in our intestines may affect the brain. In a study with laboratory mice, Kathy Magnusson and her colleagues have demonstrated that adaptability, short-term memory and learning for long-term memory are related to the microbiome and what we eat. “This suggests that it’s not just about the food […]


Cerebral Songs
October 15, 2015

Cerebral Songs

Doug Robinson never forgets a warble, chirp or twitter

Douglas Robinson has “some kind of filing system in his brain that lets him readily access bird vocalizations even when he hasn’t heard them in years.”


Supersinks for Carbon
October 15, 2015

Supersinks for Carbon

Saving mangroves can mitigate climate change

Keeping greenhouse gases sequestered in the tangled roots and soggy detritus of mangrove forests could be vital to keeping the planet cool enough for habitation, scientists say.


Five Facts About the Microbiome
October 15, 2015

Five Facts About the Microbiome

UNKNOWN PROTEINS As scientists sequence DNA in microbiome samples, they are discovering new building blocks of life. About 30 percent of the genes in genomes sequenced in large-scale studies code for proteins that are new to science. MICROBES IN HUMANS Estimates of the number of nonhuman cells in our bodies range from 30 trillion to […]


October 15, 2015

Seventy Years of Peril and Hope

View the sweep of nuclear history at the Valley Library

LINUS PAULING, OREGON STATE’S MOST FAMOUS ALUMNUS, spent the latter years of his life warning the world about the humanitarian and environmental threats posed by nuclear weapons. His international activism earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. (See “Like Looking Over His Shoulder,” Terra, Summer 2008.) Now, Pauling’s alma mater is again raising nuclear […]


Seahorse Inspires Robotics
October 15, 2015

Seahorse Inspires Robotics

Engineers find resilience in square structure

The seahorse has a tail with a grasping mechanism to cling to seaweed or coral reefs, which could be useful for robotics applications that need to be strong, but also energy-efficient.


Small World
October 15, 2015

Small World

Device could disrupt a $3 billion industry

Game-changing technology sometimes comes in small packages. For example, with two magnets and a lightbulb filament — a package thinner than a deck of cards — Joe Beckman and a team of Oregon State University collaborators may revolutionize the mass spectrometry (aka, “mass spec”) industry. Their device amplifies the sensitivity and precision of technology that […]


Gut Check
October 15, 2015

Gut Check

Intestinal microbes affect our health

We’ve all gone through it and wished we hadn’t: growing discomfort, a stomachache and nausea, maybe vomiting and diarrhea. For most of us, symptoms pass in a day or two. We call it “stomach flu” or “food poisoning.” But for Pat (not her real name), the symptoms did not improve, so she went to her […]