Terra in Print: Summer 2008

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Supporting Our Youth

Oregon’s most famous scientist started off with a bang, but it looked like he was just headed for trouble. As a teenager, Linus Pauling liked to play with chemicals and got the idea to put an explosive mix of powders on the streetcar lines near his Portland home. According to Pauling biographer Tom Hager, Linus let out a whoop as trolleys set off the charges. The company wasn’t so amused and sent a representative to Pauling’s home to issue a warning. That didn’t stop him entirely. He would also scare his sisters by making unstable compounds that would pop when disturbed. Not satisfied to keep such a discovery to himself, Pauling took it to school, Hager notes in his book, Force of Nature.

His difficulties were only beginning. At 16 years old, he had raced through the math and science courses at Washington High School and was determined to finish early and head to college. So he asked for permission to complete the two required semesters of American history in one term. When the principal said “no,” Linus countered by leaving school without a diploma. In short, he was a high school dropout, albeit one whose thirst for learning pushed him to study Greek in his spare time and to aim for a career in chemical engineering.

Linus’ determination to follow an impulse was hardly unusual. It is echoed in the energy, creativity and compassion of students at OSU and in the young adults everywhere who keep businesses humming, serve their nation in the military and strive to make a difference in their communities. The vast majority may struggle, but with support from families, churches and youth organizations, they succeed.

Many, however, are more vulnerable. OSU sociologist Michelle Inderbitzin has documented the consequences for those who end up in juvenile detention centers, which some call a “pipeline to prison.” Public health specialist Brian Flay has devoted his career to positive youth development and applies rigorous evaluation techniques to demonstrate the effectiveness of a character-building program, Positive Action. And social scientist Rick Settersten finds that institutions need to rethink their support for youth. At stake are the lives of potentially productive citizens and maybe even a Nobel Prize winner.

— Nick Houtman, Editor

“Like Looking Over His Shoulder”

“Like Looking Over His Shoulder”

Features, Healthy Planet, Multimedia, Summer 2008, Winter 2008

Scholars pore over Pauling Papers for insights into a genius and his times When OSU librarian Cliff Mead leads you into the collected life history of one of America’s greatest minds, you step into the vortex of the last century. The Valley Library, where the papers of Linus Pauling reside, opens up a first-person portal […]


No Barriers

No Barriers

Features, Healthy People, Summer 2008

Access to mass transit opens the world to people with disabilities At night when she dreams, Marlene Massey hikes the Cascades on sturdy legs. But when she gets up in the morning, a four-inch curb can stop her cold. That’s because the 50-year-old Corvallis woman is in a wheelchair after losing a big chunk of […]


One to One

One to One

Features, Healthy People, Summer 2008

As students explore opportunities, mentors provide personal support Most students come to college as works in progress, their interests only partially identified, their potential still to be realized. And as they explore and develop that potential, many students find something equally important: a mentor. OSU offers an “opportunity-rich environment” for mentoring; at the same time, […]


From Risk to Relationship

Features, Healthy People, Summer 2008

Youth development focuses on the positive, but the most vulnerable still face long odds In 1998, Michelle Inderbitzin decided to conduct a study of youth in a detention center for violent offenders. Almost every Saturday morning for 15 months, the University of Washington graduate student in sociology made the 90-minute drive from Seattle to an […]


Birth Mothers

Birth Mothers

Departments, Healthy People, Summer 2008, Vitality

“Would you like to help us listen to the baby?” Melissa Cheyney asks 8-year-old Isaiah. “OK, push that button!” As Isaiah carefully holds an ultrasound device against the pregnant belly of his mother, Amanda Wise, ocean-like sounds fill the bright, freshly painted living room. The eyes of Isaiah and his younger sisters and brother widen, […]


Horse Power

Horse Power

Departments, Healthy Economy, Service to Oregon, Stewardship, Summer 2008

When a horse develops an infection, its owners usually turn to a rural veterinarian. But when lameness strikes an Oregon Appaloosa or quarterhorse, rural vets increasingly refer their patients to OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine for treatment. And with good reason. A team of highly qualified surgeons, working in facilities that just underwent a $12 […]


Call to Order

Call to Order

Departments, Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Summer 2008

Problem solver and data provider. Advocate, explorer and teacher. Scientists play these and other roles in the often contentious environmental policy process, but not everyone agrees on which role is most important or even proper. And many scientists shy away from policy arenas where they can see their efforts to understand complex systems reduced to […]


Sustainable Supply Chains

Sustainable Supply Chains

Departments, Healthy Planet, Innovation, Summer 2008

Recycling isn’t just for consumers. Manufacturers are finding competitive advantages in what is known as “end-of-life product management,” says OSU business professor Zhaohui Wu. While dealing with old desktop computers and other high-tech cast-offs can be expensive, innovative companies are redesigning their products — and their supply chains — in response to “take-back” laws cropping […]


Wired Fantasies

Wired Fantasies

Departments, Healthy Economy, Innovation, Summer 2008

There’s a cyber-equivalent of souping up your car inside and out: “modding.” It’s part of the DIY (“do it yourself”) computer culture. Instead of gutting and customizing your ride, you’re modifying your PC. Modder Richard Surroz sees himself as a kind of PC Picasso, or perhaps a Rodin. “I can’t paint, I can’t sculpt, but […]


Acid Ocean

Acid Ocean

Departments, Earth, Healthy Planet, Summer 2008

Water that upwells seasonally along the West Coast of North America is growing increasingly acidic, according to a survey conducted in 2007 by an international team of scientists. In June, they reported finding acidified ocean water within 20 miles of the shoreline, raising concern for marine ecosystems from Canada to Mexico. Deep-ocean currents take years […]


From Risk to Relationship

From Risk to Relationship

Features, Summer 2008

In 1998, Michelle Inderbitzin decided to conduct a study of youth in a detention center for violent offenders. Almost every Saturday morning for 15 months, the University of Washington graduate student in sociology made the 90-minute drive from Seattle to an “end-of-the-line training school” for boys convicted of multiple property crimes, armed robberies, violent and/or […]


Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths

Features, Healthy Planet, Summer 2008

It was like a scene from a grade-B horror film. On a gently rocking vessel in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, a young oceanographer earnestly watches her computer screen while colleagues lower a cable into the water.


Devoted to Nano

Devoted to Nano

Departments, Service to Oregon, Student Research, Summer 2008

Undergrad Anna Putnam is squirming. The interviewer has touched a raw nerve in the chemical engineering major. “You’re digging deeply into my life,” she says, shifting in her chair. Her confession comes with reluctance: “My first term at OSU, I struggled in math.” Pressed, she admits the worst: “I got a C in vector calculus.” […]