Terra in Print: Winter 2008

Winter 2008 Cover

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Lifelines

They often don’t become apparent until we lose them. And they may be more fragile than we realize. They are the lifelines that connect us to things that matter: roads and bridges that enable goods to get to market; a health insurance plan that provides access to medical care; a scholarship that keeps us in school. We may take them for granted, but it takes care and feeding to make sure they meet modern demands.

Strengthening our lifelines is part of the business of universities. So when inspectors find cracks in highway bridges or when a heavily used span suddenly crashes into a river below, research engineers get busy. In Chris Higgins’ bridge lab, he and his student team build full–size concrete beams and then break them to find out how they perform. Their goals are clear: more effective repair techniques, better construction methods and better ways to monitor what we already have in place.

But what happens when lifelines shift? New health–care technologies raise ethical dilemmas that our grandparents could hardly have imagined. For example, the blood of newborn infants has long been a source of information about potential life–threatening conditions. Now, gene–sequencing techniques can reveal details about an infant’s life–long predisposition to disease. The question is, How much control should we have over that kind of personal information? How do we balance social responsibility with personal rights? Such questions concern OSU philosopher Courtney Campbell, whose work has ranged across the bioethics landscape from stem cells to Oregon’s landmark Death With Dignity Act.

Ultimately, lifelines are personal. OSU’s SMILE Program has inspired hundreds of children to study science and attend college. In Oregon, the high school graduation rate is about 75 percent, but for SMILE participants who stay in the program for four years, the chance of getting a high school diploma is more than 90 percent. For more than 20 years, SMILE has been a lifeline to higher education for children from low–income and minority families. One girl told Terra writer Lee Sherman simply, “SMILE gives us a better chance.”

Terra is another kind of lifeline. Three times a year, we share stories about personal commitment and professional accomplishment. Now we need to know how well the magazine is doing its job. Please take a few minutes to complete the online questionnaire. You’ll be helping us to strengthen a lifeline between OSU and the people we serve.

Nick Houtman, Editor

Strong Medicine

Strong Medicine

Features, Healthy People, Multimedia, Winter 2008

In 2005, the Terri Schiavo drama riveted the nation with a cast of thousands: a feuding family, legions of lawyers and judges, dueling neurologists, irate clergymen and rowdy picketers. Politicians plotted and offered legislation, and President George W. Bush flew from Crawford, Texas, to Washington, D.C., in the middle of the night to sign emergency […]


Air Beneath Their Wings

Air Beneath Their Wings

Features, Healthy Economy, Healthy People, Winter 2008

Five undergraduates — five dreams. Blake Kelley sees a bright future for nuclear power and is learning all he can about reactor designs. For Hiromi Omatsu, the future is in technology that enables elderly people to stay in their own homes. Writing is Stephen Summers’ love. He publishes poetry and fiction in OSU’s student literary […]


Pipeline to Science

Pipeline to Science

Features, Healthy People, Winter 2008

Strange, alien environments — far–away planets, fathomless seas, shadowy forests — figure in countless daydreams. What child hasn’t imagined herself at the controls of a futuristic spacecraft? Or at the prow of a wave–tossed vessel? Or on the trail of a secretive beast? Exploiting kids’ universal yen to explore remote and exotic places, a noted […]


Fear and Loading

Fear and Loading

Features, Healthy Economy, Innovation, Multimedia, Winter 2008

Whether you venture onto a few wooden planks over a trout stream, a steel colossus over a swift river or a concrete viaduct carrying bumper–to–bumper commuters, you trust the beams and girders to hold you up. This act of faith, made daily by millions of motorists on U.S. highways, was shaken last summer when a […]


“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 […]


Building the Pauling Legacy

Building the Pauling Legacy

Healthy People, Vitality, Winter 2008

Oregon native Linus Pauling had already won two Nobel prizes when he turned his genius to the chemical complexities of diet and health. Not content to rest on his laurels as a world-renowned chemist and international peace activist, Pauling plunged with characteristic ardor into the study of micronutrients, particularly vitamin C, in the late 1960s. […]


First Line of Defense

Vitality, Winter 2008

Last fall’s announcement that virulent antibiotic-resistant staph infections had killed almost 19,000 patients in American hospitals and nursing homes in 2005 didn’t surprise George Allen. With colleagues David Bearden and Mark Christensen, the assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy studies antibiotic effectiveness. He focuses on a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, […]


A Drink to Your (Bone?) Health

A Drink to Your (Bone?) Health

Vitality, Winter 2008

Moderate alcohol consumption in adults can have health benefits. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, gallstones and maybe diabetes. Russell Turner, Gianni Maddalozzo and Urszula Iwaniec of OSU’s Bone Research Laboratory could add osteoporosis to that list. Studies with animals have found that the equivalent of five to 10 drinks per week […]


Scientists to Bark Beetle: “No Vacancy”

Scientists to Bark Beetle: “No Vacancy”

Stewardship, Winter 2008

You think it’s difficult to master a complex foreign language like Chinese or Greek? Try learning how to speak “bark beetle.” After about 30 years of study, researchers at OSU have done exactly that. Along with U.S. Forest Service colleagues, they’ve figured out what a particular pheromone is communicating to Douglas–fir bark beetles and now […]


Invaders in the Dunes

Invaders in the Dunes

Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Student Research, Winter 2008

Unnoticed by most beach–goers, a showdown is under way in Oregon’s coastal dunes, and the winner could pack increased risks for coastal property, especially during winter storms. OSU scientists have documented a slow but steady takeover by American beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata), an invasive species from the East Coast and Great Lakes. They have found […]


Football as Product

Football as Product

Inquiry, Winter 2008

(From 1970 to 1973, Michael Oriard played professional football with the Kansas City Chiefs. After completing his doctorate in American literature at Stanford, he joined the OSU English department in 1976.) To a short list of milestones marking the creation of the new NFL — May 7, 1982, when Al Davis won the right to […]


Risk Versus Cost

Risk Versus Cost

Inquiry, Winter 2008

Why have years of expert warnings failed to mobilize citizens and their representatives to fully fund an overhaul of transportation infrastructure? Bill Lunch, chair of OSU’s Department of Political Science, has devoted decades to observing and analyzing Oregon’s political and public-policy scene. The professor, who is well-known to listeners of Oregon Public Broadcasting, recently shared […]


Innovations to Market

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Winter 2008

Agriculture Tried Fizzy Fruit yet? Or the spicy hazelnut mix Oregon Dukkah? Scientists and entrepreneurs have developed these and other new products at the Food Innovation Center in Portland. Other OSU-inspired foods include surimi, oyster shooters, microbrew beers, Umatilla Russett potatoes, Shay apples, Cascade pears, and Clearfield, Stephens and SuperSoft wheat. Forestry New soy-based wood […]


Breaking Through

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Winter 2008

When Larry Plotkin took a buy-out package from Hewlett-Packard in 2005, he aimed to start a new business in the mid-Willamette Valley. He was familiar with OSU research on transparent transistors, algae-generated biodiesel and microbial fuel cells. “This is world-class stuff,” he says. And he felt that the potential for new products based on OSU […]