Terra in Print: Winter 2014

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Click the cover to download a pdf of the winter Terra.

If there’s a single message in this issue of Terra, it’s this: Language matters. It frames our relationships and defines our culture. It affirms common interests and ways of seeing the world. If you want to get something done, using the right language can make all the difference.

I learned that lesson early. At the dinner table, my parents would occasionally shift from English to their native Dutch. It often seemed to happen close to Christmas. My sisters and I, who spoke only English, knew the conversation was not meant for our ears.

As an ethnographer in Guatemala in the 1980s, Oregon State professor Cherri Pancake learned that understanding Mayan culture required extraordinary care in how she spoke during interviews and meetings. Later, when she became a computer engineer, she applied that skill to the world of software. She and her team in the Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering interview people who use computer algorithms (the steps programmers create to accomplish a task) to make decisions about everything from forest fires to crop insurance. The language of software — vocabulary, structure, logic — matters to them

For Kayla García, who grew up in Wisconsin, learning Spanish felt more like an act of remembering than encountering something new. The professor in the OSU School of Language, Culture and Society has her feet in both English- and Spanish-speaking worlds. Her work acts like a prism for culture. It reveals peoples’ lives in colors that speakers of other languages might otherwise never see.

Language is also at the heart of Gregg Walker’s research on international negotiations. The Law of the Sea Treaty talks were complicated enough, he says, but they pale in comparison to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In Warsaw last fall, he listened and advised as delegates parsed words to underscore what’s at stake in the climate change debate: our survival and the world as we know it.

Their stories show Oregon State’s commitment to solving problems and enriching lives.

— Nick Houtman, Editor

Excerpts from Latino and Latina Leaders of the 21st Century

Excerpts from Latino and Latina Leaders of the 21st Century

Healthy People, Winter 2014

Latino and Latina Leaders of the 21st Century: Ordinary Beginnings, Extraordinary Outcomes by Kay (Kayla) S. García Latino issues are everybody’s issues. The Latino and Latina leaders portrayed in this book have made valuable contributions to our social, legal, political and educational systems. This book provides comprehensive stories of courageous men and women who have […]


Survivors from the Depths of Time

Survivors from the Depths of Time

Features, Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Winter 2014

As one of the “first foods” of Northwest Indians (along with salmon, elk, huckleberries and camas bulbs) lamprey hold a place of high honor in tribal culture. But outside Indian culture, Pacific lamprey have a PR problem.


The Warsaw Discourses

The Warsaw Discourses

Features, Healthy Planet, Winter 2014

Gregg Walker is making his way toward the University of Warsaw where the Global Landscapes Forum is being held as part of the United Nations climate change negotiations for 2013. The Oregon State University professor has been attending these international climate conferences for half a decade.


At the Interface

At the Interface

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Winter 2014

In the late 1980s, computer engineer Cherri Pancake made a discovery that startled her: Despite the millions of dollars invested in computer hardware and the explosive growth in software, no published research focused on how people actually use these devices. The issue came up when Sue Utter, Pancake’s master’s student at Auburn University, wanted to […]


“I Feel Like Two People” (“Me siento como dos personas”)

“I Feel Like Two People” (“Me siento como dos personas”)

Healthy People, Inquiry, Winter 2014

Kayla García was 16 the first time she conversed with a native Spanish speaker. Riding in the front seat of a taxi in Mexico City, the high school girl from La Crosse, Wisconsin, found herself chatting comfortably with the cabbie just minutes after deplaning. Traveling with her younger sister and her feisty 80-year-old great aunt, […]


High Beams

High Beams

Behind the Scenes, Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Multimedia, Winter 2014

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

Partners Raise $1.5 Million for Earthquake Research

Healthy People, Stewardship, Winter 2014

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

Federal Boost for OSU Spinoff

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Winter 2014

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

Carnivores in Retreat

Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Winter 2014

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

Viral Diagnostics

Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Winter 2014

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

Through the Needle

Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Winter 2014

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

Oysters on Acid

Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Winter 2014

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

Nanocrystals for Solar

Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Winter 2014

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

Illuminating Plankton

Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Winter 2014

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

Proof of Pollination

Healthy Planet, Inquiry, Winter 2014

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

Neighbors in Tech: Advantage Partners

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Winter 2014

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

Breed to Feed

Footprints, Healthy People, Winter 2014

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

The Gas Track

Healthy Economy, Innovation, Student Research, Winter 2014

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 […]


International Imperative in Science

International Imperative in Science

Healthy Planet, Terra Blog, Winter 2014

My research career took me to the waters off Africa, South America and Central America. I found the experience of working with colleagues from many nations to be exciting, and I learned a lot about the scientific challenges we were addressing. In retrospect, I realize I learned a lot more about being a good citizen […]


Engineers with Soul

Engineers with Soul

Healthy Economy, Healthy People, Perspectives, Terra Blog, Winter 2014

Engineers excel at solving problems. They can design systems that provide clean drinking water, generate electricity from sunlight and improve personal health. While the design of these systems demands technical skill, success or failure ultimately resides with the people who use and maintain them and whose lives depend on them — that is, with a […]


“It’s Nice to Say Something”

“It’s Nice to Say Something”

Winter 2014

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

Shoring Up Our Coasts

Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Student Research, Winter 2014

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

Lamprey Brain Trust

Healthy Planet, Winter 2014

“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

Friending a Fish

Healthy Planet, Terra Kids, Winter 2014

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 […]


Language Matters

Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Terra Blog, Winter 2014

Language matters. It frames our relationships and defines our culture. It affirms common interests and ways of seeing the world.


Oregon State Researchers Honored for Achievements

Oregon State Researchers Honored for Achievements

Healthy People, Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Winter 2014

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

Flight of the Bumblebees

Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Stewardship, Winter 2014

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

High Noon for Forest Fires

Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Stewardship, Winter 2014

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

Where the Wild Whales Are

Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Stewardship, Winter 2014

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 […]