CORVALLIS - In January, Oregon State University announced it had joined ResearchChannel, a consortium of research universities and corporate research divisions whose goal is to broaden public knowledge and understanding of research findings and issues.
Six months later, the first show about OSU research will make its debut.
The show will be televised on Tuesday, June 8, at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. It will also be shown on Wednesday, June 9, at 1:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The show, which focuses on a theme of Northwest disasters, looks at how three different researchers are leading national research efforts on natural phenomena.
One segment focuses on OSU's tsunami wave research facility, the largest such facility in the world. Harry Yeh outlines how the university's research team is trying to better understand the mechanisms of tsunamis, which are a growing threat to low-lying coastal areas.
A second segment looks at the danger of a huge Northwest earthquake. Stephen Dickenson, a structural engineer at OSU, describes how a subduction zone quake of 8.0 to 9.5 could devastate the region and what engineers are doing to provide better structural support for buildings.
The third segment looks at wildfire prevention in the aftermath of the Biscuit Fire, which burned some 400,000 acres in southwestern Oregon last year. Extension wildfire specialist Steve Fitzgerald describes how fuel buildup and fire suppression have contributed to the tinderbox conditions that threaten Oregon and Washington each summer.
A second show, looking at OSU's contributions to health research, will air later this year. It will feature Christine Snow, a nationally known osteoporosis expert; Jeff McCubbin, director of OSU's acclaimed Movement Studies in Disability program; and Bill Gerwick, whose pioneering studies of drugs from marine algae has found promising new anti-cancer compounds.
Both studio shows were hosted by Deanna Connell, former anchor with KATU-TV in Portland.
The ResearchChannel is available to more than 13 million viewers throughout the United States on Dish Network and cable television systems.
Audiences worldwide have access to ResearchChannel via the web, where the channel offers continuous webcasts and has a searchable, on-demand video library of more than 1,000 full-length programs. The channel also is accessible via cable, Internet 2 and other technologies.
ResearchChannel was formed in 1996 by a group of leading research universities and corporations, and based out of the University of Washington.
"Conceptually, the ResearchChannel is like a C-Span for scientific and medical research," said Larry Pribyl, co-director of OSU Media Services. "We think it has a bright future and it is a good match with the university's strengths and mission."
Oregon State University annually brings in about $150 million in research funding. As a partner in the ResearchChannel, OSU will be able to provide 10 hours of original programming in a year - and that programming may be repeated numerous times. Pribyl said a limiting factor will be the cost of producing programming in the initial year.
"Showing a lecture doesn't cost much, but it certainly isn't as compelling visually as a documentary or a news magazine show," he said. "On the other hand, those are very expensive to produce. Ultimately, we hope this can become a self-supporting venture, where OSU researchers begin writing outreach and education funding into some of their grant proposals."
Pribyl said OSU will look to create a variety of programming that may have multiple uses. In addition to being broadcast on the ResearchChannel, the pieces may have value in student and faculty recruiting, fund-raising, public outreach and image building.
The university will showcase its strengths in natural resources, engineering, technology, marine sciences, and humanities research through a series of vignettes recorded in laboratories and in the field.
Rich Holdren, OSU's vice provost for research, enthusiastically endorsed the university's partnership with the ResearchChannel. "This is a golden opportunity for us to reach out to people to let them know the breadth and impact of research and other scholarly activities at the university," he said. "Research is the engine that feeds the economic development machine, and it is integral to the student experience as well. I'm excited about this opportunity to showcase some of our best and brightest."