OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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New blue pigment discovered at Oregon State earns EPA approval

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The vibrant YInMn blue pigment discovered at Oregon State University has been approved for commercial sale by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Shepherd Color Co., which licensed the pigment from OSU, announced that the EPA has granted the company a “low volume exemption” that paves the way for the pigment, commercially known as Blue 10G513, to be used in industrial coatings and plastics.

YInMn refers to the elements yttrium, indium and manganese, which along with oxygen comprise the pigment. It features a unique chemical structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light while only reflecting blue.

The pigment, created in OSU’s College of Science, has sparked worldwide interest, including from crayon maker Crayola, which used the color as the inspiration for its new Bluetiful crayon.

The pigment is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade. Those characteristics make the pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products; used in paints, for example, they can help keep buildings cool by reflecting the infrared part of sunlight.

The EPA approval announced this week does not include making the pigment available for artists’ color materials, but Shepherd is in the process of seeking approval for its use in all applications and is confident that will happen, company spokesman Mark Ryan said.

YInMn blue was discovered by accident in 2009 when OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications.

The researchers mixed manganese oxide – which is black in color – with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue. Oregon State graduate student Andrew Smith initially made these samples to study their electrical properties.

“This was a serendipitous discovery, a happy accident,” said Subramanian, the Milton Harris Chair of Materials Science at OSU. “But in fact, many breakthrough discoveries in science happen when one is not looking for it. As Louis Pasteur famously said, ‘In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.’

“Most pigments are discovered by chance,” Subramanian added. “The reason is because the origin of the color of a material depends not only on the chemical composition, but also on the intricate arrangement of atoms in the crystal structure. So someone has to make the material first, then study its crystal structure thoroughly to explain the color.”  

Subramanian notes that blue is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration and sensitivity.

“Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven and intelligence,” he said. “Through much of human history, civilizations around the world have sought inorganic compounds that could be used to paint things blue but often had limited success. Most had environmental and/or durability issues. The YInMn blue pigment is very stable and durable. There is no change in the color when exposed to high temperatures, water, and mildly acidic and alkali conditions.”

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Blue pigment

YInMn blue

Oregon State University students receive almost $40 million in scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than $39.5 million in scholarship money has been awarded to students at Oregon State University for the 2017-18 academic year, a key component of OSU President Ed Ray’s Student Success Initiative.

Roughly $24.5 million of the total is spread among 7,271 scholarships to those who were students prior to this academic year. The rest is for awards to 2,532 incoming students, including 34 who received a $10,000-per-year Presidential Scholarship, OSU’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship.

Approximately 35 percent of this year’s first-year students are receiving scholarship support.

The same percentage applies to the College of Engineering, whose students account for almost one-third of the $39.5 million total. Engineering students are receiving $12.7 million, with $7.9 million divided among 1,948 scholarships to students enrolled prior to this fall. Nineteen of the 804 incoming scholarship students are Presidential Scholars.

“Over the past decade, our total enrollment has increased by 150 percent, making us the 11th-largest engineering program in the United States,” said Scott Ashford, Kearney Professor and dean of the College of Engineering. “We need to make the OSU engineering degree financially accessible to every qualified Oregonian and underrepresented populations, and scholarships help us achieve that goal.”

More than $7.5 million in scholarship money is going to College of Science students, the college’s highest total ever, said Roy Haggerty, dean of the college. That is triple the amount awarded two years ago. Reasons for the jump include increases in university scholarships and in high-achieving students enrolling in the college.

Nearly $5 million is spread among 1,344 scholarships to students enrolled prior to fall term. The rest is for awards to 570 incoming students, including nine who received a Presidential Scholarship.

More than half of the college’s first-year students are receiving scholarship support.

“Scholarships enable the college to attract, retain and inspire top science students, most of whom go on to high-achieving careers in industry, graduate school, medical school and other professional programs after graduation,” Haggerty said. “Oregon State’s financial-need-based scholarships also help academically talented low-income and first-generation students from Oregon and elsewhere stay and excel in college.”

First-generation students typically have a greater financial need so scholarships are a crucial part of their educational equation, said Haggerty, who was the first in his family to attend college.

“In our college, the number of first-generation students has risen from 20 percent to 29 percent in the last five years,” he said. “Many scholarship students in the College of Science attest to the value of scholarships in easing the financial burden on their families and enabling them to focus on academics, research, volunteer activities and post-college career goals.”

At the College of Business, more than $3.7 million in scholarship money has been awarded, including roughly $2.3 million spread among 761 scholarships to students enrolled before fall term. The remainder is for awards to 276 incoming students, including one Presidential Scholar.

About 29 percent of this year’s first-year business students are receiving scholarship support.

“It’s very important for us to remove as many financial obstacles as possible for our students to help make their decision to attend college and return year after year easier,” said Mitzi Montoya, Sara Hart Kimball dean of the College of Business. “Our students are working hard in and outside the classroom, gaining experiences that are preparing them to be profession-ready. Scholarship support means they can focus more on being successful students and less on how they’ll pay for tuition or textbooks.”

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Study shows high cost of truckers not having enough places to park and rest

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A pilot study by Oregon State University illustrates the high economic cost of having too few safe places for commercial truck drivers to park and rest.

Over a seven-year period on one 290-mile stretch of highway alone, at-fault truck crashes resulted in approximately $75 million of “crash harm,” research conducted by the OSU College of Engineering for the Oregon Department of Transportation shows.

“Current crash data collection forms don’t have an explicit section for truck-parking-related crashes, but we can operate under the assumption that specific types of at-fault truck crashes, such as those due to fatigue, may be the result of inadequate parking,” said the study’s lead author, Salvador Hernandez, a transportation safety and logistics researcher at Oregon State.

Hernandez and graduate research assistant Jason Anderson analyzed Oregon’s portion of U.S. Highway 97, which runs the entire north-south distance of the state along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.

Highway 97 was chosen, Hernandez said, because the idea for the study originated from ODOT’s office in Bend, which is near the highway’s Oregon midpoint. An impetus for the research was the 2012 passage of “Jason’s Law,” which prioritized federal funding to address a national shortage of truck parking.

Jason’s Law is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and fatally shot in South Carolina in 2009 after pulling off to rest at an abandoned gas station.

For “property-carrying drivers,” as opposed to bus operators, federal rules require drivers to get off the road after 11 hours and to park and rest for at least 10 hours before driving again.

“Around the country, commercial drivers are often unable to find safe and adequate parking to meet hours-of-service regulations,” Hernandez said. “This holds true in Oregon, where rest areas and truck stops in high-use corridors have a demand for truck parking that exceeds capacity. That means an inherent safety concern for all highway users, primarily due to trucks parking in undesignated areas or drivers exceeding the rules to find a place to park.”

Researchers looked at what other states were doing in response to the parking issue, surveyed more than 200 truck drivers, assessed current and future parking demand on Highway 97, and used historical crash data to identify trends and hot spots and to estimate crash harm.

“Crash trends in terms of time of day, day of the week, and month of the year follow the time periods drivers stated having trouble finding places to park,” Hernandez said. “In Oregon, if we do nothing to address the problem and freight-related traffic continues to grow, we’ll face greater truck parking shortages. A possible solution is finding ways to promote public-private partnerships, the state working together with industry.”

A solution is not, Hernandez said, simply waiting for the day autonomous vehicles take over the hauling of freight as some predict.

“There are many issues yet to be worked out with autonomous commercial motor vehicles,” he said, “and even if autonomous commercial motor vehicles become commonplace, we’re still going to need truck drivers in some capacity. For now and in the foreseeable future, we need truck drivers and safe and adequate places for the drivers to park and rest.” 

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

Northwest researchers map out regional approach to studying food, energy, water nexus

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Natural resource researchers at Oregon State University, Washington State University and the University of Idaho are gearing up for a late-summer summit aimed at addressing food, energy and water challenges as interconnected, regional issues.

The August meeting in Hermiston, Ore. – centrally located to many National Science Foundation-funded research projects – represents the second step of a collaboration that began with an April workshop in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Research offices at the three universities hosted the gathering, where scientists explored ways to partner with each other and with industry to address issues that affect regional economies as well as environmental and human health.

Stephanie Hampton from WSU and Andrew Kliskey from Idaho led the planning of the workshop, at which six teams combined to start five U.S. Department of Agriculture and NSF grant proposals on issues ranging from water conservation to energy infrastructure.

“We’re really building a critical mass of researchers and research experience in the region,” said Chad Higgins, an agricultural engineering professor leading OSU’s role in the partnership. “The workshop was awesome. It exceeded all expectations with mind-blowing scientific discussions, new collaborations formed and new proposals floated. And now we have to keep it going because that was just the opening salvo, not the crescendo.”

Topics for future exploration might be broad – such as, will the region have enough food in 2050? – or narrow, like tracing the impact of a single technology. For example, a more efficient system for irrigation could lead to less energy used for pumping and also result in more food being produced.

“The food, energy, water nexus is so huge that it’s scary, but it’s also exciting,” Higgins said. “There are so many opportunities to look at things either in detail or to try to be broad and think about how the region will be influenced. We can bring each person’s expertise together to predict pain points, like are we going to be scarce in any one resource in the future, and where?”

Janet Nelson, vice president for research and economic development at the University of Idaho, said the tri-state collaboration “will poise us to build relationships among researchers from all three universities with many areas of expertise in order to work toward solutions that improve communities, economies and lives.”

“The University of Idaho is committed to examining issues that are critical not only to the people of Idaho, but also to the entire Northwest region, with rippling effects around the world,” she said.

Those issues include how to best update aging hydropower plants and food production infrastructure.

Cynthia Sagers, vice president for research at Oregon State, notes that when it comes to food, energy and water challenges, a solution in one location can lead to problems hundreds of miles away.

“That’s why this demands regional cooperation,” she said. “I am proud that our three land grant institutions are working together on these issues for a healthy Pacific Northwest." 

Christopher Keane, vice president of research at WSU, echoed the sentiment and said he “looks forward to seeing the results of continued collaboration.”

“Working across disciplines and institutions to ensure a sustainable supply of food, energy and water for future generations is a top research priority for WSU,” he said.

In addition to the August event, the planning team is applying for external funding to support ongoing meetings to help sustain momentum. 

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Sunflowers

Sunflower crop

Even short-duration heat waves could lead to failure of coffee crops

CORVALLIS – “Hot coffee” is not a good thing for java enthusiasts when it refers to plants beset by the high-temperature stress that this century is likely to bring, research at Oregon State University suggests.

A study by OSU’s College of Forestry showed that when Coffea arabica plants were subjected to short-duration heat waves, they became unable to produce flowers and fruit.

That means no coffee beans, and no coffee to drink.

C. arabica is the globe’s dominant coffee-plant species, accounting for 65 percent of the commercial production of the nearly 20 billion pounds of coffee consumed globally each year.

Continually producing new flushes of leaves year-round, C. arabica grows on 80 countries in four continents in the tropics.

The OSU research investigated how leaf age and heat duration affected C. arabica’s recovery from heat stress during greenhouse testing. A major finding was that the younger, “expanding” leaves were particularly slow to recover compared to mature leaves, and that none of the plants that endured the simulated heat waves produced any flowers or fruit.

“This emphasizes how sensitive Coffea arabica is to temperature,” said lead author Danielle Marias, a plant physiologist with OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. “No flowering means no reproduction which means no beans, and that could be devastating for a coffee farmer facing crop failure.

“Heat is very stressful to the plants and is often associated with drought. However, in regions where coffee is grown, it may not just be hotter and drier, it could be hotter and wetter, so in this research we wanted to isolate the effects of heat.”

In the OSU study, C. arabica plants were exposed to heat that produced leaf temperatures of a little over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, for either 45 or 90 minutes. That leaf temperature, Marias emphasizes, is a realistic result of global climate change and also more than the surrounding air temperature – think of how hot, for example, asphalt gets in the sunshine on a 90-degree day.

Expanding leaves subjected to the 90-minute treatment took the longest to recover physiologically as measured by photosynthesis; chlorophyll fluorescence, an indicator of photosynthetic energy conversion; and the presence of nonstructural carbohydrates, which include starch and free sugars involved in growth, reproduction and other functions.

“In both treatments, photosynthesis of expanding leaves recovered more slowly than in mature leaves, and stomatal conductance of expanding leaves was reduced in both heat treatments,” Marias said. “Based on the leaf energy balance model, the inhibited stomatal conductance reduces evaporative cooling of leaves, which could further increase leaf temperatures, exacerbating the aftereffects of heat stress under both full and partial sunlight conditions, where C. arabica is often grown.”

Regardless of leaf age, the longer heat treatment resulted in decreased water-use efficiency, which could also worsen the effects of heat stress, particularly during drought.

Results of the research were recently published in Ecology and Evolution. The National Science Foundation supported the study, co-authors of which were Frederick Meinzer of the U.S. Forest Service and Christopher Still of the OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.

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By Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Coffea arabica

Coffea arabica

Maintaining an active sex life may lead to improved job satisfaction, engagement in work

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Maintaining a healthy sex life at home boosts employees’ job satisfaction and engagement at the office, underscoring the value of a strong work-life balance, an Oregon State University researcher has found.

A study of the work and sex habits of married employees found that those who prioritized sex at home unknowingly gave themselves a next-day advantage at work, where they were more likely to immerse themselves in their tasks and enjoy their work lives, said Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Business.

“We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step,’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” said Leavitt, an expert in organizational behavior and management.  “Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organizations they work for.”

The study also showed that bringing work-related stress home from the office negatively impinges on employees’ sex lives. In an era when smart phones are prevalent and after-hours responses to work emails are often expected, the findings highlight the importance of leaving work at the office, Leavitt said. When work carries so far into an employee’s personal life that they sacrifice things like sex, their engagement in work can decline.

The researchers’ findings were published this month in the Journal of Management. Co-authors are Christopher Barnes and Trevor Watkins of the University of Washington and David Wagner of the University of Oregon.  

Sexual intercourse triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward centers in the brain, as well as oxytocin, a neuropeptide associated with social bonding and attachment. That makes sex a natural and relatively automatic mood elevator and the benefits extend well into the next day, Leavitt said.

To understand the impact of sex on work, the researchers followed 159 married employees over the course of two weeks, asking them to complete two brief surveys each day. They found that employees who engaged in sex reported more positive moods the next day, and the elevated mood levels in the morning led to more sustained work engagement and job satisfaction throughout the workday.

The effect, which appears to linger for at least 24 hours, was equally strong for both men and women and was present even after researchers took into account marital satisfaction and sleep quality, which are two common predictors of daily mood.

“This is a reminder that sex has social, emotional and physiological benefits, and it’s important to make it a priority,” Leavitt said. “Just make time for it.”

Twenty years ago, monitoring sleep or daily step counts or actively practicing mindful meditation might’ve seemed odd but now they are all things people practice as part of efforts to lead healthier, more productive lives. It may be time to rethink sex and its benefits as well, he said.

“Making a more intentional effort to maintain a healthy sex life should be considered an issue of human sustainability, and as a result, a potential career advantage,” he said.

U.S. employers probably won’t follow the lead of a town councilman in Sweden who recently proposed that local municipal employees be allowed to use an hour of their work week for sex. The councilman’s hope is to boost the town’s declining population as well as improve employee moods and productivity.

But employers here can steer their employee engagement efforts more broadly toward work-life balance policies that encourage workers to disconnect from the office, Leavitt said. The French recently enacted a law that bars after-hours email and gives employees a “right to disconnect.”

“Technology offers a temptation to stay plugged in, but it’s probably better to unplug if you can,” he said. “And employers should encourage their employees to completely disengage from work after hours.”

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Keith Leavitt, 206-245-5798, keith.leavitt@bus.oregonstate.edu

Off-grid power in remote areas will require special business model to succeed

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Low-cost, off-grid solar energy could provide significant economic benefit to people living in some remote areas, but a new study suggests they generally lack the access to financial resources, commercial institutions and markets needed to bring solar electricity to their communities.

Around the world, more than 1.2 billion people lack access to basic electricity service. The majority of those people are living in developing nations, in rural or isolated areas with high rates of poverty. Steep costs and remote terrain often make it impractical or even impossible to extend the electric grid. 

Developing a successful business model that could deliver off-grid power to this market will require addressing challenges unique to the population, an Oregon State University researcher concluded in a study published recently in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

“Surviving and growing in this market is very different than in a typical commercial enterprise,” said Inara Scott, an assistant professor in the College of Business. “There are a lot of people working on off-grid solar products on the small scale, but the problem becomes how can they scale the programs up and make them profitable?” 

When rural, isolated communities do gain access to solar power, the impact on residents can be profound, Scott said. Children are more likely to go to and complete schooling, because they have light to study by. Kerosene lamps, which create a lot of indoor air pollution, are no longer needed, improving people’s health. And work hours are increased, giving people more time to earn money or build home-based businesses.

“Providing electricity starts an incredible cycle of improvement for communities without reliance on charities or government aid,” she said. “There are also environmental benefits to encouraging sustainable development using renewable resources.” 

The market for small solar lighting and charging units has grown dramatically in the last few years, and solar home systems offer cleaner, safer and cheaper lighting over time than kerosene, the primary alternative for lighting in developing nations. But even a small cost can be out of reach for people whose annual incomes are often less than $3,000 per year, Scott said.

She examined successful business models for serving these populations, known as “base of the pyramid” markets, and successful renewable energy enterprises, looking for intersections that might aid businesses looking to market solar energy to base-of-pyramid markets. 

Scott found that a successful enterprise would include four primary components, and she developed a framework around them. Her recommendations:

  • Community interaction: Work with local communities to understand local norms, culture, social issues and economic systems that might influence the effort.
  • Partnerships: Join forces with other companies, government organizations, non-profit groups or non-governmental organizations to share ideas and resources and gain support.
  • Local capacity building: People in the community may lack product knowledge and have little experience with technology, while the community may not have typical distribution channels. Consider the potential customers as both producers and consumers, training local entrepreneurs as distributors, marketers and equipment installation/repair technicians.
  • Barriers unique to the off-grid market: Address issues such as financing of upfront costs, which may be prohibitive to consumers; educate people on the products and their benefits; build trust in quality and reliability; and develop multiple strong distribution networks.

“You’re not going to be successful just trying to sell a product,” she said. “This is really a social enterprise, with the goal of trying to bring people out of poverty while also emphasizing sustainable development.” 

There are a lot of socially-minded enterprises with good intentions that would like to work in these rural, remote and high-poverty areas, Scott noted. Her framework could serve as a checklist of sorts for organizations looking to put their ideas into action, she said.

“It’s a way to pause for a minute and ask yourself if you have all the right pieces in place to be successful,” she said.

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Inara Scott, 541-737-4102, Inara.Scott@oregonstate.edu

Varmint hunters’ ammo selection influences lead exposure in avian scavengers

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Varmint hunters’ choice of ammunition plays a role in the amount of lead that scavengers such as golden eagles could ingest, a new study shows, and offers a way to minimize the lead exposure to wildlife.

Using a new bullet-fragment recovery technique known as “digestion,” the research also suggests that radiographs, or X-rays, a common tool for estimating how much of the toxic metal left is behind in shot pests or game animals, tend to produce low estimates.

A team of researchers that included Oregon State University undergraduate student Mason Wagner and U.S. Geological Survey scientists collected 127 Belding’s ground squirrel carcasses from alfalfa fields in southern Oregon and northern California.

Eleven western states produce roughly 40 percent of the U.S.’s alfalfa, and burrowing mammals such as ground squirrels and prairie dogs can cause significant yield loss. Shooting the rodents is an important form of pest control as well as a popular recreational pastime throughout the West.

The carcasses are typically left on the fields, where avian scavengers like eagles, hawks and kestrels descend upon the carrion to feed both themselves and their nestlings.

This study looked at how much lead remained in the carcasses and how that correlated with the type of bullet used. Models were also created to estimate from radiographs the amount of lead left in a carcass and the potential effect of the lead on nestlings’ mortality, growth and production of an enzyme critical to the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.

Results of the study by Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and the USGS were recently published in PLOS ONE.

The research found 80 percent of shot carcasses had detectible fragments of lead. The study also found bullet type didn’t have an effect on the number of fragments, but it did influence the mass of the retained fragments. Also, smaller carcasses showed more “pass-through,” i.e. less retained lead.

Squirrels shot with high-velocity, high-mass .17-caliber Super Mag bullets, for example, had 28 times the retained fragment mass of those shot with .22-caliber solid bullets. One percent of the Super Mags’ original mass was left behind, by far the highest percentage of any ammo type, and the Super Mag fragments also dispersed more than two times farther through the carcass – making them more likely to be eaten by a scavenging animal.

Modeling suggested that hawk and eagle nestlings fed regularly with shot ground squirrels could likely lose more than half the production of the key enzyme ALAD throughout the nestling period, though no nestlings would be expected to die of lead poisoning. They could, though, eat enough lead to impair late-nestling-stage growth, but by then they would have done most of their growing anyway.

The digestion procedure for extracting bullet fragments involved processing carcasses into a solution that was run through sieves and a gold-prospecting sluice box. Researchers used digestion on 30 carcasses to determine a relationship between digestion results and radiography results.

“We found that radiographs are not very accurate at estimating how much lead is left in a carcass,” said study co-author Collin Eagles-Smith, a USGS ecologist and OSU courtesy assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife. “They underestimate density when there are more small fragments. Small ones are the pieces that are more digestible and likely to enter the circulatory system.”

Radiography has also been used to estimate how much lead is present in shot game animals such as deer and elk.

In addition to providing a check on the accuracy of estimating via radiography, the research also suggests a way for hunters to minimize the amount of lead left in varmint carcasses.

“The sheer number of carcasses after a hunting session is a challenge to pick up, assuming you can even find all of the carcasses,” said lead author Garth Herring, also a USGS ecologist. “Picking up every last carcass is not realistic, but there are choices people can make regarding ammunition that may result in smaller amounts of lead in the carcasses left behind.”

Eagles-Smith noted that rodenticides, an alternative to shooting, have their own toxicological implications.

“These pests are really an economic threat to farmers, and shooting them is one method to control their numbers,” he said. “Choosing an ammunition type, such as .22-caliber solid bullets, that creates substantially fewer fragments can be a way to minimize lead exposure to scavengers and other wildlife.” 

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Belding's Ground Squirrel

Belding's ground squirrel

Curiosity can predict employees’ ability to creatively solve problems, research shows

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Employers who are looking to hire creative problem-solvers should consider candidates with strong curiosity traits, and personality tests may be one way to tease out those traits in prospective employees, new research from Oregon State University shows.

People who showed strong curiosity traits on personality tests performed better on creative tasks and those with a strong diversive curiosity trait, or curiosity associated with the interest in exploring unfamiliar topics and learning something new, were more likely to come up with creative solutions to a problem, the researchers found.

The findings contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting that testing for curiosity traits may be useful for employers, especially those seeking to fill complex jobs, said Jay Hardy, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Business and lead author of the study.

As workplaces evolve and jobs become increasingly dynamic and complex, having employees who can adapt to changing environments and learn new skills is becoming more and more valuable to organizations’ success, he said.

“But if you look at job descriptions today, employers often say they are looking for curious and creative employees, but they are not selecting candidates based on those traits,” said Hardy, whose research focuses on employee training and development. “This research suggests it may be useful for employers to measure curiosity, and, in particular, diversive curiosity, when hiring new employees.”

The findings were published recently in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Co-authors are Alisha Ness of University of Oklahoma and Jensen Mecca of Shaker Consulting Group.

Past research has shown that curiosity is a strong predictor of a person’s ability to creatively solve problems in the workplace. But questions remain about how, why and when curiosity affects the creative process, Hardy said. The latest research helps to pinpoint the type of curiosity that best aids creative problem-solving.

Diversive curiosity is a trait well-suited to early stage problem-solving because it leads to gathering a large amount of information relevant to the problem. That information can be used to generate and evaluate new ideas in later stages of creative problem-solving. Diversive curiosity tends to be a more positive force.

On the other hand, people with strong specific curiosity traits, or the curiosity that reduces anxiety and fills gaps in understanding, tend to be more problem-focused. Specific curiosity tends to be a negative force.

For the study, researchers asked 122 undergraduate college students, to take personality tests that measured their diversive and specific curiosity traits.

They then asked the students to complete an experimental task involving the development of a marketing plan for a retailer. Researchers evaluated the students’ early-stage and late-stage creative problem-solving processes, including the number of ideas generated. The students’ ideas were also evaluated based on their quality and originality.

The findings indicated that the participants’ diversive curiosity scores related strongly to their performance scores. Those with stronger diversive curiosity traits spent more time and developed more ideas in the early stages of the task. Stronger specific curiosity traits did not significantly relate to the participants’ idea generation and did not affect their creative performance.

“Because it has a distinct effect, diversive curiosity can add something extra in a prospective employee,” Hardy said. “Specific curiosity does matter, but the diversive piece is useful in more abstract ways.”

Another important finding of the research, Hardy noted, is that participants’ behavior in the information-seeking stage of the task was key to explaining differences in creative outcome. For people who are not creative naturally, a lack of natural diversive curiosity may be overcome, in part, by simply spending more time asking questions and reviewing materials at the early stages of a task, he said.

“Creativity to a degree is a trainable skill,” he said. “It is a skill that is developed and can be improved. The more of it you do, the better you will get at it.”

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Jay Hardy, 541-737-3016, jay.hardy@oregonstate.edu

Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at OSU is expanding

CORVALLIS, Ore. —  The Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at Oregon State University’s Valley Library is celebrating its third anniversary with expanded collecting areas.

To meet the needs of researchers, the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives is broadening its reach to include the history of home brewing, cider, mead, barley farming and research, and the pre-Prohibition eras. In August 2013, the library’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center established the first archives in the country dedicated to collecting materials related to the history of hops and craft brewing.

"We are so proud of the support we've gotten over the past three years and are excited to broaden our collecting areas to cover more topics, more time periods, and more territories," said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, an archivist at Oregon State’s Valley Library and the curator for the library’s Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives.

The archives includes the papers of world-renowned beer historian Fred Eckhardt; oral histories with growers, brewers and scientists; the records of the Oregon Hop Growers Association; extensive industry periodicals and book collections; homebrew club newsletters; photographs; memorabilia and advertising materials from Oregon breweries; and OSU research on plant disease, breeding and processing that dates to the 1890s.

“OBHA is an archive unlike any other, one that allows scholars to research seriously the craft beer revolution and the rich agricultural history of hops upon which good beer rests,” said Peter A. Kopp, author of “Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.”

To celebrate the expansion of the collecting areas and the three-year anniversary, the archives is releasing a photo per day for three months beginning on Aug. 1.

The photos will be on “The Brewstorian” blog (http://thebrewstorian.tumblr.com/and OHBA's Twitter and Facebook pages. For more information http://guides.library.oregonstate.edu/brewingarchives.

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Daniel Moret, 541-737-4412; dan.moret@oregonstate.edu

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Tiah Edmunson-Morton, 541-737-7387, tiah.edmunson-morton@oregonstate.edu

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Norman Goetze, OSU; Wilson Foote, OSU; Warren Kronstad, OSU; Scotty Coleader, Amity