OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

campus life

Panel discussion on superbugs, art and music set for Nov. 15

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A panel will discuss drug-resistant bacteria from the standpoints of science, art and music from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Corvallis Arts Center, 700 S.W. Madison Ave.

Hosted by Oregon State University’s colleges of Science and Liberal Arts, “Superbugs & Antibiotic Resistance: An Interdisciplinary Conversation” will focus on how a Harvard researcher’s “giant petri dish experiment” has inspired artists and helped scientists visualize the evolution of antibiotic resistance in E. coli.

Panelists for the free event include Michael Baym, professor of biomedical informatics at Harvard Medical School; Oregon artist Bets Cole; and composer Dana Reason of the OSU School of Arts and Communication.

Baym will talk about his research along with Cole, who will describe how that work inspired her charcoal drawing, “Evolution of a Superbug/11days 1000x Antibiotic Solution.” After learning about the drawing via a tweet from renowned science writer Ed Yong, Baym purchased it, and it now hangs outside his office.

Coincidentally, last spring Yong spoke at Oregon State as part of SPARK, a yearlong celebration of the interplay between art and science.

“It was very cool that I had created something that inspired someone else to do something so lovely,” Baym said.

Baym’s research had demonstrated how bacteria, as they reproduce across a giant petri dish, mutate over the course of 11 days to withstand antibiotics at 1,000 times the concentration normally used to fight infection.

The third panelist, Reason, will discuss how she is taking data from Baym’s research and converting it into sound. Her hope is to generate a new creative work that both stands alone and prompts insights into the data based on how it translates into sound patterns.

The back story behind Baym’s giant petri dish experiment is an example of how art can spark science. The impetus for the research was the film “Contagion,” which told the story of a deadly viral pandemic.

Baym and collaborators spent six months developing their Microbial Evolution and Growth Arena (MEGA-plate), a novel platform for microbial experimentation beyond the classic petri dish.

Not only has the MEGA-plate proved a highly effective teaching mechanism, the visualization tool has also yielded key insights into the behavior of bacteria.

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Superbug

Drawing by Bets Cole

Oregon State to host grid energy storage symposium

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Leaders in energy storage technology will converge on the Oregon State University campus Nov. 5-6 for a symposium to discuss opportunities and challenges for next-generation, large-scale grid energy storage systems in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

The meeting, expected to draw 100 to 150 participants, is intended to serve as a forum for industry representatives, utility companies, academic and government researchers, and policymakers to discuss energy storage and potential major applications in the region.

 “This meeting brings together the thought leaders who are driving the implementation of novel energy storage systems for the grid, wave power, and other sustainable energy technologies,” said conference chair Zhenxing Feng, assistant professor of chemical engineering in OSU’s College of Engineering. “These are the enabling technologies that can make the dream of 100 percent renewable energy into a reality.”

The symposium is being organized by Oregon State with assistance from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a public/private partnership established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2012. Topics for discussion include the status of current battery technology, challenges and opportunities in the emerging sectors of transportation and the energy grid, energy resilience in the electrical grid, special needs in Oregon, and commercialization and manufacturing opportunities throughout the region.

Invited presenters include researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory, as well as representatives from industry, such as Lebanon, Oregon-based Entek International LLC.

The agenda includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions and a poster session networking event. Also planned are tours to a local utility company and Oregon State’s state-of-the-art facility for energy storage and materials characterization research.

More information and registration are available online at cbee.oregonstate.edu/energy-storage-symposium. 

Media Contact: 

Keith Hautala, 541-737-1478

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Ocean Sentinel

Testing wave energy

OSU Board of Trustees and committees to meet Oct. 18-20

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees will hold a retreat on Wednesday, Oct. 18, to discuss tuition affordability, student access and academic excellence as priorities of the university’s strategic vision. The retreat is open to the public and will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Library Seminar Room of the Guin Library at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC), 2030 S.E. Marine Science Drive in Newport.

The following committees will meet on Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Guin Library Seminar Room. These meetings are open to the public:

·         The Executive & Audit Committee will meet from 8 to 10:30 a.m. to review the board’s fiscal year 2017 assessment of OSU President Ed Ray; amendments to board policies and the committee’s charter; the committee’s 2018 work plan; and the Office of Audit Services progress report. The committee also will receive a report on the university’s compliance and ethics program, an annual update from the Office of General Counsel, and a risk management report on hazard response and planning.

·         The Academic Strategies Committee will meet from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. to discuss topics including the 2017-18 academic agenda, student athletics, student success efforts, and Title IX gender-based violence prevention, support and response initiatives. The committee also will hear a research report and consider the committee’s 2018 work plan.

Following the committee meetings, the Board will tour research labs at HMSC that underscore the global impact of OSU’s research, teaching and outreach.

The board will meet again on Friday, Oct. 20, in Corvallis. The meeting is open to the public and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Horizon Room of the Memorial Union, 1500 S.W. Jefferson Way. The board will consider the FY2017 presidential assessment, amendments to board policies and committee charter, and the 2018 board work plan. The board will also hear reports on the university’s efforts to advance equity, inclusion and social justice; OSU’s Vision 2030 statement; the recent legislative session; and board governance.

The board will hold an executive session on Friday, Oct. 20, pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes 192.660(2)(e) and 192.660(2)(f), ORS 192.501(6), ORS 502(9), ORS 40.225 to conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions and to consider information or records exempt by law from public inspection. Following the executive session, the board will reconvene to consider approval of the acquisition of real property.

The board takes public comment at each board meeting. Commenters must sign up prior to the public comment period of the meeting. Commenters may register by email before the meeting by contacting Marcia Stuart at marcia.stuart@oregonstate.edu or may register at the meeting itself. There is also a public comment opportunity before the board votes on each action item listed on the board agenda.

The agendas and meeting materials will be posted as they are available at http://oregonstate.edu/leadership/trustees/meetings. Accommodation requests should be made at least 48 hours in advance to the Office of the Board of Trustees, Marcia Stuart, 541-737-3449.

Media Contact: 

Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787

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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.”

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Conference at OSU explores intravenous vitamin C as treatment for cancer, sepsis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Linus Pauling Institute will host its biennial “Diet and Optimum Health” conference Sept. 13-16 at Oregon State University, attracting an international audience of experts in nutrition, preventive medicine and oncology.

The conference will also honor recently retired Linus Pauling Institute director Balz Frei and welcome new director Richard van Breemen.

The ninth edition of the event takes place 100 years after Linus Pauling began his OSU studies as an undergraduate. It also coincides with the ramp-up of the university’s 150th anniversary celebration and the 20th anniversary of the Linus Pauling Institute’s move to Oregon State from Palo Alto, Calif.

The conference will include a day-long symposium on vitamin C with a focus on the micronutrient’s capabilities in treating cancer and sepsis, as well as sessions on dietary components and the microbiome; lipid metabolism; vitamin E; bioactives; and diet, neuropathy and dementia.

“Linus Pauling wanted to cure the common cold with vitamin C, and there’s some indication that by taking vitamin C you can shorten the duration of a cold – this is a natural progression of that idea to preventing bacteria from killing you,” said conference chair Maret Traber, principal investigator and Ava Helen Pauling Professor at the Linus Pauling Institute. “We really are changing people’s lives.”

In addition to the professional conference, the Linus Pauling Institute will host a free public session from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center on the OSU campus. It will feature Emily Ho of the Linus Pauling Institute, who will talk about diet and cancer prevention, and Jeanne Drisko of the University of Kansas Medical Center, who will discuss treating cancer with intravenous vitamin C.

“Linus Pauling and his colleagues tried to show people in the 1970s that intravenous vitamin C was beneficial in treating cancer, and they forced the National Institutes of Health to do several clinical trials,” said Drisko, director of KU Integrative Medicine and the Riordan Endowed Professor of Orthomolecular Medicine.

“The Mayo Clinic ran the trials and said vitamin C showed no benefit in double-blind, placebo-controlled testing. It wasn’t until years later that it was found out that Linus Pauling and his colleagues had been giving it intravenously and the Mayo Clinic used only oral vitamin C, and that’s a huge difference. When it’s given in a vein, it makes hydrogen peroxide around the cancer cells, and the hydrogen peroxide kills them.”

Anitra Carr of New Zealand’s University of Otago, chair of the professional sessions on the mechanisms of vitamin C in cancer, said “vitamin C administration appears to have a clear impact on patient quality of life, particularly in those receiving chemotherapy.”

It’s not yet clear, though, which types of cancer respond best to intravenous vitamin C.

“There is also considerable debate around the potential anti-cancer mechanisms by which vitamin C works,” she said. “Future preclinical and clinical studies will help to elucidate these questions through clarifying the mechanisms by which vitamin C works and also if these vary depending on the type of cancer. This will facilitate personalized medicine, whereby the right treatment can be targeted to the right patient.”

Carr is also one of the presenters during the session on intravenous vitamin C therapy for sepsis, as is Berry Fowler of Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Over the past 30 years, over $2 billion has been spent by the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry on over 15,000 patients with sepsis. No treatment has proven effective that doesn’t have side effects,” said Fowler, professor of medicine in the Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine Division and director of the VCU Johnson Center for Critical Care and Pulmonary Research.

“Trials have been predominantly performed with proteins like antibodies and inflammatory protein inhibitors. These protein treatments don’t get transported into the cell where they are needed. Vitamin C is a micronutrient – it’s effectively transported into every cell in the body.”

When vitamin C is infused intravenously, Fowler said, it’s actively moved from the bloodstream into the cells where the injury and damage are happening.

“When it’s there it acts as an antioxidant and, importantly, it decreases the inflammatory process that leads to injury,” he said. “This micronutrient theory may be the secret as to how vitamin C works so effectively. There’s finally a therapy that can be transported into places where it needs to be to be effective as opposed to remaining free in the plasma. That’s what differentiates vitamin C – it’s effectiveness is because the body moves it across tissue planes.”

Carr said critically ill patients with sepsis and septic shock have very low levels of vitamin C and that several recent clinical studies have shown that administration of vitamin C to these patients can significantly decrease organ failure and also decrease death rates by up to 80 percent.

“Sepsis and septic shock are the leading causes of death in critically ill patients and the incidence of severe sepsis continues to rise around the world,” she said. “If these results can be reproduced in other studies, this will be the biggest breakthrough in care for these patients since antibiotics.”

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

Study reveals seven complete specimens of new flower, all 100 million years old

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A Triceratops or Tyrannosaurus rex bulling its way through a pine forest likely dislodged flowers that 100 million years later have been identified in their fossilized form as a new species of tree.

George Poinar Jr., professor emeritus in Oregon State University’s College of Science, said it’s the first time seven complete flowers of this age have been reported in a single study. The flowers range from 3.4 to 5 millimeters in diameter, necessitating study under a microscope.

Poinar and collaborator Kenton Chambers, professor emeritus in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, named the discovery Tropidogyne pentaptera based on the flowers’ five firm, spreading sepals; the Greek word for five is “penta,” and “pteron” means wing.

“The amber preserved the floral parts so well that they look like they were just picked from the garden,” Poinar said. “Dinosaurs may have knocked the branches that dropped the flowers into resin deposits on the bark of an araucaria tree, which is thought to have produced the resin that fossilized into the amber. Araucaria trees are related to kauri pines found today in New Zealand and Australia, and kauri pines produce a special resin that resists weathering.”

This study builds on earlier research also involving Burmese amber in which Poinar and Chambers described another species in the same angiosperm genus, Tropidogyne pikei; that species was named for its flower’s discoverer, Ted Pike. Findings were recently published in Paleodiversity.

“The new species has spreading, veiny sepals, a nectar disc, and a ribbed inferior ovary like T. pikei,” Poinar said. “But it’s different in that it’s bicarpellate, with two elongated and slender styles, and the ribs of its inferior ovary don’t have darkly pigmented terminal glands like T. pikei.”

Both species have been placed in the extant family Cunoniaceae, a widespread Southern Hemisphere family of 27 genera.

Poinar said T. pentaptera was probably a rainforest tree.

“In their general shape and venation pattern, the fossil flowers closely resemble those of the genus Ceratopetalum that occur in Australia and Papua-New Guinea,” he said. “One extant species is C. gummiferum, which is known as the New South Wales Christmas bush because its five sepals turn bright reddish pink close to Christmas.”

Another extant species in Australia is the coach wood tree, C. apetalum, which like the new species has no petals, only sepals. The towering coach wood tree grows to heights of greater than 120 feet, can live for centuries and produces lumber for flooring, furniture and cabinetwork.

So what explains the relationship between a mid-Cretaceous Tropidogyne from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and an extant Ceratopetalum from Australia, more than 4,000 miles and an ocean away to the southeast?

That’s easy, Poinar said, if you consider the geological history of the regions.

“Probably the amber site in Myanmar was part of Greater India that separated from the southern hemisphere, the supercontinent Gondwanaland, and drifted to southern Asia,” he said. “Malaysia, including Burma, was formed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras by subduction of terranes that successfully separated and then moved northward by continental drift.”

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Tropidogyne pentaptera

Tropidogyne pentaptera

Richard van Breemen named director of Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has named Richard van Breemen as the director of the university’s Linus Pauling Institute.

Van Breemen, professor of pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will succeed Balz Frei as director and endowed chair of the institute, which studies the role of vitamins and other micronutrients in enhancing health and preventing disease.

Van Breemen characterized his new role as director of the Linus Pauling Institute as a “dream job.”

“Richard brings the prestige and accomplishments we were looking for in a new director,” said Cynthia Sagers, vice president for research at OSU. “He runs a National Institutes of Health-funded center for botanical dietary supplement research and is someone who makes things happen. He is very collaborative and people here already know his work. Richard feels a real passion for the work we do here at OSU and at the Linus Pauling Institute in particular.”

Van Breemen has a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Johns Hopkins University and was a post-doctoral scholar at Johns Hopkins in mass spectrometry. His undergraduate degree in chemistry is from Oberlin College.

His research includes clinical trials regarding prostate cancer prevention, and the safety and efficacy of botanical dietary supplements used by women.

At the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has worked since 1994, van Breemen is the founding academic director of the Mass Spectrometry, Metabolomics and Proteomics Facility for the university’s Research Resources Center. He is also the director of the Botanical Center for Dietary Supplements Research, which has NIH funding through 2020 and has been continually funded since 1999.

From 1986 to 1993, van Breemen was a faculty member at North Carolina State, where he founded and directed the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory for Biotechnology Research.

Linus Pauling, who died in 1994 at age 93, was an Oregon State alumnus and is the only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes – for chemistry in 1954 and for peace in 1962. A chemistry professor at California Institute of Technology, he founded what would become the Linus Pauling Institute in 1973.

Pauling bequeathed his vast scientific archives to OSU, and in 1996 the institute moved from Palo Alto, Calif., to Oregon State. The following year, Frei became director and endowed chair, a position he held until his retirement in June 2016.

Van Breemen met Pauling shortly before his death when the Nobel laureate spoke at a symposium at North Carolina State.

“Of course I had followed his work with dietary supplements for years, and I also got to know Balz upon visits to Oregon State,” van Breemen said. “I have visited several times and gotten to know the investigators and other faculty and have always known it to be a wonderful place to live and work. OSU and the Linus Pauling Institute offer a wealth of infrastructure and support that is unparalleled. The institute can help the work I have been doing be even more productive and make a bigger imprint and footprint on society.”

Van Breemen will start Jan. 1, 2018. Fred Stevens, professor of medicinal chemistry in the Oregon State College of Pharmacy, will continue as the interim director until then.

Van Breemen’s appointment at OSU will also be in the College of Pharmacy. 

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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van Breemen lab

Richard van Breemen

Oregon State University agricultural sciences, pharmacy deans transition

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Provost and Executive Vice President Ed Feser announced today that Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Mark Zabriskie, dean of the College of Pharmacy, will step down from these university leadership roles effective June 30, 2018.

Arp, who has been dean since May 2012 and also serves as director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, will retire. Zabriskie, dean since September 2010, will return to his faculty position.

“Both Dan and Mark have had many outstanding accomplishments in these important leadership roles—not just at OSU but in the agriculture and healthcare industries respectively,” Feser said. “Their contributions to the university and the state of Oregon are significant, and they personify OSU’s commitment to excellence and service to the state.”

Arp joined OSU’s colleges of agricultural sciences and science in 1990 in a joint botany and plant pathology position that was split between the two units. He eventually headed the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology where he earned the honor of “distinguished professor.” In 2008, Arp was named dean of the University Honors College, where he worked closely with students to enhance their learning experience. Four years later, he was appointed as the Reub Long Dean of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station at OSU.

While serving as dean, Arp oversaw record-high student enrollment and the addition of 25 new faculty members in 2015 as the result of increased funding from the state Legislature for statewide public services. He also was instrumental in obtaining more than $40 million in private gifts and industry support for the college. A strong collaborator, Arp developed and enhanced key partnerships with agricultural commodity groups, companies, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. In 2014, he served as a co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Genetically Engineered Seeds and Agricultural Products.

“I have tremendously enjoyed my five years of service as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, and I look forward to doing all I can during my sixth and final year as dean,” Arp said. ”I am extremely proud of the progress the college has made over the past several years and our recognition as one of the world’s top agriculture programs.”

Oregon State has been recognized as a world-class center in agriculture and forestry, ranking 13th this year in an international survey. The listing appeared in the QS World University Rankings of approximately 200 top institutions for agriculture and forestry worldwide.

Zabriskie joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at OSU in 1992. He directed the college’s infectious disease drug discovery program from 2005 to 2010 before being appointed dean. During his tenure as dean, Zabriskie oversaw a strong period of growth and expansion for the college and helped further extensive partnerships, including key collaborations with Oregon Health & Science University. He led initiatives to strengthen OSU’s presence in Portland and further the College of Pharmacy’s collaboration with OHSU. He represented OSU on the construction and management of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building that opened in 2014 on OHSU’s South Waterfront campus in Portland. This facility is a partnership among OHSU, OSU and Portland State University. Zabriskie also oversaw OSU’s role in the new partnership with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute focused on cancer prevention and control.

In the past seven years, the college experienced a 35 percent increase in faculty and staff; a 40 percent increase in external grant support and research expenditures; and doubled the number of graduate research and teaching assistantships. Over the same period, scholarship support for OSU PharmD students (those pursuing professional doctorates to practice pharmacy) increased by 30 percent.

“The opportunity seven years ago to serve at the helm of the college turned into one of the most rewarding times of my career,” Zabriskie said. “Nothing has made the job more fulfilling to me than the support of the outstanding faculty and staff I had the good fortune to serve, and I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments we’ve made together.”

Zabriskie has maintained an active research program while serving as dean and will return to the faculty as a professor of pharmaceutical sciences next July. His research involves the discovery, biosynthesis and development of natural product antimicrobial agents.

Feser will launch national searches for both dean positions immediately.  

Media Contact: 

Annie Athon Heck, 541-737-0790

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Dan Arp, 541-737-2331
Dan.J.Arp@oregonstate.edu;
Mark Zabriskie, 541-737-5781
mark.zabriskie@oregonstate.edu

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Mark Zabriskie

Mark Zabriskie

Dan Arp

Dan Arp

OSU inks largest research grant in its history to begin ship construction

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has just received a grant of $121.88 million from the National Science Foundation to spearhead the construction of a new class of research vessels for the United States Academic Research Fleet. It is the largest grant in the university’s history.

This grant will fund the construction of the first of three planned vessels approved by Congress for research in coastal regions of the continental United States and Alaska. When funding for the next two vessels is authorized, the total grant to OSU could increase to as much as $365 million. The first vessel is slated to be operated by OSU for research missions focusing on the U.S. West Coast. The NSF will begin the competitive selection of operating institutions for the second and third vessels later this year – likely to universities or consortia for operations on the U.S. East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

“Oregon State University is extremely proud to lead this effort to create the next generation of regional ocean-going research vessels funded by NSF,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “Our exceptional marine science programs are uniquely positioned to advance knowledge of the oceans and to seek solutions to the threats facing healthy coastal communities – and more broadly, global ecological well-being – through their teaching and research.”

OSU was selected by the National Science Foundation in 2013 to lead the initial design phase for the new vessels, and to develop and execute a competitive selection for a shipyard in the United States to do the construction. Gulf Island Shipyards, LLC, in Louisiana was chosen and will conduct the detailed design verification over the next year. Officials hope to have a keel-laying ceremony for the first vessel in the spring of 2018, with the ship delivered to OSU for a year of extensive testing in 2020.

This new class of modern well-equipped ships is essential to support research encompassing marine physical, chemical, biological and geologic processes in coastal waters, said Roberta Marinelli, dean of Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

“Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, low-oxygen waters or ‘hypoxia,’ declining fisheries, offshore energy, and the threat of catastrophic tsunamis are issues not only in the Pacific Northwest but around the world,” Marinelli said. “These new vessels will provide valuable scientific capacity for better understanding our changing oceans.”

The ships will be equipped to conduct detailed seafloor mapping, to reveal geologic structures important to understanding processes such as subduction zone earthquakes that may trigger tsunamis. The Pacific Northwest is considered a high-risk region because of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which has produced about two dozen major earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or greater over the past 10,000 years.

The new ships will also be equipped with advanced sensors that will be used to detect and characterize harmful algal blooms, changing ocean chemistry, and the interactions between the sea and atmosphere. The emerging fields of wave, tidal and wind energy will benefit from ship observations. Oregon State is the site of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, which in December was awarded a grant of up to $35 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to create the world’s premier wave energy test facility in Newport.

Some characteristics of the new regional class research vessels (RCRVs), which were designed by The Glosten Associates, a naval architecture firm based in Seattle:

  • 193 feet long with a 41-foot beam;
  • Range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles;
  • Cruising speed is 11.5 knots with a maximum speed of 13 knots;
  • 16 berths for scientists and 13 for crew members;
  • Ability to stay out at sea for at least 21 days before returning to port;
  • High bandwidth satellite communications for streaming data and video to shore;

“This class of ships will enable researchers to work much more safely and efficiently at sea because of better handling and stability, more capacity for instrumentation and less noise,” said Clare Reimers, a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and project co-leader. “The design also has numerous ‘green’ features, including an optimized hull form, waste heat recovery, LED lighting, and variable speed power generation.”

Oregon State is expected to begin operating the first of the new ships in the fall of 2021, after a year of testing and then official Academic-Fleet designation by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), according to Demian Bailey, also a project co-leader for OSU.

“There will be a full year of testing because there are many interconnected systems to try out,” Bailey said. “Any new ship needs to have shakedown cruises, but we’ll have to test all of the scientific instrumentation as well, from the acoustic multibeam seafloor mapping system to its seawater and meteorological data collection, processing and transfer capabilities.

“These ships will be very forward-looking and are expected to support science operations for 40 years or longer. They will be the most advanced ships of their kind in the country.”

OSU previously operated the 184-foot R/V Wecoma from 1975 until 2012, when it was retired. The university then assumed operations of Wecoma’s sister ship, R/V Oceanus, from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; that ship will be retired when the new ship is ready.

The tentative timetable for the new ships:

  • Ship No. 1 keel laying – spring 2018;
  • Ship No. 1 transition to OSU for a year of testing – fall 2020;
  • Ship No. 1 should be fully tested, have UNOLS designation and be fully operational by fall 2021;
  • Ship No. 2 – Keel laying in winter of 2018, delivery in spring 2021, and UNOLS designation in late spring 2022;
  • Ship No. 3 – Keel laying in fall 2020, delivery in spring 2022, and UNOLS designation in spring 2023.

More information on the ships and the project is available at: http://ceoas.oregonstate.edu/ships/rcrv/.

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Media Contact: 

Mark Floyd, 541-737-0788

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Regional class research vessel

Regional class research vessel

OSU researcher studies cross-laminated timber as seismic retrofit tool

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Safer historic buildings and more jobs for the timber industry are the goals of a partnership between an Oregon State University structural engineering researcher and a newly formed nonprofit group in Corvallis, Oregon.

Andre Barbosa of the OSU College of Engineering is collaborating with Cascadia Seismic Strategies on a $150,000 project to study the use of cross-laminated timber panels for seismic retrofits on unreinforced masonry buildings. 

A grant coordinated through the Downtown Corvallis Association and Oregon Main Street is covering roughly two-thirds of the cost of the project, which will result in mockups of CLT retrofit systems at the 107-year-old Harding Building at Third Street and Madison Street in Corvallis.

“We’ll build prototypes that will provide details that will let engineers and construction folks see how things go together,” said Barbosa, a volunteer with Cascadia Seismic Strategies.

Barbosa is one of the original members of the group, named after the subduction zone that lies off the coast of Oregon. The major Cascadia earthquake that experts say is on the horizon would be particularly damaging to vintage masonry structures like the Harding Building, the cornerstone of the original Third Street business district.

“The DCA is concerned about the potential devastation that a Cascadia Subduction Zone mega-quake would wreak,” said Cascadia Seismic Strategies spokeswoman Roz Keeney. “Members of the DCA’s design committee recruited structural engineers, historic architects and other building professionals to join in a conversation about earthquake preparedness and historic building preservation. This group went on to form Cascadia Seismic Strategies, which is now focused on this cutting-edge project to develop a low-cost reinforcement method using local wood products and off-the-shelf steel connectors.”

Engineering work is scheduled to start in August. The grant for the 34-month project underwrites multiple design and construction strategies for dealing with weaknesses in unreinforced masonry buildings, as well as production of a video demonstrating how to implement upgrades that can serve as a guide for other communities wanting to use similar strategies in preservation and retrofitting efforts.

“This project identifies seismic retrofits for historic buildings that improve their safety performance without compromising their historic integrity,” said project manager and historic preservation architect Sue Licht. “It also demonstrates that historic rehabilitation can create local, site-specific jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

Barbosa notes that OSU is a leader in developing new wood products such as cross-laminated timber and in growing forest-products jobs amid reduced harvest levels.

“It’s important to bring jobs back to the timber industry in Oregon and to find new applications for mass timber,” he said. “This could potentially be one of them, while improving the resiliency of downtowns and the older buildings that give us liveliness and history.”

Portland firm KPFF Consulting Engineers will handle most of the structural engineering, led by Reid Zimmerman, with Barbosa lending his expertise in cross-laminated timber and seismic retrofits.

“This comes from what we’ve been learning by visiting different earthquake sites, like Napa (California) and Nepal,” Barbosa said. “We keep learning and try to bring back that knowledge and share it with communities, including by creating a model for affordable seismic retrofits for historic buildings. This is a grass-roots, community-driven solution for a big problem, a huge Cascadia quake.” 

The primary funding organization, Oregon Main Street, is a Main Street America coordinating program administered by the State Historic Preservation Office. It works with Oregon communities to “develop comprehensive, incremental revitalization strategies based on a community’s unique assets, character and heritage.”

Its goal is to build “high-quality, livable and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon’s economy while maintaining a sense of place.”

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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