college of engineering

OSU joins tech leaders in developing standard for the “Internet of Things”

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University has joined the world’s technology leaders — including LG, Microsoft, and Qualcomm — to advance the collaborative development of the “Internet of Things.”

The “Internet of Things” is a network of devices that exchange information — anything from sensors in public and private buildings to full-scale “smart cities.” The number of connected devices is predicted to increase by another 30 percent in 2016, according to Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company. 

In order for all of these devices to connect and communicate seamlessly there needs to be a common underlying technology. OSU is part of the AllSeen Alliance, a coalition of more than 200 companies and technical supporters that develop standard interfaces for “Internet of Things” projects.

Officials at the OSU College of Engineering’s Center for Applied Systems and Software, or CASS, became interested in the “Internet of Things” as a key technology for student employees to master. The center’s expertise in open source technologies — source code that is open to the public to improve and change — was the basis for the collaboration with the AllSeen Alliance. That group’s primary software is an open-source framework called AllJoyn that allows devices and apps to communicate with one another.

CASS will run tests for AllJoyn, verify that all functions run correctly before each quarterly release cycle, and practice to adjust to new tools and requirements. This project will provide the student employees an opportunity to work with cutting edge software which will be deployed to millions of devices.

Media Contact: 

Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098


OSU receives grant to expand research in computational sustainability

CORVALLIS, Ore. – With a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, researchers at Oregon State University are partnering with 11 other universities and organizations to expand computer science research on projects that impact sustainability.

OSU and Cornell University are the lead institutions on this initiative, which includes projects related to conservation, poverty mitigation and renewable energy. The five-year award is a renewal of a previous grant that sparked research at OSU in wildfire management, precision agriculture, and bird migration modeling.

“Not only are there really interesting computational problems related to how we can save the planet, but it’s our duty to study these problems,” said Tom Dietterich, a distinguished professor of computer science in the OSU College of Engineering and a principal investigator on the grant.

The institutions involved in the grant form a large community of computer science experts, called CompSustNet, to serve as a resource for other researchers studying sustainability issues. CompSustNet will be a virtual research lab, including educational, community building, and outreach activities to ensure that advanced computational technology is routinely incorporated into sustainability projects.

The research at OSU includes experiments to maximize energy production of microbial fuel cells; a project that places weather sensors across Africa to form a network that aids small farmers; and modeling species migration to protect the migratory paths of endangered birds.

“OSU has long been a leader in sustainability-related fields such as ecological science and natural resource management,” Dietterich said. “We’re building on that strength and reputation to be a leader in studying the computational sides of those questions.”

Media Contact: 

Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098


OSU recognizes climate scientist, computer expert with Distinguished Professor awards

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has named Peter Clark and Margaret Burnett as its 2016 Distinguished Professor recipients, the highest academic honor the university can bestow on a faculty member.

 “Both Peter Clark and Margaret Burnett are visionary scientists whose careers are affecting people all over the world,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president.

“The work of Dr. Clark is cutting-edge science that helps everyone better understand what climate change may mean to them, using the past as a powerful guide to help predict the future. And we live in a world where computers are pervasive, used by everyone from elementary school students to retirees. An expert in visual programming languages, Dr. Burnett has made those instruments more user-friendly, interactive and dependable for all people.”

Burnett, a professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, has been a pioneer in making computers more useful for everyone. As a leader in several gender diversity activities, including advancing STEM education, Burnett was awarded the 2015 undergraduate research mentoring award from the National Center for Women & IT.

She helped develop the entire field of “end user” software engineering, which allows millions more people to successfully produce computer programs that are dependable and of high quality. Burnett has also tackled the problem of a computer world in which software is often designed by men and fails to acknowledge the different ways in which men and women communicate and process information.

This field of “gender-inclusive” computer study is also critical in bringing more women into technology, a goal which Burnett has worked toward for decades. She is an award-winning mentor to graduate, undergraduate and high school students.

Burnett received her doctorate in computer science from the University of Kansas and has been at OSU since 1992.

Clark, a professor in the OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, is an international leader in the study of past climate change to help understand what the future may bring. He has had numerous studies published in the most prestigious academic journals in the world, such as Science, Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Clark also was a lead coordinating author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With more than $4 million in research funding brought to OSU, Clark has studied glaciers and ice sheets, both those of today and from the distant past, to help determine what may be the long-term impacts of anthropogenic warming, rising greenhouse gases, and sea level rise. He’s also an award-winning teacher, recipient of 11 other major awards, has organized 20 symposia, and his professional work has generated literally thousands of citations.

Clark received his doctorate in geology from the University of Colorado and has been at OSU since 1988.

This honor will be permanent as long as the recipient remains at OSU. Both professors will give public lectures this spring on topics related to their field of study.

Story By: 

Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-0733

OSU joins national cybersecurity consortium

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University researchers have been awarded $1.5 million as part of a new consortium to help protect the nation’s electric grid from cyber threats.

Eleven universities and national laboratories are part of the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium, a $22.5 million, five-year initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the University of Illinois.

“Cybersecurity is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernization, which is why maintaining a robust, ever-growing pipeline of cutting-edge technologies is essential to helping the energy sector continue adapting to the evolving landscape,” said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

OSU has growing expertise in the field of cybersecurity. The interdisciplinary team members who will work with this project specialize in power systems, cybersecurity and applied cryptography. Research will focus on projects such as preventing manipulation of sensors and devices on the power grid that could lead to cascading power outages.

“Being part of the consortium offers us more opportunities for collaboration and helps us transition our research into industry applications,” said Rakesh Bobba, an assistant professor of computer science in the OSU College of Engineering.

Organizers of the consortium say they hope to work with industry partners who will sustain the costs of research beyond the initial five years of funding.

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Study to examine smoldering combustion in wildfires

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Following one of the worst U.S. wildfire seasons on record, researchers at Oregon State University have been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the impacts of smoldering combustion.

This type of combustion produces no visible flame but can emit higher amounts of pollutants than flaming combustion. It can impact soil productivity, flora survival rates, air quality and public health in municipalities located many miles from fires.

The five-year project could lead to development of tools that firefighters, climate scientists, foresters and others could use to predict and prevent smoldering, manage controlled burns, and calculate potential pollution emissions based on geographic location, fuel types, moisture levels and other factors. The research might also contribute to basic fire prevention methods – including household fires.

"During a fire event, smoldering combustion can be responsible for most of the carbon monoxide, methane, volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter released, and it can contribute substantially to carbon emissions," said David Blunck, a professor of mechanical engineering in the OSU College of Engineering, who is one collaborator on the research.

Currently, fire managers have no tools to predict how or where smoldering combustion might ignite, how deep it will burn, the amount of pollutants emitted or what the impacts will be on the surrounding environment. Most past work has been done on flaming combustion.

"We will look at a wide range of ecosystems, fuel types, moisture levels and more in order to understand what ignites, controls and is emitted from smoldering combustion," Blunck said. "We're looking at the underlying physics – fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, heat transfer and chemistry, because combustion involves the intersection of all those."

As climate conditions become drier, it's easier for fires to ignite, he said, so the researchers want to understand the hidden variables at the molecular level that influence combustion, so it can be prevented or controlled.

Media Contact: 

Gregg Kleiner


David Blunck, 541-737-7095

NSF grant supports high-end imaging instrument development


CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University was awarded an $815,000 “major research instrumentation” grant through the National Science Foundation, part of a $1.2 million package, to develop a high-end, 4D imaging system and establish an Advanced Imaging Facility.

The instrument will provide unique opportunities for conducting high-resolution and high-fidelity three-dimensional imaging of otherwise opaque objects. It can “look inside” objects and “fly through” materials in three-dimensional space, so researchers can study form, character and function at the micron-scale of a variety of materials. There may be applications in environmental, mechanical and civil engineering, as well as geoscience, wood science, zoology, anthropology and agricultural sciences.

“It will be a one-of-a-kind development, and has the capacity to follow processes in time as they take place inside the object of interest,” said Dorthe Wildenschild, a professor of environmental engineering and the grant’s principal investigator. “Among the projects that will be supported by the instrument is research to optimize the trapping of carbon dioxide in subsurface rocks as a climate change mitigation measure.”

The device is expected to have a major impact on research activities in the engineering, earth sciences and natural sciences fields, through studies of eruptive mechanisms of volcanoes, soil mechanics to improve mitigation strategies against landslides, hydraulic collapse of soils, and improved groundwater management and remediation. 

With $600,000 awarded this year and the remainder in year two, the grant will also support the establishment of an Advanced Imaging Facility, which will be managed as a shared-use facility for users throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Additional funding will be sought to extend the technology to an image visualization module for a free-choice learning museum exhibit at Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore., where visitors can select an object to render in 3D and “fly through.”


Media Contact: 

By Krista Klinkhammer, 541-737-4416



Dorthe Wildenschild, 541-737-8050

NSF awards $4.5 million nanotechnology grant to OSU partnership

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University, in partnership with the University of Washington and as part of the Northwest Nanotechnology Infrastructure, has received a $4.5 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation for nanoscale science, engineering and technology research.

The National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure is comprised of 16 selected sites, and will allow researchers from academia, government, and industry access to facilities and instrumentation to further nanotechnology innovation and commercialization.

“Winning this NSF grant is evidence that OSU has been making the right investments in our materials research infrastructure, and that we are competitive with the top universities throughout the country,” said Greg Herman, professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University and Oregon State’s lead on the grant.

“The unique capabilities that we have in the Materials Synthesis and Characterization Facility and the Oregon Process Innovation Center are now part of a national user facility, and will elevate our national presence and efforts in research, education and economic development."

The Northwest site also includes facilities and resources at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, North Seattle College and the University of British Columbia, and will focus on integrated photonics, advanced energy materials and devices and bio-nano interfaces and systems.

The NSF granted a total of $81 million to establish the 16 sites and will select one site to coordinate all facilities in 2016.

Media Contact: 

Krista Klinkhammer, 541-737-4416


Greg Herman, 541-737-6020

NSF grant establishes natural hazards center at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University School of Civil and Construction Engineering has received a $3.8 million award from the National Science Foundation for a facility to increase the resilience of the nation’s coastal communities.

Through the award, two main resources at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory will become part of a distributed, national program – the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure – that will provide the natural hazards engineering community with access to various research infrastructure, as well as educational and community outreach activities.

The resources at OSU will include the large wave flume and the directional wave basin, both of which simulate waves from hurricanes and tsunamis, and allow for a wide range of testing on both the built and natural environment.

“This award will have a national impact for engineers, to develop innovative solutions to coastal disasters and improve the resilience of coastal communities to extreme events like hurricanes and tsunamis,” said Dan Cox, a civil and construction engineering professor in the College of Engineering, and principal investigator on the project.

The facility will allow researchers to understand hurricane waves and surges, tsunami hazards, and their impacts on roads, bridges, water supplies, and communication systems. It will also allow study of erosion effects, and help researchers develop and evaluate sustainable solutions to coastal hazards.

The research will contribute to broader societal goals of reducing human suffering and economic damages, the scientists said, and speed the socioeconomic recovery following events such as hurricanes and tsunamis.

Co-investigators on the project include Pedro Lomonaco, director of the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, and Chris Higgins, the Cecil and Sally Drinkward Professor in Civil Engineering.

Media Contact: 

Johanna Carson, 541-737-1207


Dan Cox, 541-737-3631

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Wave laboratory
Directional wave basin

Mundorff to join Oregon State’s Advantage Accelerator

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Karl Mundorff, an entrepreneur and business development expert, has been named senior program manager for the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator/RAIN Corvallis, an initiative focused on high-growth, innovative companies in the South Willamette Valley and greater OSU community.

“The accelerator is key to creating an innovation culture at Oregon State and creating impact in the local economy and beyond,” said Mitzi Montoya, dean of the College of Business. “The college’s and university’s investment in creating this culture, and in assuring a pipeline for start-ups is an important part of the pipeline we have for student and faculty to contribute to the entrepreneurship community.”

Mundorff most recently was the director of research programs for Oregon BEST, a state signature research center focused on developing the Cleantech economy, in which he worked with university and national laboratory technologies. He helped secure an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership designation from the Economic Development Administration, which created an opportunity for the Pacific Northwest Manufacturing Partnership to compete for more than $1billion in new federal agency grant opportunities.

Mundorff was also president and chief executive officer of BioReaction Industries, an air pollution control technology firm, and has created and taught master’s level courses in business model generation and commercialization at Portland State University and Concordia University. He is a graduate of the OSU College of Business and holds an MBA degree from Concordia University.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator/RAIN Corvallis, recently designated an I-Corp site, is an integral component of the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or Oregon RAIN, which is a collaboration of OSU, the University of Oregon, local governments, communities and economic development agencies.

Since its launch more than two years ago, the OSU Advantage Accelerator/RAIN Corvallis has admitted 30 business startups into the program. The companies that graduated from the program have generated over $6.6 million in revenue and grants and the creation of more than 40 jobs.


Story By: 

Brian Wall, 541-737-9058

Oregon State research reaches record, exceeds $308 million

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University research funding reached $308.9 million, its highest level ever, in the fiscal year that ended on June 30. A near doubling of revenues from licensing patented technologies and an 8.5 percent increase in competitive federal funding fueled OSU research on a range of projects including advanced ocean-going research vessels, the health impacts of pollution and sustainable materials for high-speed computing.

“This is a phenomenal achievement. I've seen how OSU research is solving global problems and providing innovations that mean economic growth for Oregon and the nation,” said Cynthia Sagers, OSU’s vice president for research who undertook her duties on August 31. “OSU’s research performance in the last year is amazing, given that federal funds are so restricted right now.”

The overall economic and societal impact of OSU’s research enterprise exceeds $670 million, based on an analysis of OSU’s research contributions to the state and global economy that followed a recent economic study of OSU’s fiscal impact conducted by ECONorthwest.

Technology licensing almost doubled in the last year alone, from just under $6 million in 2014 to more than $10 million this year. Leading investments from business and industry were patented Oregon State innovations in agriculture, advanced materials and nuclear technologies.

OSU researchers exceeded the previous record of $288 million, which the university achieved in 2010. Although federal agencies provided the bulk of funding, most of the growth in OSU research revenues over the past five years stems from nonprofit organizations and industry.

Since 2010, total private-sector funding from sponsored contracts, research cooperatives and other sources has risen 60 percent — from $25 million to more than $40 million in 2015. Oregon State conducts research with multinationals such as HP, Nike and Boeing as well as with local firms such as Benchmade Knife of Oregon City, Sheldon Manufacturing of Cornelius and NuScale Power of Corvallis.

By contrast, federal research grants in 2015 were only 0.2 percent higher than those received in 2010, a year in which American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds gave university research a one-time shot in the arm across the country. According to the National Science Foundation, federal agency obligations for research have dropped from a high of $36 billion in 2009 to $29 billion in 2013, the last year for which cumulative figures are available. The Department of Health and Human Services accounted for more than half of that spending.

“We’ve worked hard to diversify our research portfolio,” said Ron Adams, who retired as interim vice president for research at the end of August. “But it’s remarkable that our researchers have succeeded in competing for an increase in federal funding. This speaks to the success of our strategic initiatives and our focus on clusters of excellence.”

Economic impact stems in part from new businesses launched this year through the Oregon State University Advantage program. Among them are:

  •  OnBoard Dynamics, a Bend company designing a natural-gas powered vehicle engine that can be fueled from home
  •  Valliscor, a Corvallis company that manufactures ultra-pure chemicals
  • eChemion, a Corvallis company that develops and markets technology to extend battery life

Altogether, 15 new companies have received mentoring assistance from Oregon State’s Advantage Accelerator program, part of the state-funded Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or RAIN. Six new companies are working with the Advantage program this fall.

Additional economic impact stems from the employment of students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty. According to the OSU Research Office, about a quarter of OSU undergraduates participate in research projects, many with stipends paid by grant funds. In addition, grants support a total of 843 graduate research positions and 165 post-doctoral researchers.

The College of Agricultural Sciences received the largest share of research grants at Oregon State with $49.4 million last year, followed by the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at $39 million and the College of Engineering at $37 million. The College of Science saw a 170 percent increase in research funding to $26.7 million, its largest total ever and the biggest rise among OSU colleges. Among the largest grants received in FY15 were:

  •  $8 million from the NSF to the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry (College of Science) for new high-speed information technologies
  •  $4 million from the Department of Energy to reduce barriers to the deployment of ocean energy systems (College of Engineering)
  •  $4 million from US Agency for International Development to the AquaFish Innovation Lab (College of Agricultural Sciences) for global food security
  •  $3.5 million from the USDA for experiential learning to reduce obesity (College of Public Health and Human Sciences)
  •  $2.3 million from the NSF for the ocean observing initiative (College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences)
  •  $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education for school readiness in early childhood (OSU Cascades)


Editor’s Note: FY15 research totals for OSU colleges and OSU-Cascades are posted online.

College of Agricultural Sciences: http://agsci.oregonstate.edu/story/osu%E2%80%99s-college-agricultural-sciences-receives-494-million-research-grants 

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences: http://ceoas.oregonstate.edu/features/funding/

College of Education: http://education.oregonstate.edu/research-and-outreach 

College of Engineering:  http://engineering.oregonstate.edu/fy15-research-funding-highlights

College of Forestry: http://www.forestry.oregonstate.edu/research/college-forestry-receives-near-record-grant-awards-fy-2015

College of Liberal Arts: http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/cla-research/2015-research-summary

College of Pharmacy: http://pharmacy.oregonstate.edu/grant_information

College of Public Health and Human Sciences: http://health.oregonstate.edu/research 

College of Science: http://impact.oregonstate.edu/2015/08/record-year-for-research-funding/

College of Veterinary Medicine: http://vetmed.oregonstate.edu/research-highlights

OSU-Cascades: http://osucascades.edu/research-and-scholarship 

Story By: 

Cynthia Sagers, vice president for research, 541-737-0664; Rich Holdren on OSU research trends, 541-737-8390; Brian Wall on business spinoffs and commercialization, 541-737-9058

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Surface chemistry research

Masters students at OSU worked to improve the performance of thin-film transistors used in liquid crystal displays. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

OOI mooring

The Oregon shelf surface mooring is lowered to the water using the R/V Oceanus ship's crane. (photo courtesy of Oregon State University). Wave Energy

The Ocean Sentinel, a wave energy testing device, rides gentle swells near Newport, Ore. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University) Hernandez3-2

An undergraduate student at the Autonomous Juarez University of Tabasco, Mexico, is working with cage culture of cichlids in an educational partnership with the AquaFish collaborative Support Program. (Photo: Tiffany Woods)