college of science

Salmon disease lab celebrates 25th anniversary

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The John L. Fryer Salmon Disease Lab at Oregon State University will commemorate its 25th anniversary on Friday, Oct. 2, offering tours of the facility and information about its contributions to our understanding of fish disease and aquatic health.

The event will be from 3-7 p.m. at 34347 N.E. Electric Road near the Trysting Tree Golf Club. It is free and open to the public, and will include a short program, special announcement, barbecue and refreshments, and live music from Wild Hog in the Woods.

The lab is named for John Fryer who started the fish disease research program at OSU.

“This facility is one of only several of its kind in the country, and provides OSU researchers a unique opportunity to study the factors affecting the health of salmon and other aquatic animals,” said Jerri Bartholomew, director of the center and head of the OSU Department of Microbiology.

For the past 25 years, research scientists at the laboratory have made important strides to manage fish diseases in the region and worldwide. These include research on vaccines, treatments for serious bacterial and viral pathogens, a screening system to help eliminate bacterial kidney disease in hatcheries, and outlining the life cycles of two major parasite infections that plague Pacific Northwest fisheries.

Recent upgrades to the lab have expanded its capabilities, making it more relevant to studying disease interactions under a range of environmental conditions. They also allow studies on warmwater aquatic species, as well as on ecological and climate change questions.

This off-campus laboratory is supported by the Department of Microbiology, in the Colleges of Science and Agricultural Sciences. People interested in attending can call 541-737-0743 or email sdl.manager@oregonstate.edu



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Jerri Bartholomew, 541-737-1856

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)

Debut of new pale ale to assist research on sea star wasting disease

NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon State University and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, or PISCO, have a new ally in their efforts to study and address sea star wasting disease, a serious epidemic that has hit the North American West Coast.

This partner is reported to be light and crisp, with a red or purplish hue and a unique flavor that comes from the purple corn nectar used to brew it. It’s sold in a tall, 22-ounce bottle, and best served cold.

As part of a larger effort to learn more about the deadly disease that has devastated sea stars in some places on the Oregon coast, a craft brewery in Newport, Ore., has announced the sale of Wasted Sea Star Purple Pale Ale. Rogue Ales and Spirits today will hold a celebration that includes a beer christening and discussion about this disease outbreak.

The Rogue Ale brewers, who are concerned about this disease in Oregon coastal waters, plan to donate a portion of the income from sales of this product to support research done by OSU and PISCO scientists.  More information on Rogue Ales and Spirits’ new ale is available online at www.rogue.com/roguenews

“We are extremely excited about this new partnership with Rogue to raise awareness about the importance of sea stars to healthy ocean ecosystems,” said Bruce Menge, the lead PISCO-OSU investigator. “Rogue’s new beer also recognizes the efforts of investigators across the country who are collaborating to understand this disease and its impacts.”

Kristen Milligan, PISCO program coordinator, said, “This is an excellent example of an industry-academia partnership that can help educate, at the same time as helping to support the necessary science.”

Last year there was an unprecedented outbreak of sea star wasting disease on the Oregon coast, causing sea stars to lose arms, disintegrate and die over the course of a week or less. Today in Oregon, adult ochre star populations in the rocky intertidal zone are down dramatically from a year ago - anywhere from 30-80 percent less, depending on the location.

Researchers are carefully monitoring the survival of young sea stars, which are appearing at most locations along the coast in great numbers and offer some hope for population recovery.

Sea stars are an important part of marine ecosystems, in part because they attack mussels and keep their populations under control. Without enough sea stars, mussel populations can expand and grow over algae and other small invertebrates. The very concept of a “keystone predator” came from work in 1969 that used the purple ochre sea star as a model.

OSU researchers and students are working both to monitor and address this problem, in collaboration with a number of Oregon public and private agencies, and their PISCO partners at the University of California/Santa Cruz, UC/Santa Barbara, and Stanford University.

Story By: 

Kristen Milligan, 541-737-8862

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Dying sea star
Dying sea star

Wasted Sea Star Purple Pale Ale
Ale label

The art and science of color to be topic at Corvallis Science Pub

CORVALLIS, Ore. – From art to clothes to entertainment, color shapes modern life. At the Corvallis Science Pub on Monday, April 6, Oregon State University chemist Mas Subramanian will present the art and science of color as it has affected culture and even generated economic opportunity.

Subramanian’s lab discovered a brilliant blue pigment in 2009 and has continued to develop applications with artists, paint manufacturers and other companies. In addition to blue, his lab has developed purples, greens and oranges with durable, environmentally beneficial qualities.

Subramanian will describe the chemical and physical origins of color in pigments and light. He’ll span the uses of colors in nature such as geology (gems and metals), biology (butterflies, peacock, hummingbirds, flamingos, eyes) and botany (plants, flowers, berries), and explain the origin of color in pigments used in art and industry.

The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis. Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

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Mas Subramanian, 541-737-8235

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Mas Subramanian

Mas Subramanian

OSU marine ecologist to share Tyler Prize for environmental achievements

LOS ANGELES – Jane Lubchenco, the University Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at Oregon State University, today was named as one of two recipients of the 2015 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, a prestigious award made for leadership in conservation and sustainability policies.

The award includes a gold medallion and $200,000 cash prize, which will be shared by Lubchenco and the other award recipient, Madhav Gadgil, a forestry and environmental leader at Goa University in India.

Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world’s first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize has been the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy.

“Drs. Lubchenco and Gadgil represent the very best in bringing high-quality science to policymaking, to protect our environment and ensure the sustainability of natural resources in their respective countries and around the world,” said Owen T. Lind, chair of the Tyler Prize executive committee.

“Both of these laureates have bridged science with cultural and economic realities – like the impact on indigenous peoples in India or fishing communities in the United States – to advance the best possible conservation policies,” Lind said.

Lubchenco has served as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was recently named the first-ever U.S. Science Envoy for the Oceans by the U.S. Department of State. She is also a past-president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has helped launch several programs to train scientists to engage more effectively with non-scientists.

“When I started my career, I was almost entirely focused on how ocean ecosystems work and the cool discovery part of science,” Lubchenco said. “Why do species live one place and not another? What are the dynamics between species, such as predators and their prey? But over time, I saw the ocean was changing, sometimes very dramatically, and nobody was paying attention.”

Many of those changes have now been linked to human causes, including overfishing, ocean acidification, invasive species and other disruptions. At NOAA, Lubchenco helped implement the “catch share” model that works with local communities and gives fishermen more of a stake in the future, and has helped restore healthy fisheries in several regions.

“Long term economic prosperity depends on a healthy ocean,” she said. “Policy changes that align conservation and economic incentives can have powerful outcomes.”

In her new role as a science envoy, Lubchenco will have a mandate to promote this focus on ocean science, marine ecology, climate change and smart policy to a global audience.

“This State Department position gives me a terrific platform to share what works in protecting and restoring the ocean and to promote more, and better, science to inform how we use fisheries and the other resources of the ocean,” Lubchenco said.

The Tyler Prize, established by John and Alice Tyler, is awarded annually, with administrative support from the University of Southern California. On April 23 at 2 p.m., Lubchenco and Gadgil will deliver public lectures on their work at The Forum at USC.

Story By: 

Nick Seaver, 301-280-5727

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Jane Lubchenco
Jane Lubchenco

Starfish wasting disease focus of Corvallis Science Pub

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In less than a week, a healthy sea star can develop dark lesions, lose its arms and disintegrate into mush. The unprecedented die-off of these animals along the Oregon coast in 2014 took scientists by surprise.

At the Feb. 9 Corvallis Science Pub, Oregon State University’s Bruce Menge will discuss efforts to understand the likely causes and potential consequences of this disease.

Menge leads a multiyear research program known as the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, or PISCO. As he and his colleagues investigated waters in Yaquina Bay, Boiler Bay and other locations, they documented the progress of the disease. They had never seen such rapid disappearance of what scientists call a keystone species – an animal that exerts a strong influence over the structure of an ecosystem.

From Alaska to Baja, California, the disease has affected more than 20 species of sea stars and attracted the attention of scientists across the country. In November, researchers at Cornell University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, announced that they had isolated a virus that appeared to be the cause of wasting, but the factors making the sea stars susceptible to disease remain unclear.

Menge is the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and an OSU distinguished professor in the OSU College of Science.

The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis. Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.


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Bruce Menge, 541-737-5358

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, 541-737-2111; sabah.randhawa@oregonstate.edu

Lubchenco receives World Academy of Sciences Medal

MUSCAT, Oman - Jane Lubchenco, the University Distinguished Professor and Advisor in Marine Studies at Oregon State University and former NOAA administrator, yesterday received The World Academy of Sciences Medal at the annual meeting of this organization in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

This international academy of sciences was founded by Abdus Salam, a physicist and Pakistani Nobel laureate, and the medal recognizes outstanding achievements in science. The organization, with about 1,100 members, promotes science and the development of scientific capacity in the developing world.

Lubchenco was first elected a member of the group in 2004, in recognition of her discoveries in marine ecology and efforts to strengthen science in the developing world. She served three years as president of the International Council for Science, a non-governmental organization that is the voice for international, interdisciplinary science.

Lubchenco presented an award lecture in Oman on Oct. 26 on “Delivering on Science’s Social Contract,” which will outline new advances that are transforming attitudes, behavior, management and policies that affect ocean health.

Lubchenco is an environmental scientist and marine ecologist whose research interests include biodiversity, climate change, sustainable use of oceans and the planet, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. She currently is a distinguished professor in the OSU College of Science and advisor in marine studies at OSU, and recently served for four years as the administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Jane Lubchenco, 541-737-5337

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Jane Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco

OSU’s Lubchenco honored for science communication efforts

SAN FRANCISCO - Climate One at The Commonwealth Club today announced that Jane Lubchenco, the University Distinguished Professor and Advisor in Marine Studies at Oregon State University and former NOAA administrator, will receive the fourth annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication.

The $10,000 award is given to a natural or social scientist who has made extraordinary scientific contributions and communicated that knowledge to a broad public in a clear and compelling fashion. It was established in memory of Stephen H. Schneider, a pioneer in the field of climatology.

“Throughout her distinguished career, Jane Lubchenco has been that rare combination: an outstanding environmental scientist and an outspoken champion of scientific engagement and communication with policy-makers, the media, and the public,” said Cristine Russell, a science journalist and one of the jurors making the award selection.

“She co-founded three important organizations dedicated to improving science communication and the health of the world’s oceans.”

Lubchenco is an environmental scientist and marine ecologist in the OSU College of Science whose research interests include biodiversity, climate change, sustainable use of oceans and the planet, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. She recently served for four years as the administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As an advocate for effective science communication to non-technical audiences, Lubchenco founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in 1998, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea in 1999, and Climate Central in 2007.

During her tenure with NOAA, Lubchenco helped lead the nation through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 770 tornadoes, 70 Atlantic hurricanes, six major floods, three tsunamis, historic drought and wildfires, prolonged heat waves and record snowfalls and blizzards.

She launched a “Weather Ready Nation” initiative to improve responses to extreme water and weather events, oversaw the most comprehensive National Climate Assessment ever, and led programs to forbid politicization of science or interference with scientists communicating with the news media.

Story By: 

Riki Rafner, 415-597-6712

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Jane Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco

Corvallis Science Pub focuses on Buddhism and science

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Science and Buddhism might seem to have little in common, but they share surprising similarities. At the Oct. 13 Corvallis Science Pub, Dee Denver, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University, will explore the intersection of these two traditions.

The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis.

“Science of the West and Buddhism of the East have been separated in time and space for most of their respective histories, but recent dialogue between them has revealed many unexpected points of harmony,” said Denver. “Science and Buddhism share a value in logic and reason in shaping their respective worldviews.”

Denver is director of the Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Program at OSU. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, in 2002. His research team studies the evolution of genomes and symbiotic relationships in nematodes and anemones. In 2012, he was a visiting research professor at Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon, where he did research for an ongoing book project focused on the intersections of Buddhism and biology.

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.


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Dee Denver, 541-737-3698