OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of science

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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Riki Rafner, 415-597-6712

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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

Grant to improve STEM success among underrepresented students

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields.

The program will benefit underrepresented minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged individuals, and help address a growing national need for workers trained in STEM disciplines.

Targeted at students in the colleges of science, engineering, and agricultural sciences, the OSU program will use methods proven to increase STEM success, such as small, cohort-based orientation courses; mentoring by student peers; and workshops given by upper-class STEM students.

Faculty-directed undergraduate research in the freshman and early sophomore years, and the immediate post-transfer year for community college students, will also help provide students with enriching experiences that increase learning and provide economic support to help disadvantaged students remain in school.

The program is designed to benefit 276 student participants over its five-year span, and will be evaluated and communicated to other universities, for them to benefit by replicating its successes.

“This should also help build a structure, design and institutional culture of support for STEM students that will be retained long after the funding has ended,” said Kevin Ahern, principal investigator on the grant and a leader in university efforts to get more undergraduate students involved in experiential learning.

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Kevin Ahern, 541-737-2305

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Student research

Student research

Schellman to head physics department

CORVALLIS, Ore.  – Heidi Schellman has been appointed to head the Department of Physics in the College of Science at Oregon State University, beginning in January, 2015.

Schellman, a fellow of the American Physical Society who does international research on high energy physics, has chaired the physics and astronomy program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University since 2010.

“Dr. Schellman will work with the Department of Physics to enhance our research excellence and to advance our teaching and learning initiatives,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the OSU College of Science. “With her research experience, academic leadership, innovative approach to course development, and support for underrepresented student populations, I know she will be an excellent addition to our college and to Oregon State.”

At Northwestern, Schellman has increased funding support for graduate students, created smaller class sizes and drop-in tutoring for undergraduate students, developed courses to help underrepresented groups succeed in academia, and pursued other initiatives.

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Debbie Farris, 541-737-862

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Heidi Schellman

Heidi Schellman

Chemistry professors named ACS Fellows

CORVALLIS, Ore.  -  Two professors at Oregon State University have been named as fellows of the American Chemical Society.

Kevin P. Gable,  a professor of chemistry, was honored for the study of chemical processes important to industrial manufacturers of antifreeze, plastics precursors and the pharmaceutical industry. An expert in reaction processes involved in metal-catalyzed oxidations, Gable received his doctorate from Cornell University and has been on the OSU chemistry faculty since 1988. He has also been active in both academic and administrative leadership at OSU and with the ACS.

Robert J. McGorrin, the Jacobs-Root Professor and head of the Department of Food Science and Technology at OSU, was honored for his contributions to food chemistry and more than 35 years of leadership in ACS.  McGorrin, who is a national expert on flavor chemistry and trace volatile analysis, received his doctorate from the University of Illinois and has been on the OSU faculty since 2000. He worked in private industry for 23 years, and while at OSU has helped to greatly expand food science educational and research programs, along with student enrollment.

With more than 161,000 members, the ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. The 2014 ACS fellows will be inducted at the national meeting of the organization in San Francisco in August.

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Debbie Farris, 541-737-862

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Robert McGorrin
Robert McGorrin


Kevin Gable

Kevin Gable

Keszler named associate dean in OSU College of Science

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The College of Science at Oregon State University has named Douglas Keszler as associate dean for research and graduate studies.

Keszler, a distinguished professor in the OSU Department of Chemistry and director of the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, earned his doctorate from Northwestern University and in 1984 joined OSU.

He is an expert on the synthesis and study of inorganic molecules and materials that will enable next-generation electronic and energy devices, including high-efficiency solar cells. His pioneering science contributions are being commercialized by three start-up companies – Inpria, Amorphyx, and Beet.

“I am confident that Doug will have a tremendous impact on the college’s research excellence, collaborations across departments and colleges, mentorship of faculty, industry partnerships and start-ups,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the college, “while increasing the quality, quantity, and diversity of our graduate programs.”

The associate dean supports graduate and faculty research, cultivates collaborative research and large-scale interdisciplinary projects, and helps to identify potential industry partners and start-ups.

 “I look forward to enhancing a supportive and creative research environment, advancing high-quality graduate programs that support broad professional development of students, and enriching the scientific research community at OSU,” Keszler said.

Home to the life, statistical, physical and mathematical sciences, the College of Science has graduated more than 25,000 students since 1932 and is recognized for excellence in research and scholarship.

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Debbie Farris, 541-737-4862

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Doug Keszler

Doug Keszler