OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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Amber fossil reveals ancient reproduction in flowering plants

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A 100-million-year old piece of amber has been discovered which reveals the oldest evidence of sexual reproduction in a flowering plant – a cluster of 18 tiny flowers from the Cretaceous Period – with one of them in the process of making some new seeds for the next generation.

The perfectly-preserved scene, in a plant now extinct, is part of a portrait created in the mid-Cretaceous when flowering plants were changing the face of the Earth forever, adding beauty, biodiversity and food. It appears identical to the reproduction process that “angiosperms,” or flowering plants still use today.

Researchers from Oregon State University and Germany published their findings on the fossils in the Journal of the Botanical Institute of Texas.

The flowers themselves are in remarkable condition, as are many such plants and insects preserved for all time in amber. The flowing tree sap covered the specimens and then began the long process of turning into a fossilized, semi-precious gem. The flower cluster is one of the most complete ever found in amber and appeared at a time when many of the flowering plants were still quite small.

Even more remarkable is the microscopic image of pollen tubes growing out of two grains of pollen and penetrating the flower’s stigma, the receptive part of the female reproductive system. This sets the stage for fertilization of the egg and would begin the process of seed formation – had the reproductive act been completed.

“In Cretaceous flowers we’ve never before seen a fossil that shows the pollen tube actually entering the stigma,” said George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology at the OSU College of Science. “This is the beauty of amber fossils. They are preserved so rapidly after entering the resin that structures such as pollen grains and tubes can be detected with a microscope.”

The pollen of these flowers appeared to be sticky, Poinar said, suggesting it was carried by a pollinating insect, and adding further insights into the biodiversity and biology of life in this distant era. At that time much of the plant life was composed of conifers, ferns, mosses, and cycads.  During the Cretaceous, new lineages of mammals and birds were beginning to appear, along with the flowering plants. But dinosaurs still dominated the Earth.

“The evolution of flowering plants caused an enormous change in the biodiversity of life on Earth, especially in the tropics and subtropics,” Poinar said.

“New associations between these small flowering plants and various types of insects and other animal life resulted in the successful distribution and evolution of these plants through most of the world today,” he said. “It’s interesting that the mechanisms for reproduction that are still with us today had already been established some 100 million years ago.”

The fossils were discovered from amber mines in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar, previously known as Burma. The newly-described genus and species of flower was named Micropetasos burmensis.

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George Poinar, 541-752-0917

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Ancient flowers

Ancient flower


Pollen tubes

Pollen tubes

Celebrate Veterans Day – then head back to class

CORVALLIS, Ore. – With improved educational benefits and after years of conflict in the Middle East, a flood of veterans are heading to college in numbers that surpass those of recent history.

Oregon State University has 1,025 students who are receiving veteran educational benefits, a new record and the most of any university in Oregon. They now account for about one out of every 25 students at OSU, and a range of programs are being created or expanded to help facilitate this stream of incoming veterans.

“I’ve talked to counterparts all over the country and this is clearly a national trend,” said Gus Bedwell, the OSU veteran resources coordinator. “OSU has always had quite a few veteran students, but right now we’re almost triple the number of five years ago. Other institutions are also seeing three to four times as many veterans as they used to.”

Part of the increase, officials say, is due to an expansion of educational benefits that were put in place in the early 2000s, including some that veteran dependents and spouses can use. A weak economy also made it an opportune time for veterans to attend college, just like many other students.

OSU has responded with renewed efforts to pave the way for returning veterans, programs to cut through federal bureaucracy, and make sure the students get both the personal and professional help they need.

Two new initiatives at OSU are an example. A Student Health Services Veterans Work Group is helping to ensure treatment of the full range of health concerns that veterans face, including access to some local services. And a Veterans Work Group focuses much of its efforts on academic and programmatic support. This group and other officials have trained advisers, worked to expedite the transfer of military transcripts to academia, and helped keep students informed during the recent government shutdown.

A website at http://oregonstate.edu/veterans/home/ helps guide veterans, and a veterans lounge in the OSU Memorial Union allows veterans an opportunity to meet and build their community in a casual setting.

“OSU has really made an effort to understand the obstacles veterans face and help work around them,” Bedwell said.

For instance, he said, the federal government is often slow at making veteran educational benefit payments. Officials know the money will come, but in the meantime it can cost students penalties, interest, and create “holds” that interfere with course registration. So the university created a mechanism to avoid these holds, allow regular progress with an educational program, and refund any penalties once the government payments are made. This program is called the “Goodwill Interest Waiver.”

The university’s nationally recognized program of distance education, E-Campus, is also a favorite with many veterans. They can take courses while living literally anywhere in the world and earn degrees in a wide range of fields.

OSU, with its origin as a land grant college, had a mandate under the Morrill Act of 1862 to “include military tactics” as part of its educational program, and the university has always been tuned to the needs of veterans.

It’s one of a limited number of schools that hosts all four branches of the Reserve Officers Training Corp, and its student center, the Memorial Union, was named to help honor veterans, many of them returned from World War I. OSU has earned the title of “Military Friendly School” by GI Jobs several years in a row.

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Gus Bedwell, 541-737-7662

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Veterans Day Parade

Students in parade

Celebrated memoirist Nick Flynn to read at OSU on Oct. 11

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Writer Nick Flynn will read from his work on Friday, Oct. 11, at Oregon State University’s Valley Library rotunda. The free public event begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing.

Flynn is the author of three memoirs including “The Reenactments” (2013), “The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment” (2010) and “Another … Night in Suck City” (2004). Flynn is also the author of three books of poetry.

Of Flynn’s most recent memoir, “The Reenactments,”  Kirkus Reviews wrote: “Flynn’s determination to better understand his life through the act of writing and remembering has yielded a truly insightful, original work.” Clea Simon of The Boston Globe said Flynn’s writing is “always specific and honest” and “dryly funny.”

His award-winning memoir “Another … Night in Suck City” was turned into the movie “Being Flynn,” starring Robert De Niro and Paul Dano. That book recounted his unusual relationship with his alcoholic father and the suicide of his mother.

Flynn, 52, is a professor of poetry and married to actress Lili Taylor.

Flynn has been awarded fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Amy Lowell Trust, and The Fine Arts Work Center.

The Visiting Writers Series brings nationally-known writers to Oregon State University. The program is made possible by support from The Valley Library, OSU Press, the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film, the College of Liberal Arts, Kathy Brisker and Tim Steele, and Grass Roots Books and Music.

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Rachel Ratner, 516-652-5817

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NickFlynn
Nick Flynn

Portland fundraiser to lead OSU Foundation’s Metro office

PORTLAND, Ore. – Kristin Watkins, associate vice president for advancement at Portland Community College and executive officer of the PCC Foundation, has been named the head of Oregon State University Foundation's office in Portland.

Watkins brings 17 years of experience in the Portland metro area to her new position as associate vice president of the OSU Portland Center. In addition to providing leadership to the OSU Foundation staff based in Portland, she will lead efforts to increase private support for OSU in the metropolitan area. With more than 40,000 alumni in greater Portland, the region is home to one in four of the university’s graduates.

As PCC’s chief advancement officer, Watkins established and led fundraising plans that nearly tripled annual revenue, bringing that institution’s fundraising program into the top 10 percent of community colleges in the nation.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining the OSU Foundation’s team,” Watkins said. “As a graduate of two other land grant universities, I am passionate about the threefold land grant mission of accessible education, research and community outreach. It will be an honor to represent OSU in Portland and extend the university’s connections with alumni and other partners.”

The addition of Watkins to the OSU Foundation’s leadership team comes as the organization prepares to conclude Oregon State’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign on Dec. 31. In June, gifts from donors to The Campaign for OSU totaled more than $1.06 billion, including more than $180 million for scholarships and fellowships. Scholarship gifts like these support more than 3,000 students at OSU each year. Public events to celebrate the campaign’s donors are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 31.

To date Portland metro donors have contributed more than $330 million to the campaign.

“The campaign has been a tremendous launching point for us, and as we move forward it is even more important that we build our relationships in Portland; it’s our most important market,” said Mike Goodwin, president and CEO of the OSU Foundation. “Kristin is well-known in the community, and her leadership has created truly impressive results. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Oregon State family.”

Shawn Scoville, the OSU Foundation’s executive vice president, added, “Not only do we have a tremendous community of alumni and friends in Portland, we also are committed to supporting the city and our state by collaborating with a variety of nonprofits, industry partners, and colleagues in higher education, including PCC. Kristin is uniquely positioned to help us take these already strong relationships to the next level.”

A native of Virginia, Watkins graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Virginia Tech then earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the Portland Community College staff, she was deputy director for Wider Opportunities for Women, a national nonprofit organization based in District of Columbia. She serves as a board member on District VIII for CASE – the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Watkins will begin her work at the OSU Portland Center in early September.

 

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Shawn Scoville, 541-737-9312

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kristinwatkins
Kristin Watkins

Ninth season of Bard in the Quad at OSU to feature ‘Julius Caesar’

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s ninth season of the popular Bard in the Quad program will feature “Julius Caesar,” a tragedy about conspiracy, betrayal and ambition. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7-10 and Aug. 14-17 in the Memorial Union Quad on the OSU campus in Corvallis.

Bard in the Quad brings innovative Shakespeare productions to Corvallis in a casual, fun summer atmosphere. Performances are held outdoors and no seating is provided. Attendees are encouraged to bring low lawn chairs and/or blankets, warm clothing and even a picnic dinner if desired. Seating begins at 6:30 p.m. and no one will be seated prior to that time.

“Julius Caesar” depicts the plot to assassinate the charismatic Roman emperor in a modern interpretation of a classic drama filled with political intrigue and revenge. Amidst fear that Caesar intends to transform the Roman Republic into an empire, a group of influential senators and military leaders conspire to assassinate Caesar. The bloody political drama unfolds as each Roman struggles with issues of pride, loyalty and revenge.

Director George Caldwell’s production is influenced by the multiple fascist regimes and corrupt political systems of the 20th and 21st centuries and is set in a contemporary world where the military, government and corporations collide.

The cast features OSU students Elise Barberis as Portia/Octavia; Michael Orkney as Caesar; Emily Kathleen Peters as Calpurnia; Alex Small as Lepidus; Mike Stephens as Cinna; Sam Thompson as Trebonius; Joseph Workman as Cassius; and Renée Zipp as Metellus.

Other roles are played by community members from Corvallis, Albany and Salem. They are Erin Cunningham as Brutus; Craig Richard Currier as Lucius; Angie De Morgan as Cicero; Jonathan Thompson as Casca; Kate Thompson as Mark Antonia; Elli Smith as Soothsayer; and Alexandra Toner as Decius Brutus.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for OSU students. Purchase tickets at bardinthequad.org or call the OSU Theatre box office, 541-737-2784. Contact box office manager Arin Dooley at 541-737-2784 for questions regarding tickets, seating, group ticket discounts and other accommodations.

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Oregon State University hires new director for School of Arts and Communication

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Lee Ann Garrison, an administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been named the director of the School of Arts and Communication in the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.

Garrison has been executive director of the Design Research Institute at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin. An art and design professor, Garrison also is the interim associate dean for curricular design and innovation in the Lubar School of Business and interim associate dean of academic and student affairs at the Zilber School of Public Health.

Garrison comes to Corvallis with a strong background in curriculum development and creating collaborative teaching and research opportunities at UW-Milwaukee. She will continue to use those skills as director of the School of Arts and Communication.

At Oregon State, Garrison will work to elevate the arts on campus and throughout the community, and also to create opportunities for students and faculty to work with others in the arts and beyond. 

“As an artist, Lee Ann is a bridge-builder who’s been especially adept at working across many disciplines in a university setting,” said Lawrence Rodgers, executive dean of the Division of Arts and Science. “She has a history as an especially accomplished administrator known for her ability to build coalitions and collaborate in a large institution.” 

Garrison will begin her new position Aug. 11.

Source: 

Celene Carillo, 541-737-2137 or Celene.carillo@oregonstate.edu

OSU students to run across Oregon this summer promoting health and physical activity

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University students and brothers Jeremiah and Isaiah Godby will spend their summer running across Oregon in an effort to encourage Oregonians to improve their health through better eating and exercise.

The “Health Extension Run 2014” was designed to inspire Oregonians to take charge of their health and educate community residents about the role the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences and OSU Extension Service offices in each county play in building healthy communities. The event coincides with the recent accreditation of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

The run begins July 7 on the Oregon State campus in Corvallis and is expected to finish Sept. 5 at OSU. The Godbys plan to run 1,675 miles through 30 Oregon counties, with stops in many communities along the route for public events such as health festivals and county fairs. OSU students, alumni and all other supporters are encouraged to run or walk with the brothers in their communities.

Jeremiah, 21, and Isaiah, 23, are exercise and sports science majors in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. They said they are motivated to run in hopes that they can inspire others to get more exercise, eat better and make other health improvements.

Jeremiah Godby is an example of the difference exercise can make. After he decided to cut back on video-game playing and began running in high school, he lost 45 pounds.

“I feel so much better,” he said. “I just enjoy life more.”

He and his brother took up long-distance running as a form of advocacy and, after completing similar long runs in the past, volunteered for this summer’s Health Extension Run. 

“We just want to inspire people to live a balanced life,” said Isaiah Godby. “It’s not as complicated as people think. Walk an extra block or park your car further away in the parking lot.”

The run will kick off at 9:30 a.m. on July 7 with a short send-off ceremony on the steps of the Memorial Union quad on the Oregon State campus in Corvallis. The Godbys will then run around the OSU campus before heading north on Highway 99.

The brothers will run about 32 miles a day, traveling north from Corvallis to Astoria, down the Oregon Coast, across to Eugene and then south to Medford before heading east to Klamath Falls, where they’ll participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center. From Klamath Falls, they’ll run to Bend, Prineville, John Day, Burns and Ontario.

The Godbys also will spend a day in Boise, Idaho, where they’ll run through the city and participate in a Beavers alumni event. For more information or to register for that event, visit http://bit.ly/1rf1gOT.

From Boise, the runners will head back to Ontario, where they’ll head north to Baker City and LaGrande, then work their way back west through towns including Pendleton, Heppner, Condon, The Dalles and Hood River. They’ll be in Portland for a few days before running to Salem for the Oregon State Fair, then to Albany before wrapping in Corvallis on Sept. 5.

Find more information about events in the community at http://bit.ly/V9zK8a and follow along with the Godbys on their blog, http://bit.ly/1z65ue8.


Editor's note: Video b-roll is available to download for use with this news release: http://health.oregonstate.edu/broll/healthextensionrun.
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Isaiah Godby, 530-574-7420 or godbyi@onid.oregonstate.edu; Jeremiah Godby, 530-574-7421 or godbyj@onid.oregonstate.edu; Kathryn Stroppel, 541-737-6612 or Kathryn.Stroppel@oregonstate.edu

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Jeremiah, left, and Isaiah Godby

Health Extension Run 2014

OSU to observe Veterans Day as official holiday beginning in 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will begin observing Veterans Day as an official holiday beginning in 2015.

The decision was announced today by OSU President Edward J. Ray, after consultation with both the OSU Faculty Senate and the Associated Students of Oregon State University.

“I am proud that the university will begin honoring our veterans with the observance of this national holiday,” Ray said. “This is a meaningful decision. Last year, Oregon State had 1,025 students who received veteran educational benefits – the most of any university in Oregon – and it is important that we recognize and honor the many sacrifices that our nation’s veterans have made.”

Veterans now account for about one out of every 25 students at OSU. A range of programs have been initiated or expanded to help support the university’s student veterans.

Ray also announced that the university will begin its academic year earlier in 2015, with the first day of classes scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 23, that year.

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Steve Clark, 503-502-8217, steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

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Veterans Day Parade
OSU students, supporters at

2013 Veterans Day parade

New ‘Philosophy of Phish’ course at OSU aims to engage students in curriculum

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In an effort to make a challenging curriculum more accessible and engaging for students, a professor at Oregon State University will teach a philosophy course on the band Phish this summer.

Stephanie Jenkins, an assistant professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts at OSU, plans to explore the relationship between philosophy, music and social change with her students in a course she has dubbed “Philosophy School of Phish.”

“I have to find what students are passionate about in order to speak to them about philosophy,” Jenkins said. “Phish, or any pop culture topic, elicits interest and engages them. It’s really about teaching effectively in ways that students will remember and use for the rest of their lives.”

The course begins June 23 and runs for eight weeks. It is a distance education course offered online through Oregon State University Ecampus and enrollment is not limited to Oregon State students. Phish fans from all over the country could participate in the course. For information, visit http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/.

The course, a special section of PHL 360: Philosophy and the Arts, was designed as a philosophy of music class. Other musicians could easily be substituted as case studies, but Jenkins chose Phish because she’s a fan and is familiar with the group’s large and loyal following.

“One of the benefits of doing a rigorous philosophical study of a band is that it gives students tools to articulate why they like the concerts and how the band’s music has philosophical and spiritual components,” Jenkins said.

The practice of philosophy involves exploring questions about ethics, politics, beauty and more. Students learn to clarify and articulate their own beliefs, analyze ideas and acquire critical thinking skills.

Along with required readings from philosophers such as Kant, Tolstoy and Nietzsche, students in Jenkins’ class will be required to attend Phish concerts during the band’s summer tour or watch them via webcasts online. The experiential component is critical to engaging students with the curriculum, Jenkins said.

“I can lecture forever, but they’ll never remember it,” she said. “When you give students an experience, you give them a basis for relating to the content. It’s like field work.”

Phish is known for improvising and blending elements of a variety of musical genres. Fans follow the group from concert to concert and each show can vary widely as the musicians improvise. The band, which was founded in the 1980s, is releasing a new album later this month and will launch a new tour July 1 in Massachusetts. Other stops include New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and more. 

Jenkins will follow the tour. She’ll attend concerts, teach, conduct research on the practice of public philosophy and hold philosophy events at concert venues along the way. Students from outside Oregon who are taking the course online would have a chance to meet their professor in person during the tour.

The public events also are an opportunity for Jenkins to discuss Phish and the philosophy of music with fans or anyone else who might to join in the discussion.

“It’s a way for people to engage in academic conversations and maybe inspire people to actually read philosophy,” she said. “Today, we think of philosophy as something really abstract that scholars do. But Socrates and others did philosophy in the city, in the public square.”

To find out more about the public events, visit Jenkins’ website, http://philosophyschoolofphish.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @scjenkins.

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Stephanie Jenkins, 541-737-6517, Stephanie.jenkins@oregonstate.edu

OSU seeks participants for new health promotion program

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers who are organizing Physical Activity Centered Education, a new health promotion program aimed at people with physical mobility issues, are seeking participants from the Corvallis area.

Megan MacDonald, assistant professor in exercise and sport science at Oregon State University, is creating the program based on a successful model developed at a medical facility in Texas.

The program is aimed at people ages 18 and older who have limited mobility – defined as having difficulty walking one block, or using an assistive device such as a walker, cane or wheelchair.

Participants must be able to communicate in English, attend the program once a week for 90 minutes during an eight-week period, and will receive up to $75 for taking part. It will take place in the Movement Studies in Disabilities Lab in the Women’s Building on the OSU campus.

This is part of a research project on how a health promotion program can influence the physical activity of people with a mobility disability. It helps people learn social and behavioral skills to become healthier, such as setting goals, rewarding themselves for making their goals, and how to overcome barriers to being healthy and active.

To learn more information on qualifications for the program and to sign up to participate, email health.disability@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6928.

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Megan MacDonald, 541-737-6928; megan.macdonald@oregonstate.edu