OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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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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Author Paul Bogard to read from his book on Oct. 9

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,” will read from his book on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. The reading begins at 7 p.m. at the library, located at 645 N.W. Monroe Ave., Corvallis.

The event is sponsored by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word and Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

In his book, Bogard examines the night and how people experience it, traveling to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Walden Pond, and the Canary Islands to explore degrees of darkness. After talking to astronomers, lighting professionals, nurses, and other night-time workers, Bogard writes about the cultural, social and health implications of a night that’s getting brighter every minute, thanks in part to parking lot lights and streetlights.

Publishers Weekly wrote: “Even readers unable to tell Orion from the Big Dipper will find a new appreciation for the night sky after spending some time with this terrific book.”

A native of Minnesota, Bogard teaches creative nonfiction at James Madison University. He is also editor of the anthology “Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark.” 

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Carly Lettero, 541-737-6198

Auditions for OSU’s one-act festival to be held April 6-7

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Auditions for Oregon State University Theatre’s spring One-Act Festival, featuring four original comedies by OSU Theatre students, will be held on April 6 and 7.

Auditions will be at 6 p.m. in the Withycombe Hall Lab Theatre, 2901 S.W. Campus Way. They consist of cold readings, no preparation is necessary, and they are open to all OSU students, faculty and staff, and to members of the Corvallis community. Scripts are available to check out from the Theatre Arts office in Withycombe Hall, Room 141.

A variety of roles are available in the Spring One-Act Festival. The plays are:

  • “The Mark,” by Elise Barberis, is an apocalyptic comedy featuring Steve, a former cult member who is relentlessly stalked by the cult's current members. Steve bears a mysterious birthmark that may be the key to saving the world.
  • “Cheep! Cheep!” by Joseph Workman, tells the story of Maxwell, a depressed former paperboy and current employee at a family-owned chicken farm who faces the challenges of weird small-town politics and chronically-giddy fellow employees.
  • “Answer Me,” by Amanda Kelner, features Tegan, a young woman starting a new job as a receptionist for Madam Matilda, a psychic with the unique ability of actually being able to predict the future.
  • “Caffeinated Crisis,” by Bryanna Rainwater, features Linda, an intrepid reporter who stumbles upon a bizarre conspiracy orchestrated by the West Coast's most powerful coffee bean barons.

The Spring One-Act Festival runs June 3 through 6 at 7:30 p.m., and June 7 at 2:00 p.m.

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Low vitamin D levels and depression linked in young women, new OSU study shows

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study from Oregon State University suggests there is a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depression in otherwise healthy young women.

OSU researchers found that young women with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to have clinically significant depressive symptoms over the course of a five-week study, lead author David Kerr said. The results were consistent even when researchers took into account other possible explanations, such as time of year, exercise and time spent outside.

“Depression has multiple, powerful causes and if vitamin D is part of the picture, it is just a small part,” said Kerr, an associate professor in the School of Psychological Science at OSU. “But given how many people are affected by depression, any little inroad we can find could have an important impact on public health.”

The findings were published recently in the journal Psychiatry Research. Co-authors are Sarina Saturn of the School of Psychological Science; Balz Frei and Adrian Gombart of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute; David Zava of ZRT Laboratory and Walter Piper, a former OSU student now at New York University.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for bone health and muscle function. Deficiency has been associated with impaired immune function, some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease, said Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute and international expert on vitamin D and the immune response.

People create their own vitamin D when their skin is exposed to sunlight. When sun is scarce in the winter, people can take a supplement, but vitamin D also is found in some foods, including milk that is fortified with it, Gombart said. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU per day. There is no established level of vitamin D sufficiency for mental health.

The new study was prompted in part because there is a widely held belief that vitamin D and depression are connected, but there is not actually much scientific research out there to support the belief, Kerr said.

“I think people hear that vitamin D and depression can change with the seasons, so it is natural for them to assume the two are connected,” he said.

According to Kerr and his colleagues, a lot of past research has actually found no association between the two, but much of that research has been based on much older adults or special medical populations.

Kerr’s study focused on young women in the Pacific Northwest because they are at risk of both depression and vitamin D insufficiency. Past research found that 25 percent of American women experience clinical depression at some point in their lives, compared to 16 percent of men, for example.

OSU researchers recruited 185 college students, all women ages 18-25, to participate in the study at different times during the school year. Vitamin D levels were measured from blood samples and participants completed a depression symptom survey each week for five weeks.

Many women in the study had vitamin D levels considered insufficient for good health, and the rates were much higher among women of color, with 61 percent of women of color recording insufficient levels, compared to 35 percent of other women. In addition, more than a third of the participants reported clinically significant depressive symptoms each week over the course of the study.

“It may surprise people that so many apparently healthy young women are experiencing these health risks,” Kerr said.

As expected, the women’s vitamin D levels depended on the time of year, with levels dropping during the fall, at their lowest in winter, and rising in the spring. Depression did not show as a clear pattern, prompting Kerr to conclude that links between vitamin D deficiency and seasonal depression should be studied in larger groups of at-risk individuals.

Researchers say the study does not conclusively show that low vitamin D levels cause depression. A clinical trial examining whether vitamin D supplements might help prevent or relieve depression is the logical next step to understanding the link between the two, Kerr said.

OSU researchers already have begun a follow-up study on vitamin D deficiency in women of color. In the meantime, researchers encourage those at risk of vitamin D deficiency to speak with their doctor about taking a supplement.

“Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and readily available.” Kerr said. “They certainly shouldn’t be considered as alternatives to the treatments known to be effective for depression, but they are good for overall health.”

The research was supported by grants from the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation’s John C. Erkkila Endowment for Health and Human Performance and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 


About the Linus Pauling Institute:  The Linus Pauling Institute at OSU is a world leader in the study of micronutrients and their role in promoting optimum health or preventing and treating disease. Major areas of research include heart disease, cancer, aging and neurodegenerative disease.

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David Kerr, 541-737-1364, david.kerr@oregonstate.edu

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Students at Oregon State University enjoy a sunny winter day on the Corvallis campus.

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OSU Theatre to present Vietnam-era play, ‘Strange Snow,’ March 5-8

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Theatre’s 2014-15 season, which focuses on War and Remembrance, continues with the Lab Theatre production of Stephen Metcalf’s Vietnam-era play, “Strange Snow,” in March.

The production, directed by OSU Theatre Arts student Bryanna Rainwater, will run March 5-7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m. in the Withycombe Hall Lab Theatre, 2901 S.W. Campus Way, Corvallis.

The play tells the story of a troubled past shared by two Vietnam veterans during a fishing trip on opening day of the season. Relationships develop through humor and heartache as Dave and Megs attempt to move on from a horrific event. The exploration of friendship and the impacts of war upon individuals and families serve as a reminder of the personal sacrifices made in military service.

“This play explores much more than what’s at the surface and reveals a lot about the human condition and what it is like to be vulnerable,” Rainwater said.

The production features the work of Oregon State students Amanda Kelner as Martha, Evan Butler as Megs and Brad Stone as Dave.

Tickets are $8 adults; $6 for seniors; $5 youth/student; and $4 for OSU students. They can be purchased online at http://bit.ly/1wgmTkJ  or by calling the theatre box office at 541-737-2784. There is no reserved seating for this production. For more information or DAS accommodations, contact the box office.

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Author Jenny Boully to read at Oregon State March 6

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Author Jenny Boully will read from her works on Friday, March 6, at Oregon State University’s Valley Library rotunda on the Corvallis campus beginning at 7:30 p.m. A question and answer session and book signing will follow.

Boully is the author of four books, most recently “not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them,” from Tarpaulin Sky Press. Her other books include “The Books of Beginnings and Endings,” (Sarabande Books) “[one love affair]* (Tarpaulin Sky Press), and “The Body: An Essay,” (Essay Press, first published by Slope Editions).

Boully’s chapbook of prose, “Moveable Types,” was released by Noemi Press. Her work has been anthologized in “The Best American Poetry,” “The Next American Essay,” “Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present,” and other places.

Boully was born in Thailand and raised in Texas. She attended Hollins University and went on to receive her M.A. in English Criticism and Writing. She also earned a master of fine arts from the University of Notre Dame and holds a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband and daughter and teaches at Columbia College Chicago.

The reading is part of the 2014-15 Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the MFA Program in Creative Writing in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film. The series brings nationally known writers to Oregon State University.

The event is free and open to the public. The program is supported by OSU Libraries and Press, the School of Writing, Literature, and Film, the College of Liberal Arts, Kathy Brisker and Tim Steele and Grass Roots Books and Music.

The Valley Library is located at 201 S.W. Waldo Place on the OSU campus in Corvallis.

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Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz to give Pauling Peace Lecture March 4

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Activist, writer and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will give the annual Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Memorial Lecture for World Peace at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

The 32nd annual lecture, “The Future of the United States,” will be held in the Austin Auditorium at LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St. The event is free and open to the public. 

Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the international indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her commitment to national and international social justice issues.

After earning a doctorate in history at University of California, Los Angeles, Dunbar-Ortiz taught in the newly established Native American Studies Program at California State University, Hayward, and helped found the departments of ethnic studies and women’s studies.

Dunbar-Ortiz is the author or editor of several books, including “Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico,” and most recently, “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.”

The OSU lectureship honors Linus Pauling, an OSU graduate and two-time Nobel Prize laureate, and his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, a noted peace activist. It is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts.

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Richard Clinton, 541-737-6246, Richard.clinton@oregonstate.edu

Study: Identifying population of mentally ill ‘frequent fliers’ first step to reducing police contact

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Identifying the population of people with mental illness who have frequent contact with police could help law enforcement officials and community agencies allocate limited resources to those with the highest needs, new research from Oregon State University indicates. 

These individuals, often referred to as “frequent fliers” because of their repeated interaction with law enforcement, can consume a large amount of police time and resources, according to researchers in the School of Public Policy in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

Identifying and understanding the population can aid policymakers as they work to reduce the frequent and time-consuming interactions, sociologists Scott Akins and Brett Burkhardt said.

“This contact is rarely criminal in nature at the outset,” said Burkhardt, an assistant professor of sociology. “It’s usually a peace officer custody arrest, which is a type of arrest that occurs because a person is believed to be a danger to themselves or others due to a suspected mental illness. But there’s a limited amount of resources, so if we identify people with the highest needs, we can focus resources on those folks.”

Once a local region has identified its population of frequent fliers, community agencies and policy-makers can use the information to change or implement policies to assist those with the highest needs, the researchers said.

“It’s a strategic way to create a more cost-effective and humane way to assist the mentally ill,” said Akins, an associate professor of sociology.

For example, some communities may benefit from the use of mental health courts to address criminal charges for people with mental health needs, he said. Typically in such courts, a collaborative team that includes attorneys, parole and probation representatives and mental health agency representatives work together to address the individual’s needs. That may include a referral for counseling or substance abuse treatment.

Burkhardt and Akins began researching frequent fliers in 2012 in collaboration with law enforcement officials in Corvallis and Benton County. Law enforcement officials had noticed what they believed was an increase in calls related to suspected mental health issues.

They asked Akins, Burkhardt and a team of graduate students to determine if that was in fact the case and, if so, to assist with some potential responses to the trend. The researchers’ findings and recommendations were published recently in the journal “Criminal Justice Policy Review.”

The study was co-authored by Charles Lanfear, who worked on the project as a graduate student at OSU. The research was supported by OSU as well as by the Benton County Sheriff’s office, which provided funding for a graduate student internship related to the research.

Akins and Burkhardt reviewed six years of records, from 2007 through 2012, from the Corvallis Police Department and Benton County Sheriff’s Office and found that peace officer custody arrests increased dramatically from 2011 to 2012, jumping from 144 to 245.

They also found that time spent on mental-health related calls – those where the subject was believed to have a mental illness or mental health crisis – nearly doubled during the six-year period, going from 248 hours annually to 489 hours.

In addition, the researchers determined that of the 697 people placed in peace officer custody for mental health issues, about 17 percent were taken into custody multiple times. A smaller group of 38 frequent fliers had multiple mental health-related arrests in a 14-day span.

“This study validated our perspective that law enforcement contacts with community members having a mental health crisis have significantly risen over the past few years,” Corvallis Police Chief Jon Sassaman said. “It also showed how important it is that we work with all community assets to support individuals in need to prevent situations from generating a law enforcement response.”

While the research focused on Corvallis and Benton County, the method used to identify the frequent fliers is easily replicable by other agencies, the researchers said. That’s important because the rise in police contact with the mentally ill is not unique to Corvallis and Benton County. People with mental illness are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system across the country, Burkhardt said.

Police interaction with individuals with mental health issues can be time-consuming and frustrating for law enforcement officials, who may have some crisis intervention training but are not experts in working with the mentally ill, the researchers said. In addition, the contact can have the potential to become volatile.

The researchers’ findings highlight the need for ongoing collaboration and communication between law enforcement officials and health agencies that are likely to encounter the frequent flier population, the researchers said. In Benton County, local agencies are now exploring the feasibility of a mental health court and are looking at ways to maximize existing systems that have been under-used in the past, Sassaman said.

Akins and Burkhardt said agencies may want to make the monitoring of their frequent flier population part of their regular data collection. They also recommend studying any policy changes made based on the data, to see if the changes have a positive effect in reducing police contact with the mentally ill.

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Scott Akins, 541-737-5370, sakins@oregonstate.edu; or Brett Burkhardt, 541-737-2310 or Brett.burkhardt@oregonstate.edu

Auditions for OSU’s production of ‘Dolly West’ to be held Feb. 22-24

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Auditions for Oregon State University Theatre’s spring production of “Dolly West’s Kitchen” by Frank McGuinness will be held at 6:30 p.m. each night Feb. 22-24 in the Withycombe Hall Main Stage Theatre, 2901 S.W. Campus Way, Corvallis.

The play, set in a small Irish town during World War II, tells the story of a family that faces personal conflicts when allied troops cross the border and enter their home.

Those auditioning are asked to prepare a two- to three-minute monologue. Auditions will also consist of cold readings from the script. There are roles available for three women and five men; the role of Rima has already been cast.

Scripts are available for check-out to read from the Theatre Arts office in Withycombe Hall 141. Auditions are open to all OSU students, faculty and staff and to the community. Performances will run May 7-9 and May 15-17.

For more information contact the director, Jade McCutcheon, at jrmcreative@gmail.com.

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OSU names Karplus, Lewis as 2015 Distinguished Professors

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has named Andrew Karplus and Jon Lewis as its 2015 Distinguished Professor recipients – the highest honor the university can give to faculty members.

They will carry the title as long as they are actively engaged as faculty members  at Oregon State.

“Andy Karplus and Jon Lewis exemplify excellence, collaboration and leadership,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president. “In addition to making significant contributions in their respective fields, they are constantly engaging and challenging students and providing them with experiential learning opportunities. They also are caring mentors – to newer faculty as well as students.”

Karplus is a professor in the College of Science, where he has earned a reputation as one of the best structural biologists in the world – a description cited in his selection as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014. His research, which focuses on enzyme catalysis, protein evolution and structure, and crystallography, has been cited more than 15,000 times by other scientists.

He is known for his high standards in teaching, yet consistently gets top ratings from student evaluators. Karplus teaches a range of courses, from core offerings in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, to a course on protein evolution – his department’s most influential advanced elective.

Karplus also has been praised for his work as an academic adviser, research mentor and collaborator.

An OSU faculty member since 1999, Karplus has received numerous awards include a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, three Alexander von Humboldt fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Lewis is a professor in the College of Liberal Arts who has written a dozen books on film studies, including two new books coming out this summer. He also is the editor of a ground-breaking 10-volume series of academic books on the history of the U.S. film craft that was underwritten by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

He has been editor and advisory board member for the field’s leading peer-reviewed academic journal – the Cinema Journal – and has served as a juror for the American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the student film category. Lewis excels at taking students behind the scenes of the film industry and was executive producer for a video production series on major figures in the U.S. industry.

An OSU faculty member since 1983, Lewis has received numerous awards for his books, including the New York Times New and Noteworthy Paperback for “Hollywood v. Hard Core”; the Booklist Medal for “For Whom God Wishes to Destroy” and the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award for “Romance and Ruin.”

Both professors will give public lectures on campus this May 21 on topics related to their expertise.

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