OSU Extension Blogs

Fearless Faculty

Terra - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 3:54pm
Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research, Oregon State University

It seems only moments ago that I assumed my post as the vice president for research at Oregon State University. The last year has been a time of onboarding and acclimating to OSU. I had the opportunity to learn much about the university’s research enterprise and to be inspired by the work that takes place here every day.

There is an evolving story here at Oregon State — nested in this national treasure of the Willamette Valley between the grandeur of the Pacific and the majesty of the Cascades. OSU draws strength from this place, its productive farms, can-do ethic and practical, get-it-done culture. The OSU faculty, the people at the heart of this story, garnered $762 million in economic and societal impact last year, according to a 2015 assessment by the consulting firm ECONorthwest.

My first and strongest impression from this past year on the job centers on our Oregon State faculty. Quite simply, they are fearless — fearless in tackling some of our planet’s most pressing problems. From climate change and food security to renewable energy and earthquake resilience, OSU researchers are at the leading edge of their respective fields.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, Oregon State reached a record $336 million in research funding. (Illustration: Long Lam)

For the second straight year, Oregon State research funding set a new record. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, researchers earned $336 million in grants and contracts. This accomplishment is testament to our faculty’s expertise and dogged quest for discovery. The culture of collaboration across disciplines distinguishes our faculty and contributes to OSU’s success. This unique community fosters discovery, creativity and innovation and inspires new scientists, engineers and teachers who come to OSU from around the world.

As the chief steward of Oregon State’s research enterprise, I am committed to supporting our students and faculty in their drive to better understand the challenges of the modern world and to use their knowledge to improve the lives of all. These are my priorities for the Research Office in the coming year:

  • Raise the international profile of OSU as a research institution
  • Generate additional revenue to support the research enterprise
  • Advance a climate of inclusion for research programs at OSU
  • Support emerging programs by building closer ties to federal agencies and national laboratories

The challenge for Oregon State is to do even better. I am committed to finding the resources and the support our faculty needs to continue their exceptional pursuit of knowledge.

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Photo gallery: Flora Around Oregon

Terra - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 2:33pm
jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var stackedResizer = function(){ $('.aesop-stacked-img').css({'height':($(window).height())+'px'}); } stackedResizer(); $(window).resize(function(){ stackedResizer(); }); }); Malheur Lake (Photo: Dennis Albert) Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowas (Photo: Ellen Bishop) Steens Mountain (Photo: Paul Slichter) The Wallowas (Photo: Ellen Bishop) Douglas fir in the Cascades ({hot: Tanya Harvey) Broken Top in the Cascades (Photo: Tanya Harvey) Leslie Gulch (Photo: Ellen Bishop) Finley Wildlife Refuge (Photo: Edward Alverson) Cape Perpetua (Photo: Tanya Harvey) Darlingtonia fen in the Siskiyous (Photo: Dennis Albert) Zumwalt Prairie (Photo: Ellen Bishop)

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Photo gallery: TERREWODE in Uganda

Terra - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 11:14am
jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var stackedResizer = function(){ $('.aesop-stacked-img').css({'height':($(window).height())+'px'}); } stackedResizer(); $(window).resize(function(){ stackedResizer(); }); }); Gentle support comes through dance for a fistula survivor and advocate in Soroti, Uganda. A woman with obstructed labor suffers in a health post without support near Soroti, Uganda. TERREWODE staff found her and provided assistance. TERREWODE staff provided support to this woman struggling with obstructed labor at a health post near Soroti. Akello Loy, a the mother of four children, lives in Ogweto Village in the Amuria district of Uganda. She suffered paralysis and a fistula while giving birth to her fourth child. Oregon State students and faculty are working with TERREWODE to learn from and to empower women like Loy. Fistula survivors and advocates sing and dance to welcome TERREWODE representatives to their village. Alice Emasu with newly purchased goats from Heifer International. Milk from this Saanan goat will make its way into soap made by this woman and other fistula survivors. Saanan goat provided by Heifer International. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Goat milk soap making by TERREWODE fistula advocates and survivors. Shea nuts harvested by farmers in Soroti, Uganda. Fistula survivors and advocates served by TERREWODE. McKinsey Starguard, a homesteader in Spray, Oregon, makes goat milk soap in her kitchen. Starguard's recipe and bars of soap were gifted to the TERREWODE women and inspired the soap-making project.

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Our Floral Commons

Terra - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 10:52am

Kirsten Hill cares for the plants on her 25-acre Cascades foothills farm with the knowledge and sensitivity that most of us reserve for our closest friends. She nurtures skullcap, borage, calendula and other herbs and yanks out Timothy grass by the handful. In her Douglas-fir woodlot, she fells trees to carve out openings for ocean spray, huckleberry and blackberry. She watches over marshmallow, California poppies, hyssop, stinging nettle and sorrel that survive nestled in a field under towering stalks of Queen Anne’s lace (aka wild carrot), grasses and thistle.

Every species has a role to play and a story to tell, and like a teacher with her students, Hill wants each one to fill its niche. “Take thistle, for example. It’s nasty for a reason,” she says. “It’s a massive toxin-removal plant. Its main job is to restore damaged systems. With its thorns, it’s telling you to leave this place alone. It goes in there with its tap root, breaks the soil up and brings up minerals from deep below.”

In 2013, when Hill bought the farm (“My family has always enjoyed that saying,” she laughs), she wanted to learn more about the plants that had become what she views as her co-conspirators in restoring the land. So she reached out to the state’s top-seeded source of botanical knowledge, the Oregon Flora Project at Oregon State University. This two-decades-long effort to monitor and catalog botanical biodiversity has produced — in print and online — an unparalleled resource for people who manage farms, ranches, forests, roadways, public green spaces and other lands. Key to this accomplishment is a network of more than 1,000 volunteers like Hill, people with a passion and curiosity about the natural world.

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Twice a month, Hill makes the one-hour drive from Holley down the valley of the Calapooia and across the Willamette to Corvallis. She hunkers in the OSU herbarium, the state’s largest collection of dried specimens of plants found within its borders, and pulls out volumes of plants meticulously arranged and annotated like books in a library. Under the supervision of Stephen Myers, Oregon Flora Project taxonomic director, she uses plant samples submitted by other volunteers, whether they be weekend hikers or professional scientists, to confirm or edit the plant identification keys created for the project. Rarely, after she has exhaustively evaluated the color, shape and structure of petals, stems, seeds and other plant parts, she may suggest reassigning the identification of a specimen.

“I literally go character by character,” she says. “Plants are like people. You can bunch them together, but you may not want to say they’re all the same.” Along the way, she is gaining insight into her land in Holley. “I read about these plants and go, ‘Wait, I’ve got that one. Where did I see it?’ I start looking around at home,” she says, “and when I see it, I say ‘That’s you; I know you now.’ It’s helping me get on a higher level and learn about my property.”

Keys to the Planet

In fact, says Linda Hardison, director of the flora project and an assistant professor in the Oregon State Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, knowing what plants are in our midst is key to understanding the environment. “Everything on this planet hinges around plants,” she says. “They make the air we breathe. They are the primary sources of food, from phytoplankton to grasses for cattle. Plants are the lynchpin for the whole planet.”

For people charged with managing a landscape, she adds, not knowing what plants are present would be like making dinner in the dark. “You can fumble around and try things, but without knowing what’s there, you can’t appreciate what options you have.”

The flora project’s roots go back to 1994 when Scott Sundberg acutely felt the need for an accurate, accounting of Oregon’s floral landscape. The Eugene native and graduate of the University of Oregon had just been hired at Oregon State to oversee the integration of herbarium collections from both institutions. By then, the last published assessment of Oregon’s plant diversity was more than 30 years old. He founded the Oregon Flora Project to create an up-to-date resource. He sought advice and contributions from fellow scientists and the public.

“Scott developed a lot of personal relationships to get this program going because he had deep respect for the knowledge that amateur plant enthusiasts possessed,” says Hardison, who was married to Sundberg. “Good examples are the partnership he formed with the Native Plant Society of Oregon and the decade-long exchange of information with Douglas County amateur botanists. Four ladies who met at the Glide Wildflower Show got together and botanized most of Douglas County.” They exchanged plant lists with Sundberg and painstakingly confirmed identifications. Their annotated samples were housed in the county museum. Others became part of the herbarium at Oregon State.

Plant by plant, county by county, Sundberg worked with citizens and professional botanists, such as OSU’s Ken Chambers. Sundberg created a database to organize the hundreds of thousands of plant samples that are glued to sheets of stiff, acid-free paper and stored in cabinets in the OSU herbarium.

One of his goals was to put the complete collection online, where it would be widely available to anyone with an internet connection. With financial support from the National Science Foundation and the federal Bureau of Land Management, Sundberg and a small team of experts developed interactive maps and other digital resources that enable citizens to visualize where and what kinds of plants occupy every nook and cranny of the state (see oregonflora.org).

“Scott was 6 feet, 5 inches, over 200 pounds; he was a big guy, and he loved little duckweeds,” says Hardison. “There he is, this behemoth of a man, crawling around in the pond scum, and he’d be so excited. He had a sharp eye for recognizing all the plants in an area, but he really enjoyed discovering the little things.”

Sundberg’s efforts were cut short when, in 1999, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Having earned her Ph.D. in botany at the University of Washington, Hardison gradually assumed responsibility for the project and became its director after Sundberg’s death in 2004.

Flora of Oregon, Volume 1

In 2015, Hardison and her team reached a milestone. They published Flora of Oregon, Volume 1, part of the first comprehensive treatment of the state’s floral communities in more than a half century. Dedicated to Sundberg, this celebration of Oregon’s remarkable landscape reflects more than 340,000 observations of plants contributed by members of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Oregon State scientists, government researchers and individuals. It describes plants from the rain forest of the north coast to the arid Columbia basin, from the Siskiyous in the southwest to the Owyhee Uplands in the east.

In addition to laying out grasses, sedges, lilies, ferns, conifers and other plants in exhaustive technical detail, the volume includes a history of botanists in Oregon, including pioneering Oregon State professor Helen M. Gilkey. Color photos highlight plant communities in the state’s 11 major ecoregions. Hikers can use an annotated list of 50 mapped locations to explore Oregon’s botanical heritage.

While Flora of Oregon comprises a snapshot in time, it also marks an ongoing transition. Its roughly 4,700 species, subspecies and varieties include about 15 percent more than were recorded in the 1961 assessment. Some have moved into the state from Nevada and California, possibly reflecting the influence of a warming climate. And, notes Harrison, another 159 found in the previous century have not been collected in the last 50 years. The samples in the OSU herbarium may be the last remnants of their presence in the state.

The project notes a change of another sort, whether a species is native or exotic. While that difference holds meaning for people concerned about invasives and their impact on the environ- ment, “what’s native and what’s not becomes a really squishy question,” Hardison says.

“‘Native’ is an intersection of time and place. You have to consider native over what time period and in what place. You can talk about what’s native to North America, which will be different from what’s native to the Willamette Valley. Some exotic plants can become troublesome, weedy things,” she adds, “because they don’t have the checks and balances of indigenous pests or pathogens to keep populations in equilibrium.”

The Oregon Flora Project uses habitats and ecosystems as a frame of reference. “So when you look at where we are, whether it’s the Willamette Valley, the Columbia Basin or the high lava plains, what plants would you find in undisturbed habitats and plant communities? That can serve as an expression of what’s native,” says Hardison. “Making people aware of the frames of reference is an aha! moment. It’s technical information, but it’s really graspable.”

Plants in Our Future

By providing an outlet for sharing personal interests, the project has inspired people. One woman wrote to Hardison to tell of her father’s enjoyment in finding new flowers on hikes at Crater Lake and along the Umpqua River. They were “the soul-feeding endeavor that gave meaning to his life in retirement,” she said.

For others, Flora has become a useful reference. “The background work that the project has done, and now the book that has been published, has been used by natural resource managers, master gardeners and especially the various native plant societies around the region,” says Russ Karow, the former chair of the Crop and Soil Science department at Oregon State and now director of the Agricultural Research Foundation.

For Kirsten Hill, the notion of what’s native on her farm intersects with the past and her own vision of a diverse, functioning ecosystem. “I can see what’s there now, but I can also see what was there before. I want to restore this place. I want to find a happy medium between what was there before Europeans came over and what we’ve done. We can’t restore to what it was because the climate is warming and plants are moving. I have a 50-year plan, and I’m a little bit bullheaded,” she says with a grin.

The herbs she is planting have another purpose: They can help humans adapt to the stresses of a changing planet. One example is borage (aka star flower), a Mediterranean native that provides dietary micronutrients and fatty acids. Some people have found it to be useful for handling stress. In Hill’s vegetable garden, borage has spread with abandon.

Knowledge of plants is critical to her hopes for the future. “If you don’t understand the environment around you, you’re vulnerable,” she says. “That’s our reason for being here, understanding who we are and how we fit.”

The post Our Floral Commons appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Beyond Encryption

Terra - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 3:28pm

By Rachel Robertson

Although data science and engineering aim to improve our lives — and have done so in many ways — the threat of misuse of our private data and of intrusion into our personal affairs is very real.

Vast amounts of information travel nearly instantaneously between giant server farms and our home computers and handheld devices. We rely on this data for banking, shopping, buying airline tickets, making dates and countless other daily activities. Institutions and businesses collect, analyze and store these data to better serve customers, improve health, perform political functions and much more.

Unencrypted data are vulnerable to attacks that can lead to significant consequences. In 2014, a hack of Sony’s computer system exposed company and personal secrets and destroyed information. An attack on an individual could be as benign as leaked email addresses but can lead to identity theft and major financial headaches. If medical or genomic databases are breached, sensitive personal information such as health status and predisposition to disease could be revealed.

“We need techniques that protect these data, and cryptography traditionally serves as the backbone of security systems to protect the information,” says Attila Yavuz, assistant professor of computer science.

Data in secure systems are encrypted using permutation and substitution operations (methods that scramble and distort data) again and again until the information becomes nearly indistinguishable from random bits. Decryption reverses these steps to restore the integrity of the original.

“We are only in the first stages of a society centered around massive data,” says Mike Rosulek, assistant professor of computer science. “I don’t think we yet understand all the implications of generating and storing it all. I hope it doesn’t take a catastrophic breach to make people realize that cryptographic precautions are necessary.”

Cryptography has come a long way since Alan Turing cracked the Enigma codes during World War II. Advances have made it possible to perform operations on encrypted data without decrypting it first and without leaking critical information.

“We call it the privacy-versus-data-utilization dilemma,” Yavuz says. “When we use strong encryption, accessing and analyzing these data become very difficult. Unless we can break this trade-off, it is really difficult for us to achieve both secure and usable information. So our objective is to fill this gap and create a system where we can search and analyze without compromising the data-analytics functionalities.”

Medical confidential

Yavuz is currently working with Robert Bosch LLC to provide more security for data collected from the company’s medical devices. The research has demonstrated that his dynamic searchable algorithms can make encrypted queries on an encrypted dataset in two to 10 milliseconds per search, without decrypting it. The ultimate goal of his research is to integrate the algorithms into Bosch’s telemedicine database, so that practitioners can remotely access patient data while keeping it secure.

In contrast to Yavuz’s work, which advances applied cryptographic techniques for a specific purpose, Rosulek’s research focuses on theoretical cryptography — finding solutions that can be used to support any kind of computation on encrypted data.

Over the last couple of years, Rosulek has been working on what is known as “garbled circuits.” They are not physical circuits but a cryptographic domain where the computations on encrypted data are performed.

“You can think of a garbled circuit as a sealed box,” he said. “This box is like an isolation or containment chamber with gloves attached to it, so the scientist can reach in and manipulate what is inside. But the garbled circuit is a black box so the operations being performed are not visible.”

The idea for garbled circuits was first introduced in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that people began implementing the techniques with real data. In the last decade, researchers have been working on finding ways to make these operations more efficient.

“Most modern processors have specialized hardware for cryptographic computations, so the computational cost is under control,” Rosulek says. “The bottleneck is the amount of information that has to be exchanged between the parties that are doing the computation. The improvements we make are new, clever ways to encode these encrypted data with all the guarantees of a garbled circuit.”

In two recent publications, Rosulek and colleagues demonstrate that, compared to other approaches, their new algorithms are 33 percent faster and have 33 percent less overhead in the amount of communication required for the computations.

“We also proved that by looking at all the known techniques, you can’t do better than our most recent work,” he adds. “So we have shown that our techniques are optimal until someone invents something totally new. It’s been fun, because it’s spurring people to think of different ideas.”

The challenge of protecting private data is not likely to diminish. The amount of data in the world is doubling every two years and, according to the International Data Corporation, will reach 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) by 2020. Much of that will be personal information collected by the millions of smart devices in our homes and cars, or even attached to our bodies.

“One should never forget that it’s vitally important for us to be able to secure our information, because in the future, that will be the single most valuable thing that mankind will possess,” Yavuz says. “Researchers and every individual should realize the importance and value of the information that they have at their hands and try their best to keep it secure.”

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Shrubs for wildlife – Vine maple

Tree Topics - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 3:53pm

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Happy fall!

For the fourth installment in our series on native shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife, I’ve chosen one that appropriate to the season, provides some nice fall color to our forests.  Now I’ve met more than a few woodland owners who are not fans of vine maple; it’s not a favorite of those who prefer a tidy or parklike forest. Working or wandering in mature forests you’ve probably tripped over it or crawled under it and possibly cursed it under your breath.  Nevertheless, vine maple is another of those “brush” species that benefits wildlife in numerous ways. With some tolerance for its rambling ways you can find a place for this species to provide that service on your woodland in concert with your other land management goals.  If you are interested in enhancing wildlife habitat on your property, read on for our species profile.

Species name: Vine maple (Acer circinatum)

Two photos taken on the same day and site in late September. Top, on the edge of a patch cut, with colorful foliage and abundant seeds. Bottom, in adjacent mature stand with green foliage and few seeds.

Description: A large, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree. Like all maples, leaves are lobed like a fan or the palm of your hand (“palmate”) and in opposite arrangement on the branch; seeds are in winged pairs (“samaras”).  The bark is smooth and greenish.  Vine maple grows on moist sites in sun or shade, in regenerating to mature forests.  In sun, its habit is denser and erect; seed production is more abundant, and leaves turn orange to red in fall.  In a shady understory, it lives up to its name, with long spindly stems that arch to the ground and re-root upon contact.  Fall foliage is less brilliant in the shade, and fewer seeds are produced.

Wildlife value: Vine maple is considered a preferred and nutritious summer forage for deer and elk. Elk continue to browse the twigs and buds in winter. Squirrels will cache the seeds for winter feeding. In open regenerating (i.e. early seral) areas, songbirds rely on deciduous shrubs such as vine maple for nesting cover and will forage for insects that feed on the foliage.

Management considerations:  Vine maple is considered a “good shrub to leave behind”, or carry over from one timber rotation to the next to support early seral associated songbirds.  Doing so, acknowledge that you’ll have to grant it a little real estate as it won’t play too well with little neighboring conifer seedlings.  You don’t need a lot to make a difference. Leaving vine maple along the edges of patch cuts or in clumps with other retained shrubs reduces interference with planted trees. In mature stands, vine maple will fill in the understory after thinning or disturbances allow light to filter through the canopy, providing a food resource and cover for deer and elk.


Jensen, E. 2013. Shrubs to Know in Pacific Northwest Forests

Uchytil, R. 1989.  Acer circinatum.

Oregon Forest Resources Institute. 2015. Wildlife in Managed Forests: Early Seral-Associated Songbirds

Woodland Fish & Wildlife. 2014. Managing for Deer and Elk on Small Woodlands.


The post Shrubs for wildlife – Vine maple appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs


Small Farms Events - Sat, 10/01/2016 - 2:36pm
Saturday, October 1, 2016 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM



This annual event is sponsored by the Rogue Valley Dairy Goat Association. Both Beginner and Advanced workshop tracts are offered. Topics include Goats 101, diseases, parasites, genetics, poisonous plants toxic to goats and other livestock, building a milk stand (complete construction; completed unit will be raffled at this event). A separate cheese-making class taught by Alex Appleman runs from 12:45 to 4 pm for an additional $50 (replacing two afternoon class choices). 



Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits

Breaking Waves - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 9:56am

Two new videos from Oregon Sea Grant demonstrate how to collect and identify aquatic insects and test water quality using kits available from StreamWebs.

One of the videos, How to use StreamWebs’ macroinvertebrate kit, shows educators how to teach students to collect and identify aquatic insects using the macroinvertebrate kit and data sheets. The other, How to use StreamWebs’ LaMotte water quality kit, shows how to teach students to test water quality using a kit with equipment made by LaMotte.

The kits are among several that educators can borrow from StreamWebs, a program administered by Oregon Sea Grant. StreamWebs provides educators with field equipment, data sheets, lesson plans and training so they can teach students how to collect data about the health of waterways. It also provides an online database where students can enter and analyze the information they gathered.

Both videos were produced by Oregon Sea Grant’s Renee O’Neill and Vanessa Cholewczynski and shot and edited by Cholewczynski. Special thanks to Angela Clegg with the South Santiam Watershed Council; students from Foster Elementary School in Sweet Home, Oregon; Grayson Johnston; and Zethan Brandenburger.

The post New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits

Sea Grant - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 9:56am

Two new videos from Oregon Sea Grant demonstrate how to collect and identify aquatic insects and test water quality using kits available from StreamWebs.

One of the videos, How to use StreamWebs’ macroinvertebrate kit, shows educators how to teach students to collect and identify aquatic insects using the macroinvertebrate kit and data sheets. The other, How to use StreamWebs’ LaMotte water quality kit, shows how to teach students to test water quality using a kit with equipment made by LaMotte.

The kits are among several that educators can borrow from StreamWebs, a program administered by Oregon Sea Grant. StreamWebs provides educators with field equipment, data sheets, lesson plans and training so they can teach students how to collect data about the health of waterways. It also provides an online database where students can enter and analyze the information they gathered.

Both videos were produced by Oregon Sea Grant’s Renee O’Neill and Vanessa Cholewczynski and shot and edited by Cholewczynski. Special thanks to Angela Clegg with the South Santiam Watershed Council; students from Foster Elementary School in Sweet Home, Oregon; Grayson Johnston; and Zethan Brandenburger.

The post New Sea Grant videos demonstrate how to use StreamWebs kits appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Lessons in Resilience

Terra - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 4:50pm

WHEN three Oregon State students signed up for a project in the university’s new humanitarian engineering program, the first question was, Have any of you made soap? Nervous laughter broke out when each one said “no.”

“Ok, this will be fun,” Brianna Goodwin recalls thinking.

But a year and hundreds of bars of goat-milk soap later, Goodwin, one of the students and a mechanical engineering graduate from Seattle, and her teammates — Grace Burleson of Beaverton and Brian Butcher of Portola Valley, California — took their expertise and curiosity to Africa, where they learned how the act of making this simple product can smooth the way for social justice and empowerment.


Akello Loy lives in Ogweto Village in the Amuria district of Uganda. She suffered paralysis and a fistula while giving birth to her fourth child. Oregon State students and faculty are working with TERREWODE to learn from and to empower women like Loy.

Joni Kabana

Under the guidance of professor Kendra Sharp, the Richard and Gretchen Evans Professor of Humanitarian Engineering, the students completed their capstone project for their degrees by working with a nonprofit organization, TERREWODE in Uganda. Last summer, they travelled to the East African country to conduct additional field research on a soap-making operation.

As engineers, they focus on process, technology and cultural communication. But their efforts are part of a larger relationship between Oregon State and TERREWODE. In 2011, Bonnie Ruder, a midwife from Eugene and now an Oregon State Ph.D. student in medical anthropology, met Alice Emasu, the group’s founder. Ruder traveled to Uganda that fall, and others followed: Lauren Caruso (then Lauren Baur) in public health in 2012 and students in the College of Business in 2015 and 2016.

Extended Labor

Based in Soroti, Uganda, TERREWODE aims to improve the lives of women suffering from a medical condition known as obstetric fistula. This devastating problem occurs when, during prolonged childbirth and without adequate medical care, tissue in the birth canal is damaged. The resulting fistula, or hole, allows urine or feces to leak uncontrollably. Victims may be shunned by family members and reduced to a life of poverty and isolation.

Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 2 million women live with untreated obstetric fistula, most of them in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Fortunately, effective medical treatment is available.

With support from the Worldwide Fistula Fund, TERREWODE educates women about the risks and raises money for medical care, which is often out of reach in rural areas. In the course of several trips to Uganda, Ruder interviewed health-care providers, fistula survivors and representatives of the Uganda Ministry of Health. In 2014, she created the nonprofit Uganda Fistula Fund for TERREWODE to raise money for a new fistula hospital in Soroti.

For her Ph.D. in medical anthropology, Ruder is delving into more complex and persistent problems in fistula treatment — residual incontinence after surgery. “There are estimates that between 7 and 60 percent of women suffer from ongoing urinary incontinence even after a successful fistula repair, but the problem has not been well studied,” she says.

While grants and donations can help women rebuild their lives, Ruder and TERREWODE aim to establish a source of income for the women that is sustainable. “Women who have suffered from fistula need meaningful, locally appropriate work that can lift them out of the circumstances they have endured,” she says.

Through their work with TERREWODE, Oregon State students are learning first-hand about the strength and determination it takes to recover from such a life-changing medical condition. In return, they are working side-by-side with fistula survivors to prevent other women from suffering the same fate. They strive to improve health-care access, to understand women’s needs and to create sustainable, locally based businesses.

Market Access

When they visited Uganda in 2015 and 2016, students and faculty in the OSU College of Business aimed to learn more about TERREWODE and contribute to its success. They met with survivors and with Emasu and her colleagues and asked them what would be most useful in assisting the Ugandan women’s endeavors to become financially independent.

With the help of generous gifts from alumni, the College of Business has provided support through a student group, 16xOSU, a social venture club that provides start-up funds for student-led businesses. In an academic program known as Innovation Nation, first-year students create their own businesses and contribute the profits to a shared fund that is managed by the student community to benefit humanitarian organizations like TERREWODE.

That approach to social entrepreneurship resonated with Taryn Lowes, a business student from the Douglas County town of Yoncalla. She has traveled twice to Uganda and was inspired by the positive energy shown by many of the women she talked to. “A lot of them have gone through so much — their heartbreaking stories, their past. But they are so happy and excited, they didn’t let it get them down. They are working with TERREWODE and getting their lives back on track.”

As students, Lowes and her peers had started their own businesses and contributed funds to the microloan program. On her own initiative, Lowes continued to run her home-cleaning business and raised enough money to pay her way to Uganda.

Trip to Soroti

Last June, after a 48-hour trip from Seattle via Dubai, the three OSU engineering students — Goodwin, Burleson and Butcher — arrived at Entebbe, Uganda’s largest airport, where they were met by a TERREWODE representative. The road trip to Kampala, the capital, had its anxious moments as drivers “like playing ‘chicken,’” Goodwin wrote in her blog. “There are cars, people, and bota botas (motorcycle taxis) on the road, all trying to get to different places as fast as possible.”

The students had come to Uganda to learn more about what it would take for TERREWODE to help fistula survivors launch a goat-milk soap business. The initiative had begun a year or so before, when Oregon photographer Joni Kabana visited Uganda. She devotes part of her creative work to humanitarian organizations such as Oregon-based Mercy Corps and had come to Uganda to take photos for TERREWODE. In her luggage, she had brought a gift of soap made by a friend in Spray, Oregon. Alice Emasu, the director, wondered if local women could also make the soap as a commercial product.

McKinsey Starguard, a homesteader in Spray, Oregon, makes goat-milk soap in her kitchen. Starguard’s recipe and bars of soap were gifted to the TERREWODE women and inspired the soap-making project. (Photo: Joni Kabana)

One problem that had to be overcome was a source of milk. Goats in Uganda are typically raised for their meat and do not produce much milk, so Emasu worked with Heifer International to bring Saanen goats from Ireland and to instruct fistula survivors in taking care of them.

Making Soap

The students had three objectives for their stay in Africa: identify a practical, local source of electricity so soap makers wouldn’t have to worry about periodic interruptions to Uganda’s power grid; find ways to improve efficiency and scale-up the soap-making process; determine if enough locally available ingredients were available to increase soap production.

“The more the soap is made by the women with local ingredients, the more sellable it will be as a humanitarian product,” says Burleson.

The previous year, back in Corvallis, as they first pondered their task, the students assumed they would need to create a device to make soap. “We didn’t understand at first how the cultural context would affect our design process, but it’s relevant with anything you’re designing,” Goodwin says. “We had to understand who we’re designing for. The cultural context is huge. You can’t just bring something from America and expect them to use it.”

To put themselves into the shoes of soap makers in Uganda, the students decided they had to make goat-milk soap. They interviewed Ruder and got instructions from Kabana and her colleague Dardi Troen, soap-making trainer during a pilot project in Uganda and now the packaging and branding coordinator. The students bought goat milk and fragrances at the local food co-op and other supplies online — shea butter (made from nuts produced by the African shea tree), sunflower oil, lye.

Grace Burleson, left, and Brian Butcher test a soap mixture in preparation for their trip to Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Briana Goodwin)

One cold November night, outside Butcher’s garage, they hunched over two small cook stoves, the kinds commonly used in households in developing countries, and set to work mixing and heating the ingredients. In the light of their headlamps, they watched for the liquid to reach a critical stage at which it gains a consistency like whipped cream. The frothy liquid could then be poured into molds and aged for about two months, but the students wanted to speed things up. By keeping the soap mixture at a constant temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, they could cut the aging process to one day.

“We sat outside for about three hours collecting temperature data to decide if it would work,” Burleson says. “But in the end, we decided that was impossible.”

In subsequent trials, they refined their approach, experimented with other mixing methods and even hooked up a mixer to a solar-charged battery. Solar panels are available in Uganda, they reasoned, and might provide the solution for a sustainable source of power.

They produced a lot of soap. While only some of it was useable, they chalked up the rest to experience. But more importantly, they understood what it might take to produce a product with commercial potential.

Learning on the Ground

As they learned how TERREWODE operates and what it takes for a new business in rural Uganda to succeed, the Oregon State business and engineering students fulfilled their own educational goals. Each student is committed to making a positive difference in the world. Working with TERREWODE “allows me to do what I love but have an impact on peoples’ lives,” says Goodwin.

Burleson lived in Egypt for five years and studied drinking water treatment in Uganda for her undergraduate thesis in mechanical engineering. She worked briefly with TERREWODE in 2015 during an internship with an Oregon-based nonprofit, MAPLE Microdevelopment of Eugene, which was co-founded by Ron Severson, an instructor at the University of Oregon. She entered Oregon State’s mechanical engineering master’s program this fall with a humanitarian emphasis.

Before attending Oregon State, Butcher traveled to Bolivia and Chile where he volunteered for community organizations. Last summer, after he returned from Uganda, the mechanical engineering graduate interned with the firm CH2M.

Goodwin aims to combine engineering with biology. She wants to develop biomechanical systems that can assist people with practical, everyday tasks and is starting her master’s at the University of Washington this fall.

“Our program aims to inspire students to do work that they feel makes an impact on society,” says Kendra Sharp, a leader in developing Oregon State’s humanitarian engineering program. “We stress the importance of learning collaboratively in community to solve real-world problems. This is a skill these students will take away no matter where their careers take them.”

In 2015, when OSU students visited TERREWODE, our video crew rode along. See their report.

Students also take away lasting memories of the people. “When you see TERREWODE interact with the fistula survivors, it’s pretty incredible,” says Caruso. “We would come to a village and pull up to a field under a tree, and there would be this group of people who would start singing and dancing when we arrive.”

When Taryn Lowes returned to Uganda last summer, a friend she had met the previous year traveled an hour by bota bota to greet her. “Seeing everyone’s smiling faces and embracing them with hugs really let me know the impact of our partnership,” she adds. “I’ll never forget the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made.”

TERREWODE is in the process of seeking government certification as a soap-making business and has a commitment from one customer. Through MAPLE Microdevelopment, the Portland-based vacation home rental company Vacasa (vacasa.com) has agreed to buy 1,000 bars of goat-milk soap for distribution through its homes in Italy.

Editor’s Note: Students interested in doing an internship with TERREWODE can contact Bonnie Ruder, bonnieruder@gmail.com.


The post Lessons in Resilience appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Vegetable Insect IPM Series - Carrot rust fly, Cabbage maggot, &Cabbage Moths

Small Farms Events - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 2:36pm
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Are you interested in learning more about managing vegetable insect pests on your farm?

Workshop will be held at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center 

Pleae visit: http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/vegetable-insect-ipm-series-aurora for registration information and the workshop agenda

This workshop will cover prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression of carrot rust fly, cabbage maggot and cabbage moths. There will also be a tour and discussion on farmscaping for beneficials. 

Participants will receive a hand lens, handouts, and a SARE thumb drive loaded with IPM resources.

Instructors include Nick Andrews, Heather Stoven, Heidi Noordijk; OSU Extension,
Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Cartoons, data analysis, and infographics

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 3:04pm


Chris Lysy draws cartoons.

Evaluation  and research cartoons.



Logic Model cartoons.  

Presentation cartoons.


Data cartoons. 

More Cartoons

He has offered an alternative to presenting survey data. He has a wonderful cartoon for this.

He is a wonderful resource. Use him. You can contact him through his blog, fresh spectrum.

my     .




The post Cartoons, data analysis, and infographics appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

NWREC Public Farm Tours

Small Farms Events - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 2:35pm
Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Last tours of the year are on Friday September 23rd and October 28th.

North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC)
will provide two-hour afternoon farm tours. Anyone interested in seeing the latest research and education activities taking place at the farm are encouraged to attend.

  •  Tours begin at 2:00pm and conclude by 4:00pm. Bring friends, family or neighbors.
  • Call 503-678-1264 or stop by the Main office from 8:00am until 4:30pm daily to reserve your spot.
  • Alltours are provided free of charge as a public service.

Larger groups (up to 24) can be accommodated, too. Call ahead to schedule a convenient time.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

What to do about those drought-damaged trees?

Tree Topics - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 2:35pm

By Amy Grotta and Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Group mortality of Douglas-fir in May 2015. Douglas-fir beetle was found in all these trees. Photo Kara Shaw

We have certainly experienced some significant drought conditions lately.  Stressed and dying trees are showing up all around the Willamette Valley, with concern that this could lead to beetle outbreaks and still more trees killed.  Is it time to throw in the towel, cut your losses (so to speak) and just salvage everything that is looking poorly?  Maybe, maybe not.  The decision needs to be considered carefully, weighing individual sites and stand conditions along with your objectives for your property.  Anybody considering a salvage harvest needs to look before they leap.

As we’ve discussed several times over the past few years, 2013-2015 were hard drought years and we continue to see the cumulative effects on our trees. Many trees, conifers in particular, have dead tops or have died outright.  Since drought symptoms typically take a season or two to be expressed, what showed up this year is a result of damage from 2015.  So far 2016 is proving to be a more normal year, though it remains to be seen how the fall and winter will play out.  If we continue to get decent rainfall then we should start to see new damage taper off, but it’s too early to tell.

Beetles are a concern and both Extension and ODF have been getting plenty of calls about this.   Yes, bark beetles have been more active in the Valley this year in drought-stressed stands.  We expect this since beetles make their living off of dying trees, and are often seen more as a symptom than a cause of problems.  Having drought stressed trees does not automatically mean bark beetles will come find them.  And there are several types of bark beetles, some more damaging than others.

Reddish frass in bark crevices is a sign of Douglas-fir beetle. Photo: B. Withrow-Robinson

That said, if you have trees that suffered partial damage a year or two ago, and then died completely this year, it is worth taking a closer look on these and surrounding live trees for signs and symptoms of bark beetles such as pitch streams, frass, and fading crowns on live trees. Fact sheets from the Oregon Department of Forestry on the Douglas-fir beetle and the fir engraver will help you.  If you see something of concern you can contact the ODF Forest Health experts or your OSU Extension Agent for help (for backyard trees, call a certified arborist).  Where there are significant numbers of beetles, landowners will be looking to sanitize their stands by removing infested trees before new adults emerge next spring.

This is where you want to exercise caution and be wary of door knockers.

Regrettably there is a history of shady operators approaching landowners telling them one story or another about their trees dying or markets disappearing and encouraging them to harvest trees “before it is too late”.  It is invariably tied to an offer to take care of the problem for them.  Unfortunately, the landscape is littered with stories of folks who have accepted those offers and sold off some timber they had not otherwise intended to sell, often for much less than it was worth.

We are aware of a number of small woodland owners in the Valley having received unsolicited offers to buy their timber as a way to mitigate drought damage. The “buyers” warn of all the trees damaged by drought being killed by beetles and being lost unless harvested, and encouraging people to sell and get some value before everything dies.

Unsolicited offers to buy timber are nothing new to small woodland owners, and we always advise to be wary of them.  But this seems like a time to be particularly cautious.

An unsolicited buyer offering to assess the health of your trees for you is a clear conflict of interest and a definite red flag.  One outcome could be the buyer exaggerating the potential for future loss, thereby convincing you to sell healthy trees you had no intention to log or to accept a lower price for the timber than you’d like (claiming that it’s “better than nothing”).  Have a third party help you evaluate damage and if you think you want to proceed with salvage or sanitation harvest, move ahead as recommended with any harvest and seek bids from different operators.

You should realize that nobody knows the fate of these trees with any certainty.  Drought conditions may be winding down, or may stick around for a while yet.   Both choices – wait and see or do some preemptive salvage – involve risks that you need weigh.  Don’t be driven by speculative claims about the trees dying, and do not panic.  One or two beetle-killed trees in a stand is not an uncommon event and not a certain epidemic in the making.  The decision to salvage needs to be well-timed and well-planned.  Starting the job and then not finishing before beetles emerge in spring, or not properly dealing with slash, can make matters worse instead of better.  Applying pheromone caps is another option to protect healthy trees if beetle-infested material cannot be removed in a timely manner.

So, suppose that you’ve done your homework and decide that salvaging drought-damaged or insect-damaged trees is in your best interest and meets your property objectives.  You still have some due diligence to take care of.  Get bids and ask the logger for references, go see his past jobs and talk with people who worked with him.  Contact ODF to find out if there are any past violations, or the Association of Oregon Loggers for information on their credentials.  Finally, insist on a written contract.  Consult these publications for more guidance: Small Scale Harvesting for Woodland Owners and Contracts for Woodland Owners.

A final note, landowners in Linn, Benton and Lane Counties can sign up receive Emergency Forest Restoration Funds to remove drought-killed trees through the Farm Services Agency.  More info here (scroll down).  Folks in the northern Valley counties can get in touch with their local FSA to check on the availability of funds.

The post What to do about those drought-damaged trees? appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Food Science Camp 2013 and Erik Fooladi

Bringing Food Chemistry to Life - Fri, 07/19/2013 - 1:44pm

We participate in the Oregon State U Food Science Camp for middle school students.

Part of the STEM [science technology engineering math] Academies@OSU Camps.

We teach about bread fermentations, yeast converting sugars to CO2 and ethanol, lactobacillus converting sugar to lactic and acetic acids, how the gluten in wheat can form films to trap the gas and  allow the dough to rise. On the way we teach about flour composition, bread ingredients and their chemical functionalities, hydration, the relationships between enzymes and substrates [amylases on starch to produce maltose for the fermentation organisms]; gluten development, the gas laws and CO2′s declining solubility in the aqueous phase during baking which expands the gas bubbles and leads to the oven spring at the beginning of baking; and the effect of pH on Maillard browning using soft pretzels that they get to shape themselves..

All this is illustrated by hands on [in] activities: they experience the hydration and the increasing cohesiveness of the dough as they mix it with their own hands, they see their own hand mixed dough taken through to well-risen bread. They get to experience dough/gluten development in a different context with the pasta extruder, and more and more.

A great way to introduce kids to the relevance of science to their day to day lives: in our case chemistry physics biochemistry and biology in cereal food processing.

We were also fortunate to have Erik Fooladi from Volda University College in Norway to observe the fun: http://www.fooducation.org/

If you have not read his blog and you like what we do here: you should!


endless pasta


Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Good Cheese, Bad Cheese

Bringing Food Chemistry to Life - Wed, 07/10/2013 - 1:25pm

pH, colloidal calcium phosphate, aging, proteolysis, emulsification or its loss and their interactions lead to optimum melting qualities for cheeses. A module in this year’s food systems chemistry class.

This module was informed by this beautiful article “The beauty of milk at high magnification“ by Miloslav Kalab, which is available on the Royal Microscopical Society website.


Of course accompanied by real sourdough wholegrain bread baked in out own research bakery.

Inspired by…

“The Science of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.”

by: Jennifer Kimmel

in: The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking

Edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden


Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

February 2011- Nutrition Education Volunteers taking “vacation”

Family Food Educators of Central Oregon - Tue, 02/01/2011 - 9:24am

I’m back from maternity leave and getting resettled into some new responsibilities.  We had a staff member leave us, so Glenda and I are having to pick up the work load until we find someone new, or our responsibilites change.  Being a new mom is lots of work too, so I’ve gone part time (24 hours aweek) but am still trying to get everything done… that being said, we’ve decided to put our nutrition education volunteering on hold, until I have a managable workload.

We look forward to being able to start things back up in the summer or fall of 2011.  Thanks so much and since a few of you have been asking, here’s a photo of our boy.  He is 5 months old today!

Bundled out in the cold!

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs