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Disruptive Software

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 4:06pm

Even the world’s largest tech companies need help leveraging their innovations.

Software to manage and analyze data has been around as long as the computer, but when HP Inc. needed an innovative approach to managing company-wide inventory and sales data, developers at HP in Corvallis created their own product: ORCA. Now that same  home-grown platform is being called “disruptive technology” by those outside of HP who have seen ORCA in operation.

ORCA’s disruptive nature comes from its simplicity. The software is fully deployable within mere days, compared to the months, or even years, required to build competitive systems — and at a fraction of the cost of comparable enterprise-size data management and analytics platforms.

A year ago, when HP began its search for a company to commercialize ORCA, it turned to the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator and its directors Karl Mundorff and Mark Lieberman for help. Leveraging their personal and professional networks of Oregon-based entrepreneurs, Lieberman and Mundorff sought out companies that had an application-ready need and a vision for expanding ORCA into a new business. They presented HP with a long list of candidates and arranged meetings with the most promising prospects. Presentations were followed by proposals and business plans. In the end, HP licensed ORCA to Due North Innovation of Portland.

“There are a lot of other data management tools out there. This one is super powerful but very easy to use from an implementation point of view,” says Michael Baker, partner in Due North. “I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and it’s the first time that we have seen a software solution that allows for the management of very large data through common language searches.”

Baker believes ORCA can enhance clinical outcomes and reduce care delivery costs in the medical field, by extracting meaningful information from massive data sources

Baker founded Home Dialysis Plus based in part on microchannel research at OSU. That company, now known as Outset Medical, markets Tablo, a portable system for conducting dialysis treatments at home and in dialysis clinics.

As a firm geared toward bringing innovation out of the lab and into the market place, Due North will use ORCA in two new products: Qview Health and CORI2. Qview Health tracks health-care performance in hospitals and pinpoints sources of errors. CORI2 manages data from endoscopy exams. It helps clinicians to predict patient outcomes on the basis of data from 11 years of such procedures at 126 hospitals around the world. In both cases, ORCA will provide the information engine that accesses data for analytical purposes.

Other ORCA applications are on the horizon. Due North may use it to drive a system that could lead the way for personalized medicine. It could combine information about a patient’s genetic profile with real-time reporting on activity, diet and other factors that affect health.

Outside health care, ORCA could boost analytical power for other data management purposes. “ORCA works with any type of data,” adds Baker. “It’s the most robust algorithm set I’ve seen. It’s unique within the family of these products.”


To discover what the Oregon State University Advantage and the Advantage Accelerator program can do for your business, contact Brian Wall, assistant vice president for research, commercialization and industry partnering, 541-737-9058, brian.wall@oregonstate.edu.

The post Disruptive Software appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

The Tao of Forest Management

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 3:16pm

By Thomas Maness, Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean, College of Forestry

When it comes to proper management of our public forests, some would like to take a page from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu. He posed the concept of non-action as an approach to life. In our forests, if we do nothing and let nature take its course, this line of reasoning goes, these landscapes will return to a more “natural state” on their own.

Thomas Maness, Dean, College of Forestry

The trouble is, the natural state of forests includes fire — a lot of fire. They will never return to a state that existed in the past, because the conditions that created them no longer exist. What actions should we take to manage our forests for the multiple benefits we expect? We need to recognize that fire has a role to play and that, at the same time, we can reduce the risk of catastrophic loss.

As a worldwide leader in forestry, Oregon State University conducts balanced and unbiased research to help drive land management decisions. We have shown that our public forests would benefit from two proactive management techniques with a positive environmental impact: thinning and prescribed burning.

Thinning reduces the density of trees and allows the remaining ones to grow faster. Fire doesn’t move as quickly across the landscape. Removing branches on the ground — so-called ladder fuel — greatly reduces the risk of fire climbing into the upper canopy and getting out of hand.

Unfortunately, thinning is expensive. It costs taxpayer dollars, and there will never be enough to properly thin all of our forests unless we can simultaneously produce income to offset some of the costs.

Prescribed burning, on the other hand, is a relatively inexpensive option that accomplishes the same goal. By burning on a cool day when humidity is high, fire can be controlled as it reduces the fuel load and improves the health of the forest. It is an idea that is struggling to gain traction with the public.

We are conducting research that will indicate the best locations for prescribed burning. We are also identifying those where thinning would be preferred, such as near communities.

Today’s forest ecosystem was shaped by fire – both human-caused and natural – over hundreds of years. The pattern of trees remaining after one fire directly affects the next fire. The resulting forest is like a Jackson Pollock painting with random splashes of color and line. The uniqueness of a given ecosystem is marked as much by what is not there as much as by what is.

I and foresters around the country grow increasingly concerned with the health of our federally managed forest lands. We also worry about the health of rural communities. Due to many factors — a changing climate, political inaction, the financial burden of managing a huge land base that produces very little — our approach to these forests has created a landscape ripe for large fires.

Also like a Pollock painting, our federal forests are extremely valuable. Using proactive management techniques will help retain their value for years to come. We are working with leaders on all sides to help drive a more proactive approach for managing our forests and ensuring a healthy landscape for generations to come.  Although we have made small strides, the time has come to take action.

The post The Tao of Forest Management appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

What Do We Love Too Much to Lose?

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 2:57pm

By Theresa Hogue

Concert pianist and OSU music professor Rachelle McCabe had been collaborating with philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore for more than a decade when she found herself in the audience of one of Moore’s climate-change talks in 2014. Moore was challenging everyone to step up and take action against environmental degradation and the destruction of species. McCabe, who had previously set some of Moore’s writings to classical-music pieces, was so moved by Moore’s challenge that she leapt to her feet at the conclusion and stopped Moore in the aisle.

Rachelle McCabe, left, and Kathleen Dean Moore (Photo: Zachary C. Person)

“I said ‘I need to work with you on this,’” McCabe says. A month later, the two met to talk about how their previous collaborations could expand into something much bigger. After considering various approaches, McCabe hit upon a favorite piece of music that she felt was perfectly suited to a discussion about extinction and safeguarding the Earth’s abundance.

The piece, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42, is in large part a deeply dark and lonely work, at times almost a lament, but with a compelling sense of purpose and eventually, a glimmer of hope. “The music,” says McCabe, “lends itself to anger and frustration and resolution.”

The project that evolved from their discussion — A Call to Life: Variations on a Theme of Extinction — combines musical performance with spoken word. Moore and McCabe have performed it up and down the West Coast and as far abroad as Hawaii and Calgary. Everywhere they go, audiences are moved to tears, and often, to taking direct action against the extinction of species and the onward progress of habitat destruction. And in the face of a changing political climate, the artist and philosopher are determined that their message is more important than ever.

Musical Narrative

When McCabe played the Rachmaninoff piece to Moore, they poured over every aspect, as McCabe talked about how each portion of the piece made her feel, and how that might translate into a call to action. Moore, in response, began writing a narrative to accompany the composition, and the two flowed together organically.

“Rachelle played it many times, and I would sit here and listen, and we’d just look at each other and try not to cry,” Moore says. “It was clear to me that this was music about loss. I said this is going to be a piece about extinction, about irretrievable loss. And we knew it also had to be a call to action, because you cannot dwell on tragedy when there’s still a chance to avert it.”

And although the languages of music and philosophy at first seem far removed, they found translation easy. “Rachelle does see the world through music,” Moore adds, “so when something comes into her mind it’s transformed into music.”

Quickly the project took shape, and their first presentation was at the Corvallis-Benton County Library, to a packed house. They were both nervous about the reception but immediately sensed that their message was getting across.

“They absolutely were moved,” McCabe recalls. “I looked out a couple times to see their eyes. You can tell when a group is engaged.”

“They were frozen, and they were weeping, and then when it was over, they stood up and they roared,” says Moore. “And then so many of them came up afterward and they all said two things to us: ‘You’ve got to get this out farther than Corvallis’ and ‘Tell me what to do.’”

Call to Life directly tells participants what to do, once they determine what it is that they love too much to lose. Audience members receive dozens of suggestions on how to halt the extinction of species. “There are three things I talk about,” Moore says. “I can stop making it worse. I can protect, create and restore habitat. I can imagine new human life-ways.”

Call to Action

Braced by the success of their first performance, Moore and McCabe found ways to take their show on the road. “We were astonished and maybe a little bit frightened at the power of this,” Moore says. “You stand up in front of a large group, and you really don’t know what will happen. We were taken aback by people’s response to this.”

They visited a village in Alaska, a huge conference in Hawaii, as well as Calgary, Washington, California, Illinois and Arizona. And at each location, they found the same emotional reaction.

“We say that we want to open people’s hearts without breaking them,” says Moore. “People are so emotionally taken by it, suddenly they allow themselves to understand, to actually see. They knew this all along, but it opens their hearts into this direct perception. The ideas ride the music the way spindrift rides the waves.”

And audience members started taking action. In Arizona, a woman told them, “When we go to a lecture my brain is filled. But today I feel my heart is filled as well.” A man from Illinois spontaneously decided to turn his property into a wildlife sanctuary. And a young pianist, feeling adrift, pledged to hold concerts as fundraisers for environmental causes. He keeps McCabe updated on his progress.

Following the recent presidential election and what McCabe and Moore see as a deepening backlash against the science of climate change, they’ve become more dedicated to getting their message across. While they’re conscious of the carbon cost of air travel and are limited by the financial costs as well, they’ve made their collaboration available online with help from Eric Gleske in Information Services at Oregon State. The presentation includes a video and a study guide. Their hope is that people will organize viewing parties with friends, neighbors and colleagues and then collaborate to make their own changes in the world.

“We really want to bring people to this work,” Moore adds. “We’re just now beginning to think that through. You can’t have people practically pounding on you to get this out to the world and not feel a real compulsion to do that.”

Above all, Moore and McCabe want to elevate the discussion on habitat destruction and environmental degradation from a place of doom and gloom to a place where individuals feel that they can still make a difference. “Out of death there is a ray of hope,” McCabe says. “Life continues. That’s the hopeful outcome Kathy always has in her writing. This is not the end, there’s more.”

Performance Set for April 7 at the LaSells Stewart Center

McCabe and Moore will give an encore presentation of “A Call to Life” at the LaSells Stewart Center’s Austin Auditorium at 7 p.m., April 7. The event will include a panel of researchers and science teachers who will discuss extinction and the astounding diversity of species.

For more information: www.riverwalking.com

The post What Do We Love Too Much to Lose? appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Is Summertime Undermining Obesity Prevention Efforts During the School Year?

Health & Wellness Events - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 2:40pm
Friday, February 10, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

"What’s UP (Undermining Prevention) with Summer: Is Summertime Undermining Obesity Prevention Efforts During the School Year?" Michael W. Beets, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina.

Dr. Michael Beets received his PhD in Health Education and Behavior from Oregon State University in 2007 and an MPH and MEd from Wichita State University. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, where he serves as Program Director for the MPH in Physical Activity and Public Health and the Graduate Division Head of Health Aspects of Physical Activity.

His research interests include physical activity promotion and dietary behaviors in children and family, and socio-ecological influences on physical activity and dietary behaviors for children with disabilities. He is PI on two NICHD grants, one focused on heathy eating and activity time in summer camps and one titled “Policy to Practice: Statewide Rollout of YMCA Childhood Obesity Standards.”

The college-wide research seminar is Co-Sponsored by:

  • CPHHS Research Office;
  • Hallie Ford Center;
  • Center for Healthy Aging;
  • Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods Nutrition and Preventive Health;
  • and the Center for Global Health.

This seminar is also sponsored by the Kinesiology Program.

The seminar series provides a forum for faculty in the College of Public Health & Human Sciences and other researcher to present and discuss current research in topics in an environment conducive to stimulating research collaboration and fostering student learning.

Faculty and students from the Division of Health Sciences and other colleges, research centers and institutions are encouraged to participate. 

Visit CPHHS Seminars to view video of past seminars and a schedule of upcoming seminars.

Leading Indicators — 2015

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 2:26pm
Enduring Questions Research advances human well-being

By Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research
To download the Annual Report of Research 2015, click on the image above.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, an opportunity to do research changed my life. I worked at a biological field station in Panama, leading a tropical forest census during the day and discussing science with sophisticated researchers in the dining hall at night. I came away inspired by their insightful research, and believing that it could help make the world a better place.

Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research, Oregon State University.

Research experiences are indeed transformative. Oregon State University excels at providing students — both undergrads and graduates — with extraordinary research opportunities. Research as a way of learning deepens our understanding and enriches our education programs. Students challenge themselves in labs, in the field and through partnerships with business and industry. They engage in a great scientific tradition that is guided by perception, imagination and transparency.

The rich history of research, creativity and innovation is directly connected to the quality of life that we enjoy in the United States. Discovery and invention arise from basic research — that is, the ability to ask “what if” questions. Research contributes to rapid advances in applied areas of economics, human health and resource management. Students are critical to the research and development mission of the OSU campus.

It is human nature to ask about how things work, how we came to be, and why we are here. Our students learn that research provides tools to understanding these enduring questions.

The post Leading Indicators — 2015 appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Woodland Management – Basic Forestry Shortcourse

Forestry Events - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 2:39pm
Thursday, February 9, 2017 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

This five-session course is ideal for anyone who is just starting out taking care of a woodland property. It also serves as preparation for the OSU Master Woodland Manager Training. Topics covered include:
•Getting Started: Assessing your property and your site
•What’s Going on in Your Woods? Understanding tree biology and forest ecology
•Taking Care of Your Woods: Tree planting, care for an established forest, weed control
•Getting it Done: Safety, tools and techniques, timber sale logistics, and laws and regulations.

Instructor: Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent.

Registration required: Cost for the course is $40 for one participant/$50 for two or more participants from the same family. Please pre-register no later than February 5. Use the form on the next page or contact Jean at
503-655-8631 or jean.bremer@oregonstate.edu.

Questions? Contact Glenn Ahrens, 503-655-8631 or glenn.ahrens@oregonstate.edu.

Leading Indicators 2016

Terra - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 10:11am

By Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research

To download the annual report of research, 2016, click on the image above.

During my first year as the vice president for research at Oregon State University, 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.

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. 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 Oregon State from around the world.

I hope you will enjoy reading Oregon State’s “Leading Indicators: 2016 Annual Report of Research.” In addition to our numbers, this annual report has information about discoveries involving the world’s coral reefs, new approaches to cancer treatment and earthquake resiliency efforts.

Moving forward, 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 its exceptional pursuit of knowledge.

The post Leading Indicators 2016 appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Tree seedling supply remains uncertain

Tree Topics - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 9:42am

Jen Gorski, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, Clackamas County

Oregon forest landowners and Christmas tree growers are having difficulty locating seedlings to buy.

In response, the Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU Extension and other partners are working hard to identify and solve the problems limiting the supply. It’s not an easy fix; many pieces account for the problems and the solutions.

OSU Clackamas County Extension hosted a meeting in January to discuss the seedling supply. Landowners revealed that certain species or stock types are not always available within a year of planting. This presents some uncertain choices and potential compromise. One year plugs may be available in lieu of 1-1 transplants (2 year old seedlings). The 1-1 transplants have a fibrous root system and a track record of success in challenging conditions. However, future survival of one year plugs is uncertain.

This is not an entirely new problem. There has been a perennial issue for those who wish to order fewer than 20,000 seedlings, the minimum contract order for many nurseries. Consequently, the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association (CCFFA) and some other OSWA chapters provide the opportunity for their members to batch small orders together and order collectively.

There are many reasons for the current seedling supply situation. These include capacity loss during the recession, shifting management practices and demand following fire.

Part of the challenge is this: producing bareroot seedlings (still the industry mainstay) takes over two years of lead time. Nurseries have to supply all the costly resources at the front end: picking the cones or fruit, cleaning the seed, pre-treating then sowing the seed, and growing/transplanting the seedlings. Timber companies are ordering 2+ years ahead. Small forest landowners and Christmas tree growers may need to get used to the idea of ordering that far ahead as well.


Strategies and Resources

Communicate with the ODF and partners working on this issue! Making your concern and any challenges you’ve had finding seedlings known will help focus our joint effort.

In the meantime, here are some resources to work with when looking for seedlings.

The ODF November 2016 publication, Sources of Native Forest Nursery Seedlings,  provides an up-to-date list of regional nurseries who sell seed and seedlings.

Alternatively, Bob McNitt’s Forest Seedling Network,  is a website in which nurseries can list their available stock online that a user can search to find what they need. It showcases a very useful seed zone map in which you locate your planting site, and get your seed zone number with a list of seedling suppliers and their contact info.

A new website has just come online for ordering tree seedlings. It has been developed by Mike Taylor, also the manager of IFA

A bench of Douglas-fir plugs

Nurseries in Canby. Because of the high need for small quantities of seedlings, this website has been created to bundle small orders together to obtain quantities greater than 20,000. Mike is behind-the-curtain, serving a great market need with his expertise. Visit Saplings, Inc.,. One can order now for winter of 2018-2019, and down the road, the system may help connect people to future seedling supplies.

The post Tree seedling supply remains uncertain appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Christmas Tree Genetics & Tree Improvement Webinar Series

Forestry Events - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 2:42pm
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Understanding genetics and tree improvement is critical to the success of your Christmas tree farm, whether you know it or not. From selecting the right species for your site to starting your own seed orchard, tree genetics impact your operation every day.

In this five part webinar series, leading Christmas tree scientists from throughout the U.S. will present an in-depth discussion of the critical elements of Christmas tree improvement and how genetic selection can improve the growth, health, and quality of your trees and make your farm more profitable.

Webinar schedule:
Feb. 1 The Tree Improvement Process: Selection, Testing & Breeding
Feb. 8 Capturing Genetic Gain: Seed Collection Zones & Seed Orchards
Feb 15 Tree Improvement Techniques: Grafting, Controlled-pollination & Tissue Culture
Feb. 22 Tree Improvement Case Studies From Around the Country and Around the World
March 1 Future Issues: Genetic Engineering and Genomics of Fir Species


Rick Bates - Penn State University

Gary Chastagner - Washington State University

Bert Cregg - Michigan State University

John Frampton - North Carolina State University

Chal Landgren - Oregon State University

Lilian Matallana - North Carolina State University

Jim Rockis - Reliable Source Seeds and Transplants

Cost: No charge - registration is required. Register by January 25 at:

Contact: Bert Cregg cregg@msu.edu 517-353-0335
Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Jill O’Donnell, 231-779-9480 by January 25, 2017 to make arrangements. Requests received after this date will be fulfilled when possible.

Basic Woodland Management - Washington County

Forestry Events - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 2:42pm
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

This five-session course is ideal for anyone who is just starting out taking care of a woodland property. Topics covered include:
• Getting Started: Assessing your property and your site
• What’s Going on in Your Woods? Understanding tree biology, forest ecology and habitat
• Taking Care of Your Woods: tree planting, care for an established forest, weed control
• Getting it Done: Timber sale logistics, and laws and regulations.
• Field trip to see first-hand examples of what you’ve learned


• Cost for the course is $50 for one participant/$60 for two or more participants from the same family.
• Course is taught in a blended online/in person format. Participants will be given short online assignments to complete prior to each class session.
• Instructor is Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent - Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties
• To attend you must pre-register no later than January 25th. Use the form below or register online at: http://tinyurl.com/basicwoodlandmanagement.
• Questions? Contact Amy Grotta, (503) 397-3462 or amy.grotta@oregonstate.edu
Basic Woodland

Small Beauties

Terra - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 4:56pm

By Nick Houtman

In a bathtub-sized kiln at the back of her art studio, Jerri Bartholomew stacks layers of glass, one on top of each other like an oversized deck of cards. She closes the lid, flips a switch and waits for the temperature to climb. When the glass begins to glow red-hot, it melts and fuses into a single object, becoming a translucent collage of form and pattern.

The journey of a parasitic fish killer, Ceratonova shasta, by Jerri Bartholomew

As an artist, Bartholomew applies favorite images to her pieces — the graceful arch of a tree, a memorable camping spot on Mount Adams, a dragon fly’s wing, a Chinook salmon. “Most of what I do comes from nature,” Bartholomew says. “A lot of my pieces tell a story about a place. But I enjoy the process of collage, taking random images and putting them together and trying to get the feeling of place. It’s as much about the composition as it is about the subject matter.”

Layers of meaning also concern Bartholomew in her day job, head of the microbiology department and the John L. Fryer Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Oregon State University. She and her research team pursue clues about cause and effect — how a parasite kills fish, how a pulse of river water changes the risk of infection, how a worm no bigger than an eyelash forms a vital link in a deadly cycle.

“In some ways, science is stripping away the layers to see what’s beneath,” says Bartholomew, “and art is the opposite, building up the layers to create something new.” Both draw from the same creative impulse, a desire to ask questions, to experiment and to learn from trial and error.

In a collaboration with The Arts Center in Corvallis, Bartholomew is bringing her two worlds together, culminating in April in a show — Microbiomes: To see the unseen. The scientist and her colleagues have hosted artists in their lab to explore life forms as diverse as they are micro. Researchers shared their knowledge and curiosity about bacteria and their kin, which morph from one shape to another, communicate through chemical signals, invade other organisms and disperse like dust through air, water and soil.

jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var moving = $('#aesop-quote-component-21453-1 blockquote'), component = $('#aesop-quote-component-21453-1'); // if parallax is on and we're not on mobile moving.waypoint({ offset: '90%', handler: function(direction){ $(this).toggleClass('aesop-quote-faded'); } }); }); Microbiomes: To see the unseen, will be open to the public at The Arts Center of Corvallis, April 13 to May 27. An opening celebration is scheduled for April 20, 4 - 8 pm. On May 21, an event is planned featuring a musical composition by Dana Reason of the OSU music department and poetry and prose from OSU's Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word.

In turn, the artists conducted their own observations by collecting microbes from surfaces — a door knob, a slice of bread, a pet’s hair, their own skin — and seeing what would grow on standard agar plates. They reflected on how microorganisms cheat or steal from each other and how some seem to communicate like gossips at a picnic.

The goal is simple: to bring scientists and artists together and to spur a conversation. “I think that’s going to really change the creative process,” Bartholomew says. “The artists are going to start asking questions that are compelling, that we haven’t thought of, because they’re looking at the microbiome in a different way.”

Ripen in the Mud

Bartholomew and her colleagues have spent their careers asking their own questions of the microbiome. In particular, they have focused on a parasite that is extraordinarily lethal to fish and goes by the name Ceratonova shastaC. shasta for short. If that’s not memorable enough, the illness it causes might be: gut-rot disease.

The scientists have asked how this creature does its dirty work. Where did it come from? Who are its relations? How is it influenced by climate, hydrology and the animals that serve as repository or host?

The Klamath River at Keno Eddy in the upper portion of the basin (Photo: Stephen Atkinson)

First discovered in a fish hatchery near Mount Shasta in 1948, gut rot (aka enteronecrosis) has been found in fish in many Oregon rivers: the Columbia, Willamette, Cowlitz, Clackamas, Deschutes and Rogue. However, the Klamath is ground zero. Here, the parasite thrives in sluggish channels on warm summer days, causing severe and ongoing losses in juvenile Chinook salmon.

When Bartholomew came to Oregon State as a graduate student in 1981, scientists had been stumped about just how C. shasta lived. They knew the organism is a member of a clever group of parasites known as Myxozoans, which kill fish with a variety of illnesses: whirling disease, PKD (proliferative kidney disease) and even one called hamburger gill disease.

This polychaete worm has ingested several parasitic cells. (Photo courtesy of the Bartholomew lab)

These microbes are about the size of a blood cell and invisible to the naked eye. In rivers around the world, evidence of their presence accumulates as dead fish pile up in eddies and along shorelines. Last summer, in an effort to control the spread of a PKD infection in mountain white fish, more than 200 miles of the Yellowstone River in Montana were closed to recreation for about six weeks. Another Myxozoan parasite deforms fish and causes them to swim in a corkscrew fashion — a condition known as whirling disease. This microbe, a European immigrant, has spread to much of the Northeast and the West, decimating trout in some streams.

Partly in a need to get to the bottom of such problems, Fryer had established one of the country’s premier fish-disease research programs at Oregon State. Scientists in his lab were pursuing vaccines to protect fish from bacterial diseases, but Bartholomew launched into a study of C. shasta. A graduate student had already shown that, unlike infectious diseases such as the flu or the common cold in humans, gut-rot disease could not be passed directly from one fish to another. The conventional wisdom, Bartholomew says, was that to complete the infection cycle, the microorganism had to “ripen in the mud.”

Even more puzzling was another mystery. Fish would be infected in some parts of the river but not others. Through a series of trial-and-error experiments, it took Bartholomew, Fryer and their colleagues 16 years to identify a tiny worm that comprises a critical part of the disease process.

It Goes Like This

When an infected fish dies, C. shasta spores (a kind of microbial seed) pour out of the carcass and into the water like rats off a sinking ship. As the microorganisms float downstream, they pass mats of worms living on the streambed. About the size of an eyelash, these worms feed indiscriminately by gathering particles from the water.

Once ingested by the worm, C. shasta does something remarkable: It fires two filaments into the wall of the worm’s feeding tube. Once the filaments penetrate the wall, C. shasta opens up, and out crawls an amoeba that shimmies its way into the body of the worm.

“The amoeba wriggles through the worm’s gut cells and begins to proliferate and make spores,” says Sascha Hallett, a scientist in Bartholomew’s lab. In this process, the spores also transform themselves into a different shape. Although they are the same microbe, these shape-shifters no longer look the same as the spores that came out of the fish. C. shasta isn’t lethal to the worm, which discharges the transformed spores back out into the water. “Unless the worm is really heavily infected,” says Bartholomew, “they can just continue to release these spores continually for a long period of time.”

The life cycle of Certonova shasta, known previously as Ceratomyxa shasta, is shown in this illustration from the Bartholomew lab at Oregon State.

As these C. shasta spores drift aimlessly in the current, they wait for a fish to pass. When a salmon or trout comes close enough, through a signal that is still not understood, the parasite again fires its filaments and, like a pirate boarding party, climbs aboard through the gills. Thus begins the final leg of this complicated journey. C. shasta navigates through the host’s blood, following a path forged long ago by a primordial ancestor. When it arrives in the gut, it fulfills its destiny and launches into a reproductive frenzy, eventually causing inflammation that is fatal to its host. The dying fish empties its load of parasites into the water to begin the cycle all over again.

Most of the C. shasta story has been discovered in the last 20 years. While the life cycle provides clues about how and where the parasite infects commercially important fish, scientists are still writing other chapters. For example, Stephen Atkinson, a research associate in Bartholomew’s lab, has found that there are several types of C. shasta. Each one infects a single species of fish.

Other researchers have demonstrated that Myxozoans have an unlikely family history. Most of their distant kin live in the ocean, including jellyfish, corals and sea anemones. Bartholomew is collaborating with scientists in Israel on a project to understand the filament firing mechanism of this diverse group. One of the goals is to find a treatment for Myxozoan parasites that infect fish raised in Israeli aquaculture farms.

To date, these microbes have not been shown to cause infections in humans. However, researchers have found Myxozoan infections in duck and shrews, and spores have been detected in people with compromised immune systems. Toxins from infected fish have been linked to gastroenteritis. “So now we have them in mammals and birds as well as fish. I think there’s a lot to be discovered about their diversity,” says Bartholomew.

Creativity in Science

Back in her studio, Bartholomew reflects on the relationship between her science and her art. “Science is incredibly creative,” she says. “You start by thinking about what questions you should be asking, then by thinking about the experiments that could answer those questions. You often do a lot of experimenting on a small scale to test these ideas and to refine your questions before embarking on a large study.

Specimen 53, Ceratonova shasta, by Jerri Bartholomew

“That’s kind of what I do when I come into the studio. Because glass can be an unforgiving medium, I often conduct a series of experiments in a small format, changing one variable at a time. Once these experiments work, I can take the piece to a bigger scale.”

Answers in both science and art lead inevitably to new questions. For example, discovering the importance of the worm in the C. shasta life cycle caused Bartholomew’s team to rethink what they had already learned. “And then we understood why it was found in one river system and not in another one,” she says, “because one river is conducive to the worm being present, and another is not.”

It takes persistence and technical skill to uncover the life cycle of something you can’t see with the naked eye. Nevertheless, she adds, the practice of exploring relationships through art provides fuel for the journey. “Giving myself the space to be creative in art is helpful when I approach my science. I look at science as a big puzzle. I get excited about new ideas and new techniques that we can use to think about how we can fit things together,” she adds.

Detail of Mount Adams, a fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew.

“Each piece may require a different approach, so you have to be really creative about how you put them together. Once we solved the life cycle, we could start asking a whole other set of questions. You have to be creative about what these approaches are and be willing to go beyond your own discipline. You have to ask how an engineer or a hydrologist or a mathematician would approach the problem.

“It’s like in art. The more techniques you know, the more possibilities you have. I’m learning video now. Who knows what that’s going to do? You’re always adding to your tool box.”

The Microbiomes show at The Arts Center provides Bartholomew an opportunity to do something that she has avoided until now: to present the C. shasta parasite in her art. “The parasite itself is really beautiful,” she says. “To this day I rarely sit down at a microscope without uttering a silent ‘wow.’”


Editor’s note: Learn more about the OSU Microbiome Initiative.

jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var stackedResizer = function(){ $('.aesop-stacked-img').css({'height':($(window).height())+'px'}); } stackedResizer(); $(window).resize(function(){ stackedResizer(); }); }); Undulata bas by Kristin Levier, Moscow, Idaho Zika by Lanny Bergner, Anacortes, Washington Some of the steps in developing a fish vaccine show up in this fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew. Specimen 53, Ceratonova shasta, by Jerri Bartholomew. Detail of Mount Adams, a fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew. Mount Adams, a fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew. Dog Kisses, by Kate McGee, Philomath Growth-One, Debby Sundbaum Sommer, Philomath Living Images Yeastogram, by Johanna Rotko of Kotka, Finland.

The post Small Beauties appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs


Terra - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 2:35pm

WHEN BEAVERS BUILD DAMS, streams slow down, sediment accumulates and ponds grow. Meadows are born. Water nurtures new vegetation, a boon for wildlife and livestock.

But without beavers, streams speed up, scour channels and turn into gullies. Meadows dry out. Willows, sedges and other wetland vegetation give way to drought-tolerant shrubs.

At least that’s the theory. In the arid valleys of Eastern Oregon, Caroline Nash is learning that the truth may be a lot more complicated.

The Oregon State University Ph.D. student in Water Resources Engineering is testing the idea that beavers are key to restoring streams that have cut their way down into the soil and left their floodplain meadows high and dry. Hydrologists have a word for these channels: “incised.”

“Theories about incised streams been around in the scientific literature for over 100 years,” says Nash. “We have a pretty good idea about what causes this to happen in specific locations, but we don’t have a universal theory. There are so many reasons a creek can do this, and there are so many things that can happen when it does, depending on the climate and what the vegetation was when you started. There are a lot of factors.”

The story may actually start with the forces that created meadows in the first place. Fast-moving streams often splash and tumble over boulders and create spectacular landscapes along the way. “You typically see more erosion happening in headwater streams,” says Nash. “In meadows, erosion is stopping, and deposition is occurring. Why is that?”

(Photo: Caroline Nash)

The question isn’t just a hydrologic curiosity. Across the West, landowners and organizations interested in meadow restoration are taking cues from nature and installing artificial beaver dams on small streams. A team of federal and Portland State University scientists has even published The Beaver Restoration Guidebook to promote the practice.

These structures are typically made of local materials: wood, rocks and clay. They stretch from bank to bank and raise water levels from a few inches to a foot or two. But there are regulatory hurdles. State law requires fish passage, although waivers can be granted. New rules for artificial beaver dams are under development by the Oregon Department of State Lands.

Caroline Nash (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

Working with Gordon Grant, hydrologist in the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Nash is digging into the origins of a meadow in the floodplain of Cottonwood Creek on the Silvies Valley Ranch north of Burns. She wants to learn how long the meadow has been there, how it grew and whether beavers are necessary for long-term stability. And she is seeking permits to install artificial beaver dams to track the impact of such structures on meadow development in the animals’ absence.

Ice and Cattle

To collect data on when and where water is flowing, she is monitoring streamflow, groundwater and the weather. This tributary to the Silvies River is typical of an incised stream in ranch country but presents scientists with a difficult challenge. It practically dries up in the summer. In the winter, snow and ice can damage sensitive equipment.  Nearby Seneca holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Oregon: minus 54 degrees Fahrenheit.

On Cottonwood Creek, Caroline Nash has installed weirs to monitor water flow. Collecting such baseline data will help her determine how water and weather combine with geology to shape meadows. (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

And then there are curious cattle. To measure streamflow, hydrologists often install weirs, small dams with a V-shaped opening through which water flows. The pond that backs up behind the weir becomes an irresistible attraction to thirsty livestock. That means monitoring equipment must be put behind a fence.

Solving these problems led Nash into an unexpected partnership with skilled laborers — the people who weld, drill wells, irrigate and maintain fences at the ranch. “There’s a lot of knowledge and brilliance among the people who do this for a living,” she says. “We had to come up with a way that is collaborative, practical, economic and still effective.”

A weather station installed by Nash provides data for her research. (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

Nash grew up in Connecticut and has learned about more than the science of stream monitoring. With support and encouragement from owner Scott Campbell, she and the Silvies Valley Ranch team have adapted the tools of the hydrology trade to the rigors of an arid, working landscape. “I’ve become a passionate proponent of working with professional field workers and tradesmen to design and install equipment,” she adds.

Fortunately, Nash is getting help from stream itself. That’s because as the water cuts down through the soil, it reveals ancient layers of sediment and leaves an exposed timeline that ticks off deposition over decades and centuries. One layer in particular — ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama that created Crater Lake more than 7,000 years ago — gives the researchers a starting point that is common in other meadows around the Northwest.

“Our goal is to look at the water and the geology and make our best professional judgment about why we think these meadows were here to begin with,” says Nash. “That leads us to what we think a responsible set of restoration strategies could be. Ultimately, if we can support landowners who want the ability to restore some of these creeks without costing the state a lot of money, that would be a really good thing.”

Nash hopes to complete her study in the spring of 2018.

Snow covers a meadow on Cottonwood Creek where Caroline Nash is conducting her research. (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

The post Meadowlands appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Linn County Annual Seedling Sale

Forestry Events - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 2:34pm
Saturday, February 4, 2017 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Sponsored by the Linn County Chapter of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association (LCSWA). Proceeds benefit youth educational programs in Linn County, including 4-H forestry activities and college scholarships in forestry or natural resources.

Date: Saturday, February 4, 2017

Time: 8 am until noon (or while supplies last)

Location: Linn County Fair and Expo Center, Santiam Building, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany, just east of I-5 at exit 234.

See plant information for species available. Payment by cash or check. For the best selection, pre-order and pay using the order form. 

2017 Local Wood Products Fair and Sale - Call for Exhibitors

Forestry Events - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 2:34pm
Saturday, February 4, 2017 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

If you are a local woodland owner, craftsperson, or business producing and selling materials or products for our local woodland and forests, you are invited...

The fair highlights the many great products and materials coming from local woodlands, with products from raw sawn boards to small finished wood products.  The fair and sale is free and runs concurrently with the Linn County Seedling Sale.

Date: Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 
Time: 8 am until noon 
Location: Linn County Fair and Expo Center, Santiam Building, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany, just east of I-5 at exit 234.

Exhibitor Information:
10 x 10 ft space, $25.00 fees benefit the Linn County OSWA chapter educational projects (4-H forestry activities and college scholarships in forestry or natural resources.)

Registration required by January 24th  Additional information email or call Extension at 541-766-6750

Harvesting and Selling Timber:

Forestry Events - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 2:34pm
Saturday, February 4, 2017 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

This seminar will introduce you to the steps involved in setting up and managing a timber sale to yield the ecological and economic results you want from harvesting trees from your forest.

For more information, http://nnrg.org/how-to-manage-a-timber-sale/

REGISTER AT: http://timber-sale-or.eventbrite.com


Small Farms Events - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 2:34pm
Saturday, February 4, 2017 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Irrigation Options on the Farm

Small Farms Events - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 2:34pm
Saturday, February 4, 2017 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Look at a many irrigation systems suitable for a number of different crops on a trip around Dunbar Farms. You’ll see a wide variety of pump stations and irrigation methods in operation. These systems include overhead sprinklers for hay, drip irrigation in wine grapes, high uniformity rotator sprinklers for row crops, large volume canons for infrequent irrigation purposes and flood irrigation in hay; pumps and intake types, electrical demands, filtration methods, pipe sizing and field layout. The basic methods of installing irrigation infrastructure will be explained.

Instructor: David Mostue, farmer & equipment guru.

Register here: http://bit.ly/JacksonSmallFarms

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Deep Impact

Terra - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 5:55pm

By Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research

Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research, Oregon State University.

Every day at Oregon State University, our scientists work at the leading edge of research, striving to address some of our world’s most pressing problems. From innovative approaches to cancer treatment to the complexities of global climate change, OSU faculty confront tough issues. The positive impact of their accomplishments reaches far and wide.

Indeed, the ramifications of research produced by Oregon State’s faculty are awe inspiring. Its effects can be felt from the depths of our oceans to the tops of forests throughout the world. Consider these major efforts:

  • In October, the College of Forestry kicked off construction of the new Oregon Forest Science Complex, which will showcase innovative uses for wood in building construction and design. The college is also encouraging economic development in our state. “The complex is crucial to the future of our working forest landscapes,” said Thomas Maness, OSU’s Dean of Forestry, at the groundbreaking. “The way we thought about forestry, natural resources and wood science in the past is very different from how we think about them now. This complex will help prepare our students to tackle our most complex landscape challenges, improve rural economies and establish a healthy forest landscape.”
  • Microbes in the human gut have profound impacts on health. OSU researchers are learning how bacteria influence digestion, pathogen resistance and even brain function. For example, Natalia Shulzhenko in Veterinary Medicine and her colleagues have found that communication between the immune system and one species of bacteria helps regulate glucose metabolism. Her research may provide clues on how to treat the scourge of diabetes.
  • The Cascadia Lifelines Program, operated by Oregon State and its public- and private-sector partners, has created a new online tool that anyone in Oregon can use to identify risks from an earthquake. Called the Oregon Hazard Explorer for Lifeline Program, or OHELP, the program is free to anyone — individual, homeowner, agency, business or industry. It will be especially useful in preparing for the consequences of a quake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

These striking examples show how OSU research is integral to our communities and to the economy of the state. Academic inquiry and discovery inform decisions and drive solutions.  Taken altogether, they help create a more sustainable future for everyone.

We all hope that the incoming administration in Washington, D.C. will continue to support our community’s unprecedented levels of research funding to advance these significant efforts on behalf of the people of Oregon and the world.

The post Deep Impact appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

COE Faculty Development Workshop

Environment Events - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 2:35pm
Friday, February 3, 2017 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM

This workshop focuses on managing your budgets at OSU. Presenters include:


Luke McIlvenny, Shaun Bromagem, and Dana Ainsworth from the Business and Engineering Business Center (BEBC)


Full Workshop series and registration: http://red.engr.oregonstate.edu/2016-2017

Grant to fund field trips to marine science center in Newport

Breaking Waves - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 1:24pm

Oregon Sea Grant will receive $3,000 on Feb. 3 from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund to support field trips to Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC).

“This grant will allow up to 30 classrooms from schools with low-income populations in the tribal service area to visit the center and learn about coastal habitats and marine research,” said Kathryn Hawes, the coordinator of Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program.

The program offers classes and camps for K-12 youths. The activities take place at HMSC, where Oregon Sea Grant’s Visitor Center is located, and in the nearby Yaquina Bay estuary. This program serves approximately 9,000 students each year, Hawes said.

Oregon Sea Grant will allocate the field trip scholarships on a first-come, first-served basis to Title 1 schools in the Siletz tribal service area. For more information and to apply, visit http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/visitor-center/webform/2017-scholarship-application.

The grant will be awarded Feb. 3 at the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City during a ceremony that begins at 6 p.m.

Photo (above right): Students learn how to dissect a shark in a 2016 camp offered by Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program, which is based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Oregon Sea Grant has received a grant from the Siletz Tribe that will allow low-income students to participate in similar educational activities at the center. Photo by Hana Laughton.

The post Grant to fund field trips to marine science center in Newport appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs