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Soap Makers for Social Justice

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 10:59am

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 nearly 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 — have taken their expertise and curiosity to Uganda, where they are learning how the act of making this simple product can smooth the way for social justice and empowerment.

Two fistula survivors welcomed Mama T, the founder of TERREWODE, to a solidarity group meeting in a village near Soroti, Uganda. (Photo: Brianna Goodwin)

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. This summer, they are conducting additional field research in Uganda.

Based in Soroti in eastern Uganda, the group 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.

Fortunately, effective medical treatment is available. With support from the Worldwide Fistula Fund, TERREWODE works to educate women about the risks, to raise money for medical costs and to increase access to care, which is often out of reach in rural areas.


Oregon State’s partnership with TERREWODE goes back to 2011 when 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: two masters of public health students (Lauren Baur in 2012 and Callie Ball in 2015) and students in the College of Business in 2015.

On June 20, 2016, after a 48-hour trip from Seattle via Dubai, 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 writes 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.”

As an intern with TERREWODE, Robert Eladu sports an Oregon State beaver on his motorbike. (Photo: Brianna Goodwin)

Inspired by Oregon photographer Joni Kabana, TERREWODE is developing a soap-making business to provide survivors of fistula with a source of income. The students have three objectives for their four-week 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; determine if locally available ingredients can be used for increased soap production; find ways to improve efficiency and scale-up the soap-making process.

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

Making Soap

Last fall, 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.”

Grace Burleson and Brian Butcher experiment with the soap-making process. (Photo: Brianna Goodwin)

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 soap-making instructions from Kabana and her colleague Dardi Troen, who had inspired the project by bringing a gift of goat-milk soap made in Spray, Oregon, to TERREWODE. 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.

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 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. Some of it was useable, and 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 students are fulfilling their own educational goals. Each is attracted to humanitarian engineering by a commitment to make a difference, a desire to serve others. Working with TERREWODE “allows me to do what I love but have an impact on peoples’ lives,” says Goodwin.

During her trip to Uganda, Brianna Goodwin, center, got to know TERREWODE intern Robert Eladu, left, and Rebecca Amongin, a volunteer. (Photo contributed by Brianna 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. She will enter Oregon State’s mechanical engineering master’s program this fall with a humanitarian emphasis.

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.

Before attending Oregon State, Butcher traveled to Bolivia and Chile where he volunteered for community organizations. This summer, the mechanical engineering graduate will intern with the Corvallis firm CH2MHill, after he returns from Uganda.

Kendra Sharp

“Our program aims to inspire students to do work that they feel makes an impact on society,” says 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. It’s remarkable to see both how Brianna, Grace and Brian have grown through this experience and how we are able to make a difference together with TERREWODE and our other project partners.”

The post Soap Makers for Social Justice appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

From Stakeholders to Sea Turtles

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 10:57am
Laura Ferguson is working at the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland (Photo: Dylan McDowell)

Laura Ferguson has dreamed of being a scientist since she was a child in Illinois, tromping through local streams. Her early explorations instilled a love of nature that led her to foreign countries and provided the necessary skills for her current post: coordinating with national scientists to protect sea turtles and other iconic species.Ferguson is serving as a Knauss Fellow in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Office of Science and Technology. The year-long opportunity offers graduate students (or recent graduate students) focused on marine or coastal science an opportunity to work for a federal agency or legislative office in the Washington, D.C., area. Ferguson is one of four fellows from Oregon Sea Grant this year, all of whom are graduates of Oregon State University (OSU).

The experience marks Ferguson’s first time working in a formal office, but she is hardly deskbound. Her mentors believe in immersive learning, and Ferguson already has traveled to Peru for a conference and this June will deploy to St. Croix to join a research team monitoring leatherback sea turtle nests and hatchlings.

“You cannot learn science by sitting in an office,” said Mridula Srinivasan, a marine ecologist with NOAA and one of Ferguson’s mentors in the Knauss program. “You need to go to the field to learn about the science and learn about the animal, and then you can have a much better appreciation for what type of research is being done and the impact it has.”

At NOAA’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, Ferguson is a generalist in an office full of specialists. The Knauss Fellowship requires her to balance multiple projects simultaneously, ranging from overseeing funding for sea turtle research to coordinating with scientists across the country for NOAA’s science advisory board.

“Being in Silver Spring, at HQ, is allowing me to get a bird’s eye view of what NOAA does across the country,” Ferguson said. “I think all of the facilitation of science is very neat. The more I hear about the regions, the more I think that I might want to be there, closer to the ground. But I wouldn’t have known that without coming here.”

Rooted in Communities

Ferguson joined the Peace Corps directly after her undergraduate studies, and was stationed in a small Peruvian village 12,000 feet above sea level. Inspired by her experience working at the community level, she subsequently enrolled in OSU’s Marine Resource Management (MRM) master’s program, to pursue the connection between science and stakeholders.

“MRM was so great for preparing me for this,” Ferguson said. “People want to work at this nexus between science, policy and management. In my professional path, I worked in science in my undergrad, got a degree in management for my graduate studies, and now I have this policy fellowship. It set me up perfectly.”

For her master’s project, Ferguson investigated how an OSU-led water modeling project, called Willamette Water 2100 (WW2100), engaged stakeholders from across the region. She interacted with researchers ranging from engineers to social scientists, while also interviewing community members who participated in the research process.

“We had 40-plus different researchers and students and maybe 20 disciplines,” said Sam Chan, WW2100 project lead, OSG Extension water quality specialist and Ferguson’s advisor. “It was kind of daunting. The fact that she was able to be so comfortable in this transdisciplinary work setting is going to help her a lot.”

Ferguson developed a framework for scientists to more effectively engage stakeholders from the outset of a research project, and her recommendations include adding criteria to grant evaluations that recognize stakeholder engagement as a core aspect of successful research. Ferguson and Chan continue to collaborate long-distance as she submits her research to scientific journals.

Ferguson draws on her extensive research background for her work at NOAA, including data collection for a pilot project that investigates how a changing climate will impact protected species such as whales and sea turtles.

“The ultimate goal is to identify which species are more at risk and which species are less at risk, and use that knowledge to focus management and conservation efforts,” said Ferguson, who is organizing a workshop for roughly 100 scientists to share research on protected species and encourage collaboration.

Outside of work, Ferguson is determined to make the most of her year in Silver Spring, which is a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C. When she’s not tagging turtles in the Caribbean or coordinating scientists, she is devoted to the equally strenuous task of marathon training. Ferguson has found that running 26.2 miles around D.C. provides her with ample time to experience the city’s many historic monuments and memorials.

The Knauss Fellowship is not yet halfway over, and Ferguson has already attended an international conference, participated in hearings on Capitol Hill and developed an agency newsletter. She is making huge strides toward a career in community engagement, where she hopes to use her national perspective to protect both animal species and stakeholders through collaborative research.

Learn more:

The post From Stakeholders to Sea Turtles appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Grand Strategy, Global Purpose

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 10:54am
Illustration by Santiago Uceda

The United States has never been more connected to the global community than it is today. The federal government negotiates multilateral trade agreements, conducts military operations across borders, spies on friend and foe and enters into complex environmental pacts. As war and poverty drive people from their homes on practically every continent, politicians propose starkly different paths to a secure future.

These events may feel chaotic or, to those who remember recent history, simply reflective of the last half century. Either way, it’s worth stepping back to take the long view. In fact, historical analysis can shed light on the underlying forces at work and help make sense of a picture that is simultaneously life-threatening and hopeful.

“I argue that World War I was the crucible for all this,” says Christopher McKnight Nichols, Oregon State University historian. “The world had become so interconnected that the future of war and conflict was devastation. Everyone coming out of what they then saw as The Great War had grand strategies because they knew that the next war was going to be worse. Whoever it was; wherever they were. And that’s only amplified today.”

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Nichols was named a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow in support of his work advancing scholarship on U.S. international relations.

The concept of a grand strategy — an ambitious organizing principle for the exercise of global power — is about big ideas, says Nichols, about connecting means and ends. “A grand strategy,” he explains, “is a long-term intellectual framework that structures a big, capacious foreign policy world view.”

In May, Nichols hosted the Rethinking Grand Strategy Conference at Oregon State to bring together scholars who are looking at the evidence for grand strategies in American history and politics. Before the meeting, he sat down with Terra’s Nick Houtman to discuss the lessons we can glean from scholarship on grand strategies. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Christopher McKnight Nichols

Terra: Where does the term “grand strategy” come from?

Nichols: In political science, “grand strategy” is language that comes from the Prussian general and theorist Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz and British military theorist Basil Lidell Hart. It refers to a long-term intellectual framework of the relationship between means and ends that, taken together, forms a big, capacious foreign policy world view. Not small things.

One of the classic examples from the 20th century is containment, which was articulated by George Kennan (American diplomat and political scientist) as an intellectual foundation for the containment — that is, prevention of the spread — of Soviet communism. Its strength was that it was adaptable yet specific. Even so, Kennan later recanted some of the ways it was used and developed, particularly in terms of rejecting so-called proxy wars. But a grand strategy like containment is useful as a broad way of understanding relations between countries, setting objectives and defining diplomacy over time and under changing conditions.

Usually it’s related to hard power, military and diplomatic power. One of the purposes of this conference is to historicize what we mean by grand strategy, to show the deeper archival accounts of where people thought they were developing grand strategy and to expand what it means to talk about grand strategies.

Terra: Does grand strategy have relevance beyond diplomacy and the military?

Nichols: We’ll explore that in the book coming out of this conference. What was the civil rights grand strategy? It wasn’t just domestic. There was a global civil rights strategy. You can go back to W.E.B. Du Bois (African-American writer and co-founder of the National Association of Colored People) within the context of the global color line. The color line “belted the world,” as Du Bois memorably argued; it was much bigger than just achieving equality at home. We’ll also have a public health scholar from Yale who directs their grand-strategy program. What does a public health global grand strategy look like? For example, was the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — as begun under George W. Bush to combat global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — a grand strategy?

Limited to military and diplomatic power, the downside of the “grand” is the lofty. We might say it’s not a grand strategy unless you declare and declaim that it is. Kissinger had a grand strategy. Some argue that Kennedy never figured his out. There’s something to this too, a sense that renaissance people do grand strategy. They’re not just narrow thinkers; they’re the broadest, most capacious liberal minded policymakers. But it seems to me that we make a mistake historically and in the present to locate grand strategists exclusively, or just largely, among the ranks of politicians and diplomats.

Grand strategy is also a set of coursework that has developed over the last 20 years and proliferated in the last decade. Yale pioneered it. There are programs now at Duke; the University of Texas, Austin; all the service academies. One goal of our conference is to help set the agenda for this coursework. We aim to look at how the historical development of grand strategy, particularly in war time and also somewhat in peace time, in conception as well as execution, and in contexts outside of more traditional realms of analysis can widen our understandings of this history and, perhaps, help us to develop better ways forward in the future.

Terra: Where are scholars going with this? Why does this matter?

Nichols: The first grand strategists were only talking about war. In this scholarship as well as in terms of training and military history, generally there is a three-part sequence: strategy, tactics, and operations. The first wave of writing on grand strategy really emanated from political science and military analysis. Part of our motivation as historians is to do serious historical analysis from the 18th century to the present to first, construct a new history, and second, critique and recast ahistorical uses of the concept of grand strategy.

For example, some of the scholarship has argued that Harry Truman and Dean Acheson were poor grand strategists but that they had a grand strategy. My reading of that era (1940s-early 1950s) is that they were developing an ad hoc framework for the unfolding Cold War that was absolutely not a grand strategy, because it was inherently flexible and fluid at the moment.

Some of this research seeks to create order from the chaos of the past and impose a kind of false order, pretending that policymakers had some better capacity for knowing. At the conference, we are bringing in great historians and a few others from complementary disciplines. Our work aims to show how a grand strategy — or strategies — unfolded and shaped international policy or transnational actions.

The relevance of grand strategy made a major impact in the 1990s, which was when the Clinton Administration did this initiative called the Kennan Sweepstakes. It was an attempt to bring all these policymakers together to come up with a name that would represent the Clinton Doctrine, nothing less than a new U.S. grand strategy for the post-Cold War world. The process was incredibly successful in that it helped the Clinton Administration to develop a guiding doctrine. It was incredibly unsuccessful in the naming process. The term became “democratic enlargement.”

By that was meant a political philosophy of the U.S.’s proper role in the world being to help promote globalization, global interdependence, and U.S.-led free trade economics. It wasn’t about hard power use at all. This term and this moment in the 1990s, then, is a great way to understand the rise and search for grand strategy. It’s actually something that policymakers think a lot about. It’s about their legacy.

Another element of this case in the 1990s as well as the 1940s example reveals is that the quest for grand strategy can be important for a democracy. That is, it makes transparent to the public, both in the U.S. and publics abroad, what the core principles of the nation’s foreign policy are. You understand quickly from “containment” what the roles are. That’s why “democratic enlargement” doesn’t work as well. It isn’t obvious. It is in some ways, but not enough.

There’s a rhetorical element at work here too, about how to refine those core principles down to a clear idea that we can trot out to a broader public to show why something like a humanitarian intervention in a place like Rwanda mattered. “Democratic enlargement” didn’t help with that and Bill Clinton often remarks that his biggest policy regret of his presidency was not intervening to stop the genocide in Rwanda. The rhetoric of democratic enlargement via economics did help with getting more McDonald’s into China, that is more trade overall, and pushing back a little bit on human rights, but only a little post Tiananmen through the 1990s.

Terra: Who are the practitioners of grand strategy thinking? Does it go beyond government and military officials?

Nichols: After World War I, I argue in my paper for the conference, peace internationalists absolutely had a capacious grand strategy for world peace, world organization in the 1910s and 1920s. They come out of the war and attempt to substantiate that in international bodies, international law and new treaties. They’re generally not seen in any of this literature, but it seems to me that if you want to understand what grand strategies are in these intellectual frameworks, you really have to open that narrative up to look at these kinds of figures and groups who have not been studied or explored in this way, and how they changed their ideas, their successes, their failures, the peoples and organizations they worked with, the ones they don’t.

We’ll have the people who are normally included in this research too, such as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger; they have to be there. In my own work I’m combining Woodrow Wilson with Jane Addams (early president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, first U.S. woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize). Here’s a policymaker and here’s a peace activist. How did their internationalisms fit together and how did they not? In what ways did the worldviews and policies that resulted from WWI constitute grand strategies that then helped to shape the geopolitics of the 1920s and 1930s and beyond?

Speaking of the stakes and long-standing relevance of grand strategy, one critique of Barack Obama has been that he doesn’t have a grand strategy. It’s so much out there that my co-editors on the book decided that as historians, we really need to grapple with it and decide how we talk about it. One of the scholars at the conference will be discussing the parameters of an Obama Doctrine as one of “ascendant ideas” about pragmatism and flexible responses. But yearning for grand strategy isn’t just limited to presidents like Eisenhower, or Clinton, or policymakers such as a Kissinger or Kennan. Clearly there are other grand strategies out there. This is one of my own main motivations to convene this conference and write this book. In the historical record there are diverse people, so many other folks with big lofty views about world-shaping foreign policy of nation states, even transnational actors like WILPF. They’re not empowered actors of the state but, I argue, they do not have to be in order to conceive and implement grand strategy.

Terra: How do today’s populist movements on the right and left affect the development of a modern grand strategy?

The history of foreign relations generally is the history of elites. They are the people who are most often in power and often the most cosmopolitan in their thinking about cross-border relations. One thing that is disheartening to me is that, according to most polls, Americans today are so poorly versed on the world, from geographies to languages to the presidents of countries with whom we’re allied. It should be no surprise that foreign relations still remains a bastion of elites, especially for Americans. Poll after poll concludes that American don’t care much about it.

One of the things that somebody like Donald Trump is actually pretty good at doing is articulating a robust, straightforward foreign policy view.  Not one that all people are getting behind, but I think there is a core of consistency to it. It’s a protectionist, punitive, unilateral, isolationist position that is really appealing to many people. That potentially might constitute, when put into a more formal national security strategy, a grand strategy. My sense is that we see similar patterns on the American political left, too, related to a less interventionist and less hubristic U.S. presence in the world in the wake of Iraq War and now fifteen years after 9/11.

I wonder how populist trends in technology — the 24-hour news cycle, the way polling affects the stances that politicians take, the shifting to extremes — has reduced the time horizon of politics, and particularly long duration foreign policy, so that thinking capaciously about the 50-year time horizon of something like climate change is difficult. The imperatives don’t line up for them to take a long-term action.

To articulate a grand strategy that says your great-grandchildren will live in a better world because of these things, but if they constitute sacrifices between now and then or some other set of policy choices, the stakes and incentives seemed to line up a bit more directly in the Cold War than they do today, for many reasons, including the geopolitics of the era and today’s populist movements, new technologies …

Terra: How do grand strategies affect our relationships with international bodies such as the U.N. or the World Bank?

After World War II, there was a virtually bipartisan consensus for a kind of engaged U.S. internationalism for world leadership — in the United Nations, NATO, the IMF. All of the Bretton Woods system in terms of economics. Not all of that is good, but there was plenty of good that came with it. It was a structure that organized the world. Donald Trump, among others, is challenging assumptions about the strategic utility of these bodies and systems, which gives us an opening to talk about whether the U.S. should continue to take a leadership role in these international bodies and in the economic and security structures that undergird world organization today. That has constituted a kind of grand strategy that has endured, what we might call U.S. hegemonic internationalism….

You can think of what containment meant. We’ll keep the Cold War cold, in terms of so-called great power wars, but here are the limits. There are alliances for diplomacy and security. There are more liberal and more hawkish versions of it — domino theories, proxy wars, covert operations, and much more. But, within that, you can get a conceptual hand hold on it because of the centrality of a containment vision, matching means and ends in terms of a longer term set of objectives of counter-pressure against the spread of Soviet communism. Does the U.S. have that today? Do the British? What is the Russian grand strategy? Maybe what we are all sharing in the world system is that there is so much noise in the system and fewer obvious long-duration major threats that it’s reduced a great deal of foreign relations to a shorter, less grand, time horizon. On the other hand, if we broaden our horizons to public health, race, peace activism, development and foreign assistance, there are a great many long-term grand strategies seemingly at work in the world today with roots in both the near and distant past.

Terra: What do you hope to accomplish with the conference?

One of the things we want to develop is an expanded and historically grounded definition of “grand strategy.” We want to historicize what we mean by the term, to show the deeper archival accounts of where people thought they were developing grand strategy, or not, to broaden what it means to talk about grand strategies in the past, present and future.

Historians know there’s a lot that’s missing in current scholarship. There also is a tremendous amount we can build on. We hope to find consistencies and differences that extend across U.S. and world history, to think deeply together, and to deliberate how Americans have debated different sorts of strategies, grand and otherwise, and what their impacts have been when they’ve been applied. And we will consider definitions of usefulness. Are there insights from the past that we should take particular notice of — should, for instance, Obama or the next president attempt to define and implement a grand strategy?

The post Grand Strategy, Global Purpose appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Water World

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 10:51am
Click the photo to download a PDF of Watershed Moments, Milestones and noteworthy discoveries in the annals of Oregon State’s ocean-related research

FROM THERMAL VENTS SEEPING ON THE SEAFLOOR to thunderheads massing in the mountains, Earth’s water is in constant flux. Nearly all of it is salty, held in oceans that cover most of the planet. Much of what’s left is frozen, locked up in glaciers, icecaps, snowpack, sea ice and permafrost.

Of Earth’s freshwater, only a fraction runs across the surface as rivers and streams or collects in
low-lying marshes and swamps. At any given moment, millions of gallons are traveling through the ground beneath our feet, invisibly percolating  through cracks and tiny spaces in rocks and soils.

While water takes wildly different forms on Earth, it morphs from one to another in a great, ever-moving cycle. At Oregon State University, researchers in fields as diverse as oceanography and agriculture study water in all its forms, liquid and frozen, fresh and saline, riverine and subterranean, perennial and ephemeral. And they have been doing it for almost 150 years.


Milestones and noteworthy discoveries in the annals of Oregon State’s ocean-related research


• Yaquina Bay Fisheries Lab established to study estuarine biology


• 16,000-acre H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest established


• Research at H.J. Andrews connects Cascades habitats with sea-run fish


• OSU offers oceanography classes


• OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds created to study water resources across Oregon


• Movements of Juan de Fuca plate first described, leading to understanding of Cascadia subduction zone
• Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) opens in Newport


• OSU research on public access to beaches informs Oregon Beach Bill


• OSU becomes one of first four Sea Grant colleges
• Oceanographers contribute to first climate map at last glacial maximum, basis for predicting global warming


•Hinsdale Wave Laboratory in Corvallis opens with large wave flume to study coastal structure stability


• The Marine Mammal Program founded, begins studies of whale migration, feeding and breeding


• Marine Resource Management program launched with policy and coastal community focus
• Researchers begin studies of El Niño


• First sighting of hydrothermal vents and ecosystems
• “Whale Watching Spoken Here” created to train volunteers in partnership of Marine Mammal Program and Oregon Sea Grant


• Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network opens with volunteers,
businesses and state and university experts


• John Byrne, former OSU dean of oceanography, appointed NOAA Administrator


• Pacific whiting research begins at HMSC, leading to Surimi School at Astoria’s Seafood Lab

• Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES) opens in Newport


• Discovery of SAR11, the most abundant microorganism in the oceans


• Marbled murrelet listed as threatened species in Oregon, Washington and California coastal old-growth forests


• Microbes discovered beneath the seafloor, an area formerly considered lifeless


• Oyster breeding initiative created at HMSC, leading to higher yields for Northwest growers


• Underwater volcanic eruptions first observed and recorded at Axial Seamount off Oregon coast; new eruptions in 2011 and 2015


• Hinsdale Wave Lab at OSU designated as a national site for tsunami research by the National Science Foundation


• “Dead zone” caused by extreme hypoxia first observed off West Coast


• Seafloor “plankton-power” fuel cells invented


• Invasive parasite carried in ship ballast water threatens mud shrimp role in food web
• Oregon Hatchery Research Center launched with state Department of Fish and Wildlife


• Sustained ocean observations with underwater gliders begin


• Acidification-driven corrosivity discovered in Pacific upwelling on West Coast


• Co-leadership of NSF $386 million Ocean Observatories Initiative awarded
• Distinguished Professor Jane Lubchenco appointed NOAA administrator
• Discovery of anti-cancer cyanobacterial compound Coibamide A from Panama
• The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center established at OSU
• Researchers and fishermen collaborate to reduce albatross mortality in long-line fisheries
• First discovery of blue whale calving area off Costa Rica by Marine Mammal Institute researchers


• Oregon Climate Change Research Institute launched


• Sperm whale studies after BP oil well blowout show avoidance of oiled sediments, altered distribution of prey
• Scientists uncover illegal trade in whale meat through genetic analysis, featured in Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove


• Scientists describe new species of crab that “farms” methane vents
• Tohoku tsunami and nuclear disaster leads to debris washing up on West Coast
• Hydrophones in North Atlantic document threats to endangered right whales


• Varvara, a gray whale from the Russian Far East, tracked in a trans-Pacific voyage to the U.S. West Coast
• Analysis of seafloor debris flows pinpoints history of Cascadia subduction zone quakes
• Link established between ocean acidification and collapse of oyster seed production at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery
• Michael Nelson hired as lead principal investigator for H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, the first
philosopher to lead a LTER program


• Tsunami evacuation routes completed for Oregon coast
• Leadership of next near-coastal research vessel design awarded to OSU by NSF
• Five OSU scientists appointed to West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel
• New species of beaked whale discovered with DNA in bones from remote Kiribati islands
• More precipitation projected to fall as rain, less as snow, in high Cascades by midcentury
• NASA-funded space-based lasers help calculate global phytoplankton biomass


• 15-year analysis of blue whale range off California finds conflict with shipping lanes
• Sea star disease epidemic surges in Oregon, raising expectations of local extinctions
• Radiocesium from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant marks migration history of U.S. West Coast Pacific albacore tuna
• Rick Spinrad, OSU Vice President for Research, appointed NOAA chief scientist
• Study confirms link between salmon migration and magnetic field
• Trans-Pacific air currents found to carry pollutants from Asia to North America


• First sounds recorded in the Mariana Trench, the ocean’s deepest location
• Discovery that seaweed (dulse) grown at HMSC tastes like bacon when fried; products developed at the Food Innovation Center in Portland
• Willamette Water 2100 predicts reservoir and groundwater storage ensure adequate supplies for the valley
• Study finds Pacific lamprey decline continues with loss of habitat in Oregon
• Study finds greenhouse gases caused glacial retreat during last ice age
• Discovery that glacial erosion can grind mountains down faster than they can rebuild


• Scientists on West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel sound alarm for changing
ocean chemistry
• Scientists call for rapid carbon emission reductions to avoid long-term harm

Special thanks to Kristen Milligan, assistant professor/senior research, OSU Department of Integrative Biology, and PISCO program coordinator

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

An Educational Leap into the Shimmering Sea

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 10:49am
Oregon State professor Bruce Menge, left, and graduate student Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman investigate an epidemic of sea star wasting disease at Seal Rock. (Photo: Chris Becerra)

THE OCEAN IS KEY TO LIFE ON OUR PLANET, supplying every second breath of oxygen and transporting heat from equator to pole. Over 1 billion people receive their primary source of protein from the sea, and humans will be looking increasingly to marine aquaculture to feed a hungry planet. Over 90 percent of goods travel by ship across the global oceans, and we are looking to the sea for renewable energy. The sea is in our blood, inspires our arts and literature and is key to our future.

However, the challenges facing the world’s oceans are well-chronicled: warming temperatures, increasing acidification, rising sea levels, outbreaks of harmful algal blooms, larger waves and storms, severe erosion, over-stressed fisheries. The list goes on and on.

The science documenting these issues is solid, and few, if any, academic institutions in the world have the breadth of expertise to study them as does Oregon State University. The question, though, isn’t, “What is causing these extraordinary changes to the ocean?” It is, “What are we going to do about them?”

Put yourself in the shoes of a city manager in a coastal community. The freshwater piped to your city’s residents flows through low-lying areas that are likely to be inundated with seawater in the next 50 years, according to the most conservative estimates of sea-level rise. What should you be doing about that now?

You know that an earthquake and tsunami akin to those that devastated Japan in 2011 will someday strike the Pacific Northwest; thus, you organize evacuation drills. It is then that you recognize that your community’s hospital, elementary school and nursing home are situated smack in the middle of a tsunami inundation zone. How will you deal with an immobile population?

An unprecedented harmful algal bloom has resulted in the delay of the Dungeness crab harvest for over a month this winter off Oregon and for nearly five months off California. Luckily, when the season opened and crabbers were able to brave the bad weather, they found an ample supply of crab. But what will happen economically if, next year, the bloom doesn’t abate and ships never leave port?

Graduate student Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman is studying the influence of climate change on whelks and mussels in the intertidal zone. (Photo: Chris Becerra)

It is questions like these that, in part, triggered Oregon State to launch its Marine Studies Initiative (MSI). The university is building on its half-century of leadership in marine sciences to create a bigger, broader and bolder program that merges the natural sciences with social sciences, business, engineering, education and the humanities.

“In the broadest terms, this is about building coastal resilience,” says Robert Cowen, director of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and one of the co-leaders of the MSI. “We have the opportunity to educate and motivate the next generation of students and citizens to develop innovative approaches to solving ocean-related challenges.”

The Marine Studies Initiative will build the university’s capacity to teach students, conduct more interdisciplinary research and provide service to coastal communities and businesses. A hallmark goal of the initiative is to enroll 500 students on the Hatfield Marine Science Center campus by the year 2025.

To reach that goal, OSU needs to increase the number of students in the pipeline, which means attracting more students to the Corvallis campus who are interested in ocean-related topics, according to Jack Barth, a professor and associate dean in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State and co-leader of the MSI with Cowen (on June 2, Barth was named executive director of the MSI).

“We envision that students may study at Hatfield for a term or a year at a time, which means that we need to have some 1,200 students involved in a marine studies curriculum in the university as a whole,” Barth says. “We’ve already begun hiring faculty on campus, and in Newport — a process that will continue over the next few years.”

These faculty members won’t necessarily be ocean scientists, Barth emphasizes, but they will teach in areas that complement the science and help address emerging issues. For example, with funding from the OSU Provost’s Office, the university has hired Ana Spalding, a marine policy specialist, in the College of Liberal Arts; Steve Dundas, a coastal economist, in the College of Agricultural Sciences; and Jamon Van Den Hoek, a spatial planner specializing in coastal processes, in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

The university’s goal, Barth said, is to train students to be well-rounded and able to look at coastal and marine issues from a multi-faceted perspective.

“Ultimately, we’d like our graduates who are asked a question about sustainable fisheries to be able to relate to all of the people around the table — the fisherman, the processor, the environmentalist, the tourist and the restaurant owner,” Barth says. “It requires a broader understanding of all the issues.”

That breadth of training is part of what will distinguish Oregon State students under the Marine Studies Initiative, according to Cowen. The experiential learning potential for students will be unprecedented.

“Students studying at Hatfield will have access to a diversity of habitats, scientists and state and federal agencies unlike anywhere else in the country,” Cowen points out. “They also will be studying in a community that is highly engaged and intimately connected to the ocean, whether it is through fisheries, tourism or some other tie.”

The Marine Studies Initiative is building partnerships up and down the Oregon coast, from Astoria in the north with its Seafood Research and Education Center to Port Orford in the south with its new OSU Field Station. Oregon’s four coastal community colleges will be key players, partnering with OSU to provide greater access to higher education for Oregon’s coastal residents. “It’s really about realizing that Oregon’s ocean touches all of us, whether via supplying seafood, providing inspiration and awe, or making our Oregon climate one of the best in the world,” Barth says. “The Marine Studies Initiative will center our attention and energies on important ocean issues and challenges.”

During the next several years, the university plans to add 20 to 25 faculty members at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and an equivalent number on the Corvallis campus.

Construction of a new building in Newport for classes, faculty and research will begin in 2017, as will construction of a housing facility that will be located off campus. A marine studies degree program will be developed and launched over the next year.

Future plans for the Marine Studies Initiative include creating marine options for a broad range of traditional degrees including business, engineering and economics; establishing three centers of excellence around such topics as ocean acidification, coastal resilience and safe food from the sea; and a new building on the Corvallis campus.

“The defining characteristic of the MSI is how the university will reach more broadly across disciplines for its academic and research programs,” Cowen says. “We will still have fisheries biologists, ecologists, oceanographers, and population scientists. But they will be working hand-in-hand with resource economists, political scientists, cultural heritage specialists and engineers.”

Mark Floyd is a science writer in News and Research Communications at Oregon State University.

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs