In light of yesterday’s big Pacific quake and subsequent tsunami that left at least 100 dead in American Samoa and many more homeless, OSU’s singular Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory is of hot interest to media today. It’s the world’s largest facility to model and study tsunamis, and many networks and other big media used it heavily to put in context the Indonesian tsunami of 2004.
Discovery Channel and CBS are among today’s visitors, and the news crew here are fielding more requests by the minute. The Hinsdale Lab is supported by the National Science Foundation — which only last week taped a story at the facility for its Science Nation show, debuting this fall on WETA in Washington, D.C. — as well as the Office of Naval Research.
Hinsdale recently installed a new wavemaker in the lab, one that focuses on hurricane-style waves. The first project with that intriguing new research capability is one that will look at waves and levees, a study supported by the Dept. of Homeland Security. Check out this vid in which the wavemaker smashes a concrete wall.
At simultaneous media briefings this week in Portland and Corvallis, OSU released the remarkable news that it has surpassed a quarter-billion dollars in annual research funding, and that the research funding will almost certainly grow, significantly, this fiscal year.
Quite an accomplishment for Oregon’s only campus ranked in the top tier of national research universities by the Carnegie Foundation, especially when other PNW schools are seeing only modest growth or shrinkage in scientific contracts and grants. Outlets from OPB to the Oregonian to KGW and four other TV stations turned out to capture the news, as well as get info on a new deal with Intel that makes it easier for the computer giant to license innovations coming out of the OSU College of Engineering. The agreement puts OSU in select company among research universities that Intel works with in that way.
Check out coverage of the big day, including research funding totals from other Oregon campuses, at the Oregonian site, the Portland Business Journal, OPB or the Gazette-Times.
By the way, all of this was part of the public launch of the hugely popular Powered by Orange campaign — a celebration of OSU’s impact, both current and historic, on Oregon, its people and communities and the world beyond. Beavers flocked to events in Portland and Corvallis — including great after-hours parties at Jimmy Mak’s in the Pearl District and the venerable Squirrel’s in downtown Corvegas — to get in on the fun and learn about what’s new and exciting for Beaver Nation. Check out the site, where links to social media sites and cool downloads-a-plenty await.
Lori Tobias of the Oregonian articulated in print what many have been whispering behind the scenes for some time now: The ascent of Oregon State University’s marine, oceanic, atmospheric and near-coastal science programs in recent years is transforming the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center and Newport, Ore., into the “Woods Hole of the West.”
That comparison might have seemed outlandish years ago — as Tobias notes, “Woods Hole is the largest nonprofit ocean research organization of its kind in the world.” But with OSU riding a wave of marine science accomplishments that includes recent announcements of a major new seafloor mapping project, a key role in the mammoth $386.4-million Ocean Observatories Initiative and helping to land the relocation of the NOAA Pacific Fleet from Seattle to Newport, folks seem to be getting more comfortable with such a characterization.
Fueling the upbeat feelings for Hatfield/Newport is the seemingly good possibility that Hatfield may be chosen for a new federally funded Marine Mammal/Marine Genomics Building. The work of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute, already housed at Hatfield, is well known: Institute Director Bruce Mate was featured prominently earlier this year in a National Geographic Channel documentary on the blue whale, which last spring became the channel’s highest-rated documentary program ever. Colleagues Scott Baker and Markus Horning, like Mate, are developing international reputations for the excellence of their research and scholarship on whales, seals, genetics of marine mammals and more.
In describing the impact of Hatfield, Tobias summed it up nicely through the words of one of the faculty members working there:
“The amount of science here is mind boggling,” says Gil Sylvia, a marine resource economist and superintendent of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experimental Station. “It spans everything. Agencies here are studying where fish stocks are located in the ocean, how fish age and how that relates to their migration. We study oceanographic conditions and the relationship to fishery productivity. We are helping map the bottom of the ocean. We study underwater volcanoes and earthquakes.
“It’s huge and incredibly diverse, touching on everything from applied work to very, very fundamental science work.”