Ever since Oregon State University’s earliest days, we have been dedicated to providing an excellent education for our students. Being Oregon’s land grant university means keeping a tradition of service – and our faculty and students embody that tradition. Our faculty make themselves accessible to our students, and our students are dedicated to making the world a better place.
“Recently I attended a national student success conference on the East Coast. Another attendee from a large research university approached me and said, ‘You’re so fortunate to be at OSU. We’ve been admiring from afar what a strong student-centered campus you have,'” says Susie Brubaker-Cole, associate provost for academic success and engagement and director of advising at Oregon State. “I told her, ‘I know, I feel very fortunate to work with faculty who are so committed to their students.”
OSU undergraduates can involve themselves in research with top-ranking faculty and utilize facilities that few universities in the world can offer, including the university’s own research forests, an ocean-going ship, the nation’s most sophisticated tsunami wave basin, a marine science laboratory at the coast, a nuclear reactor, test fields for experimental crops, a wine institute and beer brewing facility, and the Linus Pauling Institute for the study of nutrition and health.
Here are just a few ways our diverse students are taking advantage of opportunities they can take into the world beyond Oregon State.
A Personal Connection
- Chemical engineering professor Christine Kelly is more than just a mentor in the lab, where she likes to make sure that her undergraduates are contributing real data to research. For Kelly, it’s important to be a support system for her students. “”It’s great to be able to come and hang out on Christine’s couch after a tough day,” says Kelsey Childress, a University Honors College student whose experience in Kelly’s lab has made her think about going to graduate school.
- California sophomore Sam Kelly-Quattrocchi was hooked on Oregon State after his campus visit. Not only was the campus beautiful, the University Honors College student got ample attention from an Oregon State adviser. “People here took a genuine interest in me,” he says. “It was something that other schools didn’t do.” Kelly also recognized the great marine biology program at Oregon State, as well as the Hatfield Marine Science Center, which provides research and internship opportunities for undergraduates.
Opportunities for real impact
- Oregon State is one of 12 universities around the country selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to create an undergraduate genomics lab for freshmen and sophomore students that specifically researches and catalogues phage DNA. This three-year genome research project provides undergraduates with the opportunity to do research that is published and could be used by other researchers to develop treatments for tuberculosis. “This is one of the first national projects to change the way undergraduates experience biology labs,” says co-instructor Barbara Taylor, a zoology professor.
- Students in natural resources instructor Matt Shinderman’s classes have contributed directly to restoration work on a tributary of Central Oregon’s Metolius River. Shinderman and co-instructors Matt Orr and Karen Allen and their students surveyed aquatic insects, or macro-invertebrates, to determine how the ecosystem was responding to the tributary’s being restored – via backhoe and dump truck – to its original shape. The group collected insects and took them back to the lab to get a sense of how the insects were faring. The results of their study provided a model that agencies can use for restoration work throughout the region.
- 2009 civil engineering graduate Erika McQuillen felt prepared to enter the workforce from her Oregon State coursework alone. But what really gave her an edge was getting out of the classroom. “OSU encouraged us to get internships and real work experience,” she says. And McQuillen did. She had internships with Hoffman Construction in Portland, Ore., a company dedicated to sustainable building techniques. Now, McQuillen works for Hoffman full-time.
- Imagine a dry, ancient place that is known mostly for its modern-day political strife and bloodshed. Imagine several sources of water — all precious and needed — that ignore political boundaries. Then imagine going there to learn how people manage these issues in their day-to-day lives. That’s what a group of 19 Oregon State University students did last year. They traveled through Israel and Palestine under the guidance of renowned water conflict expert and Oregon State professor Aaron Wolf. They studied the geography and geology of the Middle East’s water supply and sources, as well as how those factors affect cities, agriculture and, ultimately, politics. “It felt natural to take the students there to look at these separate issues, and then look at them together,” says Wolf.