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30+ rewarding years in service to OSU. -Budgets and Personnel -Planning and Institutional Resources -Stream Team -Entomology -University Relations

OSU English professor Jon Lewis explores the symbiotic relationship between film and culture in America.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis

With wry wit and an academic’s analytical mind, professor Jon Lewis has taught film and cultural studies in the OSU English Department since 1983. He cheerfully admits that he has one of the best jobs at Oregon State University.

Lewis has a growing national reputation as an author and a critic of the film industry. He was recently named the editor of Cinema Journal, the nation’s leading critical and scholarly journal in film studies. Cinema Journal is sponsored by the Society for Cinema Studies, a group that includes university faculty, graduate students, archivists, filmmakers, and others in the film industry.

Lewis also served as editor and contributor to The End of Cinema as We Know It: American Film in the 90s (NYU, 2002), an anthology of essays on American film in the 1990s. The book covers a variety of topics, including film censorship and preservation, the changing structure and status of independent cinema, the continued importance of celebrity and stardom, and the sudden importance of alternative video.

An earlier book that examined the Hollywood rating system, Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry, was favorably reviewed in The New York Times and other national publications. Lewis is the author of two other books on Hollywood: Francis Ford Coppola and the New Hollywood and The Road to Romance and Ruin: Teen Films and Youth Culture.

Large trees are a valuable habitat component for a variety of forest wildlife.

Wildlife ecologist Chris Maguire
Wildlife ecologist Chris Maguire

The Ecological Society of America recently determined that Oregon State University is the best in the nation in the field of forest ecology.

When it looked at faculty producing published new research on critical environmental issues, the society found that OSU is No. 1 in forest ecology and 11th in the broad fields of ecology, evolution, and behavior. That puts OSU on a par with Stanford and the University of Washington, and well ahead of most Ivy League schools.

The College of Forestry has world-class facilities and forest properties that enable OSU to deliver a first-rate educational experience, while conducting innovative basic and applied research. It helps, of course, that OSU is located near a wide array of forest ecosystems, from the coast to the mountains to the high desert.

In one aspect of research, Oregon State ecologists are investigating effects of managed forests on wildlife populations Wildlife ecologist Chris Maguire, an assistant professor in OSU’s Department of Forest Science, focuses her research on wildlife habitat relationships in forest environments, animal responses to environmental change, and the comparative importance of dead wood to terrestrial vertebrates across a variety of forest types.

“Oregon State is an incredible place to be for leading-edge environmental research,” Maguire says. “I consider myself fortunate to be involved in projects that have such immediate relevancy to how we manage forests in the Pacific Northwest.”

OSU marine biologist Bruce Mate helps protect earth’s largest animals by studying their critical habitats and migration patterns.

Bruce Mate at sea
Bruce Mate at sea

Bruce Mate made national news in 2002 with his landmark study of massive blue whales. The director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Program at the Hatfield Marine Science Center also was featured in the BBC television production “Blue Planet,” airing on the Discovery Channel.

“We’ve focused on finding critical habitats, including where blue whales breed and calve,” Mate said. “We hope to reduce the impact of human activities on their recovery.”

Since 1993, Mate and colleagues have tagged 100 blue whales off California’s coast and tracked their movements by satellite. They found that the whales travel farther and faster than previously thought–seeking fertile upwelling zones for their krill diet–and that they feed throughout the year.

Even though the whales are the earth’s largest animals–up to 100 feet long and 100 tons–little was known about their migration and winter habits. Mate and his staff have developed state-of-the-art satellite-monitored radio tags and use other new technologies in their research. The ongoing studies have resulted in discoveries that dramatically increased the current level of knowledge about several species. Mate’s research is funded by the Marine Mammal Endowment at OSU and the Office of Naval Research.

Oregon State educators and researchers are having an impact in the metro area.

Lisa Conroy, Christopher Higgins and Jean Moule
Lisa Conroy, Christopher Higgins and Jean Moule

Lisa Conroy, Christopher Higgins, and Jean Moule are only a few of the links that give OSU an important and visible effect in the Portland area and around the state.

Conroy, a 4-H faculty member in OSU’s Washington County Extension Office, leads the innovative Web Wizards program that mentors Hispanic youth with the help of community partners, including Intel and the Intel Latino Network volunteers.

The students learn emerging technologies from their Intel mentors. In return, they teach computer skills to community members. Participants in the 4-H Web Wizards program have a 95 percent graduation rate, and 98 percent pursue post-high school education. More information

Higgins, assistant professor of civil engineering, is principal investigator in a project teaming OSU with the Oregon Department of Transportation to study the structural integrity of bridges. ODOT gave OSU $1.6 million to examine the severity of cracks in more than 500 Oregon bridges. An on-campus laboratory will enable OSU engineers to conduct full experiments on structural elements. “There is almost no data to determine how bridges actually fail under moving loads,” Higgins says. “This grant will give us the opportunity to address these issues.” More information

Moule, assistant professor of education, developed an “immersion” program that takes OSU student teachers into Portland to teach in predominantly African-American King Elementary School. And each year, busloads of King students visit OSU for exposure to the campus. The program began in spring 1998 and focused on the best ways to teach math and science to culturally diverse students. Moule says some differences in learning, such as emphasis on family or age, can be culturally based, and new teachers need to be aware of these differences. More information

OSU’s College of Engineering is revolutionizing engineering education through hands-on, real-world design.

OSU students with robot they built
OSU students with robot they built

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Oregon State University is making a fundamental change in the way engineering concepts are taught. The goal is to revolutionize engineering education by integrating classroom instruction with hands-on, real-world design and trouble-shooting experience.

The approach puts the fun and excitement into ECE, inspiring and retaining interest among students. Beginning in the first year, ECE students create their own TekBot™ robot and modify it throughout their college careers as they learn engineering concepts.

Unique to Oregon State and seed-funded by Tektronix, this program helps students understand how class content is interconnected. It also gives them hands-on experience in applying theoretical concepts to their robots, turning theories into realities. For example, seniors who’ve added several layers of sophistication to their TekBot™ can create a wireless, Internet-controlled robot that performs tasks remotely.

TekBots™ capitalize on creativity by encouraging students to experiment with their new creations. Sophomore Celia Hung (shown with fellow student Robert Bennett) says she has been looking forward to adding onto her robot since she finished it last year.

“It gives students a lot of hands-on experience and it’s definitely a lot of fun,” says Hung. “In lecture you’re presented with all this information about a certain electronic component. But when you get to lab, you can actually hold it in your hand and work with it.”

More information

OSU’s innovative 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program, designed to bring native plants back to school grounds, is catching on around the state and may be on the verge of becoming nationwide.

Oregon elementary students
Oregon elementary students

An innovative program to bring native plants and wildlife back to school grounds is growing out of the Portland area and into rural Oregon.

Oregon State University’s 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program was founded four years ago by Maureen Hosty, an urban natural resources faculty member in the Multnomah County office of the OSU Extension Service. Since that time, she has watched the program grow like a vine maple.

Today, 4-H Wildlife Stewards programs can be found at 42 schools. Most are in the greater Portland area, but in recent months schools in the mid-Willamette Valley, central Oregon, on the coast, and in southern Oregon have established schoolyard natural areas.

Now the program is poised to go national. Hosty is working with the National 4-H Council to secure corporate and government funding that could return native landscapes to schools across the country.

For the past four years, program volunteers, parents, teachers and community members have worked to establish natural areas on school grounds that create habitat for native plants and wildlife-and a learning laboratory for students, for teaching sciences ranging from ecology to math. These combination natural area/laboratories boast butterfly gardens, native woodlands, flowers, nesting boxes, nurseries, bogs, and wetlands.

Volunteers help organize fund-raising efforts to provide the $2,000 to $5,000 in start-up costs necessary to establish a natural area as 4-H Wildlife Stewards usually receives no direct school district money.

At Rose City Park Elementary School in northeast Portland, volunteers reclaimed a patch of natural green from the city block of pavement that has surrounded the school building for more than 50 years. The spot was replenished with rich soil and planted with native bushes and flowers. A Brownie troop created an in-ground birdbath. Students added nesting boxes and a worm composting station.

An OSU research team, led by Pharmacy professor Bill Gerwick, has found algae off the coast of Venezuela that may have potential in treating pain, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Researcher on undersea exploration
Researcher on undersea exploration

Bill Gerwick, a professor in OSU’s College of Pharmacy, has spent much of the last decade studying marine blue-green algae. In some locales, that same algae is known as “pond scum.” The species known as Lyngbya majuscula, found in a bay near Kalki Beach off the Venezuelan coast, however, is gaining a much more dignified reputation.

Gerwick and his research team recently extracted a compound from the algae that is one of the most powerful neurotoxins they had seen. Dubbed “kalkitoxin,” the compound has the potential to lead to new treatments for pain, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Gerwick said he believes the compound works by blocking sodium channels, thus preventing nerve cells from firing off their electrical signals. “Kalkitoxin is incredibly potent, which means it likely binds with greater affinity,” Gerwick said. “When that happens, there is a good chance that you can create a pharmaceutical that has greater specificity of drug action. “It is,” he said, “a valuable discovery.”

This isn’t the first time that the OSU researchers have found success in mining drugs from the sea. Several years ago, Gerwick discovered a compound called “Curacin A” in different samples of Lyngbya majusscula that had powerful anti-cancer properties. In fact, Curacin A was remarkably similar to taxol.

Since that early discovery, Gerwick has expanded his research lab and now works with a team of 10 faculty and graduate students as OSU continues to become a leader in the promising field of mining drugs from the sea.

“To think that such promising compounds come from what essentially is pond scum is amazing and ironic,” Gerwick said. “It is a great example of that old saying that one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure.”

An OSU anthropology research team has discovered that language barriers, immigration status, and lack of knowledge about the system keep many Oregonians from health care.

Sunil Khanna
Sunil Khanna

A new study by Oregon State University researchers suggests that language barriers, immigration status, and a lack of knowledge about how “the system works” prevents many uninsured Oregonians from gaining access to the Oregon Health Plan.

As a result, says OSU anthropologist Sunil Khanna, ethnic minority populations may be adversely affected.

“Many Hispanic groups in particular are perpetually uninsured,” he said. “They don’t learn about the Oregon Health Plan by reading the formal literature, or visiting the Website. They may not be able to read, or they may not have access to a computer. So they learn about the health plan informally, through friends and family, and that word-of-mouth information tends to be colored by experiences that aren’t necessarily positive.”

Khanna and a group of OSU students conducted a series of interviews from rural eastern Oregon, to Multnomah County, to coastal fishing communities. What they discovered was that many uninsured Oregonians didn’t know they qualified for the Oregon Health Plan, others couldn’t understand enrollment procedures, and still others were turned down because no physician would accept them as patients due to low reimbursement levels.

“There is an unwritten feeling among many working in the health care arena that uninsured people don’t care about their health,” Khanna said. “Instead, what we found was that this group is very, very concerned about health –not just for themselves, but for their families.”

The problems of uninsured and underinsured Oregonians are found throughout the state, Khanna said. Rural areas may have a higher number of uninsured people, in part because of the migrant worker influence, higher rates of unemployment, seasonal jobs, and fewer providers who will accept Oregon Health Plan patients. Urban areas are more likely to have safety-net clinics and there are more providers from which to choose.

An innovative teacher education program helps OSU students prepare to teach in a multicultural classroom by providing on-the-job experience.

Student teacher in multicultural classroom
Student teacher in multicultural classroom

Jean Moule, an assistant professor of education at Oregon State University, knows from first-hand experience that there can be a cultural gap when teachers step into a classroom and encounter a diverse group of students. Bridging that gap is something that teacher preparation programs struggle with around the country. Moule, an African-American educator, has come up with a solution that has turned into a rewarding partnership between OSU and Portland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. She has developed an “immersion” program that takes OSU student teachers into Portland to teach in the school’s predominantly African-American classrooms.

This is the fifth year the program has been offered, and Moule said the students become aware that there may be differences in learning that are based not only on cultural background, but family situations, age, environment and other factors. The program expanded in 2002 to include Grant Elementary in Salem, a K-8 school in Salem with a bilingual immersion program.

“When these OSU students come out of this program, they’ll not only teach their subject matter better,” Moule said. “They are going to know how to treat students as individuals with unique learning experiences. And I expect the experience will explode whatever stereotypes they may have had going in.”

The students spend three weeks on-site teaching in the multicultural schools. “This is a really dynamic partnership that is a win-win-win-win situation for all involved,” Moule says. “As an African-American faculty member, I can talk about diversity in classrooms all day long, but it doesn’t compare with gaining that actual experience.

“Some of the students were a little reluctant about spending three weeks away from campus and their families, but most of them found it a tremendously rewarding experience,” she added.

OSU students in chemical engineering are testing ways to recycle biological and human waste in weightless conditions. Their research may help make long space voyages possible.

OSU Students visit NASA
OSU Students visit NASA

When astronauts venture to the forbidden planet of Mars, it may be in part through the research efforts of students from Oregon State University. The OSU students are working on ways to recycle biological and human waste so that it can be used again and again on a long space voyage.

Such recycling technologies already exist, but they are dependent upon gravity. And in space, that is a problem. So NASA gave the College of Engineering a two-year, $500,000 grant to take advantage of its expertise in “fluidized bed” technology.

“On a long space voyage, everything has to be recycled,” explained Goran Jovanovic, an associate professor of chemical engineering. “If you’re going on a years-long trip to Mars, you won’t be taking along several years’ worth of food and water.”

Jovanovic assembled a team of undergraduate and graduate students and turned them loose on the problem. “We had to find another force to substitute for a gravitational one,” said master’s student Thana Sornchamni.

They decided on an electromagnetic current, with the idea that the magnetic force would act much like gravity. As a team, they created an instrument that would replace gravity with artificially controlled electromagnetic forces that could be adjusted to a variety of levels.

NASA officials were intrigued and invited the team to visit Houston to fully test its hypothesis. Waiting for them was the “Vomit Comet,” an aircraft specially designed to dive several thousand feet in mere seconds, causing periods of weightlessness-and nausea.

“I’ve wanted to be an astronaut since I was six years old,” said freshman Marcia Whittaker, an OSU chemical engineering student from Pendleton. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get up there in space.”

Joshua Stein, a senior from Portland, said, “The experience of weightlessness was incredible. I did get sick, but I would do it again in a moment.”

The results? “Not only did the team’s instrument work, it turned out to be more versatile than alternative technologies NASA planned to use in the future,” Jovanovic said.

And then, of course, there is the impact on the students. “This is what a real high-tech education can do,” Jovanovic said. “Give students the right opportunity and it will bring out all of the curiosity, ambition, and creativity that already exists within them.”