Hatfield science center in Newport exhibits sea-inspired paintings


By Tiffany Woods

A new exhibit of paintings representing the sea and coastal mudflats is on display through July 7 at the public wing of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Mimi Cernyar Fox, an artist from Raymond, Wash., created the exhibit, which is called “Water Water Everywhere” and is showing at the Oregon Sea Grant-operated Visitor Center at Hatfield. It features five paintings that use oil, acrylic or charcoal on canvas.

painting of ocean

“In the Bosom of the Sea” is on display at Hatfield. (photo courtesy of Mimi Cernyar Fox)

Cernyar Fox is no stranger to Newport. She has taught art at the Oregon Coast Community College and shown some of her work at the Newport Visual Arts Center. She put herself through art school by tending bar in the summers at Newport’s bayfront, where she became friends with some of the fishermen. During those summers she’d also spend a few weeks working as a cook and night lookout aboard fishing boats.

“It was something I did so I could study the sea,” she said. “I wanted to understand the light and the water out there. That’s how I learned to paint the sea. During the brief times I would have off, or during my long and lonely four-hour night watch, I would make sketches and color notations in my journal.”

She has since transferred that experience onto the canvas, painting with a forward and backward motion for the eye, much like the movement of a tidal wave.

“I am conscious of the rhythm and movement of the sea and work to paint it in such a way that one can almost hear it,” she said.

That movement is on display at Hatfield in her painting “In the Bosom of the Sea,” which was inspired by the Bering Sea.

painting of a mudflat

“Mudflat-Soldier Boy” uses real shells and is also at Hatfield. (photo courtesy of Cernyar Fox)

Some of her artwork also has an environmental focus, aiming to raise awareness about declining seabirds and the health of the ocean. For example, one of her paintings, “The Signal,” at Hatfield features a mudflat with real shells and a figurine blowing a trumpet “as a signal that our beaches and our marine birds are in danger,” she said. Another, “In the Quiet,” is made with broken sand dollars to signify starving seagulls, which eat them.

Cernyar Fox holds a bachelor’s degree from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts from Washington State University.

Her exhibit is part of a growing effort to include marine-inspired art as a complement to the research-focused displays at the Visitor Center. A current exhibit, for example, features pottery depicting 28 threatened or endangered species in the Pacific Northwest.

Every year, about 150,000 people pass through the doors of the Visitor Center, where they can touch sea anemones, crash simulated tsunami waves against Lego structures, marvel over model-sized fishing boats, or watch aquatic animals in aquarium tanks.

Community college and high school students to spend four days on OSU research vessel

September 14, 2018

By Sean Nealon

Students and teachers will join OSU scientists on the R/V Oceanus this month to gain at-sea research experience.

Students and teachers will join OSU scientists on the R/V Oceanus this month to gain at-sea research experience. (Photo by Pat Kight)

Oregon high school and community college students and teachers will join Oregon State University scientists on the research vessel Oceanus this month to gain at-sea research experience as part of a project to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.

The cruise, scheduled from Sept. 23 to 26, will depart from Newport, travel south along the Oregon coast to Stonewall and Heceta Banks, before veering northward to the Astoria Canyon, then into the Columbia River to Portland before returning to Newport. The research vessel will dock for two days in Portland, where there will be a series of activities, including tours for Portland area K-12 students.

Students on last year's cruise help retrieve the "Sonde," an instrument used to measure the conductivity, temperature and pressure of seawater.

Students on a 2016 cruise help retrieve the “Sonde,” an instrument used to measure the conductivity, temperature and pressure of seawater. (Photo by Tracy Crews)

The students and teachers participating in the cruise are from high schools in Bandon, Lincoln City and Warrenton, as well as Southwestern Oregon Community College and Oregon Coast Community College.

“This project will provide a transformational educational experience for high school and community college students and their teachers,” said Tracy Crews, marine education manager for Oregon Sea Grant. “By immersing students and teachers in at-sea research, we hope to increase the STEM-related skills of all participants and encourage students to seek out STEM careers.”

During the cruise, participants will conduct marine mammal and seabird surveys and correlate the presence and absence with oceanographic data. They will also conduct plankton tows where marine mammals are located to determine prey availability. Photo-identification of whales will be conducted to describe individual movement patterns, and the team will fly drones over whales to document behavior and assess body condition.

The project is a collaborative effort from Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, which serves educators, students and communities along the Oregon coast and is located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. The research vessel Oceanus is operated by Oregon State University and owned by the National Science Foundation.

Leigh Torres, an assistant professor at Oregon State and a member of the university’s Marine Mammal Institute, and Kim Bernard, an assistant professor at Oregon State who leads the Zooplankton Ecology Lab, will be the chief scientists on the excursion.

Oregon Coast STEM Hub names new director

July 11, 2018

by Rick Cooper

Lisa Blank, a professor of science education at the University of Montana, has been named as the new director of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

Lisa Blank, new director of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub

Science educator Lisa Blank has been named director of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub. (Photo by Logan Parson)

Blank, who will be based in Newport and start her job on Aug. 13, has a history of building partnerships between industries and organizations in the STEM fields and STEM educators in the academic pipeline from preschool to college. She began her career as an environmental scientist mitigating Superfund sites. She later taught middle- and high-school science and held academic positions at SUNY-Cortland and the University of Montana.

“The Oregon Coast STEM Hub brings together a diverse group of partners to provide student experiences and teacher opportunities the entire length of the Oregon coast,” said Shelby Walker, director of Oregon Sea Grant, which administers the hub. “As an experienced teacher and researcher in STEM education, Dr. Blank will enhance that partnership and work to expand and improve the opportunities for students and teachers to engage in STEM learning.”

Blank, who earned her doctorate in science education at Indiana University, collaborated on projects that provided computer science curriculum, industry internships and professional development for students and teachers across Montana in partnership with Montana State University, Montana-Tech and Salish-Kootenai College. Blank said she loves “making connections between people and ideas and systems” and is excited to serve in her new position as a “partner and resource in advancing STEM opportunities throughout coastal Oregon.”

As director of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, Blank will handle its administration, strategic leadership, resource development, management of grant funds, evaluation and high-level public exposure. She will also support the work of a multidisciplinary leadership council, lead STEM Hub staff and engage diverse stakeholders from public and private sectors to achieve regional and statewide goals.

The Oregon Coast STEM Hub promotes integrated science, technology, engineering and math education and serves coastal teachers, students and communities. It is one of several regional STEM Hubs funded by the Oregon Department of Education. The hub is based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport and serves the entire Oregon coast. Oregon Sea Grant has been a foundational partner of the STEM Hub and recently assumed a role as the administrative home for the director.

Grant to fund field trips to marine science center in Newport

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.