Alena Vasquez.jpgToday we are pleased to introduce Alena Vasquez, a true Oregonian at heart who manages to balance her love for animals, science, and writing.

Please share your background so we can get to know you better. What career are you in (or working towards) and what inspired you to choose this path?

I am an Ecampus student living in Eugene, Oregon. I was born and raised in various parts of California but always felt like I belonged in Oregon. I recently switched majors from social science (archaeology) to science and I am studying biology with the pre-vet option. Three years ago I started volunteering at the local humane society as a dog walker. I started because I was bored and needed an activity to occupy my time. It quickly became much more than that for me. I started walking dogs like it was a full time job. I was at the shelter almost every day, for at least 4 hours at a time. I joined the behavior modification program at the local pound to learn how to positively modify behaviors and train the behaviorally-challenged dogs I was always drawn to. While exploring career options for archaeology, I realized nothing would make me as happy as I was when I was helping animals. I took a year off to dive fully into the rescue community and started volunteering with a local trap-neuter-return organization where I learned invaluable skills about cat behavior and the importance of spay and neuter. I knew that whatever I did with my life, it would need to be focused around the neglected animals in my community. I am studying veterinary medicine so I can take my DVM and become either a veterinarian in a high volume spay and neuter clinic or a shelter veterinarian.

How does our online general chemistry sequence relate to your career goals?

I am taking the entire 200-level general chemistry sequence online and will probably take organic chemistry online as well. This is my first year of being a science major and I have already completed the 200-level physics and biology sequence alongside the general chemistry. I have found chemistry to be one of the most important classes for understanding the rest of my curriculum and having this background has enabled me to be successful in the rest of my classes. For example, we just covered the evolution of the swim bladder in biology and having the background in acid base chemistry from 232 and 233 made it very easy to understand how an increase in lactic acid in the blood supply around the swim bladder causes hemoglobin to give off oxygen against concentration gradients. Chemistry was essential to understanding the attractions that hold DNA together and how trees move water up their xylem. I’m really looking forward to how chemistry will impact my studies in upper division classes.

The support I have found while taking general chemistry has also impacted me. Margie Haak was available day and night for questions and extremely supportive. Her course was by far one of the most challenging I’ve taken but it was incredibly rewarding to get an A and be successful in it. Margie is a huge inspiration to me and she has been so supportive of me, my success, and my goals. She is a teacher who will go above and beyond for her students and I feel really lucky that I was able to be a part of her classroom.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

My poetry has been published in 3 anthologies and I’ve been writing a book for maybe 5 years now.


Jack_L_Ryan_Pic_2Jack Lewis Ryan passed away on March 20, 2016, surrounded by his loving family.  He was born in Dallas, Oregon on May 14, 1933, to Charles W. Ryan and Cornie A. (Lewis) Ryan, both of east Tennessee.  Jack grew up and thrived on a beautiful small farm in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range, in the community of Bridgeport.  His early years were spent learning to farm, raise livestock, cook, harvest and preserve fruit and vegetables, and doing whatever was required to maintain the farm and help his family.  He enjoyed swimming in the Little Luckiamute River, which ran through the farm, with his younger brother Pat and neighborhood children, and later as a teen-ager building small dams and holding all-night bonfires on the beach.  In Jack’s formative years he hunted and fished, and experienced the joys of nature, a life-time pursuit.  In his adult years he would return “home” to the farm to hold his famous fish fries for his childhood friends and family.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents, brother George “Pat” Ryan, and first wife Dorothy Ryan.  He is survived by his former wife, JoAnn Ryan of West Richland, son Rex Ryan of Pasco, stepdaughters Barronelle Stutzman (Darold) of  the Tri-Cities, and Thora Ziegler of Riverside, California, step-grandchildren Troy Woody (Dawn) and Dawn Persinger, (Marc), numerous step-great-grandchildren, nieces Ann Signal and Cynthia Ryan, and many close friends.

Jack attended the one-room Bridgeport Grade School, and later, Dallas High School.  He left home at sixteen to study at Oregon State College (now Oregon State University), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry in 1953, and a Master of Science Degree in Chemistry in 1956.  He was the youngest person at that time to graduate with a master’s degree from OSC.  His professional career spanned over fifty years at the Hanford Site, primarily with Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  He made significant scientific and technical contributions in fundamental and applied inorganic, physical, and analytical chemistry of the actinide elements, in addition to the chemistry of the lanthanide and d-group transition elements.  The breadth of his work led to noteworthy contributions in inorganic preparative chemistry, coordination chemistry, ion exchange and solvent extraction chemistry, absorption spectroscopy, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, and nonaqueous chemistry of these elements.

His works related to anion-exchange purification of plutonium and neptunium, the solubility and thermodynamics of the actinide oxides and hydroxides, and the electrolytic dissolution of plutonium dioxide are of particular significance to actinide separations in the nuclear industry.  His accomplishments in these areas were reflected in various plant applications at Rocky Flats, Los Alamos, Hanford, and in other countries.  In 1974, Jack co-invented catalyzed electrolytic dissolution of plutonium oxide.  The merit of this invention is evidenced by the installation of plant-scale processes using this technology in France and the United Kingdom.

In addition to his research contributions in the laboratory, Jack prepared invited reviews of actinide-element ion exchange for the esteemed “Gmelin Handbuch der Anorganischen Chemie” and of actinide-absorption spectra.  Jack also gave invited lectures and short courses in the fields of actinide chemistry, actinide-absorption spectra, and actinide ion exchange, and educated scientists and engineers in the Hanford area through teaching graduate-level chemistry courses in “Lanthanide and Actinide Chemistry” and “Ion Exchange Chromatography”.  His original works in actinide chemistry are published in numerous scientific journals and books and are recognized by chemists worldwide.  He authored more than one hundred technical articles during his career.  Some of Jack’s contributions to chemistry are catalogued in the Library of Congress.

Jack consulted in the field of actinide chemistry as related to laser-isotope separation, nuclear-weapons proliferation, and actinide-chemical processing.  He consulted on the causes of chemical explosions in actinide purification processes and served on a committee reviewing actinide-processing plant safety.  Additionally, Jack consulted on safety considerations related to the use of organic ion-exchange resins in the clean-up of Three-Mile Island contamination.

In 1999, the Actinide Separations Conference recognized the importance of Jack’s contributions by honoring him with the Glenn T. Seaborg Actinide Separations Award, a national award recognizing significant and lasting contributions to separating actinide elements.

Jack was a sixty-year member of the American Chemical Society (past chair of the local section and recipient of “1991 Chemist of the Year” award), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi.

Jack was an avid and skilled outdoorsman.  He found great joy in hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, hunting, fishing, crabbing, mushrooming, gardening, cutting firewood, and roaming the land searching for wild foods, abandoned crops, and usable discarded items.  He piled more than a dozen cords of firewood on his driveway, which allowed him to heat his house for years without using his electric heating system.  Nearly every year he filled his deer and elk tags, brought home many limits of fish and chukars, harvested dozens of gallons of wild mushrooms, and grew hundreds of pounds of produce in his organic garden.  Nothing went to waste – Jack canned and froze all of his bounty so that it could be enjoyed all year long, and shared with many.

He was happiest when family and friends accompanied him on his forays, taking many solo trips when they were not available.  It was common for Jack to venture miles off the roads and trails in search of the ultimate hunting or fishing experience.  No cliff, blackberry bramble, poison ivy patch, rattlesnake habitat, angry bear, or below-zero temperature could stop him.  Picking his way through five miles of forest at night with ninety pounds of elk meat on his back repetitively in five round trips was routine for him each hunting season.  He was at home with nature and all of its rigors.  His lineage can be traced to Meriwether Lewis, which comes as no surprise.

Jack truly was a unique individual.  He was frugal to a fault, spending only a thousand dollars each year on food and clothing items.  His favorite shopping experience was poking around Goodwill.  He enjoyed going barefoot and performed all of his gardening duties, including spading, without shoes.  Television was an unnecessary luxury.  The local newspaper, National Geographic magazine, and various technical journals provided Jack ample information to stay well-informed.  He was stubborn yet fair, and honest and loyal in his interactions with others.  He was a keen observer of his surroundings and work activities, and enjoyed recounting his observations in detail.  Jack’s friends marveled at the incongruity of his incredible memory for detail, but lack of recollection that he had told them the same story several times before.

The legendary Jack Ryan’s family and friends will cherish his memory for decades to come, recounting stories of adventure among themselves, and never, ever, forgetting the kind, generous, amazing, independent wild mountain man who Jack was.  He leaves us in awe of an interesting and adventurous life well-lived. His ashes will be scattered in several beautiful nature locations that were very special to him.

“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend.”  ~  Jim Harrison

In lieu of flowers, please contribute to The National Geographic Society.


A remembrance service and memorial will be announced at a later time.

Jamie SarokaToday we hear from Jamie Saroka, a high school teacher in New York who is just finishing up our online CH 584 course for STEM instructors. Thank you, Jamie, for sharing your story with us!

I was born in Ithaca, NY in 1959. The family moved to Harpursville, NY in 1968 and I graduated high school in 1977. I went to Cornell and received my BS in Animal Science in 1981 and my MS in Nutrition Biochemistry in 1984. I worked as a Research Support Specialist in a nutrition lab at Cornell until 1989 when I took a research position with ISA Babcock, an international breeding company in the poultry layer business. I spent the next 15 years in genetics, after which the company moved to Canada. I went back to school, took all the education classes I needed, and became a teacher in 2004. I have been teaching Chemistry ever since to sophomores and juniors, with an occasional senior thrown in. I did teach AP Biology for two years (as well as my normal Chemistry classes), until a full time biology teacher replaced me.

I was the oldest grandchild and one of my grandfathers was a professor at Cornell. It was pretty much a no brainer where I was going; however, all my siblings went to Penn State. I really enjoyed science in high school and did very well in all subjects. Between a positive high school science experience, a grandfather who was a professor in biochemistry, and my love of the outdoors—Boy Scouts, hiking, fishing, etc.—I went into the science field. I entered teaching as a third profession, bringing a plethora of experience in academia and industry to my high school classroom.

What motivated me to pursue CH 584 was receiving a letter, from the OSU Department of Chemistry, informing me that the class existed. We do receive payroll advancements for earning so many graduate credits. I have taken classes before, but a Chemistry class focusing on different laboratory learning techniques intrigued me. I like the format of the class and have enjoyed what we have done so far. I am always looking for new ways to stimulate my students and make science fun for them. I am hoping that I can pick up something from CH 584 that I can use in my class and pass on to my students.

As for hobbies, I mentioned that I am involved with the Boy Scouts. I like working with youth, and teaching is not confined to the classroom. I am currently an Assistant Scoutmaster and work more with adults at the Council level. When I was Scoutmaster, I had 8 boys attain the rank of Eagle, which I am very proud of. I enjoy exercising and running, although my running has waned the last few years. I have run 2 marathons, New York and Scranton. I enjoy playing golf, but I rarely find time to do that. My biggest hobby now is my 10 month old granddaughter Eliana.

(The picture was taken in the summer of 2015 when I was hiking with the Boy Scouts at Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico.)

Bend’s bioscience industry growing up

Boosters want to see incubator at OSU-Cascades

By Kathleen McLaughlin / The Bulletin

Published Jun 5, 2016 at 12:01AM

The people who started Central Oregon’s first two bioscience companies were drawn by the outdoors, rather than the presence of a research institution.

And perhaps because of that, Bend Research Inc. and Grace Bio-Labs lacked nearby industry peers in their early years.

Bend Research founders Harry Lonsdale and Richard Baker arrived in Tumalo in the mid-1970s.  Read more…

Open Oregon State is accepting proposals to work with our talented instructional designers and multimedia experts to create OER* modules for BACC core and high DFW courses (courses with high rates of grades of D, F or withdrawals). Funding is provided up to $2,500 to foster faculty participation in providing content and working with our development team todesign and produce modules.
A module can focus on one single idea or learning outcome and is intended to impact student success. 
Accepted and funded projects will be notified approximately two weeks after submission on a rolling basis.  The current RFP closes when available funds are exhausted.  The proposal form can be accessed at
•   The module must focus on a subject or topic that is not already available openly. If it is already available, what is the reason for creating another?
•   The developer must agree to offer the module/short course under a Creative Commons license. Open Oregon State will help you choose thelicense    that works for you.
•   Department Chair/Head approval.
*OERs are digital materials that exist online in the public domain and are offered freely forstudents, teachers and researchers to share, and use and reuse as a means of increasing the world’s access to knowledge.
For more information, contact:
Dianna Fisher
Director, Open Oregon State
541 737 8658

New Student Programs & Family Outreach and the Welcome Week Committee are now collecting event submissions for Welcome Week 2016 (Sept. 18-24, 2016). The purpose of Welcome Week is for student to begin to create a shared sense of community, belonging, social responsibility, and will begin their path to engagement.  To view the current schedule and for information on how to submit an event go to: