Two science faculty were elected 2014 Fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Two faculty are in the College of Science: Professor of Chemistry Vincent T. Remcho and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics P. Andrew Karplus. Professor of Botany and Plant PathologyValerian Dolja in the College of Agricultural Sciences was also named a Fellow.

The accomplishments of the new Fellows will be celebrated at the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting on February 14, 2015, in San Jose. Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Remcho was recognized for his contributions to the field of analytical chemistry, particularly to furthering understanding and development of surface chemistry and transport processes in microscale separations. Karplus and Dolja, who are both researchers in OSU’s Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing, were honored for their work in the biological sciences.  Read more…

Lapis Lazuli     Superstition says a bride needs four things on her wedding day. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science, Mas Subramanian provided all four of those things recently to the Benton Country Historical Museum for their newest exhibit, Something Old, Something Blue. Something old came in the form of a piece of lapis lazuli shipped all the way from Afghanistan; something borrowed was a reproduction of a cover article written about Mas and his discovery for National Geographic Magazine. Something new and something blue both came in the form of samples of his blue pigment.

This extraordinary blue pigment, discovered by happy accident in 2009, has led to, at last count, two paBlue Pigment Samplestents, three publications and thousands of Google hits for the OSU scientist and his research team. Created by heating manganese compounds to 2,000 degrees, this pigment is heat reflective, non-toxic (unlike other blue pigments) and much more durable and versatile than blues previously discovered. “One day, a graduate student working on a completely different project was taking samples out of a furnace while I was walking by and it was blue. I realized immediately that something amazing had happened,” states Subramanian when asked how this serendipity had occurred. “The more we discover about the pigment, the more interesting it gets,” Subramanian says. Maybe that’s why Subramanian and his research group have decided to continue their research; attempting to make other colors using the same basic chemistry.

The Something Old, Something Blue exhibition showcases artifacts from the combined Horner Museum and Benton Country Historical Society artifact collections, with an emphasis on the color blue. When asked where the idea came from for Something Old, Something Blue; Mark Tolonen stated, “Most of our exhibitions come from our own collections, of about 120,000 objects. We go through and look for themes and we decided we had enough blue objects for an exhibit.” Some of the additional highlights are, Blues Traveler (international theme), blue fashion, blue in nature, the Boys in Blue (uniforms and school colors) and art.

Something Old, Something Blue will be on display November 14, 2014-October 24, 2015, at the Benton County Historical Museum. 1101 Main St, Philomath, OR 97370. They are open Tuesday thru Saturday 10:00am-4:30pm.

11/26/14 – UPDATE: This exhibit was featured in the Corvallis Gazette Times


Congratulations to Dr. David Ji for winning the new UVDF (University Venture Development Fund) Award in Chemistry.  His research titled, “Prototype development for high-power pseudocapacitors,” won him funding for the next 12 months.

According to Dr. Ji, “The project will study the electrode materials for a device, called supercapacitor, that stores electric energy. If the project is successful, it is expected to provide a higher power at a lower cost compared to the current commercial products. The resulting technology can be used as a power source for transportation such as hybrid electric vehicles, energy storage, for example for solar or wind renewable energy, and electronics, such as digital camera and power tools.”

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Ji on his latest accomplishment!

Chemists from Oregon State University developed a method that detects and measures the chemical composition of the four Corexit surfactants in seawater.

This research also helped to identify best practices that addresses the complexities of sample collection, handling, and storage for improved toxicity testing and biodegradation experiments. They published their findings in the 2014 Deep-Sea Research II: Topical Studies in Oceanography: Trace analysis of surfactants in Corexit oil dispersant formulations and seawater.

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, responders applied an unprecedented amount of dispersant at oil coming from the wellhead and on surface slicks. To assist environmental impact assessments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained the ingredients of four Corexit surfactants commonly known as DOSS, Span 80, Tween 80, and Tween 85. DOSS was the only surfactant that received EPA-determined aquatic life benchmarks for chronic exposure and reporting limits; therefore, it has been the main focus of recent studies to indicate the presence of Corexit. This study’s goals were to develop a sensitive and selective analytical method for quantifying the four surfactant classes in seawater and then use this method to determine the distribution and concentrations of surfactants in the Gulf.  Read more…

Update: We’ve also just been informed that the PhD student who originally worked on this research, Dr. Benjamin Place (Class of 2013) recently got hired at NIST.  Congratulations, Ben!!

Originally printed in Campus Technology 11/13/14

By Michael Hart

Oregon State University (OSU) is collaborating with a private partenr on a graduate-level course designed to help the students teach their own online laboratory science classes.

In the class, now offered online twice a year, students — most of whom teach online lab science classes themselves — work with a number of content delivery modes that include but are not limited to virtual labs, lab packs, kitchen science, data mining and field work, evaluating for themselves how the different modes work for the courses they teach.

eScience Labs, a company that provides customizable lab kits for online lab science courses at the university level, supplies lab kits, a set of hands-on experiments and curricular materials for the OSU courses titled “Instruments and Online Interactions in the Sciences.” The lab kits can be customized so that the students in the course can use them in the courses they teach themselves.  Read more…

Originally published in Terra Magazine

By: Nick Houtman

October 15, 2014

Mas Subramanian didn’t expect to find a brilliant blue pigment when he was looking for new semiconductors. But the Milton Harris Chair Professor of Materials Science in the Oregon State University Department of Chemistry was shocked in 2009 when he saw a graduate student take a powder with a vibrant blue hue out of a laboratory furnace.

The student was worried. He thought it was a mistake.

“We were trying to find a material with novel magnetic properties for electronics applications, but it didn’t work. I didn’t think it would have a special color. I expected it to be brown or black,” says Subramanian, who grew up in Madras (now called Chennai), India, and received his Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Technology. “But when I saw what he had, I knew this was something unusual.”

The new blue is stable and relatively non-toxic. Produced at temperatures in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, it reflects infrared energy and may thus help to cool buildings and reduce air conditioning costs. And it can be “tuned,” says Subramanian, to produce a range of shades from sky blue to nearly black.  Read more…

See also: Mas Subramanian featured in ChemMatters

See also: Mas Subramanian featured in Scientific American

ECampus Coordinator Kim Thackray and Dr. Jeff Gautschi at the UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference
ECampus Coordinator Kim Thackray and Dr. Jeff Gautschi at the UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference

Since Chemistry is The Central Science, students in a variety of majors need to take at least one class in Chemistry. This is especially true in the health professions—everyone from lab technicians to nurses to physical therapists to doctors—all need to have an understanding of chemistry. That is why Dr. Jeff Gautschi (OSU Cascades and Ecampus instructor) and Kim Thackray (Chemistry Ecampus Coordinator) had a booth at the UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference in early October.

At this conference, they had the opportunity to speak with many different types of students that could benefit from taking OSU Chemistry online—

-High school students who might want to begin their college coursework in Chemistry while still in high school.
-College students in California who may be having trouble getting in to the Chemistry classes they need in order to advance in their major.
-Post-bac students looking toward professional school—Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Medical school, etc.—who need chemistry as a prerequisite for their application.
-Pre-health advisors and advisors from community colleges.

The wide range of online Chemistry classes offered by Oregon State University can meet the needs of all these students and more; check out what we are offering this term!

1.     Name

Rich G. Carter

2.     Area of study / position title

Organic Chemist, Professor and Chair of Chemistry

3.     Why chemistry? (What about it initially interested you, etc.)

I became a chemist because of my high school chemistry teacher – Dr. Larry Puckett. Dr. Puckett made chemistry relatable and fun. He would let us go into lab and do cool experiments – I remember getting to generate hydrogen gas into balloons and then light them on fire. I was 18 and fire and explosions were obviously something that kids my age like!

4.     Research focus (in non-science terms) or basic job duties?

My research group works on synthesizing molecules that contain carbon atoms. Many of these molecules have important biological functions and are made by nature already, but nature makes them in very small amounts. We also work on developing new reactions which helps to make our syntheses more efficient. I have recently been able to use my organic chemistry skills to start a new company which has been an amazing experience.

5.     One thing that you truly love about your job?

Organic chemistry is the world’s greatest jigsaw puzzle. I love the challenge of trying to figure out how to put together a molecule by a series of reactions. I am also blessed to work with amazing students and colleagues.

6.     One interesting/strange factoid about yourself.

That is impossible to answer! I love to travel and try new things, big technology nut, lived in Japan for 5 months, ride my bike every day rain or shine and have a wonderful family.