Happy Halloween from the ID team! This week we’re chatting about a popular halloweekend beverage: Beer and a “creepy” phenomenon seen in a west coast favorite, IPAs. Hop creep may not mean that there are creepy crawlies in your beer, but it may lead to exploding cans or a beer that’s all trick and no treat. To find out more, we are talking with Cade Jobe on his work on hops maturity and its impact on understanding this spooky problem facing the beer industry.
Cade is a 1st year masters student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at OSU, where he works under the advisement of Dr. Tom Shellhammer. In the “Beer”, or “Hops”, lab there are a wide variety of projects on the various components of beer, in addition to offering resources to the brewing industry by running standard analytical measurements on hops. Cade moved to Oregon in pursuit of joining the Hop Lab, after falling in love with home-brewing and embarking upon a career shift from law to food science. While his master’s work is going to be more focused on the impact of wildfire-smoke on hops, his post-baccalaureate work focused on hop maturity, in particular the Citra hop variety.
How does one study the impact of hop maturity? Cade worked with a hop grower in Yakima, Washington to harvest hops from 3 fields at 7 different time points during the hop picking season. These dried samples were then sent back to Corvallis where they underwent standard hop chemical analysis, sensory analysis, and enzymatic analysis.
This is all great, but how does it help me drink beer? From the chemical analysis, there are standard components that are measured to give an overall hop quality measure to know if it is going to produce the desired result. From sensory analysis, they can see what aromas are associated with the different maturity levels of the hops and what aromas they would impart in beer. Spoiler: late season hops might identify if you are a vampire! And finally, going back to the exploding beer cans, the enzymatic analysis shows the potential of hop creep occurring so that brewers can mitigate the problem.
Want to learn more about the science behind beer and more on Cade’s research into hops? Tune in Sunday, October 30th, 2022 at 7 PM on KBVR 88.7FM (https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com) or wherever you get your podcasts!
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the wide-world of brewing, check out Cade on the “BruLab” podcast.
This blog post was written by Jenna Fryer and posted by Lisa Hildebrand.
Coral reef ecosystems offer a multitude of benefits, ranging from coastline protection from storms and erosion to a source of food through fishing or harvest. In fact, it is estimated that over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and/or protection. However, coral reefs face many threats in our rapidly changing world. Climate change and nutrient input due to run-off from land are two stressors that can affect coral health. How exactly do these stressors impact corals? This week’s guest Alex Vompe is trying to figure that out!
Alex is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Department of Microbiology at OSU, where he is co-advised by Dr. Becky Vega-Thurber and Dr. Tom Sharpton. The goal of Alex’s research is to understand how coral microbe communities change over time and across various sources of stress. While the microbial communities of different coral species can differ, typically under normal, non-stressed conditions, they look quite similar. However, once exposed to a stressor, changes start to arise in the microbial community between different coral species, which can have different outcomes for the coral host. This pattern has been coined the ‘Anna Karenina principle’ whereby all happy corals are alike, however as soon as things start to go wrong, corals suffer differently.
Alex is testing how this Anna Karenina principle plays out for three different coral species (Acropora retusa, Pocillopora verrucosa [also known as cauliflower coral], Porites lobata [also known as lobe coral]) in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The stressors that Alex is investigating are reduction in herbivory and introduction of fertilizer. A big source of stress for reefs is when fish populations are low, which results in a lack of grazing by fish on macroalgae. In extreme situations, macroalgae can overgrow a coral reef completely and outcompete it for light and resources. Fertilizers contain a whole host of nutrients with the intent of increasing plant growth and production on land. However, these fertilizers run-off from land into aquatic ecosystems which can often be problematic for aquatic flora and fauna.
How is Alex testing the effects of these stressors on the corals? He is achieving this both in-situ and in the lab. Alex and his lab conduct field work on coral reefs off the island of Moorea in French Polynesia. Here, they have set up experimental apparatus in the ocean on coral reefs (via scuba diving!) to simulate the effects of reduced herbivory and fertilizer introduction. This field work is conducted three times a year. When not under the water surface, Alex sets up aquaria experiments on land in Moorea using coral fragments, which he has been able to grow in order to investigate the microbial communities more closely. These samples then get processed in the lab at OSU for genomic analysis and Alex uses bioinformatics to investigate the coral microbiome dynamics.
Curious to know more about Alex’s research? Listen live on Sunday, October 23, 2022 at 7 PM on KBVR 88.7FM. Missed the live show? You can download the episode on our Podcast Pages! Also, feel free to follow Alex on Twitter (@AVompe) and Instagram (@vompedomp) to learn more about him and his research.
Around 80,000 years ago, the Earth was in the middle of the late Pleistocene era, and much of Canada and the northern part of the United States was blanketed in ice. The massive Laurentide Ice Sheet covered millions of square miles, and in some places, up to 2 miles thick. Over vast timescales this ice sheet advanced its way across the continent slowly, gouging out what we now know as the Great Lakes, carving the valleys, depositing glacial tills, and transforming the surface geology of much of the southern part of Canada and northern US. Further west, the Cordilleran ice sheet stretched across what is now Alaska, British Columbia, and the northern parts of the Western US, compressing the ground under its massive weight. As these ice sheets depressed the land beneath them, the Earth’s crust bulged outwards, and as the planet warmed and the ice sheets began to melt, the pressure was released, returning the crust underneath to its previous shape. As this happened, ocean water flowed away, resulting in lower sea levels locally, but higher levels across the other side of the planet.
The effects of massive bodies of ice forming, moving, and melting are far from negligible in their impact on the overall geology of the region, the sea level throughout history, and the patterns of a changing climate. Though there are only two ice sheets on the planet today, deducing the ancient patterns and dynamics of ice sheets can help researchers fill the geological record and even make predictions about what the planet might look like in the future. Our guest on Inspiration Dissemination this week is PhD candidate and researcher Schmitty Thompson, of the Department of Geology in CEOAS. Thompson is ultimately trying to answer questions about ice distribution, sea levels, and other unknown parameters that the geologic record is missing during two different ice age warming periods. Their research is very interdisciplinary – Thompson has degrees in both math and geology, and also uses a lot of data science, computer science, and physics in their work. They are using computer modeling to figure out just what the shorelines looked like during this time period around 80,000 years ago.
“I use models because the geologic record is pretty incomplete – the further back you go, the less complete it is. So by matching my models to the existing data, we can then infer more information about what the shoreline was like,” they explain. To do this accurately, Thompson feeds the model what the ice sheets looked like over the course of around 250,000 years. They also need to incorporate other inputs to the model to get an accurate picture – variables such as the composition of the interior of the Earth, the physics of Earth’s interior, and even the ice sheets’ own gravitational pull (ice sheets are so massive they exert a gravitational pull on the water around them!)
Using math to learn about ice
The first equation to describe global changes in sea level was published in 1976, with refining throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Thompson’s model builds on these equations in two versions: one which can run in about 10 minutes on their laptop, and another which can take multiple weeks and must run on a supercomputer. The quicker version uses spherical harmonics as the basis function for the pseudospectral formulation, which is basically a complex function that does math and incorporates coefficient representations of the earth’s radius, meridional wave numbers, variation across north/south and east/west, and a few other variables. The short of it is that it can perform these calculations across a 250k time span relatively quickly, but it makes assumptions about the homogeneity of the earth’s crust and mantle viscosity. Think of it like a gumball: a giant, magma-filled gumball with a smooth outer surface and even layers. So while this method is fast, the assumptions that it makes means the output data is limited in its usefulness. When Thompson needs a more accurate picture, they turn to collaborators who are able to run the models on a supercomputer, and then they work with the model’s outputs.
While the model is useful for filling in gaps in the historical record, Thompson also points out that it has uses in predicting what the future will look like in the context of a changing climate. After testing out these models and seeing how sensitive they are, they could be used by researchers looking at much smaller time scales and more sensitive constraints for current and future predictions. “There are still lots of open questions – if we warm the planet by a few degrees, are we going to collapse a big part of Antarctica or a small part? How much ice will melt?”
To learn more about ice sheets, sea levels, and using computer models to figure out how the shoreline looked thousands of years ago, tune in to Schmitty Thompson’s episode on Inspiration Dissemination this upcoming Sunday evening at 7 PM PST. Catch the show live by streaming on https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com/, or check out the show later wherever you get your podcasts!
Thompson was also recently featured on Alie Ward’s popular podcast Ologies. You can catch up with all things geology by checking out their episode here.
Here at Inspiration Dissemination, we are fascinated by the moments of inspiration that lead people to pursue graduate studies. For our next guest, an experience like this came during a boat trip accompanying the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on a research expedition. Becky Smoak, an M.S. student in OSU’s Marine Resource Management program, remembers feeling in awe of the vibrant array of marine life that she saw, including whales, sunfish, and sharks. Growing up on a farm in eastern Washington, Becky had always wanted to be a veterinarian. During her undergraduate studies at Washington State University, she came to feel that the culture of pre-veterinary students was too cutthroat. In search of something more collaborative, she came to Oregon State in summer 2019 for a Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) and was impressed by the support and inclusivity of her research mentors. A couple years later, Becky is now on the cusp of graduation after her time spent studying marine life.
Becky’s graduate work is the continuation of a long-running collaboration between Oregon State and NOAA out of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Beginning in 1996 under the direction of Bill Peterson, a team of researchers has monitored oceanic conditions along a route called the Newport Hydrographic, which extends in a straight line eastward from the Oregon Coast and intersects the northern part of the vast Californian Current. The team takes samples of ocean water at fixed points along the route and analyzes the concentrations of plankton and other organisms or compounds of interest.
The specific biochemicals that Becky studies are Omega-3 fatty acids. In a set of experiments from the 1930s, rats fed with a diet poor in Omega-3 fatty acids eventually died, demonstrating that these compounds are essential to life and are not produced by mammals. Two types of Omega-3 fatty acids, called EPA and DHA, can only be synthesized by phytoplankton, microscopic photosynthetic organisms that live in the ocean. The ability of phytoplankton to produce fatty acids is intimately linked with oceanic temperature. Studies have shown that increases in sea surface temperature and decreases in nutrient availability can decrease the quality of fatty acids in phytoplankton, thus decreasing food availability and quality in the marine environment. Fatty acid levels have downstream effects on the ecosystem, for example on copepods, a type of zooplankton that feeds on phytoplankton. Becky’s team affectionately refers to the copepod colony of the chilly northern Pacific as the “cheeseburger” copepods, in contrast to the “celery” copepods of the southern Pacific colony. The present-day effect of temperature also points to a key ecological challenge, as warming oceans due to climate change could disrupt the supply of this vital nutrient.
In her thesis work, Becky seeks to untangle the contributions of phytoplankton community structure to oceanic Omega-3 fatty acid levels. She uses a set of statistical methodologies called nonmetric multidimensional scaling to uncover correlations in the datasets. A particularly interesting instrument used to collect her data is a flow cytometry robot dubbed ‘Lucy’. Lucy uses advanced imaging to count individual plankton and characterize their sizes. This yields an improvement in accuracy over older monitoring techniques that assumed a fixed size for all plankton. Becky’s goal for finishing her thesis is to create a statistical procedure for predicting fatty acid availability given information on phytoplankton population structure.
To hear more about Becky’s journey to OSU, her experiences as a first-generation college student, and the fascinating role of Omega-3s in marine ecosystems, be sure to tune in this Sunday October 9th at 7pm on KBVR.
After a long summer hiatus, Inspiration Dissemination is back on the airwaves and your podcast platforms this week! Kicking off our Fall quarter lineup is Andrew Herrera, MA candidate with Jon Lewis in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film here at Oregon State University.
Herrera’s research might sound like a dream come true to some: “I study movies, honestly.”
For Herrera it really is a dream come true – he grew up with a lifelong love of film, inspired by watching movies with his mother as a child, the same movies that she had also grown up with. But it was after seeing Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 hit film Black Swan that he knew that studying film was going to be a career for him. The psychological horror production stars Natalie Portman as a dancer in a production of Swan Lake and follows her descent into madness as she struggles with a rival dancer. Herrera recalls that after seeing the film in theaters he sat in the car for several hours, just thinking about what he’d seen. This was around the time he learned that he could actually study film as an academic pursuit, and ended up writing about Black Swan for a literature class, comparing and contrasting it with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
He eventually finished his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature here at Oregon State University, and decided to stay and pursue a Master’s in Film Studies. His dissertation is focusing on the themes of three films by acclaimed Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn: Drive, Only God Forgives, and Bronson. Herrera is looking at the three films through the lens of masculinity, gender performativity and violence – all three center around male characters engaged in violent trajectories. Herrera in part argues that the three films present masculinity as a kind of performance or even a very literal costume, in the case of Drive (Ryan Gosling’s character is known for his iconic white jacket which sports a scorpion design, which he is only seen wearing when committing acts of violence.) The removal of weakness and femininity through violence and fighting leads to the rebirth of masculinity in Bronson, and in Only God Forgives features an almost Oedipal-like protagonist (also played by Ryan Gosling) who eventually cuts open the womb of his dead mother in a representation of asserting control over his own masculinity. Herrera is also interested in the intersection of masculinity and queerness in media, and how these themes show up explicitly or implicitly in these three and other films.
To hear more about these movies, the way masculinity is portrayed in film and its cultural impacts, and Herrera’s research, tune in to Inspiration Dissemination this Sunday evening at 7 PM at KBVR 88.7 FM or listen live online at https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com/. If you missed the live episode don’t forget to check out the podcast, now available wherever you get your podcasts.