Warren Washington’s atmospheric computer models are important in the understanding of global climate change.

Warren Washington
Warren Washington

OSU alumnus Warren Washington was one of the developers of atmospheric computer models that now have become standard in the study of complex climate issues.

After graduating from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1958 and a master’s in meteorology two years later, Washington earned a Ph.D. from Penn State University. He joined the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., in 1963 and has spent his entire career with that organization.

His importance in the field has been recognized by President Clinton, who appointed him to the National Science Board, and by President Bush, who re-appointed him. He recently completed his second term as chair of that prestigious group, which makes recommendations to the president and Congress on national science policy.

One of OSU’s most distinguished African American alumni, Washington returns to campus as the university’s commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary doctorate on June 18.

He also received OSU’s E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996, and has been honored for scientific achievement by the American Meteorological Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Societe Meteorologique de France and several universities.

During his long career, he has published more than 100 professional papers and co-authored a book, An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling, which has become a standard reference in the field.

Last year, he and a colleague published an article in the prestigious journal Science that analyzed climate data from around the world over the past 40 years and outlined the connection between human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, and global warming.

OSU Commencement Web site

Information about Warren Washington on Commencement site

National Center for Atmospheric Research Web site

Fred Kamke focuses on designing composite products that make more efficient use of timber resources.

Fred Kamke is designing effecient uses for timber
Fred Kamke is designing effecient uses for timber

Composite wood products have had a bad reputation over the years, being considered a low-cost means of using commercial waste or low-quality wood.

That image is changing, and Fred Kamke is helping make sure it continues to change.

“The old paradigm of growing trees for lumber or pulp is no longer the only option,” Kamke says. “Short-rotation woody crops, intensively grown on a relatively small land area, may be used to produce structural products with properties equal to or better than the highest-grade Douglas-fir lumber.”

Kamke, a leader in research on innovative new wood composite products and technology, is currently working on wood modifications that can be used in composites.

Oregon has about 20,000 acres of hybrid poplar that were planted for pulp uses. As a low-density wood the poplar isn’t useful for much else. “I want to be able to densify it to make useful products,” Kamke says. Using a home-made wood press, he is able to take a quarter-inch-thick piece of the poplar, apply steam, heat and pressure, and turn it into a hard wood about one-fourth as thick.

The process is called viscoelastic thermal compression (VTC) and the resulting wood has higher density, strength and stability than the original. Kamke believes it can be used as a composite with a piece of the original poplar sandwiched between two of the VTC pieces.

“I can see uses for it in building construction, and I think there could be applications for flooring materials because it has good hardness properties,” he says.

Hybrid poplar is a good choice because it grows fast, produces many trees in a small area, and is harvestable within five or 10 years.

Kamke has worked with composites his entire career, spending more than 20 years at Virginia Tech after receiving his doctorate from OSU in 1983.

He returned to OSU in 2005 to become the first holder of the JELD-WEN Chair in Wood-Based Science in OSU’s College of Forestry. Now he is in the process of helping make the university a world center in bio-based composite materials.

“I’ve always liked the idea of being able to get more out of the forest, of getting the products we need without relying on huge land masses for the resources,” he says.

Fred Kamke Web page

News release on Kamke’s OSU appointment

Oregon Wood Innovation Center

Description of VTC

Annette von Jouanne and colleagues are working to make Oregon the nation’s wave energy leader.

Note: With deep sadness, we regret to inform readers that Professor Alan Wallace, featured in the story below, passed away June 7 after a long illness. For more information, please read the OSU media release on Professor Wallace’s death. A memorial service is being planned and likely will take place sometime during the week of June 11 – 17. Please call OSU News & Communication Services at 541-737-4611 for more information.

Harnessing the power of the coast is no easy task
Harnessing the power of the coast is no easy task

Anyone who’s seen the pounding surf at the Oregon coast knows the power of the ocean.

Figuring out how to harness the power and make it productive has long been a challenge, though.

Now Annette von Jouanne and Alan Wallace, her colleague in OSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, are trying to overcome the challenge.

Working with a team of student researchers, and in collaboration with several industry partners and collaborators from other OSU departments, von Jouanne and Wallace are developing direct drive buoys that can turn the power of ocean waves into electrical energy.

Von Jouanne has an exciting vision for the future of the project. “It could be a whole new industry,” she says. “We could be the nation’s wave energy headquarters. In five to 10 years time on the Oregon coast, there could be wave parks generating power back onto the grid and providing jobs for the people living in the region.”

The Oregon coast near Reedsport has been identified as the optimal site in the nation for wave energy development and potentially could provide power to meet about 20 percent of the state’s electricity needs, according to von Jouanne and Wallace.

“Ocean energy is an idea whose time has come, ” says Wallace. “If only point-two-percent of the untapped energy of the oceans could be harnessed, it could generate enough power to supply the entire world.”

Although Wallace and von Jouanne are focused on wave energy, they also are involved in the exploration of other power sources, and they direct the Motor Systems Resource Facility at OSU, the highest-power university-based energy systems laboratory in the country.

In addition to being an outstanding researcher, von Jouanne has been recognized for her teaching. Last year she was named the most outstanding young faculty member in the nation in her field by Eta Kappa Nu, a national honor society for electrical and computer engineers.

“I love the teaching aspect and getting students excited about the research and opportunities,” she says. “This is the starting point of their careers, and we want them to see how exciting the research is, and how it’s not just a job.”

Annette von Jouanne research Web page

News release: Oregon may become wave energy leader

Von Jouanne honored as top educator

Motor Systems Research Facility

Barbara Bond and other OSU researchers are taking a multidisciplinary approach to studying forest ecosystems.

Barbara Bond is looking at forest ecology in a new way
Barbara Bond is looking at forest ecology in a new way

Throughout her career, Barbara Bond has taken a multidisciplinary approach to studying forests. And her current research, which looks at forest ecology in a new way, is no different.

Participants include a forest scientist, oceanographer, atmospheric scientist, and soil scientist.

Using a sophisticated array of electronic sensors in the H.J. Andrews Forest near Eugene, the researchers are literally watching the forest breathe, the plants interact with and feed the soil microbes, and rivers of air pour up and down slopes-all in ways never before understood.

Doing this kind of research in a forest with mountainous terrain is unusual. Historically, says Bond, who is the first holder of the Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources at OSU, flat terrain has been an easier, less costly environment in which to do experiments, and much of the science about forest processes is based on data from such areas. Most research also has been done by people from individual disciplines, looking at small pieces of the puzzle.

“What we need to do now is look at where we really grow most of our trees, which is in mountainous terrain,” Bond says. “And we need to bring together the ecosystem scientists, the atmospheric experts, the engineers and soil scientists, and try to put all the pieces back together to really understand how the whole system works.”

All of this will be made easier in coming years, thanks to a new $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will allow placement of a new generation of battery-free, interactive sensors over a much larger area to enhance the data stream coming from the forest into the OSU laboratories.

Barbara Bond web home page

OSU President’s Report feature (PDF format)

News release on Bond’s research project

News release on Bond’s appointment to Spaniol Chair

Michael Campana wants OSU’s new Institute for Water and Watersheds to lead the way in resolving Oregon’s water problems.

Michael Campana will serve as the director of the Insitute for Water and Watersheds
Michael Campana will serve as the director of the Insitute for Water and Watersheds

Despite its reputation for abundant rain, Oregon faces a myriad of water-related challenges, from water rights issues in the Klamath basin to pollution concerns in the Willamette River.

To coordinate the far-flung water research efforts, involving 80 faculty members in six colleges, the university has established the OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds.

The institute involves a statewide network of resources, including research laboratories, classrooms, Extension offices and experiment stations, which will allow OSU scientists to connect with decision makers at state, federal and local levels to develop solutions to water problems.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers helped build the water initiative into reality, and now it is ready to take the next step forward with the hiring of Michael Campana, a hydrogeologist and international expert on complex water management issues, as the first director of the institute.

Campana says he hopes to focus the institute’s efforts on large, multidisciplinary, long-term projects and significantly increase external funding for water research activities at the university.

“Oregon is facing a variety of water and environmental problems,” he says. “OSU’s water expertise must be brought to bear in solving these problems, and the Institute for Water and Watersheds needs to reach a point where it is the first organization Oregonians think of when water issues arise.”

The institute is one of six strategic initiatives for investment that will bring OSU new centers for research and outreach, outstanding faculty and students, and scholarship, fellowship, internship and educational opportunities.

The other initiatives are:

  • A Center for Healthy Aging Research, linking individuals, families and environments
  • Computational and genome biology
  • Ecosystem informatics, involving mathematics, computer science and ecology
  • Subsurface biosphere education and research
  • Sustainable rural communities

Institute for Water and Watersheds website

Institute for Water and Watersheds history and goals

Michael Campana hiring news release

OSU’s six strategic initiatives

An OSU scientist’s trip to the coast inspired a new adhesive that may revolutionize the wood products industry.

Kaichang Li developed a wood glue based on mussels
Kaichang Li developed a wood glue based on mussels

One day a few years ago, Kaichang Li was at the Oregon Coast harvesting mussels. When the day was over, in addition to mussels, he returned to Corvallis with questions that led to development of an environmentally friendly wood glue.

Li, an associate professor in Wood Science and Engineering in the College of Forestry at OSU, noticed during his visit to the coast how mussels clung tenaciously to rocks despite being pounded almost continuously by ocean waves.

“I was amazed at the ability of these small mollusks to attach themselves so strongly to rocks,” Li says. “Thinking about it, I didn’t know of any other type of adhesive that could work this well in water and withstand so much force.”

The protein in the small threads the mussel uses to attach itself is an exceptional adhesive, but it’s not readily available. In trying to identify a protein that could be adapted for this purpose, Li had another inspiration–while eating tofu. Soy beans, from which tofu is made, “are a crop that’s abundantly produced in the U.S. and has a very high content of protein,” Li says.

But soy protein lacks the unique amino acid that provides adhesive properties. So his research group went to work and was able to add these amino acids to soy protein, making it work like a mussel-protein adhesive. They’ve also developed other strong and water-resistant adhesives from renewable natural materials using the mussel protein as a model.

Their discoveries have resulted in three pending patents and should lead to a wide range of new products. The research work also has resulted in 11 papers in journals such as Macromolecular Rapid Communications and Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology.

One of the new adhesives is cost-competitive with a commonly used urea-formaldehyde resin, researchers say, but it doesn’t use formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals. Formaldehyde, which has been used to make wood composites since the 1950s, has been shown to be a human carcinogen, and in some circumstances it may be a cause of “sick building syndrome” when used in building products.

In addition to the environmental advantage, the new adhesives have superior strength and water resistance. “The plywood we make with this adhesive can be boiled for several hours and the adhesive holds as strong as ever,” Li said. “Regular plywood bonded with urea-formaldehyde resins could never do that.”

Kaichang Li home page

OSU news release on development of new adhesive

Columbia Forest Products announces use of new adhesive in its products

OSU Department of Wood Science and Engineering

OSU College of Forestry website

As an OSU undergraduate, Nick Ehlers has been involved in research projects in Panama, the Bahamas, and Newport, Oregon.

Nick Ehlers highlights his research as one of his most memorable college experiences
Nick Ehlers highlights his research as one of his most memorable college experiences

Nick Ehlers had the opportunity to do research in a wide range of places as an Oregon State University undergraduate student majoring in biology.

With funding from OSU’s International Undergraduate Research Program, Nick traveled to Panama and the Bahamas to work as a research assistant alongside OSU faculty members Bruce Menge and Mark Hixon. “Both were such amazing experiences,” Nick says. “It was a classroom with no walls and everything and everybody was my professor.”

Then, as part of the marine biology option, Nick had the opportunity to live on-site at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon. The 16-week marine biology course offers students field and laboratory experiences with a variety of instructors, including Sally Hacker, associate professor of zoology, pictured with him above. “This program was one of the reasons that I chose Oregon State,” Nick says.

For the coming year, Nick has accepted a job as a science instructor at the Ocean Institute at Dana Point, California. “This will combine my love of science, research, and education,” he says.

“The three highlights of my college career have been my research, my fraternity, and my involvement in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program,” Nick says.

OSU biology program

Hatfield Marine Science Center

Marine Biology at HMSC

Mark Hixon website

Dana Point Ocean Institute

Tom Weeks’ signs have been on the Oregon coast for years. Now they’ve gone international.

These tsuname warning signs were illustrated by Jim Good
These tsuname warning signs were illustrated by Jim Good

With the world’s largest and most technologically advanced tsunami wave basin, Oregon State University already is a global leader in tsunami research.

Now the warning signs developed by OSU Extension Service designer Tom Weeks also are going global.

Weeks’ signs have been displayed on the Oregon coast for years as part of the state’s tsunami warning system. Now the illustration is being used to warn coastal residents around the world.

The tsunami warning illustration is one of a series Weeks developed as part of OSU’s effort to help people move quickly to safety in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. The signs also have been adopted in Washington, California, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Jim Good, an OSU Extension Sea Grant scientist developed the tsunami sign concepts with state geologists and planners and worked with Weeks on the illustration designs.

After the Indian Ocean tsunami last winter, Good’s graduate student, Somrudee Meprasert, went to Thailand to serve on a tsunami assessment group, and she took copies of the signs to share with Thai officials. In May, the illustration was posted on new warning signs along Thai beaches as part of Thailand’s new National Disaster Warning Centre.

“Extension Sea Grant’s leadership and Tom’s clear, unambiguous design will now save lives around the world, not just in the United States,” Good said.

Warning signs introduced in Thailand

OSU Extension Service

Oregon Sea Grant Extension

OSU tsunami research basin

A team consisting of OSU students and others is testing a propulsion system that could cut the time needed for a human flight to Mars.

Traveling to Mars might not take as long as we think
Traveling to Mars might not take as long as we think

When Marci Whittaker-Fiamengo describes the project she and other OSU undergraduate students are working on, she calls it “an out-of-this-world experience.”

And so it is. Marci, a senior in nuclear engineering, and Dan Wittmer, an electrical engineering senior, lead a student team working on ways to use nuclear power in a propulsion system that could substantially reduce the time needed for a flight to Mars.

“We’re not using nuclear fuel in the test,” Marci says, “but we’re doing a test of what the actual physical reaction in a nuclear reactor would be.”

Their idea impressed NASA officials enough that they agreed to test it in their Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program.

That means a trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston this summer where the students will make presentations, work on experiments, and fly on NASA’s famed “vomit comet,” a large aircraft that simulates weightlessness in long, steep dives.

Dan and Marci have been on previous NASA flights through their participation in other student projects. “The nearest thing I can compare the ride to is when you’re in an elevator and it just drops,” Dan says. “That’s like a millisecond, though, and this goes on.”

The team has five OSU students (Brooke Butler, Adam Reiner, and Michael Rutherford, in addition to Dan and Marci), five from Western Oregon University, and a high school student from Salem. In addition, OSU student Cody Sheehy, is filming the students for a documentary on their project.

Marci and Dan plan careers in the space industry, and both would like to eventually go into space. They say OSU’s hands-on education and supportive professors have prepared them well.

Meanwhile, the team is carrying the story of the project and the space program to students in schools around the state. “This is an important program. It needs to continue. That’s the message we carry,” Dan says.

The Oregon Space Grant Consortium has provided much of the financial assistance for the student project. “They have been a major supporter of our program from its infancy to where we are today, and without them this program would have diminished long ago,” Dan says.

OSU student team news release

Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program website

OSU College of Engineering website

Oregon Space Grant Consortium website

From seed to market, Organic Growers Club members learn to do it all.

The OSU Organic Growers Club offers something for everyone
The OSU Organic Growers Club offers something for everyone

An Earth-friendly approach to farming has quietly been taking place for the past five years at OSU. Members of the Organic Growers Club use alternative weed and pest controls, including beneficial insects, to produce a wide range of crops.

James Cassidy was one of the first members of the club when he joined as a soil science student in 2001. Now, a soil science instructor and research assistant, he is marketing director for the club.

“The emphasis of the club is on the food, not the politics of organic versus inorganic or any other political issues,” Cassidy says. “We choose not to use chemicals because our customers prefer that. We have nothing against people who use chemicals, but it’s not for us.”

Cassidy says the club offers something for everyone. Members include staff, faculty, and students from various majors. Many participants find something to do in their field because club activities involve agriculture, social sciences, marketing, and other areas. Engineering students helped create the drip irrigation system, for example.

“We bought the system with our earnings. That’s the way we get equipment,” Cassidy says. “I think of it in terms of how many onions it is to buy something. I know how much work goes into onions, and if they sell at three for a dollar, it’s easy to determine how many onions something costs, so we know if it’s worth it.”

At their 3.5-acre farm just east of Corvallis off Highway 34, club members produce more than 50 different crops, including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, garlic, potatoes, corn, beets, broccoli, beans, and, of course, onions.

The club distributes its goods through a list of about 300 on-campus customers. “I send out a message every Monday during the season to tell people what’s available that week and how much it costs. They order by Thursday, then we harvest that night and deliver the items on Friday.”

Organic Growers Club website

James Cassidy’s departmental page