Marco Clark traveled to southwest China to study the effects of dam construction.

Marco Clark
Marco Clark

Marco Clark’s expedition to the Nu River Valley in southwestern China was off to a difficult start. Checkpoints lined the highway, blocking access to villages near the Nu, where there are plans to construct as many as thirteen dams. Even though Clark needed to get to the villages to do his research, he was reluctant to approach the checkpoints.

This challenge came as no surprise to Clark; his prior experiences in China had taught him to expect the unexpected. Still, he was nervous about the sensitivity of his research topic: human behavior in the face of an immediate environmental threat. But Clark continued to trek — mostly by bus or foot — approximately 230 miles up the Nu River Valley in search of an accessible village.

Clark’s research is associated with a cross-disciplinary project at OSU that unites the departments of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Anthropology, and Geosciences in order to examine the social, economic and ecological effects of dams on the Nu and Upper Mekong Rivers in China. Currently, China is the international leader in dam construction, and the project is being developed with the intent of assisting China in their quest for renewable energy. Clark’s interviews with villagers and political leaders will provide a better understanding of the effects of dam construction on people and the environment.

As an undergraduate studying political science at OSU, Clark developed an interest in human behavior. “I wanted to study how people feel about their environment and how they respond when that environment is threatened,” Clark says. Clark had visited China three times while pursuing an International Degree and was inspired to return. Currently in his second year of graduate study in anthropology, Clark was able to conduct more fieldwork in China with the help of a generous grant from the Institute for Water and Watersheds (IWW).

“Marco has done a great job of treading lightly and making good relationships,” says Bryan Tilt, Clark’s academic adviser and assistant professor of anthropology. “He was able to create connections in the area of his fieldwork through his excellent people skills.”

Clark improvised as he neared the Tibetan border, hiking two hours from the main road until he happened upon a privately owned dam under the support of the provincial government. The dam, near the village Dimaluo, was still undergoing construction when Clark came upon it. “The community was very removed and felt more secure,” Clark says. “It felt like a suitable place to be.” Dimaluo was where Clark would conduct his research.

While in Dimaluo, Clark was greeted warmly by the community. He formed a lasting friendship with a man named Aluo, who invited Clark into his home to stay with his family. Aluo assisted Clark with his interviews in exchange for English instruction and help translating for foreign guests.

Clark hopes that his research will help other scientists and policymakers better understand the potential impacts of dam construction, including the displacement and resettlement of villagers.

Clark is still deciding what to do after he receives his degree from OSU in 2009. He is thinking of pursuing a Ph.D. in order to teach and continue researching at a university. He is also thinking of continuing developmental work for either a governmental or non-governmental organization.

“Both of these paths will keep me involved in research in developing countries,” Clark says. “By completing assessments on the needs of small communities I hope to continue to help improve others’ quality of life.”

OSU Band member Branden Hansen plays New York.

Photos from New York trip
Photos from New York trip

On May 30 the OSU Wind Ensemble and Pep Band traveled to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall and Greeley Square. Below is band member Branden Hansen’s account of his New York experiences.


The moment we stepped off the buses at our 38-story Manhattan hotel, we forgot the sleep we lost on our red-eye flight to New York City. Taxi cabs, skyscrapers, street vendors selling cheap sunglasses and knock-off purses, bustling sidewalks, a brilliant blue sky and an unforgettable urban odor with hints of hot dogs and the day’s garbage filled our senses. This was our home for an exhilarating, all-too-short weekend.

After unloading our luggage into the hotel, we broke into small groups and invaded the Big Apple — if 99 Beavers losing themselves in a city of 8.2 million is an invasion. We only had one full day as tourists, but my friends and I managed to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Times Square. But no tourist activity topped seeing “Chicago” in the fourth row of the 87-year-old Ambassador Theatre. These experiences showed me why people love the city so much. They also prompted me to purchase my own, not-so-unique “I Love NY” shirt.


New York City as the OSU Band saw it. In the background, the Wind Ensemble plays “Gusto El Sabor,” one of the songs they performed at Carnegie Hall.

After resting and a few hours of sightseeing, the members of the OSU Pep Band geared up for their performance at Greeley Square. I threw on my orange and black uniform, grabbed a pair of drumsticks and boarded yet another bus. I still found vehicular sleeping to be virtually impossible.

Heads turned as we unloaded our instruments. Passersby probably thought that this was one of the strangest spring Halloween parties ever. Once the band started pouring out melodies and drum grooves though, people flocked to the square to listen. We had a great time filling this pocket of New York with tunes like “All Right Now,” “Fat Bottom Girls” and of course the OSU Fight Song.

This performance was exciting, but it was only a prelude for what followed.


This was why we had come to New York — our 8:30 p.m. performance at Carnegie Hall. The Wind Ensemble was teeming with anticipation all day. But I had a serious problem: I couldn’t find my music.

With only 30 minutes left before we loaded the buses, I was beyond frantic, thinking, “I am going to die, and then my conductor will kill me.” After the fifth time checking my briefcase I finally found my music…right where I had left it.

The atmosphere in our dressing room was charged. Some practiced difficult measures while others looked at the photos of great performers and ensembles that lined the walls. Finally, we were led to the stage.

Although we had little time to warm up before the concert, I knew we’d spend a few minutes soaking in Carnegie’s aura. Many have seen Carnegie’s ornate, white and gold architecture, but few have seen it from a performer’s perspective.

The lights dimmed and the concert began. Playing at Carnegie, in this incredible city, had put me into a strange musical auto-pilot. I wasn’t thinking about performing. I couldn’t think about performing. The experience was overwhelming.

As we played our final notes I was at last able to take control of my thoughts again and realized that the audience had risen to its feet in applause. As I looked across the stage, I saw my colleagues’ faces streaming with the tears. This was an experience and an event none of us will forget.

Michelle Inderbitzin and her colleagues focus on the positives of youth development.

Michelle Inderbitzin
Michelle Inderbitzin

In 1998, Michelle Inderbitzin decided to conduct a study of youth in a detention center for violent offenders. Almost every Saturday morning for 15 months, the University of Washington graduate student in sociology made the 90-minute drive from Seattle to an “end-of-the-line training school” for boys convicted of multiple property crimes, armed robberies, violent and/or sexual assaults and homicides.

At first, the reception was cold. Inmates ignored her, later saying they expected her to give up and leave. Eventually one of the older youths, a 19-year-old Hispanic boy respected by the others, approached her and began to talk. Gradually, others followed, sharing details of their lives, their dreams, frustrations and unsettled scores that awaited them back home.

Now an associate professor of sociology at Oregon State University, Inderbitzin shares her knowledge with OSU students through courses on criminal justice and deviant behavior. In 2007, she became the first university professor on the West Coast to lead a class of students and men’s prison inmates through the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which promotes understanding of the criminal justice system.

Inderbitzin and her colleagues at OSU are tackling some of the most pressing challenges that confront families and youth: the development of positive behaviors; the channeling of youthful energy to meet community needs; the lengthening transition to adulthood.

Read more about Michelle Inderbitzin and her colleagues in the Summer 2008 issue of Terra.

John Frohnmayer’s musical SPIN shows what can happen when personalities clash — over art.

spin_p2Put a controversial performance artist, a conservative U.S. Senator, the chair of the National Endowment of the Arts and a preacher named JoeBob into a room together to discuss art and politics, and the resulting personality clashes are sure to generate comedy. That’s what John Frohnmayer had in mind when he wrote SPIN, a musical that depicts the early ‘90s “culture wars” that pitted artists seeking complete freedom of expression against those who demanded stricter rules for federally funded art.

Frohnmayer, an affiliate professor in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, knows all about the subject matter. SPIN is loosely based on his years as the chair of the NEA and his 1993 book that chronicles that turbulent experience, “Leaving Town Alive: Confessions of an Arts Warrior.”

SPIN made its first run at Oregon State University on May 8, and its debut was the product of collaborations throughout OSU and beyond. Director Marion Rossi Jr. has helmed more than 30 OSU productions as an associate professor of speech communication. Music instructor Sila Cevikce Shaman wrote SPIN’s compositions, and David Ogden Stiers, best known as Major Winchester on the television series M*A*S*H*, joins a cast of student and community actors.

“To see a director like Marion Rossi, a veteran performer like David Ogden Stiers and some wonderful student actors bring SPIN to life and give it their interpretation is incredibly exciting,” says Frohnmayer.

Rossi, who began workshopping the musical with his students in theater classes more than a year ago, says he’s loved witnessing SPIN develop. “It’s a great experience for the students — working on an original production, seeing how it grows, evolves and changes over time,” he says.

For University Honors College senior Maarika Teose, who plays the outrageous and provocative performance artist Polly, that experience has been even more enhanced by Frohnmayer’s continuing input and presence at rehearsal. “This is the first play I’ve done that hasn’t been performed before, so having the playwright there is fantastic. If we have any questions about the script, or if something isn’t working, he can guide us or make changes,” she says.

Teose says that Stiers, who joined the cast about a week after they began rehearsing winter term, is also a resource. “He’s fun. It’s really nice to have someone there who has a lot of real-world acting experience. He can give some really deep advice,” says Teose, who has been involved in OSU theater for the past five years.

Stiers wanted to join SPIN’s cast because he feels strongly in freedom of expression. Likewise, Rossi hopes audiences leave SPIN with a deeper understanding of art’s importance in their lives.

Although Frohnmayer’s primary motivation for writing SPIN was to entertain his audience, he still believes the issues of free speech and politics that electrified the early ‘90s are relevant today and that people — no matter how extreme their viewpoints — ultimately need to communicate with each other. “We need to learn to deal with differences in the context of a community,” he says. “If a community is going to succeed, then we all have to succeed together. Free speech is an enabler, but we have to listen as well.”

Distinguished Professor Tracy Daugherty balances his writing and teaching lives.

Tracy Daughtery
Tracy Daughtery

Tracy Daugherty always knew he wanted to be a writer. Books like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Little House on the Prairie” came alive when his teachers read them aloud to their elementary school classes. Daugherty remembers reading the speeches his grandfather, an Oklahoma politician, wrote, and later hearing how they could capture a crowd. “Early on, I was impressed how language is communicative, that it’s a living, communal thing,” he says.

Growing up in Texas, Daugherty read as many novels as he could. He wrote them, as well, in the Ray Bradbury, sci-fi style that often captivated adolescent boys. “I was writing space novels, and they were terrible,” he says. At 11, he had yet to develop the strong sense of place that characterizes his mature work.

Teaching came later, when Daugherty was a Ph.D. student at the University of Houston. He knew he would have to couple teaching with writing to make a living, but at first teaching terrified him. “I had all these faces staring at me, expecting me to give them something, and I had no idea what to do,” he says.

But the terror didn’t last long. Soon Daugherty could tell he was making an impression on his students — their writing improved. “You can see that students are grateful,” he says. “They’re able to communicate things that they didn’t think they could communicate. And you can see that very tangibly.”

Daughterty’s longtime success in both arenas has earned him the title of “distinguished professor,” the highest honor a faculty member can receive at OSU. “Tracy’s impressive record in teaching, publication and academic program building deserved this kind of recognition,” says Distinguished Professor of American Literature David Robinson, who nominated Daugherty for the award.

Throughout his teaching career, Daugherty, who joined the OSU faculty in 1986 and now chairs the Department of English, has remained a disciplined and prolific writer. His fluid style and natural dialogue distinguish his eight books, 25 short fiction works and numerous essays, interviews and magazine articles. He won the Ken Kesey Award in 2005 for his novel “Axeman’s Jazz” and has earned the Oregon Book Award three times, among many other honors.

Daugherty was also instrumental in developing OSU’s Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, a process that took more than a decade at a university sometimes more acknowledged for science and engineering.

The program now attracts applicants from all over the country — more than 100 a year for only six spots. “The program is flourishing, and it’s a wonderful thing to have happen in an unlikely spot. We started out as underdogs, and we’ve come a long way,” Daugherty says. The students who seek Daugherty’s mentorship tend to reflect his varying and sometimes contradictory styles, from straightforward narratives to fragmented stories that follow their own non-linear chronologies.

As a teacher, Daugherty is dedicated to an atmosphere of extensive dialogue between professors and students, as well as among the students themselves, says Robinson. “The one thing that makes this program distinctive is that we work hard developing a very intimate, supportive community,” Daugherty says. He also gives his students plenty of his personal time.

“Tracy teaches in a way that inspires in students a true love for writing,” says Larry Roper, vice provost for Student Affairs and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Daugherty’s next book, “Hiding Man: A Life of Donald Barthelme,” in fact, is a biography of one of his former University of Houston professors. “Hiding Man,” which is due out next year from St. Martin’s Press, is Daughterty’s first excursion into biography and a trip he never intended to take. But when some of Barthelme’s work began going out of print and a different biographer had dropped the project, Daugherty decided to write about his old mentor.

Daugherty’s presence as a teacher comes in part from emulating Barthelme’s emphasis on rigor and tradition, as well as the older writer’s habit of making himself available to his students. “Teaching writing is a one-on-one proposition, really,” Daugherty says, “It takes a lot of individual attention. I saw Barthelme do that with students, and I do that with our students.”

Mary Jo Nye has been honored with a prestigious lifetime achievement award, but that doesn’t mean she’s done.

Mary Jo Nye
Mary Jo Nye

Mary Jo Nye has received the History of Science Society’s highest award, the 2006 Sarton Medal, for a lifetime of scholarly achievement.

“It’s somewhat daunting to receive a ‘lifetime achievement’ award, since I’m not ready to call it a day,” says Nye, Horning Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at OSU. “However, I know of Sarton medalists who have done even more research and writing after they received the award than before.”

In presenting the medal, Alan Rocke of Case Western Reserve University said “Mary Jo’s work has brilliantly illuminated important areas of the history of modern European and American physics and chemistry, with significant additional contributions to institutional and disciplinary history, philosophy of science, and the social and political relations of science. Her elegant writing is always a joy to read, her research as deep as it is broad and her historical arguments are judicious and convincing.”

Nye has written a number of books, including Molecular Reality: A Perspective on the Scientific Work of Jean Perrin (Elsevier, 1972), Science in the Provinces (University of California Press, 1986), and From Chemical Philosophy to Theoretical Chemistry: Dynamics of Matter and Dynamics of Disciplines, 1800-1950 (University of California Press, 1993). Her latest, Blackett: Physics, War, and Politics in the Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press), came out in 2004.

The History of Science Society is the world’s largest society dedicated to understanding science, technology, medicine, and their interactions with society in historical context. Over 3,000 individual and institutional members across the world support the Society’s mission to foster interest in the history of science and its social and cultural relations.

This isn’t the first time Nye, who came to OSU in 1994 after 25 years at the University of Oklahoma, has been honored with a lifetime achievement award. In 2000, she received the Dexter Award for Outstanding Achievement in the History of Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.

Mary Jo Nye Web page

History of Science Society Web

Previous Sarton Medal winners

Sarton Medal news release

Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson is taking his master of public policy degree to Washington, D.C., as a Fellow for the Congressional Black Caucus.

Alex Johnson is spending the next nine months in the nation’s capital as one of seven Congressional Fellows for the Congressional Black Caucus. He sees it as an opportunity to get more experience in his areas of interest. And it may even be training for possible future political involvement.

“I expect to look at environmental and governmental reform issues,” says Alex, who will be working with the office of Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida. “This should synthesize my interest in public policy and my interest in the environment.”

Alex, who received his bachelor’s degree in natural resources from OSU in 2004 and his master’s this past June, started his college career looking for ways to involve people of color in environmental issues. “Later I became interested in access issues and got involved in student government,” he says.

That led to a strong interest in politics, “and I became really excited about opportunities in graduate school.” He looked around at other schools but decided to stay at OSU because he wanted to see some of the issues he had been involved in through to completion.

“I looked at the master of public policy program, and I’m glad I did it,” he says. The program opened doors to a number of opportunities, including a trip to Bulgaria for a research project on environmental science and getting his first journal article published, with Brent Steel, director of the MPP program.

Because of his activism and his involvement with MPP and OSU’s Community and Diversity Office, Alex was asked by Corvallis City Council members to review the city charter with an eye toward diversity and inclusion, a process that involved numerous meetings and public discussions and resulted in a measure that will be on the November ballot.

As he thinks about his future, Alex acknowledges that there may be opportunities for him in the capital, “but I’m hoping to make it back out to the Northwest.” And then? “I might even run for office eventually.”

Congressional Black Caucus Web site

Master of Public Policy program Web site

Office of Community and Diversity

Kenneth Lowe chose singing over blocking to help pay his way through college.

Kenneth Lowe chose music over football
Kenneth Lowe chose music over football

Kenneth Lowe was an all-league football player in high school who came to OSU as a walk-on, but quickly showed he was good enough to earn a scholarship–in music.

Kenneth participated in football and track, as well as music, at Grant High School in Portland. When it was time to choose a college, he opted for music over football selecting OSU and turning down several small college football offers.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve been singing,” says the senior music major, who grew up in a low-income, single-parent family. “I sang in church choirs when I was young, and in the 5th grade I was in the Portland Children’s Opera version of Carmen.”

Even though neither of his parents graduated from college, Kenneth knew it was important for him. “I knew college would give me more opportunities for my life,” he says. “I saw the struggles of a lot of family and friends who didn’t go to college.”

Participating in the OSU choirs has broadened Kenneth’s life experiences. “I’ve been to Europe twice with the choirs, and to Canada and Mexico,” he says. “These are things I’d never have gotten to do otherwise.” Opera is still in his life as well, and he recently participated in a Corvallis production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte.

At OSU, Kenneth works closely with Steven Zielke, director of choral studies, and Richard Poppino, director of vocal studies. He credits them with helping him through the transition to college and keeping him on the track toward graduation.

The importance of music in his life is reflected in how he spends his free time: participating in Outspoken, an a cappella male ensemble organized and led by students. “We do popular songs and have a chance to compete with groups from other colleges. It’s kind of a release–a getaway.”

OSU Department of Music website

Steven Zielke’s web page

Richard Poppino’s web page

Jane Clark keeps herself involved in OSU and in the world.

Jane Clark stays very involved at OSU
Jane Clark stays very involved at OSU

Jane Clark is an active student by most standards. She’s the publications coordinator for the OSU Women’s Center, co-chair of the judicial branch of student government, on the University Honors College steering committee, and a member of Mortar Board senior honor society.

But the political science senior from Newport, Oregon, also finds time to serve away from campus.

During the past few years, she has studied abroad in Italy, done a political science internship providing voter information in New England, and taken trips to Brazil and Siberia with Habitat for Humanity to help build houses.

She was prepared for Brazil because she and her family had previously traveled to South America.

“Siberia was a shock because it’s so far removed from everywhere,” Jane says. “Everything is so old and outdated. It’s like it’s still in the Soviet era.”

Getting there was no picnic, either. “We flew to Moscow, then there was a seven hour flight to Ulan Ude,” she says. “Everyone was packed on the flight, and they served pickled fish. It wasn’t a great experience.”

Attending OSU seemed to be a natural decision for Jane. Her parents, aunt, and uncle went to OSU, and her grandfather taught at the university years ago. But being accepted into the Honors College and receiving a Presidential Scholarship were also big factors in her decision.

Currently she’s working on her honors thesis “on the labor movement and why it hasn’t been more politically progressive.” After she graduates, she plans to take a little time off from school and then go to law school.

For a career, she’s “interested in working with a nonprofit organization,” she says. “I’d like to be involved in international development. Women’s development in other countries would be ideal.”

Associated Students of Oregon State University website

University Honors College website

Department of Political Science website

OSU Women’s Center website

Habitat for Humanity website

Tracy Daugherty and Marjorie Sandor utilize their writing and teaching abilities in OSU’s master’s degree program in creative writing.

Husband and wife wins major writing awards
Husband and wife wins major writing awards

When Marjorie Sandor and her husband, Tracy Daugherty, captured major writing awards last year, it was nothing new for either of them.

Sandor won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for her collection of 10 short stories, Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime.

The stories are fictional portraits that revolve around a Jewish immigrant family that keeps secrets from each other to protect the younger generation from the family’s unfortunate history and contemporary struggles. “My mother really wasn’t very thrilled with the title,” Sandor says. “I had to explain to her the context for the title, and then she was okay with it.”

Daugherty, meanwhile, brought home the Oregon Book Award for the novel for his book, Axeman’s Jazz.

It was the third time he has won the Oregon Book Award, taking it for short fiction in 2003 and for the novel in 1996. Sandor won an Oregon Book Award in 2000 for a collection of essays, The Night Gardener.

Both are faculty members in OSU’s Department of English, and they bring their writing talents and success to the classroom as teachers in the university’s master of fine arts program in creative writing.

Daugherty, who is director of the MFA program, says although writers tend to be introspective and he was “petrified” when he first started teaching, he believes writing and teaching can be complementary activities.

“Learning to articulate an element of craft to a writing class helps me be clearer in my own approach to writing,” he says. “In other ways, they are opposed activities. In teaching the critical mind is most engaged; in writing, it’s the creative side of the brain that’s tapped.”

Sandor award news release

Online interview with Daugherty

Online interview with Sandor

MFA program in creative writing

Audio Selections (MP3)
You can download a free audio player from

Marjorie Sandor:
audio icon Elegy for Miss Beagle (MP3) and (text equivalent)
audio icon Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime (MP3) and (text equivalent)

Tracy Daugherty:
audio icon Power Lines (MP3) and (text equivalent)
audio icon Lamplighter (MP3) and (text equivalent)