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Spring 2021

Maintaining our mission in uncommon times

Black IMPACT cover with four views of a cell from a digital microscope, at varying zooms
College of Science educators have developed teaching methods to exhibit science phenomena in ingenious ways to replicate physical labs, even before the pandemic. Ecampus courses such as the innovative online biology series effectively put a 3-D microscope in the hands of every distance student.

Dear Friends,

Last year was like no other on Oregon State campuses and across the globe. Like countless other academic institutions, the College of Science faced sudden disruption from ordinary campus life.

As the coronavirus outbreak began to explode, the College scrambled to transform face-to-face courses and labs into remote teaching environments in near real-time. The urgent need to meet unprecedented challenges thrust our faculty, instructors, advisors and staff into heroes’ journeys – requiring many to enter unknown territory in order to educate students well and keep them safe.

In this issue of Impact, you will read about their incredible ingenuity, creativity and quick thinking as they brought to life fundamental scientific concepts in the absence of physical classrooms and labs. Many logged in countless hours to transform face-to-face courses and labs into remote environments, organize remote tutoring centers, manufacture and distribute COVID-19 safety supplies and equipment, communicate with students and colleagues, and shift advising to virtual home offices.

The demands on them have been great, and it is my sincere hope that they will emerge stronger and wiser than before they embarked on this strenuous journey. They should all take great pride in the deep commitment they have shown to our teaching and research mission.

It is clear that adaptations made during this difficult time will transform our educational model in lasting ways and leave our University and the College stronger in the end. We will be better equipped to provide access to more learners as an example — a goal OSU President King Alexander often emphasizes. We have gained broader experience with distance learning, and technology has and will continue to play a key role in providing the foundation for more flexible at-home and on-campus learning environments that enable us to drive strong learning outcomes.

I hope you will be inspired by reading about the lengths our College of Science heroes have gone to bring a high-quality virtual education to life for Science students. Many instructors have managed to do what they might never have imagined possible, and they have done it extraordinarily well.

Roy Haggerty
Dean, College of Science

Integrative Biology

Gilfillan Lecture: 'What Darwin couldn’t imagine – A personal journey through the ever-changing field of evolutionary genetics'

An evolutionary and population geneticist with strong regional and global impact, Professor Michael Blouin will present the 2021 Gilfillan Memorial Lecture, “What Darwin couldn’t imagine: A personal journey through the ever-changing field of evolutionary genetics.”

Students

Adapting to a new normal: student research labs persist during a pandemic

Lab work plays a critical role in many scientific fields – which is why this year, as classes moved online, Oregon State’s science labs moved quickly to adapt.

Integrative Biology

Master of disguise is new genus and species of cylindrical bark beetle

A resemblance to moss, lichens and fungi made for fantastic cover by a new genus and species of cylindrical bark beetle described by biologist George Poinar Jr.

Integrative Biology

Unexpected harmonies: Templeton award energizes Denver’s exploration of science and Buddhist connections

Evolutionary biologist Dee Denver explores the impact on advancing scientific knowledge by continuously applying fresh perspectives.

Faculty and Staff

New chemistry hire uses tiny pieces of gold to solve biomedical problems, promotes innovative mentoring

Mackiewicz is a new assistant professor in the chemistry department and was recruited earlier this year. Formerly at Portland State, her interdisciplinary research uses nanotechnology to solve problems related to human health and the environment.  

Mathematics

Applied mathematician elected 2020 AAAS Fellow

Malgorzata Peszynska, elected in the section on Mathematics, is the 18th faculty member in the College of Science to be elected as AAAS Fellow.

Marine Science

Sea star listed as critically endangered following research by OSU marine ecologist

The iconic sunflower sea star has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature following a groundbreaking population study led by Oregon State University and The Nature Conservancy.

Faculty and Staff

Pioneering chemist receives prestigious Humboldt Research Award

Chemist May Nyman received the Humboldt Research Award which will allow her to study at two leading institutions in Germany in 2021.

Marine Science

Leadership by Oregon State helps 14 nations commit to sustainable ocean management by 2025

Leaders of 14 major maritime nations announced their commitment to achieve 100% sustainable ocean management of their national waters by 2025, acting on recommendations of a group of global experts co-chaired by OSU marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco.

News

Oregon State University receives $2 million Packard Foundation grant to expand TRACE-COVID-19 nationally

Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-Level Coronavirus Epidemics, or TRACE-COVID-19, was launched by OSU in April 2020 with door-to-door sampling in Corvallis and expanded to other cities around the state while also adding a wastewater testing component. In December, OSU received a $2 million grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to create a national TRACE Center that will expand the OSU’s COVID-19 public health project to other states.

News

Gut bacteria associated with animal-based diet may mitigate risk of cardiovascular disease

Researchers have found that a type of common gut bacteria sometimes associated with inflammation, abscesses, bowel disease and cancer has a major silver lining: It seems to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Chemistry

Best-in-class: Ecampus chemistry is at the top of its game

OSU's Ecampus chemistry courses are some of the best in the nation. Here's how they did it.

November 12, 2020
Research

Scientists awarded grant to investigate how microbiomes can help species withstand climate change

A pivotal National Science Foundation award will enable Oregon State scientists to investigate how microbes influence their wildlife host’s sensitivity and resilience to disruptive changes in the natural environment.

Integrative Biology

Nematode discovered by scientists to prevent crop damage by invasive slugs

OSU scientists have discovered a microscopic nematode that could be an important biological control against invasive slugs that cause billions of dollars a year in agricultural damage worldwide.

Statistics

Oregon State professor honored for contributions to statistics, minority student success

Korvis Professor of Statistics Javier Rojo received the 2020 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. 

Diversity in Science

Alumni Fellow Eva Galvez to address impact of COVID-19 on Latino communities  

Alumni Fellow Eva Galvez to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Latino communities.

Marine Science

Oregon State University scientists shed new light on viruses' role in coral bleaching

Scientists at Oregon State University have shown that viral infection is involved in coral bleaching – the breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between corals and the algae they rely on for energy.

Research

Mentored research persists in the adapted learning environment

Mentored research persists in the adapted learning environment.

Alumni and Friends

Math alumna’s disease modeling at national lab aiding public health initiatives to combat COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed mathematical models in the spotlight as they have become central to public health interventions, planning, resource allocation and forecasts.

Marine Science

Pioneering 'coral doctor' named Pernot Distinguished Professor

The endowed professorship recognizes Rebecca Vega Thurber’s distinguished contributions to several fields of microbiology that encompass coral reef ecology, virology, marine disease ecology and metagenomics.

Faculty and Staff

Scientists recognized for research, service and mentoring excellence at 2020 University Day

Five faculty and scholars from the College of Science are among this year’s award recipients at University Day, OSU’s most prestigious annual awards for research mentoring, scholarship, teamwork, teaching and service.

Alumni and Friends

Estate gift to help faculty advance 'fundamental discoveries' in science

The College of Science received a generous endowment gift from the estate of Dr. Samuel Shan-Ning Wang, which will support College of Science faculty to maintain state-of-the-art facilities and advance scientific discoveries.

September 14, 2020
Microbiology

Microbiology grad awarded ORISE Fellowship at CDC

Recent microbiology master’s program graduate Elizanette ‘Nette’ Lopez was selected to participate in the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellowship program.

Students

Biology senior awarded Gilman Scholarship to pursue pre-med internship in Argentina

Julia Zavala is one of seven undergraduate students at Oregon State University to have been awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship during the 2020-2021 academic year. The honors biology senior will undertake a paid 10-week pre-med internship in Cordoba, Argentina, during summer 2021 where she will gain a global perspective on healthcare. Oregon State enjoys the distinction of being a top producer of Gilman Scholars. With seven honorees, OSU continues its trend of having students accepted at or greater than the national rate of 25%.

Biomedical Science

Multivitamin, mineral supplement linked to less-severe, shorter-lasting illness symptoms

Older adults who took a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with zinc and high amounts of vitamin C in a 12-week study experienced sickness for shorter periods and with less severe symptoms than counterparts in a control group receiving a placebo.