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Science in the news

Science in the news

Media coverage highlights

The Caliper -

Breaking Down Barriers for Remote Learning

When the global pandemic forced the closure of college science departments across the nation Oregon State University professors had to think fast to adapt their senior-level research methods course to support remote and hybrid models of learning.
UConn Today -

UConn Researchers Developing Models to Unlock Mysteries of Human Speech

Researchers at UConn and Oregon State University, including OSU physics Professor Kevin Brown, are working to understand phonetic constancy in humans with help from automated speech recognition systems. This work is supported by a collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation to the teams at UConn ($437,000) and Oregon State ($179,000).
Science -

Climate change ‘unequivocal’ and ‘unprecedented,’ says new U.N. report

A new climate report released by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was headlined by preeminent OSU ecologist and White House deputy director for the environment Jane Lubchenco. This is the first of three major climate assessments scheduled to be released over the year.
The Hill -

Scientists make shocking discovery of 'dead zones' where nothing can live on two US coasts

Scientists surveying the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico discovered a “dead-zone” — where low oxygen levels make the area inhospitable to fish — “equivalent to more than four million acres of habitat.” The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the survey’s findings this week. “Low dissolved oxygen levels have become the norm on the Pacific Northwest coast, but this event started much earlier than we've seen in our records,” Oregon State University Professor Francis Chan, director of the NOAA cooperative institute CIMERS, said in a release. “This is the earliest start to the upwelling season in 35 years.”
Washington Post -

Dead zones, a ‘horseman’ of climate change, could suffocate crabs in the West, scientists say

Hypoxic areas in Oregon, researchers found, have surfaced every summer since they were first recorded in 2002 — leading scientists to determine a recurring “hypoxic season,” akin to wildfire and hurricane ones. However, climate change has exacerbated its effect, said Francis Chan, the director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies at Oregon State University, resulting in increasingly frequent and extensive hypoxic areas that can morph into “dead zones,” where the total lack of oxygen kills off species that cannot swim away, much like the Dungeness crabs.
Corvallis Advocate -

Dead Zone Threatens Oregon Crabbing and Fishing Industries

The closer dead zones get to the shore, the more impact they have on fisheries, including the crabbing industry. Researchers are continuing to monitor the ocean, check on marine life, and track yet another result of climate change they think is here to stay. “One of the ways climate change is expressed in the ocean is through the expansion of things like these low dissolved oxygen zones,” said Oregon State University Marine Ecologist Dr. Francis Chan. “This is one of the harbingers of climate change.” -

Ancient, newly identified 'mammoth weevil' used huge 'trunk' to fight for mates

Oregon State University research has identified a 100-million-year-old weevil unlike any other known fossilized or living weevil. George Poinar Jr., an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past, calls the male specimen a "mammoth weevil" because of its "monstrous trunk"—also known as the weevil's rostrum or beak.
Live Science -

Why are vinegar and baking soda so good for cleaning?

More and more people are tossing out the harsh chemicals from their daily cleaning routine and instead turning to natural products, such as baking soda and vinegar, to remove grime, disinfect surfaces and leave spaces shiny and clean, according to Reader's Digest. So why are these household items such effective cleaning agents? "When you are cleaning using baking soda or vinegar, you are actually doing very complicated manipulations of molecules," said May Nyman, a professor in the department of chemistry at Oregon State University.

OSU researcher IDs ancient ‘mammoth weevil’ that used huge ‘trunk’ to fight for mates

An Oregon State University researcher has identified a 100-million-year-old weevil unlike any other known fossilized or living weevil. George Poinar Jr., an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past, calls the male specimen a “mammoth weevil” because of its “monstrous trunk." Findings were published in Cretaceous Research.

Low oxygen levels off Northwest coast raise fears of marine ‘dead zones’

Low oxygen levels measured off the coast of Oregon and Washington are raising fears of large “dead zones” that could wipe out crabs and bottom-dwelling fish within. Year after year of low oxygen levels starting in the early 2000s led researchers to determine Oregon now has a “hypoxia season” just like it has a fire season — and this year’s hypoxia season has come far earlier than usual. “When it starts really early, we’re giving [oxygen levels] many more months to get lower and [the dead zone to] get bigger in space,” said Francis Chan, who directs the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies at Oregon State University.
Corvallis Advocate -

Oregon Grass Hybrid Saves Dunes

Oregon dunes are present on about half of the state's coastline. Natural infrastructure such as vegetation on dunes is one of the most important measures to protect the ocean coast from storms, coastal flooding, and erosion. An OSU collaboration led by integrative biology Ph.D. candidate Rebecca Mostow and professor Sally Hacker evaluated current grass growing on the dunes using multiple analytical techniques.
Corvallis Gazette-Times -

OSU student uncovers toad populations

Research by an Oregon State University doctoral candidate has shed new light on the status of a toad previously thought to be endangered. Anne Devan-Song of OSU's integrative biology department used spotlighting — shining a light in a dark spot and looking for eye reflections — to find large numbers of the eastern spadefoot toad. The study illustrates how confirmation bias, a tendency to interpret new information as ratification of existing theories, can hamper discovery and the development of better hypotheses.
The World Link -

Low-flow research on Colorado River sheds light on eventual new normal for Grand Canyon

Dave Lytle, professor of integrative biology, and Ph.D. students Angelika Kurthen and Jared Freedman teamed with scientists from the United States Geological Survey during the March 2021 project to examine the quantity and diversity of invertebrates in the river.
Business Wire -

Oregon State University to Offer Data Analytics Skills Training Program by Teaming with Fullstack Academy

Fullstack Academy, a national tech education provider, announced today it will bring its data analytics bootcamp program to the West Coast through a collaboration with Oregon State University. Launching in Winter 2022, the bootcamps will train professionals of any tech skill level in just 26 weeks for jobs in the rapidly growing data analytics sector, where skilled talent is in high demand.
IFLScience -

Mushroom Growing Out Of An Ancient Ant's Butthole Is New Fungal Species

Mycology is a fascinating branch of science, delving into the secret lives of fungi, whose beauty is often underrated and little celebrated. A mushroom found preserved in a 50-million-year-old piece of amber certainly demonstrates their beauty – that is, if you ignore the fact it’s growing out of an ant’s rectum.
Live Science -

Peculiar parasitic fungi discovered growing out of the rectum of a 50 million-year-old fossilized ant

Scientists have identified a new species of extinct parasitic fungus bursting from the backside of a 50 million-year-old ant, all perfectly preserved in amber.
Digital Journal -

For the fossil record: Oldest ever fungus discovered

Scientists at Oregon State University have identified what has been described as the oldest known specimen of a fungus. The fungus was discovered parasitizing an ant in fossilized form. Intriguingly, the fossil represents a new fungal genus and species.
SciTechDaily -

Mushroom Growing Out of 50-Million-Year-Old Fossilized Ant Reveals New Species of Fungal Parasite

Oregon State University research has identified the oldest known specimen of a fungus parasitizing an ant, and the fossil also represents a new fungal genus and species.
KGW8 -

Latest sampling shows COVID-19 at levels similar to this time last year

Over the last year, Oregon State University students teamed up with health care workers with the TRACE-COVID-19 project, led by epidemiologist Ben Dalziel, to go-to-door to randomly selected homes in Corvallis offering free COVID-19 testing. They found results similar to what was detected at this time last year.

OSU COVID tracing programming expands to vaccinations

In addition to COVID testing, volunteers at Oregon State University also offer antibody tests and vaccinations. Keely Chalmers has an update on the program.

Media contacts

Journalists are encouraged to contact OSU's Department of News and Research Communications at 541-737-0787 for assistance. Media personnel seeking expert sources for their stories can contact OSU news editor Sean Nealon at 541-737-0787 or

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Recent research, by topic

Collectively, we plumb a vast breadth of research topics, from aging to zooplankton, from supernovae to superbugs. We pursue scientific research wherever our curiosity leads.