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A kid stands in the water holding wildlife on the Oregon coast

Building bridges: College of Science outreach creates pathways to science literacy and inclusion

By Hannah Ashton

Students from the Jamie Cornelius Lab helped plan Wild about Wildlife, a three-day summer camp for middle school students where they learned about biological science through experiences and field excursions to Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Chintimini Wildlife Center. Photo by Victoria Quennessen.

The College of Science is committed to community service and fostering science literacy. Our recently launched Strategic Plan prioritizes impactful contributions at local, national and global levels. Across our seven departments, we are actively implementing outreach initiatives that align with our mission of engagement and societal impact. Last year, the College actively supported community-focused events, such as Discovery Days, Juntos Family Day and many others.

Discovery Days is held twice a year as an opportunity to engage with local elementary school kids for a hands-on STEM fair experience. This event gathered more than 1,500 students and 300 OSU students, faculty and staff volunteers. In collaboration with Open Campus, Juntos Family Day provided Latinx students and their families with a dynamic college exploration experience in spring 2023.

Students gather around a table.

Students participating in Discovery Days gather around a table for a fun hands-on STEM activity.

Our departments also prioritize creating access to science education and research, fostering community relationships and developing needed services.

Microbiology outreach makes science more colorful

The College of Science’s microbiology department created the Pernot Microbiology Camp to draw more local students from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, low-income and other diverse backgrounds to the study of microbiology. Faculty in the department also offered a session on Microbiology for the Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering and Math Club for both 5th grade and high school students. Microbiologist Jerri Bathlowmew created the Art-Sci collaborative to build a bridge between art and science. This involves public galleries showcasing student work and local artists. The department also hosted internationally acclaimed microbiologist Jo Handelsman for the inaugural Berg Lecture. Open to the public, this lecture drew community members, students and faculty.

High school students work on fish rubs.

High school students work on fish rubs during the Pernot Microbiology Camp.

Statistics collaborates with Oregonians

The statistics department participated in the Statewide Crop Load Project annual meeting to discuss results with vineyard managers and wine producers in Oregon. Faculty also co-led a workshop in Lincoln County for the Pandemic Resilient Cities project to engage local public health, city officials, school representatives and more to begin a co-creation process for a National Science Foundation proposal. They discussed the needs of the county and priorities concerning future pandemic preparedness.

Physics brings science to high-school students

The physics department held lab tours for Corvallis High School students and created a Zoom version for Madras High School. Several faculty members also did presentations for the Corvallis High School Science Club. The department has a new outreach coordinator that will formally start in fall 2023.

Mathematics outreach seeks to break down common stereotypes

Members from the mathematics department organized the 2023 Math For All satellite conference. This event is an open and friendly space for people to gather and talk about mathematics, math education and how it relates to diversity, justice and equity. Professor Nathan Gibson organized a series of weekly Math Circle meetings for Franklin Elementary students. These circles aim to make mathematics fun, interesting, accessible and inclusive. The Association of Women in Mathematics OSU chapter also participated in many outreach events, including Discovering the Scientist Within, which aims to spark interest in science in young girls. The department also held its 38th annual Lonseth Lecture and invited alumna Corina Constantinescu (Ph.D. ’06) to talk about the “Mathematics of Inclusive Insurance.”

A group of individuals stand on a staircase for a photo during a mathematics conference.

Math for All participants pose for a group shot.

Integrative Biology shares research far and wide

The integrative biology department held its annual Doc Storm Lecture that drew more than 100 people to the LaSells Stewart Center. The Weis Lab participated in Meet a Scientist at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to educate visitors of all ages about the study of cnidarian-algal symbiosis and the threat of climate change on coral reefs. The lab also participated in OMSI After Dark. Students from the Cornelius Lab partnered with students from the College of Agricultural Sciences to plan Wild about Wildlife, a three-day summer camp for middle school students where they learned about biological science through experiences and field excursions to Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Chintimini Wildlife Center. In June, the department held its annual Robert M. Storm Distinguished Lecture. This year speaker George James Kenagy, Professor of Biology and Curator of Mammals, Emeritus with the University of Washington, spoke about "Survival in the Desert: Coping with Heat, Aridity, and Scarce Resources."

Students listen to a talk about birds.

Students in the Wild about Wildlife camp visit the Chintimini Wildlife Center.

Chemistry outreach helps high-school students find their passion

The chemistry department held the fifth annual Juntos Chemistry Overnight Camp in June. Twenty Latino high school students attended the camp from all over Oregon. The students participated in workshops and got an authentic taste of the OSU college experience. The department also held four lab tours for high school AP science students. Chemistry professor Marilyn Mackiewicz created a new week-long workshop called Ignite inSTEM designed to help students discover the wonders of designing nanomaterials.

A group of students in white lab coats pose for a picture.

High-school students in the Juntos Chemistry Overnight Camp pose for a photo.

Biochemistry and Biophysics outreach has a national impact

The biochemistry and biophysics department was involved in middle school, high school and college outreach events. Faculty were involved in “How To Be A Scientist” and “Career Day'' at local middle schools. At the college level, faculty gave a science career talk at Idaho State University. Associate Professor Alysia Vrailas-Mortimer, just received funding to expand Fly-CURE RCN, a research coordination network that brings together faculty across the U.S. to create course-based undergraduate research experiences.

A woman with short dark hair poses for a headshot wearing a black shirt and red suit jacket.

Oregon State names new College of Science dean

By Sean Nealon

Eleanor Feingold, a statistical geneticist and associate dean with nearly 20 years of leadership experience at the University of Pittsburgh, has been named dean of Oregon State University’s College of Science. She will start Oct. 31.

“I am passionate about creative approaches to STEM education, diversity, equity and inclusion and research that has an impact on the state, nation and world,” Feingold said. “The College of Science and Oregon State University have tremendous strengths in these areas, and I am excited to further advance these endeavors.”

Oregon State’s College of Science is home to the life, statistical, physical and mathematical sciences. The college supports more than 4,000 students and brought in more than $18 million in research funding during the 2022 fiscal year.

“Dr. Feingold brings deep experience as a senior administrator in one of the nation’s leading research universities, and she has amassed an impressive portfolio of scholarship and teaching over the course of her career,” said Edward Feser, OSU provost and executive vice president. “As dean, she will be prioritizing further strengthening the College of Science’s research enterprise and advancing OSU’s goals in student success at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Feingold has worked at the University of Pittsburgh since 1997. She has served at the university’s School of Public Health as associate dean for education, vice dean, chair of the Department of Human Genetics, and most recently associate dean for data analytics and special projects.

Read more here.

Valley Library and OSU clock tower in the background with sunshine.

Faculty excellence: Promotions and tenure 2023

By Vrushali Bokil

The College of Science congratulates 17 faculty on receiving promotions and/or tenure this year.

Countless hours of consideration and analysis goes into every promotion decision. The College relies heavily on the expertise and perspectives of departmental staff, department heads, department committees, peer teaching committees, College of Science Promotion and Tenure Committee, external reviewers and students to get our deserving faculty through this process.

Thank you to everyone that helped to make this possible for our well-deserving faculty.

Congratulations to the science faculty in the college who have just completed this process with success!

Chemistry Department

Marilyn Mackiewicz will be promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry and granted indefinite tenure, effective September 16, 2023.

Integrative Biology Department

Carmen Harjoe will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Integrative Biology, effective July 1, 2023.

Lindsay Biga will be promoted to Senior Instructor II of Integrative Biology, effective July 1, 2023.

Mathematics Department

Amanda Blaisdell will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Clayton Petsche will be promoted to Professor of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Chris Orum will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

David Wing will be promoted to Senior Instructor II of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Elise Lockwood will be promoted to Professor of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Johnner Barrett will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Liz Jones will be promoted to Senior Instructor II of Educational Opportunities Program and Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Mary Beisiegel will be promoted to Professor of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Michael Gilliam will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Sara Clark will be promoted to Senior Instructor II of Mathematics, effective September 16, 2023.

Microbiology Department

Shawn Massoni will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Microbiology, effective July 1, 2023.

Physics Department

Evan Thatcher will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Physics, effective September 16, 2023.

Paul Emigh will be promoted to Senior Instructor I of Physics, effective September 16, 2023.

Statistics Department

Katherine McLaughlin will be promoted to Associate Professor of Statistics and granted indefinite tenure, effective September 16, 2023.

Thank you!

Thanks to all of the committee members who served on the College of Science Promotions and Tenure Committee this year.

  • Andy Karplus, Chair and Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Chong Fang, Professor of Chemistry
  • Ethan Minot, Professor of Physics
  • Holly Swisher, Professor of Mathematics
  • Kate Field, Professor of Microbiology
  • KC Walsh, Senior Instructor II, Physics
  • Lesley Blair, Senior Instructor II, Integrative Biology
  • Lisa Madsen, Professor of Statistics
  • Michael Freitag, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Oksana Ostroverkhova, Professor of Physics
  • Sally Hacker, Professor of Integrative Biology
DNA strands.

Research grants to seed the next great idea

By Grace Peterman

College seed funding supports diverse projects with the power to directly impact human quality of life.

Seed funding from the College of Science Research and Innovation Seed (SciRIS) program continues to bolster ambitious and expansive projects, empowering our scientists to delve into fundamental research discoveries and translate them into revolutionary applications. Founded in 2018, the SciRIS program provides funding for collaborative projects that pursue fundamental discoveries and create societal impact, accelerating the pace of research, discovery and innovation in the College of Science.

Between 2019 and 2021, the SciRIS program provided $763K in seed funding to scientists leading research projects in both basic and applied science and mathematics, with the potential to produce practical solutions for industry, people and the planet.

There are two pathways through this program, the SciRIS Stages 1-3 awards and the SciRIS individual investigator award (SciRIS-ii). The SciRIS Stages 1-3 program funds teams in three stages, ranging from $10K to $125K, to foster team development, build capacity and accelerate project development for procuring larger external grants, while the SciRIS-ii program provides funds ranging from $10K to $20K to individual investigators to establish partnerships, accelerate project development, generate data and manuscripts and foster proposal submissions.

The 2022 Science Research and Innovation Seed Individual Investigator awards (SciRIS-ii) are catalyzing initiatives that will open fresh pathways in science.

Supporting pure and applied mathematics, agriculture, gene therapy, molecular movie technology and quantum mechanics

Radu Dascaliuc, a man with glasses and a beard.

Radu Dascaliuc, associate professor of mathematics

Dascaliuc researches stochastic cascades and energy transfer in equations of fluid dynamics. The mathematics of fluid flows allow us to understand and predict the complexity of behaviors exhibited in fluids. Deeply rooted in questions of applied science and engineering, the proposed research is a part of a larger program aimed at exploring connections between the mathematics of equations of fluid motions and physics of fluids.

Part of the proposal is to organize a two-week summer collaborative research program for graduate and undergraduate students. This program will be devoted to attracting students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM and especially in the field of fluid dynamics. The project will be structu­­red so that students without advanced knowledge in differential equations, mathematical analysis and probability can contribute and hopefully become interested and motivated to learn more about the mathematics involved. Funds for Dascaliuc’s SciRIS-ii project titled, “Stochastic Cascades and Energy Transfer in Equations of Fluid Dynamics” are provided by a generous gift made to the Robert W. Lundeen Science Faculty Development Award Fund.

Yanming Di, a man with glasses standing outside.

Yanming Di, associate professor of statistics

In partnership with the Oregon State Seed Lab, Yanming Di innovates seed sampling devices and protocols. Seeding testing — used for determining seed lot quality and establishing seed value — is a fundamental phase of the agricultural marketing system. Getting an accurate subsample of seed depends on the accuracy and precision of the device used.

Devices and protocols developed by the OSU Seed Lab and the USDA in the 1970s are still considered state of art today, leaving ample room for further improvements. With SciRIS funding, Di and collaborators aim to start a new wave of groundbreaking innovations by incorporating recent advances in robotics, computer vision, machine learning and stochastic modeling into seed testing. Funds for Di’s SciRIS-ii project entitled “Innovating Seed Sampling Devices and Protocols” come from the College of Science’s Education & General Funds.

Colin Johnson, a man with a red beard.

Colin Johnson, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics

Colin Johnson’s research uncovers new connections between the ferlin family of genes and disease. Mutations in dysferlin are linked to muscular dystrophy, while mutations in otoferlin and myoferlin have been linked to deafness and breast cancer, respectively. Previous research led by Johnson uncovered key components of otoferlin gene therapy, moving one step closer to restoring hearing for the congenitally deaf.

In partnership with collaborators from the College of Engineering and College of Agricultural Sciences, Johnson’s new project will focus on ferlin gene Fer1L6, which has been linked to ovarian failure and neural tube development deficiencies. It will be the first study to unpack the effects of Fer1L6 on organismal development and neural tube defects. Funds for Johnson’s SciRIS-ii project, entitled “Establishing a Zebrafish model for the study of the Ferlin gene Fer1L6,” come from the College’s Education & General Funds.

Chong Fang, a man in glasses.

Chong Fang, associate professor of chemistry

SciRIS-ii funding will support a research collaboration between OSU and Stanford University led by Chong Fang. The project will implement state-of-the-art femtosecond laser spectroscopy at the Linus Pauling Science Center. By advancing the mechanistic knowledge and rational design of reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent proteins, this emergent tool for super-resolution microscopy and bioimaging will elevate both labs’ research to new heights while further enhancing the visibility and impact of “molecular movie” technology at OSU.

Funds for Fang’s SciRIS-ii project, entitled “Elucidating primary events of engineered photoswitchable fluorescent proteins with a powerful ultrafast spectroscopy toolset,” are provided by a generous gift made to the Ben and Elaine Whiteley Materials Research Fund.

Man smiling in front of a bush of flowering azaleas

Clay Petsche, associate professor of mathematics

Petsche is working with graduate students Chifan Leung, Chatchai Noytaptim and Peter Oberly to develop new ways to measure the arithmetic complexity of dynamical systems – a mathematical construction which takes input data and feeds it through a repetitive process – and to show that certain families of arithmetic dynamical systems can be divided into the simple and the complex. Using mathematical techniques including Galois theory, which is the study of symmetry in the solutions to polynomial equations; potential theory; and the analytic theory of Berkovich spaces, a fully modern construction that has recently given mathematicians the ability to apply classical analytic techniques toward modern number theory applications.

Funds for Petsche’s SciRIS-ii project, entitled “Exceptional maps in arithmetic dynamical systems,” are provided by a generous gift made to the Robert W. Lundeen Science Faculty Development Award Fund.

 Axel Saenz Rodriguez, a man with dark hair.

Axel Saenz Rodriguez, assistant professor of mathematics

According to quantum mechanics, we can only know the probability for the location of an electron at any given moment. Yet, if the electrons are confined to a one-dimensional space, the system exhibits certain symmetries that may allow one to obtain exact formulas for the statistics of the electrons. Axel Saenz Rodriguez aims to develop the mathematical theory to determine these statistics and to host a conference focused on this research topic. The two-day conference at OSU in Fall 2022 will build a regional network of collaborations; develop research projects suitable for grant proposals; and build research activity and a community on campus for graduate students and faculty. Funds for Saenz Rodriguez’s SciRIS-ii project, entitled “Probability law for 1D quantum electrons,” are provided by a generous gift made to the Robert W. Lundeen Science Faculty Development Award Fund.

Bolstering medicine through interdisciplinary research

As part of the SciRIS program, the College of Science offers other donor-funded awards to bolster research and innovation. The Disease Mechanism and Prevention Fund (DMPF) supports research into the mechanism, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease by the College of Science faculty. These funds are provided by a generous gift from David and Donna Gould. The awardees are Swati Patel, assistant professor of mathematics and Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics.

Swati Patel, a woman with dark hair.

Swati Patel, assistant professor of mathematics

Swati Patel’s DMPF proposal is titled “Mathematical modeling of Anthelmintic resistance in soil-transmitted Helminths.” Patel’s research addresses soil-transmitted helminths (STH), parasitic worms that infect an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide, particularly in developing tropical countries that lack adequate sanitation systems. Periodic de-worming is necessary to treat and prevent infection, but STH are developing resistance against the drugs used. Patel develops projects to investigate the mechanisms that lead to resistance and strategies to prevent it through systematic mathematical modeling.

Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics.

Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics

Gombart’s DMPF project, “The role of the cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide in the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” continues work from a previous DMPF award, studying the potential use of an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin to curtail the development of Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D and other nutrients regulate expression of the peptide. Gombart’s project could lead to further development of effective preventative therapies or treatments of Alzheimer’s disease. Gombart is a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute and is known for his extensive research on the uses and functions of vitamin D, including using it to combat infection via wound dressings and sutures.

A laurel leaf icon with a scroll, surrounded by a border of snowflakes.

2021-22 College of Science awards: Celebrating excellence in teaching and advising

By Grace Peterman

On February 22, the College of Science gathered to recognize academic, administrative and teaching excellence at the 2021-22 Combined Awards Ceremony. The first portion of the ceremony celebrated research and administrative achievements, while the second highlighted outstanding teaching, advising and mentoring.

The College celebrates the Teaching and Advising Awards winners below for their deep commitment to engaging with the student experience and application of mentoring and advising expertise to ensure student learning and success within and beyond the classroom. Effective teaching, advising and mentorship are the very heart of the College of Science’s identity as a robust and thriving community of students and scholars. Driven almost exclusively by students’ nominations, these awards are an opportunity for our community to express gratitude and appreciation for each other.

2022 Teaching, Advising and Mentoring Award Winners

Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Academic Advising

Rachel Palmer, a woman with long hair, smiling.

Integrative Biology Advisor Rachel Palmer

Rachel Palmer, integrative biology advisor, won the Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising for her tireless support, efforts and advocacy on behalf of undergraduate students. This award was established in 1988 in honor of Olaf Boedtker, a professor in the Department of Physics who served as Head Advisor in the College from 1973 to 1987. While at Oregon State, he provided exceptional service to students and to the College.

Several students nominated Palmer for this award, praising her dedication and ability to connect and encourage students to achieve their goals.

One student nominator wrote of Palmer: “Right off the bat, Rachel came across as a very happy-go lucky person. She has always been extremely kind and caring at every meeting, treating me as an equal adult and even cracking some jokes that set me at ease. She has always been able to answer every question I had, no matter how specific or vague. I can absolutely tell she wants to help me and set me on the best path possible. Rachel pays mind to each and every student as an individual. She is passionate, inspirational, dedicated and she really knows her stuff!”

Another student had similar feedback for Palmer: “Rachel has made the beginning of my journey towards my Bachelors of Science in Zoology a wonderful experience even through uncertainty. She really goes above and beyond the call of duty, you would not think an advisor could be such a hero.”

“I admire how easily Rachel has helped me find a class schedule that works so well," wrote another student nominator. "She asks important questions, listens to your expectations and executes. One thing she does well is helps me find classes that work well together as far as content.”

Additional nominees for the Olaf Boedtker Award included:

  • Cody Duncan, advisor for integrative biology
  • Allison Evans, instructor of microbiology
  • Jen Olarra, advisor for biology
  • Kari Van Zee, senior instructor of biochemistry and biophysics

Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching (Undergraduate)

Kyriakos Stylianou, a man with a beard.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kyriakos Stylianou

This year’s Loyd Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Undergraduate Teaching in Science goes to Kyriakos Stylianou, assistant professor of chemistry.

Every year since 1946, the Loyd F. Carter Award has been presented to two outstanding College of Science faculty members: one for undergraduate teaching and one for graduate teaching. The purpose of the award is to encourage and recognize effective and inspirational teaching. The final selection is based solely on student nominations and voting.

Stylianou’s students describe him as passionate, inspirational and dedicated. “This man is so incredibly intelligent but also one of the humblest people you will ever meet,” one student said.

“He has to be one of the best professors I have had here at OSU,” said another student nominator. “Walking into CH 233, I was super nervous. I heard it was the hardest of the chemistry series. With everyone feeling the burnout of virtual learning, he made sure to make his class engaging and put everything he had into every class.”

Many students praised the learning atmosphere Stylianou creates in his classes and his attentiveness to student needs. “He cares very much about his students and wants to see them succeed. He devotes a significant amount of time inside and outside of class to give them the opportunities and resources they need to be successful in his class, and beyond. He never tries to beat around the bush, always gives you an honest answer, and just wants to see the best in people. The jokes and wise-cracks in class always help to lighten the mood as well.”

Additional nominees for the Loyd F. Carter undergraduate award included:

  • Daniel Myles, senior instructor of chemistry
  • Devon Quick, senior instructor of integrative biology
  • Marita Barth, instructor of chemistry
  • Malcolm Lowry, assistant professor of microbiology
  • Nathan L. Kirk, senior instructor of integrative biology
  • Paul Cheong, associate professor of chemistry
  • Phil McFadden, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics
  • Scott Geddes, instructor of chemistry
  • Stacey Vaughn, instructor of mathematics

Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching (Graduate)

James Molyneux, a man with a beard.

Assistant Professor of Statistics James Molyneux

This year’s Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Graduate Teaching in Science goes to James Molyneux, assistant professor of statistics.

Students nominating Molyneux described him as caring, uplifting and welcoming, and praised his ability to adapt during the pandemic. "He consistently encouraged me and my cohort during the transition from COVID to campus, to keep up our spirits in one of the most difficult academic years of our lives," said one student. "Without him, I would not have gathered the courage to continue moving forward. He is brilliant in the classroom as a professor and a loyal mentor and advocate for our success."

Another student said the following of Molyneux: "He excels at making statistics, a subject which is generally taught dryly and without much passion, relevant to grad students' research and our daily life. He uses timely examples and highlights the nuance of stats, in a way that makes it fascinating instead of frustrating. He was always available for extra help or assistance outside of class, and always seemed willing to discuss other topics than just the class material! He is supportive and compassionate with graduate students, and was the best stats teacher I've had so far at OSU! He also made sure the class content was accessible to students in multiple ways by recording both Zoom and in-person classes, and making the lecture notes easily available. His high-energy and engaging teaching style was apparent in both the in-person and online class I took with him, which I have found to be a rare occurrence in a remote setting!"

Thomas Sharpton, associate professor of microbiology, was also nominated for the Loyd F. Carter graduate award.

Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science

Liz Gire, a woman smiling.

Associate Professor of Physics Elizabeth Gire.

This year’s Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science goes to Liz Gire, associate professor of physics.

This award honors Fred Horne, who served as Dean of Science at Oregon State from from 1986 to 1999. Fred passed away in 2021, a renowned researcher, scholar, teacher and leader.

Fred exemplified the values of our college, embracing a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in science. He was instrumental in establishing two programs that encourage students of color to pursue and continue their education in science, math and engineering: Science and Math Investigative Learning Experience (SMILE) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

The purpose of this award is to recognize sustained excellence in teaching science by honoring a faculty member in the College of Science who has repeatedly demonstrated exceptional instructional qualities and has had a significant impact on students over a period of not less than five years.

Liz Gire has earned this award through her tireless dedication to support the holistic student experience. A plethora of students and colleagues wrote at length in support of Gire's nomination. One student nominator said, "Her level of dedication to the genuine support and inclusion of the students in her courses is something I’ve never seen in an educator before. She backs that up with her skill and experience in education and communication that makes difficult content still accessible and enjoyable to learn. She takes every opportunity to build others up, whether that be her students, her teaching team, her research partners or the many people in our department who aren’t any of those things, but still know they can come to her because she is the type of person who will help however and whenever she can."

Another student nominator said, "Liz is a wonderful professor because she is a master at reading the atmosphere of a classroom. Sure, part of this is an intuition that comes from experience, but more importantly, she takes time to ask questions. Each student is expected to grab a small white board and marker at the beginning class. Later when Liz looks out and says, 'write down something that you know about angular momentum' she can measure students’ level of confusion and use student responses to guide the classroom discussion. This makes everyone much more willing to participate in class because they know that she honestly cares for their well-being and success."

Congratulations to all the winners and all the nominees!

Underwater coral reef landscape background in the blue sea with fish and marine life.

Innovation grants to build model reef at OSU, catalyze biological and materials research

By Grace Peterman

New funding bolsters research on coral reefs, heat waste and more.

The inner workings of a cell, more powerful mass spectrometry and building a tropical reef at Oregon State: The 2021 College of Science Research and Innovation Seed (SciRIS) awards are empowering initiatives that will open fresh pathways in science.

The SciRIS program funds projects based on collaborative research within the College of Science community and beyond. There are two tracks through the program: SciRIS (Stages 1-3) and the SciRIS individual investigator award (SciRIS-ii). SciRIS Stages 1-3 funds teams in three stages to support training, research and capacity-building, accelerating work toward external funding opportunities. SciRIS-ii funds individual faculty to establish research relationships with external partners, enabling them to demonstrate the feasibility of their ideas and quickening the pace of scientific discovery.

The newly-established College of Science Innovation Award provides critical resources for projects that take a new direction, utilize a new technology or are in the “proof-of-concept” phase.

Three groups of scientists received SciRIS Stage 1 awards, two at $10K each and one at $20K. One group received the Innovation Award at $10K.

Professor of Microbiology Rebecca Vega Thurber and her colleagues will use their award to develop a model tropical reef facility within Oregon State’s world-renowned John Fryer Aquatic Animal Health Lab.

The model will allow College of Science researchers across biology, chemistry and ecology to perform highly controlled, repeatable experiments on reef ecosystems, which are under increasing threats from climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and disease. By bringing the reef to researchers, carbon emissions associated with travel are also reduced.

The facility will also serve as an outreach platform, bringing awareness of far-off ecosystems to the local community. By interacting with the lab, citizens will learn about how humans affect these fragile habitats and how they personally can potentially mitigate and reverse reef decline.

Chemistry Professor Wei Kong and Statistics Professor Lan Xue will use their SciRIS grant to develop more effective mass spectrometry through inclusion of electron diffraction. With this addition, future mass spectrometers will be able to reveal not only the mass composition of an unknown species, but also the three-dimensional arrangement of the constituent atoms. This capability can change the paradigm of nanomaterial synthesis, allowing intelligent design and quality control of custom-made materials applicable in medical diagnostics and therapeutics, in energy harvesting and storage, and in catalysis.

Biochemistry and Biophysics Professor Elisar Barbar and collaborators received a SciRIS award to integrate structural biology with cell and organismal biology. Capitalizing on Oregon State’s high concentration of expertise and resources for studying dynamic protein complexes across scales, the team aims to establish new technologies to investigate cancer related complexes and host-parasite interactions. Their eventual goal is to submit a proposal to the NSF Biology Integration Institute, which supports interdisciplinary projects that translate discoveries from the molecular scale to the cellular level of organisms and vice versa.

Associate Professor of Physics Matt Graham and colleagues received the College of Science Innovation Award support their work converting waste heat to electricity, contributing to a more sustainable world through the recovery of energy losses and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The team will develop a prototype of an ultralow bandgap semiconductor device that converts residual waste heat to electricity. The award will support their work optimizing the efficiency of the device’s waste heat to energy conversion and validating the current extraction model related to the device prototype.

OSU Graduation cap

The Class of 2021 succeeds against all odds

By Srila Nayak

Congratulations to the Oregon State College of Science Class of 2021! This class faced enormous challenges due to the pandemic. On the spur of the moment, the class of 2021 transitioned to remote learning, virtual interaction with professors, mentors, peers, friends and experiential learning in online formats. They have also faced increased financial burdens and other stressors. Our students have persevered, showing admirable determination, resilience and fortitude that will serve them well in their lives and careers.

Succeeding against odds while making history, College of Science graduates have found ways during this pandemic to participate and make an impact on state-wide public health endeavors through the TRACE-CVOID-19 project. They have gained enduring skills and done outstanding work in adapted science labs and with science communication in the virtual domain. Our seniors have been instrumental in helping Oregon State succeed at remote teaching in their roles as peer learning assistants and tutors.

Science graduates have led the way by dint of their academic achievements, selfless service and committed leadership. Supported by awards, scholarships and dedicated advisors, our seniors have collaborated with faculty mentors to create new knowledge and achieve major scientific breakthroughs.

Check out our Commencement page to celebrate our graduates. Read their compelling stories below containing reflections on undergraduate experiences at Oregon State and their dreams for the future.

This year’s graduates include Fulbright and Ford Foundation Fellows, Gilman International Scholars, NOAA Scholars, published scientific authors, future doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, teachers and informed, engaged world citizens. We are exceptionally proud of our students and all they have achieved during their career as undergraduates in the College of Science at Oregon State.

By the numbers

The College graduated 670 undergraduate students with baccalaureate degrees in 2020-21, including 68 Honors graduates. More than 80% (538) of our graduates were in the life sciences, with Biology having the most graduates at 199. BioHealth Sciences came in second with 152 graduates; biochemistry and molecular biology had 71 graduates; Zoology 63; Mathematics 56; Microbiology 43; Chemistry 42; Physics 34, and; Biochemistry and Biophysics graduated 10 students.

Of the total baccalaureate graduates, 11% are underrepresented minorities and 26% are first-generation students. In addition, 10 of the 2021 baccalaureate graduates are military veterans.

The College will also award 52 doctoral degrees, 66 master’s degrees and seven certificates in online Data Analytics.

Of the 52 doctoral degrees, Chemistry had 16 Ph.D. students, followed by Integrative Biology at 11; Mathematics 9; Physics 6; Microbiology 5; Statistics 4, and; Biochemistry and Biophysics graduated one doctoral student.

The Department of Statistics awarded 15 master's degrees in statistics and 19 M.S. degrees in data analytics. Chemistry and Mathematics awarded 10 master's degrees each. Physics had 6 master's degree recipients; Microbiology three; Biochemistry and Biophysics two, and; Integrative Biology awarded one master's degree this year.

Celebrating the Class of 2021

We invite you to read the profiles of our seniors. These outstanding graduates represent an inclusive and diverse learning community in the College of Science. Here they share their inspiring and unique journeys as science majors.

Marilyn Rampersad Mackiewicz

Marilyn Rampersad Mackiewicz

Students use a variety of tools to conduct their summer research.

Summer fellowships awarded to exceptional science students

By Mary Hare

SURE Scholars use a variety of technology to fulfil their research goals, including light microscopes.

The College of Science is proud to announce that 41 science students – a record number – have received summer undergraduate research awards that will provide the opportunity and funding to pursue their research ambitions.

Undergraduate research often plays an instrumental role in developing student-faculty relationships that help students learn and grow beyond the scope of the classroom. For many OSU students, these awards provide the financial leverage to work in the field they are passionate about without being constrained to jobs that simply pay the bills.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) award is available to all science students who meet the academic requirements. Participants are paid for 11 weeks of full-time research, or 440 hours, for a maximum of $5060. Awardees also receive an additional $500 for research expenses, including travel costs, materials or equipment rental.

This is also the second year that the Department of Integrative Biology offered the Alexei Lubchenco Menge Fellowship, which was awarded to Lily Miksell to support her research examining the interactions of dominant foundation species in Oregon rocky intertidal communities under the guidance of integrative biology professor Sally Hacker. The fellowship was established in memory of Alexei Lubchenco Menge, who died at age 27 in 2005. The award seeks to help one student each year within the department who exemplifies the deep love of the ocean that Lubchenco Menge personified.

SURE science awards are made possible by generous donations of College of Science alumni, faculty and supporters.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to come changes in the SURE science program in 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting access to laboratory space at Oregon State University, the deadline for completing SURE scholar research projects was extended to May 2021. Some students have projects that can be done entirely remotely and will complete and present their findings by the end of the summer. Some of the students below are able to work on their projects in OSU labs this summer, following OSU and Oregon Health Authority safety guidelines. For the majority of this year's awardees, the extended timeframe will allow them an opportunity to continue their research safely throughout the school year while gaining research experience.

SURE Science Scholars

Juan Altamira | Chemistry | Vince Remcho

Analysis of Explosive Compounds via Paper Microfluidic Device

Roy Anderson | Biology | Bruce Menge

Examining the Effects of Upwelling Intensity and Recruitment Limitation on Successional Trajectories in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

Thao Mi Anthony | BioHealth Sciences | Kyriakos Stylianou

Implication of Metal Organic Framework with Nanoparticle Composites to Deliver Medication

John Barnes | Biology | Felipe Barreto

Quantity and Quality of DNA extracted from dry vs. alcohol preserved samples of China rockfish

Elizaveta ‘Leeza’ Bliznyuk | BioHealth Sciences | Dylan Nelson

Targeting Mycobacterium abscessus pre-existing biofilms

Madeline Bloom | Chemistry | Claudia Maier

Microchip-MS Optimization of Oxylipins Analysis as a Biomarker for Cardiovascular Disease

Elizabeth Brennan | Microbiology | Stephen Giovannoni

Plankton Need Their Vitamins: Vitamin B1 Excretion by Marine Synechecoccus

Russell Campbell | Zoology | Robert Mason

Integrative Biology Collections Management

Dustin Campbell | Zoology | Robert Mason

Sexual Dimorphic growth of Harderian glands in Thamnophis sirtalis

Emily Gemmill | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Weihong Qiu

Keeping up with the kinesins: analyzing regulatory proteins and their effects on the motility of KlpA, a kinesin-14 motor protein

Jessica Giulietti | Biology | Patrick Chappell

Exploring regulation of osteosarcoma in vitro: Mechanisms of RANKL production by autocrine neuropeptides

Dylan Gregory | Biology | Virginia Weis

Using the Split Luciferase Complementation Assay to Identify Protein-Protein Interactions In Cnidarian-Algal Symbiosis

Joshua Griffis | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Richard Cooley

Optimized Phosphoserine tRNA Selection

Shelby Hansen | Biology | Brittany Poirson

How is a young mussel's life affected by coastal water conditions?

Joshua Havelind | Biology | Francis Chan

Effect of rising temperature in the ocean on Dungeness Crabs

Toren Ikea-Mario | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Tory Hagen

Glutathiones effect on Mitochondrial Decay

Rohal Kakepoto | Physics | Janet Tate

Hall Measurements of TiO2 Polymorphs

Rony Koluda | Chemistry | Claudia Maier

Low Dose Radiation Effect on Myelination -Associated Proteins in Mice

Chapman Kuykendall | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Colin Johnson

Characterizing the Biophysical Interactions between Dysferlin C2A and the H3 Helix of Syntaxin-4

Dustin Campbell | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Massimo Bionaz

In vivo-in vitro dose-effect response of bovine liver to rumen-protected fatty acids: implementation of a nutrigenomic approach in dairy cows

Jessica Li | Chemistry | Jan Stevens

The effects of xanthohumol on gut microbial metabolism

Maya Livni | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Maude David

Unraveling the impact of the gut microbiota metabolites on intestinal sensory neuronal cells and how EECs transduce signals to the brain by forming a synapse with the vagus nerve

Ruben Lopez | BioHealth Sciences | Bo Sun

Quantifying ECM Remodeling by Invasive Tumors

Christopher Markgraf | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Susanne Brander

Immortalization and Validation of Inland Silverside Cardiomyocytes, Hepatocytes, and Osteoblasts

Saki Nakai | Mathematics | Vrushali Bokil

Mathematical Modeling of Bipolar Disorder

Hunter Nelson | Physics | Tuan Pham

Blowup of Reaction Diffusion Equations

Jacob North | Biochemistry |Victor Hsu

Elucidating binding features of drug targets to Farnesoid X receptor by unsupervised machine learning of molecular dynamics trajectories

Sarah Olson | Microbiology | Frederick Colwell

Investigating Changes in the Microbiome of North Creek

Reina Paez | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Lia Danelishvili

Identifying and Purifying Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacterial Surface Antigens for the Purpose of Inducing Trained Immune Responses in Macrophages

Aneila Parra | Biology | Jiraporn Lueangsakulthai and David Dallas

Premature vs. Term Infant Milk Protein Digestome

Jacob Rauenhorst | Chemistry | Kathy Magnusson

Effects of ibuprofen on NMDA receptor expression and contribution

Alan Schultz | Physics |Hoewoon Kim

The Linearized Navier-Stokes Equations Solved on the Sphere by Fourier Transform Method

Rhea Sellitto | Biology | James Rivers

Evaluating the nutritional landscape for wild bees in managed conifer forests

Anna Sung |BioHealth Sciences| Maria Franco

Role of Redox Signaling in Development and Growth of Tumors of the Nervous System

Savannah Taggard | Biology | Molly Burke

The evolution of RoundUp resistance in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Jessica Waymire | Physics | Matt Graham

Hyperspectral Fluorescence Imaging of Twisted Bilayer Graphene

Kaytlin Wearne | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Kenton Hokanson

The Effects of hsp90 on p2x7 on Human ALS Neurons

Devin Wright | Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Michael Freitag

Zymoseptoria Tritici Mutation Accumulation Experiment

Elizaveta "Lisa" Zhivaya | Biochemistry & Biophysics | Maude David

Impact of the gut microbiota metabolites on the autism phenotype modulation

Kim Halsey with graduate student taking samples from a river

New grants to advance science that benefits humankind

By Cari Longman

Photo by Hannah O'Leary

Microbiologist Kim Halsey (left) and postdoc Cleo Davie-Martin collect samples from a river. Halsey is one of four faculty members who received College of Science Research and Innovation Seed (SciRIS-II) awards. She will study the potential to detect toxic algae blooms in freshwater and marine ecosystems.

How can we better understand how devastating plant diseases are spread? Is there a better statistical model to predict HIV prevalence in a city? Is there a way we can detect toxic algae blooms in freshwater and marine ecosystems before they occur? And of the hundreds of thousands of different metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) in the world, how can we can better find the ones that are most useful for storing and separating gases, like CO2 from industrial plants?

Curiosity is critical for discovery. Asking the questions above led five faculty members to receive College of Science Research and Innovation Seed (SciRIS-II) and Betty Wang Discovery Fund awards this February to pursue answers over the course of the next year. Their proposals all showed transformative potential and progress toward new frontiers of science and aimed to strengthen collaboration with external research partners. Below is more detail about each of their proposals.

Mathematics Professor Vrushali Bokil was awarded $8,000 to use modeling techniques to understand the spread and control of plant diseases caused by coinfecting viruses. She will focus on Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), an emerging disease in Kenya and other parts of Africa that is caused by coinfecting viruses and spread by insects called Thrips, as a test case. Her team’s goals are to use stochastic models and optimal control theory to understand the mechanisms that drive patterns of coinfection in plant populations and effective techniques for controlling the spread of disease in crops and natural grasslands.

In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Statistics Assistant Professor Katherine McLaughlin received $10,000 to explore the use of new statistical methodologies to estimate the number of people who inject drugs in metropolitan areas. The research project, supported by the privately-funded Disease Mechanism & Prevention Fund at the OSU Foundation, has a goal of refining current methods to produce improved population-level demographic, behavioral, disease prevalence and population size estimations. This will aid the CDC in their efforts to contain or slow the rate of HIV in metropolitan areas across the U.S.

Microbiologist Kimberly Halsey was awarded $10,000 to examine the potential for real-time, automated volatile organic compound (VOC) detection as early-warning signals of toxic harmful algal blooms (HABs) in freshwater and marine ecosystems. HABs are increasing in intensity and severity due to climate change and nutrient loading from agriculture and other human-related activities. Some HABs can become toxic to humans and animals. Halsey will use data integration to merge aquatic microbiome data with environmental properties and VOC signatures to identify determinants and trajectory of the annual toxic HAB at Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon.

Physicist David Roundy was also awarded $10,000 to develop new flat histogram Monte Carlo molecular simulation methods to accelerate the discovery of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for applications in storing and separating gases. MOFs are crystalline materials that harbor nano-sized pores that have the potential to be used in a variety of clean energy applications, from hydrogen and natural gas storage to capturing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plant flues. His study aims to enable scientists to accurately predict the absorption properties of hundreds of thousands of MOFs and accelerate the rate of MOF discovery for clean energy applications.

In addition, chemistry professors Kyriakos Stylianou and May Nyman, along with Todd Miller from the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Institute (ATAMI), received $30,000 from the Betty Wang Discovery Fund to purchase a microwave reactor to integrate on the continuous flow reactor to accelerate the discovery and production of inorganic materials like MOFs. The Betty Wang Discovery Fund supports equipment acquisitions and laboratory infrastructure improvements to advance fundamental discoveries in science. Microwave heating has recently emerged as a powerful method for the preparation of inorganic materials at the laboratory scale, reducing synthesis time down to a few minutes without affecting the product quality or reaction yield. The new machinery will allow the team to investigate the potential of new MOFs to capture carbon in laboratory and industrial applications.

The projects will run for one year, ending next February 2021.The SciRIS program provides funding in three stages for high impact collaborative proposals that build teams, pursue fundamental discoveries and create societal impact. The awards range from $10,000 to $125,000 for various stages of the program and are supported in part by generous alumni and friends, and grants from the U.S. Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health.

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