Words from the Dean
July / August 2018
I hope that you all are enjoying your summer in our lovely community and taking time to rejuvenate, relax and refresh. I want to take a moment to share some good news.
We have had a strong surge in research funding in the last couple of months with $6.66 million in grants from NSF, NIH, other federal agencies, universities and others. This is thanks to the strong proposals you submitted to take advantage of the federal government’s late FY18 spending push. Please read about the impressive array of research projects and funding that our faculty have received in this newsletter.
In more welcome news, I am pleased to announce that we finished FY18 in the black. While the final numbers are not yet in, we have made progress repairing our structural deficit by making strategic investments to grow revenue and using resources prudently. A big thanks goes to the university for its investment in our College as we demonstrated good stewardship. Thank you for doing your part to grow revenue through extended campus with attractive course offerings, supporting student success and making fiscally careful decisions.
While our fiscal house will need continued attention, we are now in a position to make a few additional investments in our future. First, we are making a number of new hires:
- The Department Head in Biochemistry and Biophysics – we will conduct an external search for this important leadership position. Andy Karplus is stepping back from full-time service at the end of 2019 after an extensive and spectacular career of research, scholarship, mentoring, leadership and service at Oregon State.
- Two Assistant Professors of Chemistry.
- One Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology.
- One Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications in the College of Science.
Second, we will be investing in research excellence this year by initiating a research seed funding program and setting aside funds for faculty startup and other research infrastructure. Look for details in the early fall newsletter.
At the State of the College address last spring and in a previous newsletter, I talked about the progress of our investments. That progress continues as we kick off a search for a Recruitment Coordinator. In the past couple of weeks Melissa Lee joined us as our new Transfer Advisor and Tamara Mitchell as an instructional designer (which is initially a grant-funded position) on the Integrated Professional Development (IPD) team. Tamara will help us expand IPD to all majors across the College.
In addition, I made a number of other investments, all supported by revenue generated from increasing the number of graduate students, undergraduate majors and Ecampus course offerings. We also received a commitment of $2.65M in FY19 from the university, most of which is bridge funding that will continue in FY20 but will eventually be funded by additional revenue from our investments. I will outline these investments in my next newsletter.
The College is conducting an internal search for a new Department Head in Statistics with the expectation of filling that role by the middle of fall term. Department Head Ginny Lesser is stepping down to return to research and teaching full-time. She will continue to lead the department until the search for a new Head is completed. Please join me in thanking Ginny for her service and contributions to the College of Science and College of Agricultural Sciences these past seven years. She remains a valued member of our faculty as well as the Director of the OSU Survey Research Center.
In long-awaited news, we are finally beginning Cordley Hall renovations—a four-year, $130 million project that will have tremendous immediate- and long-term benefits for our students and faculty as well as for others across OSU. As you know, our science facilities have been neglected for years, so this is thrilling news. Other projects that are in the early planning stages are a much-needed replacement for Gilbert Hall and new home for the Department of Chemistry – scheduled roughly for 2025 – followed by an equally needed replacement of Weniger Hall. A university cannot have outstanding science without cutting-edge facilities and labs. I will be pushing all of these projects forward with funding from the university, state and our donors.
In our next newsletter, I will outline my priorities for the academic year, including the research investments I mention above.
Dean, College of Science
All the news that's fit to print.
Please submit news, honors and awards, discoveries, events, research funding, student news, alumni updates and more. Just use this handy ONLINE FORM by the 10th of each month.
Read more of the most recent research happening on our iMPACT blog site.
Biochemistry and biophysics professor Adrian Gombart and collaborators have discovered that nanofiber-based wound dressings loaded with vitamin D spur the production of an antimicrobial peptide, a key step forward in the battle against surgical site infections.
Physicist Oksana Ostroverkhova and collaborators discovered a highly durable organic pigment which has been used by humans in artwork for hundreds of years, that has a promising possibility as a semiconductor material.
Ostroverkhova also revealed that a specific wavelength range of blue fluorescent light sets bees abuzz. The research is important because bees have a nearly $15 billion impact on the U.S. economy – almost 100 commercial crops would vanish without bees to transfer the pollen grains needed for reproduction.
Astrophysicist Davide Lazzati and his team of theorists have confirmed that last fall's union of two neutron stars did, in fact, cause a short gamma-ray burst.
Physicist Weihong Qiu and collaborators have discovered that kinesins – tiny, protein-based motors that interact with microtubules inside cells – convert chemical energy into mechanical energy to generate the directional movements and forces necessary to sustain life.
Biologist Felipe Barreto and team shed new light on how isolated populations of the same species evolve toward reproductive incompatibility and thus become separate species by sequencing the entire genome of a Pacific tidepool crustacean.
Biochemist and biophysicist David Hendrix and collaborators in the Colleges of Science and Engineering developed a computer "neural network" that employs deep learning to crack the code of messenger RNAs and protein-coding potential.
Biologist and alumna Allison Barner, who did her research as a Ph.D. candidate at Oregon State, has shown that bigger is better if you are an alga trying to survive in an acidifying ocean. Her work is vital for predicting more accurately how calcifying organisms will adapt to climate change.
Chemist Dipankar Koley received a five-year NIH/NIDCR R01 grant for $2.17M to fund his project “Manipulation of Bacterial Metabolism: A New Approach to Develop Smart Dental Composites.”
Biochemist Michael Freitag received a 4-year, $840K NSF grant for his project "Control and Function of Chromatin-mediated Gene Silencing in Fungi."
Physicist Heidi Schellman is lead PI on a three-year, $665K NSF grant for her project "Experimental Neutrino Physics."
Chemist David (Xiulei) Ji received a $475K award from the University of California, San Diego
For his project "Aqueous Iron-Sulfur Batteries."
Physicist Oksana Ostroverkhova received a 3-year, $450K NSF grant for her project "Designing light-matter hybrid states for high-performance organic (opto)electronics."
Chemist Sandra Loesgen has received a three-year, $428K NSF grant for her project "New Tools to Access the Fungal Metabolome and its Ecological Function."
Chemist Chong Fang received a three-year, $400K award from NSF for his project on "Dissecting Photoconversion in Fluorescent Proteins Frame by Frame."
Biologist David Lytle received a $359K award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for his project, "Flow-population models for tracking non-stationary changes in riparian and aquatic ecosystems."
Mathematician David Koslicki is the lead PI on a three-year, $300K NSF grant for his project, "Fast, Efficient Mathematical Approach to the Analysis of the Human Microbiome through Biodiversity Optimization."
Chemist Wei Kong has received a 2-year, $250K grant for her project "Coulomb explosion in the perturbative regime – a neglected paradigm."
Chemist May Nyman received an award of $225K from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust for her project "Single-Crystal X-Ray Diffractometer."
Biochemist Elisar Barbar received a $200K NSF award for her project, "Phosphorylation of Dynein Intermediate Chain in Regulation."
Chemist Walter Loveland received $125K from the Department of Energy for his project, "The Energy Release in the Neutron Induced Fission of 233U, 235U, and 239 Pu."
Microbiologist Sascha Hallett was awarded $50K by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs for her project "Deschutes River Ceratanova Shasta Presence Evaluation II."
Chemist Doug Keszler received a $35K award from the OSU Foundation-Venture Development Fund for his project, "Transparent Conductor of Energy Conversion."
Biochemist Richard Cooley received a $25K award from the Collins Medical Trust for his project on "Regulation of 14-3-3 signaling networks during oxidative stress."
Mathematician Vrushali Bokil received the Thomas Jefferson Fund-Trans Atlantic Research award from the FACE Foundation. She will receive a total amount of $10K to travel to the University of Rennes twice in the next two years.
Congratulations to our exceptional faculty and scientists for receiving $6.66 million in research grants just in the last couple months! In FY18, the College of Science received $13.7M in grants with a three-year moving average of $17.8M. With this significant momentum, the College's research and educational impact continues to soar with highly positive long-term implications.
Three-year moving averages for research funding, College of Science. Note: the drop in 2018 reflects the sunsetting of the Center for Sustable Materials.
Famed nuclear chemist Walter Loveland was recently named a Fellow by the American Chemical Society (ACS). This lifelong designation recognizes outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, excellence in scientific leadership and exceptional volunteer service to the ACS community.
Congratulations to the following science faculty who took OSU's top awards, which they will receive at the 2018 University Day on September 11.
David Ji, Chemistry, Promising Scholar Award
Michael Kent, Biochemistry & Biophysics, OSU Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award
Hearty congratulations to mathematics instructors Sara Clark, Scott Peterson, Lyn Riverstone, Daniel Rockwell, Katy Williams, David Wing and Liz Jones, who received the 2018 Faculty Senate Student Learning and Teamwork Award for creating and sustaining an exemplary learning environment in mathematics courses. Go, Team Math!
Zoologist Jaga Giebultowicz was named the 2018 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Mentor. The award recognizes outstanding mentorship of honors students throughout the thesis process. Students nominate mentors for this award, and the Honors College Curriculum Committee selects the finalist.
We are delighted to announce that two science graduates won 2018 Fulbright awards. Microbiology alumni Dang Duong ('18) and Grace D'Angelo ('17) are among seven OSU Fulbright scholars for 2018-19. Dang will be an English teaching assistant in Kazakhstan. Grace will study for a master's degree in marine microbiology at the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany.
Microbiology student Julianna Donohoe was awarded a summer 2018 Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship to study in Spain. The award enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, gaining skills critical to national security and economic prosperity.
BioHealth Sciences junior Sidney Phu was accepted to Mayo Clinic's prestigious Summer Undergraduate Program in Biomedical Ethics Research in Rochester, Minnesota, for a 10-week internship.
Biochemistry & Biophysics doctoral student Amber Vogel was selected as the 2018 Chris and Catherine Mathews Fellow in biochemistry to study drug discovery. She was the fourth woman scientist to receive this honor.
Three mathematics graduate students, Sebastian Naranjo Alvarez, Will Mayfield and Andrew Jensen, speak out about how they are learning to handle big data in marine science, thanks to an NSF Traineeship project on "Risk and Uncertainty Quantification in Marine Science."
Congratulations to our outstanding 2018 science graduates! Every year we publish a selection of senior profiles. If you missed them, check them out below. They highlight the passion and ingenuity of our students, the many outstanding teachers and mentors who supported them and the opportunities they find here, both in the classroom and "out there." Be proud, Team Science!
- Abe Teklu – Physics
- Brett Gill – BioHealth Sciences
- Coby Cates – BioHealth Sciences
- Dang Duong – Microbiology
- Jesse Rodriguez – Mathematics, Physics and Nuclear Engineering
- Mai Le – Biochemistry and biophysics
- Morgan Pearson – Mathematics
- Nate Coddington – Chemistry
- Tonya Allison – Zoology
- Yuriyah Reed-Harris - Biology
Congratulations to Taylor Mehr, a biology major at OSU-Cascades who received their Distinguished Student Award, one of the top honors awarded to students by OSU-Cascades faculty. The annual award recognizes one graduating student from each degree area for outstanding academic achievement and contributions to their field.
The 2018 ASBC Exemplary Service Award is currently seeking nominations. The award recognizes non-managerial members of the Arts and Sciences Business Center staff for exemplary service to the College of Science and others across campus. The call for nominations is open until Friday, August 31. To nominate someone, just send a brief email with "ASBC Exemplary Service Award Nomination" in the subject line to Bettye Maddux (email@example.com). Include the nominee's name and examples describing their exemplary service that compels you to make the nomination.
FermiLab's social media outreach initiative, Faces of DUNE (Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment), featured a first-person profile of DUNE member and physicist Heidi Schellman.
Marine biologist and former NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) administrator Jane Lubchenco criticized proposed changes to NOAA's mission in the Washington Post.
Chemistry senior Marissa Gallegos is featured in an OSU Foundation fundraising video for her involvement in undergraduate research in biochemist Joe Beckman's ab where she worked on developing a treatment for Lou Gehrig's disease.
We hosted 150 OSU science students on campus at Saturday Academy, which provides summer STEM internships to bright, motivated high school students in Oregon. Participants all received science majors brochures so we hope to see them as part of a future class in the College of Science!
Biologist Benjamin Dalziel's research on climate and influenza rates was featured in the Cosmos magazine article "The Mathematics of Flu," by Richard A. Lovett.
Biology Ph.D. student Caitlin Magel's work on using eelgrass to fight ocean acidification was featured on the PBS News Hour science program "The Leading Edge."
Mathematics faculty Nathan Gibson and Vrushali Bokil were part of a panel supporting women in math entitled "How to be better ally" at this year's SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) conference.
YInMn Blue continues to make waves!
Chemist Mas Subramanian's YInMn Blue pigment is now winning over musicians. The YInMn Project, a new music festival, made its debut at the Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, in June.
Science Friday, the leading national radio talk show on science and technology, hosted a conversation on colors from pigments and dyes with Subramanian on June 15. A Hue of a Different Color.
Subramanian's 2017 TEDx talk in Salem was rated as one of the best among TEDx talks and was showcased on the main TED website. "I am honored to have our research featured on the iconic event website," said Subramanian.
Allez le bleu! Mas Subramanian and YInMn Blue were featured in Le Parisien, a popular newspaper from Paris, France.
Outreach and Impact
The close partnership between OSU and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is highlighted in a new website promoting our Science Communication Fellowship program. More than 70 students, faculty and staff have completed the training program to date.
The second annual Juntos Chemistry camp exposed 22 high-school students across Oregon to college life and many possible STEM career paths. The liquid nitrogen ice cream snack remains a popular activity!
Mathematics graduate students Sarah Hagen, Branwen Purdy and Emerald Stacy find time to share their love of mathematics with the broader public in addition to their busy schedules of research, teaching, coursework and professional development.
We warmly welcome Bill Bogley as the Head of the Department of Mathematics effective July 1, 2018. Enrique Thomann steps down after leading the Department of Mathematics for four years since 2014. We are grateful for his leadership and service. Read more.
Science faculty are a central part of an interdisciplinary team at OSU who received a five-year $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to improve instruction in undergraduate STEM classrooms. The ambitious project, Excellence@Oregon State, is a collaboration between the College of Science, OSU's Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, and Division of Undergraduate Education. Martin Storksdieck, director of the Center, is the principal investigator (PI).
Welcome to Melissa Lee, our new Transfer Student & Recruitment Advisor! This spring Melissa received her Master's degree in College Student Services Administration here at OSU, and during her time has worked with the office of Civic and Cultural Engagement, as well as with the office of Cross Campus Strategic Initiatives. We are thrilled to welcome her along with her passion and enthusiasm to work with our transfer students. Melissa will begin her new role on August 1. Stop by the Science Success Center, Kidder 115 (inside Kidder 109) to welcome her to OSU!
Alumnus Dr. Kent Thornburg (MS '70, Zoology) received the 2018 March of Dimes Agnes Higgins Award. The annual award recognizes distinguished achievement in research, education or clinical services in the field of maternal-fetal nutrition. His work has defined Oregon as a national leader in understanding why babies born prematurely or at extreme birthweights are at greater risk of developing chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life. He is among the first to articulate the connections between nutrition before birth and the risk of later chronic disease.
Leadership change in Statistics Department
The College of Science bids farewell to Ginny Lesser, head of the Department of Statistics, who is stepping down to return to research and teaching full-time. She will continue to lead the department until the search for a new Head is completed. The College will launch an internal search for a new Statistics Department Head immediately and anticipate filling that role by the middle of fall term. Mathematics Department Head Bill Bogley will chair the search committee. Applications are due Monday, September 3.
Under Ginny's leadership, the Statistics Department Head developed more effective teaching methods and expanded its research portfolio. The department also significantly reduced D/F/W rates in Principles of Statistics courses, and developed a 10-week training program for Graduate Teaching Assistants to improving teaching and learning. The department launched an online certificate and master's degree in data analytics, the only fully online degree in the College. Ginny hired six new faculty to expand the department to its largest size ever. Ecampus revenues significantly increased along with on campus enrollments. Ginny has increased alumni engagement through creation of an annual newsletter and built a new foundation account to support graduate students interested in environmental statistics. Ginny is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.
Please join us in thanking Ginny for her service and contributions to the College of Science and College of Agricultural Sciences these past seven years. She remains a valued member of our faculty as well as the Director of OSU Survey Research Center.
Registration opens for Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium
Encourage your students to participate in this outstanding opportunity to showcase their research at the 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. Undergraduates in all years of study, all academic disciplines and all stages of research or creative work are encouraged to apply. Registration deadline is August 21. The symposium will be held September 13.
Jim Ketter, who served as lab guru and instructor for many years in the Department of Physics, passed away on June 6, 2018. We join his family, friends and colleagues in mourning this tremendous loss.
Physics Department Head Heidi Schellman offered these words: "Jim joined our department in 2005 after a varied career as a geophysicist, high school teacher, graduate student and physics instructor at LBCC and Oregon State. He was a warm and sensitive instructor and the go-to gadget guy who kept our labs running and our department presentable. In addition to the considerable load of teaching and keeping our labs humming, he loved doing outreach—Discovery Days, supervising the SPS and generally bringing his enthusiasm for physics to everyone he met. We are devastated by the loss of Jim and send our sincere condolences to his family."
Clean and Sustainable Water Technology Initiative Workshop, an inaugural event organized by the College of Engineering, features the keynote address, "Urban Water Supply Re-invention for Dry Cities," by Richard G. Luthy. He holds the Silas H. Palmer Professor in Department Civil and Environmental Engineering and serves as Director of the Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure at Stanford University.
August 2-8, Workshop
August 9-11, Conference
The 2018 Genetic Code Expansion Conference brings together diverse scientific disciplines that focus on developing and using GCE technology. Attendees from industry, academia and other research institutions will discuss the latest techniques and approaches that are widely applicable but not limited to bioorganic chemistry within cellular and molecular processes, drug discovery efforts, material science and development of interdisciplinary research tools and probes. This conference is broadly focused on the development of the technology and selected areas of future impact.
The GCE Workshop is an intensive laboratory and lecture course that offers participants the theoretical and practical knowledge to utilize existing and emerging genetic code expansion technology. The lab component is focused on troubleshooting GCE tools with attendees and their genes in E. coli expression systems.
OSU's annual University Day recognizes faculty and staff excellence. Congratulations to David Ji in Chemistry and Michael Kent in Biochemistry & Biophysics who will be honored. Come our and support them!
September 13 (morning and afternoon, location TBD)
Come out and support the 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the OSU Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts. Students from all academic disciplines will be showcasing their research or creative activities. Encourage students to apply. The deadline for applications is August 21.
The 9th International Symbiosis Society Congress brought 400 symbiosis scientists from 20 nations to campus and featured a keynote talk by acclaimed science journalist Ed Yong.
The Ambitious Math and Science Summer Institute, co-sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education and OSU, came to campus for a second year. Middle and high school math and science teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators from across the state enjoyed an invigorating opportunity to work with and learn from regional and national STEM education leaders.
Da Vinci Days, Corvallis's wildly popular community festival, featured five STEAM lectures, one of which starred mathematics Ph.D. student Sarah Hagen on "Ancient Greek Astronomy." The mathematics department also hosted a booth crowd-sourcing an effort to approximate pi via discrete trials of the Buffon Needle problem.