Roy Haggerty

Words from the Dean

September 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Careful readers may notice that we've changed date of the monthly Dean's newsletter to reflect the upcoming month rather than the previous month, a practice that is more in line with other publications. Consequently, you are receiving the "September" newsletter at the beginning of the month rather than at the end.

This month, I want to update you on the FY21 College of Science budget. We received our initial education and general ("E&G") budget on August 14, with a total of about $43.2M. This represents a decrease of about $3.5M from the initial FY20 budget adjusted for actual Ecampus revenue, or about 7.2%. 

Much of this decrease has been expected for several months and is due to a combination of decreased revenue to OSU in various forms – a decrease in state support, and a planned ramp-down of strategic investments from the Provost. In fact, the reduction in these OSU revenues alone would have resulted in an overall reduction in budget of about 9.3%.  Fortunately, Science' Ecampus revenues surged this year, in large part because of significant growth in several departments and our Zoology degree now being offered via Ecampus. Together, your efforts (enabled in part by the Provost's investment referenced above) increased our Ecampus by $1.4M, or roughly 25% over last year. This growth is expected to continue this year and is of great help to our budget.

We will manage most of the remaining gap through a combination of OSU-wide pay cuts (which begin in September for most academic and professional faculty and administrators), reductions in expenditures across the College (fewer GTAs, fewer or canceled hires backfilled by increased teaching loads or by decreasing services, expenditure reductions in the Dean's office, etc.), and using our accumulated savings from the previous two years. It will also be important to continue to limit our expenditures wherever possible. By the way, all departments ended FY20 "in the black" for the year, which puts us in a stronger position to begin FY21.

In the next several weeks, we will assemble detailed departmental and unit budgets. All units should expect very constrained budgets for FY21 that will require careful fiscal management. However, I am confident that with the measures in place so far and as long as the fiscal picture does not worsen in the fall (watch enrollments), that FY21 will be OK. FY22 could be another story, depending on the progression of the pandemic, election results and fallout, the state of the economy in the next calendar year, enrollment trends and the state budget and funding.

As always, thank you for your hard work and sacrifices and for all that you do to advance knowledge, teach our students, and work for equity, justice and inclusivity.

Roy Haggerty
Dean, College of Science

All the news that's fit to print.

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Research Highlights

A new study led by biochemist Tory Hagen shows a loss in body weight and body fat in people taking lipoic acid supplements. Additional properties of the supplement include the stimulation of glucose metabolism, antioxidant defenses and anti-inflammatory responses – making it a possible complementary treatment for people with diabetes, heart disease and age-related cognitive decline.

Biochemist Adrian Gombart published new research suggesting that people may benefit from higher levels of vitamins and supplements than were previously federally recommended.

In findings published in Nature, scientists report that policy reforms and technological improvements could drive seafood production upward by as much as 75% over the next three decades to feed an estimated 9.8 billion humans. Jane Lubchenco, Wayne and Gladys Valley Chair in Marine Biology at OSU, and international collaborators from the United States, China, Chile, Mexico, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Norway, Argentina and Malaysia contributed to the study.

The TRACE-COVID-19's second round of door-to-door sampling in Newport on July 11-12 found an estimated community prevalence of six in 1,000, compared to the initial sampling on June 20-21 that found a prevalence of 34 in 1,000.  The TRACE-COVID-19 study was expanded to Hermiston, Oregon. Preliminary results conducted the weekend of July 25-26 suggest that 17% of the Hermiston community had the novel coronavirus during that time.

Microbiologist Andrew Thurber and his graduate students have discovered the first active methane seep in Antarctica during expeditions. Methane is the second-most effective gas at warming our atmosphere, and the Antarctic has vast reservoirs that are likely to open up as ice sheets retreat due to climate change.

Research Funding

Mathematician Mary Beisiegel received funding from the National Science Foundation for three projects:

  • $41K for a three-year project entitled "Collaborative Research: Algebra Instruction at Community Colleges: Validating Measures of Quality Instruction (AI@CC 2.0)"
  • $208K for her project entitled "Collaborative Research: Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistant Professional Development Focused on Implementation of Evidence-based Teaching Practices"

Microbiologist Rebecca Vega-Thurber received $800K from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled "Collaborative Research: Tipping points in coral reefs and their associated microbiomes: interactive effects of herbivory, nutrient enrichment, and temperature."

Ecologist Benjamin Dalziel received $400K from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation for the TRACE-COVID-19 Expansion project.

Biochemist Michael Freitag received $33K from the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation for his project entitled "Influence of chromatin state and mismatch repair efficiency on genetic diversity."

Biologist Kirsten Grorud-Colvert received two funding grants in August:

  • $27K from the Resources Legacy Fund for her project entitled "Scientific synthesis to inform a bold, ambitious vision for effective protected areas in the U.S. ocean."
  • $203K from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors for an existing project entitled "The MPA Project: Clarity and transparency to enable true ocean protection."

Microbiologist Michael Kent received $27K in salary support from the University of Oregon to support his NIH Zebrafish International Research Center.

Chemist Doug Keszler received $50K from the National Science Foundation for his project entitled "I-Corps: Materials and methods for manufacturing engineered optics for augmented and virtual reality applications."

Chemist Walter Loveland received $150K from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for his project entitled "Preparation of targets for the Fission TPC Fission TPC for the 2020 and 2021 run cycles at LANL."

Chemist Claudia Maier received $276K from Oregon Health & Science University for her project entitled "Botanicals enhancing neurological and functional resilience in aging."

Physicist Oksana Ostroverkhova received $129K from the National Science Foundation for her project entitled "Strong Coupling in Microcavities for Enhancing Photostability of High-Performance Organic Semiconductors."

Research Proposal Support

You can find funding opportunities on ECOS. To access a suite of tools and resources available to faculty, visit the College of Science Proposal Support webpage.

National Honors

Biology senior Julia Zavala is one of seven undergraduate students at OSU to be awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad during 2020-21. She will pursue a pre-med internship in Argentina.

Microbiology Ph.D. student Lu Wang was selected as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. One of 74 Knauss Fellows nationwide, Wang is studying how ocean acidification and excessive nutrients affect microbes on seagrass. The Knauss program places current or recent graduate students in federal government offices around Washington, D.C. beginning in February 2021.

College Honors

Biochemistry graduate student Brittany Lasher has been selected as the 2020-21 Christopher and Catherine Mathews Graduate Fellow. According to criteria developed by the Biochemistry and Biophysics faculty, this fellowship is awarded each summer to a student entering the second year of the Ph.D. program, with the award being based upon academic merit, teaching acumen and research potential. In her first year here, Brittany excelled in all these criteria.

Integrative Biology Ph.D. candidate Anne Devan-Song gave an interview on savethesnakes.org in which she discusses her exciting research on snakes in Southeast Asia and her work to advance STEM equity.

The College of Science is committed to working towards a more inclusive, equitable and welcoming environment for all our students. We outlined an action plan to make necessary changes to ensure there is no room in the College for intentional or unintentional bias or discrimination because of the color of one's skin or their nationality. Read more about what steps the College is taking to create a culture of belonging where all students, faculty and staff feel included, supported and welcomed.

Have you seen the new College of Science annual report? Hard copies were sent to all College faculty, administrators and staff. Please let us know if you did not receive a copy. If you haven't picked up your work mail in a while, check out the digital version here.

Student Success

Forty-one science students received summer undergraduate research scholarships of $5,060 each to conduct research on diverse projects from DNA analysis of China rockfish to biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. Our heartfelt gratitude to College of Science alumni, faculty and supporters for their generous donations to nurture the next generation of scientists. Learn more about this year's SURE Science scholars and their projects.

Incoming senior in honors chemistry, Madeline Bloom, is an aspiring forensic scientist and a 2020 SURE Science scholar. She is partnered with chemistry professor Claudia Maier to use mass spectrometry to develop a new method for detecting cardiovascular diseases. Read more about her interest in forensic science and her future career plans.

Alumni News

A daughter of seasonal farmworkers, Dr. Eva Galvez (Biology '99) has partnered with the Oregon Law Center to enact emergency rules to improve sanitation and living conditions, and expand benefits for farmworkers, such as sick leave and unemployment, so that they remain safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Galvez is a family physician with the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Hillsboro.

Biochemistry alumnus Zack Bango ('18) is working on the front lines of COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles County. After graduation, Bango joined the Peace Corps in Botswana then worked on malaria research at a University of Pennsylvania-University of Botswana partnership lab in Gaborone before being evacuated back to the U.S. earlier this spring.

Upcoming

Open forum for Black students
Thursday, October 8, 5-6:30 p.m.

On October 8, the College of Science will host a virtual town hall listening to Black students' experiences in the College in a push towards achieving equitable educational outcomes, increasing support in and outside classrooms and ensuring the academic success of our students. Students as well as all College employees – faculty, staff and graduate student assistants – are expected to attend this listening session and hear the voices of our Black students.

The virtual town hall is being organized in collaboration with the College of Science Student Anti-Racism Coalition, as well as Black staff members from the OSU Educational Opportunities Program and the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center.