Breakthroughs

Experience. Explore. Discover. Achieve. And Now: Steward.

  • Welcome to Breakthroughs

    Hello! Welcome to Breakthroughs, a site devoted to sharing with you the latest, greatest advancements from the College of Science at Oregon State University. From breakthroughs in research to transformational philanthropy to interesting tidbits from the daily life of the College, we'll post frequently to keep you up-to-date. Please visit often and absolutely let us know what you might like to learn more about. Enjoy, and of course, GO BEAVS!
  • Subscribe

  • Archives

  • blog stats
  • Top Posts

Archive for July, 2008

Good Sense of Humor Goes a Long Way

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 30, 2008

This spring, Dr. Roger Nielsen completed his service as Chair of the Department of Geosciences.

Folks here at the Breakthroughs in Science HQ Annex are utterly grateful for his leadership. Roger is the best when it comes to helping us attract funding for science breakthroughs, plus he’s got a great, dry sense of humor–you might call it gallows humor.

(Not to say that gallows are part of every day life here, but from what we can tell, the role of Department Chair might be the toughest one that exists on a university campus.)

Roger juggled a huge breadth of projects, needs, opportunities, etc. with aplomb and was always availalble for last-minute requests.

In thanks, we’re going to buy him a slice at American Dream Pizza. We hastened to point out that the cost of a slice is hugely inversely related to our gratitude. He seemed to understand. Said something about how we all get by on bread and water because of budget cuts, so a slice would be a nice change of pace. Again, Roger’s sense of humor always comes in handy.

Roger and his son Karl took a much-deserved trip this summer. Highlights included Mt. Rushmore:

Roger's son, Karl

Dr. John Kimmerling has stepped into the role of Interim Department Chair and we’re really looking forward to working with him to build on the good work Roger did.

Advertisements

Posted in Geosciences | Leave a Comment »

David T. Wong named Indiana Living Legend

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 30, 2008

DavidWongOn July 18, 2008, Dr. David T. Wong (’64 Chemistry) was honored as an Indiana Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society. LL-Program-(27)He is best known for his work discovering Prozac, Strattera and Cymbalta, but here at OSU, we also know him as a 2003 OSU Alumni Fellow. He remains active in the OSU community, serving as a member of the Department of Chemistry Advisory Board–we are fortunate to have his ongoing guidance and friendship.

David has made OSU proud in yet another way this summer. Along with four other Hoosiers, he has been selected from more than 150 nominations by a committee of civic and corporate leaders, volunteers and IHS trustees as an Indiana Living Legend. Here’s a bit more background on David:

Dr. Wong is President of DT Wong Consulting, LLC, and is an internationally renowned biochemist and neuropharmacologist. He worked at the Lilly Research Laboratories from 1968 until his retirement in 2000 as a Lilly Distinguished Research Fellow. He is a co-discoverer and co-inventor of several centrally acting drugs, which have revolutionized the fields of psychiatry and neuropharmacology, including Prozac for the treatment of depression (1986) and related disorders (1988); Strattera for attention deficit disorder (2003); and Cymbalta for depression (2004), diabetes neuropathic pain (2004) and general anxiety disorder (2007).LL-Reception-(05)

Dr. Wong has received several notable awards for his contributions to science, including the Discoverer’s Award, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in 1993; the Pharmaceutical Discoverer’s Award, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression in 1996; the Outstanding Achievement in Research, Development and Innovation Award, Indiana Health Industry Forum in 1996; the Outstanding Achievement in Neuroscience Research Award, Lilly Neuroscience, Eli Lilly and Company in 2000; and the Excellence in Science Award, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 2002.

Dr. Wong has published more than 160 papers and book chapters in the fields of neuropharmacology and biochemistry and is an inventor or co-inventor for some 35 U.S. Patents. Dr. Wong is an adjunct professor, Neurobiology, Department of Psychiatry, at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Nankai University in Tianjin, China.

Our hearty congratulations to an Indiana Living Legend!

Images and biography provided by the Indiana Historical Society

Posted in Alumni, Chemistry | Leave a Comment »

OSU GeoClub in Death Valley – Pictures!

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 25, 2008

This is part one of a two part entry, come back next week to view part two.

All photos can be clicked-on to view a larger version!

The club at the Spirit Mountain Batholith, a ~17-15 million year old granitic intrustion. Barry Walker got his masters degree stydying this batholith at Venderbilt University, and since the club was only ~2 hours away, they decided to stop by and have a look for a day.

The club at the Spirit Mountain Batholith, a ~17-15 million year old granitic intrusion. Barry Walker got his masters degree studying this batholith at Vanderbilt University, and since the club was only ~2 hours away, they decided to stop by and have a look for a day.

Here they are inspecting a large outcrop of granite at the Spirit Mountain Batholith while enjoying a spot of shade.

Here they are inspecting a large outcrop of granite at the Spirit Mountain Batholith while enjoying a spot of shade.

The approach to Racetrack Playa, which is fairly isolated within Death Valley National Park. The group had to drive a little over an hour on a dustry gravel raod to see this oddity. From afar, you can see that it looks like a typical stretch of desert sand. The black outcrop within the playa is called the Grandstand.

The approach to Racetrack Playa, which is fairly isolated within Death Valley National Park. The group had to drive a little over an hour on a dusty gravel road to see this oddity. From afar, you can see that it looks like a typical stretch of desert sand. The black outcrop within the playa is called the Grandstand.

Teakettle Junction - desert weirdness! Of course, the group needed a photo of this.

Teakettle Junction - desert weirdness! Of course, the group needed a photo of this.

At Racetrack Playa -- this photo beautifully illustrates the process that has confounded geologists for years. The cliffs of tilted dolomite in the background have shed many rocks that fall down onto the playa floor. During intense rainstorms, these rocks slide across the playa aided either by wind and wet mud, a thin ice sheet or possibly both. Wind seems to be the favored mechanism at this point, but no one knows for sure because the action has never been observed. Note the dirt in front of the rock, which appears to have been scraped into a pile

Racetrack Playa: This photo beautifully illustrates the process that has confounded geologists for years. The cliffs of tilted dolomite in the background have shed many rocks that fall down onto the playa floor. During intense rainstorms, these rocks slide across the playa aided either by wind and wet mud, a thin ice sheet or possibly both. Wind seems to be the favored mechanism at this point, but no one knows for sure because the action has never been observed. Note the dirt in front of the rock, which appears to have been scraped into a pile.

Badwater Basin is in the heart of Death Valley National Park

Badwater Basin is in the heart of Death Valley National Park and is at the lowest elevation in the western Hemisphere: 282 feet below sea level. It is called Badwater because there are some meager pools here that contain water that is spoiled by the dissolved salts from the playa. The Geo Club came here in late March and so experienced temperatures in the high 80s (with clouds for extra protection). In mid summer, though, temperatures can be over 130 degrees. Shortly after this, the group would find itself helping a family from Belgium change their rental van's tire.

The club takes a stroll onto the playa at Badwater Basin. You can see that the desert floor is covered with a layer (several inches thick) of evaporaties (it was salty, so it's probably at least, in part, halite). Note that the evaporite crust has broken up in a mudcrack-like fashion.

The club takes a stroll onto the playa at Badwater Basin. You can see that the desert floor is covered with a layer (several inches thick) of evaporaties (it was salty, so it's probably at least, in part, halite). Note that the evaporite crust has broken up in a mudcrack-like fashion.

Badwater Basin -- unbelievable!

Badwater Basin -- unbelievable!

Stay tuned for more photos next week!

Posted in Geo Club, Geosciences | Leave a Comment »

Tom Webb Stops By

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 24, 2008

Tom Webb stopped by the Breakthroughs HQ Annex (aka the OSU Foundation) today for a visit. He’s recently “retired” from his career on the chemistry faculty at Auburn University (he kept his office there, so I suspect he’s still making frequent appearances at work).

He has maintained his connections at his alma mater, OSU, stopping by to see old and new friends a few times a year. It was especially nice to catch him today between some pretty great trips he’s taking. Most recently, he was in Scotland, next he’s going to London, then it’s back to Scotland, then maybe a visit to the German coastline after that.

Tom had the vision to establish an endowed equipment and instrumentation fund in the Department of Chemistry here. Having spent a career doing research and teaching, he well knows what happens to the enterprise when a piece of equipment breaks or a new gizmo is required to do some cutting-edge work. He’s also been generous with his annual gifts, helping the Department seize opportunites that arise on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s Tom being a very good sport:

072408_11292

Posted in Alumni, Chemistry, Philanthropy | Leave a Comment »

Because The Previous Post About Our Dean Was a Little Unkind

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 24, 2008

What fun would we be having at Breakthroughs HQ if we couldn’t make fun of the Dean now and then?

Sherm took issue with the “venerable” comment, but he couldn’t really defend the “bad fashion” comment, it turns out.

Here’s another photo. He says this:

“….we’re getting beaten up on the way to Tokyo from the swell from a typhoon over Taiwan….this is what you spend nine hours in for a dive. 6 meter sphere, partly filled with electronics and three (in this case three fairly large) people…”

inthesub

And this, apparently, is what he’s been eating while caught in a swell. That’s a tentacle of some kind:

IMG_3042

Posted in General News, Sherm | Leave a Comment »

Breakthroughs in Science: New York

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 23, 2008

The College is sincerely grateful to Dr. Jim Paul (PhD ’71) and Dr. Kala Paul (M ’72 Microbiology) for hosting our second Breakthroughs in Science: Solutions for a Changing World dinner event in New York on June 18.

Our New York event was held at Triomphe Restaurant (named by the New York Times as one of the best restaurants in the city) in Midtown Manhattan. New York Beavers made the night a well-attended success. Dean Sherm Bloomer welcomed everyone via a pre-recorded DVD and handed the evening over to the most cited author on coral reef ecology in the Western Hemisphere, Dr. Mark Hixon. Mark’s presentation, “Coral Reefs: New Frontiers, New Threats” sparked a conversation that lasted throughout the evening.

Guests enjoyed great food, great wine (an Oregon Pinot made an appearance), lively conversation, and were sent off with a thank you from Jim and Kala. Jim and Kala explained how important Oregon State has been in their lives. It is where they met, fell in love, and has always kept a special place in their hearts. So much so that Kala named her company, The Corvallis Group, in honor of their time at Oregon State. Jim and Kala took the opportunity to explain why they support the University and encouraged guests to do the same. It should also be noted that even as they were helping plan and prepare for their son’s wedding, Jim and Kala found time to host the event and we are so grateful for it.

Jim and Kala, we are honored by your dedication and financial support. Thank you!

Dr. Jim Paul and Dr. Patrick Kennelly

Dr. Amy Chadburn and Assistant Director of Development, Ryan Robinson

Dr. Jim and Dr. Kala Paul and Director of Development, Anne Ruggiero

Posted in Alumni, General News, Philanthropy | Leave a Comment »

Haute Couture Hits High Seas

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 17, 2008

Sherm (our venerable Dean) has escaped the office and is now at sea on a Japanese ship collecting data. We’re filing this under “General News” because we don’t have a category for “Someone Call The Fashion Police.”

Posted in General News, Sherm | Leave a Comment »

CAREBEIJING

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 17, 2008

Why, you ask, is Dr. Staci Simonich, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Toxicology, standing on the rooftop of Peking University during the Olympics, holding a bunch of of white rectangular things?

She’s not competing in the emerging “waving white things” segment of the pentathalon.

Well, maybe she is. And we think she would bring home the gold if so.

But mostly she’s collecting air.

Those white rectangular filters will trap the air that contains particles that contain hydrocarbons, which she will later analyze back at her lab in Corvallis. She’ll be determining which hydrocarbons exist, whether they cause cancer and if the emissions clean-up prior to the Olympic games in Beijing has improved air quality there.

Her study is funded by the Chinese goverment and NSF. Dr. Simonich says she is hopeful that her research will help the Chinese government to better understand how it can control air quality in large cities.

So, if you’re in Beijing sometime in the next month and you see Staci at the games, give her a big high five.

Here’s the press release with way more info.

Simonich_orig

from OSU News and Communications:

Simonich specializes in studying how pollutants travel through the atmosphere. She runs a lab at OSU that identifies and tracks chemicals, like pesticides, that hitch rides along airstreams that start in Asia and blow across the Pacific Ocean to mountains in the western United States. She also is a member of a National Academy of Sciences committee that studies pollutants entering and leaving the United States.

Posted in Microbiology | Leave a Comment »

Some bug-related news for today

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 16, 2008

What's this? Visit the OSAC website to see!

Today The Oregonian brought us two stories about the work of the OSAC (Oregon State Arthropod Collection).

Part 1 features the work of Jim Young, and his work at the Insect ID Clinic:

The deliveries to the Insect ID Clinic at Oregon State University arrive with the same question — what is it? And Young, the clinic’s only insect diagnostician, endeavors to find the answer. The clinic, which receives as many as 25 insects a week, is one of a handful in the United States that will accept such submissions from the public.

Part 2 of the story highlights the work of curator Chris Marshall, students, and staff at OSAC in cataloging the collection, and making images available to the public on the OSAC website:

After expertly adjusting the lighting system, Martinez snaps an image. The tiny, unremarkable beetle under the microscope is transformed into a fierce-looking creature with iridescent armor on the computer screen. This image, along with several others, is available to the public via the collection’s Web site.

Visit the images here, and don’t forget to play around with that zoom option!

Posted in Zoology | Leave a Comment »

Flat Screen TV’s for EVERYONE!

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 3, 2008

This article points up OSU as a pioneer in transparent electronics and touts a partnership among the U.S. government, private industry and university research to enable critical innovations for future display technology.

For the non-pioneers among us here’s what wiki has to say about thin films.

Flat screen TV’s are clearly the least of it.

Beavers, always building stuff.

Posted in Chemistry, Physics | Leave a Comment »