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    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!
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Cascadia Roulette

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on January 25, 2011

Cascadia Roulette: The odds are good that a major earthquake will strike the Pacific Northwest in the near future. We’re overdue, says Robert Yeats.

Celene Carillo
terra Magazine

Bob Yeats would like you to know he cannot predict earthquakes. He is not prophetic. He claims no association with the supernatural. He can’t tell you when disaster will strike.

But Yeats, an emeritus professor in geosciences at Oregon State University, has been mapping fault lines for more than 40 years and can tell you when a quake is overdue. And he can tell you what areas of the world are most likely to suffer the greatest impact when one occurs.


Posted in Geosciences | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Halloween horror story – tale of the headless dragonfly

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on November 2, 2010

Headless dragonfly

In a short, violent battle that could have happened somewhere this afternoon, the lizard made a fast lunge at the dragonfly, bit its head off and turned to run away. Lunch was served.

But the battle didn’t happen today, it happened about 100 million years ago, probably with dinosaurs strolling nearby. And the lizard didn’t get away, it was trapped in the same oozing, sticky tree sap that also entombed the now-headless dragonfly for perpetuity.

OSU News Release: Halloween horror story – tale of the headless dragonfly

Discovery News: Lizard Entombed With Dragonfly Head in Mouth

Posted in Zoology | Leave a Comment »

Research shows continued decline of Oregon’s largest glacier

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on September 7, 2010


An Oregon State University research program has returned to Collier Glacier for the first time in almost 20 years and found that the glacier has decreased more than 20 percent from its size in the late 1980s.

The findings are consistent with glacial retreat all over the world and provide some of the critical data needed to help quantify the effects of global change on glacier retreat and associated sea level rise.

Flowing down the flanks of the Three Sisters in the central Oregon Cascade Range, Collier Glacier is at an elevation of more than 7,000 feet. It’s one of the largest glaciers in Oregon and is on a surprisingly short list – maybe 100 in the entire world – of glaciers that have been intensively studied and monitored for extended periods of time.


OSU News Release:   Research shows continued decline of Oregon’s largest glacier

KPTV:  Researcher Studies Shrinking Oregon Glacier

KTVZ: Three Sisters Glacier’s Fast Retreat Studied

OPB News: OSU Researchers Studying Collier Glacier’s Shrinkage

Ashland Daily Tidings: Researcher studies Collier Glacier

Albany Democrat Herald: Research shows decline of state’s largest glacier

Posted in Geosciences | Leave a Comment »

Biologists rally to sequence ‘neglected’ microbes

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on November 18, 2009


The GenBank sequence database, the central repository of all publicly available DNA sequences, counted its thousandth complete microbial genome this month. But a thousand genomes is only a small fraction of the diversity that exists in the microscopic world. Now, scientists want to fill in the gaps.

“The broad brush strokes of microbial diversity are not adequately represented in that first thousand,” says Stephen Giovannoni, a microbiologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “It’s absolutely important that we sequence more.”

Click here for the full article.

Posted in Microbiology | Leave a Comment »

Accidental OSU discovery produces new blue pigment

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on November 16, 2009

blueFrom today’s Gazette Times:

“Basically, this was an accidental discovery,” said Mas Subramanian, the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU Department of Chemistry. “We were exploring manganese oxides for some interesting electronic properties they have, something that can be both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic at the same time. Our work had nothing to do with looking for a pigment.

“Then one day a graduate student who is working in the project was taking samples out of a very hot furnace while I was walking by, and it was blue, a very beautiful blue,” he said. “I realized immediately that something amazing had happened.”

What had happened, the researchers said, was that at about 1,200 degrees centigrade – almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit – this otherwise innocuous manganese oxide turned into a vivid blue compound that could be used to make a pigment able to resist heat and acid, be environmentally benign and cheap to produce from a readily available mineral.

Read more at the GT, or at OSU News and Communications.

Posted in Chemistry | Leave a Comment »

Ancient “Monster” Fly Discovered

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on October 27, 2009

unicorn fly

Photo by George Poinar

A single, incredibly well-preserved specimen of the tiny but scary-looking fly was preserved for eternity in Burmese amber, and it had a small horn emerging from the top of its head, topped by three eyes that would have given it the ability to see predators coming. But despite that clever defense mechanism, it was apparently an evolutionary dead end that later disappeared.

OSU News Release: Ancient “monster” insect offers Halloween inspirations

Science Daily: Ancient ‘Monster’ Insect: ‘Unicorn’ Fly Never Before Observed

Posted in Zoology | Leave a Comment »

Linus Pauling Science Center launch

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on October 12, 2009

Check out this page on the OSU Foundation’s website containing news about the launch of the Linus Pauling Science Center. There’s a live webcam there, so you can watch construction as it happens! (Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the webcam.)

Posted in Linus Pauling Science Center | Leave a Comment »

Science of a Tsunami – CBS News Video

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on October 1, 2009

OSU’s Dawn Wright, Professor of Geography and Oceanography, talks about the science behind the power of tsunamis. (If you are unable to view the video below, click here to see it at the CBS website.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Science of a Tsunami – CBS News Video“, posted with vodpod

Follow Dawn on Twitter: @deepseadawn

Posted in Geosciences | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Grant awarded to Zoology Faculty for work on Alzheimer’s research and Circadian clocks

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on September 3, 2009

The committee for the Oregon Partnership for Alzheimer’s Research announces the recipients of the 2009 – 2010 OPAR grants.

Congratulations OPAR Grant Recipients!

The Oregon Partnership for Alzheimer’s Research Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009- 2010 OPAR grants. These grants are made possible through the Oregon Tax Checkoff program.  You can support this program when you file your state income tax.  Support researchers who are entering the field of Alzheimer’s disease research or who are pursuing new directions in Alzheimer’s research.

Jadwiga M. Giebultowicz, Ph.D. – “The Role of the Circadian Clock in Alzheimer’s Disease”
Humans and other animals have an internal clock system that regulates sleep-wake patterns.  This internal system is called a circadian clock.  Circadian clocks synchronize biological processes within an organism and coordinate them with the solar day/night cycle. Deregulation of circadian synchronization leads to sleep disturbances and age-related diseases. Recent data suggest that disruption of the circadian system and age-related pathologies are not understood. We recently showed that disruption of the circadian clock leads to increased levels of oxidative damage in the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster. Since impaired circadian rhythms and oxidative stress are linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), we initiated a novel study aimed to decipher how the circadian clock protects against age-related oxidative damage.

Posted in Zoology | Leave a Comment »

Biological clocks of insects could lead to more effective pest control

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on August 21, 2009

“We found that it took triple the dose of one pesticide to have the same lethal effect on fruit flies at the time of day their defenses were strongest, compared to when they were weakest,” said Louisa Hooven, a postdoctoral fellow in the OSU Department of Zoology and lead author on the study. “A different pesticide took twice the dose. This makes it pretty clear that the time of day of an exposure to a pesticide can make a huge difference in its effectiveness.”

The new findings, the OSU researchers said, are also another example of how circadian rhythms are important in other detoxification systems in biology.

Posted in Zoology | Leave a Comment »