UO Federal Affairs News

  • The perfect cup of coffee, with a little help from science

    First published in the Conversation and republished in Around the O on January 22nd, 2020. Editor’s note: This article is republished as it appears in The Conversation, an independent news publisher that works with academics worldwide to disseminate research-based articles and commentary. The University of Oregon partners with The Conversation to bring the expertise and views of its faculty members to a wide audience. For more information, see the note accompanying this story. Have you ever wondered why the coffee you make at home tastes different from the drinks you buy in cafes? Or why coffee from the same place can taste different throughout the week? You may be quick to blame the barista for changing the recipe, but our recent study, published in Matter, suggests that this variation is down to an inherent inconsistency of common brewing methods. Luckily, we believe to have discovered a path to making a great espresso, to your taste, every time. The quality of a cup of coffee depends on the coffee’s variety and origin, its roast and the water chemistry. The brewing method also plays a critical role in determining the overall flavor. Espresso is certainly the most complicated brewing method because it requires precise measurements. However, espresso also happens to underpin all coffee menus, as it is the basis for lattes and cappuccinos. To make espresso, hot water is forced through a finely-ground bed of coffee. The barista makes decisions about how much coffee and water to use, and how finely the coffee is ground. The machine’s water pressure, temperature and brew volume are also crucial when it comes to taste. Together, these parameters control the relative proportion of around 2,000 different chemicals, a delicate balancing act. Yet, even if the barista does everything perfectly, there remain large variations between espresso shots made following the same recipe. One shot may taste like raspberries and dark chocolate, and the next like motor oil. And while everyone has different flavour preferences, we believe we have derived a procedure to help the barista out, and achieve the flavour profile they intended, every single time. Our research team — which involved a team of mathematicians, chemists, materials scientists and baristas — formulated a mathematical model to simulate the brewing of an espresso in realistic cafe conditions. We used this to make predictions of how much of the solid coffee ultimately ends up dissolved in the cup. This percentage, known as the extraction yield, is the key metric used by the coffee industry to assess different coffee recipes.

    Read More
  • Knight Campus to host diversity luncheon and panel discussion

    First published in Around the O on February 6th, 2020. The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact is putting diversity efforts into action with a free luncheon and panel discussion. “Establishing a Culture that Values and Promotes Diversity in STEM,” slated for noon on Friday, Feb. 21, is open to the university community. It will feature academic leaders who are making strides to foster inclusion across the engineering field. Guests are asked to RSVP online by Monday, Feb. 17. Lunch will be provided. Joining Knight Campus Vice President and Robert and Leona DeArmond Executive Director Robert Guldberg will be panelists Nancy Allbritton, Frank and Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering at the University of Washington, and Scott Ashford, Kearney Dean of Engineering at Oregon State University. University of Oregon Provost Patrick Phillips will moderate the discussion. The candid conversation will examine the implementation of diversity plans and programs. The panelists will share some of the positive outcomes and challenges they have faced in recruiting and hiring.

    Read More
  • Employee food drive helps students via pantry, Produce Drops

    First published in Around the O on February 13th, 2020. Operating out of a single-car garage on East 19th Avenue, the Student Food Pantry is open two days a week and serves hundreds of students. And the food it distributes comes from FOOD for Lane County. FOOD for Lane County is the primary recipient of donations made during this month’s Governor’s State Employee Food Drive. Donations of cash and food will help keep the shelves stocked and meals on the table. Approximately 200 students each week visit the pantry during its two hours of operation on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Students visiting the pantry receive a total of approximately 1,500 pounds of food each week, according to pantry coordinator Ryan Baker-Fones. The pantry isn’t the only FOOD for Lane County program feeding UO students. Produce Drops are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the Erb Memorial Union amphitheater and distribute around 900 pounds of fresh produce to about 150 students per week. Produce Drops are like a pop-up farmer’s stand, but everything is free to eligible students and their families. Satellite locations have opened recently at Moss Street Children’s Center and the UO Veterans Center, meeting the needs of diverse student populations. Produce Drops and the Student Food Pantry are key to feeding UO students and their families when resources run low. Graduate employee Kris Wright is with Graduate Families in the UO Graduate School and a doctoral candidate in media studies. Part of her job is to direct graduate students experiencing hunger to resources available.

    Read More
  • State universities agree to more sharing of research facilities

    First published in Around the O on February 13th, 2020. A trio of new agreements between the University of Oregon and four of the state’s public universities are poised to advance research across Oregon, promote greater collaboration and help magnify state funding. The memorandums will help researchers at the UO, Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University, Portland State University and the Oregon Institute of Technology work more closely together by reducing hurdles for cooperation while also leveraging each other’s strengths. Researchers at each of the five universities will now have greater access to facilities at the partner institutions, and at a lower cost to them as well. The agreements also clarify ownership of intellectual property that emerges from research efforts across multiple institutions. It’s a significant step in the ongoing trend of improving collaboration within the state among the UO and its statewide peers (see Related Links). “When it comes to research and innovation, we all agree we are stronger when we collaborate and speak with one voice about the value of research universities to the state of Oregon,” said David Conover, the UO’s vice president for research and innovation. “These initiatives will allow us to build on our collective strengths and pave the way for new discoveries and innovations that will benefit Oregonians and help fuel our state’s economy.” Fred Sabb, assistant vice president for research facilities at the UO, said the agreements will build on activity already taking place. “There’s already quite a bit of cross-institution research core facility activity that this has kicked off, and more things are planned for near future to facilitate access and harmonize services,” he said. One of the most visible hurdles potentially slowing researchers across the state from working more closely together has been the limited access to specialized, expensive research equipment available at other in-state institutions and the cost to use it. Universities typically have one set of fees for their own students, staff and faculty members, and another set for those at other universities. Now the cost to use those facilities could decrease by as much as 25 percent in many cases for researchers at the five universities taking part.

    Read More
  • Urbanism Next launches the NEXUS online clearinghouse

    First published in Around the O on January 14th, 2020. A new online database that examines emerging technologies and their effects on cities is now available through the University of Oregon’s Urbanism Next Center. NEXUS, an acronym for Navigating Emerging Technologies and Urban Spaces­, launched Jan. 14 in Washington, D.C. at an event associated with the Transportation Resource Board Conference, one of the largest transportation conferences in the world. Created by the UO’s Urbanism Next Center in partnership with NUMO Alliance, NEXUS is a comprehensive, vetted source of information that explores the potential effects of innovations such as new mobility, autonomous vehicles and the rise of e-commerce. Going beyond the technologies themselves, NEXUS sheds light on possible long-term and compounding influences of these technologies on cities and communities. The one-stop, online resource provides a toolkit to approach important topics and assists decision-makers and government leaders with information to create new policies to manage and regulate emerging trends.

    Read More
  • From the classroom to Congress: Oregon Law students in DC

    First published in Around the O on January 15th, 2020. “What is public policy, why does it matter, and how is it made?” Assistant Professor Greg Dotson posed this question to his law students enrolled in the Oregon Law Environmental Policy Practicum.The ten law students had the entire semester not only to answer those questions, but to present their own research and recommendations to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. The House created the committee in January of 2019 and charged it with submitting climate policy recommendations to Congress by March 31, 2020. In the class, Dotson tries to demystify the policymaking world. He talks about the theoretical underpinnings of policymaking as well as the real-world efforts that result in environmental protection or other desired policy outcomes. “Crafting public policy can be as much art as science and efforts to change policy often see as much failure as success,” said Dotson. “A well-crafted public policy can promote competition, innovation, efficiency, environmental protection or other desired policy outcomes. It can be transparent and responsive to constituents and can foster faith in the democratic process and our representative form of government.”

    Read More
  • FUTURE Act Passes Congress

    December 12, 2019 01:50 pm On December 10 the U.S. Senate passed the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act (H.R.5363) after the House passed the bill by a vote of 319-96 earlier in the day. The entire Oregon delegation voted for passage of the bill. The bill now moves to the President for signature, who recently expressed support for the measure. The FUTURE Act would improve college student financial aid application and repayment processes. The final version of the bill contains amendments sought by the House Ways and Means Committee after it expressed concern about allowing the Internal Revenue Service to transfer vast amounts of confidential taxpayer information to the Department of Education and its third-party contractors. Proponents of the bill say it will help simplify and reduce the number of questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and help automate how borrowers enroll in and stay enrolled in income-based repayment programs, which currently require borrowers to manually provide their tax information each year. Among the legislation’s proponents is the American Council on Education (ACE), which sent a letter to the House with signatures from 42 associations expressing support of the FUTURE Act: “[T]he FUTURE Act would make significant improvements to the federal student aid system, by simplifying and streamlining the processes for applying for student aid and repaying student loans. This will dramatically simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and make it far easier for low- and middle-income families to apply for and receive federal student aid.” Along with changes to the data-sharing process for federal student loans, the bill would also permanently extend mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).

    Read More
  • TallWood Design Institute Opens Timber Research Facility

    First published on at https://archenvironment.uoregon.edu. On Oct. 10, the TallWood Design Institute—a partnership between the College of Design and the OSU Colleges of Forestry and Engineering—hosted the grand opening of the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory on the OSU campus.

    Read More
  • Rep. DeFazio hosts passenger rail roundtable at 510 Oak downtown

    On August 26, U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio convened a roundtable of Lane County-area decision makers along with state and federal officials to discuss the status and needs of the Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service along the I-5 corridor between Eugene and Portland. The event was held at UO’s new College of Design School of Art and Design’s research studios downtown near the Eugene Amtrak station. The tracks are owned by Union Pacific and their representatives joined the meeting. Senior Associate Vice President for Research Cass Moseley welcomed participants and spoke to the benefits to the University of Oregon from frequent and reliable rail service. Following the roundtable, Interim Dean of the College of Design Laura Vandenburgh led attendees on a tour of the newly renovated 510 Oak building. The group discussed topics including the Cascade’s on-time performance, infrastructure needs, and other performance challenges. Roundtable participants included State Representatives Nancy Nathanson and Marty Wilde, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, and Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch. Union Pacific officials noted that discussions are already underway with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Amtrak about managing conflicts between freight and passenger rail service during the 2021 Track and Field World Championships. Frequent, reliable and timely Amtrak service between Eugene and points north is a long held institutional priority for the University of Oregon and local governments. UO faculty, students and staff use both Amtrak rail and bus service frequently. The growing relationship between UO and OHSU faculty and researchers will continue to continue to increase the demand for the ability to travel quickly and dependably between Portland and Eugene, alleviating the need to contend with I-5 traffic. Dave Reesor, UO Director of Parking and Transportation Services, joined the meeting and manages Amtrak’s access to campus for its daily bus service.

    Read More
  • New funding will help advance Oregon’s part in ShakeAlert

    First published on August 19th in Around the O, efforts to continue upgrading Oregon’s portion of the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System will get a $1.6 million boost from new federal funding announced by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Read More