Latest news from the UO

  • 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.

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  • 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.”

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  • New Knight Campus bioengineer advances bone repair research

    First published in Around the O on January 7 2020. Just as Marian Hettiaratchi begins her new job this month as a bioengineer at the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a research project that lays the groundwork for her UO lab has landed in a major journal. Her paper in the Jan. 3 issue of Science Advances takes a big step toward improving the effectiveness of spinal fusion procedures and repairing broken or defective bones. In the preclinical study, done during her graduate work Georgia Tech, her team drastically reduced undesired bone growth outside of a targeted repair area by using a mixture of bone morphogenetic proteins, which promote tissue and bone development, and microparticles made of heparin, a drug widely used as a blood thinner. The accomplishment is a proof of concept that shows the natural bone protein, known as BMP, can be merged into a heparin-like biomaterial for safer delivery. Given alone in high doses, as has been the practice in human treatments, BMP leakage has led to soft tissue inflammation and abnormal bone growth. At her new UO lab, Hettiaratchi will try to synthesize a heparin-like substance that can deliver BMP while avoiding the potential side effects of heparin, none of which have been seen in the work with rats. Her approach also uses a nanofiber mesh tube unveiled in 2011 by Robert Guldberg, who left Georgia Tech in 2018 to become executive director of the Knight Campus. He is a co-author on the new paper. “I am planning on applying this approach more broadly to healing other injuries and diseases since proteins are important in every system in the body,” Hettiaratchi said. “My lab's objective is to create biomaterials that can locally deliver proteins to sites of injuries with high precision to accelerate tissue repair.” She began exploring the use of heparin microparticles to deliver BMP while a doctoral student at Georgia Tech under the mentorship of Guldberg and co-author Todd McDevitt. For the new study, Hettiaratchi and colleagues fed their earlier results from experiments done in rats and test tubes into computer simulations to guide how they could adjust their heparin-based approach in animal testing with levels of BMP comparable to dosages required in human bone-repair procedures. “We focused on using doses that were more clinically relevant,” Hettiaratchi said. “In humans, the typical treatment uses 0.1 to 0.2 milligrams of BMP per kilogram of body weight, so we used the same amount in the rats. Most research done in rats uses 10 times less BMP to repair bone, which isn’t comparable to what’s done in humans and doesn’t exhibit the side effects of a clinical BMP dose.” Two different strengths of the combination used in the study reduced unwanted bone growth by 40 to 50 percent.

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  • Grant could make UO concussion program a national model

    First published in Around the O on November 19, 2019. The University of Oregon’s Center on Brain Injury Research and Training has long been at the forefront nationwide in developing best practices to help students with brain injuries successfully transition back to school. It will soon be able to determine the effectiveness of one program that came out of its research. The center recently entered into a four-year, $2.2 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the effectiveness of the brain injury center’s Return to School model of supporting students with traumatic brain injury.  

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  • 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).

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  • Grants will help boost the pool of special education teachers

    First published in Around the O on December 3, 2019. In the field of special education, an already acute shortage of teachers is worsening as demand for them continues to grow. A pair of recent grants to the University of Oregon’s College of Education should help stem that tide by providing funding to educate future faculty members who will prepare additional teachers to enter an important field. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs has awarded $3.5 million to the college’s Wendy Machalicek and $1.25 million to Lillian Durán to train doctorate-level researchers in their respective fields of study.

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  • Oregon Senate Confirms Gerardo Francisco Sandoval as Land Conservation and Development Commissioner

    On December 2, the Oregon Senate confirmed Professor Gerardo Sandoval as a commissioner on the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). During his term, which began December 1, 2019, and ends November 30, 2023, Sandoval will represent the Willamette Valley region. “This is tremendous for [the State of] Oregon,” said Director Jim Rue in the committee’s press release. “Dr. Sandoval’s research, experience, and perspective will help ensure our work benefits all Oregonians.” The commission, assisting the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), adopts state land-use goals and implements rules, assures local plan compliance with the 19 statewide planning goals, coordinates state and local planning, and manages the  coastal zone program. The commission is also tasked with implementing rules on issues as wide-ranging as wildfire planning and urban growth boundaries to re-zoning for “missing middle” housing and the push to allow breweries on hops farms. Sandoval is an associate professor in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM) at the University of Oregon. His work and research focus on the intersection of planning, immigration, and community change.   

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  • Oregon offers tax credit on gifts to venture development fund

    First published in Around the O.Across the UO campus, researchers from myriad disciplines make discoveries that lead to inventions, patents and spinoff businesses. Recent examples include Ksana Health, a new company cofounded by UO psychology professor Nick Allen that’s creating digital platforms to turn smartphones into wireless wellness tools.

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  • Innovative cell therapy research boosted by state funds

    First published in Around the O. An innovative new research project from UO’s Robert Guldberg has captured the attention of Oregon’s economic development agency Business Oregon and the UO’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Guldberg’s $1.2 million project, which zeroes in on one of the central challenges of the fast-growing cell therapy industry, is the first to tap into the University Innovation Research Fund. The new state fund is designed to support research at Oregon universities that drives innovation and economic development.

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