Latest news from the UO

  • Science museum’s new exhibit explores the art of resilience

    First published in Around the O on November 29th. Science, technology and art converge in the Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s newest exhibit, “Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience.” The exhibit, which opened Dec. 1, explores innovative housing, shelter and other designs that may help communities survive and thrive in a changing climate. Produced by the Oakland, California-based Art Works for Change, the traveling exhibit showcases designs from around the world. From mushroom-based building blocks to coats that transform into sleeping bags, the designs emphasize portable, sustainable and small-footprint products that can be adapted for a variety of needs while minimizing environmental impacts. At one station, visitors can check out a new, instant-shelter technology from the California nonprofit Cardborigami. Constructed of naturally insulating, water- and flame-resistant cardboard, the structures store flat and can be unfolded in seconds, offering an emergency shelter solution for people facing homelessness or natural disaster scenarios. Visitors to the exhibit can examine a sample structure in its folded form, climb inside a fully expanded version and create their own origami pieces. The museum has added a UO dimension to the exhibit, highlighting eco-conscious designs by students and faculty members in the School of Architecture & Environment. At a video station, visitors can learn about the award-winning “Outside House” developed by Erin Moore, head of the School of Architecture & Environment. The house, located in Maui, Hawaii, incorporates two tiny, low-impact structures with an expansive natural landscape to create a sense of spaciousness with a small footprint. In another section, visitors can explore architecture students’ projects aimed at rebuilding the infrastructure and social and housing fabric of a Puerto Rican community devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria. “Survival Architecture invites us to consider new ways that design and engineering can lead us toward a resilient future,” said Ann Craig, exhibitions director at the museum. “We’re looking forward to the conversations it will inspire on campus and in the wider community.” —By Kristin Strommer, Museum of Natural and Cultural History

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  • Construction cranes dot the sky from Dad's Gate to Hayward

    By Anthony St. Clair, Eugene-based freelance writerFirst appeared in UO Giving Brown leaves crunch underfoot, and low clouds hide the sky—but there may be hints of blue to come. Students talk and smile, or review a book or device as they make their way to the next class, meeting, or lab. Throughout the UO campus, construction equipment beeps and rumbles.This might be the home of the Ducks, but right now campus is the home of the cranes—construction cranes, that is. They dot the sky from Dad's Gate to Hayward. Work continues on the new $39 million Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the upcoming hub for the College of Arts and Sciences, scheduled to open in fall 2019. The $1 billion Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact rises toward its 2020 opening date, when the new complex will begin accelerating the process of turning scientific discoveries into societal benefits. Also opening in 2020, a brand-new Hayward Field will build on Track Town’s history while attracting athletes and fans to the “Finest Track and Field Facility in the World.” This fall, the university celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Black Cultural Center at East 15th Avenue and Villard Street. All this activity and excitement is only possible thanks to donors’ support.  Momentous as they are, however, these donor-funded projects are not what have brought me to campus. I’m seeing the UO’s future rise all around me. But I’m also aware that past donor support helped build campus facilities that are now complete—and making a tangible difference.  My path today takes me to three projects—one turning 10 years old, and two renovations that were completed this fall. The College of Education celebrates the 10th anniversary of the HEDCO Education Building this year. Students and faculty members in the Robert D. Clark Honors College are enjoying a fully renovated Chapman Hall. And in Pacific Hall, new science labs have opened and other renovations continue.   HEDCO EDUCATION BUILDING  Straight modern lines and tall windows contrast with the brick of the HEDCO Education Building, but that’s just one small way it stands out—both on campus and in its field. Teaching, research, and clinical space combine for educators, psychologists, therapists, and scientists to prepare students for their future, aid families, create best practices used around the world, and connect research and the broader community. It’s the equivalent of a teaching hospital for social services. The project began thanks to a $10 million pledge in 2004 by California's HEDCO Foundation. Enabled in part by the foundation’s president, Dody Dornsife Jernstedt, BA ’69, MA ’70 (communication disorders and sciences), that pledge helped secure the 2005 Oregon legislature's authorization of $19.4 million in general obligation bonds. All told, $29.2 million in donor gifts covered 60 percent of the cost to make HEDCO a reality. Construction began in 2007, and the 65,000-square-foot HEDCO Education Building opened in 2009.Today, students sit in booths and type on laptops surrounded by notes and books. Movable tables in the Lisa Brown Classroom have been arranged for discussion. Golden afternoon sunlight shines on the green courtyard and brightens the inner corridors through floor-to-ceiling windows. Classrooms have been designed for discussion and active learning. A hearth area and coffee shop help foster a sense of community and encourage informal learning experiences. From the ground up, it’s been designed to advance the mission of the College of Education.  In the HEDCO Clinic, located in the south wing of the building, UO students gain practical experience serving individuals and families under the supervision of faculty members. “The total effect of the HEDCO Clinic is immeasurable,” says Wendy Machalicek, associate professor of special education and interim director of the clinic. “Approximately 9,000 visits are held in the HEDCO Clinic each year, and hundreds of undergraduates and graduate students in a variety of College of Education programs participate in supervised delivery of clinical services.  “The clinic now houses five subspecialty clinical services that are both integral to our academic program offerings in the College of Education and in providing research-based assessment and intervention to the greater Eugene community. This new building has accelerated everything we do.” CHAPMAN HALL  From HEDCO I cross north to the Memorial Quad and Chapman Hall, home of the newly remodeled Clark Honors College (CHC). State bonds funded $8 million of the project’s $10.5 million price tag—with the caveat that the UO would have to match $2.5 million of the funds in order to receive the allocation. Donations from alumni and various private sources poured in. The newly renovated Chapman Hall opened this fall. By all accounts, the project has accomplished its goals—making the interior more unified, creating a strong identity for the college, adding more room to grow, and creating a building that fosters a scholarly community. From the outside, the brick building—right down to its original windows—remains true to the original 1939 Works Progress Administration project. Inside, however, rich woodwork combines with new flooring and a more fluid, functional layout that was designed with interaction, collaboration, and today’s technology needs foremost in mind. Downstairs, I take a seat at the spacious, cozy hearth and wait for the dean, Gabriel Paquette, who joined the CHC faculty this year. I reflect that the hearth must be the heart of Chapman Hall. How wrong I am. In fact, the honors college is the heart of the university. Dean Paquette approaches Chapman based on the goal behind early fundraising efforts: define CHC’s identity so everyone could understand it better. “The new Chapman centralizes CHC students who are also spread all over campus for their respective disciplines,” says Paquette. “Community forms here. These top students go to the rest of campus and lift up everyone.” “I first came in the day of Chapman’s reopening,” he says. “I immediately realized this space was designed with student learning in mind, with members of a core faculty who see themselves as dedicated mentors.” Smaller class sizes of 15 to 19 enable discussion. Walls lined with chalkboards and graphed wipe-boards aid interaction and study in classrooms and common areas. The Shephard Family Library inspires students with an entire wall of shelves displaying past theses. A student kitchen has cooking, food storage, and prep space along one wall, computers along the opposite wall, and tables in the middle.“We are at an edge of campus, yet we are part of the center,” explains Paquette. “It’s a historical corner, where we become a reflection and distillation of the UO’s finest qualities. The renovated Chapman Hall makes the honors college the UO’s college in all senses.”  PACIFIC HALL For a moment, I’m back in high school. Low, narrow pink corridors (but thankfully no lockers). Gray concrete floors in lecture room 123. After serving generations of students, Pacific Hall—the university’s original science building—was ready for transformation. This fall, renovations to the lower three floors of the south wing are complete. That high school haze falls away when I step into a wide, tall, brightly lit, white-walled hallway. With labs on both sides, open doors and wide windows invite respectful observation. Inside, faculty and grad students pursue research projects. Undergraduates also participate in the “hands-on experiential learning that the UO takes pride in,” says Hal Sadofsky, associate dean of natural sciences. Pacific’s mix of old and new is a sign of progress during an approximately $20 million renovation, sparked by a $7 million donation from Cheryl Ramberg Ford, class of 1966, and Allyn Ford in 2016. Earlier this year, sixteen new labs opened. While the exterior of the UO’s original science building remains, further renovations finish in 2019, and other planned updates need donor support.After Willamette and Streisinger Halls were built, labs shifted to more modern facilities. However, UO science majors have increased, and research excellence is a priority. Returning labs to Pacific means better projects, better people, and a more interconnected scientific ecosystem.“Our sciences aren’t the country’s largest,” says Sadofsky, “but they are possibly the most interdisciplinary. That’s one of UO’s strengths. We’re already seeing surprising hallway conversations between students due to the interdisciplinary nature of the building.”In between classes, UO junior Shakira Harris sits on a wooden bench set into the wall.“I like the new labs,” she says, “but the bathrooms could use an update.”Harris is hopeful that classrooms and lecture halls will be updated, but she’s glad donor-driven renovation is helping students be more prepared.“We get introduced to new technology that we’ll need for medical school, along with more hands-on experience,” says Harris. “It’s one step at a time though. They’re trying.”I wander back across campus, taking in buildings old, new, and renewed. At every step, donor support has enabled new learning, new discoveries, new facilities, new faculty members, and new opportunities throughout the University of Oregon. It’s a reminder that generosity, like renewal, is always in season.

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  • Local teachers increase equity in computer science HRVHS offers new computer science courses for all students

    First published on Hoodrivernews.com on Friday, December 7th. At Hood River Valley High School, Amy Foley and Kathryn Davis each teach a new elective class called Exploring Computer Science (ECS). It’s designed to help increase equity and create opportunities for students who may have had no prior exposure to computers. “I think it’s a really good class because everyone’s starting at the same level, especially for our school because no one has had (class) experience with computer science. So everyone in our class is at ground zero, and no one feels like you’re left behind,” said Grace, one of the students in Foley’s class. Dec. 3 marked the kickoff of Computer Science Education Week in Oregon, an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science, said a press release. Foley and Davis lead by example in this rural area of the state. Today, students are journaling, mapping-out storyboards and will begin writing HTML for their website projects, which they will create from scratch. Students are able to design a website based on their personal interests, but they won’t be using any template shortcuts so that they can learn the basics of how to write HTML, the computer language used to create the layout and appearance of websites. “I enjoyed how simple it was to understand HTML and CSS. I thought it would be complicated,” said Isaac, a student in Davis’ class. Another student, Alexandra, said, “I thought a class like this could prepare me for the future when I might want to create a website or know about programming. I could do a lot of things for myself instead of having to hire someone, and know what I’m doing.” The ECS class evens out the playing field, helping students without prior knowledge gain the computer fundamentals they need in a fun, relatable way while preparing them to succeed in whatever career path they choose, said a press release. The class is required in some of Oregon’s high schools and is offered as an elective at Hood River Valley High School. While the course is designed for all genders, looking around the classroom, one sees many girls (about a third are girls in Foley’s and a fourth in Davis’ classes), more so than in other rural areas of Oregon where they have a harder time recruiting girls for CS classes. “Traditionally, women and students of color have not been represented in ways that are proportional to school demographics,” said Jill Hubbard, CS for Oregon co-leader and president of the Oregon Computer Science Teachers’ Association. Foley said of her class, “I have a lot of female students who are really enjoying the camaraderie that has developed in the ECS classroom amongst themselves. They are excited to learn together and feel comfortable expressing themselves through projects that combine their computational thinking skills and creativity.” About 32 percent of Foley’s and 41 percent of Davis’ classes consist of minority students. When asked if she would recommend the class to other Latinas like herself, or other women of color, student Aileen said, “Yes, yes, take it! I feel like it’s not what it seems like; it’s a lot more fun. I want to do computer engineering or some type of engineering, so I find this class super helpful.” Both teachers are part of a network of school districts across the state participating in CS for Oregon, a joint university project between Portland State University, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, Cascades. According to a press release, they are committed to broadening participation in computer science by providing a welcoming and inclusive environment that is equitable, rigorous and engaging. These learning experiences are designed for all students across Oregon’s rural and urban areas, preparing them to participate actively in a digital world and economy. “Computer science is now essential knowledge to participate fully in society, and yet participation in Advanced Placement CS shows CS is the most segregated discipline by race and gender of all AP subjects in Oregon,” said James Hook, CS for Oregon co-leader and associate dean of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU. “We have been teaching computer science in high school in Oregon for over 50 years, but more through the lens of enrichment for some, rather than essential knowledge for all,” he said. “ECS brings best practices in inclusive pedagogy and teacher professional development to the CS classroom.” Using a $1 million National Science Foundation grant award, CS for Oregon trained its first group of ECS teachers in 2018, a curriculum co-developed by Dr. Joanna Goode, CS for Oregon lead researcher and professor at University of Oregon. Partnering with 16 of Oregon’s school districts in 2018, the program will expand in 2019. “My classroom contains all rural students, (many) females, students in the racial minority, as well as students with disabilities. All students have a path to success with this curriculum, and it is easy to differentiate for learners at different levels,” said Davis.

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  • The latest Wings video presentations are now available online

    First published in Around the O on December 5th. From investing in technology and giving early warning of earthquakes and wildfires to the role of the Supreme Court and history of the Black Panther Party, videos from the Nov. 1 Wings: UO Presidential Speaker Series are now available online. UO President Michael H. Schill welcomed guests into his UO Portland “living room” at UO Portland, where he invited faculty members to share some of their groundbreaking research and work with the audience. Videos of the full presentations are now available online. The talks were: “ShakeAlert,” with Doug Toomey, a professor and seismologist in the Department of Earth Sciences who specializes in the ocean-bottom seismology to study and monitor earthquakes and volcanos in the Northwest. He is part of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and the lead investigator for the Oregon component of ShakeAlert, a federally funded earthquake early warning system. “Checks and Balances,” with Alison Gash, an associate professor of political science who specializes in U.S. courts, same-sex marriage, constitutional rights and public policy. She is the author of “Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights.” UO Chamber Choir, led by Sharon Paul, professor of music. Paul conducted 18 student-members of the UO Chamber Choir in a three-song performance.  “The Black Panther Party,” with Curtis Austin, an associate professor of history. His research looks at the civil rights movement, the national history of the Black Panther Party and the Black Power movement. He is the author of “Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party.” Tickets for the coming May 31 Wings event in Portland are available online and are “buy one, gift one” through Dec. 31.  

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  • Governor’s budget plans hit UO in significantly different ways

    On Nov. 28, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released her recommended budget for the 2019-21 biennium, including two options with significant implications for higher education funding. The first version, which state law requires the governor to craft, is a balanced base budget that allocates funds based on current revenue projections. The second version is an investment budget that assumes the passage of cost containment and revenue reform in the next legislative session. The two budget options would have very different outcomes for the UO’s operating budget, student aid, and academic and research funding. On the operations side, the base budget allocates no additional investment for the Public University Support Fund over the last biennium, keeping total operating funds for all Oregon public universities at $736.9 million. Because of increased operating costs that occur over a two-year period, flat funding represents a decrease in investment for the UO. JOINT UNIVERSITY STATEMENT “The Governor’s budget provides a stark choice for the legislature and the people of Oregon: either force universities to make cuts to academic and student support programs while also raising tuition by double-digits or make college more affordable and accessible through balanced revenue reform and meaningful cost control in areas like retirement and health care.  “Even as campuses continue to find cost efficiencies wherever possible, without additional resources for public universities, the budget proposed by the Governor means students will face onerous double-digit tuition hikes and cuts to the types of services and aid they need to reduce debt, graduate, and find a job. This is not an acceptable outcome for Oregon. Public universities are committed to working with the Governor and the Legislature to find solutions that expand opportunities for students instead of limiting them. “It is time to stop relying on students and their families to shoulder our economic challenges. It is time to invest in Oregon.” —Signed by the presidents of all seven public universities in Oregon Under this budget option the UO would likely be forced to consider double-digit tuition increases for resident undergraduates and potential cuts to services, programs and workforce in order to balance its budget. The investment budget increases the Public University Support Fund by $120 million for a total of $856.9 million. This level of funding would keep tuition increases for resident undergraduate students at the UO at or below 5 percent for the next two years. It would also preserve most recent investments in financial aid and student support programs, such as academic advising and PathwayOregon. State programs, which include institutions, centers and programs operated by public universities, are another area of concern. As opposed to providing instructional support, these programs address economic development, natural resources and other public policy issues. Many of these programs have an industry-specific focus, matching state support with funds from the private sector and other sources. At the UO, they include the Labor Education Research Center, clinical legal education and the Oregon Office for Community Dispute Resolution in the School of Law. The governor’s base budget keeps funding for all state programs flat from the last biennium, with the exception of the engineering and technology sustaining fund, which is eliminated entirely. The $25 million fund is used to invest in public research universities that respond to urgent engineering education needs of Oregon’s fast-growing high tech industry. In contrast, the governor’s proposed investment budget increases funding for all state programs to meet inflationary costs. It not only maintains the fund’s level, it increases it by $35 million to a total of $60 million. The UO would benefit from this increase in relation to the expansion of its research portfolio and establishment of the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. In capital construction, the UO’s top request to the state is the renovation of Huestis Hall, a STEM and life sciences hub for 3,000 students and faculty members each year. While the governor did not include funding specifically for this or any other capital construction projects requested by universities in either of her budget scenarios, both budget options set aside $225 million in state-backed bonds for university projects. The university and UO advocates will request $54 million for the renovation of Huestis Hall to make seismic upgrades and renovate teaching and research spaces. Student aid in the base budget would see flat funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the state’s only need-based aid program, at $152 million. In the governor’s investment budget, the grant is nearly doubled, reaching $273 million. A provision of state law also allocates 1 percent of net lottery proceeds to public universities for the former sports lottery program. The UO receives approximately $1 million each biennium from general lottery dollars to replace what universities used to receive from the now-defunct Sports Action Lottery. The revenue provides intercollegiate athletics scholarships as well as academic scholarships for graduate students. The governor’s base budget eliminates sports lottery funding entirely. The investment budget restores that funding at the full 1 percent. Another area where universities are affected is academic, research and economic development funding. In the base and investment budget options, the governor allocates $12 million to fully build out the multi-hazard sensor network for the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system wildfire prevention, monitoring and mitigation by 2023. The UO works with other West Coast states and universities to bring this technology to the public through the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and UO faculty members and technicians operate the network in coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies. The only previous direct state investment in this work was in 2015 when the Legislature allocated $670,000 for the purchase of more seismic sensors. In the governor’s investment budget, additional academic, research and economic development funding that benefits the UO includes: $15 million in campus public safety improvements through the creation of a statewide shared services training program for higher education institutions focusing on prevention, preparedness, incident response, continuity and recovery. $10 million to establish a public university innovation fund at the Oregon Business Development Department, the state agency that oversees economic development activity, to support economic development partnerships between businesses and public universities. The innovation fund provides matching funds for university grant requests for applied research. $5 million in funding for the International Association of Athletics Federations World Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will take place in 2021 in Eugene. This will be the first time the event has been held in the United States. The Oregon Legislature will consider the governor’s recommended budget during the 2019 legislative session that starts Jan. 14.

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  • Gifts to new scholarship fund put Dreamers on path to graduation

    First published in Around the O on November 21st, 2018. For the cost of five lattes, anyone can help build a scholarship fund for Dreamers, UO students with Deferred Action Childhood Arrival status and those whose presence in the U.S. is undocumented. All it takes is a quick visit to DuckFunder for Dreamers. What’s more, all gifts also count toward matching a $75,000 challenge grant. The need is urgent, said Rosa Chavez, associate director of the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence. “One student who would be eligible for this new scholarship was working nearly full time as a freshman,” she said. “By sophomore year, the stress of trying to keep up with classes while working swing shift became too much. They haven’t been back this fall.” Keith Swayne, a 1962 economics graduate, made the gift to launch the Dreamers Scholarships. “These young Dreamers deserve access to an education so they can reach their potential as contributors to our great country, as have those who have come before them,” said the 1962 economics graduate. “We are a country of immigrants. That is at the core of who we are.” It’s common for Dreamers with work permits to hold down as many as three jobs during summers to pay for their next year’s tuition, but that doesn’t cover other expenses, said Justine Carpenter, director of multicultural and identity-based support services. “I know a student who can afford to take only one course each term,” Carpenter said. “It will be a very long road at that rate, but she is determined to succeed.” People from as far away as Indiana, Ohio and Massachusetts already have given more than $4,500 in the online drive, which aims to raise $10,000 by 10:59 p.m. Dec. 24. Many contributors note that their gift honors a friend or family member. The DuckFunder campaign kicks off the larger effort to complete the $75,000 match by June 30, 2019. To pitch in, contact Sally Dougherty, College of Arts and Sciences development director, at 541-346-3903 or sallyd@uoregon.edu. The Dreamers Scholarships are part of a university investment to ensure that all students have access to support and programming to help them be successful at the UO. This academic year President Michael H. Schill dedicated funding for staff and faculty support for the Dreamers Working Group to provide training for Dreamer allies. The UO has nearly 200 Dreamer allies who have taken daylong trainings to better understand Dreamer student needs and experiences. Those wishing to become an ally or who would like to get in touch with an ally or the Dreamers Working Group, send a message to UOdreamers@uoregon.edu. Additional resources for Dreamers and their families are available at  https://www.uoregon.edu/dreamers —By Melody Ward Leslie, University Communications

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  • Oregon Senate Democrats will split top budget job

    Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (from left) and Sen. Betsy Johnson will be the Oregon Senate's joint co-chairs on the Ways and Means committee during the 2019 session. Rep. Dan Rayfield will be the panel's co-chair from the House. (The Associated Press)   By Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian/OregonLive A triumvirate of Democrats will lead Oregon’s budget-writing Ways and Means committee next year, under a unique arrangement that involves the Senate’s appointment of joint co-chairs: Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, who represents Beaverton and northwest Portland. Rep. Dan Rayfield of Corvallis is the co-chair from the House. Both Johnson and Steiner Hayward were vying for the job, presenting Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, with a tough decision that he apparently resolved by choosing both. “Senator Johnson and Senator Steiner Hayward are two of the most experienced budgeteers in the Legislature,” Courtney said in a news release. “They are accomplished individuals. One is a doctor. The other is pilot with a law degree.” There are usually two Ways and Means committee co-chairs, one from the majority caucus in each chamber, and two vice chairs representing the minority caucuses. There were two joint co-chairs from the House in 2011 but that was because the chamber was split evenly between Democrats and Republicans that session. Then-Rep. Dennis Richardson, a Republican who is now secretary of state, and then-Rep. Peter Buckley, a Democrat, shared the job. It’s unclear whether there is any precedent for legislative leaders voluntarily splitting the job between two people for other reasons.

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  • UO chemist serves another term on the National Science Board

    First published in Around the O on November 19th, 2018. University of Oregon chemist Geri Richmond will spend another six years as a member of the National Science Board. Her renewal on the 24-member governing board of the National Science Foundation was part of a White House announcement in which President Trump intends to name five new appointees. Maria Zuber, vice president for research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also is being reappointed. "I’m thrilled to be able to continue to serve the scientific community in this capacity in the coming six years,” said Richmond, a UO Presidential Chair and winner of a National Medal of Science. “It will allow me to continue my work on a number of important National Science Board projects on the scientific workforce, new basic research initiatives and issues around science outreach and policy.” Richmond and Zuber, whose two-year term as board chairman ended this year, were initially appointed in 2012. Their terms had expired in May, but they remained consultants to the board pending new presidential selections. The National Science Board is responsible for shaping the agency’s strategic direction and approving its annual budget submission to the White House. The board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation, approves new programs and awards, and serves as an independent body of advisers to the president and Congress on policy and education matters related to science and engineering. “I am so excited that professor Richmond will serve again on the board of the National Science Foundation,” said UO Provost and Senior Vice President Jayanth Banavar. “Her leadership, her scholarly work and her efforts to bring more women and people of color into the sciences are very admirable. She is a tremendous representative and will do great things on the board.” Richmond, who joined the UO in 1985, is widely recognized for her research in chemistry and materials science. The many discoveries that have emerged from her lab, she always has noted, reflect the hard work and dedication of her students. She also co-founded COACh in 1997 as a grassroots organization to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math for women and minorities. The organization now is governed by an international advisory board of leading women scientists and engineers. Richmond, who earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980, has held a variety of leadership positions in the scientific community. She served as chair of the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee from 1998 to 2003 and was the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2015. She has been the U.S. Department of State’s science envoy for the lower Mekong River countries in Southeast Asia since 2015. She was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and elected as a fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2011. Earlier this year, Richmond received the 2018 Priestley Medal, the highest honor of the American Chemical Society, in recognition of her research and global outreach, and she was elected to a three-year leadership role in Sigma Xi, the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. On Nov. 17, Richmond was in Seattle to accept the Linus Pauling Medal Award from the Portland, Puget Sound and Oregon sections of the American Chemical Society. The award recognizes her fundamental discoveries related to the interactions that occur at the surfaces of oil, water and air. That work that has helped understand how environmentally and biologically important molecules adsorb and orient at liquid surfaces. The five new members to be appointed to the National Science Board are: Maureen Condic of the University of Utah; Suresh Garimella of Purdue University; Auburn University President Steven Leath; Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute; and Stephen Willard, chief executive officer of Cellphire Inc., a Maryland-based biotechnology company. —By Jim Barlow, University Communications

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  • UO postdoc solves mystery of isolated Atlantic island birds

    First published in Around the O on November 16th, 2018. A little bird led Swedish-born Martin Stervander to the University of Oregon, but his journey wasn’t a direct flight. As a doctoral student at Lund University he studied the genetics of a bird species that only lives on Inaccessible Island, a tiny patch of volcano-produced land in the Atlantic Ocean between South America and Africa. While pursuing that research, he met UO biologist Bill Cresko and learned about a genomic analysis technology invented at the UO.  “I met Bill a few times, beginning at a workshop on the RAD-sequencing technology that he helped developed for his work in stickleback (fish),” Stervander said. “We immediately realized the potential of the technique and adopted it in several of our studies.” RAD stands for restriction-site associated DNA. The methodology, which emerged from a collaboration between biology professor Eric Johnson’s lab and the Cresko lab, creates a detailed library of genetic code. It led to a new generation of sequencing technologies. The first major application helped identify genetic differences in stickleback, an ocean fish that has repeatedly adapted to freshwater. When first unveiled in 2007, the technology led to the UO spinoff company Floragenex. Last month, Stervander’s research took flight. He was lead author on a paper in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution that identified the origin of Inaccessible Island’s bird, a rail. His team called for a reclassification of the flightless bird’s place in the avian tree of life. The bird, according to its genetics, descends from a South American ancestor that also gave rise to the continental dot-winged crake. These sister species are related to black rails in the Americas and, probably, the Galapagos crake. Stervander recommends that the rail should be in the genus Laterallus to match its relatives. The island’s bird was labeled Atlantisia rogersi in 1923, when British surgeon Percy Lowe, then head of the ornithology collections at the British Museum, first described it. He created the new genus, Atlantisia, in honor of mythical Atlantis. He also suggested that the rail may have walked to the island along a since sunken land bridge from either Africa or South America. Plate tectonics later ruled out a land bridge, Stervander said. “They flew or were assisted by floating debris,” he said. “Whether they flew all the way or were swept off by a storm and then landed on debris, we can’t say. In any case, they managed to make it from the mainland of South America to Inaccessible Island.” More on Stervander’s discovery and the bird’s history is detailed in a news release “Researchers find the origin of an isolated bird species on South Atlantic island.” Cresko met Stervander after traveling to Lund in 2012 to speak at a workshop arranged by the university’s research school in genomic ecology to discuss the RAD technology that had emerged from his and Johnson’s UO labs. “This started a series of connections with the faculty at Lund University, as well as other places throughout Europe,” Cresko said. “I visited Lund several times subsequently and met with Martin to develop project ideas. I was impressed by his research and the questions he was asking.” They jointly submitted postdoctoral proposals. The Swedish Research Council agreed to fund a three-year fellowship for Stervander at the UO. “He’s here extending his research and getting experience working with fish models,” Cresko said. “He brings a depth of understanding of ecology and evolution but also a novel perspective from having asked research questions in birds. He also adds a fun international component to how our group thinks about science.” Stervander’s interest in birds began as a child. Before entering Lund University, he worked in various research projects and as a bander in several bird observatories. For two years, he headed Sweden’s Ottenby Bird Observatory. “I knew that I wanted to focus on the speciation of birds,” Stervander said. “I thematically asked, 'How does it work when a species evolves into two?' What are the mechanisms involved in that process? And can it happen even if the diverging lineages are not physically isolated from each other, like if they’re stuck on an island?” In addition to traveling to Inaccessible Island, he spent time on islands in the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa. He has a keen interest, he said, in finches that have colonized and evolved to survive on isolated islands. In Cresko’s lab, Stervander is working with a family of fish that includes pipefish, seahorses and seadragons. All use their long snouts to suction their food. What he learns from the fish, he said, may help him understand how finches living in isolated locations have reshaped their bills to allow them to eat. “I’d like to get closer to understanding the genetic underpinnings for the adaptation of their bills — their foraging apparatus — which happens in early embryonic development in preserved pathways,” he said. “How did this evolve, from finches to seahorse snouts? I want to find out how genes are turned on and off in the earliest developmental pathways in both the bird and these fish.” —By Jim Barlow, University Communications

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