Latest news from the UO

  • PathwayOregon celebrates 10 years of transforming lives

    First published in Around the O: “I'm Going to College” Sometimes, life takes a hairpin turn for the better. Reality seems too good to be real. But then it sinks in, and you have a new story to tell—the one about that time when everything changed for the better. For 2018 graduate Brianna Hayes, her story begins at a restaurant with her dad. The first-generation college student from Portland had been active at Grant High School, earned a solid GPA, and been accepted to the UO. But she had no idea how to afford college, and she was feeling down. Then her mom called. “You just got a piece of mail from something called PathwayOregon,” she told Brianna. “Your tuition and fees are paid for.” “I’m just sitting there screaming in the middle of the restaurant, and then I started crying,” says Brianna. “My dad asked ‘What is wrong with you? What’s going on?’ I said ‘I’m going to college. It’s going to work out.’ “It was great. The best moment of my life.” For the past 10 years, high school seniors from across Oregon have been getting the PathwayOregon promise—and a lifelong story to tell. It all begins with a letter from the University of Oregon. Congratulations, now get to work. Because your college degree (and everything that happens after you earn it) just went from virtually impossible to totally achievable.   Click here for the full Around the O article: around. uoregon.edu/pathwayoregon2018

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  • Internship program moves students from classrooms to jobs

    First published in Around the O on September 18th, 2018. Wrapping up an intensive summer, students in the Master’s Industrial Internship Program sat down with 25 companies to showcase their skills and knowledge in an effort to land an internship with one of them. The event kicked off Sept. 10 with a networking dinner where 57 chemistry and physics students got to connect with more than 60 industry professionals. Over the next two days, students took part in more than 425 interviews with 39 interviewing teams from companies ranging in size from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies and national laboratories.   As part of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, the Master’s Industrial Internship Program offers a fast-track to careers in the areas of photovoltaics and semiconductors, optical materials and devices, and polymer science. The program takes an average of 15 months to complete, and arguably the most intense periods are the interview days. “I feel the same way about the interviews as I do about roller coasters: terrified and exhilarated," said Kim Belmes, a student in the optics track. “There’s definitely some nervous excitement, like anything could happen,” said Kesley Price, who was in the program’s photovoltaic and semiconductor track, as she was gathering her thoughts between interviews. “It is a little bit of a comfort to have the first one under your belt.” Those were typical reactions among students as the first day of interviews got underway. Most had seven to eight interviews spread over the two days at the Erb Memorial Union. Industrial partners were looking to hire interns for nine-month, paid positions in myriad technical areas, including research and development, product development, applications engineering, manufacturing, process engineering and defense.  Interns work on teams alongside established scientists to make meaningful contributions to current projects. Most will be hired on by their host companies, while some will use the experience they gain to land comparable jobs in the tech sector. The Master’s Industrial Internship Program, along with the Bioinformatics and Genomics Master’s Program, form the Knight Campus Internship Program, which officially launched last year by uniting the two successful efforts. The industrial internship program offers intensive hands-on curriculum, enabling students to excel in industrial and applied research settings while also giving them the soft skills required to thrive in a fast-paced environment typically driven by problem solving in teams. “Most are going from being an undergrad to getting a high-tech, high-paying job within six months, which is amazing,” said Lynde Ritzow, director of recruitment for the Master’s Industrial Internship Program. The first three months of the program take place on campus and include focused lab and coursework to help students transition from a college setting to working in industry. That includes professional development and providing lab simulations comparable to what they’ll face once they’re at their internships. “The challenge is to get students to go from being the independent problem-solvers they were as undergrads to problem-solving effectively in teams in an industrial environment,” Ritzow said. Faculty and staff work closely with industry partners to evolve the program’s curriculum and keep students up to date with current innovations in industry. Most students receive internship offers within a few weeks of their interviews and typically start within three months. The program encapsulates the mission of the Knight Campus with its focus on fast-tracking academic science into real applications. “Academically, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Jamie Johnson, a student in the photovoltaic and semiconductor track, said midway through her first day of interviews. “There’s very intensive coursework, lab work and teamwork, but it’s been really an amazing experience.” The following companies were represented at the 2018 Interview Event: Arclin; Cree; Electro Scientific Industries; Emerald Kalama Chemical LLC; FormFactor; HP; Isovolta; Juno Therapeutics; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Lonza; Los Alamos National Laboratory; McConnell Labs, Inc.; Microchip; Moxtek; Nanohmics; nLIGHT; Ouster; OnTo Technology; Quantum Innovations; Qorvo; Serán Biosciences; Thermo Fisher Scientific; Timbercon; Voxtel Inc.; WR Grace and Zemax LLC. —By Jim Murez, University Communications

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  • University of Oregon students bring fresh ideas to La Pine

    First published in the bendbulletin.com on September, 18, 2018. Eight months after a program brought more than 100 University of Oregon students to La Pine to help chart its future, the Central Oregon city has dozens of new ideas that could become future projects. “It was a tremendous experience, and it’s going to help shape the future of La Pine in a very positive way,” said Cory Misley, La Pine city manager. On Thursday, the University of Oregon and the city plan a joint celebration marking the end of the university’s Sustainable City Year Program, an interdisciplinary program that regularly brings students to a different Oregon city. The event will highlight results from the 11 projects that came out of the program, which range from designs for a new transit center that incorporate passive heating and cooling, to design standards that give the stores along La Pine’s nascent downtown a more cohesive look and feel. Program manager Megan Banks said the students, who were mostly seniors and graduate students, had a chance to work directly with city staff on projects, simulating a more professional environment than what they would otherwise encounter in a classroom. “The students work harder and are more focused when they have an actual client,” Banks said. Misley, the city manager, said La Pine gets the benefit of detailed research on a variety of long-term projects that a small city staff might not be able to tackle on its own. La Pine incorporated in 2007 and lacks some of the infrastructure, from bike lanes to design standards for downtown buildings, that larger cities have had in place for decades. Misley said the students helped bridge those gaps for city staffers. “It allowed a lot to get put on the table without staff having to research every little thing,” Misley said. While the Sustainable City Year Program has worked with a mix of cities, ranging from Salem to Redmond, La Pine, with a population of about 1,800 people, was by far the smallest city the program has worked with. Banks said having a smaller community helped the students focus on projects that helped connect the city with the rest of the region. “They were able to consider all of southern Deschutes County,” Banks said. For example, a class that focused on cycling and pedestrian access created a series of proposals for trails extending through the city, several of which connect with established trails in other parts of Central Oregon, said Katie Fields, communications associate for the program. The projects varied in scale and focus, from creating a public relations campaign for the city, to helping the city’s senior center plan for the future. Misley said some of the proposals dovetailed with existing city priorities, including a project that created design standards for existing buildings, which he said complements work the city was doing for new and proposed downtown buildings. Perhaps the most ambitious result of the partnership was a set of passive heating and cooling standards for a proposed new transit center in the city. Fields said the proposal would save energy for the building, making use of a climate that’s very different from what students would encounter in Eugene. She added that students completed the work as part of an independent study after the class ended. While workers are currently busy building sidewalks around the edges of the proposed site, Misley said the city is still working on the design of the building. Still, he said he hopes the city can break ground on the site next summer. Banks said the weather made travel between Eugene and La Pine a challenge at times during the winter, but added that the city was able to make accommodations. Overall, she said students were happy to make the trip. “Students love to get out of Eugene,” Banks said. “La Pine was somewhere new for them.” —Reporter: 541-617-7818, [email protected]

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  • Oregon Economic Forum to explore ‘poverty amidst plenty’

    First Published in Around the O on September 19, 2018. The economy is humming and unemployment is at record lows, yet many continue to feel left out of this historically long economic expansion — a contradiction that will be explored at this year’s Oregon Economic Forum.  “Reaching for Economic Equity and Inclusion in the Second Gilded Age” is the theme of the forum’s 15th-annual breakfast, which takes place Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Portland. “By all accounts we are in a robust economy, yet the growth and gain hasn’t reached everyone,” said Tim Duy, University of Oregon professor and director of the Oregon Economic Forum. “We are experiencing the challenges of poverty amidst plenty.” The event will explore different facets of equity and inclusion issues spanning geographic to racial to gender divides and action that may alleviate the economic damage that stem from those divides. The keynote speaker is Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist for Washington Center for Equitable Growth. She is the co-editor of a volume of essays on how to integrate inequality into economic thinking. Duy will provide the economic forecast with Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist for Key Private Bank. “At this stage of the economic cycle, equity markets typically climb a ‘wall of worry.’ This year investors have worried about the aging economic cycle, rising inflation, higher interest rates, the potential for a global trade war and other threats to the nine-year bull market,” McCain said.  “The Oregon Economic Forum will provide perspective on whether investors should be worried or whether they can afford to relax.” Other speakers are Gregory Acs, vice president of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, and Nita Shah, executive director at Microenterprise Services of Oregon. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and the program is 7:45 to 11 a.m. at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. Tickets are $80 per person and $520 for a table of eight. The event is presented by KeyBank and sponsored by the UO College of Arts and Sciences, Greater Portland, Portland Business Alliance, NW Natural, Port of Portland and The Oregonian/OregonLive. —By Heidi Hiaasen, University Communications

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  • UO experiments with own 'extension service' in Pendleton

    First published in the East Oregonian on September 17th, 2018. The University of Oregon wants to add another shade of green and gold to Pendleton High School. Staff gave a group of university officials, including university President Michael Schill, a tour of the empty school Thursday and talked about the Oregon Schools Research Network, a pilot program that the university hopes will be to education what the Oregon State University Extension Service is to agriculture. Randy Kamphaus, the dean of the University of Oregon College of Education, said schools in Pendleton, Portland, Eugene, and Coquille were selected to participate in the five-year pilot program, which is focused on improving professional development, customizing research using local data, and creating dual credit courses that would be co-taught by university professors and high school teachers. The network hired Pendleton High School science teacher Piper Kelm to act as a liaison between the university and the high school, meaning she will continue to teach at PHS while coordinating the network’s initiatives at a local level. While the program is still in its infancy, Kelm is already taking steps to integrate it into the district. Kelm said she issued a survey to Pendleton teachers asking them what they most wanted from professional development. The majority of responses showed teachers were interested in classroom management and student engagement, and Kelm is now focused on integrating Conscious Discipline, a disciplinary method meant to promote social-emotional learning and self-regulation that’s already used at the elementary and middle school levels into the high school. Kelm is also in early discussions with a U of O chemistry professor on starting a dual-credit chemistry class at the high school. Pendleton High School Principal Melissa Sandven said Pendleton High School already offers dual-credit courses through Blue Mountain Community College and Eastern Oregon University, but Kamphaus said the University of Oregon’s offerings would focus on “filling in the cracks” where no other offerings exist. Kelm will also be involved in creating a local study, and she’ll spend this year devising the parameters of it. While it may not be one of the central goals of the program, Kamphaus said one of its secondary effects is it could expand the pipeline of local students to the university through exposure to the network. Schill has provided $1 million from his discretionary funding to run the program for five years, but Kamphaus is already starting to look at what the network will look like beyond the pilot stage. Kamphaus said the network’s “audacious goal” is to have the same sort of presence as the OSU Extension Service, which has facilities and staffers in all 36 Oregon counties. In order to meet that vision, Kamphaus said the network wants to emulate the extension service’s financial model, which derives funding from multiple sources at the local, state, and federal levels in addition to private funding. The network may also be more cost-effective than the extension service, Kamphaus said, because it could rent space at schools rather than require independent facilities. Despite the network still existing in an early phase, Kamphaus said officials from Hermiston and Redmond have already expressed interest in getting their own network posts. Additionally, the United Way has exemplified the network as exactly the kind of educational project they would want to fund. ——— Contact Antonio Sierra at [email protected] or 541-966-0836

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  • UO to seek $54M from the state to renovate Huestis Hall

    The University of Oregon will ask state lawmakers for $54 million in bonds next year to renovate Huestis Hall after making the project its top capital construction priority for the coming legislative session. In May, the proposed project was submitted to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for evaluation and scoring based on its criteria and metrics for the state. This month, the commission adopted a prioritized capital project list that is sent to Gov. Kate Brown for consideration. The 45-year old, 60,000 square-foot building is a hub for the biolgical sciences at the UO. Each year 3,000 students and faculty members learn and teach in Huestis Hall labs and classrooms. Its renovation will provide much-needed improvements, including addressing critical life, safety and seismic vulnerabilites; modernizing lab learning spaces; and eliminating deferred maintenance. “Every biennium we are in a competitive climate for the state’s bonding capacity,” President Michael Schill said. “For the 2019 session, Huestis Hall is the top priority for the UO.” In addition to funding for the Huestis Hall renovation, the UO will partner with the six other public universities in Oregon to request at least $65 million for the capital improvement and renewal fund for the 2019-21 biennium. This funding allows universities to generate operational cost savings and invest in existing buildings on campus to fulfill educational and public missions. Undergradates in Huestis Hall receive rigorous training directly connected to the workforce skills necessary to meet the needs of employers from a variety of industries. In addition, it is the home to student programs and intiatives that serve underrepresented populations and expand the pipeline from K-12 to postsecondary education. For example, the Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence, known as SPICE, and the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning, known as SAIL, both use Huestis Hall research labs. SPICE is a pipeline program that creates a learning environment where girls can thrive in science, technology, engineering and math fields, and SAIL helps local eighth- through 12th-graders from underrepresented backgrounds prepare for college. “Huestis Hall is a core component of the UO’s undergraduate research activities, which is critical because of how research is connected to higher graduation rates, academic achievement and career preparedness,” said Josh Snodgrass, associate vice provost for undergraduate studies. According to the UO’s project submission to the commission, the university must limit the number of students who can prepare for careers in STEM industries due to the current layout and substandard building systems in Huestis Hall. Through renovation, the UO can expand its reach, by at least 40 percent, to educate more students and equip them for the changing economy. The governor’s office will decide whether to include the projects in its recommended budget that will be released in December.

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  • SAIL launches 500 students on a course toward college

    First published in around the O on August 23rd. When Marissa McDaniel was a sophomore at Springfield High School, she was interested in college but wasn’t sure what to expect. “I had no reference for college,” she said. “I already knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t have a reason to.” But after three summers participating in the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning on the UO campus, McDaniel had a change of perspective. “It helped me see I could have a future,” she said. “It made me feel like I had a purpose.” McDaniel is about to start her second year at the UO and served this summer as a SAIL counselor. This summer marked SAIL’s 13th year at the UO. Founded by economics professors Bruce Blonigen and Bill Harbaugh, and funded largely by private gifts, the mentoring program is aimed at middle and high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, including lower-income and first-generation homes. The goal is to expose them to college life and encourage them to pursue higher education. Last spring, of the 98 high school seniors who participated in SAIL, 97 enrolled in college, including 41 at the UO, said SAIL Executive Director Lara Fernandez. “We believe in them,” she said. “We want to provide connections and show them all the opportunities that are here.” About 500 students registered for the week-long SAIL programs this summer, up 30 percent from last year, Fernandez said. Students participated in 18 different areas of study, including biology, product design, performing arts, environmental studies, physics and human physiology. “It’s all very experiential,” she said. “They’re doing.” That might mean walking along the Willamette River, working in a chemistry lab, identifying mutations in the zebrafish lab or participating in a music recording camp. Or even paying a visit to the UO’s cadaver lab. The lab, located in the basement of Klamath Hall, houses up to eight human cadavers, donated each spring to the UO so students taking advanced anatomy can dissect them. As SAIL students filed into the lab, graduate student Alia Yasen told them to take no photos and to respect the cadavers, reminding them the bodies were once someone’s mother, father, brother, sister. By turns, the students handled bones, brains and hearts before Yasen began opening the eight metal caskets to reveal cadavers that had been dissected by UO students earlier in the spring. Some students hung back, while others moved in to examine the bodies and touch organs and muscles. Emmy Sanchez, a South Eugene High School student, confessed to being a bit shocked by the sight of the bodies. But she’s interested in a career in a health profession so she knows understanding human anatomy is important.   Participating in SAIL has helped to bring her dream of a college education closer to reality, she said. “Doing SAIL has made me a lot more comfortable about coming here,” she said. “It’s a good bridge to understanding and being more comfortable around a university setting.” —By Tim Christie, University Communications

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  • Science Museum heads to the ballpark for UO STEM night

    First published in Around the O. The UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History is taking it to the ballgame. On Aug. 27, the museum’s educators will set up shop at PK Park, giving fans a sampling of their national award-winning, hands-on science outreach programs. The event, sponsored by Student Services and Enrollment Management, is designed to inspire participants to delve into studies and careers related to science, technology, engineering, and math — collectively known as the STEM fields.   “We want to celebrate and share what goes on under the university’s STEM umbrella with future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” said Susi Thelen, the division’s outreach events coordinator. Thelen said the Duck will be there to welcome fans and families to the event. At the museum’s tables, attendees can explore volcanoes, earthquakes and other geologic processes; learn how the first Oregonians built homes and hunting tools thousands of years ago; and participate in a kid-friendly engineering challenge. “The museum’s outreach program travels to classrooms, libraries and events around Oregon, making science accessible and fun for people all over the state,” said Ann Craig, the museum’s public programs director. “We’re excited to partner with Student Services and Enrollment Management and share these programs with local baseball fans of all ages.” The UO campus community and friends are encouraged to join in the fun. Discounted tickets are available now. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the game starts at 7:05 p.m. —By Hannah Kruse, Museum of Natural and Cultural History 

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  • Millrace getting makeover thanks to Knight Campus

    First posted on August 22nd in the Register Guard, by Saul Hubbard. For the long-neglected Eugene Millrace, the University of Oregon’s new Knight science campus could be an unexpected boon. The narrow waterway, which runs between Franklin Boulevard and the Willamette River, has a rich history. In recent decades, however, it has been best known for its murky and stagnant water, its blackberry- and horsetail-covered banks, and as a receptacle for garbage, dirty stormwater from nearby parking lots, and the occasional pledge from UO fraternities. The millrace runs only a few feet from the under-construction first building of the new $1 billion Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and that proximity to the UO’s new crown jewel is already paying dividends. The UO has been quietly planning a $1 million enhancement project on a short stretch of the millrace directly adjacent to campus, with new bridges and a new boardwalk, as well as environmental work to improve the water’s quality and nearby vegetation. After decades of fruitless talk about the millrace’s potential and how to revive it, the UO’s project is the first actual action — albeit on a limited scale. Following the recent controversy about the university tearing down its nearly century-old Hayward Field, Mike Harwood, the UO’s vice president for campus planning, said the restoration of another historical asset feels like “one of those win-wins for everybody.” “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he added. “It helps the university but it’s a win for the community because it’s a part of our heritage that we have kind of ignored.” Eugene’s earliest white settlers dug the millrace in 1851 to spin waterwheels that powered the city’s first industrial development. The waterway soon became a major recreation canal for city residents and the university community, with boathouses renting out skiffs and canoes to coeds and townsfolk starting in the 1890s. An annual Canoe Fete on the Millrace was a major fixture of the city’s calendar for 50 years, with elaborate floats drifting on the waterway. The millrace was even prominently featured in a 1929 silent picture called Ed’s Coed. But in the post-World War II era, it was partially buried and slowly allowed to deteriorate. “There was definitely a post-WWII fade of the millrace,” said Bob Hart, executive director of the Lane County Historical Society. Subsequent restoration plans “all shipwrecked,” he added. “The millrace is one of those historical legacies that never seems to get high on anyone’s agenda.” The UO’s new project touches only about a 600-foot stretch of the 2-mile-long waterway, but the changes will be significant, according to an application submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The work won’t start until next summer at the earliest, after the Knight Campus building is complete. The UO will, in fact, be drying out the millrace in that stretch later this summer and diverting the water downstream through a large pipe, so crews can use the millrace’s bed as part of their work on the building. “There’s gonna be some warts before the really nice stuff happens,” Harwood said. “We’re going to make it look worse before it looks better.” Eventually, the university plans to dredge up 2,800 cubic yards of silt and sediment from the bottom of the waterway — potentially weighing 4,000 tons — deepening the channel from an average of 2 feet to 7 feet for most of the stretch. It will also be re-grading the millrace’s banks, and installing logs with root wads, boulders, and coir soil wraps to limit erosion. The changes should enhance the water quality and the habitat potential for fish and amphibians. Native plants — sword fern, kelsey dogwood and fruited bullrush, among others — will then be planted on the banks, and vegetated water treatment areas will be added to improve the quality of the stormwater runoff. “The deeper the water, the healthier it is because it doesn’t get affected so much by sunlight,” Harwood said. “The water (now) is shallow and you get a lot of algae and stuff because it gets so warm” and it’s less attractive to fish. Harwood said the UO is also considering whether to increase the millrace’s flow by pumping more water from the Willamette River into the channel. That could further improve the stream’s quality. Tests by the UO found excess nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and heavy metals in the waterway. Next to the Knight Campus building, the project will build a 360-foot long concrete decking boardwalk for pedestrians and cyclists, along with a new pedestrian bridge and a rebuilt bridge across the millrace. Plans for a section of “stadium steps” to jut out overlooking the millrace have likely been scrapped, however, due to cost constraints, UO officials said. The bigger vision, from Harwood’s perspective, is eventually restoring the full stretch of the millrace on UO property. (The university isn’t planning to be involved in any work on sections south of Franklin Boulevard). Harwood said he could even see sections, including the Mill Pond, where canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards could be re-introduced. “How can we break the remaining sections into discrete projects that make sense?” he said, when asked about next steps. “Because there’s no way we’re going to be able to go to the city, the state, the university administration and say we want to fund it all at once.” No recent cost estimates have been made for restoring the millrace, but, even back in the 1990s, the work was projected to cost $22 million. Harwood completed a similar project when he worked at North Carolina State University, although he warned it was “a 10-year slog” and involved cobbling together local, state and federal funds. Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said it’s heartening that the UO is kick-starting work on the millrace. “There are citizens who have been advocating for improvements and we have been eager to upgrade the millrace for many years,” she said. “Fundamentally we are appreciative of the university’s efforts to invest in that part of our urban landscape.” But she added that the council doesn’t have any discussions about other millrace work “on our immediate agenda.” “We do have a lot of other projects going on at the moment,” she said. “It may come up at a later point.” Jerry Diethelm, a longtime leading advocate for restoring the millrace and a former UO professor, said he hadn’t heard anything about the new project. “Hope it indicates a commitment to more,” he said. Hart, of the historical society, said he felt the UO deserves “a pat on the back” for doing some “actual preservation” of the millrace, especially given the school’s “reputation of ‘knock it down, build it up.’” But he said he feels Eugene residents more generally should take some ownership of the project. “We seem to be more present-oriented here,” compared to other communities in the Willamette Valley, Hart said. “We seem to lack an appreciation sometimes of what you can gain by looking back.”

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