Latest news from the UO

  • Opinion: Lawmakers must consider our entire education system to increase opportunities for Oregonians

    First published at Oregonlive.com on January 28th, 2019.  By Michael H. Schill, Maria A. Gallegos-Chacon, Louie Vidmar and Chris Sinclair Schill is president of University of Oregon; Gallegos-Chacon is president of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon; Vidmar and Chris Sinclair are presidents of unions representing staff, faculty and administrators. State lawmakers begin the 2019 legislative session with a clear choice that will profoundly affect the future of Oregon. Will they support access to higher education by investing in our public colleges and universities? Or, by failing to meaningfully support students, will they allow soaring tuition and debt to slam the door on students and families? It is not hyperbole to say that the state’s future depends on ensuring that all Oregonians have access to an affordable, accessible and financially-stable education system. The surest path to future success is by obtaining a college education. Today’s undergraduates are the next generation of Oregon leaders, parents, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, artists, scientists, farmers, architects, journalists, engineers, small business owners and more. Yet some policy makers seem content to maintain current levels of higher education funding or leave it completely out of conversations about revenue reform, which is needed to adequately support the entire education system. Without new dollars, Oregon’s community colleges and universities will be forced to consider double-digit tuition increases that would deny opportunity to students who need it the most. Flat funding also would lead to painful budget cuts and the loss of hundreds -- and potentially thousands -- of jobs. Some Oregonians hear a message coming from Salem that sounds as if lawmakers plan to ignore tens of thousands of college and university students who represent our collective future. We hope that is unintentional and will quickly be corrected. Over the past 20 years, the state has shifted the cost of paying for higher education on to Oregon’s students. In the 1990's, public support provided about two-thirds of the cost of a four-year degree for each resident student. Today, that ratio has largely been reversed, with students and families picking up the difference through higher tuition rates. Even with increases over the last few years in state dollars, public support for higher education in Oregon remains below pre-recession levels and ranks among the lowest in the nation on a per capita basis. Oregon cannot afford to fall further behind. Oregon’s colleges and universities have been clear that without at least $120 million for public universities and $77 million for community colleges, every institution across the state will face budget shortfalls that will have to be closed with a mix of tuition increases and budget cuts. Flat funding will close the door of opportunity for students across Oregon and will hurt the economy. The reverberations will touch students, families and communities in every corner of the state. With an eye toward the future and an unwavering focus on supporting students, now is the time for lawmakers to commit to investing in every child in Oregon. That means funding Oregon’s entire education system -- K-12, community colleges, and four-year public colleges and universities -- regardless of whether it is within the existing budget or with revenue from proposed new taxes. As leaders of the University of Oregon -- representing students, staff, faculty and administration -- we stand unified and ready to help lawmakers as they set to tackle these tough challenges in the coming months. Our students deserve as much and Oregon’s future depends on it. Michael H. Schill is president of the University of Oregon; Maria A. Gallegos-Chacon is president of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon; Louie Vidmar is president of SEIU Local 085; and Chris Sinclair is president of United Academics.   From <https://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2019/01/opinion-lawmakers-must-consider-our-entire-education-system-to-increase-opportunities-for-oregonians.html>  

    Read More
  • Students, faculty feel effects of government shutdown

    First published on the dailyemerald.com on January 26th. While the longest partial government shutdown affected federal workers across the country, including IRS workers and FBI agents, some functions at the University of Oregon were hindered as well. Betsy Boyd, the University of Oregon associate vice president for federal affairs, said that while the government has been shut down a number of times in the past few decades, the latest shutdown was unique. “There’s never been a shutdown like this one,” Boyd said. “Granted it is a partial government shutdown so it does not affect all parts of the federal government, but the length, the lack of urgency about resolving it, the uncertainty about a path forward, all of that makes it atypical in my experience.” The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, 2018 over funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall, ended last Friday when Trump signed a bill that would keep the government open until Feb. 15. According to the New York Times, Trump will keep negotiating with Congress for funding a border wall. Boyd said the biggest impact of the shutdown on the university was the effect on individual students, like those whose family members didn’t receive paychecks. “I remain concerned about students whose families may not have applied for financial aid because they’ve been government employees and may now be facing cash constraints,” she said. “I hope that students in that position are talking to financial aid or student affairs because there are folks that want to help them.” Although there is a temporary reprieve, a few areas of the university have been impacted by the shutdown, and some impacts could have lingering effects. Research proposals left waiting About 80 percent of research funding granted to UO faculty comes from federal sources, according to the latest data from the Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation. While some agencies that fund UO research, like the Department of Education, remained open, others, like the National Science Foundation, were closed during the shutdown. This meant that researchers who proposed projects to those agencies during the shutdown had to wait to communicate with the agency and wait for their proposals to be reviewed, said Cassandra Moseley, senior associate vice president for Research and Innovation. This delay becomes especially problematic for researchers when their proposals are time-sensitive. Moseley gave an example of Forest Service efforts: “In the Forest Service right now, they’re not doing any prescribed fire or pile burning. If they miss those windows, which are usually a couple weeks a year, they’re going to wait until next year,” Moseley said. “There is a lot in the federal government that is going to wait until next year.” However, Boyd said many of UO’s researchers are reimbursed for their expenditures, so it’s not always as disruptive to research. “I think our university, because of the composition of our research program, which is especially oriented to the National Institute of Health and Institute of Education Sciences, is dealing with fewer research impacts than other institutions.” Financial aid The Department of Education, which oversees Federal Student Aid, was still open during the shutdown, said Jim Brooks, director of Student Aid and Scholarships. Difficulties did come up for some students, Brooks said, when trying to verify information for their FAFSA with other federal agencies that are closed during the shutdown. Brooks said that most of those issues were resolved when the department changed the process for verifying that information in early January of this year. Since the Department of Education is currently funded by the government, student aid payments are still being distributed, both Brooks and Boyd said. The number of students whose financial aid at UO was impacted is much smaller than at some other schools, Brooks said, because most students had submitted their FAFSA information in the fall prior to the shutdown. Brooks said other schools where more students come to campus in the winter are facing more challenges. But some individual UO students who may need documents from the IRS for their financial aid are encountering challenges, Boyd said. The financial aid office is working with those students on a case-by-case basis, she said. Brooks, who was interviewed by the Emerald before Congress and the president struck a temporary deal, estimated that the shutdown would create more difficulties for financial aid if it continued through late February, when the university begins to inform new students of their financial aid awards. “Where that might get tricky is if this shutdown goes on too much longer,” Brooks said. “I don’t think anybody anticipates the shutdown going that long, but I don’t think anyone anticipated them going as long as they’ve gone right now.” SNAP food benefits Individuals who are enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receive monthly benefits to buy groceries. Funds are usually distributed on or after the first of the month; however, benefits for February were released early on Friday, Jan. 18 due to the shutdown. “It is very important to carefully budget your food benefits through February,” Dawn Myers, SNAP program manager, wrote in a letter to those enrolled in the program. According to the Student Sustainability Center’s website, many students who are on work-study programs or who receive other aid are also eligible for SNAP benefits. While the funding for food security programs remains at least through February, there are a number of other programs through the university that can support students facing food insecurity. The Student Sustainability Center works with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and the Department of Human Services to enroll students in food assistance programs and offers a variety of other support. More information can be found at dos.uoregon.edu/food. DeFazio addresses impact on community members and military personnel A bill was passed in September 2018 to ensure that military branches under the Department of Defense would have secure funding through at least September 2019. Despite passing the bill, members of the Coast Guard that are considered essential have been required to work without pay through the shutdown because they fall under the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Student Veterans Center, about 450 people at UO have self-identified as being a member of the military or are military-affiliated. Congressman Peter DeFazio held a town hall meeting on Saturday to hear from members of the community on how the shutdown has affected them. Though the government is now open, DeFazio said, “It’s not over yet.” DeFazio commented on how a wall would not be the best way to spend money for border security. He said more funding should be spent on better technology and hiring more personnel to protect borders. He also noted that the Coast Guard, which was working without pay during the shutdown, intercepts more drugs than Customs and Border Protection at the southern border. Maria Kalnbach, the nontraditional and veteran student engagement and success coordinator at UO, said her son, a Coast Guardsman, has been impacted by the shutdown. Her husband is a retired Coast Guardsman as well, and she says she hasn’t seen an impact like this before. “It’s hard as a mom to worry about your son. Just knowing that he’s struggling to figure out how he’s going to be able to pay the rent next month and how that’s all going to work out,” said Kalnbach. While her son was on leave a few weeks ago, she said she stocked him up on groceries and helped him get a car payment delayed until he had the money to pay it. Many community organizations like churches and food banks have offered to help unpaid servicemen and women. Kalnbach said that any students facing concerns because of the shutdown can reach out to her to brainstorm and seek out resources for assistance. “The bottom line is it’s a relief that we have three weeks when people will be paid and the government will begin to have people back in their positions but it’s by no means over,” Boyd said. “So from a university standpoint, we’re continuing to pay very close attention to this. I think students or anyone that’s affected should know that their elected officials want to hear from them.” Kalnbach can be reached by email at mariak@uoregon.edu and by phone at 541-346-1160. Emily Goodykoontz contributed reporting to this story.

    Read More
  • L.A. unveils earthquake early warning app

    First published on the DailyMail.com on January 2nd. Los Angeles has released an earthquake warning app that could give LA County residents precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on in the event of a quake. The city announced on Wednesday that ShakeAlertLA is available for download on Android and Apple phones. Based on a warning system developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the app will alert users when there's a quake of magnitude 5.0 or greater in the state. +3 Los Angeles has released an earthquake warning app that could give LA County residents precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on in the event of a quake Depending on where the quake hits, the app says the warning could arrive before, during or after the quake. It urges people who see the alert or feel the shaking to take precautions to avoid injury. ‘I actually think that we can say today that ShakeAlert is the most sophisticated earthquake early warning system in the world,’ said Richard Allen, director of UC Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory following a test earlier this year. ‘The challenge is getting that alert out to every single individual across the state of California or across the Pacific Northwest. ‘The reason is that the technology for delivering alerts to all 8 million residents of the Bay Area within a second does not exist today.'  Both Mexico and Japan already use public apps that can provide real-tie warnings to the public via text, the researcher notes. ShakeAlert comes five years in the making, through the collaboration of the USGC, UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, and the University of Oregon. +3 Depending on where the quake hits, the app says the warning could arrive before, during or after the quake. It urges people who see the alert or feel the shaking to take precautions to avoid injury It could provide up to tens of seconds notice ahead of ground tremors in the area, giving people time to take cover and hold on. The app is now in its second version as it’s being rolled out to the public, using an updated algorithm to pull data from seismic networks across the state. With the new algorithm, the team is hoping to cut down on false alarms. HOW ARE EARTHQUAKES MEASURED? Earthquakes are detected by tracking the size, or magnitude, and intensity of the shock waves they produce, known as seismic waves. The magnitude of an earthquake differs from its intensity. The magnitude of an earthquake refers to the measurement of energy released where the earthquake originated. Magnitude is calculated based on measurements on seismographs. The intensity of an earthquake refers to how strong the shaking that is produced by the sensation is. +3 A 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California on Thursday at 10.30am According to the United States Geological Survey, 'intensity is determined from the effects on people, human structures and the natural environment'. Earthquakes originate below the surface of the earth in a region called the hypocenter.  During an earthquake, one part of a seismograph remains stationary and one part moves with the earth's surface. The earthquake is then measured by the difference in the positions of the still and moving parts of the seismograph.  The network-based approach on which it relies isn’t as speedy as a single, or ‘on-site’ approach, but it’s far more accurate. ‘Using a network of seismic sensors also has the advantage that the system is constantly exercised and tested as it detects daily small earthquakes,’ the ShakeAlert team explains on the website. ‘For this reason the system maintains a high level or readiness. The network approach is also the only kind capable of ‘characterizing large, complex earthquakes as they evolve.’   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6550265/Los-Angeles-unveils-earthquake-warning-app.html

    Read More
  • Gen Z entrepreneurs view higher education as vital to their startups

    First published on theconversation.com Today’s college students – dubbed Generation Z – are beginning to make their mark on the workplace with a distinctly unconventional and often irreverent approach to problem-solving. In my day-to-day interactions with our students, I find that this group doesn’t only ask “Why?” they ask “How can I fix that?” And their curiosity, independence, energy and assertiveness are transforming the entrepreneurial space. These post-millennials are less like the bumbling geeks from the cast of the HBO comedy “Silicon Valley” and more in the spirit of a focused problem-solver like a young MacGyver, who would rather invent and innovate as a means to learning and discovery. What’s energizing to a university president like me is watching this transformation take place as more and more undergraduates are partnering with public institutions and fueling the next wave of ingenuity. Entrepreneurship 101 A 2011 survey by Gallup found 77 percent of students in grades 5 through 12 said they want to be their own boss and 45 percent planned to start their own business. Today, many of those students are now in college. For example, when I first met Hunter Swisher as an undergraduate plant pathology student at Penn State, he was busy turning scientific turfgrass research that he learned about in class into a commercial product and startup company. The turf of the White Course at Penn State is tended to by Phospholutions. Penn State, Author provided Swisher saw commercial potential in his professor’s research and worked closely with him to transfer that knowledge into a possible viable product. Swisher connected with the university’s startup incubator and vast alumni network, put in the work, and became a CEO of his own small business before he walked across the stage at commencement in 2016. Today, his company Phospholutions has five employees and counting and their treatment is being used on more than 50 golf courses in 10 states. Swisher is not alone in pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams while still in college. He is just one of many entrepreneurs starting their own companies by leveraging resources at their colleges and universities. Penn State, Indiana University, University of North Carolina, Georgia Tech, University of Michigan, Ohio State and other leading public institutions all have thriving entrepreneurial centers that are available to all students, as well as community members and businesses. Penn State alone has opened 21 entrepreneurial spaces across Pennsylvania, and in just two years, we’ve engaged with more than 4,500 students. Moving scientific discoveries into a breakthrough business opportunity is powering economic growth and creating jobs. Consider that nationally – in 2017 alone – the Association of University Technology Managers reported: $68.2 billion in research expenditures 1,080 startups formed 24,998 invention disclosures 15,335 new U.S. patent applications filed 7,849 licenses and options executed 755 new products created Undergraduate students at public universities are fueling this trend Traditionally, higher education has focused their investment on faculty entrepreneurs, hoping to find a breakthrough like the next Gatorade (University of Florida) or Lyrica (Northwestern University). Since universities don’t own the rights to undergraduate intellectual property, there has been less incentive to support these efforts. Until now. While we universities are taking a risk on students without a guaranteed immediate return on investment, we think the potential outcomes – for example in alumni support and building our local economies – are worth it. With their minds set on this entrepreneurial future, a common narrative has emerged that students are skipping college to start their own businesses. In reality, 8 in 10 students believe college is important to achieving their career goals. Sixty-three percent of those same students – all between the ages of 16 and 19 – said they want to learn about entrepreneurship in college, including how to start a business. Land-grant and public institutions are contributing the practical education that can contribute to economic growth and development. Indeed, generally speaking talent-driven innovation was identified as the most important factor by the Deloitte-U.S. Council on Competitiveness. Through skills training and engaged entrepreneurial experiences, students are realizing the profound impact they can have by solving a problem as well as overcoming obstacles, failures and flops – all under the umbrella of university guidance and resource support. Innovation is inspiring and a wise investment Research and education have always opened doors that benefit the nation we serve. Today, public colleges and universities are well-positioned to transform our economy and infuse it with innovation and energy. As chair of the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) newly formed Commission on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE), I’m working with universities and our government partners to identify key areas crucial to maximizing the impact of public research universities. By the end of this year, tens of millions of Generation Zers will enter the workforce. The challenge for higher education will be how to help the world of business to better harness the many talents, energy and inquisitiveness that Generation Zers bring to the table. The many partnerships that universities have formed with entrepreneurial students serve as an important first step toward this goal. Editor’s note: this piece has been updated to reflect accurately Phospholutions’ current commercial agreements.

    Read More
  • The UO's SAIL program charts a new course across Oregon

    First published in Around the O on January 3rd, 2019. The UO Summer Academy to Inspire Learning, known as SAIL, is going statewide. The college access program, aimed at getting middle and high school students from underrepresented backgrounds interested in higher education, has received a major funding boost.  A three year, $225,000 commitment from UO President Michael Schill will enable the program to expand its reach across the state and let participating students stay on campus during their week-long summer programs. The goal of SAIL is to expose students from underrepresented backgrounds, including lower-income and first-generation homes, to college life and encourage them to pursue higher education. RELATED LINKS SAIL launches 500 students on a course toward college SAIL summer classes mix learning with inspiration SAIL program draws visit from NYT columnist and author DuckFunder's first campaign scores a big win for SAIL To donate to SAIL, contact Executive Director Lara Fernandez at laraf@uoregon.edu or visit the SAIL website. SAIL, now in its 14th year, takes place during the summer months on the UO campus. Middle and high school students participate in week-long programs in one of 18 areas of study, including biology, product design, performing arts, environmental studies, physics and human physiology. Additionally, during the academic school year, SAIL provides college preparatory mentoring services in local schools, using college students in a near-peer model. To date, students have come mostly from Lane and surrounding counties, and they spend the day on campus before returning home each afternoon. The SAIL program has always been offered free to students, with most funding for the program coming from private donations. Now, with funding from Schill’s office, SAIL can expand its reach. The new funding addresses a long-term goal of SAIL to house and feed rising high school juniors and seniors at campus residential halls while also allowing the program to expand its reach to middle and high schools around Oregon. “We believe this will provide students a much better simulation of what college life is like by getting to stay 24/7 in the dorms,” said Lara Fernandez, SAIL’s executive director. “This will increase not only diversity and equity efforts across campus but also increase the number of students applying to higher education and hopefully the University of Oregon.” What makes SAIL work is the commitment from faculty members who volunteer their time to teach these students in the summer, Fernandez said. Close to 150,000 volunteer hours have accrued in SAIL’s 14 years, she said. SAIL was founded by economics professors Bruce Blonigen and Bill Harbaugh. “This is an incredible moment for the program and for the hundreds of faculty and staff who volunteer their time every year to help high school students realize their dreams of going to college,” Blonigen said. “We're so excited that we can bring this life-changing program to students around the state.”  The number of students participating in SAIL has been growing about 30 percent a year, Fernandez said. Last summer, 500 students applied, and 400 students from 39 schools participated. About half were students of color, she said. This coming summer, Fernandez estimates as many as 600 students will apply to the SAIL program, and as many as 500 will participate. The percentage of SAIL students who end up applying to college keeps increasing as well. About 96 percent of SAIL students go on to college, and of those, 99.3 percent graduate. “It’s really been incredible,” Fernandez said. It’s hard to know how many students will come to SAIL from other parts of the state, but Fernandez said she’s hopeful. “We’re hearing from so many places along the coast and pockets of schools in Portland that are just beside themselves excited about this opportunity,” she said. The other development around SAIL is that it will now be a part of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. Up until now, SAIL has been housed in the economics department. “We are one step closer to becoming a sustainable program,” Fernandez said. —By Tim Christie, University Communications

    Read More
  • UO ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for master’s degrees in physics

    First published in Around the O on December 31st. The University of Oregon granted more master’s degrees in physics than any other university in the country in 2017, earning a top ranking in a report recently released by the American Institute of Physics. The majority of the 24 master’s degrees were awarded to students in the Master’s Industrial Internship Program, a long-successful venture boasting more than 600 alumni spanning two decades. The program, which emerged from a collaboration among the physics and chemistry departments and the Materials Science Institute, was integrated last year into the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. As part of the Knight Campus Internship Program, the master’s program combines a nine-month paid internship with concentrated coursework in four areas: optical materials and devices; photovoltaic and semiconductor device processing; polymer science; and, starting in 2019, molecular sensors. “Our program’s main focus is to prepare students to excel in an industrial setting and to help launch their careers,” said Nima Dinyari, director of the optics program. When the first Knight Campus building is complete in 2020, it will host training laboratories and classroom spaces specifically designed for applied graduate education. It will allow students in the program to work closely with scientists and entrepreneurs to help turn discoveries into innovations that improve the quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation and the world. Over the years, the program’s success has come in large part because of its ability to evolve, based on feedback from top companies and labs across the country.   A prime example of how the curriculum is shaped around industry needs is a Design of Experiments course, which requires use of state-of-the-art software in addition to mastery of principles in statistics and experiment design. Fuding Lin, who oversees the program’s semiconductor curriculum, created the course to better address the needs of students. “Our courses allow students to acquire a highly marketable skill set that’s being heavily utilized in the industry,” Lin said. “In fact, many of our students immediately apply what they’ve learned to projects during their internship.” In addition to summer courses, students complete two electives and a nine-month paid internship in a company or national lab. The average internship salary this year is about $56,000. Many students receive internship offers within a few weeks of completing the summer course work, and a large number of students are later retained as full-time employees upon completion of their internship. “The program prepares students for working in a real industrial setting,” said Stacey York, director of the master’s program. “Students must learn to solve scientific problems with a general set of constraints — reagents, cost, manufacturing time — without step-by-step instructions. They develop the necessary critical thinking skills and foundational knowledge to do this within their fields.” In turn, said Bryan Boggs, lecturer of physics, the program adds value to the physics department. “The MIIP motivates our students to excel in their physics studies and provides a pathway for them to not only obtain an advanced degree but also a rewarding career after graduation,” Boggs said. Students in the program have a 98 percent graduation rate and a 90 percent employment rate within three months of graduation. Program staff strive to achieve those metrics by putting the time into recruiting and advising students, while also building corporate relationships and developing innovative curriculum. Such commitment from the staff, led by Dinyari, is a major driver of the program’s success, York said.   In the past three years, physics students have interned at 31 unique corporate sites. Students from the 2018 optics and semiconductor programs are interning at large and small organizations across the country, including Aretè Associates, Cree, ESI, HP, Keysight Technologies, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Los Alamos National Lab, Nanohmics, nLight, Ouster, OptoFidelity, Qorvo, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Timbercon and Zemax. Spencer Mather, a current student in the photovoltaics and semiconductor device processing track, recently began his internship at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The UO's curriculum offers a unique blend of understanding fundamental physics, practical knowledge for industry and development of professional skills,” Mather said. “I couldn't imagine a better liaison between academia and industry, and I couldn't picture myself anywhere else." Kimberly Belmes, a current student in the optical materials and devices track, starts her internship at Lockheed Martin Corporation in January. “This program has not only shaped me into a better student, but has transformed me into a more well-rounded person overall,” Belmes said. “I gained self-confidence and developed key professional skills that helped me land an internship with one of my top choices.” —By Rachael Nelson, University Communications

    Read More
  • At UO, much to cheer for in 2019

    First published in the Register Guard on December 30th.  In the ’70s, Eugene residents ran produce sales, church socials and other fundraisers to support their state university. That would be the 1870s. The $27,500 raised from the community bought 18 acres for what became the University of Oregon campus. Nearly 150 years later, the bond between the university and community is just as strong, just as innovative and just as relevant. 2018 has been a banner year for the university and for the region. The most recent buzz has been over the Ducks’ preparation for the Redbox Bowl against Michigan State on Monday. Yes, football bowl games do raise a university’s profile, as the UO has learned. Last week, Duck fans got the welcome news that quarterback Justin Herbert would return in 2019 for his senior season. It says something about his character that Herbert, a local product who played at Sheldon High, would not depart for the NFL despite being considered a high draft pick. Some would argue that Duck athletics gets too much attention when the overall university offers 325 degree and certificate programs, and has produced seven Oregon governors, eight U.S. senators and 20 members of Congress, along with winners of 18 Pulitzer Prizes, nine Academy Awards and nine Emmys. And there was that little movie made 40 years ago on campus, “Animal House.” Oregon and its archrival Washington are the only two Northwest universities accepted into the prestigious Association of American Universities, which comprises the 60 leading public and private research universities in the U.S., plus two in Canada. So, it is worth noting that AAU schools also have many of the top programs in college sports. Sports does have a way of bringing people together — and putting Eugene on the map, first as “Track Town USA” and now as a national power in other men’s and women’s sports. Meanwhile, UO track fans remain among the most knowledgeable in the nation. Nothing compares to hearing the applause and cheers move through the stands as runners circle the track, or start their next field event, at venerable Hayward Field. That field, which has given us so many memorable performances, and also inspired the business concepts that became Nike, is giving way to a reconstruction that will host the 2021 World Track and Field Championships. While it’s bittersweet to lose the traditional Hayward Field, the new facility will be an exciting opportunity for Eugene to host major events beyond the Olympic Trials and world championships. Over time, new memories will be created for thousands more spectators and new traditions will emerge. The UO and Hayward Field are inextricably linked with Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has invested in both the university’s athletics and academics. Oregon broke ground this year on the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a billion-dollar project to expand the university’s research and teaching. Construction also is under way on the Black Cultural Center, as well as other academic buildings. Teachers throughout the world continue to benefit from the College of Education’s pioneering leadership in how to most-effectively teach students who have disabilities. The college recently received a five-year $32.6 million federal grant, which might be the largest in the university’s history. The UO also is evolving in ways that do not make national headlines but are important to the community, such as its somewhat-successful efforts to curb overdrinking, including at tailgate parties. And during the current winter break, the campus police department has offered to check off-campus students’ residences while they are away, which will contribute to neighborhood security. As for that 19th century financial investment by Eugene residents? It’s been repaid over and over. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the UO reported employing 10,685 Lane County residents, paying them more than $353 million, and doing more than $427 million in business with local vendors. As the state’s flagship university, the UO also is a local university. As of last year, its Lane County contingent numbered almost 34,000 alumni and more than 3,350 students, including 1,122 transfer students from Lane Community College. As with any relationship, there are ups and downs, miscommunications and misunderstandings as well as collaborations and successes. Through all these times, it is inconceivable to imagine a Eugene without a University of Oregon. Eugene is proud to be a university town — a vibrant, creative blend of campus and community. https://www.registerguard.com/opinion/20181230/at-uo-much-to-cheer-for-in-2019

    Read More
  • UO physicist cheers passage of National Quantum Initiative

    First published in Around the O on December 27th. The University of Oregon stands to have a role in the development of quantum information science after President Donald Trump signed the National Quantum Initiative Act last week. The $1.2 billion initiative, which moved forward with input from the UO, promises to revolutionize everything from computing to navigation to encryption. “We applaud the passage of this critical initiative and thank everyone who supported our UO quantum group as we advanced this bill and as we move forward to great things,” said Michael Raymer, a Philip H. Knight Professor in the Department of Physics. In particular, Raymer praised UO Provost Jayanth Banavar; David Conover, vice president for research and innovation; and Andrew Marcus, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for their support in the process. Raymer and physicist Christopher Monroe of the University of Maryland co-authored the original proposals for a National Quantum Initiative. The measure, HR 6227, was signed into law by the president after the Senate gave its unanimous consent. The House of Representatives had earlier approved it by a vote of 348-11. Over five years, the funding will support federal efforts to boost investment in quantum information science and support a quantum-smart workforce. The act also creates a National Quantum Coordination Office, calls for the development of a strategic plan and establishes an advisory committee to the White House on quantum computing issues. The UO is well-positioned for a key role in the initiative. In October, Raymer and two colleagues, chemistry professor Andy Marcus and physics professor Brian Smith, received a $997,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to pursue studies in quantum science. The UO quantum group plans to team with scientists at other universities on a proposal to create a research center, Raymer said. Additionally, he added, the UO and institutions like it can play important roles in training the next-generation workforce in quantum information science and technology.

    Read More
  • National Quantum Initiative Act heads to President for signature

    The National Quantum Initiative Act, legislation based on a proposal co-authored by UO Physics Professor Michael Raymer, has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by the President.  The National Photonics Initiative (NPI) is a broad-based collaborative alliance among industry, academia, and government to raise awareness of optics, photonics and quantum science and technology. Michael Raymer and University of Maryland physicist Christopher Monroe authored the proposal that is the basis for federal legislation first introduced July 2018. The legislation will accelerate quantum research and development at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and authorizes robust funding for these agencies.  In the media release from the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), Ed White, Chair of the NPI Steering Committee and Vice President Test, Assembly, and Packaging for AIM Photonics, said, “The Congress has acted in a bipartisan way to move our nation’s quantum technology policy forward. This critical legislation creates the comprehensive quantum technology policy our country needs to transition this exciting research from the laboratory to the marketplace. We applaud lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate for their commitment to seeing this legislation through and look forward to working with Administration officials on its implementation.” This isn’t the first time Professor Michael Raymer’s work has been recognized by a member of Congress. In October 2017 U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) recognized Raymer’s work on the National Quantum Initiative during a hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. In February Raymer hosted a visit by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, another Oregon Democrat and UO alumnus, to share groundbreaking photonics and quantum physics research being done by UO faculty members. 

    Read More