Latest news from the UO

  • UO provost awarded $1.8 million to study evolutionary genetics

    First published in Around the O on September 10th, 2019. Patrick Phillips, professor of biology and the UO’s recently named provost, has received a $1.8 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health.

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  • Football and school tie for the lead in Justin Herbert's playbook

    First published in Around the O on September 18th 2019. Even casual Oregon fans are familiar with the outlines of the Justin Herbert story. A three-sport star at Eugene’s Sheldon High School, he was the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Ducks in more than 30 years. Last spring, he passed on a chance to be a first-round NFL draft pick so he could come back and play one more year at Oregon. Now a senior, he’s a Heisman hopeful with an NFL body and movie star hair who leads a powerful Oregon squad aiming for a Pac-12 title and more. But what’s less well known about Herbert is that he is something of a nerd — a biology nerd specifically — and an academic star. Now in his fourth season as the Ducks quarterback, the 6-foot-6, 237-pound Herbert has already completed his degree requirements and walked in last spring’s commencement ceremonies. He earned a degree in biology and finished with a 4.01 grade-point average, and his list of academic accomplishments rival his on-field feats. He’s a two-time Academic All American first-team honoree and the reigning Google Cloud Academic All-America Team Member of the Year. He’s twice been named to the Pac-12 All-Academic first team. As a sophomore, he tutored fellow students in a demanding biology class. Herbert said he’s proud of his academic achievements and attributes them to good study habits fostered by his parents. “I think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s a good product of all the hard work I’ve put in.” Herbert is dedicated to football, but biology might be his first love. “It really explains a lot of things that go on around us,” he said. “It explains how you breathe and how your cells work together. It explains everything, and I think it’s really cool to have an understanding of how things work.” Growing up in Eugene, biology was always in the background, and in the backyard. “I really grew up around biology,” he said. “My grandfather was a biology teacher and my father was a biology teacher.” His paternal grandfather, Roger Herbert, was a biology teacher for 34 years at Sheldon High School, where he was also the track and field coach. His maternal grandfather, Rich Schwab, was a leading receiver for the Ducks in the early 1960s, and went on to coach football at Sheldon, Churchill and Marist high schools. “He always had biology activities around the house,” Herbert said of his grandfather. “Growing up, we’d spend a lot of time over there just hanging out and learning from him.” Herbert and his brothers, Mitch and Patrick, raised a veritable Noah’s ark of animals in their grandfather’s backyard, including but not limited to hermit crabs, parakeets, quail, chickens, lizards and yes, ducks. When he got to the UO, “I wanted to study something I was interested in, and biology was the best choice,” he said. As a sophomore, Herbert served as a teaching assistant for Biology 212, a challenging class covering plant and animal physiology and development. Herbert had previously taken the class, and that spring he would attend classes and hold office hours twice a week to help fellow students understand some of the challenging concepts. “It really helped me understand and master the stuff we talked about,” he said. “It was fun and I met some good people and really enjoyed the experience.” It’s not easy playing quarterback for a Pac-12 school while also excelling in a demanding major, but Herbert said he’s figured out how to make it work. “It’s really tough, but fortunately having these good (study) habits before coming to college was really helpful,” he said. “It’s football and school, those are the top two priorities here and everything else has to come after that.” Herbert’s academic leadership extends to the football team as well. He’s known to compete with teammates for the best grades on the team. “We definitely have a battle when it comes to team GPA and stuff like that,” said offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton, a human physiology major and aspiring surgeon. “We compete.” Senior tackle Brady Aiello roomed with Herbert last year and saw first-hand the work he puts in. “I knew he was an amazing student, but living with him I actually saw what he does off the field and how much work he really puts in toward his studies and it’s very impressive,” he said. “He’s just grinding in his office. … Justin is very, very into his studies.” Defensive tackle Drayton Carlberg said he appreciates Herbert’s leadership on the field and off. “I’m not sure how he does it,” he said. “I’m pretty good in the classroom and for him to be a biology student and be a 4.0, that blows my mind. So I know that sets a standard for me, and I know it’s affecting everybody else on the team. He improves our culture as far as academics.” With the bulk of Herbert’s academic rigors behind him, he can concentrate on playing football this fall, something he does very well. He began this season having thrown a touchdown pass in 28 straight games, the longest such streak in the nation. His 63 career touchdowns at the start of the season placed him fifth in the nation among active players. The Ducks enter the season with great expectations, and Herbert is expected to carry much of the load for a team aiming for a Pac-12 title and beyond. “There’s going to be some times this year where a guy like that is going to have to take over a football game,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. Herbert has matured not just as a player but also as a team leader, his teammates say. As a freshman, he led by example but didn’t speak up much. “Each year, he’s becoming more and more confident,” senior lineman Shane Lemieux said. “He’s always been a leader by example, but now he’s a vocal leader too. He’s assertive now.” “He’s a guy that everybody respects and listen to when he opens his mouth,” Throckmorton said. —By Tim Christie, University Communications

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  • Five UO researchers recognized with prestigious NSF awards

    First published in Around the O on September 3rd. Five UO faculty members have received one of the most highly competitive grants offered by the National Science Foundation, the prestigious Career Awards. Recipients are historian Melissa Graboyes, biophysicist Michael Harms and earth scientists Leif Karlstrom, Amanda Thomas and James Watkins. NSF Career Awards fund research and education activities for five consecutive years. The foundation grants the awards once a year and they are among the most sought-after grants awarded by the agency. An assistant professor the Clark Honors College who examines history and ethics of global health initiatives, Graboyes received a Career Award to pursue her research project “A Case Study of Malaria Elimination Efforts with Relation to Vernacular Knowledge, Expertise and Ethics.” Graboyes’ project will examine the attempts to eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and on the island of Zanzibar over the past century. She will conduct archival, ethnographic and oral research in Africa, Europe and the U.S. Her findings will contribute to global health discussions about malaria elimination attempts in Africa and will share information about historical case studies and often-overlooked ethical questions. She will integrate African understanding of malaria and its elimination — vernacular knowledge — into larger conversations of global health agencies, African studies and science and technology studies literature. “The award is exciting for how it allows me to not only pursue research on an important topic —malaria elimination campaigns — but also for how it allows me to involve Clark Honors College students in every step of the process,” Graboyes said. “These students will learn how to conduct archival research and gain valuable experience for graduate school and future careers.” Harms, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Institute of Molecular Biology who studies the relationship between the biophysical properties of proteins and their evolution, will use his Career Award to support his research project, “Protein Evolution in High-Dimensional Sequence Space.” Harms’ project uses biophysical studies to try to predict protein evolution. His lab is doing experiments to figure out how fluorescent proteins in corals evolved their unique colors and using the information to develop computer programs that predict protein evolution, with the goal of applying the software to many different proteins. His research has potential future applications for a range of different societal problems related to protein evolution, including antibiotic and pesticide resistance and engineering more efficient industrial enzymes for use in everything from food to drugs to laundry detergent. “Some aspects of evolution are unpredictable,” Harms said, “like how the environment of an organism might change. But some aspects are likely predictable. This is because proteins are governed by the laws of physics, putting some pretty strong constraints on evolution. We’re hoping to identify some of the physical ‘rules’ of evolution and then use them to make predictions.” An assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences who studies fluid mechanics applied to volcanoes, glaciers, and landscape evolution, Karlstrom will use the award to pursue his project “Long-term Controls on Short-term Patterns of Magmatism.” Karlstrom’s project will further the understanding of volcanic eruptions and the associated societal hazards by studying the pathways of magma through time as it moves towards the Earth’s surface. He will study the eruptions of the Columbia River flood basalts that occurred 15 million years ago and now blanket much of Eastern Oregon and Washington with frozen remnants of massive basaltic lava flows. He will focus on the exposed network of fissures that fed the largest eruptions and develop mathematical models to understand how the eruptions occurred. The research is relevant both to predicting active volcanic processes and interpreting past eruptions. Thomas will use her award to pursue her research project, “Using the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide as a natural laboratory to study repeating earthquake evolution and development of operational repeating signal detectors” An assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Thomas studies the physical properties of faults, seismotectonics, crustal deformation and the mechanics of earthquakes and faulting. Thomas’ project will improve the understanding of landslide dynamics and the processes controlling a diversity of behaviors to reduce the effect of landslides on people and infrastructure. She will examine data from the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide near Yakima, Washington, detecting and analyzing small earthquakes that occurred as the landslide developed to better understand evolution of the slide body and how fault geometry influences seismicity character. Thomas’ proposed research also includes applying data mining techniques to continuous seismic records in the Pacific Northwest to discover small earthquakes that have eluded detection by the regional seismic network. Identifying such small earthquakes will help researchers better understand regional seismicity and its relationship to large subduction zone earthquakes. Watkins will use his award to pursue his research project, “Toward an inorganic calcite reference frame for interpreting the stable isotope composition of biogenic carbonates.” An associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Watkins studies stable isotope geochemistry and experimental petrology. Watkins’ project involves the study of carbonate rocks, which provide an archive of changes to the environment through geologic time. Deciphering the geologic record can be difficult, Watkins said, due to the interference caused by different environmental variables. Researchers will carry out a detailed set of experiments in which carbonate crystals are grown in the laboratory under controlled conditions, enabling the team to determine how each environmental variable gets imprinted in minerals precipitated from aqueous solutions. “The results will improve our ability to extract paleoenvironment information from carbonate rocks and could potentially lead to better forecasts of how the earth will respond to ongoing anthropogenic inputs of carbon dioxide to Earth's atmosphere,” Watkins said. According to the National Science Foundation, Career Awards support early career faculty members who “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.” Career projects should “build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.” “The NSF Career Award is among the most competitive grants handed out by the National Science Foundation, and it’s a great honor that our institution received five of them,” said David Conover, vice president for research and innovation. “We congratulate these promising early career researchers and look forward to the new knowledge and exciting discoveries that will result from these important projects.” Career award proposals must address the broader effects of the projects, which requires investigators to link their research to societal impacts and include in their projects educational or outreach activities that benefit society. Karlstrom’s project will engage new audiences by bridging science to the arts and developing techniques for exploring scientific data through sound. He will use the process of sonification — rendering data audible — to produce tools for exploring volcanic data through sound, which will be used to teach fundamentals of data science. A classically trained violinist, he also plans collaborations with other musicians to produce outreach presentations and recordings that engage general audiences in volcano research. “The creative process is an integral part of generating new scientific ideas, just as it is for creating compelling art,” Karlstrom said. “This project will work to demonstrate the connections between active research and new music.” Graboyes’ project will provide mentoring and training to female UO students in science, technology, engineering and math classes in broadening their understanding of what a scientist is and furthering their understanding of the history and social studies of science. Another goal of the project is to expose and train students to use social science research methods in their future careers. Watkins’ research will be integrated with teaching and hands-on outreach activities that introduce crystal growth and paleoclimate concepts to K-12 students and the capstone course for undergraduate seniors majoring in geology. Thomas’ project will include several outreach components. Because the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide occurred on Yakama Nation lands, Thomas plans to present her findings to the Yakama Nation Tribal Council and other community stakeholders. The project will also include designing and leading field trips for students at Heritage University and the tribal school to understand landslide hazards in the region. Harms’ project will expand public understanding of evolution by improving high school evolutionary biology education. His lab will host high school science teachers from local rural schools as summer researchers. He and his lab members will then collaborate with the teachers to develop a new high school curriculum that incorporates their research findings to teach evolutionary biology to high school students. “For a lot of people, science knowledge is handed down from ‘on high’ by experts,” Harms said. “I’m excited to pull back the curtain a bit, to expose students to the process by which scientific progress is made. These high school teachers will get to bring back their experiences in the lab — even the stuff that doesn’t work — into the classroom. I hope that the high school students can get a glimpse of how exciting and hard and, well, human, scientific research is.” —By Lewis Taylor, University Communications

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

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

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  • UO, OHSU will partner on opioid research with $10M grant

    First published in Around the O. A new $10.1 million grant will allow researchers at the University of Oregon and Oregon Health & Science University to help address the opioid abuse epidemic in Oregon and across the U.S. The grant comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, will support a multidisciplinary collaboration with faculty members from across the UO and OHSU. It will fund a national center of excellence to better understand and develop interventions that can lead to improvements in outcomes for mothers who have a history of opioid use, as well as their children. Led by College of Education professor Leslie Leve and psychology professor Philip Fisher, the grant will include nationwide outreach via a combination of direct services, communications, pilot and training activities, data sharing, and a strong virtual presence. The UO’s Data Science Initiative is also playing a key role. WHAT THEY'RE SAYING Here’s what Oregon’s senators had to say about the grant awarded to the UO and OHSU: “These resources for world-class Oregon researchers are incredibly timely, given opioids’ devastating impact on our state and country. This research has significant potential to improve family health by helping women battling opioids addiction as well as their children who need parents fully engaged and free of addiction.”  — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, ranking member U.S. Senate Finance Committee and author, with then-U.S. Sen Orrin Hatch of Utah, of the landmark child welfare legislation Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 “I have heard heart-wrenching stories from Oregonians who have lost loved ones after a prescription for an injury or treatment turned into an addiction. That’s why I’ve introduced the Opioid Treatment Surge Act, which would require pharmaceutical companies to pitch in for prevention and treatment resources, and why I’ve used my seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fight for much-needed increases in resources. Tragically, we know that addiction doesn’t just affect the individual suffering from addiction; it also harms those around them, especially children. The University of Oregon’s new center will become a tool to help us better understand addiction and how to improve parenting for those in recovery from opioid use.”  – U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations The funding also will support three research projects, two of which are based at the UO and leverage the university’s research strengths in prevention, neuroscience and data science. Led by Fisher, director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience, and Beth Stormshak of the Prevention Science Institute, the two UO projects focus on supporting women so they are well-equipped to parent their young children. The third research project, based at OHSU, will focus on understanding the brain function of mothers and their babies using its expertise in neuroimaging. According to Fisher, such a multidisciplinary approach is necessary when it comes to an issue such as opioid misuse and addiction. “This epidemic has many different root causes, and complex problems like this don’t get solved via a single perspective,” Fisher said. “The thing that makes the collaboration between the UO and OHSU so potentially impactful is there’s a broad range of disciplines that are being brought to bear.” Researchers knew they needed to meld expertise in multiple areas to take on such a complex problem, said Leve, who is associate director of the Prevention Science Institute. “We very intentionally put together a research team that includes developmental psychologists, clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, sociologists, social psychologists, developmental neuroscientists and biologists,” she said. At the UO alone, the center includes faculty members in two colleges, three centers or institutes and four departments. “Although the diversity in scientific perspectives and approaches is not without its challenges at times, witnessing scientific boundaries dissolve as we develop and refine our models and approaches has been incredibly exciting,” Leve said. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the center will address a major need. “Opioid use and addiction are epidemics in our state, as well as nationwide, hitting our rural areas particularly hard,” Brown said. “I am pleased that your proposal will explore evidence-based treatments for women with young children in both our urban and rural areas of Oregon, and that this project links work at the University of Oregon with strengths at Oregon Health & Science University.” Congressman Greg Walden, a Republican representing much of Central and Eastern Oregon and ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce with jurisdiction over the National Institutes of Health, chaired the committee when the institute was reauthorized in December 2016, including doubling funding for opioid research. “I applaud the University of Oregon and Oregon Health & Science University for their leadership in bringing an NIH Center of Excellence to Oregon,” Walden said. “The opioid epidemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach and is going to take a team to stop it. The combined efforts of U of O, OHSU and NIH will expand our understanding of treatment, recovery and prevention of opioid use among women who are parenting young children and will bring us one step closer to ending this crisis.” The center will also provide an administrative core led by Leve; a pilot and training core led by UO psychologist Elliot Berkman; and a data science core co-led by Dave DeGarmo of the Prevention Science Institute and Damien Fair from OHSU, with Bill Cresko, director of the UO’s Data Science Initiative also serving as an investigator. Additionally, the connection to OHSU is strengthened by the participation of Alice Graham, who earned her doctorate working with Fisher. Faculty members in the UO’s Center for Translational Neuroscience and Prevention Science Institute have a long history of collaboration spanning more than 20 years since Leve and Fisher first began collaborating as co-investigators together. The two institutes share a common goal of supporting the health and well-being of children and families nationwide, and their partnership on the center was a natural extension of Leve’s and Fisher’s prior collaborations. “The three research projects in this center include partnerships with community service providers, medical providers and substance-use treatment providers in both rural and urban areas of Oregon,” Leve said. “We are the first national center with a focus on parenting in the context of opioid use, and I’m especially excited about the potential for Oregon to serve as a model for other states’ efforts to help parents who are misusing opioids.” Fisher said one aspect of the research will examine whether addiction treatment could be improved by reworking the relationship between parent and child, which he calls an “invisible part of the epidemic.” It’s especially relevant because the majority of people with an opioid addiction or opioid use issues are in an age range in which they have and are raising children. “Can people adequately parent in the context of an opioid addiction?” Fisher said. “If so, what kinds of things can make it more possible? Can the presence of children be a lever to help people enter recovery and stay sober? Those are things we don’t know, and it’s really critical that we shine a scientific light on that particular domain so we can understand what’s going on.” —By Jim Murez, University Communications   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-ohsu-will-partner-opioid-research-10m-grant?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=ato

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

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

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  • Reflecting on a Rural Revolution

    First Published on the University of Oregon College Of Design Website on August 15th 2019. RARE celebrated 25 years July 27 at My Brothers' Farm in Creswell, Oregon As the sun set in the hills of Creswell, it cast long shadows silhouetting buzzing beehive boxes, apple and hazelnut trees, a herd of bison, and a small but mighty community dedicated to helping rural Oregon communities thrive. At My Brothers’ Farm, a family-run operation, this community was hosting a reunion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oregon-based AmeriCorps program known as RARE, or Resource Assistance for Rural Environments,  a unique University of Oregon learning and outreach program. Taylor Larson, one of the owners of My Brothers’ Farm, is a RARE alum who served in year 2012-13 in Tillamook. RARE operates within the UO's Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM). The programs links the skills, expertise, and innovation of higher education with the economic development and environmental needs of communities and regions in the State of Oregon. Through the service-learning programs, RARE AmeriCorps members gain service and professional experience by partnering with communities on local and regional development. “You all are the reason we can stand here today and say, ‘We have made a difference in rural Oregon’,” Titus Tomlinson, the new RARE Program Director and alum (2006–07 and 2009–10), told a group of about 150, including fellow RARE alumni, their friends and family, and past community partners seated at tables in the grass.  New RARE Program Director Titus Tomlinson and RARE Project Coordinator Aniko Drlik-Muehlck (left); Kevin Smith and Karen Laing, siblings of longtime Program Director Megan Smith Karen Hyatt, the UO Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, took the mic and shared U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio’s statement that he read into the congressional record on July 22 acknowledging RARE’s contribution to the state. DeFazio, Oregon’s longest-serving congressperson, voted for the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, which first established AmeriCorps, paving the way for the inception of the RARE program. “In the past 25 years, RARE members have completed more than 2,000 assessments, plans, and reports for local communities; written more than 700 grants, raised more than $6 million for communities, and recruited more than 10,000 community volunteers who served more than 8.6 million hours,” Hyatt read. “It is my pleasure to congratulate the RARE AmeriCorps program on 25 years of service to rural communities in Oregon and to thank RARE for its many vital contributions. I have no doubt these first 25 years of success will serve as the inspiration for the next 25.” Pillars of the RARE program received heartfelt thanks, including the program founder David Povey (who was unable to attend), longtime IPRE co-director and PPPM Instructor Robert Parker, Departmental Grants Administrator Julie Foster, and Project Coordinator Aniko Drlik-Muehleck. Amid the speeches and catching up with friends, however, there was a notable absence: former RARE Program Director Megan Smith. Smith passed away in October 2018. She had been with RARE since the beginning. Memorial for Megan Smith at RARE reunion; RARE cohort from year two of the program, including Megan Smith, center, and David Povey, front right. “We are all here today because of that amazing woman,” Tomlinson told the crowd.  Megan’s siblings, Annie Laing and Kevin Smith, also spoke at the event. “The RARE program was so much of her soul,” Laing said. “You were her kids. She loved you all.” Countless members of RARE, under the guidance of Smith, Povey, Parker, Foster, Tomlinson, and others, have gone on to help communities throughout Oregon. Here is a look back at how RARE shaped its participants, and how its participants have shaped Oregon and beyond. Scroll to bottom for more photos from RARE reunion. RARE 25th Anniversary at My Brothers' Farm; click to enlarge. RARE Map of 25 years of service; click to enlarge. Keavy Cook, RARE 2002–03 Keavy Cook—now the director of The Ford Family Foundation’s Children, Youth, and Families department—joined RARE because she was looking to connect with communities in her own country before setting off on a career in international development. Before she was even selected for RARE, she drove from Boston cross-country to meet Megan Smith. “I have strong memories of Megan Smith. She played more of a role in shaping my professional career and my life in Oregon than any other individual.”  Cook was accepted and served with the Siuslaw Watershed Council, where she launched a youth summer camp that still operates to this day and crafted a strategic plan and several grant applications. Cook received a Master in Community and Regional Planning in 2005. She never did go into international development, rather choosing to focus on development at home. “Being in RARE helped me fall in love with Oregon, to feel closer to rural communities, and to develop confidence in my organizational development passions and understand how to apply this to community building,” Cook said. Cook explained how her relationship to RARE is multifaceted: She has been a participant, staff member as RARE’s field coordinator, and, now, a funder. “Not only does the program support the individuals who participate, but it also benefits the nonprofits and communities that host,” she said. “Human capacity is probably the number one thing needed in rural Oregon. RARE has that orientation, the reputation, and the structure to meet this need.”   Spencer Masterson, RARE 2010–12 Before joining RARE, Masterson spent a semester abroad in Thailand learning how development projects were adversely affecting the most vulnerable residents in predominantly rural areas. There he co-authored a human rights report that was presented to Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission, an experience that primed him for RARE.  For two years, Masterson served with the Ten Rivers Food Web, a food systems network in Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties that works to increase the resilience of the area’s foodshed in the face of climate and economic uncertainty. As a result of community organizing and network development, he wrote a community food assessment of Linn County.  One of his proudest accomplishments during his time with RARE was launching a program that matches Oregon Trail Card benefits at farmers markets, which both provides low-income residents with access to locally grown foods and increases sales for local farmers. He also helped organize the Santiam Food Alliance, a community organization that focuses on spreading the joy of growing, buying, cooking, and eating local foods throughout the Santiam River basin. Masterson, who is now associate director of Partnerships & Programs at Oregon Food Bank, said he uses the skills he picked up in RARE on a daily basis. “I learned so much about how communities can band together to make the change they wish to see in their communities,” Masterson said. “I also was able to hone many practical skills such as meeting facilitation, public speaking, and grant and budget management.” Michael Held, RARE 2011–12  While pursuing a master of public administration degree (’11) at PPPM and working as an economic development planning intern with the City of Oakridge, Held met several RARE alumni and Megan Smith, who encouraged him to apply for the program. “Megan became an immediate mentor and someone who I was naturally drawn to because of her tenacity for public service,” Held said.  Through RARE, Held served with the Port of The Dalles, working on two major projects and several smaller initiatives. The first project Held spearheaded was the planning and implementation of a $5.5 million industrial lands redevelopment of a 77-acre mill site, which paved the way for dozens of new jobs and private investment. He also facilitated a wetland planning process, which established a regional general permit, or a regulatory device that expedites business permitting and development while transparently maximizing environmental protections.  “The relationships I’ve established through RARE serve as my career’s backbone,” Held said. That career has led him to his current position as director of Rural Economic and Policy Services at Rural Development Initiatives based in Eugene.  “To this day, the program embodies that public service spirit and is to be commended for its intentional cultivation of public-minded leaders,” Held said. “I view RARE as a critical component to creating an equitable and just social and economic environment for rural communities.” Held says he has hired RARE alumni; he’s also engaged to a RARE alumna he met at an earlier RARE reunion. Jasmine Jordan, RARE 2016–17 Before moving to Oregon to from the Midwest to join the RARE program, Jasmine Jordan went to Burkina Faso with the Peace Corps to be an economic development volunteer with projects focused on small businesses, irrigation, and reforestation.   “I always wanted to round out my foreign service by giving back to a community stateside,” said Jordan, who had graduated from the University of Dayton, Ohio, with a BA in political science and international studies.  In 2016, Jordan began the RARE program, working as a main street program coordinator for St. Helens Economic Development Corporation (SHEDCO) in northeast Oregon. In St. Helens, she facilitated the development and promotion of local businesses and proprietors through collaboration with the city planning department. Jordan helped write grants for restaurant expansions and art installations, recruit volunteers, develop the SHEDCO website, create wayfinding, and put on events such as the Spirit of Halloweentown celebration (the Disney Channel movie Halloweentown was filmed here).  Her biggest impact, she said, was the grant she wrote for the rehabilitation of El Tapatio restaurant: In 2017, the restaurant received $100,000 from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Main Street Revitalization Grant. “My position in St. Helens exposed me to many professionals that work in planning, public policy, city government, and economics, specifically the finance and economic firms the city hired to work on urban renewal,” Jordan explained. Exposure to that work and having conversations with these professionals over lunch, she said, helped her decide between going to graduate school for economics or public policy. Jordan is currently a second-year PhD student in economics at the University of California, Riverside. “RARE’s ability to place, train, and encourage volunteers has truly proven itself over its 25 years of commitment to the State of Oregon,” she said. Matt Tsui, RARE 2016–18 The Penn State University environmental science and geographic information systems (GIS) graduate Matt Tsui applied to RARE because it met three criteria to jumpstart his career:  an entry-level job in an interesting field for someone who only had internship experience the opportunity to immerse in the culture of a new state the chance to alleviate some student loan debt through the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.  Tsui said he walked away with so much more than that.  “It provided me with a family,” Tsui said. “I have had a lot of pretty amazing jobs in the past, but my experience with RARE far beats the rest, because of the support and joy that I received from my RARE fam.”  Tsui served as a geographic information system (GIS) coordinator for the City of Umatilla, specifically the public works department, where he collected locations and attributes for all 2,154 city-owned water and sewer utilities. For the data collected, Tsui developed mobile web mapping applications to streamline access to utility maps and plans in the field. In short, Tsui helped modernize the system, establishing a GIS-based tool that helps the planning and public works department make better daily and long-term decisions about how to improve utility services for Umatilla residents. “RARE provided me with the time and flexibility to make mistakes and learn the core principles of geographic information systems.”  Tsui uses the principles and skills he learned in his current position in North Carolina as an ArcGIS analyst for Esri, a GIS company that builds mapping and spatial analytics software. RARE is so important to Tsui, he noted, that he flew across the country for the reunion and back in just 48 hours. Emma Porricolo, RARE 2016–18  RARE provided Emma Porricolo with the experience and qualifications that helped her acquire her current job as assistant planner with the Portland-based Angelo Planning Group. In 2016 as Porricolo neared completion of her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science (with minors in PPPM and geology), she says her PPPM advisor Jessica Matthiesen suggested she give RARE a try.  “My time with RARE provided ‘real world’ experience that has been invaluable and allowed me to truly understand how cities function and the role of city planners at the local, regional, and state level,” said Porricolo. “Through my time serving with RARE, I gained an understanding and appreciation for the cultural differences across the state of Oregon.” Porricolo began serving with RARE in 2016 as a main street program coordinator for the Hermiston Downtown District. Here, Porricolo developed a network of stakeholders to focus on downtown and helped the district gain 501(c)3 nonprofit status. She said the network continues to partner on events and promotions that bring people downtown. In her second year, she served as a downtown planner for the City of Sandy, working on a walkability study and a master plan for downtown expansion. “Learning firsthand that I could connect with people very different from myself and collaborate with them to reach a shared goal was a pivotal experience for me,” Porricolo said. Corum Ketchum, RARE 2017–19  Corum Ketchum, who received his undergraduate degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management in 2016, first discovered RARE when he was taking the course Real World Eugene and working with the city to research student transportation projects. Megan Smith came and pitched the program to the class. “I didn’t know it at the time, but the conviction from that red-haired woman would point me toward the beginning of my career.” Ketchum just completed his second year with RARE, where he has served as an economic development specialist with the City of Veneta. During his tenure, Ketchum worked on a wide variety of projects including developing a network of local and regional economic development professionals, planning large public events such as Veneta’s downtown festival, and writing policy reports to guide the decision-making of staff and elected officials. He also wrote grants for more than $300,000 in economic and infrastructure projects.  “RARE has been the perfect opportunity to apply what I learned in PPPM in a professional context,” Ketchum said. “RARE has made me feel both empowered and vulnerable. Clearly, I have been able to apply myself to a wide range of problems and make my mark. That has been gratifying, but it is the humility I have gathered from spending time with the people I’ve met along the way where I have grown the most as a person.” Ketchum will return to the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management this fall to pursue a Master in Public Administration. Link: https://design.uoregon.edu/reflecting-rural-revolution?utm_source=UOnews

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  • HEDCO anniversary marks a decade of innovation and service

    First published in Around the O on August 12th. The celebration is scheduled for fall, but this summer officially marks the 10th anniversary of the HEDCO Education Building. Part of a $50.5 million construction project, the state-of-the-art facility has transformed the College of Education, created an iconic entrance to the west side of campus and accelerated the college’s far-reaching efforts to advance education and social services. “The architecture is stunning,” said Randy Kamphaus, the college’s dean. “However, the most important benefit of this building is how well it serves our people and their critical work on behalf of children and families. Since it opened, this impressive facility has elevated the college’s teaching, learning, research and community outreach tremendously. It has been, and continues to be, a catalyst for success.” COLLEGE OF EDUCATION No. 3 special education graduate program in the nation. No. 14 graduate school of education in the nation. Highest-ranked academic unit at the UO, due largely to a decades-long record of national and international research and development in special education, counseling psychology, educational leadership and school psychology. Long tradition of translating research into effective models, methods and measures that improve lives. Forty-three commercial education products currently on the market, innovations with an enduring impact in Oregon and across the nation. The building is named for California's HEDCO Foundation. The foundation's gift of $10 million, along with a $12.5 million gift from Lorry I. Lokey, helped secure the Legislature's authorization of $19.4 million in general obligation bonds. Private gifts covered 60 percent of the project costs.  “Together, the HEDCO Foundation, individual donors, and the Oregon Legislature made this historic construction project possible,” Kamphaus said. “On behalf of our faculty and the university, I would like to express our gratitude and acknowledge the visionary leaders who made it happen, including my predecessors Michael Bullis and Martin Kaufman.” What began as a plan to expand and modernize facilities overwhelmed by a tripling of enrollment led to a historic renovation of the entire 9.8-acre site. The first construction for the college since 1980, the project updated all the buildings within the education complex, including the Clinical Services Building and the Education Annex, known informally as “the little red schoolhouse.” It also renovated the college's historic brick buildings, naming the three connected wings the Lorry I. Lokey Education Building in appreciation of his investment in the project.  At four stories counting the basement parking structure, the HEDCO building increased the college's space within the complex by two-thirds and united its five clinical training programs under one roof. Since the building opened in 2009, the college has served an average of 943 undergraduate students each year, a 33 percent increase over the prior decade. The building continues to provide an ideal learning environment for students who go on to successful careers in teaching, couples and family therapy, speech pathology, school administration and counseling, research, and more. The college is also a resource for current teachers, who must maintain continuing education requirements. The HEDCO building has also helped the college continue its stellar track record for garnering grant dollars. Agencies are more likely to award proposals from organizations with suitable facilities, and the HEDCO Clinic is a big plus when applying for state and federal research funding. In fiscal year 2017, the college was responsible for 53 percent of the university’s grant-related funding. One of the most important benefits, Kamphaus said, has been to help the college recruit, retain and develop a world-class faculty. Visitors are impressed with the building, he said. And facilities — functional offices, convenient meeting rooms and practical work spaces — are big morale builders for the entire faculty. Since Kamphaus started as dean five years ago, the number of tenured faculty members in the college has increased by 35 percent. The building’s flexible design has accommodated the growth well, he said, making it possible to reconfigure the interior layout without affecting the overall aesthetics or functionality. Kamphaus is confident the facilities will continue to help the college realize its ambitious goals for the next decade, and longer. HEDCO Clinic This state-of-the-art university training clinic offers children and families behavioral health services, hosting more than 8,000 client appointments a year. Students seeking careers as couples and family therapists, speech language pathologists, and counseling and school psychologists gain practical experience. For families, the clinic offers one space to access many different services. Some of the simplest amenities added during construction, such as parking, space for children to play while waiting and a washroom, have made big differences. The setting is customized for the clinics as well as the college’s groundbreaking research on concussion management and recovery, speech pathology, stroke patients, autism and more. High tech home Designed to make teaching, long-distance learning and collaboration easy, the building’s leading-edge technology was also planned with upgrades and expansion in mind. This adaptable infrastructure has enabled the college to keep important tools up to date and relevant over the years. Learning community The HEDCO building was designed to promote collaboration and foster community, and informal learning spaces throughout the building reflect this approach. The Swindells Lobby features a fireplace, cafe and a learning commons with a computer lab. Wide hallways encourage students to interact with their peers as well as faculty members. Comfortable, flexible spaces were designed to create a home away from home. By all accounts, these ideas are working well in practice. Throughout the building, learning spills out of labs and classrooms and into the hallways. Multifunctional learning spaces serve an array of configurations for meetings, classes and group projects. Chance encounters blossom into impromptu meetings and discussions, which are significant educational experiences. One of the earliest projects on campus to fully adopt this design approach — now a national trend for universities — the HEDCO building has served as an example for other new construction on campus.   All under one roof When it first opened, the HEDCO building united five clinical training programs in one building, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration — an approach that has been highly successful. The new facility also has enabled the college to offer better services for students, faculty members and staff. Students and faculty members can easily find the information and resources they need. Community members and prospective students can ask questions, get directions or start a tour at the front desk. Welcoming families As home for the College of Education, the building serves as a bridge between the university and the families, communities and professions it serves. Walk through the HEDCO building on any given day, and you’ll see preschoolers playing in the grassy courtyard, parents bringing children to an appointment or students and faculty members collaborating on research that will improve lives. By creating a functional, welcoming environment, the building helps the college serve the community and fulfill its teaching and research missions. —By Ed Dorsch, University Communications

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  • UO physicist receives a five-year DOE early career award

    First published in around the O on July 31st. Laura Jeanty’s search for new particles that may shed light on dark matter and explain why the Higgs Boson has the mass it does has landed the UO physicist five years of financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program. Jeanty, an assistant professor of the Oregon Center for High Energy Physics, was one of 73 U.S. scientists chosen for an early career award, which provides $150,000 a year. She is part of the UO’s team that works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland. “I am honored to receive this award,” said Jeanty, who joined the UO in September 2018 after postdoctoral work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. “It is a tremendous opportunity that will allow me and my group to pursue one of the most promising avenues where new discoveries might await in particle physics.” Jeanty is seeking fundamental particles produced by high-energy proton collisions at CERN. Predicted by a theory called supersymmetry, she said, “these particles could clarify the enigma of dark matter, could explain the mass scale of the Higgs boson and might be essential to help unify the theories of the fundamental forces.” In October, Jeanty will become co-leader of the ATLAS team that is searching for supersymmetry. The UO’s research group is looking for signatures of such particles that might travel through the ATLAS detector for some distance before decaying. Winners of the DOE’s early career award are tenure-track assistant or associate professors at a U.S. academic institution or a full-time employee at a DOE laboratory who have received doctoral degrees in the past 10 years. They also must be part of one of the DOE’s six major program offices, and selections are made through outside peer review of each applicant. Jeanty's award came from the DOE's Office of High Energy Physics. “Supporting our nation’s most talented and creative researchers in their early career years is crucial to building America’s scientific workforce and sustaining America’s culture of innovation,” said DOE Secretary Rick Perry. “We congratulate these young researchers on their significant accomplishments to date and look forward to their achievements in the years ahead.” Jeanty, a native of Massachusetts, studied physics and geology at Yale University and earned a doctoral degree in 2013 from Harvard University. She began working at CERN after completing her bachelor’s work and continued research with the ATLAS experiment through her postdoctoral work. “The strong and supportive ATLAS group at the UO was definitely one of the main things that led me to my position at the UO,” she said.   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-physicist-receives-five-year-doe-early-career-award

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