Deep Impact

OSU research builds the economy, saves lives

By Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research

Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research, Oregon State University.

Every day at Oregon State University, our scientists work at the leading edge of research, striving to address some of our world’s most pressing problems. From innovative approaches to cancer treatment to the complexities of global climate change, OSU faculty confront tough issues. The positive impact of their accomplishments reaches far and wide.

Indeed, the ramifications of research produced by Oregon State’s faculty are awe inspiring. Its effects can be felt from the depths of our oceans to the tops of forests throughout the world. Consider these major efforts:

  • In October, the College of Forestry kicked off construction of the new Oregon Forest Science Complex, which will showcase innovative uses for wood in building construction and design. The college is also encouraging economic development in our state. “The complex is crucial to the future of our working forest landscapes,” said Thomas Maness, OSU’s Dean of Forestry, at the groundbreaking. “The way we thought about forestry, natural resources and wood science in the past is very different from how we think about them now. This complex will help prepare our students to tackle our most complex landscape challenges, improve rural economies and establish a healthy forest landscape.”
  • Microbes in the human gut have profound impacts on health. OSU researchers are learning how bacteria influence digestion, pathogen resistance and even brain function. For example, Natalia Shulzhenko in Veterinary Medicine and her colleagues have found that communication between the immune system and one species of bacteria helps regulate glucose metabolism. Her research may provide clues on how to treat the scourge of diabetes.
  • The Cascadia Lifelines Program, operated by Oregon State and its public- and private-sector partners, has created a new online tool that anyone in Oregon can use to identify risks from an earthquake. Called the Oregon Hazard Explorer for Lifeline Program, or OHELP, the program is free to anyone — individual, homeowner, agency, business or industry. It will be especially useful in preparing for the consequences of a quake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

These striking examples show how OSU research is integral to our communities and to the economy of the state. Academic inquiry and discovery inform decisions and drive solutions.  Taken altogether, they help create a more sustainable future for everyone.

We all hope that the incoming administration in Washington, D.C. will continue to support our community’s unprecedented levels of research funding to advance these significant efforts on behalf of the people of Oregon and the world.

By Nick Houtman

Nick Houtman is director of research communications at OSU and edits Terra, a world of research and creativity at Oregon State University. He has experience in weekly and daily print journalism and university science writing. A native Californian, he lived in Wisconsin and Maine before arriving in Corvallis in 2005.