Oregon Research & Innovation News — Week of May 30, 2016
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Oregon Research & Innovation News

Week of May 30, 2016


Monthly Award Reports

Researchers at the University of Oregon received 28 new awards totaling $13.5 million in support of research activities in the month of April 2016

Junior faculty spotlight

Printing a better future for the clothing industry

Beth Esponette
An assistant professor in the UO Product Design Program, Beth Esponnette is merging 3D printing techniques with the fiber arts to create seamless woven fabrics. 

Before arriving at the University of Oregon in the fall of 2015, Beth Esponnette was living the life of a startup founder in Silicon Valley. A recent Stanford MFA graduate, she was focused on finding funding for her company, unspun, a startup seeking to revolutionize clothing manufacturing from inside a Bay Area business accelerator.

But all that changed when the UO Product Design department sought Esponnette to fill an open position as an assistant professor of product design. Going from entrepreneurship to academia turned out to be a good move for Esponnette, who recently received a Faculty Research Award to further explore chemical-reactive 3D printing.

Featured stories

President honors Geri Richmond with National Medal of Science

Geri Richmond receiving medal from President Obama
UO chemist Geraldine "Geri" Richmond, a leading researcher and a prominent advocate for women in science, is the second UO faculty member to win the medal. She was recognized by President Obama for her lifetime of contributions to science and innovation in a May 19 ceremony.

UO's Paul Slovic elected to National Academy of Sciences

Paul Slovic at his desk
Chosen for distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, members of the National Academy of Sciences provide science, technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations. 

Slovic, a UO faculty member since 1986, is an internationally known expert on the psychology of risk and decision-making, behavioral economics and human rights. He is often cited in the media on human rights issues, particularly in the framework of mass violence and atrocities.

"I hope that this recognition from the National Academy of Sciences will help me to have more influence with the work that I do," said Slovic, president of Decision Research, an independent, nonprofit research corporation. "People need to be sensitized to the reality of some of the genocidal and mass atrocities, actions that are happening all too often. They've never really stopped since the Holocaust."

Upcoming Events

Increase the visibility of your humanities and social science research

Learn how to expand the visibility of your research to both academic and non-academic audiences. Increasing the Visibility of Your Humanities and Social Science Research brings together a panel of media relations and marketing experts to discuss how to promote your research using traditional and social media, book promotion and professional networks. The event takes place Friday, June 3 in the Knight Library from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Science Slam at Sam Bond's 

Science Slam
On June 8 at 6:30 p.m., the UO Women in Graduate Science will host their first Science Slam at Sam Bond's Brewery. The slam is an opportunity for scientists to share their research with the general public. Anything goes, whether it's an informal presentation, a demonstration or even an interpretive dance. The only rule is presentations must be kept under five minutes. Presenters will be competing for two cash prizes, which will be determined by audience attendees.

Nanoscale symposium

Symposium flyer
Organized by students in the University of Oregon’s Molecular Biology and Biophysics training grant program, Life at the Nanoscale showcases recent discoveries about the inner workings of these important biological macromolecules. The mini-symposium features seven world-class scientists who employ cutting edge technology to dissect how biomolecules function as nanomachines, addressing important questions in biology ranging from mechanisms of neurotransmission to host-pathogen interactions, cytoskeletal regulation and RNA metabolism. The registration deadline is June 3.


UO team awarded $3.5 million to study quantum simulators

Michael Raymer and Andy Marcus
Michael Raymer, a professor in the Department of Physics, and Andy Marcus, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have won a $3.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. They will lead an international team of researchers from Harvard University, Oxford University and University of Ulm in Germany with a focus on gaining a better understanding of the principles of quantum information sciences as they pertain to processes central to biology. They aim to create quantum simulations of complex molecular networks using novel optical equipment. 

The three-year project totals more than $3.6 million and includes the Templeton grant in addition to a $50,000 grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust and $50,000 in seed funding from the UO Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. The project will be the focus of the newly created Center for Applied Quantum Science, affiliated with the Oregon Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science. “We anticipate that the UO can become a leader in the growing field of applied quantum sciences,” Raymer said.

UO's Pluth named a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar

Mike Pluth
Michael Pluth's exploration of roles of hydrogen sulfide in biology and health is getting a boost from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Pluth, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was among 13 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars for 2016 who were named in May.

Six UO faculty members receive Research Excellence Awards

UO biology professor Postlethwait in Antarctica
UO researchers focusing on topics in biology, chemistry, genetics, physics and the history of science have been selected as winners of 2016 Research Excellence Awards. John Postlethwait (biology) received the 2016 Outstanding Career Award. The other recipients included Vera Keller (history), Mike Pluth (chemistry and biochemistry), Scott Stewart (biology), Ute Hostick and Richard Taylor (physics). They were honored during the Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony on May 24.

UO scientist joins new Simons Collaboration: Cracking the Glass Problem

UO physicist Corwin
UO physicist Eric Corwin has been named to a Simons Foundation collaboration to endeavor to understand the glassy state of matter. The four- to seven-year project will study the transition from liquid to solid as temperature changes in glasses and other materials.

Corwin, one of six U.S. scientists on the 13-member international team, uses supercomputing and mathematical models to capture insights about what happens when objects moving freely jam to a standstill. This jamming process is directly applicable to what happens to glass. According to Corwin, "We don't have a robust understanding of why things jam the way that they do nor how glasses form."

In the News

UO's Tichenor featured in the Atlantic on immigration reform

LBJ signing Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Historically efforts to revise US immigration law have been divisive and unpopular. Daniel J. Tichenor, UO's Philip H. Knight Chair of Political Science, offers his analysis of the sweeping immigration reform enacted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 in the Atlantic. According to Tichenor, Johnson’s battle for immigration reform upended xenophobic policies and profoundly changed the demographic landscape of the United States. Johnson's efforts to implement immigration reform highlights immigration policy as a powerful political tool and offers a possible model for future presidents to follow. 

Tichenor is the author of Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America and an editor of The Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration.

Research News

The UO's new innovation hub opens in downtown Eugene

942 Olive Street: Open for Innovation

942 Olive Street: Open for Innovation

Known as 942 Olive Street, the new building will create opportunities for cross-pollination as UO students and faculty members from an array of departments will share the meeting and event spaces with local entrepreneurs.

The building’s key tenant, the Tyler Invention Greenhouse, aims to leverage UO expertise in green chemistry and connect entrepreneurs and product designers in an effort to bring to market sustainable products that are safer for the environment and for human health.

Foundation support increases seed funding for UO research

Lokey Labs
A team of UO scientists is turning to the nervous system of the human gut, also known as the enteric nervous system, in an effort to better understand intestinal diseases that afflict almost 1.4 million Americans.

Annie Powell, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and a member of the Institute of Molecular Biology, serves as principal investigator on the project. It is one of four projects to receive support through the seed funding program known as Incubating Interdisciplinary Initiatives, or I3 Awards.

Handed out by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, the awards are aimed at boosting new research projects with a strong chance of attracting outside funding. Typically I3 awards go to two teams, but this year a strong applicant pool and the generous support of the UO Foundation allowed the university to fund four teams. Each team received $50,000, thanks to a $100,000 match from the UO Foundation.


UO professor participates in launch of National Microbiome Initiative

UO biologist Jessica Green on OSTP panel
UO biologist Jessica Green was among a small group of experts assembled recently by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss the status of research on microbiomes, complex systems of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, homes, cities, forests and oceans. Green presented research from UO’s Biology and the Built Environment Center (BioBE), which examines the relationship between architectural design and the indoor microbiome and emphasized potential implications for human health. The event coincided with the launch of the the National Microbiome Initiative, a call to action to advance microbiome science.

UO's Glang delivers keynote at 11th World Congress on Brain Injury

CBIRT research professor Ann Glang
Held biennially, the International Brain Injury Association's World Congress on Brain Injury is the largest gathering of international professionals working in the field of brain injury. Ann Glang, a UO research professor with the Center on Brain Injury Research & Training (CBIRT), served as a plenary speaker on childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) at this year's meeting. Glang is working with other researchers, policy makers and state departments of education to advocate for policy and practice changes in how children with brain injuries are served in U.S. schools.

A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities

Safety Guide
Significant events in recent years, including the death of a laboratory research assistant and a laboratory explosion that severely injured a graduate student, have raised awareness and highlighted the need for a stronger culture of safety in our colleges and universities.

In response, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has authored the report, A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in our Universities, which provides research universities with recommendations and guidance on the most appropriate strategies to enhance a culture of laboratory safety.

Parting Shot

Obesity scholars
On May 6, four early career scholars hired as part of the Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention Faculty Excellence Cluster Hire Program came to campus. The visit provided the junior faculty members with the opportunity to meet their new colleagues. Additionally, the group met with President Schill and presented a mini conference on obesity. Pictured (L to R) are Elizabeth Budd, Nichole Kelly, Nicole Giuliani and Tasia Smith.


The Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation (OVPRI) promotes excellence in research at the University of Oregon — the state’s only Association of American Universities member. Research, both basic and applied, is fundamental to the mission of the University and is essential to Oregon’s economic and civic vitality. The office is committed to enhancing these efforts by providing administrative and financial support for sponsored programs, including identification of funding opportunities, proposal submission, research compliance, and contracts and grant administration.
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