|Research that’s powered by Orange|
|Tuesday, 23 November 2010 13:41|
Sponsored by Oregon State University
Greg Sower and Angela Perez, when doctoral students at Oregon State University, helped sample water in the Willamette River near Portland, as part of an assessment of cleanup efforts at the Portland superfund site. Photo by Kim Anderson.
Water, food, energy: All are essential to modern life.
Powered by Orange means protecting water quality
Throughout the Willamette’s 11,000-square-mile watershed, climate patterns, roadways, land uses and other human activities influence the water we depend on. OSU scientists and volunteers have created an up-to-date full-color map that shows how these and other factors have affected the river over time. The idea is to inform the public about water issues and what people can do to improve water quality — everything from maintaining streamside vegetation to simply fixing water leaks at home. The map is available online at water.oregonstate.edu/projects/willwq.htm.
OSU Extension is teaching students, community leaders and volunteers how we influence water quality, both individually and as a society. One example is Sam Chan and the Watershed Education Team, who work with Portland area schools, community groups and agencies. Not only do these programs explain the science of water quality, they show how low-impact development, streamside gardening, invasive species prevention and other sustainable practices can make us all better stewards of our water resources.
Powered by Orange means having an appetite for local food
Food Innovation Center scientists worked with Amy Kim, owner of the Sakura Japanese Restaurant in Aloha, to develop a low-sodium teriyaki sauce created by chef Tony Gonzalez, left. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.
Powered by Orange also means innovation and economic development, both of which are on the menu at the Food Innovation Center, a partnership between Oregon State and the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The center helps everyone from large-scale producers to entrepreneurs develop and test new food items. Scientists at the center also consult on production methods, packaging and marketing strategies. And you can see the results of their work at the grocery store, with products such as veggie burgers from Chez Gourmet by Marie and coconut
Food is also a great way for kids to see science in action. From sprouting beets to wiggling worms, students at Lane Middle School are learning biology by growing their own garden. Weston Miller and Beret Halverson from OSU Extension have teamed up with Portland State University to create a 12-acre Learning Gardens Laboratory near the school. And the garden has another practical use: Student-grown greens, tomatoes and cucumbers show up on the school cafeteria trays.
Powered by Orange means putting energy in sustainability
Despite Oregon’s reputation for rain, solar cell manufacturers are coming to the state for its favorable business climate, high-tech workforce and research innovations. By converting discoveries in transparent electronics, thin-film photovoltaics and nanotechnology into commercial products, Oregon State is helping to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar cells. Making solar a more cost-effective energy source means they can be integrated into new and existing buildings, from roofs to windows.
Working 17 stories above the ground amid Portland skyscrapers, OSU students confirmed that this eco-roof reduces storm water runoff and moderates rooftop temperatures. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.
In Portland, for example, sustainability has long been part of the city’s character, the latest evidence being plans for the new Oregon Sustainability Center. More than a dozen Oregon State faculty — including Gail Achterman of the Institute for Natural Resources and engineer Ken Williamson — are working on the project to build a 200,000+ square-foot mixed-use high rise that will produce 100 percent of its energy on site, integrate water reuse and have no carbon footprint. Once completed, the center will serve as a hub for education, research and entrepreneurship, strengthening Oregon’s emerging green economy and creating high-quality jobs.
Oregon State students are also putting their environmental research to practical use. One example is Erin Schroll, who as a graduate student studied urban applications for green roofs. On the Portland Building, Schroll and other students monitored temperatures, water flows and plant survival in combination with irrigation and weeds. They demonstrated that a green roof of carefully selected plants can reduce storm water runoff, reduce rooftop temperature changes and even provide new habitat.