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					              A world of research & creativity at Oregon State University • Fall 2011

                                                                                        Also in this issue
Medicine in                                                                             The science of Design
the age of                                                                              Co-conspirators
                                                                                          in Melanoma
cyberspace                                                                              Rice Paddy People
                                   Volume 6 Number 1 // oregonstate.edu/terra // Fall 2011

FAMILY LIFE                  It may be one family or           other murals in the center expand on his theme of people
                             several. Adults and children      and nature. These large canvases speak of community
stand close together in a loose line, framed by fir trees      and of our place in the world. Of health, laughter, love,
and a cloud-streaked sky. Some hold hands. Others              the unity of life.
lounge nearby in the grass. Some children stand on                  Mills’ works tie the center’s family-oriented research
adults’ shoulders. One is gazing upward. The scene is          mission to the deep connections that we have with each
lit by a crisp brightness, as though the world were just       other and with our environment. Healthy people depend
made that morning.                                             on clean air and water, a point that villagers in rural
     This mural by Ron Mills de Pinyas, Linfield College       China made to OSU anthropologist Bryan Tilt. In this issue
professor of art, greets visitors to the new Hallie Ford       of Terra, “Rice Paddy People” describes the people he
Center for Healthy Children and Families at OSU. Three         encountered and the lessons he learned.
     Healthy people also need to share         health officers and childcare providers.
their experiences with others. Kristin         The knowledge they create together will
Barker documents that in her analysis of       address some of the most vexing health-
online communities where people describe       care issues we face today. As in Mills’
disease symptoms and encounters with           paintings, the world is indeed being made
the health-care system. Read about her         anew.
research in “Is There a Pill for That?”
     Community is at the heart of the
Hallie Ford Center. Partners in its research
efforts include school teachers, Extension
educators, engineers, county public                Editor

                                                                                           FALL 2011 » TERRA   1
Edward Ray

                                           8            A Bright idea
Vice President for University
Relations and Marketing
Steven Clark
Associate Vice President for Uni-
versity                                                  The future of solar energy could be on your desk — the inkjet printer.
Relations and Marketing
Todd Simmons
Vice President for Research

Richard Spinrad

Editor                                                  The science of Design
Nicolas Houtman

Associate Editor                                          Oregon’s global leadership in outdoor apparel design starts in a lab on the OSU
Lee Sherman
                                                          campus, where a manikin named Newton can run a fever or break a sweat.
Contributing writers
Dylan McDowell, David Stauth

Teresa Hall

                                                        is There a Pill for That?
Jeff Basinger, Theresa Hogue, Markus
Horning, Karl Maasdam, Bryan Tilt,                        People share their medical problems in online chatrooms and other virtual com-
Jenna Tilt
                                                          munities. Who needs a doctor?
Amy Charron, Teresa Hall,
Thomas James, Heather Miller,

Darlene Veenhuizen

OSU is a leading public research uni-                   Rice Paddy People
versity with more than $262 million in
research funding in FY2011. Classified
by the Carnegie Foundation for the                        In a rural Chinese village, a desperate factory worker knocked on Bryan Tilt’s
Advancement of Teaching in its top                        door and asked for help finding a job.
category (very high research activ-
ity), OSU is one of only two American
universities to hold the Land-, Sea-,

Sun- and Space-Grant designations.
OSU comprises 11 academic colleges
with strengths in Earth systems,                        Co-conspirators in Melanoma
health, entrepreneurship and the arts
and sciences.                                            Tracking the path of this deadly cancer takes a pharmaceutical partnership.
Terra is published by University Rela-
tions and Marketing. It is printed with
vegetable-based inks on paper with
50% recycled content.                      departments
Contact Nicolas Houtman at:
402 Kerr Administration Building

                                           3                                                   7
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331
                                                T E R R A BY T E S                                      I N N OVAT I O N
                                                What They’re Doing Now                                  Promoting entrepreneurship
On the cover                                                                                             and invention
Illustration by Thomas James                    Canada Lynx Thrive with Wolves                          24/7 Checkup
                                                Energy Industry Looks at Open
Member                                           Source Solutions
              Member University Research
              Magazine Association
                                                Antioxidants Have Potential for
                                                 Infertility Treatment
                                                                                               27       S T E WA R DS H I P
                                                                                                        Managing nature’s resources
                                                                                                        Polar Plunge
Follow Terra on Facebook and Twitter
                                           4    NEW TERRAIN
                                                Science on the Horizon                         28       P E R S P EC T I V E S
                                                Birth Knowledge                                         Research-based opinion
                                                Chemical Bonds                                          What’s in a Name?
                                                Hallie Ford Center Begins New Era
                                                 in Family Science
                                                Chemistry for Life                             29       F O OT P R I N T S
                                                                                                        Tracking research impact
                                                                                                        Testing Our Metal
                                           6    SPIN ON RESEARCH
                                                Heading for Health

 2   TERRA » FALL 2011
                                                                                          TERRABYTES // What They’re Doing Now

Canada Lynx thrive                                                     energy Industry Looks at
with Wolves                                                            Open source solutions
                                           As wolf PoPulAtions         the eneRgy seCtoR seCuRity ConsoRtiuM and the Open
                                           gRow in parts of the        Source Lab at OSU will work together to study the use of open
                                           West, most of the focus     source software in the energy industry, especially as it relates to
                                           has been on their value     computer security.
                                           in aiding ecosystem            Researchers will develop case studies and baseline data with
                                           recovery. A new study       organizations using open source
                                           from OSU points out         software. They’ll focus on chal-
                                           that they could play an     lenges and its use in cybersecu-
                                           important role in helping   rity. The National Electric Sector
                                           to save other threatened    Cybersecurity Organization, a
                                           species.                    program partially funded by the
                                              In research published    U.S. Department of Energy, is
                                           in Wildlife Society         funding the study.
Bulletin, scientists suggest that a key factor in the Canada lynx         “With their earned reputa-
being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act            tion as a trusted, independent
is the major decline of snowshoe hares. The loss of hares, the         institution with expertise in open
primary food of the lynx, in turn may be caused by coyote popu-        source software, we expect the
lations that have surged in the absence of wolves. Scientists call     findings will provide us with
this a “trophic cascade” of impacts.                                   objective information on the use
    The increase in these secondary “mesopredators” has caused         of open source technology in the
significant ecosystem disruption and, in this case, possibly           energy community,” says Steven
contributed to the decline of a threatened species, says William       Parker, vice president of tech-
Ripple, a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and         nology research and projects for
Society.                                                               the consortium. “This will allow
    “The increase in mesopredators such as coyotes is a serious        us to better inform and serve our
issue; their populations are now much higher than they used            member organizations.”
to be when wolves were common in most areas of the United                 OSU’s Open Source Labora-
States,” he adds. For more on Ripple’s research on the ecological      tory serves as a hub for open source research and software. See
effects of predators, see oregonstate.edu/terra/2007/04/               oregonstate.edu/terra/2006/04/open-source-hot-and-cool/.

antioxidants Have potential for Infertility treatment
it’s not the 20- or 30-somethings you see in ads for Viagra and                         vitamins C and E and lipoic acid.
Cialis. As people age, chances are higher that they will                                   “If oxidative stress is an underlying factor
experience problems with infertility and erectile                                       causing infertility, which we think the evidence
dysfunction. Now there’s evidence that                                                  points to, we should be able to do something
dietary antioxidants can play a role in                                                 about it,” says Hagen, the Jamieson Chair of
maintaining sexual health.                                                             Healthspan Research.
   A study published in the journal                                              However, it’s too early to run out and stock up on
Pharmacological Research in July                                               supplements or antioxidant-rich foods. It will take addi-
2011 by Tory Hagen of the Linus                                                tional research to identify the biochemical mechanisms
Pauling Institute at Oregon State                                              underlying infertility.
University and by Francesco Visioli                                               OSU research has led to greater understanding of
at the Madrid Institute for Advanced                                          antioxidants. See oregonstate.edu/terra/2010/02/
Studies in Spain pointed to evidence                                         radical-defense/.
of benefits from antioxidants such as

                                                                                                                    FALL 2011 » TERRA    3
     NEW TERRAIN // Science on the Horizon

Birth Knowledge                                                          Hallie Ford Center Begins new
                                                                         era in Family science
As A MiDwife in eugene,
Bonnie Ruder has
                                                                         the oPening of the hAllie Ford Center for Healthy Children and
overseen more than 150
                                                                         Families at OSU in September ushered in a new era of collabora-
successful homebirths.
                                                                         tive research on children’s health, youth development, parent-
When she leaves for
                                                                         ing and family life. For Carmen Ford Philips, it was also a time to
Uganda with her family
                                                                         reflect. At the grand opening ceremony, she brought a pair of
in November, she will be
                                                                         white ladies’ gloves and put them in a time capsule with a video
investigating circum-
                                                                         of her mother, Hallie Ford. They served, she said, as a reminder of
stances when things
                                                                         the formality of such ceremo-
don’t go so well.
                                                                         nies in times past.
   In OSU’s Reproductive
                                                                            The new center
Health Laboratory, Ruder
                                                                         honors the
is pursuing master’s
                                                                         memory of the
degrees in medical
                                                                         Roseburg woman
anthropology and in
                                                                         who put family
international public
                                                                         before all else
health. In Uganda she will combine these disciplines by studying
                                                                         and whose $8
cultural attitudes toward obstetric fistulas, a medical condi-
                                                                         million gift to
tion that affects 2 to 3 million women, mostly in Africa. If left
                                                                         OSU made the building
untreated, fistulas result in incontinence and devastating social
                                                                         possible. “I’m thankful for
                                                                         the opportunity to build on
   “The roots of the problem are complex,” says Ruder. “Training
                                                                         Hallie Ford’s legacy, to take
traditional birth attendants would help. But there are deep
                                                                         her spirit of caring for children
cultural traditions at work.” In collaboration with Terrewode,
                                                                         and families to the student setting through research, and then
a nonprofit organization in Uganda, Ruder will interview birth
                                                                         translate that research into improving the health of all citizens
attendants and fistula sufferers about their understanding of
                                                                         across the lifespan,” said Tammy Bray, dean of the College of
causes and preventive measures.
                                                                         Public Health and Human Sciences. (See “What’s in a Name?”
                                                                         Page 28)
Chemical Bonds
oRegon hAs A RePutAtion foR being clean and green, even in
chemistry. With energy efficiency and less toxic manufacturing
practices in mind, the National Science Foundation has awarded a               On the Web
$20 million grant to a partnership between Oregon State Univer-
sity and the University of Oregon.                                            oregonstate.edu/terra
                       Under earlier NSF finding, the Center for
                    Sustainable Materials Chemistry generated
                    several patents and a spinoff business, Inpria            The science of Design
                    Corp. The new funding will support research
                   leading to the environmentally friendly synthesis          see how osu AluMni ARe building Oregon’s reputa-
                     of chemical compounds for industrial use.                tion as a world leader in outdoor apparel design.
                      Scientists are exploring nanoscale composite
                         and thin-film materials in electronics, solar        water Before Anything
                          energy and medicine.
                               OSU and UO-adjunct chemistry                   ACCess to wAteR MeAns life in desert communities.
                             professor Douglas Keszler leads the              Watch OSU graduate student Sarah Sheldrick’s video
                              center with colleagues David Johnson            about how farmers, ranchers and townspeople came
                              and Darren Johnson at UO and John               together in northeastern Oregon’s Umatilla County to
                              Wager at OSU. The two universities will         preserve this vital resource.
                            each receive $9 million. Other collabo-
rating institutions include Washington University in St. Louis;
Rutgers University; University of California, Davis; the Univer-
sity of California, Berkeley; the University of Victoria, British
Columbia; and federal laboratories.

4   TERRA » FALL 2010
    Chemistry for Life
    The foundation for OSU’s new science
    center was built a century ago

in 2011, the fiRst BABy BooMeR turned         this facility will be a working memorial        Light spectra by artist Stephen Knapp illuminate a wall in
65 — the leading edge of a wave that is       to him, a great tribute,” says Balz Frei,       the new Linus Pauling Science Center. In their research,
                                                                                              scientists use spectra to detect and measure the abun-
going to change the country. By 2030 one      director of the Linus Pauling Institute. “It
                                                                                              dance of chemical compounds. (Photo: Theresa Hogue)
in every five Americans will be older than    will help further establish LPI as a national
that. People are already living longer,       leader in the study of diet, optimal nutri-     $10 million in state-of-the-art transmis-
taking time to travel and to enjoy their      tion and micronutrients.                        sion- and scanning-electron microscopes
families. Think gourmet cooking classes,         “Chronic disease prevention through          and nuclear magnetic resonance spectro-
fishing trips and art museums.                diet and lifestyle is the future of medi-       meters that will serve the entire campus,”
   But they will increasingly face the        cine,” Frei adds. “And it’s for everyone,       says Vince Remcho, chemist and asso-
diseases that now kill most people in the     not just the elderly.”                          ciate dean in the College of Science.
developed world: heart disease, cancer,          Advances in health will come from               The new instruments were made
stroke, diabetes and neurodegenera-           better understanding of phytochemicals          possible by grants from the M.J. Murdock
tive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and         such as sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting         Charitable Trust, the National Science
Parkinson’s.                                  compound in broccoli and other cruci-           Foundation (NSF) and partnerships
   They want answers and solutions. And       ferous vegetables. Other research focuses       between several of OSU’s colleges, the
in the future, many of those answers          on vitamin D in enhancing immune                OSU Research Office and the Oregon
will come from a new research facility at     function and fish oil in preventing fatty       Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Insti-
Oregon State University, the Linus Pauling    liver disease. New types of antioxidants        tute (ONAMI).
Science Center.                               and “anti-inflammatories” are also being           Chemists in the new facility bring with
   This new $62.5 million, 105,000-           investigated, such as lipoic acid, which        them “an astonishing research track
square-foot research and educational          may be key to getting the most out of life      record, as measured by publication count,
structure, just completed this fall, has      as we age.                                      impact, external funding and intellectual
arrived at an opportune time in American                                                      property development,” Remcho adds.
history. But its foundations were laid        Chemical Collaboration                             Primary support for the center, which
94 years ago, in the fall of 1917, when a        The institute will share the new facility    was designed to the U.S. Green Building
young student arrived at Oregon Agricul-      with the OSU Department of Chemistry.           Council’s LEED silver standards, came
tural College and enrolled in a chemistry     Specialists in analytical, materials and        from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foun-
course. Linus Pauling, OSU’s most accom-      organic chemistry will work in close prox-      dation – a $20 million gift – and another
plished alumnus, went on to win two           imity to their peers in the health sciences     $10.6 million from Pat and Al Reser. Most
Nobel Prizes.                                 and develop new strategies for disease          of the research in the facility will be
   “Linus Pauling revolutionized the fields   diagnosis and treatment. “These new             supported by grants from the National
of chemistry and molecular medicine, and      facilities house approximately                  Institutes of Health and NSF.

                                                                                                                     FALL 2011 » TERRA      5

Heading for Health
Research puts exercise and healthy food on the map

A woMAn hesitAtes to leAve her home for fear of falling and           Put Knowledge to use
breaking her hip. A child, enjoying fries and a soft drink in the
                                                                      These innovations in technology raise our understanding of the
backseat of the car, learns habits that may endanger his long-
                                                                      myriad lifestyle factors that affect our health — the built environ-
term health. A man with kidney problems faces a future hooked
                                                                      ment, education, social interactions. And as scientific data are
up to a dialysis machine in a clinic for hours each week.
                                                                      acquired and analyzed, questions arise. How can we communi-
    What can make a difference to the well-being of these people?
                                                                      cate new knowledge to the public? How can decision-makers use
So much of the research that we conduct at Oregon State Univer-
                                                                      it to create effective health-care policies?
sity applies to our health. Surveys, measurements, observations
                                                                          The woman I mentioned in the beginning of this column may
in lab and field and the associated analyses have broad relevance
                                                                      improve her                        balance and bone density, and
for communities. It is clear
                                                                                                                with those her confi-
this land grant institu-
                                                                                                                      dence, through
tion indeed reaches out
                                                                                                                         Better Bones
to our neighbors.
                                                                                                                         and Balance, an
    One example is a
                                                                                                                         exercise program
project, Generating
                                                                                                                       developed through
Rural Options for
                                                                                                                     OSU research and
Weight-Healthy Kids and
                                                                                                                   conducted by the
Communities (GROW).
                                                                                                                 Extension Service and
OSU researchers Kathy
                                                                                                                 partner organizations.
Gunter and Deborah
                                                                                                                 The man facing kidney
John of the School of
                                                                                                                 failure may be able to get
Biological and Popula-
                                                                                                                 treatment in the comfort
tion Health Sciences
                                                                                                                 of his own home, thanks
lead efforts to engage
                                                                                                                  to a startup company,
residents in rural
                                                                                                                  HomeDialysis+, which
areas in mapping
                                                                                                                   applies innovative OSU
                                                                                                                   technology, was funded
features with
                                                                                                                   by the OSU Venture
Global Posi-
                                                                                                                    Development Fund and
tioning System
                                                                                                                    has been nurtured by
                                                                                                                    our Office for Commer-
Researchers are
                                                                                                                    cialization and Corpo-
identifying attri-
                                                                                                                   rate Development.
butes that promote
                                                                          I look forward to more of these stories. We have begun the
or inhibit people’s ability to eat healthy foods and participate in
                                                                      process for national accreditation of our College of Public Health
physical activity. Because those behaviors strongly relate to risk
                                                                      and Human Sciences. Its thrust will be to build partnerships,
for obesity and other chronic conditions, Gunter, John and their
                                                                      prevent disease and promote healthy lifestyles.
colleagues are using the information to develop a model of envi-
                                                                          And that child in the backseat? He may just start walking to
ronmental factors that promote weight gain. They will then work
                                                                      the corner supermarket with his parents and choosing among
with residents to develop improvement strategies through public
                                                                      locally grown nuts, vegetables and fruits (many of which have
policies, programs and education.
                                                                      been improved through OSU research).
    In a related study, a student in OSU’s School of Public Policy
                                                                          Here’s a toast (with a Powered-by-Orange wine) to our health!
and the Rural Studies Program used Geographic Information
System technology to identify and analyze “food deserts” on
the southern Oregon coast. Pamela Opfer analyzed food access
patterns, comparing supermarket locations in higher and lower-
income areas. The work explored the technology as well as the
ability for community-based organizations to analyze data.

6    TERRA » FALL 2011
                                                                               Promoting Entrepreneurship and Invention // INNOVATION

24/7 Checkup
sensors could transmit vital signs around the clock

A new ChAPteR in high-teCh medicine is being written by                   decline. Finally, it needs to be non-invasive and able to provide
electrical engineers at Oregon State University. A team led by            huge amounts of data while consuming little energy.”
Patrick Chiang has confirmed that an electronic technology called            Several startup companies such as Corventis and iRhythm
“ultrawideband” could lead to the development of sophisticated            have already entered the cardiac monitoring market.
“body-area networks,” systems of wearable sensors and com-                   In the EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and
munication devices designed to track an individual’s health.              Networking, Chiang and his team reported that one of the key
   Such networks would offer continuous, real-time health diag-           obstacles is the energy required to run the device. A type of tech-
nosis, experts say, to reduce the onset of degenerative diseases,         nology called “ultrawideband” might have that capability if the
save lives and cut health care costs. The ideal monitoring device         receiver getting the data were within a “line of sight” and signals
would be small, worn on the body, low cost, and perhaps draw its          were not interrupted by passing through a human body. But even
energy from something as minor as body heat. But                                         non-line of sight transmission might be possible
it would be able to transmit vast amounts of health                                      using ultrawideband if lower transmission rates
information in real time and help to prevent or treat                                    were required, they found. Collaborating on the
disease.                                                                                 research was Huaping Liu, an associate professor in
   Sounds great in theory, but it’s not easy. If it                                      EECS, and clinical researchers at the Oregon Center
were, the X Prize Foundation wouldn’t be trying                                          for Aging and Technology at the Oregon Health &
to develop a Tricorder X Prize — inspired by the                                         Science University.
remarkable instrument of Star Trek fame — that                                               “The challenges are quite complex, but the
would give $10 million to whomever can create a                                          potential benefit is huge and of increasing impor-
mobile wireless sensor and give billions of people                                       tance with an aging population,” Chiang says. “This
around the world better access to low-cost, reliable                                     is definitely possible. I could see some of the first
medical monitoring and diagnostics.                                                      systems being commercialized within the next
   “This type of sensing would scale down to the                                         three years.”
size of a bandage that you could wear around            Patrick Chang (Photo: Oregon         Chiang’s collaborators on projects to develop
                                                        State University)
you,” says Chiang, an expert in wireless medical                                              non-invasive wireless monitoring devices
electronics and assistant professor in the OSU                                                include colleagues at OSU’s Center for Healthy
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer                                                 Aging Research, the Linus Pauling Institute and
Science (EECS).                                                                               OHSU in Portland. Chiang also collaborates with
   “The sensor might provide and transmit data                                                researchers at Tsinghua and Fudan universities
on heart health, bone density, blood pressure                                                 in China.
or insulin status. Ideally, you could not only
monitor health issues but also help prevent                                                   RACHEL ROBERTSON contributed to this story.
problems before they happen. Maybe detect
arrhythmias, for instance, and anticipate heart
attacks. Or, monitor the indoor location of an                                              Online: learn more about Patrick Chiang’s re-
elderly person or the early onset of cognitive                                             search at eecs.oregonstate.edu/people/chiang.

                                                                                                                       FALL 2011 » TERRA     7

      The future of solar energy could be
        on your desk — the inkjet printer
           By DAviD stAuth | illustRAtion By gAvin PotenZA

8   TERRA » FALL 2011
IN THE BEGINNING there was               performing, rapidly produced, ultra-       12 percent, which would make a
silicon, and it was really good.         low-cost thin-film solar electronics.      commercially viable solar cell. In
   Silicon is one of the most abundant   And it’s happening right now in            related work, Herman is continuing
elements on Earth. It gave us golden,    Oregon.                                    research with other compounds that
sandy beaches and sunlit kitchen                                                    might also be used with inkjet tech-
windows. Beer mugs and home insu-
                                         Bay Area Partners                          nology and cost even less.
lation. Silicon Valley in California     “We have five private compa-                  Others are helping. OPIC is a
and Silicon Forest in the Pacific        nies already working with OPIC,            collaboration of OSU, the University
Northwest. Personal computers and        including some Bay Area companies,         of Oregon, Portland State University,
the Information Age.                     and we’ve had discussions with             Oregon Institute of Technology, the
   And solar energy — in its infancy.    several others,” says Greg Herman,         Pacific Northwest National Labora-
But for this critically important        an OSU associate professor of elec-        tory, private industry and the Oregon
energy source, which is one of the       trical engineering and associate           Built Environment and Sustainable
most promising of all the alternative    director of the center. “So far this       Technologies Center (Oregon BEST).
energy forms, silicon may not be the     has attracted around $3 million in         Support is being sought from the
only source.                             support, and Oregon is continuing to       U.S. Department of Energy, National
   “Solar energy has enormous            evolve as a focus of the solar energy      Science Foundation, and Department
potential, but to reach that potential   industry.”                                 of Defense. Collaborators are coming
with large-scale electrical genera-         Earlier this summer, OSU                from Germany, Taiwan and South
tion we’re probably going to need        researchers took an important step         Korea.
something besides current silicon        in that direction with a publica-             In another
technology,” says Chih-hung Chang,       tion and patent application on a new       advance reported
professor of electrical engineering at   technology that, for the first time,       last year,
Oregon State University and director     has created successful solar devices       researchers used
of the Oregon Process Innovation         with inkjet printing. This rather          a “microreactor-
Center for Sustainable Solar Cell        pedestrian technology that decades         assisted nanoma-
Manufacturing, or OPIC.                  ago revolutionized home and small          terial deposition”
   “We need huge improvements in         office printing may now have unan-         process to rapidly
solar cell manufacturing, to lower       ticipated benefits for solar energy.       deposit thin films
costs and reduce environmental              This novel approach reduces raw         for solar cells,
impacts at the same time,” he adds.      material waste by 90 percent. Instead      sidestepping more
“Silicon will probably always be         of depositing chemical compounds           expensive processes
a significant player, but for mass       on a substrate with more expensive         such as sputtering       Chih-hung Chang (Photo:
commercial power production we           vapor phase deposition — wasting           and evaporation.         Oregon State University)

will need additional solutions.”         most of the material in the process           There may even
   Those solutions, OSU researchers      — inkjet technology creates precise        be spinoffs that go
say, may be with thin-film               patterning with a very low waste.          beyond solar energy. Another appli-
compounds that have an ability to           “Some of the materials we want          cation of these deposition processes
outperform silicon by capturing          to work with for the most advanced         is use of nanostructure films as
more energy from photons at a lower      solar cells, such as indium, are           coatings for eyeglasses, which could
cost, such as one called chalco-         relatively expensive,” Chang says.         capture more light, reduce glare and
pyrite that’s made from copper,          “If that’s what you’re using, you          cost less than existing coatings.
indium, gallium and selenium. Or         can’t really afford to waste it, and the      But solar energy is the primary
a less expensive but also promising      inkjet approach almost eliminates          target, and making Oregon a focus of
compound made from copper, zinc,         the waste.”                                that industry is a significant goal.
tin and sulfide.                                                                       “We think with improved manu-
   There is one problem. Chalcopyrite
                                         Power Conversion                           facturing processes and new mate-
doesn’t offer the crisp name recogni-    So far, researchers have created an        rials, we can cut the materials cost of
tion of Silicon Valley. So that’s bad.   ink that can print chalcopyrite onto       solar cells and produce these mate-
The wordsmiths may have to think of      substrates with a power conver-            rials with low-cost, Earth-abundant
a catchy or colorful name.               sion efficiency of about 5 percent.        materials in an environmentally
   But that aside, it could work         With continued research they hope          sustainable way,” Herman says.
better and usher in an era of high       to achieve an efficiency of about

                                                                                                        FALL 2011 » TERRA    9
                         The Science of

                         on the cutting edge of functional apparel
                         for health, comfort and sustainability

                         By lee sheRMAn

                         o    ne day last spring, a nike
                              executive was touring
                         oregon state university’s
                         apparel design facilities. After
                         being shown the textile lab, the
                         thermal lab and the chemistry
                         lab, he blurted out: “oh my gosh!
                         This is design with beakers!”

                         Design professors Leslie Burns, Brigitte Cluver and Hsiou-Lien Chen
                         watch Newton, a manikin used in fabric research, go through his
                         paces. Newton is sporting a sweat-duplicating fabric on his move-
                         able frame. Above: Hoses through Newton’s face bring water to
                         pores that “sweat” in fabric tests. (Photos: Jeff Basinger)

10   TERRA » FALL 2011
   He was right — but only partly.
Beakers are just the beginning of
                                         sity, so our program is research-
                                         based. We focus on problem solving
science-based apparel design in the
Department of Design and Human
                                         and commercialization of design.”               and Projects
Environment (which also offers           At the industry nexus                           As the inDustRy’s higheR-eD PARtneR, osu
undergraduate degrees in interior        Many of the problems they tackle                is tightly linked with the Portland area’s apparel
design and merchandising manage-         are quintessentially Oregon — that              community. examples include:
ment). In their investigations,          is, how to stay dry and comfy when
students and professors employ such      you throw yourself headlong into the
                                                                                         » The osu Design network brings together
                                                                                         professionals across the industry for informal
high-tech instruments as a scanning      watery wilds of the Pacific North-
                                                                                         gatherings and annual events in Portland,
electron microscope for examining        west. Oregonians’ full-tilt embrace
                                                                                         like last year’s Recycled fashion show — the
fibers and a $20,000 machine for         of nature (bumping down hillsides               longest-running fashion show of designs made
gauging the moisture-management          on mountain bikes, shooting class-3             from recycled materials in the country.
properties of fabrics. They use a wind   rapids in kayaks, tramping old-
tunnel for simulating air resistance     growth trails in boots and back-                » osu’s Apparel Research Center offers fabric-
during walking or jogging. They          packs, plying fresh powder on skis              testing services to small firms and start-ups.
master CAD software (computer-           or snowshoes) has created a fertile             At the textile and Apparel Performance
aided design) for rendering func-        seedbed for active-wear entrepre-               testing lab, clients can get measurements on
tional items like ski boots and          neurs. Here was a captive market for            a full array of variables in fabric and clothing
running shoes.                           high-performance gear that resists              construction (yarn count, weight, thickness),
   A manikin named Newton is the         wind and rain, holds in warmth                  aesthetics (wrinkle recovery, drape, stiffness),
pièce de résistance of OSU’s apparel     while wicking out sweat, weighs                 durability (tear strength, abrasion resistance)
labs. Cast in aluminum and jointed       little but breathes a lot.                      and comfort (thermal properties, moisture
at the elbows, knees, ankles, hips          As far back as the early 1900s,
and shoulders, he looks a lot like       pioneering firms such as White Stag             » This fall, the center is expanding into
the Tin Woodsman — that is, until        (skiwear), Jantzen (swimwear),                  Portland, where it will host a series of
researchers wrap him in an indigo-       Pendleton (woolen sportswear)                   research-based workshops for design profes-
blue “sweating skin” to measure the      and Danner (boots) catalyzed an                 sionals at the university’s food innovation
thermal properties of clothing. They     athletic and outdoor cluster in the             Center on n.w. naito Parkway. topics on the
have used this $200,000 system,          Portland metro area that’s now 300              agenda include sizing and fabric grading,
manufactured by Seattle-based            companies strong. Anchoring it are              sourcing and sustainable textiles and materials.
Measurement Technology North-            the world headquarters for industry
west, to research everything from        giants Nike, Columbia Sportswear                » Another new initiative, called Design forum/
military helmets for Oregon Ballis-      and Adidas America. KEEN, Korkers               PDX, is a partnership among the Portland
tics to fire-fighting uniforms for       and Icebreaker are just some of                 Development Commission, the City of Port-
Ohio-based Fire-Dex to adult diapers     the up-and-coming brands in the                 land and the oregon university system, along
                                                                                         with private-sector businesses. The initiative
for a Japanese firm specializing in      cluster. The Portland Development
                                                                                         is compiling the west Coast’s first materials
geriatric health care.                   Commission (PDC) has named this
                                                                                         resource library available to design profes-
   OSU prepares fashion designers        sector one of its five “signature
                                                                                         sionals, says osu’s leslie Burns, who serves on
who have special expertise in “func-     industries.” Aiming to create 10,000
                                                                                         the forum’s board of directors.
tional” apparel — that is, clothing
made of specialized fabrics for
specialized purposes. In Oregon, that     in Brief
often means outdoor and athletic
wear. But it can also mean apparel       The issue Oregon has achieved an international role in outdoor apparel design.
that ensures safety for the military     Maintaining that edge takes knowledge of new materials and how they can function
and police, comfort for the old and      not only on the trail but in the stress of battle, disaster response and other adverse
infirm, and even sustainability for      circumstances..
the planet and its inhabitants.
   “We are not an art school,”           osu leadership Students and faculty in the Department of Design and Human
emphasizes Leslie Burns, depart-         Environment work at scales micro to macro, studying new textiles and design trends
ment chair. “Granted, we do have         in functional apparel. Their research supports the growth of this robust industry
the fashion component, the aesthetic     cluster in the Portland metro area, including some of the world’s leading outdoor
piece. But this is a research univer-    apparel firms.

                                                                                                           FALL 2011 » TERRA    11
new jobs in the next five years, the      determine their strength, weight,        material that encases them. “We
PDC is directing resources to its         durability, insulating properties        want to optimize the mechanical
target industry clusters with an          and, ultimately, their suitability for   separation process,” she says, envi-
eye to drawing new talent and new         textiles.                                sioning a potential patent on the
investment opportunities to the city.        Chen’s research at OSU began with     horizon.
   “There’s a wonderful quote from        naturally colored cottons — those           And then there are hops. A couple
the PDC that goes, ‘What Hollywood        fluffy bolls that burst from the plant   years ago, a consultant for Rogue
is to the movie industry, Port-           already tinted with pigment. Span-       Ales sent Chen an email probing
land is to the athletic and outdoor       ning an earthy palette from ochre        the feasibility of extracting fiber
industry,’” says Burns, who serves        and rust to moss green and even          from Oregon hop vines. “As you are
on the forum’s board. “There’s no         blue, they benefit Planet Earth by       likely aware,” he wrote, “hop vines
place else like it.”                      negating the need for chemical dyes.     and stems are in no short supply
   And OSU, boasting the West             One intriguing finding: Instead of       here in Oregon. At present, they are
Coast’s only research-based apparel       fading in the wash, these colors get     discarded, since it is only the strobile
design school, is right in the middle     darker.                                  (fruit) that is used for brewing.”
of it all. “We’re the industry’s             She has gone on to investigate the    From a corner of her lab, Chen
higher-education partner,” says           properties of poplar fibers — those      picks up a fat bundle of dried plant
Burns. “The PDC wants Portland to         wispy, hair-like strands that float on   material and holds it to the light.
be identified as the worldwide hub        autumn winds when seedpods burst         Lamenting the waste of thousands of
for sustainable design — not just in      — already being used by a German         pounds of textile potential each year,
athletic and outdoor but inclusive        firm for insulating winter wear,         she notes, “Hops fibers have the same
of all the sustainability aspects of      comforters and sleeping bags. In a       chemical composition as cotton.”
Portland.”                                study that examined the physical,           from 4-h to Fashionista
                                          chemical and thermal properties of          When Leslie Burns was a girl
Materials in the Raw                      poplar, Chen and OSU apparel design      growing up in Cut Bank, Montana,
More often than not, when Hsiou-          colleague Brigitte Cluver found it to    she couldn’t have imagined that
Lien Chen tells people she’s a            be an ideal alternative to synthetic     her 4-H clothing club would lead
professor in apparel design, they say,    insulation materials such as poly-       to a career as a university depart-
“Oh, so you sew!”                         ester, which is made from petro-         ment head, co-author of a widely
   “I tell them, ‘No, I don’t even        chemicals. “Evolution has provided       used textbook (The Business of
know how to make a pillowcase,’”          poplar seed hair with several charac-    Fashion, now in its fourth edition),
she reports ruefully. Stereo-             teristics that enhance seed dispersal,   and researcher (investigating how
types from the old days of “home          both in air and on water: light-         culture influences design and
economics ” linger, it seems, much to     weight, fine, hollow and resistant       consumers’ perception of products).
Chen’s chagrin.                           to wetting,” the researchers wrote          The latest feather in her cap was
   Chen is not a seamstress but a fiber   in Clothing & Textiles Research          the Fashionista blog’s 2011 rankings
scientist. She studies the raw mate-      Journal in 2010. “This combination       of U.S. fashion schools, which put
rials from which textiles are woven.      of characteristics is also the basic     OSU among the top 20. The heady
   “I’m fascinated,” says Chen, “with     prescription for an effective bulk       list included such elite institutions as
environmentally friendly fibers.”         textile insulation material.”            Parson’s, Pratt and the Rhode Island
   That fascination is easy to under-        Another of her subjects is flax, a    School of Design.
stand when you put your eye to            super-strong fiber inside the stalks        Fashionista exists, in its own
the lens of an electron microscope.       of plants that have been used for        words, to “chronicle the fashion trail
The internal structures of nature’s       clothing in the past, but now are        from the runway to the first Canal
fibers — everything from silk, cotton     being grown mainly for their oily        Street knockoffs.” OSU has mapped
and wool to flax, poplar and hops —       seeds. “The Willamette Valley has        out its own path along that trail.
zoom into view, magnified nearly          perfect weather for growing flax,”          “Our program is a wonderful
1,000 times. Some look like forests       she says. “Here at OSU where we are      combination of science and art,
of battered drinking straws. Others       doing research on making bio-fuels       function and fashion,” says Burns.
resemble dried pasta or strands of        from oilseeds, the stems get burned.”    “It has very much a target consumer
DNA. Are the fibers long or short?        She and a colleague are designing a      orientation. If people aren’t going to
Hollow or solid? Thick or thin?           machine that can quickly separate        wear it, we’re not going to design it.”
From these observations Chen can          the sturdy fibers from the woody

12   TERRA » FALL 2011
Talent for Threads
if there’s a “fashion gene” in human DnA, osu apparel                 CHRISTINE CYPHERS
design students and alums have it. Almost to a person,                  global sourcing and Manufac-
                                                                        turing, Columbia sportswear
they report loving apparel — the palette, the panache,
the voice, the statement — ever since they could                      HOMETOWN: Portland
dress themselves. Amanda grisham is one outstanding                   BEgINNINgS: grew up sewing, but
example. in october, the senior from tigard won the                     also loved math; mom tried to
                                                                        steer her toward engineering.
emerging Designer’s Competition in conjunction with                     “now i tell my mom, ‘you know
Portland fashion week. Portland Monthly style editor                    what? you were right — we engi-
eden Dawn wrote on her blog that grisham’s designs                      neer clothing. everything we do is math-related.’”
were “hands down some of the strongest of the show.”                  OSU APPAREl DESIgN: “osu is a well-rounded education. it’s not
   fortunately for them, they have ample opportunities to parlay        just focused on apparel. it’s also about business — marketing,
their inborn passion into a profession. That’s because the vortex       finance, international trade, foreign exchange. And it’s about
of the u.s. outdoor and athletic-wear industry is just 80 miles         science, like the chemistry of textiles and the carbon proper-
north of Corvallis. “Portland is recognized as the global hub for       ties of fibers.”
the athletic and outdoor industry,” according to the Portland
                                                                      PREVIOUS WORKPlACES: Pendleton woolen Mills, lands’ end
Development Commission.
   “There’s an enormous cluster of expertise in the Portland          CURRENT TRENDS: “Cotton prices and oil prices play into the
area,” affirms osu alum Ron Parham, a public relations executive        bigger business dynamic. we’re always asking, ‘what can we
at Columbia sportswear. within that cluster of expertise, there         do with the commodities that are available to us?’”
are many alumni of the osu apparel design and graphic design
programs. Meet a few:                                                 lAUREN STEWART ROSS
                                                                        sourcing Analyst, Columbia sports-
KATHlEEN MCNAllY                                                        wear
  Creative Director for Apparel,
  Columbia sportswear                                                 HOMETOWN: Central Point
HOMETOWN: Portland                                                    BEgINNINgS: 4-h
BEgINNINgS: started sewing her own                                    OSU APPAREl DESIgN: started college
  wardrobe (and Barbie’s) in second                                     with K-12 teaching aspirations,
  grade                                                                 but stumbled across an apparel
                                                                        course called “Appearance, Power and society” and promptly
OSU APPAREl DESIgN: “The thing i
                                                                        switched majors. study tours to las vegas, europe and hong
  liked best about the program was
                                                                        Kong steeped her in the international nature of the apparel
  the freedom to tailor it to my strengths. i did a lot of indepen-
  dent projects.”
                                                                      INDUSTRY ClUSTER: “in Portland it’s such a close-knit commu-
PREVIOUS WORKPlACES: nike, lucy Activewear, J. Crew
                                                                        nity that everyone knows everyone else. you can make great
CURRENT TRENDS: “Packability, compactability, ultra-light-              connections and build a great career here.”
INDUSTRY ClUSTER: “so many creative people move to Portland           ANgElA SNOW
  because it’s an outdoor nirvana. new york is the only other           Director of Creative operations and
  city with ready access to this kind of talent, especially talent      Macro-trends, nike
  so strongly oriented to the outdoors.”                              HOMETOWN: Beaverton (a half-mile from
                                                                        today’s nike campus)
ABBY WINDEll SWANCUTT                                                 BEgINNINgS: started by creating fashion
  Apparel Designer for young Athletes,
                                                                        illustration in grade school; mother
                                                                        sewed her designs for her to wear
HOMETOWN: newport
                                                                      OSU gRAPHIC DESIgN: “The program had
BEgINNINgS: started revamping hand-                                     world-class graphic design professors,
  me-downs in elementary school;                                        which was enriching and provided a great education. i also did
  designed her formals for high school                                  coursework in apparel design. it was a perfect combination of
  dances                                                                design disciplines.”
OSU APPAREl DESIgN: “The best thing                                   CURRENT TRENDS: “we research patterns in macro-trend
  about the program was that every professor knew me as a               culture, innovation, technology, fashion, science and biomet-
  person and genuinely cared. They came to all my volleyball            rics — we synthesize this information to help inspire and
  games. My favorite class was fashion merchandizing and                inform the design community.”
  marketing, where i learned that you have to get to know the
  customer inside and out. your consumer’s your boss.”

                                                                                                                FALL 2011 » TERRA   13
Is There a Pill for That?

14   TERRA » FALL 2011
how the internet is changing the
way Americans seek health care
By lee sheRMAn | illustRAtions By thoMAs JAMes

                                                  he classic norman Rockwell painting Doctor
                                                  and Doll from the late 1920s — a kindly physi-
                                                  cian in a cozy office listening to the “heartbeat”
                                          of a little girl’s beloved toy — looks as quaint today as
                                          those ‘50s-era scenes from the movie Grease, where
                                          teenagers in ducktails and ponytails cluster around a
                                          jukebox snapping their fingers to songs like Jerry lee
                                          lewis’ Whole Lotta Shaking Going On. or the freckle-
                                          faced kid on Leave It to Beaver, tossing newspapers
                                          from a canvas bag slung over his shoulder.

                                          Those halcyon days of trusted         potions, ointments and salves.
                                          family doctors, vinyl discs and       And we can solicit feedback from
                                          hometown papers are being             fellow sufferers around the globe,
                                          left far, far behind as the world     sharing symptoms and comparing
                                          hurtles ahead on ever-faster,         diagnoses.
                                          ever-smaller, ever more potent           Now, instead of blindly
                                          computing devices. Just as the        following “doctor’s orders,”
                                          revolution in technology has          patients can power up their iPad,
                                          given everyone 24-7 access to The     Google their symptoms and join
                                          New York Times, a ballooning          a chatroom for a different kind of
                                          blogosphere and personalized,         “expert” opinion — that of ordi-
                                          portable playlists, so has it given   nary people who have “been there,
                                          patients and consumers a limitless    done that.” They can add a health-
                                          gateway to health-care resources.     related “app” to their smart phone,
                                          Within seconds, we can find           or post their ailments on Face-
                                          news, information and chatrooms       book. (A story about a mom whose
                                          on WebMD, the world’s largest         gravely ill 4-year-old was saved by
                                          commercial health-care website,       a Facebook diagnosis went viral on
                                          or up-to-date medical research on     the Internet.) They can ask their
                                          PubMed, the open-access site of       doctor for all sorts of new drugs
                                          the National Institutes of Health.    being touted on TV — many of
                                          We can get data on every disease      them designed for just-discovered
                                          under the sun. We can access          diseases that seem to pop up as
                                          details about an ever-widening        fast as new products for personal
                                          rainbow of capsules, tablets,         computing.

                                                                                               FALL 2011 » TERRA   15
   In this brave new world of                self-diagnosing with disastrous             Sometimes, this electronic activity
“e-health,” there are bounteous              results, or falling prey to online       results in what social scientists call
benefits, says Kristin Barker, a soci-       charlatans — have not materialized       “illness affiliation” — identifying
ologist at Oregon State University.          to any significant degree, she has       with others who report similar
   “I think the overwhelming trend           identified certain trends that are       symptoms. These collectives of
of health information on the Internet        cause for concern, both for individ-     sufferers, joined in a spirit of “illness
is positive,” says Barker, who studies       uals and for society at large.           camaraderie,” as Barker calls it, typi-
the impact of electronic technolo-                                                    cally push the medical establishment
gies on medical decision-making              The loneliness of fibromyalgia           to bless their shared experience with
and power dynamics. “It gives us             A woman called Yolanda posts the         disease status.
access to information in ways that           following comment in a chat room:           Yolanda (a pseudonym) is a case in
are unprecedented. It allows us to           “What I find in reading others’          point. Barker found her on a website
be more engaged in our own health-           symptoms is that I’m not nuts, and       fictionally named “Fibro Spot,” a
care decisions. It empowers us. ”            this really is happening to me.” In      chatroom for sufferers of a modern-
   Sitting in her third-floor office         other words, her pain is not all in      day syndrome called fibromy-
in Fairbanks Hall, she laughingly            her head. And there’s an impor-          algia, which afflicts some 6 million
admits to typing in her own symp-            tant subtext: She’s not alone in her     Americans. Launched and run by
toms on a regular basis, looking for         suffering.                               laypeople, Fibro Spot’s homepage
clues to why her head is aching or              You can sense the gratitude in her    was one of the top 50 highest-ranked
her energy is sagging.                       words. You can almost hear her sigh      pages among the 6.7 million hits
   “I’m a little bit of what’s called a      with relief as she types her thoughts    Barker got when she searched online
cybercondriac,” she jokes. “I’ll look        into her computer and then clicks        for “fibromyalgia.”
up two of my symptoms — headache             “send.” With that tap of her finger,        For 12 months in 2004 and 2005,
and fatigue — and I’m convinced I            she joins the millions of Americans      the researcher “lurked” in the back-
have a brain tumor.”                         who are turning to the Internet for      ground at Fibro Spot, eavesdropping
   This tendency to inflate or misin-        an astounding range of health-care       on the conversations of Yolanda and
terpret ordinary aches and pains is          needs, from basic information to         about 250 other visitors who posted
one pitfall of seeking health-care           psychological support. Of the nearly     comments to the website. (Although
information online. Others include           75 percent of adults who use the         some social scientists question the
grasping at “disease” models for             Internet, 80 percent have sought         ethics of online lurking for data
problems that may, in fact, originate        health-related information online,       collection, Barker argues that if the
outside the biomedical sphere, and           the Pew Internet & American Life         site is public and doesn’t require a
letting anecdotal evidence trump             Project found in 2010. That’s almost     password or membership to join,
verifiable science.                          60 percent of American adults. Their     then it’s open for anyone to read.
   Illuminating these kinds of               search topics range from health          The known presence of a researcher
hazards is the focus of Barker’s             insurance and environmental health       would alter the dialog, she says,
research. While she readily acknowl-         hazards to drug safety, chronic pain,    diluting its authenticity and, hence,
edges that the “doomsday scenarios”          elder care, memory loss and a host of    its value to science.)
of the Internet’s early days — people        specific diseases.                          Yolanda, having recognized her
                                                                                      own plight in the stories of other
                                                                                      virtual group members, found affir-
 in Brief                                                                             mation that her cluster of symptoms,
                                                                                      ranging from pain and tenderness to
The issue In Internet chatrooms, on Facebook and Twitter, people with
                                                                                      anxiety, insomnia and fatigue, must
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, breast cancer and other health problems
                                                                                      certainly indicate an actual physical
share their stories. Through online media, people find solace, challenge physicians
and argue for recognition, but they risk misdiagnosing symptoms and can confuse
                                                                                         “By writing and reading postings
anecdotes with verifiable fact.
                                                                                      at Fibro Spot, participants trans-
osu leadership Kristin Barker, professor of sociology, studies the role of online     form a collection of symptoms into
communities in the health-care system. One of her findings: Social factors may help   a unified entity,” Barker explains
to explain symptoms commonly felt by people when personal experience conflicts        in the Journal of Health and Social
with medical evidence. She suggests that health care has become defined by broad      Behavior. “From the point of view
social trends through the “medicalization” of the human condition.                    of participants, shared symptoms,

16   TERRA » FALL 2011
rather than objective medical
evidence, substantiate fibromyalgia
as an organic disease.”
   Social scientists call this phenom-
enon “reification” — that is,
inventing a real, material thing out
of an abstract idea or belief that has
been developed socially. In this case,
the idea being reified is a perceived
illness. But as Barker points out,
just because people are reporting
similar constellations of physical
and psychological symptoms doesn’t
mean there’s a biomedical basis
for them. The aches and pains may
be real enough, she grants. Their
origins, however, may also lie in
larger social forces that affect human
   In the case of fibromyalgia, some
research points to a central nervous
system imbalance that causes
hypersensitivity to pain. But medical
science has yet to find a definitive
source of illness. Social science,
however, has given us perhaps the
most telling clues to the disorder,
according to Barker. Studies reveal
that fibromyalgia affects mostly
women (the ratio is nine women to
one man), and that there is an over-
representation of sufferers who fall
on the lower rungs of the socioeco-
nomic ladder.
   To Barker, these demographics
strongly suggest a social problem         personal hardships that characterize    for a contested disease. Electronic
rather than a medical one. Fibromy-       the lives of many women,” she says.     “connectivity” and the collec-
algia, she posits, is a classic example   “By focusing intently on gaining        tive validation of “lay expertise”
of a phenomenon she has studied           medical legitimization, Fibro Spot      that it fosters is “a potent element
extensively throughout her career:        participants remain largely silent on   in contemporary lay challenges
“medicalization.” She defines it as       the social circumstances in which       to scientific expertise and will
“the processes by which an ever-          suffering is grounded and experi-       become increasingly influential as
wider range of human experiences          enced.”                                 online illness affiliation becomes
come to be defined, experienced,             Fibromyalgia is just one of the      ever more commonplace,” Barker
and treated as medical conditions.”       “contested diseases”— medically         and co-author Tasha Galardi, an
In short, we are seeking pills and        unexplained syndromes such as           OSU graduate student, write in the
potions to fix problems whose solu-       chronic fatigue, multiple chem-         journal Social Science & Medicine.
tions may well be non-pharmaceu-          ical sensitivity and sick-building         Other examples of the “disease
tical.                                    syndrome — being driven in large        du jour” craze, such as “restless
   “I argue that the fibromyalgia         part by online connections among        leg syndrome” and “low T,” are
diagnosis medicalizes a vast constel-     people like Yolanda and her fellow      being propelled by drug companies
lation of complaints that are asso-       sufferers. Indeed, more than 10         pushing pharmaceuticals as “cures”
ciated with social, economic and          million Americans have a diagnosis      for conditions that many physi-

                                                                                                   FALL 2011 » TERRA   17
cians chalk up to normal aging, poor      of the trend toward medicalizing         medical goods and services.”
lifestyle choices (such as too much       experiences once accepted as normal        When we latch onto organic
sitting around) or even, as Barker        vicissitudes of living. Riding right     explanations for troubles that are
puts it, simply “part of the human        alongside the drug companies was         actually social in nature, Barker
condition.”                               the health-care consumer. Then the       says, we lose the opportunity to find
   These forces, which Peter Conrad       Internet arrived, creating the perfect   and address true root causes. “My
                                                                                            concern is how electronic
                                                                                            support groups may push for
                                                                                            greater medical intervention
                                                                                            when it’s not necessary, not
                                                                                            effective and not in our best
                                                                                            interest, either as individ-
                                                                                            uals or as a society,” Barker

                                                                                            warriors for
                                                                                             For Yolanda, chatting with
                                                                                             her compatriots online gave
                                                                                             her the gumption to tell off
                                                                                             her skeptical physician: See?
                                                                                             I told you so. You’re not
                                                                                             so smart after all. Indeed,
                                                                                             questioning traditional
                                                                                             medical authorities is a hall-
                                                                                             mark of health care in many
                                                                                             of today’s online commu-
                                                                                             nities. Barker’s Fibro Spot
                                                                                             subjects, who were more
                                                                                             than 90 percent female,
                                                                                             were uniformly bitter
                                                                                             about their physicians’
                                                                                             unwillingness to recognize
                                                                                             fibromyalgia as a legitimate
                                                                                             disease. “Idiot,” “bitch” and
                                                                                             “clueless” were some of the
                                                                                             virtual insults they hurled at
                                                                                             their doctors while nursing
                                                                                             fantasies of slapping them or
                                                                                             kicking them in the shins.
                                                                                             Their rage, clearly fueled by
of Brandeis University calls “engines     platform for ramping up medicaliza-      feelings of powerlessness, practi-
of medicalization,” have shifted over     tion trends to breakneck speed.          cally leapt off the screen. “Find a
the decades. In the late 19th and early      “The transformation of medicine       new doctor!” was their mad-as-hell
20th centuries, Barker says, doctors      from being primarily profession-         advice to newcomers.
were in the driver’s seat when they       ally directed to being increasingly         This rejection of doctors’ expertise
redefined natural processes —             market-driven places the patient         and scientific findings, unheard of in
especially ones related to women’s        in a new role vis-à-vis medicaliza-      the heydays of Rockwell and rock-
bodies, such as childbirth and            tion,” Barker asserts, again drawing     n-roll, is at the heart of a firestorm
menopause — as needing medical            on the writings of Conrad. “It is        that erupted on the Internet in 2009.
management. By the end of the last        increasingly the case that patients      This “populist uprising,” to use the
century, however, the pharmaceu-          contribute to medicalization via their   words of Pew’s Susannah Fox, was
tical industry was the primary driver     consumer ‘desire and demand’ for         triggered when a congressional

18   TERRA » FALL 2011
task force issued new guidelines for     the populace.                             according to a 2010 Johns Hopkins
breast cancer screening. The panel          “There’s a lot of overuse of health    study published in the Journal of
of independent experts, the U.S.         care that is unneeded and, in some        the American Medical Association.
Preventive Services Task Force at        cases, harmful,” Barker notes. “We        As for mammography, research has
the U.S. Department of Health and        have a right to be worried about not      found that for every cancer detected
Human Services, announced that it        getting care we may need — that’s a       during routine screenings among
was rolling back earlier standards for   real fear and one that should not be      40-something women, nearly 2,000
routine screening. For 40-something      dismissed. But we also need to be         mammograms are performed. The
women without any breast cancer          afraid of getting health care we don’t    new guidelines were based on those
symptoms or risk factors, the panel      need. Because somebody is profiting       findings. With no credible evidence
reported that routine mammograms         from it.”                                 linking more imaging with less
don’t save lives and may, in fact, be                                              mortality, the task force concluded
harmful. And for women between 50        The image of health                       that the risks (from radiation, false
and 74, every-other-year scans are       Even as they lose faith in their          positives and follow-up interven-
adequate, they said, thereby over-       doctors, Americans are embracing          tions) were not justified for healthy,
turning earlier recommendations for      certain medical technologies with         asymptomatic women.
annual mammograms.                       the fervor of true believers, Barker         Still, survivors and their
   The reaction from breast cancer       says. Our infatuation with imaging        supporters were outraged. Statis-
survivors and providers was “swift       machines that peer inside our bodies      tics, schmatistics! they lashed back.
and furious,” reported journalist        to see what’s wrong with us — CT          You’re talking about my life, my
Jennifer Goodwin on U.S. News            scanners, PET scanners, MRIs — has        mother’s life, my sister’s life! Their
& World Report’s “HealthDay”             exploded in recent years. High-tech       passionate beliefs became amplified
website. Within hours, the Internet      imaging in emergency rooms, for           on the Internet.
was aflame with angry denuncia-          example, quadrupled between 1996             Barker has enormous respect and
tions against the task force, which      and 2007, according to the Centers        empathy for the patients, survivors
had based its new recommendations        for Disease Control (CDC). In doctors’    and consumers she calls “citizen
on rigorous, population-level statis-    offices and outpatient clinics,           experts” or “lay experts.” Anyone
tical evidence.                          imaging frequency tripled during the      who has undergone breast cancer
   This brouhaha “was a great illus-     same time span, the CDC found.            — or, for that matter, any life-threat-
tration of how two worlds collide,”         Mammography, Barker suggests,          ening condition — attains a degree of
Barker told Goodwin for the U.S.         along with these other high-tech          expertise that has value and must not
News article. “On the one hand,          imaging tools, has taken on the           be discounted, she says. But she goes
you had the science that was saying      status of a “sacred technology” —         on to caution that when good science
mammography for women in their           something revered that cannot be          sheds light on questionable, wasteful
40s might not be as effective as we      questioned. Following the logic of        or even harmful uses of medical
thought, and on the other hand,          sociologist Kelly Joyce of the College    personnel, equipment and money,
you had the personal experiences of      of William and Mary, who asserts          connective resistance from stake-
the women who believed they were         that MRIs and the images they create      holders can be a dangerous barrier
saved by having a mammogram.”            “serve as totems and sacred objects”      to good policy. That’s e-health at its
   What’s happening, she explains,       in the same way religious rituals and     worst. At its best, e-health can be
is “a contemporary clash between         trappings do, Barker says the idea is     a powerful fulcrum for balancing
scientific and lay ways of knowing.”     an extension of the classic analysis in   anecdote and science, private and
These “two faces of medicine” (as        Elementary Forms of Religious Life        public, individual and societal
Harry Collins of Cardiff University      by Emile Durkheim, who is widely          toward better health and greater
and Trevor Pinch of Cornell phrase it)   recognized as the “father of soci-        wellbeing for everyone.
are not only pitting patients against    ology.”                                      “When the Internet first came
physicians, but also private well-          Our faith in these technolo-           out,” Barker says, “it was a place
being against the public good. In an     gies can blind us to the findings of      where people went to get informa-
era of scarce resources, unnecessary     science, Barker cautions. Despite         tion. Then it started to be a place
screenings shrink access and siphon      the dramatic rise in imaging for          where people shared information.
funds that could be used for more        injured patients in ERs, diagnosing       Now it’s becoming a place where
effective, more equitable preventions    life-threatening conditions has           people create information.”
and treatments for larger swaths of      not improved correspondingly,

                                                                                                     FALL 2011 » TERRA   19
in a rural village, farmers fight
industrial pollution
By niCK houtMAn

t      he young Chinese laborer was desperate. Like           “I suspected that he was just looking
                                                              for money,” writes Bryan Tilt in his
       millions of other migrant workers in China’s dash to   2010 book, The Struggle for Sustain-
                                                              ability in Rural China. Tilt, who was
industrialize, he had left his home and family to work        a University of Washington graduate
in a factory in the rural interior. Now, environmental        student at the time, told the man to
                                                              come back later and consulted with
officials had closed the zinc smelter in Futian where he      his landlord, Li Jiejie. She had an
                                                              extensive family network throughout
worked, and without a job, nearly out of money and            the region, the arid foothills of
separated from his support community, he knocked              southern Sichuan Province. Eventu-
                                                              ally, Jiejie helped Tilt find the man a
on the door of the inquisitive American who had been          job carrying mortar at a construction
                                                              project. The pay was less than half of
conducting interviews in the village. He asked the
                                                              what he had made at the smelter.
foreigner if he could help him with another job or a bus         The laborer’s problems were not
                                                              unusual. Workers like him, China’s
ticket back home. Then he broke down in tears.                so-called “floating population,” have

20   TERRA » FALL 2011
Villagers (at left) work together to transplant    villagers, workers and government        honored their guest with refresh-
rice into the paddy in late spring. The Chinese
                                                   officials about their attitudes toward   ments before talking about more
characters below were written by Bryan Tilt and
literally mean “rice paddy people.” At right is    development and pollution. His goal      serious matters. “In China, you don’t
the zinc smelter where Tilt interviewed workers    was to reach a deeper understanding      just show up and start doing your
before it was closed in 2003. (Rice paddy photo:   about environmental values in China      work and start pushing your agenda.
Jenna Tilt; smelter photo: Bryan Tilt)
                                                   and to learn how people responded        You eat and you drink. There’s
                                                   to problems and sought redress for       an expectation that you socialize
transformed the Chinese country-                   damages.                                 together,” Tilt says. In Futian, Tilt
side by operating make-shift mines                    For anthropologists, fieldwork        was often served a homemade liquor
and factories, often living with their             means interviews, so Tilt visited        called bai-jiu, a drink that chal-
families in industrial compounds                   people in their homes and offices,       lenged his palette. “It was like gaso-
fouled by coal smoke, polluted water
and other wastes. In the 1980s, more
than 100 million people moved from
agriculture to industry — the largest
employment shift ever recorded.
   When Tilt, now an Oregon State
University anthropologist and a
Fulbright scholar, first visited Futian
in 2001, it was a poor isolated village
of rice farmers. Most residents call
themselves Shuitan zu, literally “rice
paddy people.” The local government
had built an industrial compound
that housed facilities for smelting
zinc, washing coal and producing
coke for a steel mill in Panzhihua,
the region’s largest city. Flush with
revenues from the factories, the
town had constructed new cement
buildings with storefronts and a six-
story high-rise office building faced
with white tiles to house municipal                scribbling hurried notes in English      line, only less tasty,” he says.
offices. On a small stream, it erected             and Mandarin, which he speaks               Conventional wisdom about a
a dam to produce electricity.                      fluently. (“As an anthropologist, you    society’s attitude toward the envi-
   This prosperity came at a price.                really can’t understand people except    ronment holds that in the early
Acrid coal smoke choked the indus-                 through their language,” he says.)       stages of development, nature takes
trial compound and wafted over                     He created questionnaires and asked      a back seat to more pressing needs,
homes and farm fields. The stream,                 villagers to fill them out. Enveloped    such as food, warmth and shelter.
a tributary to the Yangtze, ran black              in coal smoke with a handkerchief        And yet what Tilt found during his
with effluents. Children played in                 over his mouth, he interviewed           fieldwork was that local farmers and
slag heaps and other refuse from the               workers in the factory compound.         townspeople, most of whom lived in
factories.                                            Although he would have preferred      houses with dirt floors and made the
   “Piles of coal and ore-slag                     to use a tape recorder to docu-          equivalent of less than $500 a year,
lay strewn about the factory                       ment his discussions, he found           put a high priority on clean air and
compound,” writes Tilt. “When it                   quickly that people were reluctant.      water.
rained, pools of black industrial                  “People don’t want to talk into             It wasn’t just a matter of treating
sludge collected in ruts and potholes              tape recorders,” he says. “Recent        nature as sacred. Although tradi-
in the road and in villagers’ court-               political history has told them that     tional Chinese religions (Confu-
yards and gardens.”                                doing things on the record can be        cianism, Taoism, Buddhism) regard
                                                   dangerous.”                              humans as intimately linked to the
interviews in the smoke                               At times, the conversations           environment, farmers told Tilt that
Tilt had come to Futian to talk with               were casual and relaxed. Residents       pollution reduced their crop yields

                                                                                                              FALL 2011 » TERRA   21
and made the stream unusable for                        “It’s often the case that wealth                time for the opera
irrigation and livestock. Other                      and privilege are a way of buffering
                                                                                                           Today, they don’t go hungry.
residents complained that the coal                   yourself against some of those risks,”
                                                                                                        They grow more than enough food
smoke and black water made them                      says Tilt. “These people were on the
                                                                                                        — rice, vegetables, pork, chicken,
and their children sick.                             front lines. They didn’t have those
                                                                                                        beef — to feed themselves and
   “These are people who rely on the                 buffers.” To underscore the point,
                                                                                                        to supply markets downriver in
land to make a living. If their crops                he notes that he and his wife Jenna
                                                                                                        Panzhihua. Satellite TV dishes have
fail, they’re done for. That’s a very                bought bottled water to drink during
                                                                                                        even appeared outside some of the
pragmatic basis for an environmental                 their visits to Futian. Most residents
                                                                                                        ubiquitous mud-walled houses (“I
value,” says Tilt.                                   did not have that luxury.
                                                                                                        like to watch the Beijing Opera,”
                                                        “So a lot of what I found ran
out of Compliance                                                                                       one woman told Tilt). In the busy
                                                     completely counter to that idea that
                                                                                                        morning market, villagers shop, chat
In fact, it was pollution of agricul-                you need to reach a certain level
                                                                                                        with each other and play mahjong.
tural water that broke the back of                   of economic development before
                                                                                                           Tilt’s interviews show an unex-
Futian’s industrial enterprises. In                  you even care about environmental
                                                                                                        pected divide among people based
2000, a group of farmers appealed                    issues,” he adds. “I think the
                                                                                                        on where they lived and worked.
to local government and to regional                  reason is that these are people who,
                                                                                                        Whereas many farmers and towns-
environmental officials to have the                  precisely because of their low socio-
                                                                                                        people objected to the pollution,
factories closed. Two years later,                   economic position, were directly
                                                                                                        most factory workers like the young
as the pollution continued to spew                   experiencing the impacts of a local
                                                                                                        man who had knocked on his door
from the industrial compound, the                    pollution problem.”
                                                                                                        thought that it was harmless or,
farmers took a page from environ-                       In fact, Futian had only recently
                                                                                                        at worst, easily remedied. They
mental activists in the West and                     solved what the Chinese call wenbao
                                                                                                        constantly downplayed the health
called in the media. A TV reporter                   wenti, the “warmth and fullness
                                                                                                        risks, says Tilt. “They had been doing
used a hidden camera to record the                   problem,” says Tilt. Many older resi-
                                                                                                        this work for years with no prob-
owner of the zinc smelter saying that                dents remembered the famine during
                                                                                                        lems. They didn’t worry about it,” he
his factory was too profitable — to                  the Cultural Revolution, when people
himself and to the village — to be                   ate grass from steep, dusty hillsides
                                                                                                           Nevertheless, a woman who
closed. A month later, environmental                 above the town alongside their
                                                                                                        worked in a local health clinic told
officials issued a written order                     livestock (a time some sardonically
                                                                                                        Tilt that factory workers often came
closing the factories for noncompli-                 referred to as “the era of green shit”).
                                                                                                        to her complaining of respiratory
ance with emissions standards.
                                                                                                        problems and difficulties breathing.
                                                                                                        “There is nothing really that we can
                                                                                                        do for them,” she said.
                                                                                                           While closing the factories may
                                                                                                        have cleared the air in Futian, it
                                                                                                        also left workers without jobs and
                                                                                                        the owners deep in debt. Tilt got to
                                                                                                        know some of the workers and spent
                                                                                                        his free time with the owner of the
                                                                                                        zinc smelter, Mr. Zhang, a retired
                                                                                                        college-educated school teacher who
                                                                                                        had sunk his life savings into the
                                                                                                        enterprise. The local government had
                                                                                                        attracted him to the area with prom-
                                                                                                        ises of rich natural resources and tax
                                                                                                        breaks. Now he felt betrayed.
                                                                                                           Before he went to China, Tilt
                                                                                                        considered the factories to be “face-
                                                                                                        less entities plotting to destroy the
                                                                                                        environment. They weren’t like
                                                                                                        that,” he says. “They were people
           During the dry season, farmers carry fodder home for livestock to eat. (Photo: Jenna Tilt)   like you and me who were trying to

22   TERRA » FALL 2011
 in Brief
The issue China has paid a steep
environmental price in its rush to
industrialize the countryside. Despite
the wealth generated by rural factories,
uncontrolled air and water pollution has
compromised health, farming and other
enterprises that depend on natural

osu leadership In a remote
village in southwestern China,
OSU anthropologist Bryan Tilt has
documented the cultural and political
tensions between economic progress
and environmental degradation. His
interviews and observations shed new
light on the source of environmental
values and portray people in the
struggle to develop a sustainable

do right by their families. They were
trying to make a living. They were
doing it under tremendous uncer-           Love of Language
tainty. The political and economic
climate in China can change, turn on
a dime. If the Party comes out with a
new policy and it affects you, you’re
out of luck. So there’s a Wild West
mentality where, you gotta get what        As a college student, Bryan tilt            A member of the southern Sichuan extended
                                           spent three years in south Korea and        Li family and author of a book on minority
you can get now and move on.”
                                           returned with a love for a new culture      cultures discusses his research with Bryan Tilt.
   The factory closures in Futian have                                                 (Photo: Jenna Tilt)
                                           and its language. “i don’t know that i
been repeated across the country,
                                           would have gotten into anthropology
evidence that environmental protec-        without that experience. it just opened     open the door in futian. within a few
tion is being taken more seriously in      up doors for me that i didn’t even          frenzied days, he was doing interviews
China. Tilt expects to see continued       know existed, let alone knew how to         in the village.
progress as the government invests         walk through,” he says.                        in 2012, tilt and his family (osu
                                              he majored in Asian studies at           faculty research associate Jenna tilt
in pollution control and alternative
                                           utah state and focused further on           and their children Avery and Miriam)
energy technologies.
                                           environmental issues and values as          will return to China. with support from
   “China is kicking our butts on                                                      a fulbright scholarship, Bryan will
                                           a university of washington graduate
renewable energy technology,”              student. with its emerging environ-         conduct interviews in yunnan Province
he says. “It’s because the central         mental problems, China seemed like          to investigate how people balance
government has decided to do that.         a logical place to study the tension        hydropower and dams with values
They have a plan to spend $800             between environment and economy             such as biodiversity, community
                                           at the grass roots. however, his first      preservation and sustainability.
billion on wind, wave, solar and
                                           experience in the industrial city of           working with osu faculty colleagues
hydroelectric. They are putting a
                                           harbin in Manchuria didn’t go well. “i      Desiree tullos (Biological and ecolog-
lot of energy, initiative and money                                                    ical engineering) and Aaron wolf
                                           had so many doors slammed in my
behind developing these tech-              face, i couldn’t get the work done,” he     (geosciences), tilt has contributed to a
nologies. And we are sitting around        remembers.                                  decision-making model for future dam
going, ‘Who should take the lead on           it took a phone call to his adviser in   construction. in the current work, they
this?’ Guess what, 10 years from now,      seattle and a connection to a research      are focusing on the Mekong and nu
                                           colleague at the sichuan nationali-         (salween) rivers.
they’re going to have all the capacity,
                                           ties Research institute in Chengdu to
and we are not.”

                                                                                                           FALL 2011 » TERRA       23
Gitali and Arup Indra study the complex and elu-
sive chemical and genetic mechanisms of mela-
noma, a deadly disease that claims thousands of
lives every year. (Photo: Karl Maasdam)

Co-conspirators in M E L A NOM A
By lee sheRMAn

Researchers discover “partners in crime” in deadly skin disease

A   mericans spend billions to beautify their
    outermost organ — to make it softer
and younger, to erase wrinkles, conceal
                                                   biohazard suit. It defends our bodies against
                                                   a barrage of environmental and biological
                                                   assaults, from solar ultra-violet (UV) radia-
freckles, fake a tan, flaunt a tattoo. In our      tion and industrial pollution to extreme
obsession with skin’s cosmetic qualities, it’s     heat and deadly pathogens.
easy to forget the role it plays as nature’s

24   TERRA » FALL 2011
Given this constant battering, there’s   sion, are the focus of the Indras’        in the field of gene regulation. “They
little wonder that skin ranks No. 1      research. They began collaborating in     overlap.”
on the American Cancer Society’s         the 1990s at the Institute of Genetics,      Scientists long have known that
list of most common cancers. Many        Molecular and Cellular Biology            melanoma takes hold in the body’s
of the 1 million new cases diagnosed     (IGBMC), one of the leading European      pigment-producing cells, which
in 2010 were easily treated. But the     centers of biomedical research in         are called melanocytes (that is,
most lethal form of skin cancer —        Strasbourg, France. Arup was a post-      producers of melanin, which gives
melanoma — took the lives of 70,000      doctoral researcher, and Gitali was a     skin its color and protects it against
Americans. Unlike more benign            Ph.D. candidate.                          the sun’s ultra-violet rays). But that’s
forms of skin cancer, melanoma can          “I was totally into skin,” says        only part of the story, as the Indras
metastasize aggressively, spreading      Gitali, whose Ph.D. in molecular          have discovered. In the “microenvi-
into lymph nodes and other distant       and cellular biology focused on head      ronment,” or the local neighborhood,
organs of the body if not caught and     and neck cancers, which originate         of the cancer site, the researchers
treated early.                           from epithelial cells — cells that        have recently identified other skin
   For two researchers in the Oregon     form linings on many body surfaces,       cells that play a key role. Called
State University College of Phar-        including the skin. Two years ago,        keratinocytes (producers of keratin, a
macy, the statistics are unaccept-       the Indras, in collaboration with         protein found in hair and nails as well
able. In a warren of labs tucked into    their colleagues in France and in the     as skin), these “co-conspirators” are
the recesses of the college’s historic   College of Pharmacy, announced            not just bit players in the genesis of
building, Arup and Gitali Indra          a breakthrough in human head              melanoma. They’re lead actors.
are urgently seeking — and begin-        and neck cancers by showing that             “These adjacent cells are actu-
ning to find — clues to predicting,      tumors in these areas contain a           ally the driver for the changes and
preventing and stopping this hard-       five-fold spike in CTIP2, a gene          malignant transformation in the
to-treat disease before it spreads.      regulator thought to play a role in       pigment-producing cells,” Arup
   “Malignant melanoma continues         tumor growth. The Indras’ findings,       says. “So there are two avenues —
to evade modern curative efforts as      published in the journal PloS One,        the pigment-producing cells where
a result of the complex and elusive      could lead to the development of a        the cancer develops, and the adja-
nature of metastatic tumors,” the        promising new prognostic kit for          cent skin cells which ‘talk to’ the
researchers write in the journal         fast, sensitive and accurate detection    pigment-producing cells in the form
Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research.        of head and neck cancer and some          of signals. They work in coordina-
Their research, which explores the       other epithelial cancers.                 tion. They are partners in crime.”
chemical and genetic mechanisms of          Melanoma is the Indras’ nemesis.          To study melanoma cells in
melanoma progression “could hold         But in order to tackle that baneful       isolation from their surrounding
therapeutic value when combating         foe, the researchers (who are             biochemical and molecular environ-
metastatic disease.”                     partners in marriage as well as in        ment, therefore, is to miss the intri-
                                         science) investigate the full spec-       cate series of related interactions that
skin Deep                                trum of mammalian skin, from the          give rise to the disease, he stresses.
When people look at each other, they     fetal to the fatal — from embryonic
perceive skin as a smooth surface        stem cells to metastatic cancer cells,    east to west
that ranges in tone from pale pink to    from normal function to inflamma-         The daughter of a mining engineer
deep brown, depending on ancestry.       tory disease and life-threatening         in southern India, Gitali was a gifted
But beneath the pigmented surface        cancers. Wound healing is yet             athlete, winning glory in badminton
is a complex layering of cell types,     another window into the mysteries         and table tennis. Arup, the son of a
each with its own function. Graphic      of melanoma and the mechanisms            marine engineer based in Kolkata
renderings of human skin, magni-         that drive it.                            (then Calcutta), was a talented
fied and cut away, bear an uncanny          Among skin researchers, there’s a      young musician, studying sitar with
resemblance to geologists’ drawings      common saying: Cancer is a wound          Sangeetacharya Gokul Nag, a pre-
of rock strata. How skin, a complex      that never heals. “The processes of       eminent sitarist of the Vishnupur
multi-cellular organ, develops from      wound healing and cancer progres-         Gharana of Bengal (a traditional form
a handful of stem cells, and how the     sion have similar pathways,”              of Indian music), and with a nephew
various skin cell types interact and     explains Arup, whose mentor in            of the legendary Ravi Shankar. But
“talk” with one another with the aid     France was renowned scientist Pierre      when it came time to choose careers,
of proteins that regulate gene expres-   Chambon, whom he calls a “guru”           the couple report, both fathers

                                                                                                     FALL 2011 » TERRA   25
         steered their offspring firmly toward                they used cell cultures from both                     However, the Indras caution, both
         the sciences.                                        human samples as well as animal                    the protective protein and pigment
            As his post-doc in France was                     models that carry a mutation in                    cells can suffer damage from chem-
         winding down, Arup was invited to                    a gene called Cdk4, an inherited                   ical toxins or ultraviolet sunlight
         interview at OSU. Leafy Corvallis                    predisposition to melanoma that                    exposure in the skin cells, creating
         was an easy choice for the couple.                   has turned up in families in Norway,               a “double-edged sword” in mela-
         The rimming mountains reminded                       France, Australia and England.                     noma’s complex etiology.
         them of Strasbourg’s picturesque                        Their studies, funded by the                       The Indras’ findings could lead
         Vosges range. The shadowed woods                     National Institutes of Health,                     to promising new prevention tools
         echoed the Black Forest. And the                     have found that a protein called                   down the road. The scientists plan to
         nearby ocean recalled India’s                        RXR-alpha in skin keratinocytes                    use their unique animal models to
         turquoise coastline. But it wasn’t just              appears to protect pigment cells                   screen for novel natural compounds
         the natural beauty of the place that                 from damage and to prevent them                    with anti-proliferative activity on
         tugged at them.                                      from progressing to invasive mela-                 cancer cells in collaboration with
            “There’s so much collegiality                     noma. This protein co-operates with                other medicinal chemists in the
         here,” Gitali says. “It’s such a caring              Cdk4 and suppresses the release of                 college.
         and loving community.”                               chemical signals to adjacent pigment                  “Better understanding this
            When the lights burn late in the                  cells. These signals can, in effect,               process will help us design new and
         Pharmacy Building on the east edge                   promote and augment the abnormal                   novel strategies for prevention and,
         of campus, chances are they’re illu-                 proliferation of pigment-producing                 possibly, a cure,” Arup says. “This
         minating the labs of Gitali and Arup                 cells in laboratory mice. Not surpris-             could be a predictive prognostic tool
         (who is a self-confessed “worka-                     ingly, when the protein is removed                 for discovering melanoma predispo-
         holic”) as they follow the threads of                or repressed, melanoma cells become                sition in humans. And that could lead
         the day’s investigations. For their                  aggressive and invade the animals’                 to better and earlier diagnostics.”
         recent “co-conspirator” research,                    lymph nodes.

Tumor initiation                                                                        Tumor promotion

                     hyperplastic             Benign tumor                            in situ carcinoma                     invasive carcinoma
                        skin                     (8 weeks)                               (30-35 weeks)




subcutaneous lipid layer

                                    Skin cancer cells proliferate in this model that shows stages   To understand the mechanisms underlying promotion and
                                    of the disease. Specific mutations (red cells) slowly expand    progression of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer,
                                    and multiply to give rise to benign tumors in the epidermis     researchers mimic the entire process in an animal model (for
                                    or in melanocytes. Eventually, they can develop to become       example, in mice). They use a tumor initiator followed by ap-
                                    squamous carcinoma or melanoma and metastasize to other         plications of agents that induce tumor formation, promotion
                                    organs (lymph nodes, brain or lung).                            and progression to invasive carcinoma. Inflammatory cells
                                                                                                    that promote tumor development are shown as blue dots.
                                                                                                    (Illustration: Indra laboratory)

         26   TERRA » FALL 2011
                                                                                               Managing Nature’s Resources // STEWARDSHIP

polar plunge
Fur coats may not be enough for Weddell Seals
  BY DYLAN MCDOWELL [Editor’s note: Dylan McDowell is an undergraduate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife]

                                                                            In 2007, Horning’s research team studied Weddell seals in Antarctica.
                                                                            Here, they leave a seal to recover while they remove equipment before
                                                                            the ice melts. (Photo: Markus Horning. Research Permits NMFS #1034-
                                                                            1854; ACA #2007-007)

with iCe CoveRAge shRinKing in the Arctic and parts of the                  another crack at analyzing the seals’ swim speed, body tempera-
Antarctic, scientists are scrambling to predict future conse-               ture and heat loss.
quences. But one Oregon State University scientist isn’t as                    This team has worked with Weddell seals in the past, but this
concerned with the ice itself as with the animals that use it to            time new equipment may enable them to collect more informa-
rest. Markus Horning, pinniped ecologist for the Marine Mammal              tion. They will place custom-built data recording devices (heat
Institute, will venture to the Antarctic in October to study Wed-           flux data loggers) on the animals to record the amount of heat
dell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), the southernmost mammals              lost to the environment. They will combine those data with the
on the planet.                                                              temperature and flow speed of the water, and with data on
   Horning and his colleagues Jo-Ann Melish and Allyson Hindle              internal heat production by the animal, to measure the cost of
of the Alaska Sea Life Center want to know how these animals                thermal regulation.
regulate body temperature and how they might fare in an envi-                  “Surprisingly, that type of work has never been done on any
ronment with less ice. Weddell seals seem ideally adapted for               kind of pinniped really swimming in cold waters under any kind
polar seas. They sport a thin fur coat over thick layers of body fat,       of conditions,” Horning says. “And that is kind of a big knowledge
can exceed 1,200 pounds and dive for an hour or more to a depth             gap, because a lot of estimations of the impact of climate change
of 2,000 feet.                                                              on ice seals are based on what we call an individual-based
   “Although this might not be the biggest consequence of                   energetics model. So you kind of model all of the costs associ-
climate change, certainly the cost of spending more time in                 ated with the different activities in the life of a seal; then you can
the water rather than hauled out on the ice might be impor-                 see how that might change if certain environmental conditions
tant,” Horning said as he greased his boots in preparation for his          change.”
upcoming expedition in his office at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science             October heralds spring time and months of continuous
Center in Newport. “We don’t have any idea what the cost might              sunlight in Antarctica. Horning’s team will watch the last sunset
be.”                                                                        soon after arriving. Average temperatures will gradually increase
   Past studies have attempted to model thermal regulation (the             to a point where Horning gladly welcomes the occasional day
cost to an animal of keeping warm in a cold environment) in                 above freezing as he bundles up in warm clothing and treks
pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walruses), but many of these esti-          across a disappearing world.
mates have been based on assumptions. It is difficult to collect
energetic data on animals that dive long and deep under the polar
sea ice. Now, with support from the National Science Founda-                 Online: Read updates about the Weddell seal thermoregulation
tion, Horning, an associate professor of fisheries and wildlife, is         project from Mee-ya Monnin, an undergraduate working in the Horn-
collaborating with a company called Wildlife Computers to take              ing lab, at blogs.oregonstate.edu/hailingfrozenthoughts/.

                                                                                                                           FALL 2011 » TERRA        27
       PERSPECTIVES // Research-Based Opinion

What’s in a name?
In a new college of public health, community partnerships are key

in “RoMeo AnD Juliet” shAKesPeARe famously penned,                      Tammy Bray, dean of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences,
“What’s in a name?” I’ve been asked that many times since our           and Carmen Wong, right, study links among diet, immunity and diabetes.
                                                                        (Photo courtesy of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences)
college changed its name in July. It may not have meant much
to Juliet in the case of her beloved, but for the College of Public
Health and Human Sciences, it speaks to the very essence of who         on prolonging life, but also improving its quality. On not only
we are.                                                                 protecting health, but also promoting it. It’s about more than
   Just what is public health? And why are we moving toward             individuals; it’s about local and global communities.
becoming an accredited college of public health? My explanation            Because public health is a community effort, a particularly
usually starts where all great stories do – at the beginning.           innovative approach at OSU is the collaboration and partnerships
   Long before national health-care reform came into the spot-          formed through a program known as Outreach Collaboratives
light, students and faculty in our college and at OSU were solving      for a Healthy Oregon, or OCHO. OCHO ties our campus to every
Oregon’s health challenges. One-third of deaths are attributed to       corner of the state, forging successful partnerships between
poor eating, lack of physical activity and tobacco use. More than       county Extension offices and health departments for public
75 percent of our health-care spending is on people with chronic        health and human sciences practice improvement. We believe
conditions, especially in our aging population. The good news is        that community engagement is paramount to a successful
that the majority of these chronic diseases, such as heart disease,     public health solution and that outreach begins with the answer;
cancer, obesity and diabetes, are preventable.                          engagement ends with one. That philosophy also guides the
   That’s where we come in. Inspired by our land grant mission          mission of our new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and
and the university’s strategic focus on improving human health          Families.
and wellness, our college is changing its name to reflect our              In fact, our new name reflects the college’s synergy of
continued evolution and deep-rooted strengths and commitment            teaching, research and outreach – instrumental to our role as
to ensuring lifelong health and well-being for every person, every      a land grant institution and part and parcel of the university’s
family and every community in Oregon and beyond. In short, we           strategic plan for improving health and the college’s “Healthy
are transforming our college to respond to the public health chal-      People” partnership with the colleges of pharmacy and veteri-
lenges of the 21st century.                                             nary medicine.
   And what is public health? It is most simply defined as                 Most importantly, we are becoming an accredited college of
organized community efforts to protect, preserve and promote            public health because we have a responsibility and privilege to
health and prevent disease, disability and death. It’s a definition     shape the country and our world, creating lifelong health and
that has evolved and continues to evolve as we focus not only           well-being for every person, every family, every community.

28   TERRA » FALL 2011
                                                                                               Tracking Research Impact // FOOTPRINTS

testing Our metal
Research sharpens manufacturing’s competitive edge

thinK of oRegon: MAJestiC Mt. Hood, towering Cascade forests            to sharpen their competitive edge. Their game plan is a program
and Crater Lake. But aluminum baseball bats, jet engine parts and       created in 1990 by the State Legislature: the Oregon Metals
chain saws? They and other products of the state’s metal prod-          Initiative.
ucts industry — truck bodies, custom metal alloys, bridges and             John Parmigiani, research assistant professor in the College
high-end kitchen knives — are as Oregon as hazelnuts. In 1998,          of Engineering, represents OSU on the OMI board of direc-
the industry included more than 1,700 companies accounting for          tors. He says that since 2007, OSU researchers have conducted
about 55,000 jobs with an average salary of $35,000 (Source:            more than $2 million in projects with funding shared equally by
Public Affairs Counsel).                                                industry and the legislature. The benefits include new knowledge
   And for more than 20 years, engineers, metallurgists and             for industry and real-world experience (and full-time jobs) for
computer modelers at Oregon State and Portland State universi-          students.
ties have been working with companies such as Wah-Chang,                   These five projects are among those that are shaping the
Precision Castparts, Benchmade, Boeing, Intel and Daimler Trucks        Oregon economy.

Project: Effective composites to replace metals
Goal: Reduce vehicle weight to create more fuel-
      efficient trucks and tractors

                   COMPANY: HEWlETT PACKARD, Corvallis
                   Project: Materials for high-performance
                         actuator applications
                   Goal: Develop thin-film piezoelectric material
                         (exerts a force by changing shape in
                         response to an electric current)

                                          COMPANY: BENCHMADE, Oregon City
                                          Project: Blade steel alloy formation
                                          Goal: Determine how different metal alloys
                                                perform in cutting experiments

                                                                    COMPANY: BlOuNT MaNuFacTuRINg, Portland
                                                                    Project: Self-contained cutting-fluid system for
                                                                          concrete- and metal-cutting chain saws
                                                                    Goal: Increase saw portability by designing an
                                                                          internal lubrication system

Find more technology success                                                               COMPANY: SheldON MaNuFacTuRINg, Cornelius
stories at the Partnering with                                                             Project: Humidity and Temperature Control of
Industry website: oregonstate.                                                                   Thermal Chambers
edu/research/partnering/.                                                                  Goal: Add features to an incubator and vacuum oven

                                                                                                                   FALL 2011 » TERRA    29
                                                                                                             NON-PROFIT ORG
           416 Kerr Administration Building                                                                    US POSTAGE
           oregon state university                                                                                PAID
           Corvallis, oR 97331                                                                                CORVALLIS OR
                                                                                                             PERMIT NO. 200

The Teapot Song has universal appeal. Bryan Tilt used it to teach English to students during his visits to
Futian, a small village in rural China. Drawn by emerging tensions over industrial development, the OSU
anthropologist was interviewing workers and townspeople to understand how they balanced pollution
and prosperity. See “Rice Paddy People,” Page 20, (Photo: Jenna Tilt)

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