Among the top global issues the College is well-suited to study and address are:
- Hunger abatement, food security and safety, agricultural policy, and sustaining agricultural productivity;
- Water management and policy, availability, and quality;
- Environmental management and policy;
- Certain dimensions of climate change; and
- Certain aspects of renewable energy.
Two examples this year of the College's faculty international engagement are collaborative partnerships with colleagues in China that illustrate work underpinning in one case environmental management, and in the other, food safety. A third example included the training and collaborative research activities of three visiting women scientists from Ghana, Niger, and Nigeria.
In the first example, Staci Simonich, Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, gained national media prominence in summer 2008 for her work on a project led by Peking University to formulate a strategy to control air pollutants during the Olympic Games in China. Simonich, who studies how pollutants travel through the atmosphere, runs a laboratory that identifies and tracks chemicals, such as pesticides and particulate matter that ride airstreams starting in Asia and blowing across the Pacific Ocean to the western United States. In collaboration with Chinese counterparts, Simonich and her graduate students began air sampling in Beijing in 2007, devoting their attention to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are produced by burning carbon-based materials such as gas, coal, and wood. An American television crew covering the Olympics interviewed Simonich while she was carrying out her air-sampling work from a rooftop at Peking University.
A member of a National Academy of Sciences committee that studies pollutants entering and leaving the United States, Simonich is continuing collaborative work with Chinese counterparts examining the impact of burning fuels like coal and biomass on the health of residents in the United States and China. With Professor Shu Tao at Peking University, with whom she worked on the Olympics study, she will carry out research to help determine the cancer-causing potential of certain air masses-and where they came from. The scientists will collect air samples at multiple locations, including China, Japan, and several places in Oregon. Funding for this work comes from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Science Foundation.
The second example of international engagement of College of Agricultural Sciences faculty, also in China, focuses on food safety-and education as a tool to improve food safety. Two OSU faculty members led an integrated team of U.S. experts in food safety and distance learning technologies. They sought areas of common concern for which internet and digital learning modules could address critical matters of food safety training for China, where food safety has been an issue of great magnitude. Dave King, head of Extension and Experiment Station Communications, and Robert McGorrin, head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, led this USDA Scientific and Technical Exchange team, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Distance Education Consortium. The team focused on possible opportunities for future mutually beneficial collaborations to help ensure a safer food supply for the People's Republic of China and for the United States. They visited regional and local inspection facilities that focus on residues and food contaminants . They also met on university campuses, usually with food science faculty members, and with governmental organizations, including the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The team concluded there are outstanding opportunities for collaboration between the two countries including the development of online food safety courses, and for Chinese students and professionals to study food safety and food processing technologies at American universities, including Oregon State.
In a third example of international engagement, in 2008, the College of Agricultural Sciences hosted three senior women scientists through the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program. The program temporarily places agricultural researchers and policymakers from developing countries at universities and other institutions in the United States. The visiting fellows then receive scientific training and engage in collaborative research that seeks to promote food security and economic growth in their countries. An agricultural economist from Ghana and two biochemists from Niger and Nigeria spent even weeks of training and research at Oregon State University working with mentors in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics, Veterinary Medicine, and the Linus Pauling Institute to improve the diets, health and financial conditions of people in their countries. "This has been a valuable opportunity to build relationships and assist in the development of agricultural selfsufficiency in Africa," said Stella Coakley, associate dean, who served as the principal investigator on the grant.