Beginning Researchers Support Program

Reproductive effects of spent hemp biomass ingestion in ram lambs

Faculty Mentor: Michelle Kutzler
Department: Animal and Rangeland Sciences

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person

Abstract

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa species of the marijuana plant. Hemp has high cannabidiol (CBD) concentrations but low (<0.03%) THC concentration. Hemp biomass refers to harvested parts of the hemp plant. Spent hemp biomass (SHB) refers to the remainder of the harvested hemp plant after most of the CBD has been extracted. There are currently numerous uses for SHB (e.g. hempcrete, hemp paper) but there is growing interest in the livestock industry to use SHB as a feed source. Although CBD concentrations are low, it is unknown what the effects of ingesting concentrated diets made from SHB are on animal health. This project will focus on investigating the health benefits and health risks of chronic low-level CBD ingestion in animals by summarizing available scientific literature. If in-person research is possible, the student will also perform laboratory assays on reproductive samples collected from ram lambs fed increasing concentrations of SHB for three months after weaning prior to sample collection. The null hypothesis is that there are no health benefits or detriments of feeding SHB to animals.

Project Description

The student will learn how to perform a literature review using Pubmed, Google Scholar and other search engines. The student will learn how to summarize the results of the literature review findings in a review paper that will be submitted to an animal health journal. If in-person research is possible, the student will learn how to perform histologic examination of testicular tissues for the purposes of scoring the level of spermatogenesis. The student will also learn how to summarize these results in a scientific abstract for presentation at national professional conference. The student will also be taught several laboratory assays (e.g. RNA isolation and RTPCR, protein extraction and Western blotting, immunohistochemistry) utilizing testicular tissues obtained from lambs fed spent hemp biomass.   

Description of work environment

The primary work environment will be remote work. If in-person research is possible, research will also be conducted in a campus research laboratory.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be responsible to maintain a laboratory notebook of the results from the literature review.  The student will also meet with the mentor at least once weekly to assess progress and address any difficulties or concerns that have arisen.

Skills

The student should have access to a computer with internet access for literature review and access to Google docs. The student should be inquisitive and able to work independently. If in-person research is possible, the student should be able to complete online trainings on safe laboratory practices.  

Learning Outcomes

The student will learn how to perform a literature review and write a review paper. If in-person research is possible, the student will learn how to perform histologic examination of testicular tissues and how to write a scientific abstract. 

Expected start and end date: January 1, 2021
Anticipated hours per week: 3 hours/wk
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

Dog Assisted Interventions: Teaching Children to Train Dogs and Evaluating One-Health Outcomes

Faculty Mentor Name: Monique Udell
Faculty Mentor Department: Animal and Rangeland Sciences

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person   

Project Abstract

This research focuses on evaluating an imitation based dog training intervention aimed at improving physical activity and emotional well-being in children with developmental disabilities. We are also interested in understanding the impacts of participation on dog welfare and the human-animal bond. To do this we hold dog training camps for children and their pet dogs, where we teach child participants to use positive reinforcement and imitation based "Do As I Do" methodology to train trick behaviors, learn proper dog walking skills and facilitate effective communication strategies between child and dog. We then conduct surveys and behavioral assessments to determine the impact of participation on the behavior and well-being of child and dog participants. Students helping with this research will have the opportunity to learn about dog training, animal assisted interventions, data coding and analysis and in most cases will also help with intervention activities and behavioral assessments. The current hope is that this work will be a mix of remote and in person involvement, but we have the ability to switch to fully remote involvement (evaluating behavioral videos, helping with the development of learning tools, involvement in scientific communication etc.) if needed due to COVID restrictions.

The Job - Project Description

The current hope is that this work will be a mix of remote and in person involvement, but we have the ability to switch to fully remote involvement (evaluating behavioral videos, helping with the development of learning tools, involvement in scientific communication etc.) if needed due to COVID restrictions.

This job will include completion of ethical (IRB & ACUP) and procedural (intervention, assessment methodology, and animal handling) training.

Remote work:

This job will include learning to evaluate and record behaviors from video, organization of data and study materials, and assisting with efforts to present and communicate study outcomes to scientists and the public (this may include reading the literature, writing, compiling images and information for presentations or identifying a subtopic to write or present on as a study leader).  There may also be opportunities for participation in some remote participant assessments (e.g. survey research or behavioral evaluation).

Possible in person work:

If we are able to conduct in person research during the award period, we will hold dog training sessions and camps for children with developmental disabilities and their pet dogs. During these sessions, we teach child participants to use positive reinforcement and imitation based, "Do As I Do‚" methodology to train their dog trick behaviors, learn proper dog walking skills and facilitate effective communication strategies between child and dog. Student research assistants will be trained to help with these activities, and then will be paired with participants to assist them in dog training, assessments, and other camp activities. A supervisor is present to assist during these activities as well.

Description of work environment

Some of this work can be done remotely, however the student would need a privately owned computer to complete remote work.

If this is not possible, we may be able to arrange time where video coding work or other tasks can be completed with a lab computer in a private on campus location.

If we are able to conduct in person intervention and assessment activities, these will occur on campus. This will include a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities.

Description of Student Responsibilities

Responsibilities will include completion of ethical trainings, procedural training and paperwork required to preform job duties. Video, data and lab material/study organization work, behavioral analysis, helping organize and conduct study activities and assessments. Participation in lab meetings and discussions, and in the preparation of scientific materials.

The position may include participation in dog training and dog handling activities, and working with children in both indoor and outdoor settings (will require relevant background check and ethical approvals prior to such work). This work will require physical activity and some lifting of training equipment.

Skills

Preferred pre-existing skills/qualifications: Prior experience working with dogs and/or children. Prior experience with, or strong interest in, animal assisted activities, dog training or in working with children with developmental disabilities. Works well individually and as part of a team. Strong communication skills.

Skills that will be acquired during the research project: Behavior analysis, lab/study organization and management, dog handling and training information and/or skills, animal assisted intervention skills, scientific communication.

Learning Outcomes

Students will learn how to work as part of a research team to achieve study goals. Remote participation will help develop training in data and behavior analysis, data organization proficiency and scientific communication skills. If in-person research is possible, students will also learn how to participate in dog assisted intervention work, dog training skills (including Do As I Do dog training methods), and will learn how to conduct behavioral and survey research assessments.

Expected start and end date: March 15-June 15
Anticipated hours per week: 5 hours/week
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

Weighing costs of dam removal

Faculty Mentor Name: Desiree Tullos
Faculty Mentor Department: Biological and Ecological Engineering

Student research work will be: Entirely remote/virtual   

Project Abstract

In collaboration with the US Bureau of Reclamation and the NGO American Rivers, I propose to help address a critical need for rural and urban communities: evaluating the benefits and costs of decommissioning aging dams. Across the US, over 1200 dams have been removed to eliminate safety hazards and modernize the infrastructure to accommodate fish passage and boat navigation. Dam removals require unique construction alternatives that consider whether you can drain the reservoir, how quickly it can be drawn down, condition of the dam, whether there is sediment that could cause downstream flooding, contamination or water quality issues, access to the site, revegetation needs, along with environmental and cultural considerations. For this reason the costs can vary by at least two orders of magnitude. The student research assistant on this project will work with me and the project partners in developing a cost estimating guideline for dam removals. In a structured and mentored experience, the student will interface with project partners to compile example costs for dam removals, converting them into modern costs, and develop a procedure on how to estimate the cost of dam removal. This guideline is important because it will contribute to dam safety and ecological recovery by providing reasonable estimates of dam removal as one possible solution to aging infrastructure. The student will gain deep understanding on the design of dam removal and develop skills in professional communication, data management, and economic analysis.

The Job - Project Description

The student research assistant on this project will work with me and the project partners in developing a cost estimating guideline for dam removals. In a structured and mentored experience, the student will interface with project partners to compile example costs for dam removals, converting them into modern costs, and develop a procedure on how to estimate the cost of dam removal. Our research methodology will be to work with established partners to first gather dam removal cost data using existing sources. Our second step will be bring all the available cost data to a common time frame using net present value analysis so the data can be compared. Third, the data will be evaluated to identify what the major cost contributing factors were for the projects across categories of project types (e.g. sediment flushed or stabilized). Available guidelines and case study documentation will be used as a resource for identifying project types.

Description of work environment

The student will work in their own space. The student will meet weekly with me and periodically with the entire project team.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will contact professionals to request their cost breakdowns for prior dam removals and contribute to building a database of dam removal costs by different stages of decommissioning (e.g. permitting, sediment management, demolition, revegetation, etc.). The student will categorize cost data by major features, such as dam type (earthen, concrete), geographic region, dam height, and removal strategy, and identify any major gaps where examples are not available for any common feature type. As the data are acquired, the student will follow an established algorithm to adjust cost data to current values.

In collaboration with the project partners, prior to the start of any contacts or analysis, I will work closely with the student to develop a script and data templates for communicating with stakeholders and for conducting the economic analysis.

Skills

The student will gain deep understanding on the design of dam removal and develop skills in professional communication, data management, and economic analysis.

Preferred skills include attention to detail, experience with Excel, and professionalism.

Learning Outcomes

The student will :

  1. gain experience interacting with professionals
  2. learn best practices for documenting data sources and processes
  3. practice a widely-applied economic analysis
  4. learn about the details of engineering design

Expected start and end date: Jan - June 2021
Anticipated hours per week: 4 hours/wk
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

Modeling and Mapping Forage Species Using Expert Knowledge, Field Data, and Climate and Soil GIS Spatial Data Layers

Faculty Mentor Name: David B. Hannaway
Faculty Mentor Department: Crop and Soil Science

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person

Project Abstract

Project description: The goal of this project is to expand existing selection tools to inform land manager choice of forage species. The tools are the product of modeling and mapping activities that incorporate climatic, soil, and plant tolerance characteristics into high-resolution spatial data overlays. Appropriate forage selection is key to high productivity and persistence of forage stands and to the sustainability of forage-livestock systems. Our team seeks an engaged student member who will work short-term as a key team member to contribute to these goals by identifying information, contributing to data overlays, and improving websites.

Skills required:

  • Introductory level biology/plant physiology knowledge.
  • Search skills (library, internet, researcher interviews, etc.).
  • Spreadsheet development and polynomial graphing skills.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a group.
  • Ability to generate steady project outputs.
  • Willing to learn how to edit Drupal websites.

Tasks to perform:

Student learning outcomes: [Undergraduate researchers will be able to:]

  • Explain how appropriate selection of forage species is essential to economic and environmental sustainability.
  • Discuss climatic and soil factors important in forage selection.
  • Describe the modeling and mapping process.
  • Demonstrate competence in website editing.

The Job - Project Description

The goal of this project is to expand existing selection tools to inform land manager choice of forage species. The tools are the product of modeling and mapping activities that incorporate climatic, soil, and plant tolerance characteristics into high-resolution spatial data overlays. Appropriate forage selection is key to high productivity and persistence of forage stands and to the sustainability of forage-livestock systems. Our team seeks an engaged student member who will work short-term as a key team member to contribute to these goals by identifying information, contributing to data overlays, and improving websites.   

Description of work environment

Flexible work location for the computer-based work: can be home/dormitory and/or campus computer labs. Initial work orientation to include in-person meetings with faculty mentor and team members. Project discussions regarding skill development, clarification of tasks, and progress reports will be a combination of in-person and video conferencing, email and telephone contact.

Description of Student Responsibilities

Responsibilities will include:

  • Reviewing our project‚Äôs previous publications and web segments describing soil and climate tolerances of grass, legume, and other forb species.
  • Identifying tolerances of additional species through library and internet searching and interviewing experts.
  • Creating polynomial response functions for each factor for each species.
  • Working with GIS experts to apply function parameters needed to develop suitability zone maps with spatial data layers of soil and climate factors.
  • Reviewing draft maps with species experts.
  • Assembling field-based data of seasonal production.
  • Creating production profiles for cool-season and warm-season species.
  • Working with communication specialist to prepare draft species description cards, including draft suitability maps and seasonal production profiles.

Skills

Pre-existing skills required:

  • Introductory level biology/plant physiology knowledge.
  • Searching skills (library, internet, researcher interviews, etc.).
  • Spreadsheet development and polynomial graphing skills.
  • Able to work independently and as part of a group.
  • Able to generate steady project outputs.
  • Willing to learn how to edit Drupal websites.

Skills improved and acquired:

  • Current library and internet searching skills will be improved by working with scientists and librarians.
  • Plant materials knowledge will be increased; learning common and scientific names, developing identification skills, and comparing and contrasting species characteristics for matching species with climate and soil conditions, intended use, and management level.
  • Ecological zones will be identified for the state, region, and nation thereby increasing awareness and interest in the natural and managed landscape.
  • Existing mathematical expertise will be applied to practical problem solving to create plant species response functions.
  • Practical application will be made of climate and soil spatial data layers from USDA-National Resources Conservation Service and university-based resources.
  • Communication skills will be developed for interviewing experts and sharing science with non-scientists.
  • Web development and editing skills will be acquired.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this introductory research experience, undergraduate researchers will be able to:

  • Explain how appropriate selection of forage species is essential to economic and environmental sustainability.
  • Discuss climatic and soil factors important in forage selection.
  • Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative characteristics of forage species.
  • Describe the spatial data layer-based modeling and mapping process.
  • Demonstrate competence in website editing.

Expected start and end date: January 11, 2021 - March 5, 2021
Anticipated hours per week: 8 hrs/wk
Anticipated hourly wage: $15/hour

Oceanographic impacts on Black Rockfish body condition and reproduction

Faculty Mentor Name: Dr. Scott Heppell
Faculty Mentor Department: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

Student research work will be: In-person lab/field

Project Abstract

The goal of this project is to investigate how ocean processes, such as the El Ni-Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, marine heat waves, and upwelling, influence the body condition of Black Rockfish in the northeast Pacific. Prey quality and availability is driven by these processes and may impact the overall energy storage of Black Rockfish. Seasonal storage of energy reserves is important for metabolic activities, reproduction, somatic growth, and overall life history of fishes. Using proximate analysis methods, we will quantify the seasonal variability of body condition of male and female Black Rockfish. Quantifying patterns of lipid storage as well as variation in these patterns is important as changes in body condition may influence reproductive potential and overall productivity.

The Job - Project Description

Participation in this project will involve both field work and lab work. Field work consists of taking biological samples (otoliths, gonads, muscle tissue) from Black Rockfish caught on recreational fishing charters. Sampling will occur when the recreational fishing charters are scheduled to fish, which is mostly on Saturdays or Sundays, so the student researcher should be available to help sample on at least one weekend day per month. While sampling at the port (of Newport, OR), the student researcher will interact with recreational fishing charter captains, crew, and customers. Sampling at the port will be a great experience for learning how to communicate science to the public and for working alongside non-scientists who are also trying to get their jobs done.

Lab work is focused on determining the body condition of Black Rockfish. Muscle tissue samples will be weighed and dried in a drying oven until a constant mass is achieved and then samples will be homogenized. Lipids will be extracted using a mixture of polar and non-polar solvents in a Soxhlet apparatus. Extracted lean samples will then be dried and re-weighed and total lipid calculated.

Description of work environment

Field work will take place at the port of Newport, based out of the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Lab work will take place on the Corvallis campus.

Description of Student Responsibilities

If the student is engaging in field work, the day's responsibilities may include:

  1.  Assisting in sampling preparation (labeling vials, preparing datasheet).
  2. With help from faculty mentor or graduate student, student will take biological samples (otoliths, gonads, muscle tissue) from 24 Black Rockfish caught on recreational fishing charters.
  3. Clean-up after sampling.

If the student is engaging in lab work, the day's responsibilities may include:

  1. Preparing muscle tissue samples for lipid extraction and running Soxlet apparatus.

Skills

No pre-existing skills necessary.
Student researchers will acquire the following skills during the research project:

  1. Practice data organization.
  2. Distinguish between species of rockfish.
  3. Remove biological samples including otoliths, gonads, and muscle tissue.
  4. Extract lipids from muscle tissue using proximate analysis protocol.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Student researcher will learn more about how to develop research questions and how to create a sampling design to answer research questions.
  2. Student researcher will learn how to communicate science to the public.
  3. Student researcher will learn how to work alongside non-scientists who are also trying to get their jobs done.
  4. Student researcher will learn how to take biological samples (otoliths, gonads, muscle tissue) from Black Rockfish.
  5. Student researcher will learn how to quantitatively assess body composition through lipid extraction/proximate analysis.

Expected start and end date: January 4, 2021 to March 12, 2021  
Anticipated hours per week: 5 hr/week for 10 weeks   
Anticipated hourly wage: $15/hour

Olive Farmer Site Data Collection

Faculty Mentor Name: Javier Fernandez-Salvador
Faculty Mentor Department: Crop and Soil Science/Marion County Extension

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person

Project Abstract

Olives are an emerging crop in western Oregon. The OSU Olea Project was launched in 2017 with the following research objectives: determine best practices for on-farm olive propagation, evaluate up-potting and overwintering for rapid orchard establishment in Oregon's climate, cultivar evaluation for tolerance to winter cold damage, and a grower collaboration tracking winter temperatures and cold damage across Oregon. The chosen student will assist with the grower collaboration study, which is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora), with additional grower collaborator sites across the Willamette Valley. This project involves installation and management of temperature sensors at grower sites, management of temperature data, and collecting data on winter cold damage. Additionally, the student will help conduct literature reviews, draft handouts and powerpoint presentations, and learn data entry, analysis, and summary techniques. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue longer term (throughout the remainder of their undergraduate degree) with the project if it is a good fit.

The Job - Project Description

The Olea Olive Research Project was established to explore olive production in Oregon, and topics relevant to a new tree fruit industry in Oregon, including propagation, orchard establishment and management, and cultivar evaluation for tolerance to winter cold damage. The grower collaborator study involves working with growers across the Willamette Valley, with orchards of varying sizes and stages of development. Orchards range from less than 1 acre, to 15 acres for the largest orchard in the state. Some are in full production; others have not yet begun to produce fruit. The project includes multiple components to track winter temperatures and cold damage at these grower sites. Students are responsible for coordinating with grower collaborators, scheduling sensor installations, monitoring and troubleshooting sensor functionality, managing temperature data, as well as tagging and tracking trees at each site for cold damage sustained throughout the winter each year.

We seek a student to assist with all aspects of this trial, ranging from communication with growers, to tagging and documenting trees, to tabulation of results and creation of graphs to showcase winter damage at each site. Students will have a unique opportunity to work with actual growers, and help compile data on olive production across the valley. Finally, students will also have the chance to contribute to other aspects of the Olea Project, including the up-potting and overwintering trial, the cultivar evaluation for tolerance to winter cold damage, and will be expected to participate in Extension educational events, field days, and workshops (virtual for now).

Description of work environment

Work environment will include field site in Aurora, OR, farms across the Willamette Valley, and remote work from home.   

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours a week on this project from the beginning of Winter 2021 term to the end of the Spring 2021 term depending on funding and work availability. This will consist of fieldwork, greenhouse work, computer tasks, and involvement in Extension and outreach events. Duties will include assisting with all coordination and data collection and management described above. The student may be given opportunities for more hours and more specific training if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. Fieldwork will take place at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, 1 hour drive from campus) and at grower sites throughout the valley. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the research site and grower sites. The student will have a flexible schedule; however it is HIGHLY encouraged that students have at least full day per week available for work at either field station in order to complete their tasks. Additionally, students will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may be adjusted depending on weather and the needs of the project. COVID note: The majority of student tasks will be completed in outdoor or open air greenhouse settings, or can be done remotely. Social distancing and masks required at field sites at all times. Carpooling with other student workers with car-barriers and masks may be arranged.

Skills

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of plant biology and the scientific method. Previous experience with agriculture (organic or otherwise), field research, statistics, and technical writing is preferred, but not required. Good organization, time-management, communication, and problem-solving will be critical to student success.

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will develop skills relevant to both agricultural production and field-based research. They will gain an understanding of an emerging cropping system in Oregon, as well as basic skills in documenting field and tree conditions, working with sensors and data of multiple kinds, and communicating results with the public. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, organic agriculture, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to operate a range of equipment, ranging from hand tools and backpack sprayers, to tractor driving.

Expected start and end date: January 4th, 2021 through June 11th, 2021. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer BES intern or continuing researcher, for the duration of their undergraduate degree if agreeable to all parties.

Anticipated hours per week: 10 hours for the first 2-3 weeks, then 10-20 hours/week once the team schedule for the term is established
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

Olive Orchard Establishment

Faculty Mentor Name: Javier Fernandez-Salvador
Faculty Mentor Department: Crop and Soil Science/Marion County Extension

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person

Project Abstract

Olives are an emerging crop in western Oregon. The OSU Olea Project was launched in 2017 with the following research objectives: determine best practices for on-farm olive propagation, evaluate up-potting and overwintering for rapid orchard establishment in Oregon's climate, cultivar evaluation for tolerance to winter cold damage, and a grower collaboration tracking winter temperatures and cold damage across Oregon. The chosen student will assist with the up-potting and overwintering study, which is exploring the hypothesis that young trees will have increased growth and survival rates if first grown for multiple years in a greenhouse setting prior to field transplanting. This project is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora) and the Woodhall Vineyard (in Alpine). The project involves managing potted trees in a greenhouse setting and immature trees of various ages in four research fields across the two sites mentioned above. Tasks will include assisting with fertility, irrigation, weed and pest management, data collection, and record keeping. Additionally, the student will help conduct literature reviews, draft handouts and powerpoint presentations, and learn data entry, analysis, and summary techniques. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue longer term (throughout the remainder of their undergraduate degree) with the project if it is a good fit.

The Job - Project Description

The Olea Olive Research Project was established to explore olive production in Oregon, and topics relevant to a new tree fruit industry in Oregon, including propagation, orchard establishment and management, and cultivar evaluation for tolerance to winter cold damage. The up-potting and overwintering study consists of two field sites (NWREC/Aurora, and Woodhall/Alpine), each with two established fields reflecting different management approaches. Spring-planted fields have raised beds covered with weedmat, and fall-planted fields are planted on flat ground, with rotating cover cropped aisles. As of fall 2020, the spring planted/raised bed fields have been completely planted with all experimental replicates (three years' worth of 1 gallon/1 year old plants), with plantings still in progress in the fall planted fields (one full replicate of 1 year old, 2 year old, and 3 year old trees planted, with more still to come).

We seek a student to assist with both the day to day field and greenhouse management, as well as research and data collection aspects of this trial. Student tasks would include helping with fertility and irrigation, weed and groundcover management, scouting and spraying for pests and/or applying beneficial microbial products. This may involve calculating fertilizer and irrigation application rates, use of hand tools, motorized tools, and tractor-powered implements to control weeds and manage groundcover, and use of a backpack sprayer to apply additional products. Data collection takes place multiple times a year to quantify tree growth, while tracking tree vegetative and floral development is conducted throughout the growing season. This year also marks the first year that yield data will be collected. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to learn methods of data entry, statistical analysis, and reporting and writing up results for both a grower and scientific audience. Finally, students will have a chance to contribute to other aspects of the Olea Project, including propagation, cultivar evaluation, and grower collaborator trials, and participate in Extension educational events, field days, and workshops (virtual for now).

Description of work environment

Work environment will include field sites in Aurora and Alpine OR, as well as remote work from home.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours a week on this project from the beginning of Winter 2021 term to the end of the Spring 2021 term depending on funding and work availability. This will consist of fieldwork, greenhouse work, computer tasks, and involvement in virtual Extension and outreach events. Duties will include assisting with both management and data collection/analysis for all fields and collections of trees involved in the trial.  The student may be given opportunities for more hours and more specific training if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. Field and greenhouse work will take place at either the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (Aurora, 1 hour drive from campus), or Woodhall Vineyard (Alpine, 30 minute drive from campus). Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the research site. The student will have a flexible schedule; however it is HIGHLY encouraged that students have at least full day per week available for work at either field station in order to complete their tasks. Additionally, students will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may be adjusted depending on weather and the needs of the project. COVID note: The majority of student tasks will be completed in outdoor or open air greenhouse settings, or can be done remotely. Social distancing and masks required at field sites at all times. Carpooling with other student workers with car-barriers and masks may be arranged.

Skills

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of plant biology and the scientific method. Previous experience with agriculture (organic or otherwise), nursery/greenhouse management, field research, statistics, and technical writing is preferred, but not required. Good organization, time-management, communication, and problem-solving will be critical to student success. 

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will develop skills relevant to both agricultural production and field-based research. They will gain an understanding of an emerging cropping system in Oregon, as well as basic skills in fertility and irrigation, pest management, working with data, and communicating results with the public. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, organic agriculture, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to operate a range of equipment, ranging from hand tools and backpack sprayers, to tractor driving.

Expected start and end date: January 4th, 2021 through June 11th, 2021. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer BES intern or continuing researcher, for the duration of their undergraduate degree if agreeable to all parties.
Anticipated hours per week: 10 hours for the first 2-3 weeks, then 10-20 hours/week once the team schedule for the term is established
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

New Vegetable Crops for the PNW and Beyond

Faculty Mentor Name: Jim Myers
Faculty Mentor Department: Horticulture

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person

Project Abstract

The number of food plants upon which humans rely is astonishingly small. Of approximately 200,000 plant species, only 200 are domesticated, and only 20 are major staple crops. We must diversify our foods to provide greater resilience in the face of challenges to our food production systems. Many minor crops exist, and may be important to various local agricultures, but have never seen widespread production. In many cases, it is a matter of adapting the crop to a new region – either through appropriate production practices or plant breeding and genetic selection. Key to introducing and producing new crops are the human cultures that developed these. In some cases, the driver for introducing a new crop to a region arises from the "pull" of various ethnic groups wanting the foods that they had "back home". A second key to popularizing a new crop is to involve chefs to produce dishes that highlight the food. My program has focused on many "lost crops of the Incas" especially tuberous crops such as oca, mashua, mauka, yacon. A potentially new crop of this type is edible dahlia which has been known in the Americas for centuries, but has never been widely popular. Dahlias are grown extensively in the PNW as ornamentals, so culture for their edible roots should be possible. I am looking for students to work on a project produce new knowledge of and adapt this crop to our growing region.

The Job - Project Description

 

Student will conduct activities to acquire germplasm, start seeds in the greenhouse, conduct field trials and work with users and chefs to promote its food use. The crop is edible dahlia, which has been used for centuries in Latin America as a food crop, but is known primarily in the U.S. as an ornamental. Extensive breeding for ornamental purposes has been carried out with this species complex, so breeding techniques have been worked out and some knowledge of the genetic architecture exists. A plant breeding project has a relatively long timeframe because breeders must typically advance selections for several generations to achieve genetic fixation and uniformity of their breeding lines. In addition, selections need to be tested in multiple environments to identify those that are the best overall. Dahlia breeding is very similar to potato breeding and does not require multiple generations for genetic fixation because the commercial endpoint is a clone. Evaluation over several environments is still required however. In the commercial trade, dahlias are handled as clones via propagation of tubers. To generate new genetic variation, dahlias can be crossed to produce true seed, which can then be planted and grown to produce tubers for evaluation. In theory, the best selections could be increased and released immediately, however, it is best to try the selections in several different environments after initial increase. This project would take advantage of other breeders' programs to obtain seeds, and we would perform selection for traits desirable in the PNW and for culinary traits in these materials. Selections would be sent back to the originating breeders for further evaluation, thus, what this project would generate would be advanced lines that would need further testing before release. Seeds and tubers will be acquired from sources currently producing edible dahlias. Our two main contacts at present are William Whitson at Cultivariables and Owen Taylor of Truelove Seeds.

Description of work environment

Seeds will be started in the OSU West greenhouses to produce seedlings for transplants. These will be grown in the field at the OSU Horticulture research farms (Vegetable Research Farm, Lewis Brown Farm and Oak Creek Urban Community Horticultural Center). Materials may also be grown by a farmer collaborator in the Corvallis area. Harvested materials will be evaluated by growers and a chef arranged through Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network (CBN). Samples prepared by the chef may be shared with the public through events such as field days and the CBN Variety Showcase. Tubers from those selections with the best horticultural and culinary characteristics would be shared back with the original seed sources. These tubers would also be available for multiplication and distribution to local growers interested in producing them.

We have now had a growing season under Covid 19 constraints and have worked out how to grow crops while maintaining social distancing and minimizing risk of infection for workers. We would apply the same procedures for this project which would include limiting the number of workers simultaneously in the same area, requiring individual transportation and requiring masks and social distancing at all times. Personal contacts with non-OSU personnel would be minimized, but if necessary, would follow appropriate protocols. We would hope that by the fall of 2021 or winter of 2022, Covid 19 restrictions would have eased and we will be able to conduct field days and the Variety Showcase in person. If restrictions are still in place, we would present information via virtual events. Tastings could also be done "CSA style" where individual boxes are prepared and delivered remotely to individual participants.

Description of Student Responsibilities

Student would be responsible for acquiring germplasm, producing seedlings, transplanting in the field, caring for plots, evaluating plants in the field, and harvesting and evaluating tubers. Day to day activities will vary depending on need and time of year. Student would be working in the greenhouse during winter 2020-2021, transitioning to the field during spring and summer 2021 and conducting harvest in fall 2021. Storage and culinary evaluation of tubers would occur in winter 2021-2022. Student activities will be overseen by the PI and his Faculty Research Assistant, Shinji Kawai, who will coach the student through the various activities.

Skills

An affinity with plants and some knowledge of horticultural production practices is required. Additional skills in genetics, breeding, statistics and experimental design and evaluation will be taught.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn techniques for evaluation of field trials
  • Design a selection program for edible dahlias
  • Discover new knowledge about a neglected edible tuber crop
  • Develop skills in farmer participatory research

Expected start and end date: Nov. 1 2020 - March 31, 2022. This project requires at least 16 months to complete but can be broken into quarters roughly paralleling the academic and summer terms.
Anticipated hours per week: 5-10 during the academic year, 20 during the summer.
Anticipated hourly wage: Starting at $12.50 and rising to $13.50 by spring 2022.

Building water quality bridges: connecting people to water quality monitoring

Faculty Mentor Name: Gerrad Jones
Faculty Mentor Department: Biological &Ecological Engineering

Student research work will be: Entirely remote/virtual   

Project Abstract

Human and ecosystem health is directly linked to water quality. While most cultures have an intimate relationship with water, people worldwide are reliant on governments to monitor water quality. Within the last decade, however, inexpensive open-source tools have been developed for water basic water quality monitoring. Although exciting, these tools require computer programming, which is a skill many people lack. Thus, even the simplest technologies needed to monitor water quality are unavailable to most civilians. Furthermore, there are no absolute standards to evaluate whether water quality is "good" or "bad". Local conditions affect water quality. Thus, civilians must have local information to put water quality data into context. Without local information, people‚Äôs ability to detect problems and then make decisions that help improve their health is limited. Therefore, the goals of this project are twofold. First, develop a simple curriculum targeted to local high school students that focuses on programming open-source water quality sensors. After development and student feedback, this curriculum will be posted to YouTube to reach a broad audience. Second, computer scripts will be developed to curate existing water quality data from nationwide US Geologic Survey stream monitoring stations. These scripts will generate expected ranges for typical water quality conditions at a local (e.g., county) level. Once these two objectives are achieved, civilians can collect their own water quality data and compare it values from other local streams. This will help give people the information needed to evaluate the quality of water in their local communities. 

The Job - Project Description

This project consists of 3 complementary objectives focusing on "lab" work, field work, and computer programming.  The student can focus on any of these, but it would be great if the student could at least start on all three.

Lab work consists of building and programming a simple sensor array with the help of OSU - OPEnS Lab (https://open-sensing.org/). The student would get exposure to programming microcontrollers (e.g., Arduino) to collect data from the environment. This will require a lot of trouble shooting to figure out the best method for not only programming the sensor but also figuring out the best way to deploy the sensor into the environment. This will consider a lot of "tinkering" to find a suitable configuration for the system.

Fieldwork will consist of deploying sensors in local creeks to collect data. The student will need to figure out which time scales are most appropriate for collecting data (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly, etc.). Collecting data will need to be balanced with making sure the sensor security. While a 1 month deployment may be optimal for data collection, this time frame may not be suitable for security. Also, the student will have to figure out how to ensure that the sensor is secure and doesn't wash away during storm events.

Finally, programming work will consist of finding effective ways to analyze and display the data once it is collected from the sensor. Furthermore, the student will need to develop an web interface for collecting and extracting relevant water quality data from existing long-term data from US Geological Survey gages across the country. This is critical for ensuring that the system is usable by as many people as possible.

A student can focus on any or all of these expected outcomes, but the overall goal of each is to make it readily accessible for end users. Any new skills and techniques developed by the student will be described in detail, not only in text but also in social media, videos, and other digital formats.

Description of work environment

The student will have a lot of flexibility on where to work. All work can be done remotely without university laboratory equipment.  As long as the student has an internet connection and can attend weekly zoom meetings, there are no restrictions on where the work needs to be completed. Programming work can be done in a room near you. Field work can be done are your local stream, or even your sink.

Description of Student Responsibilities

Student responsibilities: First and foremost, the student must take control of this project and work independently. The student will be required to solve problems and must be willing to take an initial stab at a problem without being asked or told to try something. I have my own ideas about how to move forward, but the best ideas come from collaboration. It is so important to bounce ideas around in order to remove the ideas that don't work and find the ideas that do. Therefore, I expect the students to be constantly testing out new ideas. Weekly research meetings will focus on problem solving, so the students must come prepared to show what they have accomplished and what they are stuck on.

Most day-to-day activities include "tinkering". Tinkering involves "horsing around" with computer code to identify errors, "fiddling" with different water proof containers, and "playing" with figures to identify the most appropriate way to display data. Play is the highest form of research, so I expect students to find enjoyment out of their work. A student who gets daily enjoyment out of work is goin to get far on this project.

Skills

Required Skills - students must be creative, excited, and willing to fail. For me, ~80% of research is problem solving. Most ideas don’t work as originally planned, but with creative out-of-the-box thinking, we can overcome any problem we encounter. It is important for students to take control and be invested/excited about their project. Otherwise, students will not be able to find creative solutions to move forward.

Recommended skills- students should have had at least some exposure to a programming language (e.g., Python, R, MatLab).

Learned Skills - at the end of this research experience, students will be familiar with general water quality analyses and concepts. In addition, students will get considerable exposure to sensor and computer programming as well as data analysis.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this experience, students will have a variety of programming experience. Beyond, the specific training they receive, my hope is that the students will have a sense of ownership of the project. This is not a cookie-cutter project, and the success of this project will be determined by the students leadership skills. Therefore, a student could develop strong project management skills. Finally, the overall goal is to translate research into practical skills for the non-scientific community. Therefore, a student could develop strong communication skills in a wide variety of formats, including written, oral, social media, teaching, and many others.

Expected start and end date: January 4, 2021
Anticipated hours per week: 5 hours/wk
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

Optimizing Management for Alternative Strawberry Production in Substrate and Tabletop Beds

Faculty Mentor Name: Javier Fernandez-Salvador
Faculty Mentor Department: Crop and Soil Science. Marion County Small Farms Program.

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person 

Project Abstract

Strawberries in Oregon are a high-value crop that can maximize profits through off-season production of local fruit for the fresh market. In other regions, growers achieve year-long production of strawberries through alternative methods, including tabletop substrate systems grown under protection. This project will focus on improving the growth and development of strawberries in alternative systems to develop methods for production in Oregon. This will contribute to the larger work of the Berry Research Initiative, which conducts research to assist our Oregon growers in improving the production practices for Oregon berries. The chosen student will have the option to help develop a research project focused on a specific aspect relating to the production practices of alternative systems. The student will work in the greenhouses at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora) and will develop their research project in early Winter, managing the project and collecting data through the Spring term. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team and is highly encouraged to continue as a student researcher for the rest of the academic year if it is a good fit.

The Job - Project Description

Strawberries for year-long fresh market production are commonly grown in tabletop substrate systems in other parts of the world. Among many benefits, these practices help avoid the build-up of soil-borne diseases, reduce labor costs, and enable the efficient and precise control of nutrients and other inputs. The strawberry industry in Oregon is highly interested in the potential of these systems to produce fresh, local strawberries during the times of the year when price premiums are highest and currently only California berries are available. We seek a student to help develop a project related to the production of Strawberry in Oregon using tabletop substrate systems. We currently have a newly established tabletop substrate trial, and one upcoming trial that will investigate different growing conditions in a similar system. The student will participate in creating additional clothesline bag-growing systems and other iterations of tabletop production system designs. Potential projects could focus on comparing conventional and organic fertilizer, establishing the nutritional needs of off-season strawberries, fertigation and irrigation timing, production with environmental sensing, or tray size and arrangement. Students may have the ability to include cultivar as a treatment, selecting among common Oregon day-neutral varieties (e.g. Sweet Ann, Seascape, Albion). This project will allow students to assist in the development of new and exciting production techniques.

Description of work environment

Work will primarily be fieldwork and greenhouse work (~80%) at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC), with some computer-based data entry and analysis (~20%) done remotely. NWREC is in Aurora, a 1-hour drive from Corvallis. The team typically schedules 1-2 work days per week at NWREC during the winter and 2-3 work days per week at NWREC during the spring. The majority of work onsite will be completed outdoors or in open-air greenhouse settings, to allow for social distancing. Masks required at all times. Students must have a valid driver’s license. Covid-safe carpooling with car barriers and masks may be an option, but it is preferred that students have their own method of transportation in case carpooling is not available.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work 10-20 hours a week depending on funding and work availability. During this time, the student will be expected to spend an estimated total of: (a) 75 hours assisting with the preparation of the study, (b) 200 hours preparing the planting, managing the crop, and collecting data, and (3) 25 hours working remotely giving regular progress reports at team meetings and collaborating with student coworkers. Additional duties include literature review, data collection and analysis, and writing up results.  The student may be given opportunities for more hours if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. The student will have a flexible schedule but will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may need to be adjusted depending on the weather and the needs of the project.

Skills

Students will be learning how to conduct applied research in agriculture production and data collection. There is a need to have a personal inclination to work with, and basic understanding of horticultural food crops (crop biology, organic production), data (math, statistical analysis), problem solving (new agricultural  technologies, creative ideas to solve production problems), and field production (work outside and in the lab/greenhouse). Having any previous experience with field research and knowledge of experimental design, note-taking, and log-keeping can be positive, but is not required. Good organization, communication, and problem-solving will be critical to student success as we work as a team with many students involved in project tasks. In addition, the student should have an interest in agriculture, especially in the development of new techniques in a certified organic setting.   

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will actively participate in the development and management of the entire research project, including but not limited to: field preparation, trial set-up, planting and field maintenance, data collection, harvest, analysis, and write-up. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, study design, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. There will be additional learning opportunities to prepare and develop educational materials and activities based on the results of the trial. Students will likely learn to use hand tools, power tools, and learn strawberry production methods.

Expected start and end date: January 4, 2021 - June 11, 2021. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer intern or continuing researcher.
Anticipated hours per week: 10-20 hours/wk
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour

High Tunnels for Organic Strawberry Season Extension

Faculty Mentor Name: Javier Fernandez-Salvador
Faculty Mentor Department: Crop and Soil Science. Marion County Small Farms Program.

Student research work will be: Hyrbid of remote and in-person 

Project Abstract

Strawberries in Oregon are a high-value product that provides high-quality, local, flavorful fruit. This project will focus on high tunnel production of organic, day-neutral strawberries for the fresh market. This will contribute to the larger work of the Berry Research Initiative, which conducts research to assist our Oregon growers in developing better production practices for Oregon berries. The selected student will work in the field at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (in Aurora) on an organic strawberry plot with high tunnels used for extending the harvest season. The student will develop a research project of their choice focused on an aspect of strawberry production under high tunnels. This may include crop biology, cultural production practices, or pest management. In Winter term, the student will develop their research project and experimental design, and in the spring will manage the project and collect data. The student will be expected to collaborate and communicate with the entire team, and is highly encouraged to continue as a student researcher for the rest of the academic year if it is a good fit.

The Job - Project Description

Strawberries for fresh market are commonly grown on raised beds in plasticulture to achieve better weed management, temperature regulation, and water drainage. These strawberry cultivars are “day-neutral” and therefore produce fruit all season long, beginning in late-May and continuing through early October depending on the season’s weather conditions. This harvest period can be extended, and the fruit quality improved, through the use of angled beds, low tunnels and high tunnels for frost and precipitation protection, and optimized pest-management practices. Growers who use organic practices can achieve significant price premiums on their fruit, as the demand for local, organic strawberries remains high and the production does not meet the levels of demand. We seek a student to help manage a project related to the production of organic Strawberries in the Willamette Valley. We currently have an established strawberry field that utilizes low tunnels for season extension, and a high tunnel experiment will be planted in early 2021. Potential projects could focus on management practices of high tunnel production, including fertilizer application, irrigation optimization, nutrient sampling methods, as well as cultural practices including tunnel type, bed shape, and organic pest management methods for common strawberry pests.

Description of work environment

Work will primarily be fieldwork and greenhouse work (~80%) at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC), with some computer-based data entry and analysis (~20%) done remotely. NWREC is in Aurora, a 1-hour drive from Corvallis. The team typically schedules 1-2 work days per week at NWREC during the winter and 2-3 work days per week at NWREC during the spring. The majority of work onsite will be completed outdoors or in open-air greenhouse settings, to allow for social distancing. Masks required at all times. Students must have a valid driver’s license. Covid-safe carpooling with car barriers and masks may be an option, but it is preferred that students have their own method of transportation in case carpooling is not available.

Description of Student Responsibilities

The student will be expected to work 10-20 hours a week depending on funding and work availability. During this time, the student will be expected to spend an estimated total of: (a) 75 hours assisting with the preparation of the study, (b) 200 hours preparing the planting, managing the crop, and collecting data, and (3) 25 hours working remotely giving regular progress reports at team meetings and collaborating with student coworkers. Additional duties include literature review, data collection and analysis, and writing up results.  The student may be given opportunities for more hours if they are a good fit for the team and are interested in more work. The student will have a flexible schedule but will be required to meet with the mentor and other team members once a week to give a progress report and receive training. Scheduling may need to be adjusted depending on the weather and the needs of the project.

Skills

Students will be learning how to conduct applied research in agriculture production and data collection. There is a need to have a personal inclination to work with, and basic understanding of horticultural food crops (crop biology, organic production), data (math, statistical analysis), problem solving (new agricultural  technologies, creative ideas to solve production problems), and field production (work outside and in the lab/greenhouse). Having any previous experience with field research and knowledge of experimental design, note-taking, and log-keeping can be positive, but is not required. Good organization, communication, and problem-solving will be critical to student success as we work as a team with many students involved in project tasks. In addition, the student should have an interest in agriculture, especially in the development of new techniques in a certified organic setting.

Learning Outcomes

The chosen student will actively participate in the development and management of the entire research project, including but not limited to: field preparation, trial set-up, planting and field maintenance, data collection, harvest, analysis, and write-up. The mentor will provide training on research and field trial management basics, study design, and data collection and analysis, as necessary. There will be additional learning opportunities to prepare and develop educational materials and activities based on the results of the trial. Students will likely learn to use hand tools, power tools, and learn strawberry production methods.

Expected start and end date: January 4, 2021 - June 11, 2021. Highly encouraged to continue as a summer intern or continuing researcher.
Anticipated hours per week: 10-20 hours/wk
Anticipated hourly wage: $12/hour