Summer 2017

Volume VIII - Issue 3

Dan's Observations

Dan ArpSummer learning programs launch young scientists

It’s summer, and the laughter of kids on the quad wafts up to my open window in Strand Ag Hall. School-age kids take over our beautiful campus in the summer, in day camps that encourage them to explore sports, science, and the arts.

OSU opens its doors every summer and welcomes K-12 students to campus. For some, this might be their first encounter on a college campus. They experience learning in a whole new way. It makes going to college seem possible.

Several of our Ag Sciences faculty have developed programs especially tailored for these pre-college students. And some of these camps boggle my old-scientist brain. For example, faculty in our Department of Botany and Plant Pathology offer a Computational Biology Camp where students use sophisticated computer games to solve structural puzzles about protein molecules and contribute to the world’s scientific knowledge of DNA. These middle-schoolers are engaged in real-world, cutting edge science.

We are making sure that this hands-on exploration of science continues into college. Even our freshman Ag Sciences students have the chance to work alongside researchers, putting science to work to solve some of the world’s most vexing problems. This summer, two of our recent Ag Sci graduates are working at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC, continuing the important research they began as undergraduates at OSU.

Soon enough, these little kids laughing on the quad below my window will be ready for the challenge to make the world a better place. Many of them, I hope, will choose OSU and the College of Agricultural Sciences, when time comes to choose a college and a future direction. But in any case, from this summer camp onward, they will always be Beavers.



Daniel J. Arp
Reub Long Professor and Dean
College of Agricultural Sciences
Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station

Recent News

Oregon Quality Foods & Beverage Center

OSU brews up new research center

(By Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times) A new Oregon State University fermentation research facility approved by the Legislature will support the state’s beer, wine and dairy industries while boosting the university’s capabilities in the field of food science.

Just before the Legislature adjourned last week, it agreed to issue $9 million in state bonds to cover half the cost of the Oregon Quality Foods & Beverage Center, with the remainder to be paid by private donations. The Tillamook County Creamery Association, which stands to reap some of the benefits from research conducted at the facility, kicked off the fundraising campaign with a $1.5 million lead gift.

The session was a mixed bag for OSU capital projects. Lawmakers dealt a major setback to ambitious expansion plans for the fledgling satellite campus in Bend, approving only $9.5 million of the $69.5 million in bonding authority sought by the university. On the other hand, legislators did sign off on a $29 million request to renovate three historic buildings on the Corvallis campus, and OSU will get a share of $50 million set aside for miscellaneous maintenance and modernization work by the state’s seven public universities.

Against that backdrop, the Oregon Quality Foods & Beverage Center is the signature project to emerge from the session for OSU. “This puts us in pretty rarefied company,” said Dan Arp, dean of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “We already have what’s largely considered one of the top two brewing programs in the country, and our dairy program is on its way to being one of the best on the West Coast.” OSU is also home to a growing winemaking program, and all three areas will be showcased in the new building. The $18 million center will join a growing cluster of agricultural research and teaching facilities on the west side of the Corvallis campus at the intersection of Southwest 35th Street and Campus Way, near the university’s dairy farm. Construction is expected to begin in late 2018 or early 2019, with the center opening about a year later. The 26,000-square-foot building will have classroom, office, meeting and laboratory space, but the heart of the facility will be three 3,600-square-foot pilot production plants — one for wine, a second for dairy products and a third for beer, cider and distilled spirits.

Working in the pilot plants, Arp said, will provide valuable hands-on experience for students interested in a career in food processing, winemaking, brewing, distilling or cider-making. He called the center a good fit for a state where people are intensely interested in where their food comes from. “We’re passionate about the quality of our foods,” he said. “We want them to be sustainably produced, locally sourced and nutritious, and Oregonians are generally willing to pay a premium to get that.” The pilot plants will also serve as proving grounds for student and faculty research projects, as well as a place where OSU scientists can team up with industry experts to develop new products. According to Arp, the Oregon Quality Foods & Beverage Center will work in tandem with OSU’s Food Innovation Center in Portland to support the state’s food and beverage sector, a $16.4 billion industry that supports nearly 32,000 jobs. “There’s a good, strong economic base for the work we’re trying to do here,” he said.

The center will even include a small storefront where some of the more entrepreneurial students in the university’s food science programs can market their wares. “It will be a place where we can sell Beaver-branded products such as our Beaver Classic cheeses, meats from the Clark meat lab and so on,” he said. “I think that will be fun. They’re currently available for sale, but they’re all in different locations. This will start to get them all in one place.”

While the College of Agricultural Sciences is busy raising matching donations for the Oregon Quality Foods & Beverage Center, the university will also be preparing to start work on three major renovation projects funded by the 2017 Legislature.

OSU will get $11 million in state bond money for improvements to Fairbanks Hall, the second-oldest building on campus and home to the College of Liberal Arts. Built in 1892, the 40,000-square-foot building will get a makeover that includes spruced-up classrooms, accessibility improvements and the creation of usable space on the fourth floor, which is currently out of service. The 236,000-square-foot Cordley Hall, which houses research and classroom space for the biology, horticulture, botany, plant pathology and zoology programs, will get a $15 million package of improvements including new mechanical and electrical systems, upgraded fire and life safety systems and greater accessibility. Gilkey Hall, built in 1912 to house the dairy science program, will be converted into an academic success center in a $5 million project funded by $3 million in state bonds and $2 million in matching funds raised by the university. The 22,000-square-foot building will get accessibility improvements as well as upgrades to fire and life safety, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. OSU Cascades did not get the biggest item on its legislative wish list, a $60 million appropriation to fund construction of an academic building and student success center. Instead, the Bend campus will have to settle for $490,000 to renovate its 35,000-square-foot Graduate and Research Center and $9 million to reclaim a 46-acre pumice mine site for future expansion.


148th Commencement2017 OSU 148th Commencement

OSU graduated a record 6,807 students receiving 7,097 degrees during its 148th commencement ceremony on June 17.  Associate Dean Dan Edge served as the Grand Marshall and led the procession to Reser Stadium. (Video)

Some facts and figures about OSU’s Class of 2017:

  • Of the 7,097 degrees that will be awarded, 5,590 will go to students receiving baccalaureate degrees; 1,066, master’s degrees; 311, doctor of philosophy degrees; 76, doctor of pharmacy degrees; 51, doctor of veterinary medicine degrees; and three doctor of education. (The doctor of pharmacy and doctor of veterinary medicine degrees are awarded at separate ceremonies.)
  • OSU’s 2017 graduates represent all 36 Oregon counties, all 50 states and 68 countries.
  • The oldest graduate is 74 years old; the youngest is 19 years old.
  • The graduating class includes 159 veterans of U.S. military service.
  • Nearly 1,000 Oregon State distance students completed degree requirements online this year through OSU Ecampus, the university’s online education division. The graduates hail from nearly all 50 states and more than a half-dozen countries.

2017 EOU Graduates2017 Graduates of OSU Ag & Natural Resources Program at EOU

The OSU Agriculture & Natural Resources Program at Eastern Oregon University graduated 28 students this year at the La Grande campus.

Click headline to see larger image. (front row left to right) Marisa Mode, Myranda McFetridge, Krista Sites, Delanie Sommers, Olivia Morton, Ngeyaol Polycarp,
(back row left to right) Paris Smith, Keelie Kirby, Marisa Seiders, Marcel Ortiz, Wyatt Lee, Andrew Fangman, Paige Landon, Tess Hamby, Hannah Mears, Raena Draper, Kelsey Derry, Grayson Byers, Lacey Usabel, Treve Moffit, Kolby Haliewicz, Devin Felton, Brady Sharp, Luke Ridder, Dexter Cummings, Mitchel Staeffler, Joshua Whitman, (kneeling front far right) Lane McDonaldtext.

Educational programs are offered for those pursuing careers in: agriculture production and management; animal, plant and food systems; fisheries and wildlife conservation; range and natural resources management; and more. The faculty realize the importance of individual aims and abilities and through course work, advising, and experiential learning help each student discover and develop social, aesthetic, and ethical values as well as professional competence.

The OSU Agriculture & Natural Resource Program @ EOU is a cooperative partnership between Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences and Eastern Oregon University. The OSU Ag & NR Program was developed to help serve the needs of the communities and entities of eastern Oregon and the Intermountain West. 

Students must be admitted to both Oregon State University and Eastern Oregon University to join the OSU Agriculture & Natural Resource Program @ EOU.

Paradis siblingsGraduation a family affair

(By Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-times) Life has a funny way of evening things out sometimes.

There’s a 5-year age spread between Lilly Paradis and her older brothers Pierre and Tim, but the way things worked out, all three will be graduating from college at the same time.

When the Oregon State University Class of 2017 marches down Southwest 26th Street to Reser Stadium on Saturday to receive their diplomas, the siblings will be walking together — something none of them could have foreseen when they were growing up on the family’s 60-acre vineyard near Silverton.

Our Best

Laurent Deluc2017 Family Friendly Faculty Award - Dr. Laurent Deluc, Associate Professor, Horticulture

Since 2010, the Family Friendly Faculty Award, through the Office of Childcare and Family Resources, has been highlighting individual faculty who have supported the unique needs of students with children, providing much needed accomodations in support of the dual roles of student and parent.  In the words of the student who nominated Dr. Deluc, "I can say with confidence that I would not have pursued my graduate degree without Dr. Deluc's guidance and support, nor would I have been successful in obtaining my MS.  He has been very flexible with my parenting time, my child's doctor appointments, etc.  He also made me aware of university services that I could utilize to help me with child care, housing and stress management.  He has never put me in a position where I had tochoose between what is best for my family and what is best for his lab." 

Also nominated for this award were Dr. Sherri Johnson, Assistant Professor, Fisheries and Wildlife and Dr. Elizabeth Tomasino, Assistant Professor, Food Science and Technology.

John SelkerDistinguished Professor John Selker (VIDEO)

OSU has named John Selker as one of two distinguished professors for 2017.  This is the highest academic honor the university can bestow on a faculty member, according to Edward Feser, provost and executive vice president.  "John Selker has done groundbreaking work in environmental instrumentation, soil physics and hydrology, creating for that purpose innovative new applications in fiber optics,” Feser said. “His work to explain how water moves through soils and on surfaces relates to everything from modern agriculture to ecology, aquatic science, groundwater and the protection of our environment." 

Selker, a professor in the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, has published more than 115 scientific papers that have been cited thousands of times. Selker received his doctorate in hydrology from Cornell University and has been on the OSU faculty since 1991. He has received multiple career awards in his field, is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and routinely involves undergraduate OSU students in his international research and training experiences.

Selker individually created new instruments and measurement devices that have helped revolutionize the field of hydrology. He recently organized a public/private initiative to improve instrumentation of weather in Africa, which could dramatically improve African agriculture, aid the study of global climate change and help address other needs in African sustainability and economic development.

Global Experiences

2017 AIARD Annual Conference OSU students attend Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development Conference

Dr. Hiram Larew (Courtesy Professor, Botany and Plant Pathology) joined Dr. Hillary Egna and four Oregon State University students who attended the 2017 AIARD (Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development) Annual Conference held June 4-6, 2017 in Washington, DC.

From left to right - Pete Berry, Stephanie Ichien, Dr. Hillary Egna, Dr. Hiram Larew, Abigail Findley, and Briana Goodwin.

Abigail Findley and Rita Abi-GhanemGetting S.M.A.R.T. about our agriculture: Students thoughts on the 2017 Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development Conference

(By Abigail Findley (r), pictured with Rita Abi-Ghanem (l), Senior Director of Research and development at Bio-Huma-Netics) There are an estimated 7.5 billion people on the planet currently, and scientists have projected the population to increase to 9 billion by 2050. As a student studying agriculture, one of my tasks is to learn how to feed a growing population in a world with dwindling resources. In early June, I attended the 53rd annual conference for the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development in Washington D.C. This year’s theme was all about climate S.M.A.R.T. agriculture. S.M.A.R.T. agriculture focuses on… Security and Sustainability - Markets and Trade - Adaptation and Conservation - Research and Innovation - Training and education

Over the course of four days I networked with leaders in the international agriculture and rural development community, deans of universities, professors, graduate students, undergraduate students and other professionals from the U.S and abroad. Everyone I talked to was committed to improving food security around the world through the global collaboration of farmers, researchers, educators, and investors. It was inspiring to walk into a room where everyone cared about climate change and feeding the world. Throughout the conference, speakers addressed the ways the U.S. gains when investing in foreign agriculture and how the creation of multi-stakeholder coalitions focused on voluntary, market-based, incentivized solutions for farmers in a changing climate would ensure a sustainable future.

Chirps - cricket chipsI was one of two undergraduates in the nation to attend the conference. Attending this conference was an inspiring experience and helped to focus my academic and career goals towards how I can be a future leader of agriculture in a world with a changing climate. Subsistence is not a desired human condition, but is the reality for millions of individuals around the world who face food insecurity every day. During the career workshop, I learned how to prepare myself to succeed in the international and rural development job market. As of 2015, 63.3% of new hires had a master's degree in international agriculture. 14.2% had a degree in agriculture science, food science or nutrition. Language skills in French, Spanish, and Arabic were highly desired, as well as having previous experience through internships, academic fieldwork, international travel, and Peace Corps assignments.

Due to generous financial support from Dr. Hiram Larew, Dr. Stella Coakley, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, I was able to meet inspiring leaders in international agriculture and rural development who were more than willing to give me tips and advice on how to pursue a career in international agriculture and rural development. Attending this conference also motivated me to apply for a Branch Experiment Station Internship in Hermiston, Oregon. I am working with an agronomist researching soil nutrient cycling and how biochar and mycorrhizal symbiosis can increase plant nutrient uptake while reducing environmental pollution. After attending the AIARD conference I am confident that the future of agriculture is innovative, sustainable and inclusive because ordinary people around the world are stepping up, becoming leaders and cultivating a future where environmental stewardship and feeding the world are one in the same.

Global Experiences Fund

Are you looking to make an impact in the life of a student?

The Global Experience Fund continues to provide support for various international opportunities for our students. Consistent with the College’s goal to provide additional international opportunities.  We now have a Global Experience Endowment Fund with a five-year timeline to reach the $50,000 commitment that will then provide expendable funds in perpetuity to support student and faculty engagement in international opportunities. The lead gift for this endowment was Dr. Hiram Larew (MS 1977, PhD 1981) with additional support from E.R. Jackman Friends and Alumni and the Deans’ office.

We invite you to consider adding your contributions to the Global Experiences Fund. On-line gifts can be made here with a note added to specify the endowment.


2015 MANRRS National coference attendeesCelebrating Excellence Program

The College celebrated its highest student awards and accomplishments at a reception held on May 18th.  Click title link to see the award winners for each award and elected positions for next academic year.

  • Agricultural Executive Council Awards
  • College of Agricultural Sciences Awards
  • Agricultural Executive Council (‘16-‘17)
  • College of Agricultural Sciences Ambassadors (‘16-‘17)
  • Leadership Academy Fellows (‘16-‘17)
  • Gamma Sigma Delta Inductees (2017)
  • College of Agricultural Sciences Registry of Distinguished Students (‘16-‘17)

Ben Rietmann, DC

Ben Rietmann chosen to serve in summer science policy internship

(By Ben Davis) Ben Rietmann is a double major in Agricultural Business Management and Agricultural Sciences, with a minor in Spanish. Originally from Condon, Oregon, Ben is a junior who has already grown an extensive academic resume, including roles with Collegiate 4-H, the Applied Economics Academic Bowl Team, and Meistersingers Men’s Chorus. He was a Fellow in the Leadership Academy, served on the Agricultural Executive Council, and studied abroad in Chile. This summer, Ben is working as an intern at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) on Capitol Hill, where we recently caught up to him:

“I work in the Office of the Director with the Congressional and Stakeholder Affairs Officer, Josh Stull. Most days, I either work on an assigned project or attend meetings with Josh.  My projects have included taking notes at House or Senate committee meetings, compiling email lists for announcements to Congressional staff members, and finding information on land grant universities. Meetings with Josh generally take place on Capitol Hill with staff members of Congressional offices, and the purpose of the meetings is often to explain what NIFA is and does. 

The most valuable part of this internship has been meeting people from different parts of the federal government and policymaking realm. I’ve become acquainted with several leaders in the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), including the Director of NIFA, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, who is also the former dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU. It’s fun to meet ambitious people from all across the country, and to discover mutual connections that seem to appear everywhere.  It’s also been really cool to have a front row seat to current events and developments in politics, both in regard to agriculture and in a general sense.  

After graduation, I hope to work in some facet of international agriculture, with a focus on trade, international and rural development, or policy. The College of Agricultural Sciences has prepared me for this in several ways. It has given me a solid understanding of agricultural, scientific and economic concepts through classwork. It has provided opportunities to develop professional skills through service in the Agricultural Executive Council and participation in the Leadership Academy. CAS has connected me with professors, mentors, and advisors who have given me fantastic advice on how to make the most out of my time in college, and how to prepare for a career in agriculture."


Two new support programs for student researchers provide funding assistance

Funding help to support research opportunities for students who are engaging in formal research for the first time is now available.  Read about our 2017 Summer/Fall Beginning Researchers Support Program here.

The Continuing Researchers Support Program provides funding assistance for faculty and students who are seeking support for a semi-independent research project.   Learn more here.

New Fields

Forward in sandReflections and transitions

(By Mikayla Unger) The 2016-2017 school year was one for the books. It was a year full of many successes and accomplishments. This all wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of the 2016-2017 Agricultural Executive Council to the College of Ag. As this year comes to a close the newly elected officer team has big shoes to fill.

The new officer team is ready to hit the ground running. Our year of service started on May 24 when we were elected at the last Agricultural Executive Council meeting of the year. Since then we have had our transition meeting and look forward to an officer retreat this summer. We are so excited to serve the college of Ag this upcoming school year. (More about the Agricultural Executive Council)

Experience Oregon TourSpring Industry Tour Recap

(By Meg Marchand) The College of Agricultural Science’s Industry Tour was held during the weekend of April 21st. We travelled around the Columbia Gorge area in an Experience Oregon tour bus with minimal air conditioning and a total of 45 students and advisors. We also had the pleasure of having Karen Withers, an ER Jackman Board Member, accompany us on our adventure!

We departed from OSU’s Corvallis campus at 5am on Friday and headed straight for the Dalles to visit Mid Columbia Producers and their grain elevator. After our tour there, we headed to Pendleton to have a delicious lunch at Hamley’s Steakhouse with Northwest Farm Credit. We walked our full bellies off with a tour of the the Woolen Mills, Pendleton Undergrounds and the Pendleton Round-Up Fairgrounds before exhausting ourselves and heading back to the hotel. (Read more...)

2017 Ag DayAg Days Success

(By Meg Marchand) This year’s Ag Days spanned across three days at the beginning of May. Our focus this year was more global than past years and was entitled “The Future of Ag.”

We had the privilege of hosting the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Director, Alexis Taylor, for part of our celebration. Director Taylor gave an empowering speech on women in agriculture while touching on the current status of the industry and its future.

Director Taylor had a more intimate lunch with a group of folks from the college where she was able to address more questions and concerns from students and faculty! We appreciated having Director Alexis Taylor and being able to learn from her knowledge and experiences within the agricultural industry!  See the full schedule of activities here.

Graduate Students

Carolee BullGraduate students energized by "Be Your Own Best Mentor" workshop

(By Katharine de Baun, College of Science) What am I good at and what do I really enjoy doing? What do I care about most deeply? Where do I want to go and how do I get there?

Graduate students (as well as adults of all ages!) still struggle with big questions like these. Without a clear answer or direction, it's easy to fall into an endless reaction mode, peddling furiously in response to the world's demands but not going anywhere in particular -- or at least not in the most fulfilling direction possible. Enter Carolee Bull, Department Head and Professor of Plant Pathology and Systematic Bacteriology at Penn State University, who recently gave a workshop entitled "How to Be Your Own Best Mentor" from the award-winning mentoring curriculum she has developed.

Thirty-eight students attended the workshop, which was co-sponsored by the College of Science and the College of Agricultural Sciences. The workshop consisted of four main parts:  developing a personal "mission statement," striving to align your actions with that mission statement; making an honest self-evaluation; and defining how to improve on skills that you've identified as lacking. Throughout her interactive presentation, Bull illustrated her points with entertaining stories and examples and asked participants to do exploratory exercises and self-evaluations on the spot.

The workshop was very well received by students, as reflected in a student survey. One-hundred percent of students found the workshop useful and would recommend it to others.  "I thought it was great, and beyond my expectations," said one. "Great job! I feel inspired," said another.


Bull frogIn the egg, American bullfrogs learn how to avoid becoming lunch

(By Chris Branam in Eureka Alert - AAAS)  When exposed to potential predators as an embryo, the invasive American bullfrog becomes harder to kill when it becomes a tadpole, according to a new study by Oregon State University researchers.

Tadpoles that hide more and develop faster when predators are present have better chances at survival, and the study sheds light on the frog's capacity to proliferate across the Pacific Northwest, said Tiffany Garcia, an aquatic ecologist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences and lead author of the study. The findings were published this week in the journal Oecologia.

Bullfrogs are strong competitors for food and highly invasive in many environments. They are implicated in the decline in many native species, Garcia said. "These embryos can learn about new predators while they are still in the egg, and they behave and develop differently after they hatch based on that learning," she said. "If these frogs can learn about predators before they are even vulnerable to them, it makes it that much harder to limit their spread."

ARFWhat is the Agricultural Research Foundation?

(by Russ Karow) While many have heard of the Oregon State University (OSU) Foundation (incorporated in 1947), fewer may be familiar with another OSU-based foundation with an even longer history.

The Agricultural Research Foundation (ARF) was established in 1934 by a group of visionary natural resource industry leaders “to facilitate, encourage, aid, promote, and engage in scientific experimentation and research in all branches of agriculture and related fields including physical, biological, chemical, economic and social aspects for the benefit of the agricultural industry.”   The Foundation is the custodian of private, public, and corporate funding used to support research and extension activities conducted by OSU faculty across the state.

The architects of this Foundation envisioned a corporation that would collaborate and work in close partnership with Oregon’s diverse agricultural and natural resource industries. At their organizational meeting, it was determined, “Sources of revenue and income of this corporation shall be gifts, grants, and voluntary contributions by or with persons, institutions, firms, corporations, organizations, and others connected, affiliated, associated, or collaborating with the Oregon State Agricultural Experiment Station.” With the first contribution of $1000, these visionary pioneers designed a blueprint for success.

 ARF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. Contributions to the Foundation are deductible and, where applicable, can help accrue tax benefits.  Like the OSU Foundation, ARF operates under a memorandum of understanding with OSU.  In addition to donations for general program support, ARF is allowed to contract with commodity commissions, producer associations, non-profit organizations, and other foundations that provide support for the conduct of specific research or extension programs.  ARF cannot contract with corporations nor does it actively seek to establish long-term endowments.  The latter is a principal activity of the OSU Foundation.  ARF’s charge is to be a current-use funds conduit.  As a corporate affiliate of OSU, the foundation is located at 1600 SW Western Blvd., Suite 320 in Corvallis, Oregon, 97333.

Further information about ARF can be found at our website - or can be obtained by contacting Russ Karow, Executive Director, at or 541-737-4066.  We will also provide additional details about our operation in future issues of The Source.

Crown Gall DiseaseOSU research leads to detection method for crown gall disease

(By Chris Branam) Researchers at Oregon State University have taken a major step toward developing an on-site detection tool for crown gall disease, an incurable malady that affects numerous species of plants, including many of economic importance to Oregon.

The researchers developed molecular tools to work with commercially available kits that allow the user to quickly and effectively test plants for the disease, using a dipstick that reveals the presence of the pathogen within minutes.Crown gall disease is caused by a soil bacterium that modifies the plant’s genome and causes large, cancer-like tumors (galls) to grow at its base. The soil-borne pathogen, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, affects woody and herbaceous plants, including fruit and nut trees, grapevines and roses.

The findings are published in the journal Phytopathology. OSU has filed for a patent for the molecular tools.  (Read more...)

Monique UdellWhy are dogs such doting companions? It’s in their genes

(By Chris Branam; photo by Monty Sloan) Researchers have identified a genetic difference in domesticated dogs and wolves that could explain the canines’ contrasting social interaction with humans.

The finding, published today in the journal Science Advances, provides a new understanding of the behavioral divergence between dogs and wolves that began thousands of years ago, said Monique Udell, an animal scientist at Oregon State University and lead co-author of the study.

“The genetic basis for the behavioral divergence between dogs and wolves has been poorly understood, especially with regard to dogs’ success in human environments,” Udell said. “It was once thought that during domestication dogs had evolved an advanced form of social cognition that wolves lacked. This new evidence would suggest that dogs instead have a genetic condition that can lead to an exaggerated motivation to seek social contact compared to wolves.”

It is the first study to integrate behavioral and genetic data to understand the molecular underpinnings of changes that occurred to the social behavior of dogs during domestication, said Udell, director of the Human-Animal Interaction Lab in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Using molecular tools, geneticists led by Princeton University biologist Bridgett vonHoldt determined that dogs have the same genetic markers that are found in people with Williams-Beuren syndrome, a disorder characterized by developmental delays and “hypersocial” behavior.

In the study, the researchers evaluated human-directed sociability of 18 domesticated dogs and 10 captive human-socialized gray wolves using sociability and problem-solving tasks. The dogs and wolves were given a solvable task with a person present: open a puzzle box containing a sausage within two minutes. The dogs were more likely to gaze at the person and not persist in the task. The wolves were more likely to persist in the task and solve it, even if a person was nearby. The researchers then conducted a second test. They had a person sitting down inside a marked circle in an active phase and a passive phase. In the active phase, the person called the animal by name and actively encouraged contact while remaining in the circle. In the passive phase, they sat quietly and ignored the animal by looking down on the floor.

Both the dogs and wolves were quick to approach the people, but the wolves tended to wander away after just a few seconds. The dogs persisted for a long period of time with both familiar and unfamiliar people. After the tests, the researchers gathered blood samples from the animals for genetic testing.“We’ve done a lot of research that shows that wolves and dogs can perform equally well on social cognition tasks,” Udell said. “Where the real difference seems to lie is the dog’s persistent gazing at people and a desire to seek prolonged proximity to people, past the point where you expect an adult animal to engage in this behavior.”

The study builds upon previous work by Udell’s lab that focuses on canine behavior and social cognition. In a recently published study in the journal Animal Cognition, her group found that among four sets of canines – two groups of pet domestic dogs, a group of free-ranging domestic dogs, and human-socialized wolves – the wolves indeed persisted the most on the independent problem-solving task with a person present, and the dogs were more focused on the human. But what surprised the researchers was that the free-ranging domestic dogs, living on the streets of India as scavengers, persisted the least on the task and gazed at the person longer than even the pet dogs. “That was a surprising and interesting finding,” said Lauren Brubaker, a doctoral student at OSU who led the study.

The latest study was funded partially by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health. Support was also provided by the OSU Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, OSU Graduate School and STEM Leaders Program.

Art About Agriculture

Migration Pollination by Tallmadge DoyleEugene printmaker displays "Pollination" exhibit at OSU

“Pollination,” an exhibition of recent works by Eugene printmaker Tallmadge Doyle, is on display in Gallery 440 of Strand Agriculture Hall at Oregon State University through Sept. 8. The exhibit, sponsored by the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, features 15 prints from her studies of the nature and science of pollination.

Doyle’s “Pollinators” series fits into the long tradition of botanical art, which first took root during the European Renaissance, primarily from the 15th to 17th centuries. It was a time when naturalists and artists sought collaboration and joint sponsorship during rapid cultural and intellectual advancements of the day.

Her contemporary prints are infused with subtle structures and intimations into both seen and unseen elements of the symbiosis between pollinator and plant.  Her drawn leaves, plants, butterflies and birds—all of specific regional species—are composed as living in Oregon’s upper Willamette Valley. The series includes a wide variety of print techniques that are employed both singly and combined, including aquatint, chine collé, etching and woodcut, along with hand-applied color.

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Oregon Small Farm News - Summer 2017

OWRI Wine to Vine - June 2017

OWRI Wine to Vine - July 2017

Fisheries and Wildlife home pageCAS Web Team update

(By Gaurav Mandan) The CAS Web Team launched the updated theme with the new brand on June 26th. These changes are visible on all of our websites.

In addition, we have redesigned the following websites:

 These websites are now completely mobile friendly, meet all web-accessibility guidelines and are in our Drupal 7 installation.

Alumni & Friends

Dylan McDowell and MantisDistrict Field Guide, a blog by Dylan McDowell

Dylan McDowell is an Oregonian living in D.C. He studied Fisheries and Wildlife Science at Oregon State University, in addition to becoming certified as a high school biology teacher. He is always in search of new wildlife wherever he goes, such as the praying mantis found at the Lincoln Memorial (pictured left). 

McDowell's stunning blog is a resource for DC’s curious crowds in search of nature. The nation’s capital and the surrounding areas boast extraordinary wildlife and a multitude of hikes, adventures, and exhibits, and District Field Guide helps readers identify the diverse fauna, flora, and field trips in the region. (Read more...)

The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University is Oregon's principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. The College provides undergraduate and graduate education leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and extended education programs throughout Oregon and beyond. Its research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a knowledge base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.