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University Day 2020

Scientists recognized for research, service and mentoring excellence at 2020 University Day

By Srila Nayak

OSU University Day award ceremony in 2019.

Five faculty and scholars from the College of Science are among this year’s award recipients at University Day, Oregon State University's most prestigious annual awards for research mentoring, outstanding scholarship, teamwork, teaching and service. Additionally, a team of dedicated OSU scientists were honored for their work with TRACE-COVID-19, a large scale public health project in Oregon. The awardees were recognized for their distinguished accomplishments at OSU’s virtual 2020 University Day celebration on Tuesday, September 15.

“I am very proud to see the outstanding achievements of our faculty and scientists recognized at the university level,” said Roy Haggerty, dean of the College of Science. “I applaud their commitment to undergraduate mentoring, research, teaching, collaboration and service within their programs and to a broader community at the university and beyond.”

Congratulations to these faculty for their dedication, talent and exemplary achievements.

Ben Dalziel

Ben Dalziel, a population biologist, is a project co-leader of TRACE-COVID-19

Leading a pioneering public health project

The TRACE-COVID-19 team is being honored with a Beaver Champion Award, the prestigious OSU President’s Award, for work on their community based health project that tests a representative sample of community members around the state to gather timely information essential to slow the spread and minimize the impact of the disease.

The award recognizes an individual or individuals who continually demonstrate outstanding effort and achievement of excellence, extra effort beyond that requested, and performance of the highest quality.

The TRACE-COVID-19 team is jointly headed by Ben Dalziel, an assistant professor of integrative biology and mathematics, and Jeffrey Bethel, a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. The Beaver Champion Award went to the team of 10 scientists and more than 300 volunteers on the TRACE-COVID-19 project. In addition to Dalziel, principal researchers on the TRACE-COVID-19 team from the College of Science include Jane Lubchenco, Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology, Roy Haggerty, Dean of the College of Science, and Katherine McLaughlin, assistant professor of statistics.

TRACE-COVID-19 findings have helped Benton, Deschutes, Umatilla and Lincoln counties and Oregon public health leaders understand how prevalent the virus is and how fast it is spreading in the community, identify infection zones, evaluate the effectiveness of current measures and guide timely further action to control the spread of the disease.

Learn more about TRACE-COVID-19:

Francis Chan

Marine ecologist Francis Chan received the D. Curtis Mumford Faculty Service Award.

Spearheading research on climatic effects on coastal ecosystems

Francis Chan, an associate professor in The Department of Integrative Biology, has received the D. Curtis Mumford Faculty Service Award. The award recognizes individuals for exceptional, ongoing, dedicated and unselfish concern for and service to the faculty and to OSU.

Chan has conducted path-breaking research on the effects of climate on coastal ecosystems throughout his career. His service is critical for a long-term success of the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies in Coastal Oceans (PISCO), a long-term and large-scale, interdisciplinary consortium of 13 principal investigators across four universities along the US west coast. Additionally, he has been a principal scientist on several other projects dedicated to coastal regions and the impact of ocean acidification.

These projects could not have succeeded without Chan’s intellectual contributions and scientific skills. His expertise was critical in decisions by NSF, NOAA, and private foundations to provide support for research on ocean health. He serves on important advisory committees including co-chairing the California Ocean Protection Council Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Task Force. He also serves as co- chair of the OSU-wide Marine Studies Initiative Research Development Committee.

Kayla Jara

Kayla Jara, doctoral candidate in biochemistry and biophysics, received the Herbert Frolander Graduate Teaching Assistant Award.

A passion for teaching

Kayla Jara, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics received the Herbert F. Frolander Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. The award recognizes graduate students who have excelled in their capacity as teaching assistants.

A graduate teaching assistant (GTA) since Fall 2017, Jara was promoted to head TA of the largest class in biochemistry and biophysics (BB) and the most advanced BB lab. Jara receives both outstanding scores and glowing comments from students on her teaching evaluations. Faculty mentors have enthusiastically commended her accessibility, seriousness, and dedication to teaching and student success. Jara combines innovative teaching with exquisite experimental research skills. She also plays a leading role in training new students in her advisor Elisar Barbar’s lab and coordinates the OSU biochemistry/biophysics summer camp for high school and middle school students from around the region.

Mentoring excellence

Sarah Gravem, postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Integrative Biology, has been awarded The Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring by a Graduate Student or Post-Doc Award. The award recognizes scholars with direct and significant involvement with undergraduate student researchers, a demonstrable commitment to the research mentorship of undergraduate students, and a record of effectiveness and impact with respect to undergraduate student research and success.

Sarah Gravem

Sarah Gravem, a postdoctoral scholar in biology, received the Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring award.

Gravem is a postdoctoral fellow studying the ecological consequences of sea star wasting disease for intertidal communities in the Jane Lubchenco-Bruce Menge research lab. Her appointment to leading the sea star wasting task force was based on her excellent research record and academic credentials, but she has also shown incredible talent in recruiting and advising undergraduate researchers to work on this and other lab projects.

While at OSU she has advised or co-advised 46 undergraduates, 29 of whom were female and 10 were persons of color. So far, two of these students have entered Ph.D. programs, and seven have joined M.S. programs. Particularly noteworthy is her success at recruiting and advising students for the SURE and URSA undergraduate scholarship programs. Co-workers say the source of this success in mentorship is her incredible excitement and drive to succeed in science and pedagogy.

Exceptional scientists

The Postdoctoral Excellence Awards are granted to two postdoctoral scholars, fellows or research associates for their exceptional contributions to their research field, OSU and the greater postdoctoral community.

James Fox, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Microbiology, received the award for his significant research contributions, his work with OSU’s postdoctoral association and his creative outreach and service activities. James, who works in Associate Professor Kimberly Halsey’s lab, has proven to be a valuable scientist on a collaborative NASA project with 12 institutions to understand carbon production and its fate in the global ocean. His measurement of rates of photosynthesis in the North Pacific Ocean using a variety of methods have resulted in significant publications and ongoing research endeavors.

James Fox

James Fox, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Microbiology, received the Postdoctoral Excellence Award.

James’s computational model of the ocean ecosystem gives a broad picture of ocean photosynthesis and improves our understanding of how carbon is transferred into the deep ocean as well as the ocean biogeochemical cycles.

Manuel Garcia-Jaramillo, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Chemistry, received the Postdoctoral Excellence Award for his outstanding research contributions in OSU’s Mass Spectrometry Center and the Molecular Nutrition and Diabetes Research Lab. Manuel has a USDA NIFA two-year postdoctoral research fellowship. During his relatively short time as a postdoctoral scholar, Manuel has filed an invention disclosure as a lead inventor for a clinical omics project on oxylipins, published two first author publications and has established himself as an excellent teacher and mentor.

Manuel Garcia-Jaramillo

Manuel Garcia-Jaramillo, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Chemistry, received the Postdoctoral Excellence Award.

Manuel is a member of multiple professional societies allied to his field of interests, and also engages actively in service. He was vice president of the OSU Postdoctoral Association in 2019.