Oregon State University; Oregon State University - Cascades; OSU-Cascades; Water and Energy Technologies Lab; Bahman Abbasi

Bahman Abbasi leads the Water and Energy Technologies Lab at OSU-Cascades, and the campus's largest current research effort.

Sep 16, 2021

Research funding at Oregon State University – Cascades reached $3.4 million during the past fiscal year, the second highest total in campus history.

That figure continues an upward trajectory in research funding at the growing campus, where research dollars totaled $9.3 million over the past three fiscal years, more than double the level from the preceding three fiscal years.

“OSU-Cascades nurtures and attracts expert faculty researchers and talented post-doctoral scholars and graduate students who are inspired to make a difference,” said Andrew Ketsdever, interim vice president of OSU-Cascades. “The increased funding is evidence of the productivity of our researchers and their teams, and their shared commitment to improving Central Oregon, the state, nation and our world.” 

Research at OSU-Cascades contributes to Oregon State’s leadership as the state’s top comprehensive public research university. This past fiscal year research funding at Oregon State topped $380 million for the fifth straight year.

OSU-Cascades’ largest research project underway is led by Bahman Abbasi, an assistant professor in the energy systems engineering program and the director of the Water and Energy Technologies Lab. Abbasi  designs systems to produce fresh water from salt water and to recover usable water from wastewater that results from hydraulic fracturing. His work has attracted more than $5 million in research awards from the the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust and U.S. Department of Energy in recent years.

In the Energy Systems Lab a team led by Chris Hagen, an associate professor in energy systems engineering, continues its work to investigate hybrid powertrains for small unmanned aircraft systems and to understand the efficiency of a variety of engine fuels. Since founded in 2012, the lab has attracted $3.6 million in funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center, Inc., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others. It has also produced a spin-off company, On-Board Dynamics.

Another team of researchers is investigating an array of challenges echoed nationally in divisive community conversations. Elizabeth Marino, an associate professor of sociology, and Chris Wolsko, an associate professor of psychology, co-lead the Laboratory for the American Conversation.

Marino and Wolsko received funding from the city of Bend to address how to tailor COVID-19 public health messaging to align with values of different audiences. Marino also received $60,000 from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to work with communities to address cultural and socioeconomic conflicts involving fishing in Oregon’s marine reserves. Additionally, she was awarded $750,000 from the National Science Foundation to investigate issues facing coastal communities exposed to repetitive flooding and the effectiveness of federal disaster response policies.

Through its Northwest Bat Hub, the Human Ecosystem Resilience and Sustainability Lab received awards totaling $1.2 million from the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. National Park Service for bat population monitoring in the Pacific Northwest, as well as white-nose syndrome surveillance in bats. White-nose syndrome is a disease that has devastated bat populations across the country. One study pursued by the Bat Hub confirmed Central Oregon as a hotspot for spotted bats and determined it could be a place for further study and conservation.

Other research projects underway at the Bend campus include:

  • Shannon Lipscomb, an associate professor in the human development and family sciences program, continues to support TRACES Central Oregon, a nonprofit focused on building resilience to trauma. Lipscomb’s research portfolio, which primarily focuses on education, risk and resilience in early childhood, has attracted $2.3 million in funding to date.
  • With a $42,000 grant from Portland State University, Brianne Kothari, an assistant professor also in the human development and family sciences program, continues to study recommendations for how child welfare agencies can increase retention of caseworkers.
  • Matt Orr, an associate professor of biology continues to investigate the benefits of analog beaver dams in restoring estuaries along the Crooked River with a $39,000 grant from the Oregon Governor's Watershed Enhancement Board.

OSU-Cascades is collaborating with the OSU Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy to leverage the expertise of faculty in the outdoor products degree program and experts in the Central Oregon recreation environment. The collaboration will also produce education programs and research for industry.

Each year, the vice president of OSU-Cascades presents the Research and Scholarship Activity Award to a researcher. Professor Christine Pollard, was given the award in 2021 for her 10 years of kinesiology research engaging undergraduate and graduate students, community health partners and the public. Her efforts include the creation of the biomechanics FORCE Lab, where research examines leg and foot injuries, biomechanics associated with the use of various styles of running shoes, and injury-prevention and rehabilitation programs. Pollard now serves as dean of academic affairs at OSU-Cascades.

“As OSU-Cascades expands, our research activity will also grow in its impact and benefit to communities locally and globally,” said Ketsdever.

About OSU-Cascades:  Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades is a top-tier research university where small classes accelerate faculty-student mentoring. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.