Microbes and Diabetes
University of Oregon doctoral student Jennifer Hampton Hill wasn’t thinking about diabetes when she began examining whether microbes could affect the development of the pancreas in zebrafish back in the winter of 2013. She was doing what UO researchers do well, asking a novel, yet basic, question about science.
Together with her advisor and coauthor, UO biologist Karen Guillemin, Hampton Hill identified a bacterial protein that induces pancreatic beta cell proliferation during zebrafish development. Beta cells in the pancreas are the only cells that produce the hormone insulin, which regulates sugar metabolism in the body. The research, which was published in December 2016, could someday lead to new treatments for the nearly 1.5 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes who lack the ability to produce insulin.
“The research really suggests that animals very much rely on the cues and signals of the microbial communities that inhabit their bodies and that they (bacteria) are important for very intricate parts of development,” says Hampton Hill.
To view a multimedia story about the unexpected discovery and the collaboration between Guillemin and Hampton Hill, see “Pursuing a Hunch,” around.uoregon.edu/BefA.
New UO License Plate
He designed several of Nike’s line of Air Jordans, Air Max, and Huaraches. Now Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s vice president of design and special projects, is bringing his futuristic vision to the streets, designing a new UO license plate that incorporates the well-loved Duck and Hatfield’s philosophy that higher education should be more than amassing knowledge. “We go to school to learn how to think, how to learn important information, but also there’s a subtle undercurrent of, ‘Okay, go ahead and be disruptive and change the world a little bit.’” See uoalumni.com/plate.
“I can tell you that my educational journey as a student was everything for me in preparation for what I’m doing today, in terms of stick-to-it-iveness, focus, and drive. I remember falling on my rear end up in the North Pole—I was exhausted, I was trying to motivate the dogs to go and they were exhausted, and I was all alone with this team of dogs and a 1,500-pound sled, and I slipped and fell. I was so tired I couldn’t even cry, and I said out loud—because nobody can hear you in the Arctic—I said, ‘If I can get through college, I can do this.’”
Because of her dyslexia, Ann Bancroft, BS ’81, struggled at the UO, but she persevered and earned her degree. That persistence—a skill she credits the UO with teaching her—came in handy after graduation when she became the first woman to cross the ice to the North Pole, and later led the first all-female expedition to the South Pole. During Women’s History Month in March, you can read all about the National Women’s Hall of Fame member at uoregon.edu.
Graduate School dean Scott Pratt is ecstatic. UO alumni Steven Raymund just contributed $5 million, the bulk of which will fund PhD fellowships—the first time the UO has had such funding.
“I’m extremely excited,” says Pratt, who points out that Raymund Fellows will be free to concentrate solely on research because the award covers a stipend, health insurance, fees, and tuition.
“Doctoral students come here to create new knowledge, and their research can be the first move toward changing a field,” Pratt says. “Raymund Fellows will have the freedom to focus on their own work from the beginning in order to get their research into the world more quickly.”
Raymund, a 1978 economics graduate, also designated portions of his gift for a presidential discretionary fund and assistance for the UO human rights workshop. It was one of several recent gifts that boosted the total of the UO’s current campaign to more than $1.6 billion.
A $2 million gift from Julie and Keith Thomson will endow a new HEDCO clinic director at the College of Education, who will oversee the clinic’s range of social services for Oregon families. Having an established director at the facility will also accelerate teaching and research, create new experiential opportunities for students, and help reduce the time it takes to transform research into practice.
Black Cultural Center
Nancy and Dave Petrone have initiated fundraising for the Black Cultural Center, which will serve as a scholarship, cultural, and social hub. Their $250,000 gift will fund design and planning for the $3 million new building, with groundbreaking and final construction dates to be determined. To donate, see giving.uoregon.edu/diversity.
Brain Man Comes to Campus
“It was attractive to me to be able to join a team that is already doing a lot of the same kind of research that I do,” says McCormick, who will start July 1. “This field tries to understand how the parts in the brain work, how they interact, and how the neural system solves a problem as a whole.”
UO biologist Cris Niell, who will collaborate with McCormick, says McCormick’s research makes him an “excellent match to the unique strengths of neuroscience here at UO and pretty much the epitome of what we are aiming to expand with the Neurons to Minds Cluster.”
McCormick, who has a doctorate in neuroscience from Stanford University, said he appreciates the collaborative nature of the UO research environment and the potential to move brain research into real-world applications through the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.
“In the next 10 years, we are going to need ‘team science’ to answer big questions about how the brain works,” says McCormick. “This is a hot and popular area. It ties well into the national BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health. I see a lot of potential toward achieving that at the UO.”
McCormick is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He will bring three major federal grants to the UO, including a multiyear Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the federal National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Lundquist Digs Double UO Footprint in PDX
A custom ceiling showing a twinkling, backlit map of the world. A bronze statue of the UO Duck striking a pose modeled after Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker.” A lecture hall with floor-to-ceiling white boards. All are features of the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business’s new Portland location at 109 NW Naito Parkway, which opened to students this last January and nearly doubles the university’s footprint in Portland.
The first and second floors serve students in the college’s Oregon Executive MBA and UO Sports Product Management (SPM) Programs. The building, which is across the street from the UO’s White Stag Block building, includes breakout rooms designed for team projects, brainstorming sessions, and executive coaching. A product review room is equipped with videoconferencing technology that enables students to fine-tune business presentations. SPM students will use the room’s slatted display system to present the athletic gear they develop.
Major donors to the project included the late Ronald Weir Peterson, BS ’49, and Patricia Peterson; Ron, BS ’80 and Chris, BS ’80, Sauer; and Mark, ’75, MBA ’76, and Ann Edlen and Gerding Edlen.
New Provost, CIO Named
Jayanth R. Banavar, a distinguished physicist and dean at the University of Maryland, will join the University of Oregon this July as provost and senior vice president. Banavar is currently dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at Maryland. UO president Michael Schill said Banavar “was far and away our first choice out of a talented pool of nationally prominent academic leaders.”
UO graduate Jessie Minton has been chosen to be the UO’s new chief information officer and head of Information Services.
Minton comes to the UO from Oregon Health and Science University, where she held the position of director of performance improvement and business operations. Her job expanded to director of business operations and technical support services.
“As a native Oregonian and a Duck, I see this as a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the IT space with an organization I cherish,” Minton said. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to give back at this important moment for the university’s information services team.”
Tykeson Hall to Sharpen Focus on Careers
With its focus on new ways to prepare students for life after college, the Tykeson College and Careers Building will be a dramatic addition to the student experience—and the heart of campus.
The ambitious project took a major step recently when plans were unveiled for the 65,000-square-foot building, situated between Johnson and Chapman Halls. When complete, the building will offer a first-of-its-kind solution to a national problem: how to help students take full advantage of academics to prepare for future careers.
The designs combine classic and modern elements that point to past achievements and future aspirations.
“The building must exist in both worlds, respectful of those who have come before and also charting a path for the 21st century,” said Isaac Campbell, who, with his architecture partner Michelle LaFoe, has been commissioned to design the structure. Their firm is Office 52 Architecture in Portland.
Tykeson Hall will be designed from the ground up to integrate academic advising with the campus Career Center, surrounding students with resources, services, and mentors that further their success post-graduation. In addition, it will create a long-needed headquarters for the College of Arts and Sciences, the UO’s largest college.
The eastern end of the structure will be a three-story brick building that merges architecturally with Johnson Hall and other nearby buildings and will house traditional classrooms. The western portion of the building will comprise four stories of open, free-flowing spaces and advising “theme pods” that invite students to explore ideas and collaborate on projects. A lower-level commons will flow out onto a patio area, which opens into a landscaped courtyard.
Willie and Don Tykeson, BA ’51, kicked off the fundraising effort for the building with a $10 million lead gift, which paved the way for a $17 million match from the State of Oregon. Donors have contributed an additional $4 million, including $3 million from the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors, who helped shape the direction and purpose of the project. In all, the UO has raised 80 percent of the total fundraising goal. Groundbreaking is scheduled for late 2017.