Meet the Lavern Weber Visiting Scientists

2016: Dr. Rusty A. Feagin, Professor, Dept. Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University

Portrait of Dr. FeaginDr. Rusty Feagin studies sand dunes, salt marshes, beaches, and other coastal ecosystems. The central question of study in his lab is how coastal vegetation responds to and modifies its sedimentary environment, particularly in the context of long-term sea level rise versus short-term extreme disturbances. Working in collaboration with Dr. Dan Cox of OSU’s College of Engineering, Dr. Feagin utilized his proximity to Oregon’s beaches to measure the hydrodynamic forces exerted on plants with a novel measuring device to better understand the ability of plants to reduce wave erosion on sand dunes. He also conducted a series of tests and calibrations performed both on the beach and in the wave flume at the O. H. Hinsdale Wave Research Lab in Corvallis. He hopes his scientific work is translated into action through restoration and sustainable management of coasts.

For more about Dr. Feagin's research, click here

2013: Drs. Alyssa Joyce and Pierre De Wit, Sven Lovén Center for Marine Sciences, Gothenburg University, Sweden

Drs Joyce and DeWitDrs. Alyssa Joyce and Pierre De Wit visited HMSC in September 2013 to work with Dr. Chris Langdon in studying the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on oyster larvae. Summer upwelling on the US West Coast has increasingly brought acidified water onshore, creating OA conditions that adversely affect the growth and survival of oyster larvae at commercial hatcheries. Hatchery operators report that larvae derived from selected broodstock of Dr. Langdon’s Molluscan Broodstock Program (MBP), which has been producing and selecting Pacific oysters since 1996, perform better than larvae from wild oysters during periods of upwelling. Drs joyce and DeWit's research project compares the performance of larvae from two groups of MBP broodstock oysters under controlled laboratory conditions. The first phase of the project involved developing a flow-through test system. The second phase, planned for 2014, will involve exposing larvae to OA test conditions and measuring the physiological (Joyce and Langdon) and genetic (De Wit) responses. These laboratory experiments are expected to provide a better understanding of the effects of OA on larval physiology and provide genetic tools that can be used to evaluate the degree of stress in larvae exposed to OA conditions.

For more about Dr. DeWit's research, click here.

2011: Dr. Bronwyn Gillanders, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Australia

bronwynDr. Bronwyn Gillanders, a Professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of the Marine Biology Program at the University of Adelaide, is a leading expert on otolith (fish ear bone) chemistry and its applications to fish biology and life history.

As a senior scientist with more than 100 professional publications and an internationally recognized research program, Dr. Gillanders provided a unique ‘southern hemisphere’ research and educational perspective for HMSC scientists and students. She gave a research talk entitled “Stock enhancement projects in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia: is it just money down the drain?” and a very well-received presentation for the public, “Giant Australian cuttlefish: a globally unique species under threat”.

Her visit was a result of a visit to Australia by Bryan Black, a former OSU-HMSC Associate Professor in
 the College of Forestry. In March 2010 he spent several days in Adelaide teaching a workshop on sclerochronology (analysis of growth rings) techniques, helping to complete the first marine otolith growth-increment chronology for the southern hemisphere. Dr. Gillanders’ visit allowed further development of research projects and increased collaborative ties between OSU and the University of Adelaide. “Dr. Gillanders’ visit has kicked off a number of new projects that will compare fisheries of the North Pacific with those of the South Pacific and Southern Ocean,” said Dr. Black. “I thank the Weber Visiting Scientist program for the unique opportunity to work directly with Dr. Gillanders here at HMSC to enrich both our research programs.”

For more about Professor Bronwyn and her research, please see her website by clicking here.

2011: Dr. Fred Allendorf, Regents Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Montana; Professorial Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


HMSC's 2011 Lavern Weber Visiting Scientist Professor Fred Allendorf collaborated with HMSC genetic researchers, including Michael Banks, Scott Baker, and Kathleen O'Malley during his three-month tenure at HMSC. Professor Allendorf gave four research seminars and a public talk, and mentored and taught a number of graduate students. His collaboration with HMSC's Professor O'Malley ultimately resulted in a submitted proposal.

Professor Allendorf, who has spent his career studying conservation through the lens of evolutionary processes, brought evolution to life for the HMSC Community. In honor of Darwin's birthday, he presented a talk for the public entitled "Evolution Today: Return of the Bed Bugs", focusing on genetic approaches to the study of evolution and using the recent resurgence of bed bugs, and the genetic effects of harvesting exploited fish populations as examples. Professor Allendorf pointed out that bed bugs "have evolved over time" to develop resistance to many of the chemicals previously used to try to control them. He also talked about how preferential harvest of larger and older fish can have a harmful effect on species, such as salmon, by the process of natural selection. "If you understand genetic and evolutionary principles, you can apply them to anything," he said.

Professor Allendorf is the co-author of numerous publications including Conservation and the Genetics of Populations, which examines genetic variation in natural populations, the principles and mechanisms of evolutionary change, and how it applies to conservation issues, methods, and management. "Evolution is not just about understanding the past," notes Allendorf. "It's also about influencing our future."


For more about Professor Allendorf and his research, please see his website by clicking here.

2009: Dr. George Robert (Bob) Pettit, Professor of Chemistry, Arizona State University

PettitNoted Arizona State University Chemistry Professor George Robert (Bob) Pettit spent a month in residence at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center in Fall of 2009, collaborating with researchers from various departments on the potential development of a marine drug and biodiscovery unit at Oregon State University. An accomplished scientist with dozens of books and hundreds of published papers over his 50-year career, Professor Pettit has been recognized internationally for his pioneering work in the discovery and development of anticancer drugs derived from natural sources. Nine of those drugs are now in human cancer clinical trials, including one that originated from a shell-less mollusk discovered in the Indian Ocean and is now nearing FDA approval for use in combating cancer.

Professor Pettit visited the Hatfield Center as a Distinguished Lecturer in October 2006, speaking on the topic of medicines from the sea, and OSU faculty subsequently explored the idea of establishing a marine drug and discovery unit that would tap the expertise of faculty in the College of Pharmacy, Department of Chemistry, and other departments. Professor Pettit presented a public lecture, "From marine organism constituents to human cancer clinical trials," where he traced the development of cancer-treating drugs from their natural origins in the sea to current applications in medicine.


For more information on Professor Pettit and his research, please see his website by clicking here.

2007: Dr. Gordon H. Kruse, Professor of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks


In July 2007, the HMSC welcomed Professor Gordon H. Kruse from the University of Alaska Fairbanks as the first visiting scientist under the newly endowed program. While at HMSC, Professor Kruse investigated the relationship between English sole larval abundance and availability of prey, and how this dynamic affects recruitment success for this important North Pacific fish species. He engaged in collaborative research with OSU, ODFW, and NOAA Fisheries researchers at HMSC and completed several manuscripts during his 6-month stay.

As a Lavern Weber Visiting Scientist, Professor Kruse also shared his extensive knowledge of fisheries biology and resource management with students in two OSU Fisheries and Wildlife courses during the fall term. He presented three guest lectures and led a computer lab in which the students conducted their very first stock assessment using the "catch-survey analysis" procedure currently used to manage some crab fisheries in Alaska. In addition to presenting scientific seminars at HMSC and on the main OSU campus in Corvallis, Professor Kruse delivered a presentation for the public addressing the question of how climate change impacts fisheries of the North Pacific.


For more about Professor Kruse and his research, please see his website by clicking here.