Research takes center stage during Board of Trustees visit

UO Research took center stage during a recent three-day campus visit by the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon. During a brown bag lunch on March 27, members of the board met with UO faculty to discuss the role of a public research university and to witness firsthand the transformative nature of research. Patrick Phillips, professor of biology and associate vice president for research, welcomed the group, before dividing them into three research tour groups.

One group visited the lab of Cris Niell, assistant professor of biology, where they received a primer of Niell’s work examining the neural circuitry of the visual system in order to explain the mechanisms behind visual perception. A second group visited with Beth Stormshak, professor of counseling psychology and director of the multi-disciplinary Prevention Science Institute; and Atika Khurana, Laura Lee McIntyre and Elizabeth Skowron, professors in the College of Education; where they learned about UO research focused on understanding human development, preventing behavioral health problems, and implementing effective interventions in community settings. A third group toured the UO Libraries’ Ken Kesey Collection, where they were shown some of the irreplaceable typewritten manuscripts, artwork, collages, photographs, and correspondence from the Oregon writer dating from 1960 to 2001.

Some of the key points discussed in the lunch-time meetings included:

  • The UO’s basic research strengths
  • The economic impact of UO research
  • The partnership between the UO, the federal government and other major research universities
  • The need for the UO to continue its commitment to basic research in order to remain globally competitive.

“Research, and the role of the public research university, is at the cornerstone of the UO’s mission,” Phillips said. “I especially like to focus on the transformative nature of our research and scholarly activities. When a student creates a novel architectural design or discovers a new species of bacteria living on our skin, they are transformed by the experience of bringing something new into the world. This is the experience that drives our faculty and students to work so hard every day. And in the process, these researchers produce new knowledge that transcends the boundaries of the university to impact our local communities, the nation, and the world. This is why we are all here.”

Minutes from the meetings and additional information will be posted on the board’s website at