Corvallis Science & Nature: Flowers, Stars, Gardens, and the CIA

Corvallis is a science city. Between the university and the various government agencies headquartered here, there are scientific talks and events just about every week of the year, and important scientific papers published from here at least as often. It’s also a nature city. We are privileged to live in a place that offers some of the best outdoor experiences in the country, and local nonprofits and membership organizations host a constant stream of meetings, seminars and activities for the public to engage with our local environment. In late 2022, I started this column to keep up to date with all of those events and activities. Last year, I had to take a pause for health reasons, but I’m happy to be back now to gather up all the science and nature goings-on around Corvallis each week.   

Thursday, Tuesday and Wednesday: Three Webinars to Jump Back into Gardening for 2024 

The sun has returned, at least temporarily, and with that comes thoughts of the coming gardening year. Whether we’ve seen the last of ice and snow or not for the winter, there’s plenty to do right now to prepare for a bountiful growing season. OSU’s Master Gardener program has three free webinars this week to help new and experienced gardeners get into the swing of things: 

All three webinars run from noon to 1 pm, and recordings will be available a few days after, for anyone who registers but is unable to attend.   

Friday: CIA and Social Science Talk 

Because of OSU’s strong wildlife and agriculture focus, a lot of the science events around Corvallis fall somewhere under the umbrella of the physical sciences. But this week, there’s something a little different on tap. Dr. David Price from Saint Martin’s University is giving a lecture called “Shaping Research Agendas: How the CIA Covertly Molded Cold War Social Science,” as part of OSU’s Anthropology Lecture Series. Dr. Price is an expert on state surveillance and the ethics and politics of anthropology. He is the author of six books and a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.   

The lecture is free and open to the public, and begins at noon on Friday, February 9, at 161 Strand Agricultural Hall. More details available here.  

Monday: Wildflower Talk 

Wildflower season is coming. If you look hard, you can already see the first field daisies and crocuses popping out of dirt that was so recently covered in ice. Before long, the full kaleidoscope of spring color will be upon us. On Monday, the Corvallis chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon presents a zoom lecture on the wildflowers of Iron Mountain and Cone Peak. This series of trails hosts over 200 species of plants, including both meadow and forest wildflowers. The speaker, Dan Luoma, has led tours for the NPSO there for over 35 years.   

The talk starts at 7:30 pm on Monday, February 12 on Zoom. Register here.  

Monday: JWST Viewing Night 

If looking up at the stars is more your speed than smelling the flowers, there’s another event just for you Monday night. OSU astrophysicist Dr. Randall Milstein will be updating students and the public on the most recent findings from the James Webb Space Telescope. Since it started sending back images and data in July 2022, the JWST has given us key insights into the workings of the universe as well as some astonishing photos of stars, galaxies, nebulae and more. 

 The event runs from 7 to 9 pm on Monday, February 12, at the Learning Innovation Center at 165 Southwest Sackett Place. More details available here.  

Tuesday: Eugene River Cleanup 

Last but not least, there’s a chance this week to get out and help keep our Willamette River clean and healthy. Willamette Riverkeeper are organizing a cleanup boat trip in Eugene on Tuesday. Anyone with a raft or small boat of their own are welcome, or you can reserve a spot in one of theirs.   

The cleanup runs from 8:30 am to 1 pm on Tuesday, February 13. Be prepared for cold weather, especially on the water. Personal flotation devices, trash bags and gloves will be provided. Registration is required, and more information is available here. 

By Ian Rose 

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