Park Blocks: Fall 2013
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: September 25, 2013

From the Park Blocks to Pill Hill

The guidance that Portland State's pre-med advising program provides for aspiring physicians is getting results at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine. One out of four of it's incoming 2013 medical students attended Portland State—a figure that has held steady for seven years. In addition, three PSU pre-med students received full scholarships to OHSU in 2013. Portland State not only guides students, it provides medical school prerequisite courses. Photo by Marta Drevniak.

Traditional marriage safe

LONG BEFORE the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions supporting same-sex marriage, opponents argued that allowing gays and lesbians to marry would discourage straight couples from tying the knot. Not so according to research by Alexis Dinno, assistant professor in PSU's School of Community Health. She and fellow researcher Chelsea Whitney looked at 20 years of marriage statistics throughout the United States and found no decline in opposite-sex marriage in states that passed laws allowing same-sex marriage. "Concerns about potential harm to the rate of opposite-sex marriage resulting from same-sex marriage laws are not borne out by this research,"╩she says.

Keeping veterans employed

MAKING SURE that military veterans have the best chance possible to stay employed in Oregon is the goal of a new $5 million, five-year grant. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the grant to psychology professor Leslie Hammer and a research team from the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University. They will conduct the first research project in the United States to train supervisors in ways to accommodate veterans by being sensitive to their wartime experiences, decreasing the stress level of jobs and making work schedules more flexible.

Pay it forward

RISING STUDENT DEBT has become a national crisis, but a senior-year Capstone class taught by Mary King and Barbara Dudley has found a possible solution. Nicknamed "Pay it Forward," it would allow students to attend college for free and have a small percentage of their future income placed in a fund to pay for the next generation of college students. Students from the class, including Kevin Rackham and Sarah Johnston, lobbied the Oregon Legislature to turn the idea into law. Legislators liked the idea and passed a bill to study its viability. If it looks promising, a pilot program is on the agenda for the 2015 session.

Building is believing

SEEING DESIGN on a computer screen is no match for touching and testing a prototype, but prototypes can take time. The University's newest 3D printer in the Electronic Prototyping Lab gives students quicker results, but not too quick. "I like to say, students can walk in with a CAD file and walk out 24 hours and 15 cups of coffee later with a prototype, says Andrew Greenberg '98, MS '05. Greenberg, adjunct faculty, is advisor for the student-run lab, where students like Chris Andrews '13, seen here, use the lab's soldering station. They build circuit board controlled motors and parts for projects such as small copters or hand-held video games. Even home 3D printers are not beyond the lab's capabilities. "It's all about bits to atoms," says Greenberg.

Russian exposure

EMPLOYERS around the world need professionals with advanced Russian skills, and Professor Sandra Freels is filling those jobs with Portland State graduates. She founded PSU's Russian Flagship Program to help students from any major achieve near-native Russian fluency in four years. Students take intensive Russian language classes, conduct research in their major in Russian, and spend a year working, studying, and living with a host family in St. Petersburg, Russia. When they graduate, they are ready for government and business careers with a Russian focus anywhere in the world. Future students will benefit from a new scholarship honoring Freels, who will retire in June. To contribute, contact Meghan Milinski, 503-725-8118,

State bonds to transform PSU

THE UNIVERSITY is tripling the size of its business school building (left below) and turning the outdated Stott athletic center into a hub for educational, athletic, and community events with the help of $64 million in state bonds. The Oregon Legislature's approval of $40 million in bonds for the School of Business Administration and $24 million for the Viking Pavilion and Academic Center will transform two high-traffic areas of campus with more classrooms, auditoriums, study rooms, computer labs, and a 5,500-seat arena. PSU is raising at least $20 million in private gifts for each project.