Park Blocks: Spring 2017
Author: Stephanie Argy, Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: June 2, 2017

Coming and going in Portland

PORTLAND’S newest residents are more diverse than the region as a whole, except when it comes to African Americans, according to a new University study. Urban Studies and Planning researchers Jason Jurjevich, Greg Schrock and Jihye Kang found 38 percent of all Portland newcomers between 2012 and 2014 were people of color, compared to 25 percent of the metro area’s overall population. But the diversity boost came mostly from Asian, Pacific Islander and Hispanic migrants. The Portland area lost a net of 800 African American residents in that time period, while other large metro areas recorded net gains in African American migrants. The study is part of PSU’s America on the Move project, which tracks migration trends across the largest U.S. metro areas.


Succeeding with autism

RESEARCH professor Dora Raymaker doesn’t hide the fact that she is autistic, and she wants other autistic adults to be just as up front and succeed in their workplaces. She recently received nearly $500,000 in grants to lead a study that will determine what helps autistic people do well professionally. Her research team will interview autistic adults and those who work with them and turn their findings into recommendations. Raymaker’s own path to professional success has been an unconventional one. She says she faced discrimination and inadequate disability services resulting in multiple career shifts before finding a home at PSU and a profession that values her abilities. “I want to make the way easier for people who come after me,” she says.


A good turn rewarded

DOING the right thing was a simple decision for student Masoud AlMazrouei. The PSU economics major bought a used laptop, but as soon as he turned it on, he discovered personal files and photographs. AlMazrouei, who is from the United Arab Emirates, tracked down the stolen computer’s owner and returned it, refusing any reimbursement. An Oregonian newspaper columnist ran the story, which caught the eye of President Wim Wiewel. He wanted to meet and thank the student for his honesty. Wiewel ended up surprising AlMazrouei with a used MacBook Pro for his studies. “We’re very proud of you,” said Wiewel. “It was a great story, and you did the right thing.”


Cyber war games

THIS JULY, 60 high school students from Oregon and Washington will have less than 24 hours to respond to an imminent cyberattack and create an action plan for how to proceed. The fictional calamity is part of the fourth annual CyberPDX, a five-day residential camp in which PSU faculty introduce students from 10 different schools to cybersecurity, law and ethics, programming, and creative arts, including filmmaking. A goal of the organizers is to encourage women, minority students and students who are the first in their family to attend college to consider pursuing these fields. During the camp students are kept busy from breakfast to bedtime and live in the Ondine with teachers from their school. The camp ends with a student film festival and a final cyber challenge and policy debate.


New building, new partnerships

THE THREE largest public colleges in Portland are teaming up with the city to build a new $100 million education and health center in the heart of Portland State’s campus. The historic project will turn a parking lot at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street into a new home for the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health (Portland’s first school of public health), PSU’s Graduate School of Education, Portland Community College’s dental programs and a city bureau. The building is expected to open in September 2020, and at nine stories, it will be one of the tallest academic buildings on PSU’s main campus.


Where inventions are born

SHASTINA HOLMES, a senior in physics, was building race cars as president of PSU’s Viking Motorsports while working at a shoe store to help pay for school. The two experiences provided inspiration for her design of a more comfortable, longer lasting high heel shoe that incorporates some of the same carbon fiber material used in high-tech cars. Holmes and her team took the idea to the next level through The Beta Project, a program in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. Each term, students pitch their ideas to a panel of faculty, mentors and students to win workspaces, advice and up to $1,000 to develop their inventions. Holmes' high-heeled prototype will need more time and money before it can step out onto the market.


Malaria drug reaches new phase

FIRST-IN-HUMAN clinical trials of DesignMedix Inc.’s malaria drug are just months away. The drug development company, which is housed in the Portland State Business Accelerator, has entered into an agreement with the National Institutes of Health for the next phase of testing. Spread by mosquitoes, malaria parasites have developed resistance to almost every drug currently available. “Our malaria drug is designed to overcome drug resistance,” says DesignMedix CEO Sandra Shotwell. “We believe it will make a positive impact on global health.” The company exclusively licensed the malaria drug technology from Portland State. The trial and further studies will take five to six years to complete before the drug becomes available.


What’s in a name?

DOES IT MATTER if a married woman keeps her own surname and doesn’t adopt her husband’s? Only to less-educated men, according to a new study by Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer, sociology faculty at PSU. In a national survey, Shafer found that men with a high school diploma or less saw women who kept their own name as less committed to their marriage, but surname choice had little effect on men with more education and on all women. The results are somewhat surprising but consistent with the “uneven and stalled” gender revolution, Shafer writes. “The gains women have made in the last 60 years—for example, in terms of employment and earnings—have not occurred equally across socioeconomic groups or across outcomes.”