OPAL projects have been addressing a wide range of policy issues at the intersections of various policy areas, be it energy, environmental, education, social, criminal justice or transportation policy. Working with community partners, OPAL projects have sought to discover how both policy design and its implementation can be improved, and how various services can be delivered more equitably and efficiently.
Below, you can find links to many reports resulting from OPAL projects or created by other OPAL-affiliated researchers.
Service providers and advocates, working with the Oregon Health Authority, have been collaborating to address the housing needs of residents qualified for behavioral health services. OPAL researchers have assisted in analyzing data provided by community partners.
Students affiliated with OPAL sometimes produce reports and projects which are of particular interest to the public.
Ava Ryan, Mark Edwards, & Dusti Linnell on "Inclusion and Trust in Community Engaged Scholarship"
This paper began as an OPAL-funded project for Tillamook County, became Ava's MPP essay, and
then was published in its current form in the Journal of Extension.
Victoria Venable, Mark Edwards, & Jennifer Jackson. 2023. "Survey Recruitment Bias and Estimates
of College Student Food Insecurity"
This paper began as an OPAL-funded project for the OSU Dean of Students' office, and was
later published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.
OPAL researchers Atifa Najam, Julian McElhaney and Grace Neleyun (all first-year MPP students) are assembling and analyzing data that will produce a series of reports for the Oregon Hunger Task Force. These projects will examine the major drivers of state rates of food insecurity, and provide the 2023 State of Oregon Hunger Report. Second year OPAL researcher Chandler Norton is leading a team of undergraduate affiliates (Emma Freemerman, Roman Quick, and Tilaima Paulo) in a project to understand college student food insecurity among those with OSU meal plans.
OPAL researcher Gabrielle Poccia and SPP Sociology instructor Shelley Nelson are leading a team of undergraduate affiliates (Natalie Sharp, Brooks Webber, and Kendra Spalinger) to develop a network analysis of the social safety net in Benton County. Local organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul and Corvallis Housing First have provided necessary guidance in the early development of the project.
OPAL researchers Maren Schermer, Jeremy Seicianu, and Mira Bartell continue to complete a data assessment for the Oregon Health Authority to assist regional partners in describing needs and opportunities for distributing funds to provide permanent supportive housing for people vulnerable to chronic homelessness.
Under the leadership of Professor David Bernell, OPAL researchers Nchadze Lotum and Kanchan Ojha have been assembling a data base of import/export policies for industrial hemp export to Europe. This project is funded by the National Industrial Hemp Council.
OPAL has also arranged short term paid research opportunities graduate students completing projects with the Nature Conservancy, Samaritan Health Services, Western Resource Advocates, George Mason University Institute for Humane Studies, and the Western Fire Chiefs Association.
OPAL researchers Catalina Harmon, Maren Schermer, and Kaia Maclaren (all three 2nd-year MPP students), funded by the Oregon Health Authority, evaluated qualitative data submitted by dozens of service providers throughout the state to assist OHA in decision-making about allocation of state dollars for permanent supportive house. This project will continue with new graduate students in 2023/2024.
A pair of OPAL researchers, Ravyn Cervantes and Lauren Kolojejchick-Kotch, completed a project funded by the US Department of Transportation to identify emerging best practices in improving virtual civic participation on rural places. Results will inform the Department in future efforts to secure valuable community input when making decisions about projects that will impact rural communities. [Rural Virtual Public Involvement Report]
OPAL researchers Gabrielle Poccia and Chandler Norton are completing an assessment for the City of Corvallis Planning Department to evaluate effectiveness of community outreach efforts, especially among marginalized populations, in Corvallis. [Corvallis Community Engagement Assessment]
Instructor Shelley Nelson supervised Sociology undergraduate students Kailey Alberto and Cynthya Gluck on an OPAL-organized project where they created updated county statistical profiles about food insecurity and public programs addressing hunger. These profiles are used in state legislature deliberations and appear on the website for the Oregon Hunger Taskforce.
Funded by SeaGrant, online MPP student researcher Gordon Okumu is completing a funded internship supervised by OPAL, wherein he with a team of legal interns from other universities, are evaluating the regulatory response to the Marimo Mossball incident. These decorative aquarium organisms, upon being imported to the U.S., were found to be infected with an invasive species (zebra mussels) that can threaten U.S. lakes and rivers. The coordination of federal and state response to the crisis is the subject of this analysis.
OPAL supported a community outreach project with the City of Siletz, OR, organizing a group of 12 MPP and Ph.D. students in obtaining residents' input on a proposed ordinance relevant to serving unhoused people in the community. The team used a variety of methods (surveys, interviews, etc.) to provide the City Council needed information before they voted on the ordinance. [Siletz Community Engagement Project - Final Report]
OPAL Associates Kanchan Ojha and Ankit Koirala worked with the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association to help assess the usefulness of new software for managing wildfire emergency evacuations. Student researchers interviewed fire-fighting professionals in other states that had used the software and provided recommendations for Oregon. [Zonehaven Report]
OPAL Associates Elena Doss and Abby Miller, along with MPP alum Chief Bob Horton (of Jackson County, Oregon Fire District 3), under the direction of Professor Erika Wolters, completed a project for the Fire District 3 regarding how and why residents prepare their properties to mitigate wildfire risk. This qualitative analysis will inform a separate future randomized control trial to be conducted in Jackson County. [WildfirePreparedness: JacksonCounty]
OPAL Research Team: Rebekah Degner, Alexa Diaz, Allison Daniel
Faculty Mentors: Erika Allen Wolters, Roger Hammer
Project Description: This project will address current opportunities and barriers to workforce housing in Corvallis, with a specific focus on cluster/cottage housing. Current lack of housing for this income level is encouraging rental or purchasing of homes outside of Corvallis. The exploration into cluster/cottage housing options will examine several key research areas centered on the “Missing Middle” a term originated by Daniel Parolek (2010) to define a range of multi-unit or clustered housing types compatible in scale with single-family homes that help meet the growing demand for walkable urban living. Further, the project will address the potential for employer-assisted housing (EAH) to encourage and facilitate employee housing in Corvallis.
OPAL Research Team: James Cogle, Rebekah Degner, Sione Filimoehala, Brianna O'Steen
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Philipp Kneis, Dr. Keith Baker
Project Description: OPAL conducted research to create a more robust understanding of the barriers impeding Oregonians from receiving various available services, with a critical eye to issues that may impede minority populations. The main research goal is to determine better methods of allocating services to Oregonians.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Bernell
Project Description: The OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory (OPAL) will assist EWEB in exploring the feasibility of using organic waste material as a feedstock for generating local electricity supply, including examining both flow control policy and tipping fees. This local electricity supply would be part of an overall Eugene community disaster readiness plan and help protect the operational functions of critical infrastructures, such as police, fire, communications, and hospitals, and promote community resiliency in the event of a disaster.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Erika Allen Wolters
Project Description: OPAL is conducting a biennial survey of Oregon households to determine their attitudes, opinions, and knowledge about household sustainability of water, energy, and food. The purpose of this study is to establish a benchmarking survey that can longitudinally ascertain any change in attitudes, opinions, and knowledge regarding specific household resource use and conservation.
OPAL Researcher: Gretchen Becker
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Keith Baker
Project Description: This study will investigate “procedural justice” – a way of measuring the perceived fairness of outcomes based on a range of criteria, including consistency, bias-suppression, accuracy, correctability, representativeness, and ethicality. Intent is to actively address the challenges that come with unintended cultural bias, identifying whether and why people might perceive unfairness to exist, and considering innovative ways of tackling such issues through professional development or other means.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hilary Boudet
Project Description: Drawing on insights from the study of social movements, the aim of the Renewable Energy Siting in the West Policy Clinic is to understand the factors and processes that drive mobilization both for and against renewable energy facility proposals in the Western US (California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington). Why do some communities respond quickly and forcefully to a siting announcement, while others remain passive? How do individual community members join together to launch a mobilization effort? Why do some community groups turn to more disruptive activities, like protests and demonstrations, while some rely on other forms of political participation, like public hearings and letter writing? The goal of this research is to better comprehend the factors and processes that spark local community mobilization in the context of renewable energy siting.
OPAL Research Team: Dr. Sally Duncan, Logan Adams, Sarah Boege, Rick Colwell, Stephen Naimoli, Ann Scheerer, Court Smith, and Shawn William
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Erika Allen Wolters
Project Description: The OSU Carbon Action Plan evolved out of a collaboration between the OSU Sustainability Office and the OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory (OPAL). However, the development of the OSU Carbon Action Plan is the result of a committed group of faculty, staff and students working together to create a plan that enables OSU to engage in strategic and tactical steps to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net carbon neutrality by 2025. It is therefore important to acknowledge all of those who contributed to the plan’s development, and who spent many hours of their time working through the details of the plan and process for implementation.
OPAL Research Team: Sayard Schultz, Stephanie Saracco, Warda Ajaz, Samreen Siddique, Caitlyn Clark, Haris Mushtaq, and Mohsin Ayub
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Bernell
This project builds on the work completed for the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) by OSU graduate students Starrett et al. in the spring of 2015 that investigated the development of microgrid capabilities in the EWEB service territory. A microgrid can be instrumental in supplying much needed electricity to critical infrastructures, such as hospitals, in time of natural disasters.
This second part of the project , carried out by graduate students from OPAL, working under the supervision of Dr. David Bernell and Dr. Erika Allen Wolters, will focus on researching and preparing reports that addresses the financial, operational, and social opportunities and challenges associated with the development of two technology types that can potentially serve the needs of EWEB and its customers in the event of a medium to long-term power outage: energy from existing waste streams and community solar. Researchers will target EWEB electricity customers that provide critical services to the city and residents of Eugene, (and possibly consumers whose services may not be as essential, but who nonetheless have a critical need for backup generation in order to continue operations.
OPAL Research Team: Sara Miller Chonaiew, Nathan Davis, Sultana Fouzia
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Patrick Emerson
Project Description: The City of Creswell, Oregon is seeking to create a long-term strategic plan for its municipal airport. City officials are looking for a plan that makes the airport profitable, a producer of economic development, a center of community value and possibly, an emergency landing strip to enhance community safety.
Continuing work done by Masters of Public Policy students in summer of 2015, this project resumes development of an airport strategic plan by conducting analyses of plausible options for the airport’s future. Research teams will conduct both a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) assessment and a cost benefit analyses to determine which options are most feasible for the city going forward. Through these analyses, this research seeks to answer questions about the roles of municipal government, economic and community development, public and private ownership, and emergency management services.
OPAL Researcher: Julia McKenna
This brief summarizes a study of the service provider network for LGBTQ+ houseless young adults in Lane, Linn, Benton, Marion, Multnomah, and Clackamas Counties in Oregon. Individual interviews with service providers and LGBTQ+ participants revealed barriers to access and recommendations for improving services. The report identified the importance of safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments, LGBTQ+ knowledge amongst service providers, and LGBTQ+ specific support and advocacy in aiding houseless LGBTQ+ young adults.
OPAL Research Team: Bryan Williamson and Carly Culin
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Erika Allen Wolters
Project Description: Beginning in winter term 2015, OPAL initiated its first undergraduate research program. In partnership with colleagues in Ireland involved in the CONSENSUS project (http://www.consensus.ie/wp/), OPAL undergraduates engaged in the development, implementation and analysis of the Oregon Lifestyle Survey. The survey, sent in two waves to 2,200 Oregonians, explored people’s attitudes, perceived social barriers, behaviors, and policies that encourage or discourage sustainability as it relates to water, energy, food, transportation and consumerism in individual households.
OPAL Research Team: Mai Nguyen, Iana Shevtsova
Faculty Mentor: Court Smith
Project Description: This report is based on the 2014 transportation choices survey data by OSU's Capital Planning and Development group to explore current trends in transportation choices among university employees and students. The survey revealed that for both groups, convenience, saving time, and cost – in that order – are the top incentives in choosing different modes of transportation. The report examines choices among employees, choices among students, and analyzes how the major modes of travel compare in terms of convenience, saving time, and cost.
OPAL Researcher: Ivan Kuletz
Project Description: This document examines the historical and cultural implications of Town and Gown relations as they relate to solving issues of transportation. The paper begins with a bullet- point background summary and moves into a discussion of comparative cases both in the U.S. and Germany. It concludes by examining the situation in Corvallis and OSU. Solutions to both transportation issues and Town and Gown tensions must spring from and speak to the culture and history of both communities in order to succeed. While cultural relevance is a necessary condition for success, it is not sufficient; success is only possible through sustained cooperation between both communities.
OPAL Research Team: Aaron Cochran and Ivan Kuletz
Project Description: While major traffic accidents mostly get reported, a number of student-involved traffic accidents go unreported to authorities on the Oregon State campus. The result is that data on these accidents is limited. This brief investigates the location and types of accidents that students fail to report on the OSU campus.
OPAL Researcher: Trang Tran
Project Description: In Fall 2014, OSU implemented a new on-campus zonal parking permit system. The new generally more expensive system definitely changed parking habits, with implications for neighborhoods around campus, and for some travel choices by students and faculty. During winter term, the OSU Capital Planning and Development Transportation survey investigated OSU employee and student transportation choices. This study reports the impacts of work/study status, gender, living distance and age on the decision of OSU employees and students in purchasing a parking permit. Findings and recommendations are included at the end of the report.
OPAL Research Team: Stephen Naimoli and Nathan Davis
Project Description: The City of Corvallis is experiencing transportation issues as a result of a higher volume of traffic traveling into and out of the city. While Oregon State University enrollment has peaked, the transportation problems facing the City of Corvallis continue. The problems in Corvallis have regional origins and implications, and a regional solution will be required to address them. Transportation policy-making organizations up and down the valley will need to collaborate in order to create a regional transportation policy that produces optimal results. This policy brief defines the transportation region, lists transportation policy actors, and discusses possibilities for collaboration.
OPAL Faculty Researcher: Dr. Court Smith
Project Description: Since it is not always easy to get to Corvallis other than by car, a comprehensive transportation plan needs to link Corvallis residences with neighboring towns, airports, rail service, plus venues at OSU, in our downtown, and to outdoor activities. The goal is to design transportation connectivity that out-competes the car by being safer, faster, more efficient, and enjoyable. Better connectivity would help address problems such as congestion, wasteful use of resources, air and water pollution, climate change, and provide new community development opportunities for the future. One promising area is with autonomous vehicles (AVs): Corvallis and OSU could collaborate on experiments with one of the many companies designing AV systems.
OPAL Faculty Researcher: Dr. Court Smith
Project Description: Corvallis is very difficult to get to and from without a car. As a result, Corvallis streets have increasing numbers of parked cars creating safety problems, reducing neighborhood livability, increasing pollution and greenhouse gasses, and degrading local aesthetics. OSU, LBCC, City, County, School District, apartments, businesses, churches, and others push parking demand onto Corvallis streets. On November 4, 2014, Corvallis residents rejected Measure 02- 88, aimed at creating residential parking districts. An alternative parking proposal is offered for consideration in a revised approach.
OPAL Researcher: Ivan Kuletz
Project Description: As part of their commitment to reducing traffic congestion, parking issues, and vehicle accidents, the idea of becoming a test site for autonomous vehicles – private and public – can seem like both a solution and a potential problem for Benton County, Corvallis, and OSU. This policy brief will explore the concept and provide policy recommendations.
OPAL Research Team: Katie Archambault, Brittany V. Gaustad, Anna Kelly, Trang Chau Tran
Project Description: The on-time high school graduation rate in the Corvallis School District (CSD) was found to be 72.3 percent for the 2009 cohort of interest, which is slightly above the state average but lagging behind the national average. Through the utilization of CSD data as well as interviews with 13 CSD professionals, the present study creates a profile of the students who graduate on time as well as characteristics associated with students who tend not to graduate on time. Findings and recommendations are included at the end of the report. The study makes clear which students need more support in the pursuit of on-time graduation.
OPAL Research Team: Anna Kelly and Patrick Kelly
Project Description: Corvallis is a highly ranked sustainable city, we have multiple solar and wind farms across the state, and we have a large university full of cars and intense energy usage. OPAL researchers recently developed a Carbon Footprint Calculator for OSU and Corvallis residents. The Carbon Footprint Calculator project can help provide information about the factors that lead to a high carbon footprint for individuals and to provide ideas to offset usage. Individuals or teams can take on any one of these projects.
OPAL Researcher: Darrell McGie
Project Description: Renewable energy technologies have garnered a positive connotation in society for the social and environmental benefits they provide. Today both renewable and traditional technologies are reaching market parity. This has been made possible in large part through state and federal public investment mechanisms. Renewable energy project funding is under increasing threat as the availability of public investment declines.
This policy brief considers alternatives that utilize private investment in order to fill the void of lost public-side monetary support. The brief discusses the use of Public Private Partnerships and Master Limited Partnerships in detail.
OPAL Research Team: Zachary Dunn and Ivan Kuletz
Project Description: The concept of a train to shuttle football and other sports fans between Portland and Corvallis for major home games has been tried several times. However, each previous attempt was a "solo" trial put together by individual departments without coordination or sufficient logistical planning. With graduate students examining transportation opportunities and policy, OPAL can provide critical support through networking, data gathering, and analysis. This report outlines the background, concept, history, steps taken, key contacts so far, and next steps forward.
OPAL Research Team: Jos Grandolfo, Evan Hatteberg, Matt Levering, Ian Davidson, Trang Tran, Chris Vanderschuere
Project Description: OPAL researchers worked closely with the OSU app club to create a transit app for the Corvallis Transit System. This app is called "Transport" and it delivers real-time bus information for the Corvallis community. This app is the result of a collaboration between the app club and OPAL. To find out more about how policy informed the development of the app, you can read the policy brief for a comprehensive look at the problem, background, analysis, and policy recommendations. Watch the video below for a short summary of the app.
OPAL Researcher: Joseph Grandolfo
Project Description: In 2011, the City of Corvallis faced severe budget cuts which threatened services and facilities administered by the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department. In an attempt to stabilize funding, the City started to explore the possibility of transferring park and recreation services to a special taxing district. This policy brief, a collaborative effort between the Corvallis League of Women Voters and OPAL, examines the potential impacts of the development of special taxing districts in the the City of Corvallis.
OPAL Research Team: Charles Lanfear, Katelyn Stevens and Mariana Amorim.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Scott Akins, Dr. Brett Burkhardt
Project Description: The disproportionate arrest and incarceration of people with mental illnesses is a significant concern for police, policymakers, and academic researchers throughout the United States. Benton County (Oregon) law enforcement agencies have mirrored this national trend and reported a significant increase in police contacts with people with mental illnesses in recent years.
In this context, this project (1) examined the prevalence of contacts between police and people with mental illness in Benton County; (2) examined some of the potential causes and consequences of the trend; and (3) provided policy suggestions for more efficient and successful contacts between those with mental illnesses and the police.
OPAL Researcher: Rebecca Arce
Project Description: This paper presents and overview of the urban renewal plans of the City of Albany, Oregon. It describes the successes that came about as a result of a broad citizen participation process, and also discusses possible shortcomings.
OPAL Researcher: Darrell McGie
Project Description: This brief discusses uses of biological biomass in two areas of consideration, one in the present and one in the future, and offers a general discussion of current regulatory parameters affecting biological biomass.
OPAL Researcher: Matt Getchell
Project Description: This brief addresses the problem of uneven incentive structures for thermal and electric RETs in the context of Oregon’s biomass industry, and highlights the current gaps in policy while suggesting alternative policy structures.
OPAL Researcher: Conor Wall
Project Description: The Oregon Property Tax Deferral Program for Senior and Disabled Citizens was created to defer property taxes of seniors and disabled homeowners so that they could more easily afford to remain in their homes. OPAL conducted a survey to gather more information on the people the program serves. This brief summarizes the recent difficulties in the program, subsequent legislative responses, and the results of the survey.
OPAL Researcher: Daniel L. Weston
Project Description: The Firewise Communities program was developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as a way to encourage homeowners, property planners and developers, community leaders, and firefighters to develop local solutions to problems caused by wildfire. The goal of this program is to save lives and property by educating people about ways to live with and adapt to wildfires. This study surveys residents with regards to their adoption of firewise behaviors, their perceived risk of future wildfires, whether they believed in climate change, and their overall attitude toward the environment.
OPAL Research Team: Matthew Getchell, Paul Meuse, Elizabeth O’Casey, Abigail Sigmon
Project Description: This white paper describes the potential large-scale impacts of Solar Water Heating adoption, trends in adoption, and relevant policies pertaining to residential solar water heating. It provides a contextual snapshot of SWH in Oregon, and concludes with recommendations and areas for possible future research.