Montana State University

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Montana State University
P.O. Box 172220
Bozeman, MT 59717-2220

Tel: (406) 994-4571
Fax: (406) 994-4102
Location: 437 Culbertson Hall

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Leading Research

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies MSU as one of 108 research universities with "very high research activity." This top tier classification--out of more than 4,600 institutions--recognizes the significant opportunities for research, scholarship and creative work at MSU. Other prestigious institutions in the highest research classification include Harvard, MIT and University of California, Berkeley.   Related Information
Brian Bothner, a faculty member in MSU's Center for Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to understand how viruses assemble themselves, enter cells and seize control. He and his collaborators will use that knowledge to build viruses that can carry genes to specific targets.  Related Information
Scholars at Montana State University set a new record, successfully competing for $109.5 million dollars in research funding during the fiscal year ending June 2010. Research money is critical to providing students and faculty with cutting-edge technology and resources to make breakthrough discoveries. Major sources of federal funding in fiscal year 2009 were the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Related Information
Five MSU math professors received a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study how instructional coaching helps elementary schools teach math to students across the country. The grant comes from the NSF's Discovery Research K-12 program, and only 15 percent of the proposals were funded.   Related Information
Health and Human Development professor John Seifert leads a variety of skiing-related research projects focused on muscle function and fatigue; physiological studies, such as the effects of dehydration; the effects of sports drinks and nutritional supplements; and how equipment - such as powder skis - affect the bodies of people who are using them.   Related Information
MSU graduate student James Meadow has received the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship to study soil crusts near hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. Meadow is working on his doctorate in ecology and environmental sciences and the Evison fellowship encourages scientific and conservation-related research in Grand Teton and throughout the Greater Yellowstone, and will provide Meadow $10,000 over two years.   Related Information
MSU researchers and students in electrical and computer engineering developed and successfully prototyped a new antenna that provides users a stronger, more reliable signal enabling better communication in rugged terrain while on the move. The antenna has potential to help emergency works or soldiers in remote areas. Funding for the project came from Advanced Acoustic Concepts, the Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Navy through the Small Business Innovation Research Program.   Related Information
MSU chemists have determined the structure of an intermediate form of a unique enzyme involved in many fundamental biology reactions. The discovery could lead to understanding life in ancient ecosystems and has implications for alternate fuels and fighting pollution. The paper was accepted for publication in Nature, an international scientific journal that publishes peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology.   Related Information
Solar physicists at Montana State University helped design and calibrate four telescopes that launched from the Kennedy Space Center in February of 2010. MSU's involvement in the Solar Dynamics Observatory helps to advance science and create opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to become involved in research. Piet Martens, an MSU research professor, and David McKenzie, an associate research professor, helped design the telescopes with partners at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.   Related Information
Jim Wiley, assistant research professor in the Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology, has received a $275,000 grant from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The funding will allow Wiley to continue researching a new way, using nanomaterials, to fight influenza and other respiratory infections caused by viruses. The grant was made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Related Information
Mark Young, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, has received a $1.37 million grant from the National Science Foundation to identify and categorize viruses from extreme environments around the world, primarily very hot and very acidic places. The results of Young's work will be added to the National Institute of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information's database.   Related Information
MSU scientists led by Gary Strobel received a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to work with collaborators to conduct a detailed study of the fungus Gliocladium roseum, which naturally produces gases that contain many of the same hydrocarbon compounds found in petroleum-based diesel fuel. The ultimate goal is to determine whether the production of G. roseum has the potential to produce large volumes of biofuel at an affordable price.   Related Information
Scientists in MSU's Energy Research Institute have discovered that baking soda is a chemical trigger that dramatically increases algae's production of the key oil precursors for biodiesel. The discovery, made by professor emeritus Keith Cooksey from microbiology, and professor Brent Peyton and graduate student Rob Gardner, both from chemical and biological engineering, may enable biofuel companies to increase production in less time.  Related Information
Led by MSU earth sciences professor Cathy Whitlock, researchers from MSU, the University of Colorado, the University of Idaho and collaborators at the USDA Forest Service will study fire and climate change in sensitive forests in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand with a $3.85 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The project will help inform fire management and educate fire scientists and managers worldwide.   Related Information
Using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), a team of MSU researchers discovered flourishing colonies of rare moss, worms and various forms of shrimp that live near geothermal vents at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake. The team was led by John Varley, former director of Yellowstone Center for Resources at Yellowstone National Park, and Tim McDermott and Bill Inskeep, both from the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences and MSU's Thermal Biology Institute.   Related Information
The Center for Biofilm Engineering is considered the world's premier institute for the study of microbial biofilms, or slimy bacteria. These films are costing industry billions of dollars annually in fouled pipelines, clogged oil wells and contaminated water systems. Teams of scientists, industry leaders and students from chemistry, biomedical sciences, statistics, microbiology and engineering work together to find solutions to biofilm problems. Montana State University's Center for Biofilm Engineering edged out Harvard University by publishing more biofilm-related papers in 2004 and 2005 than any other institution according to the ISI Web of Science database. Harvard ranked second in both years.
MSU was highlighted on a list of 10 smaller universities that are developing new technologies through academic research, licensing the inventions and helping launch businesses that use them. The report, prepared by Innovations Associates, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.   Related Information
MSU researchers contributed to the discovery of a new bacterium living in microbial mats near hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. The discovery has implications for renewable energy because of the bacterium's ability to turn sunlight into chemical energy. The project was funded by the NSF, the Department of Energy, the NASA Exobiology Program and the Thermal Biology Institute.   Related Information
MSU was selected as the sixth university-based Wind Application Center by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab program. The long-term goal of this nationwide program is to promote wind as a clean, viable and sustainable energy source for today and tomorrow.
History Channel's "Modern Marvels" program filmed MSU plant science professor Gary Strobel for an hour-long program that aired in fall 2008. The episode highlighted Strobel's work to find medicinally important fungi within plants that has led to cancer-fighting compounds, antibiotics and other bioactive compounds and dozens of patents.   Related Information
MSU celebrated the opening of its new SubZero Science and Engineering Research Facility in October 2008. The $2 million facility boosted MSU's already well-known reputation as a center for cold regions research. This area of research includes topics as diverse as the causes of avalanches, the characteristics of organisms living in Antarctic ice and the effect of ice on road surfaces in winter  Related Information
iTunes, Apple Computers popular digital media site, has named a Montana State University-based Web site that allows free downloads of science and nature films to its Best of 2008 podcast list. "Terra: The Nature of Our World,", was named Apple iTunes Best Podcasts of 2008 in the classics category. Other winning podcasts in the category include "Meet the Press," "Sesame Street," Freeskier Magazine and "Hidden Universe," among others.   Related Information
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $66.9 million to the MSU-led Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership to fund a large-scale carbon sequestration project that will inject a million tons of CO2 into sandstone beneath southwestern Wyoming. The Big Sky partnership is planning to demonstrate that underground geologic formations can store large volumes of CO2 economically, safely and permanently.   Related Information
Montana State University researchers published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the impact of wolves on elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wolves have caused elk to change their behavior and foraging habits so much so that herds are having fewer calves, mainly due to changes in their nutrition.   Related Information
MSU scientists have received a $3 million grant from NASA to design an optical system for a telescope that could be launched on a rocket in 2012. The IRIS team will design its telescope to face the sun at all times, orbit the Earth at least three years and gather images from the sun's chromosphere and transition region.   Related Information
The MSU College of Nursing received a $814,021 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to prepare nurses to be family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Most of the state has been designated as a mental health professional shortage area, and the program will help to prepare advanced practice nurses to deliver psychiatric mental health care to a diverse range of families and individuals living in rural communities.   Related Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health, awarded MSU a $6 million grant over five years for three new research projects in the Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology. The three projects, headed by Mark Jutila, David Pascual and Michele Hardy, focus on understanding the mechanisms that make alternative and complementary medicines work or not work.   Related Information
A $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation was awarded to business professor Laura Black and her team of researchers to expand their study of virtual organizations. The team will continue its study of how virtual organizations - or businesses and organizations made up of people who are not physically in the same place - can be more effective.   Related Information
In November 2008 the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University installed one of the largest, most sophisticated motion-based driving simulators in the United States. Equipped with a 240-degree arc of projector screens, surround sound and vehicle bodies mounted on a motion platform, the simulator enables scientists to test subjects' reactions. Learning about how drivers react to traffic simulations is important because car crashes are the chief cause of fatal injuries in rural areas.   Related Information
Researchers at MSU's Western Transportation Institute received a national award in 2008 from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, which honors "innovative, effective and influential achievements in transportation systems and technology." The award recognized research projects related to sensors systems that warn motorists of animals in the roadway.   Related Information
MSU plant geneticist and pathologist Li Huang is one of several faculty protecting Montana from threats to wheat crops. Huang is part of a global effort to develop varieties of wheat resistant to a devastating fungus, stem rust UG99, which was first discovered in Africa and is slowly creeping towards the United States. Ongoing efforts at MSU help to protect Montana farmers and the food supply.   Related Information
MSU paleontologists published a study in "Science" suggesting the possibility that several types of male dinosaurs mated with multiple females, then incubated and protected the eggs in one large clutch. Scientists came to that conclusion after examining the clutch size and internal bone structures in Troodon, Oviraptor and Citipati dinosaurs, according to professor David Varricchio, lead author of the paper.   Related Information
The Hollywood movie remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," which opened Dec. 12, 2008, contains equations from a paper published by the late MSU physics professor Bill Hiscock and his graduate student Hector Calderon. The original scene in the 1951 film featured equations from Einstein's theory of gravity, and the new movie needed equations that represented cutting-edge knowledge in 2008.   Related Information
Antarctic researcher and professor John Priscu co-authored an article in the April 2009 issue of "Science." The article describes an ancient ecosystem found below an Antarctic glacier that has survived millions of years by transforming sulfur and iron compounds for growth. This discovery could explain how life might exist on other planets and serve as a model for how life can exist under ice.   Related Information
MSU scientists conduct extensive research in Yellowstone National Park, and a new discovery was highlighted in the June 2009 edition of the "Journal of Virology." The cover of the journal featured a photograph of the unusual effects on a cell infected by a virus. Montana State University researchers were the first to view the virus, which they collected from a boiling, acidic spring in Yellowstone. The article described the researchers' findings about the life cycle of the virus Sulfolobus turreted icosahedral virus (STIV).   Related Information
MSU is one of 14 institutions funded by NASA's Astrobiology Institute, an interdisciplinary consortium that studies the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. Each team contributes a particular strength and research focus. Much of MSU's research relates to the unique chemistry found in Yellowstone and other extreme environments.   Related Information
Ten of Montana's 25 recipients of NASA scholarships and graduate research fellowships attend Montana State University. Montana students received more than $143,500 in for the 2009-10 school year from NASA's Montana Space Grant Consortium and the EPSCoR programs.   Related Information
Cathy Cripps, professor of plant sciences and plant pathology at MSU, is working to combat the decimation of the whitebark and limber pine tree populations by exploring how symbiotic fungi can enhance the pines' health. The pines have declined from 40 to 60 percent across their range, and when the trees die, the fungi associated with them also die.  Related Information
Sandra Kuntz, an assistant professor in Montana State University's College of Nursing, won a $350,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her work will help to identify and reduce infant/child mortality and morbidity related to environmental toxins on Montana's Fort Peck Reservation. Her project will be a community-based participatory research project that will involve the Fort Peck community from beginning to end.   Related Information
With a $1.65 million grant from the Department of Energy, microbiologist Matthew Fields and his students study the physiology and behavior of microbes. Rather than studying monocultures of microbes in a lab, Fields' team is working to understand microbes and the complex systems and communities they form naturally. His studies have implications for energy production, climate change and even soil contamination.   Related Information
Darla Goeres, a researcher in the Standardized Biofilms Methods Laboratory at MSU's Center for Biofilm Engineering, received a five-year $1.7 million contract from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new ways to measure how well antimicrobial products perform against biofilms. Biofilms are the extremely common communities of bacteria that form on most wet surfaces. They range from the plaque on teeth to the slime on streamside rocks to the sludge that clogs pipes.   Related Information
Gary Caton, Greg Durham, Frank Kerins and James Lin, the College of Business' four tenure-track finance professors, have all been published in top-tier finance journals, including the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, and Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis. The vast majority of finance faculty members around the world - even those supported by PhD student research assistants - have not met the rigors of these journals.
International polar expert John Priscu spent his 24th season in Antarctica in spring 2008. This was the first time Priscu has visited during the "Polar Night" or Antarctic winter when daylight disappears and temperatures can reach minus-55 degrees F. Funded by the NSF, Priscu and his 17-member team set out to get "a more complete picture of what's happening in the lakes and liquid water that exist under Antarctica's glaciers."   Related Information
A three-year, $750,000 NASA grant was awarded to electrical engineering researchers to fund their work on using lasers to study the Earth's atmosphere and climate. MSU is one of only a dozen universities around the country to receive one of the EPSCOR grants. The funding will go toward building a high-spectral resolution lidar system to study clouds and particles suspended in the atmosphere.   Related Information
The Center for Invasive Plant Management, under the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, at Montana State University will be coordinating a six-state project to detect and manage invasive plants and create a county-level map of saltcedar, a nonnative plant species threatening important riparian systems across the West. The center will be coordinating work for the Missouri River Watershed Coalition, which includes Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
In May 2008, scientists in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry published new research on Steap3, a protein involved in regulating the body's absorption of iron. Associate Professor Martin Lawrence and doctoral candidate Anoop Sendamarai created the first three-dimensional maps of the atoms that make up Steap3, which could allow pharmaceutical companies to design drugs to regulate iron levels in the blood.   Related Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health, awarded MSU a $6 million grant over five years for three new research projects in the Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology. The three projects, headed by Mark Jutila, David Pascual and Michele Hardy, focus on understanding the mechanisms that make alternative and complementary medicines work or not work.   Related Information
Professor of Paleontology David Varricchio was on a team that discovered an 85-million-year-old dinosaur, Aerosteon riocoloradodensis. The find was particularly important because the bones showed evidence that the meat-eating dinosaur from Argentina had a bird-like breathing system.   Related Information
MSU appeared in a Popular Science article titled "Smartest Schools: A Geek's Guide to Colleges" in September 2008. The article highlighted MSU for its dominance in cold regions research including its sub-zero laboratory, avalanche research and exploration of 250,000-year old ice cores. Other schools featured were Cal Berkley, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Cornell.  Related Information
MSU College of Engineering's Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE) received a four-year $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study ways to heal chronic wounds, which place diabetics at much greater risk of undergoing foot or lower-leg amputations. One study found that 80% of diabetics who underwent such an amputation died within five years. CBE started chronic wound research in 2004 after the medical director of a wound care center in Texas asked the CBE to help him determine whether biofilms play a role in patients' persistent wounds. Undergraduate research provided the data used to win the grant.   Related Information
MSU was selected as one of four new members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in 2007 and will receive approximately $6 million during the five years of the grant. MSU scientists with the newly formed Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center will join NASA in studying prebiotic chemistry and the role of iron-sulfur minerals in the transition between the nonliving and living world.   Related Information
B-Rex continues to amaze researchers and grab headlines: Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies and several other MSU researchers have published another discovery in the prestigious journal Science. The Tyrannosaurus rex that became famous for yielding soft tissue, blood vessels and tissue typical of a female bird has now produced 68-million-year-old protein. The discovery is significant for several reasons. It strengthens the theory that dinosaurs and birds are related. The instrument and techniques the researchers used offer a better way to study fossil preservation and evolution in the future. This breakthrough also opens the door for more discoveries and may have implications for the medical field. The finding made headlines around the world and was featured by The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC and numerous other press agencies.   Related Information
A $1 million grant from the U.S. Dept of Energy was awarded to a group of faculty scientists, Trevor Douglas, John Peters and Mark Young, to pursue a chemical reaction that would produce hydrogen inexpensively.   Related Information
A new barley variety and product designed to improve human health resulted from MSU research on high beta-glucan barleys. MSU graduates at WestBred in Butte developed BGLife Barley (TM), which has three times the beta-glucan soluble fiber needed to qualify for heart healthy FDA labeling.   Related Information
MSU researchers from the College of Engineering have received $1.14 million from NASA to study aerosols and water vapor in the atmosphere. Kevin Repasky and Joseph Shaw, electrical and computer engineering faculty members, are collaborating on the remote-sensing project with two physics faculty members and two graduate students. The team will design and build two devices and will buy, install and maintain two others. Their data will inform climate modeling and help scientists understand the complex interaction of aerosols, which may cause a cooling effect, and greenhouse gases that cause warming.   Related Information
The Medical Biofilm Laboratory team at MSU's Center for Biofilm Engineering published several significant findings in industry publications including Wound Repair and Regeneration and BMC Microbiology. Findings related to chronic wounds and presence of bacteria in wounds may help to improve diagnosis and treatment.
Research findings from the study of upper body power and ski pole design is helping athletes on the MSU ski team as well as the Bozeman Ski Foundation improve performance. With the use of a custom-built ergo meter, exercise physiologist in the health and human development department Dan Heil investigated the relationship of athlete power and pole design.
MSU was recently accepted as the 42nd member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, an international group devoted to gravitational waves. The waves, when detected, will offer a new way to explore and understand the universe according to Neil Cornish, an astrophysicist who leads the Montana Gravitational Wave Astronomy Group. LIGO is short for Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatories.   Related Information
Three Montana State University physicists who do basic research relating to the military have been awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Defense. Alan Craig, Yves Idzerda and Randy Reibel will use the money for separate projects that deal with surveillance, computer memory and hostile missiles and will involve 13 undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at MSU.
The Thermal Biology Institute offers multidisciplinary programs for graduates and undergraduates in Yellowstone National Park, which exhibits one of the most diverse geothermal features on the planet. A Montana State University graduate student has found a new protein in an organism that lives in the harsh environment of acidic hot springs. The protien detoxifies molecules, protects DNA and is the first of its kind found in these high-temperature microorganisms. MSU's research presence in Yellowstone attracts scholars and students from all over the world.   Related Information