Faculty Research Videos
Below are links to ~10 min videos that describe faculty research programs. These were recorded during the 2018 Freshman Research Symposium put on by the Honors College.
If you are looking for a particular faculty member, hit alt or ctrl "f" and search for their name.
You will need your Net ID and password to watch the videos.
eXtreme Gravity Dr. Nico Yunes, Physics
From merging black holes to exploding neutron stars, the wonders of gravitational waves are unparalleled. Join Dr. Yunes in this adventure to understand Einstein's masterpiece and Nature's most fascinating wonders.
Culturing thermoalkaliphilic organisms from alkaline hot springs: from discovery to
applications Dr. Dana Skorupa, Chemical Engineering, Thermal Biology Institute
Despite progress in our ability to sequence and assemble microbial genomes, the cultivation of new and novel microbes remains low. High-pH hot springs provide an ideal environment to isolate organisms with unique biotechnology applications. Dr. Skorupa will discuss her work that cultivates thermophiles in Yellowstone National Park, with ‘green’ recycling applications.
Astrobiology as an Emerging Science: What can it tell us? Dr. Prasanta Bandyopadhyay, History & Philosophy
Astrobiology, among other things, deals with issues concerning the emergence of life in the universe. Two key theories about its emergence are (i) the Metabolism first and (ii) the RNA World Theory. Since those two theories, unlike Newtonian or the Double Helix theories, are not finished and complete, they provide a new spin in understanding scientific methodology. This talk pertains to this specific feature and contribution of astrobiology.
NASA student opportunities at MSU Dr. Angela Des Jardins Physics, Montana Space Grant
Many science- and engineering-minded students enter college with hopes of building a foundation for a NASA or space-related career. Dr. Des Jardins will discuss how the Montana Space Grant Consortium informs students about jobs, skills, experiences, workforce development opportunities, and connections to NASA opportunities.
Bison Hunters of the Northwestern Plains Dr. Michael Neeley Sociology & Anthropology
Dr. Neeley’s presentation looks at two recent archaeological projects in Montana. Both projects were field schools for MSU students and provided opportunities to learn archaeological field methods and to conduct subsequent lab research.
Looking at Chemistry in Hard to See Places - Surface Science for Energy Conversion
and Environmental Remediation Dr. Rob Walker Chemistry & Biochemistry
Surface chemistry plays a critical role in processes as diverse as electrochemical energy conversion and contaminant uptake by biological membranes. In Dr. Walker’s group, they develop and apply spectroscopic methods to study how surface composition, structure and organization affect chemical reactivity in complex systems.
Engineering in Healthcare and Beyond Dr. Bernadette McCrory Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Dr. McCrory will discuss the use of various engineering and other disciplines to create effective and safe healthcare systems.
Why Flu Kills? Dr. Aga Apple Microbiology & Immunology
Influenza virus infections are common and can be deadly. Dr. Apple’s talk will describe her group’s focus on understanding the arms race between influenza virus and our immune system.
Research Opportunities in Applied Economics Dr. Wendy Stock Agricultural Economics and Economics
Dr. Stock will present an overview of applied economics research and highlight several economics research projects going on here at MSU. There are many opportunities for undergraduates inside and outside economics to participate in faculty-led research projects.
Life in Icy Environments Dr. Christine Foreman Chemical and Biological Engineering
While icy environments were once thought to be lifeless due to the extreme conditions, we now know that these ecosystems are dominated by complex communities of microorganisms. Dr. Foreman’s lab uses new techniques to study life, and what sustains this life, in icy systems in Polar Regions.
Cameras can catch cars that run red lights, but does that make streets safer? Dr. Justin Gallagher Agricultural Economics and Economics
Dr. Gallagher is an applied economist who uses data and economic theory to study human behavior. The central theme investigates how individuals evaluate and respond to environmental risks. In a recent project, they use 12 years of data on every traffic accident in Texas to determine whether video surveillance of traffic intersections prevents accidents and improves traffic safety.
Research and Education: from Computational Topology to CS Outreach Dr. Brittany Terese Fasy School of Computing, Mathematical Science
Dr. Fasy’s research and scholarly activities are split into two domains: (1) theoretical developments in computational topology, spanning across mathematics, computer science, and statistics; (2) CS education. In particular, she has a project developing lesson plans for middle schools throughout the state.
Computational Geometry: Algorithms for processing spatial data Dr. David Millman Computer Science
A large number of problems that we wish to solve with computers are inherently spatial. For example, when you click on a pixel in a 3D scene, the computer follows a ray from your finger into the scene to identify the object on which you clicked. Computational Geometry is a discipline of Computer Science that investigates how efficiently process spatial data. In this talk, Dr. Millman will give an overview of some of the main techniques of Computational Geometry.
Molecular diagnostics for limited resource settings Dr. Stephanie McCalla Chemical and Biological Engineering
Disease leaves a molecular fingerprint on proteins, RNA, and DNA in the human body. Measuring the levels of these biomarkers can lead to early detection and treatment of a variety of maladies. Dr. McCalla will discuss our newly developed methods to simplify biomarker detection for use both inside and outside of the clinic.
Understanding neuronal cell communication through light Dr. Anja Kunze Electrical & Computer Engineering
Calcium signals are an important secondary messenger in brain cell communication. In cortical neurons, calcium signals have been shown to correlate with excitation and propagation of electrical signals and can therefore tell us more about network activity or degeneration. Dr. Kunze’s talk will present how students in her lab use electrical and optical signals to learn more about neuronal cell communication.
Social Marketing as a Healthcare Education Tool Dr. Laura Larsson Nursing
Dr. Larsson will share her approach to providing education in waiting areas to improve health in high-priority communities.
Viruses, Bacteria, and the Fortuitous Origins of Genome Editing Dr. Blake Wiedenheft Microbiology and Immunology
Interfaces of genetic conflict are hot spots for biological and biotechnological innovation. Bacteria use restriction-endonucleases to destroy invading DNA, and these enzymes were exploited for recombinant DNA technologies (i.e., cloning DNA). Today, CRISPR RNA-guided nucleases are blazing a similar path from basic science to profound biomedical and industrial applications. Dr. Wiedenheft’s research continues to mine the interfaces of genetic conflict for enzymes of value in industry and medicine.
Honey Bee Host - Virus Interactions Dr. Michelle Flenniken Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology
The Flenniken lab at MSU investigates the impacts of viruses on honey bee health at the colony, individual bee, and cellular levels. Dr. Flenniken will give an overview of work in her lab and discuss results obtained by previous and current students.
“Mountains and Minds”: Applying the MSU tagline through research in geology Dr. Devon Orme, Earth Sciences
The mountains around us, the Bridger, the Gallatin, and the Madison Ranges, and the rivers running through this region are products of mountain building and the erosion and transport of sediments. Dr. Orme will highlight active research within the field of tectonics—the study of the evolution, structure, and deformation of Earth’s crust and upper mantle.
Why it’s important to Make Things Dr. Bill Clinton, Architecture
Dr. Clinton will talk about his recent creative collaborations and his unique, hands-on approach to education.
Tectonics and Mountaineering: Geologic Research in the High Himalaya and Tibet
Dr. Dave Lageson, Earth Sciences
Geological research in the Greater Himalaya (Everest region) is intellectually exciting and physically challenging. These challenges make the scientific results even more satisfying. Dr. Lageson’s research seeks to understand the structural architecture and tectonic evolution of the highest mountains on Earth, produced by the ongoing, massive collision of India with southern Asia.
Magnetic resonance of complex fluids Dr. Sarah Codd Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Magnetic resonance (MRI) techniques are used to see inside the human body. However, they also allow us to understand liquids and fluids that are important to environmental, geophysical and industrial fields. Dr. Codd will discuss the exciting MRI research at MSU.
Computer Science Research and Academic Opportunities Dr. John Paxton, Gianforte School of Computing
Dr. Paxton will provide an overview of undergraduate research opportunities in computer science. He will also provide an overview of curricular opportunities that prepare students to apply computational skills to other research areas.
Biofilms: Energy, Food, Water & Health Dr. Matthew Fields Center for Biofilm Engineering
The Center for Biofilm Engineering is an internationally renowned center of research excellence at MSU that houses faculty, staff, and students from multiple departments and colleges. Center Director Matthew Fields will give examples of on-going research that students are involved in.
The Dyslexic Advantage Dr. Jeffrey Conger School of Art
Professor Jeffrey Conger will spotlight the strengths of the dyslexic mind and explain how dyslexics’ heightened 3-D spatial understanding is an advantage in several career paths, especially those relying on visual problem solving.
Trickle or treat: Nutrients, energy and microbial processes in glacial systems Dr. Mark Skidmore, Earth Sciences
Dr. Skidmore will describe his research on biogeochemical and geomicrobiological processes in glacial systems, with a focus on microbially enhanced mineral weathering and elemental cycling (C, N, S, Fe). The cold habitats in subglacial systems are also potential analogs for icy systems elsewhere in the solar system, e.g. Mars, Europa and Enceladus. Current research projects involve subglacial lake exploration in Antarctica and Iceland funded by NSF and NASA.
Can we use mobility to help our aging joints? Dr. Ron June Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Dr. June’s lab studies cartilage and joints such as the knee. As we age, these joints typically develop osteoarthritis which currently has no known cure and results in stiff, painful joints. The goal of Dr. June’s lab is to understand how mechanical loading such as walking helps keep our joints healthy. Dr. June will describe his work in many systems from tissue culture to mice to humans, coupling engineering and molecular biology.
Hunting microbes in the wild Dr. Roland Hatzenpichler Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Hatzenpichler group studies bacteria and archaea in their natural communities, which cannot be grown under lab conditions. Examples include extremophiles in Yellowstone, microbes from deep-sea sediments in the Gulf of California, and anthropogenically-impacted salt marshes in New England. The long-term goal is to understand what the biogeochemical role of microbes is within their natural habitat, how they catalyze elemental transformations, and how their activity is influenced by other members of the microbial community as well as abiotic factors.
Science, Environment, Technology, and Society Dr. Michael Reidy History and Philosophy
Dr. Reidy will discuss the close connection between science and society through the life of John Tyndall, a nineteenth century physicist who was also a famous mountaineer. He will show how Tyndall combined his science and his climbing, leading to first ascents throughout the Alps and to the first experimental verification of the natural greenhouse effect. He will also introduce other research taking place in the Department of History and Philosophy, which specializes in the history of science and technology, environmental history, and the history of the American West.
Opening Doors Through Working in the Dark – An Intro to the Applied Research Laboratory
Kendra Cook and Griffin Rowell Applied Research Laboratory
National defense research has long been a cornerstone of technological development in the United States. The innovation of the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community have led to world-changing developments including GPS, the internet, the EpiPen, the space program, and even duct tape. MSU's Applied Research Laboratory allows students to contribute to novel projects while furthering the effort to defend our nation. These exciting projects lead to valuable clearance credentials and real-world experience, but also the opportunity to contribute to protecting the nation. This talk will introduce students to classified research at the ARL, the benefits of a security clearance, and a (unclassified) look into the world of black projects.
Making the livestock of the future Dr. Jennifer Thomson Animal and Range Sciences
Genomic technology is essential for us to meet the needs for food production for our increasing global population. Research in the Thomson lab focuses on understanding the physiology of economically important traits in livestock, so we can more effectively select for those traits.
Studying nature with optical sensors Dr. Joe Shaw Electrical & Computer Engineering and OpTeC
Many interesting questions about nature can be studied with optical remote sensing. Dr. Shaw’s lab develops laser- and camera-based instruments to study nature for applications ranging from climate science to military surveillance. Recent examples include studying the polarization of skylight during the 2017 solar eclipse and mapping invasive lake trout at Yellowstone Lake.
Environmental Engineering research: Exploring microbial processes for water quality
and remediation Dr. Ellen Lauchnor Civil Engineering
Much of the environmental engineering research at MSU investigates beneficial microorganisms whose metabolisms work to remove contaminants from water, wastewater and the environment. Dr. Lauchnor’s research, in collaboration with the Center for Biofilm Engineering, explores microbial processes in mining-contaminated environments, wastewater treatment plants, constructed wetlands, and other environments. They apply engineering principles to design and optimize systems where these microbes are put to use for water treatment and remediation.
Snow, Ice, and Avalanches: A Materials Science Perspective Dr. Kevin Hammonds Civil Engineering
There is hardly anything more ubiquitous to those in Montana than snow and ice, yet many of the fundamental properties of this fascinating material remain poorly understood. In this talk, a few of the more interesting material properties of snow and ice will be introduced, as well as some of the current research being conducted in MSU's Subzero Research Laboratory related to avalanche forecasting, the flow of ice sheets and glaciers, and snow hydrology.
Exploring Food Systems: A Scientific Journey to Enhance Sustainability Dr. Selena Ahmed, Health and Human Development
How does the environment and the way we grow food impact its quality? What are the consequences for environmental and human wellbeing? This presentation will provide a glimpse into the scientific journey of an ethnobotanist to strengthen the sustainability of our food system through research and innovation.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities through Montana INBRE Dr. Ann Bertagnolli, Montana INBRE and Honors
Montana INBRE provides students with research internship opportunities in the biomedical, social and behavioral health sciences at MSU. One unique component of these internships is community engaged research with rural and tribal populations in Montana.
Can mathematics be useful in cellular biology? Dr. Tomas Gedeon, Mathematical Sciences
Dr. Gedeon will discuss his group’s work to develop mathematical methods that help understand complex cellular processes.
The Origin of Supermassive Black Holes Dr. Amy Reines Physics
We now know that essentially every giant galaxy, including our Milky Way, harbors a supermassive black hole at its center. These monster black holes have masses of millions or billions of Suns and play an important role in the evolution of galaxies, but their origin is largely unknown. Dr. Reines’ research focuses on finding and studying the smallest “dwarf” galaxies hosting supermassive black holes, which can provide clues to the origin of such behemoths.
We make yeast rise Dr. Sheila Nielsen Health Professions Advising/Immunology and Microbiology
Spaceflight causes a variety of changes in crew physiology and induces adaptations in microbes, potentially resulting in a compromised human host and more infectious microbe. Dr. Nielsen’s group is studying the opportunistic pathogenic yeast, Candida albicans, to delineate changes that occur in spaceflight to identify crew risk. Their studies include ground-based analyses, simulated flight bioreactors, and experiments on the International Space Station.
Energy Storage on Carbon-Based Surfaces Dr. Nick Stadie Chemistry & Biochemistry
Dr. Stadie’s group focuses on the control of solid-state carbon structure at the atomic scale to achieve architectures that are three-dimensionally connected and possess exposed, homogeneous surfaces. Dr. Stadie produces the resulting materials for applications in batteries, fuel storage (e.g., to store hydrogen), and beyond.