Montana State University

College of Letters and Science

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172360
Bozeman, MT 59717-2360

Tel: (406) 994-4288
Fax: (406) 994-7580
E-mail: lands@montana.edu
Location: 2-205 Wilson Hall

Dean:

Nicol C. Rae
nicol.rae@montana.edu

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Discover: Leading Research and Creativity

Accomplished faculty researchers interact with students in the College of Letters & Science to combine a strong background in scientific principles, theory, ethics, and techniques with the opportunity to explore new concepts and ideas, some with the potential to adddress significant global issues.

The Science of Political Storytelling
Elizabeth A. Shanahan, associate professor of political science, conducts research under the rubric Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), which focuses on the influence of political storytelling on policy decisions. She explains that political narratives inform people about which relationships matter, whom the relevant actors are, where to assign blame, and, perhaps most importantly, what parts of reality we should pay attention to and what parts should be ignored. Read more...
 
     
The Memories of Others Can Be Contagious
Michelle L. Meade, associate professor of psychology, examines the impact of social factors on individual memory. When remembering an event, we rely on our own internal representation of the event, and we may also turn to others for additional information about the event through sharing stories and reminiscing. However, others’ memories are not always accurate and may include exaggeration or errors. Read more...
 
     
Social Issues and Policy-Making by the Numbers
D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, takes students beyond numbers, graphs and pie charts with his myth-busting research, getting to the heart of social issues like medical marijuana laws, risky sexual behavior and how state-set high school dropout ages affect juvenile crime. Anderson’s latest research led him to look at the societal impacts of medical marijuana laws. Read more...
 
     
Statistician Helps Researchers from Montana to Antarctica Examine Diverse Ecological Questions
From her office in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Megan Higgs, assistant professor of statistics, collaborates with people across campus, and the country. She helps researchers refine their research questions and effectively design studies before data are collected. After data collection, she helps researchers appropriately analyze data and interpret results. Read more...
 
     
Anthropologist’s Research Leads to New Insights Into the Evolution of the Human Brain and Human Behavior
When searching for answers to some of the biggest questions in the field of anthropology today, it helps to have a big study site. That’s just one aspect that Jack Fisher, associate professor of anthropology, appreciated about his recent nine-month sabbatical in South Africa, where he collaborated with John Parkington of the University of Cape Town to investigate the evolution of nomadic hunter-gatherers, and their encampments, over millions of years.  Read more...
 
     
Cooley Lab Renovation Advances L&S Biomedical Research
In September 2012, a $17 million renovation of MSU’s Cooley Lab was completed. This project, which transformed the 52-year-old building into a state-of-the-art research facility, will help advance one of the university’s major strengths: biomedical research. Of the $100 million MSU wins annually in competitive grants for research, roughly $40 million of that goes to studying everything from influenza, to heart disease, to using parts of viruses for pinpoint delivery of drugs, to preventing infectious diseases, to developing safeguards against bioterrorist attacks. Read more...
 
     
Mountains and Minds
In the spring of 2012, faculty and students from the Department of Earth Sciences were involved in one of the largest—and most closely followed—Mount Everest expeditions in recent years. The expedition was dubbed the Everest Education Expedition (EEE) for its emphasis on science and education. David Lageson, professor of structural geology, pioneered the geological research component of the expedition. Graduate student Travis Corthouts served as the MSU education outreach correspondent and satellite technician for the expedition. Read more...
 
     
MSU-led team makes discoveries about major event in history of complex life
A team of scientists led by MSU has discovered the "when" of a major event that led to the evolution of complex life on Earth. Eric Boyd and five other scientists from Montana and Arizona have hypothesized that between 1.5 billion and 2.2 billion years ago, bacteria and single-celled organisms called archaea started producing nitrogen in a useable form. It was the first time that biological processes were involved, and it allowed higher forms of life to flourish. Read more...
 
     
Breaking ground
David Varricchio is an MSU paleontologist with a reputation for extracting ground-breaking theories about dinosaurs. He has discovered that some dinosaurs made great dads, for example. He has found burrows that revealed that some dinosaurs lived underground. He has made a number of findings that make him part of an elite group of international experts focused on dinosaur eggs and babies. Read more...
 
     
MSU team solves mystery of missing sunspots, helps predict space weather
Solar scientists from around the world were puzzled when sunspots recently disappeared for more than two years, but a former Montana State University physics graduate student and two collaborators have solved the mystery. In the process, they found a way to predict the next lapse in solar activity, which will help people who oversee communication systems or plan long trips into space. Read more...
 
     
MSU team returns to "little slice of frozen Eden" to study seals
MSU faculty and students monitor Weddell seals in Antarctica, in the most pristine ocean left in the world. The researchers said theirs is one of the longer running animal population studies and the longest marine mammal study in the southern hemisphere. It not only focuses on changes in the Weddell seal population, but also yields broader information about the workings of the marine environment. Read more...
 
     
Jessi Smith receives NSF grant to study STEM fields
Psychology professor Jessi L. Smith received a $217,859 grant from the National Science Foundation for a study that may provide insights into how to help promote success for  Native American students studying science, math and engineering. Native Americans, particularly female Native Americans, are under-represented in the fields and Smith hopes to provide insights on how Native women going into the fields can stay and become successful. Read more...
 
     
MSU to figure out tricky viruses, adapt for gene therapy
The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Brian Bothner, a professor in chemistry & biochemistry, a four-year grant 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, such as a healthy gene to a heart muscle, for example, or an optic nerve. Read more...
 
     
MSU historian heads international project on 19th century scientist
The NSF awarded Michael Reidy, a professor of history, $580,000 for a three-year project to finish transcribing 8,000 letters by scientiest John Tyndall, publish them and hold an international conference. The project will involve graduate students and scholars from 12 universities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Read more...
 
     
Greater Yellowstone elk suffer worse nutrition, lower birth rates due to wolves
Scott Creel, a professor in ecology, was the lead author of a study that found that wolves have caused elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to change their behavior and foraging habits so much so that herds are having fewer calves, mainly due to changes in their nutrition. The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Read more...
 
     
Helping Montana families fight obesity
Wes Lynch, a professor in psychology, is an investigator on a research project that may help shape future health programs for rural areas around the country. The $1.5 million four-year grant from the USDA will design, conduct and assess a healthy-living program that offers information and opportunities for improving physical activity, nutrition and body image to parents in rural areas. Read more...
 
     
Scientist uses sedimentary record to uncover planet's past
Cathy Whitlock, a professor in earth sciences, is currently researching the succession of plants to colonize Yellowstone after the glacier retreated. Pollen grains provide clues to when and what plants first arrived after ice recession and how the vegetation responded to subsequent climate change and human activities. Read more...
 
     
Using math to fight disease
Tomas Gedeon, a professor of mathematics and a member in the Center for Computational Biology, is involved in the new field of systems biology which combines computational, modeling and analytical tools with traditional experiments to understand how networks of genes and proteins function together. He works to untangle the interactions that determine the health of our cells. Read more...