Montana State University

Montana Water Center awards grants to Montana faculty and graduate students

February 4, 2016 -- MSU News Service

The Montana Water Center offers opportunities for training, studies, as well as water-related news from around the state. The center is a statewide organization housed within the Montana University System that helps identify, support and disseminate solutions that will help Montanans maintain healthy water resources. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

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The Montana Water Center has awarded eight grants to faculty and graduate students from Montana State University, Montana Tech and the University of Montana to research important questions about Montana’s water, ranging from understanding natural water storage in flooplains to the impacts of glacial processes on nitrogen cycling.

Located at Montana State University, the Montana Water Center is one of 54 federally funded water research institutes in the United States. The center investigates and resolves water problems by fostering water-resource stewardship and education and training. It also sponsors statewide water-related research.

The 2016 faculty awards are $15,000 each, while graduate student awards are $1,000. The grants cover costs associated with each study.

"We’re excited to provide support for our early-career faculty and graduate students across the MUS system,” said Wyatt Cross, director of the center and associate professor of ecology in the College of Letters and Science at MSU. “Each of these projects is sure to generate results that will help to solve some of our most important water resource issues in the state."

Lindsey Albertson, an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Ecology in the College of Letters and Science, received a grant to explore how water temperature and drought influence salmonfly populations that, in turn, can influence the animal and plant life in a particular freshwater habitat.

Rob Payn, an assistant professor with the MSU Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture, will study how beaver mimicry restoration influences natural water storage in Missouri River headwater streams.

Payn believes it is essential to understand how water is naturally stored in areas surrounding rivers and flood plains in order “to support late season stream flows and (to help) mitigate the impact of drought cycles” on agricultural production and other means of consumption, particularly late in Montana’s dry season. This understanding is also critical to effective implementation of the new Montana State Water Plan, he said.

Graduate student studies include topics such as the impacts of glacial processes on nitrogen cycling in the Beartooth Mountains (Jordan Allen, Department of Earth Sciences, MSU); riparian ecosystem succession following fire disturbance (Rachel Powers, Department of Geography, UM); and removal of selenium contaminants using microbes (Neerja Zambare, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Center for Biofilm Engineering, MSU).

For more information, see http://www.montanawatercenter.org/.

Contact: Wyatt Cross, (406) 994-2473 or wyatt.cross@montana.edu