Montana State University

Montana Institute on Ecosystems names new director at MSU

October 9, 2017 -- From MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN — The Montana Institute on Ecosystems has named Bruce Maxwell as its new Montana State University director. Cathy Whitlock retired from the IoE director position on Aug. 31.

The Montana Institute on Ecosystems is a Montana University System research institute with hubs at MSU and the University of Montana. The IoE, which was launched in 2011 by Montana NSF EPSCoR, is a community of scholars and partners with a shared vision of advancing integrated environmental sciences and related fields. Whitlock, a professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences, served as IoE director since its inception.

“Cathy has been a fantastic leader of the Institute on Ecosystems, and we look forward to continuation and expansion of the IoE through Bruce’s leadership and direction,” said Renee Reijo Pera, MSU vice president for research and economic development.

Maxwell is a professor in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and is lead author of the agriculture chapter of the Montana Climate Assessment, which was published in September. Maxwell specializes in applied plant ecology, including agroecology, invasive plant ecology and weed biology. He has researched the design and development of sustainable production systems and adaptive management strategies for annual and perennial weeds in crop and natural ecosystems. 

Maxwell is currently studying precision agriculture technologies to improve profitability and sustainability of small grain production in the northern Great Plains. He has also studied crop-weed competition, herbicide resistance evolution and economic thresholds of weeds and invasive species, as well as land use change and the consequences of fire as a disturbance in plant communities.

“Bruce has been involved in many important research initiatives in Montana and is well regarded on both campuses and across the state for his leadership,” Whitlock said. “With support from both universities, the (Institute on Ecosystems) has a bright future in promoting and facilitating statewide interdisciplinary environmental sciences.”

Maxwell said he is excited to lead the Montana Institute on Ecosystems at MSU.

“Dr. Whitlock has set a high standard of excellence for the institute and is responsible for bringing the Montana Climate Assessment to completion,” he said. “I look forward to more cross-university projects with direct benefit to the state of Montana.”

For more information on the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, visit

Contact: Bruce Maxwell, MSU Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, or 406-994-5717