Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#244)

February 23, 2005 -- From MSU News Service

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Postpartum in Montana

Most studies about postpartum depression have been done in large cities with high-risk women, said Bobbi Derwinski-Robinson, associate professor of nursing at Montana State University. But Valerie Kent conducted a study that focused on 16 southeast Montana women who were low-risk patients of private practitioners. Kent found that half the women either had postpartum depression or significant symptoms of it within four to six weeks of giving birth. Kent said further study is needed with more women, but she noted that health care providers tend to underestimate the effects and frequency of postpartum depression. It can hit mothers within a year of giving birth. Kent conducted the study for her master's degree in nursing.

The turbulent sun

A new telescope and special filter have allowed Bozeman High School students, Yellowstone National Park visitors and others to watch tumultuous activities on the sun, said Charles Kankelborg, assistant professor of physics at MSU. In August, for example, Yellowstone tourists watched as a cloud of gas started to erupt and blew off the sun. Viewers have seen interesting filaments around sunspots. Kankelborg and Marty Stuart, an astronomy teacher at Bozeman High, wrote a proposal to NASA that gave them funding for the telescope. The telescope is portable and has a four-inch aperture. It can be used anywhere if the operator has a car battery and inverter. The hydrogen alpha filter allows viewers to see a narrow slice of red light.

Wound work

Some diabetics have foot wounds that won't heal. Nursing home residents may have ongoing trouble with bed sores. To find new tools for treating chronic wounds, MSU is collaborating with Missouri Botanical Gardens, Sequoia Sciences, Inc. in California and the Southwest Regional Wound Care Center in Texas. The botanical garden collects tropical plants from Florida, Texas and Ghana, said Garth James, medical projects manager with MSU's Center for Biofilm Engineering. The plants are turned into compounds that are sent to MSU. James; Ellen Swogger, an undergraduate student from Miles City; and Amy Martin, an undergraduate from Bozeman, are screening about 30,000 different mixtures for their anti-biofilm properties. Biofilms are slimy communities of bacteria. They are highly resistant to antibiotics and may play a role in chronic wounds, James said.

Network for designers

MSU is building a laboratory to help architects, engineers and building designers create more energy-efficient buildings. Expected to be operating by May, the lab in Taylor Hall will be one of five such labs funded by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Architecture professor Tom Wood said the MSU lab will be available to students and professionals who want to test their designs before building them. They'll be able to use a heliodon (a "sun machine"), for example, to see how their designs work any day of the year at any location on the globe. They'll also have classes there. Wood and a representative of the Seattle lab will explain the network of labs during a mid-March tour to Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Missoula and Helena.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu