Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#245)

March 14, 2005 -- From MSU News Service

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Dinosaur explosion

MSU's Museum of the Rockies will triple the area of its dinosaur displays in three phases, said Jack Horner, curator of paleontology. The Hall of Horns and Teeth will open to the public on June 18 and feature fossils from the Hell Creek Formation in northeast Montana. A media center will open during the summer of 2006 so visitors can watch live broadcasts of MSU crews digging for dinosaur bones. The Hall of Giants, the third phase of the Siebel Dinosaur Complex, will open in 2007. It will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the museum. The only other university in the nation that will have a dinosaur museum to compare is Yale University, Horner said.

Culture, science in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has grown into an immense museum of human culture, so don't think of its hotels as mere lodging any more. Think of them as cultural specimens, Paul Schullery, affiliate professor at MSU, said at a recent climate conference organized by MSU's Big Sky Institute. Yellowstone may have started out as a preserve for wildlife and geysers, but it has become a place where science and the humanities are both important, he added. Scientists clarify how nature works in Yellowstone, and their findings influence how people view the park. The 1988 fires, for example, could have spoiled the park for tourists. But visitors started seeing beauty in charred trees after scientists explained the role of fire.

Indian success

Native American students at MSU are studying the response of brain tissue to injury. They are researching strokes, nutrition and eating disorders. MSU receives money from the National Institutes of Health to pair minority students with researchers in the biomedical field, and the results have been successful, said Jim McMillan, physiology professor. At least 10 students in current or past biomedical mentoring programs at MSU have gone on to medical school. Two have gone to vet school. One just completed a master's degree in public health at Harvard University. The current mentoring program -- developed under the Initiative for Minority Student Development -- supports the research of about 14 Native American students at MSU. The program involves Montana tribal colleges, too.

High frequency

The lack of inexpensive, compact power sources has hampered the development of radar systems in cars. It has hindered advances in a wide variety of systems that operate primarily at 100 gigahertz and above, said Jim Becker, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at MSU. To remedy the situation, Becker is setting up a test facility for high frequency devices, circuits and systems. Miniature radar systems and high frequency amplifiers and oscillators are among the items his students will design and test. Between the National Science Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Becker received approximately $500,000 for establishing the state-of-the-art facility.

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