Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#247)

May 4, 2005 -- From MSU News Service

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Cellists to China

Impressions of Old Faithful, Grand Fountain Geyser, mud pots, Native Americans and wolves will be incorporated into "The Yellowstone Suite," a collection of songs to be performed in China next spring. Ilse-Mari Lee, a cellist and music professor at Montana State University, received an MSU Scholarship and Creativity Grant to compose the suite based on Yellowstone National Park. The suite will be one of several pieces the MSU Cello Ensemble will play at two national conservatories in China. Slides of Yellowstone National Park -- taken by Charlie Martin, a music major from Minnesota -- will be shown during the suite. Lee, as well as MSU faculty members Elizabeth Croy, Greg Young and Brad Fuster will perform in China.

Chasing air

Mexico City has a reputation for having some of the worst air in the world. To see what happens when the air leaves the city and flows into nearby towns, Berk Knighton is participating in a three-year study with Aerodyne Research, Inc. of Massachusetts. Knighton will ride in a mobile laboratory that looks like a Fed Ex truck and help test air quality inside Mexico City and downwind of it. Airplanes will take similar measurements as they fly overhead. Their findings will give government officials a scientific basis for the legislation they propose to deal with the pollution, said Knighton, an associate research professor at MSU. The study should also provide general knowledge about pollution in mega cities.

Organic weeds

Organic fields are often weedier than conventional fields, but organic growers don't seem to mind as much as conventional growers do, said Fabian Menalled, cropland weed specialist at MSU. To see how weeds affect wheat yields, Menalled and MSU weed ecologist Bruce Maxwell are involved in a two-year study comparing organic and conventional wheat fields. They plan to measure diversity, relative abundance and distribution of weeds in plots at Bozeman, Moore and Big Sandy. Then they'll see how different levels of weed diversity and density affect the wheat. Test plots range from one-square meter to regular-size fields. The main weeds in the study are wild oats, field pennycress, green foxtail and kochia.

Elusive mosquitoes

Montanans have no problem finding mosquitoes in the summer, but winter is another matter, said Greg Johnson, an MSU entomologist. One of his researchers traveled around Montana every month of the winter and found no mosquitoes. She inspected areas that were mosquito hot spots in the summer. She searched vegetation. She carried a backpack vacuum cleaner and stuck the hose down mammal holes. Johnson wants to know what happens to mosquitoes in the winter so he can better understand the spread of West Nile virus in Montana. He has already done extensive work on mosquitoes during the summer. Culex tarsalis, one of many mosquito species in the state, is the primary carrier of West Nile in Montana.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or