Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#255)

January 5, 2006 -- From MSU News Service

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Just go home?

Ada Giusti has heard some dramatic stories from people who've immigrated to France. Some hid in commercial boats. One Armenian family hid in an 18-wheeler. All had compelling reasons for leaving their homelands, said Giusti, an associate professor of French at Montana State University. An immigrant herself, Giusti wrote a book titled "Why don't they just go home?" It lets immigrants from 12 countries explain why they moved to France and gives French natives a chance to explain their feelings toward immigrants. Both sides offer solutions. The book is written in French and attracted widespread attention in the French media last summer, Giusti said. She added that it makes sense to ask for solutions from the people most involved in a controversy.

Weed whacking

Newcomers to Montana and people who own 20 acres or less are Carla Hoopes' fastest growing audience. An enemy of noxious weeds, Hoopes of MSU wants to teach those groups how to handle the weeds on their property. To do so, Hoopes and others in the state are developing a pamphlet that will take the Home Depot approach to noxious weeds. That means readers will learn step by step how to deal with weeds, Hoopes said. They'll learn, for example, who can help them identify noxious weeds. They'll discover that mowing, pulling, animals, bugs and herbicides all control weeds. They'll learn how to make sense of technical bulletins. The pamphlet should be available in the spring.

Island interest

Two islands in the Bering Sea have captured the attention of MSU researchers who specialize in volcanoes. St. George attracts a large number of marine birds and has cliffs that rise 500 to 1,000 feet, said Todd Feeley, associate professor of geology. St. Paul, with its more gradual slopes, draws northern fur seals and is home to about 750 Aleuts. Its last volcanic eruption occurred about 3,000 years ago. Feeley and Jeannette Wolak visited the islands in June. They and Meagan DeRaps will return to the islands this summer to learn more about the rocks and how geology affects the wildlife and human settlements. Wolak is a doctoral student, and DeRaps is an undergraduate student at MSU. Both come from Florida.

Hidden gender

Molly Webb is trying to find out how often wild white sturgeon spawn in the Columbia River. Scientists know the range for cultured white sturgeon, but they're not sure about the wild white sturgeon, said the MSU fish expert who has collected samples from 850 white sturgeon in the Columbia River since 2000. Webb is also trying to develop a new way to find out if the white sturgeon are male or female and their stage of maturity. The only way she knows those things now is by looking at the sex steroids in their blood plasma, Webb said. She added that she'd like to develop a non-invasive technique that's less stressful to the fish.

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