Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#281)

October 21, 2008 -- From MSU News Service

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Sensing trails

Henry Shovic doesn't plan to hike across the 300,000 combined acres of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in Utah, but he will use remote sensing equipment and previously-collected data to learn about their trails. Shovic, a soils geographer at Montana State University, said he will give his findings to park managers so they can decide if they should move, maintain or remove trails and how to do so. The project is being done through the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit, a virtual network of scientists, educators, technology transfer specialists and land managers. MSU's ecology department is a member of the unit.

Hospital hypothermia

Mild cases of hypothermia are fairly common in patients undergoing surgery, but the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery wants to fix the problem and prevent it in the future. The risk of infection can triple if people are too cold during surgery, says Durward Sobek, associate professor of industrial engineering at MSU. The organization for plastic surgeons asked Sobek to help develop multi-media training materials for healthcare professionals. The project will focus on hypothermia first. Plastic surgeons turned to him because one of his specialties is solving problems and improving processes in healthcare, Sobek said. Keeping patients warm during surgery is easier and cheaper than treating an infection after surgery, he added. Covering patients with a forced-air warming blanket is just one way to increase their core temperature.

Communicating with Libby

Lots of research has been done in Libby because of asbestos, but what's the best way to communicate the results and how do Libby residents feel about research? Effective communication between researchers and the public is the focus of a new project funded by the National Institutes of Health and headed jointly by Charlene Winters at MSU and Kimberly Rowse from the Center for Asbestos Related Disease in Libby. Winters, associate professor in the MSU College of Nursing, said one goal of the two-year grant is to develop a model for researchers working with rural communities. She added that this is MSU's second partnership with CARD. The first project explored the health status of Libby residents who were exposed to asbestos.

New job for weed-eaters

MSU's sheep have a new weed-eating assignment. This time, Patrick Hatfield, professor in animal and range sciences, will use them in a study to figure out the best way to manage a fallow field after harvesting hay. Starting in the spring, Hatfield and his research team will plant a mixture of pea seeds and hay barley seeds at the Fort Ellis Farm near Bozeman. After removing the hay around July 1, the researchers will look for the best way to control weeds before the next crop is planted. The usual options are grazing, plowing or spraying chemicals, Hatfield said. He added that the number of sheep he uses will depend on the weed populations in the experimental plots. The project will cover 45 plots, each about one-third of an acre.

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