Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#284)

May 18, 2009 -- From MSU News Service

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Quality caviar

Knowing the best time to harvest fish eggs is important for the caviar industry and for scientists trying to save wild, endangered fish, said Molly Webb, affiliate faculty member of ecology at Montana State University. To help both efforts, Webb and other researchers across the West are trying to develop a quick, less invasive tool to assess spawning readiness in white sturgeon females. Their findings will help maximize yield and quality of caviar produced on California and Idaho farms, Webb said. Their research will also have implications for conservation propagation. Webb and ecologist Christopher Guy head MSU's portion of the project. Mariah Talbott, an MSU graduate student in ecology, analyzes all the caviar samples for egg maturity and plasma steroid concentrations as equivalent indicators of maturity. Their work is funded by the Western Regional Aquaculture Center.

Postpartum depression in military

About 15 percent of all new moms have postpartum depression, but recent research suggests that the figure is 50 to 60 percent in the military, says Kathleen Schachman in MSU's College of Nursing. The rate may be high because many military moms are young and live far from family and friends. Sometimes their husbands have been deployed. To reduce the incidence, Schachman is involved in a pilot project where she will develop a Web-based intervention and be paired with a military hospital. When new moms come in for their six-week postpartum checkup, they'll receive an access code to the Web site where they will participate in an interactive treatment. The first goal is to see if they use it. The ultimate goal is to help military moms on a wide scale by reducing depression symptoms following childbirth.

Beef jerky science

The push for naturally-cured products sent MSU meat scientist Jane Boles to the lab to test four ways of making beef jerky. All used celery powder as a source for nitrates, but one method fermented the jerky for two hours in a smokehouse. Another method vacuum packed the jerky and put it in a cooler for three days. A third method vacuum packed the jerky and placed it in an incubator. The fourth method was a control for comparisons. Boles, a subcontractor on the project, said the results of her work will be analyzed at the University of Wisconsin. She added that some people don't like the idea of nitrites, but they enjoy the color and taste nitrites give cured products. Nitrates are found naturally in many vegetables, Boles said.

Strategic napping for nurses

Research has proven that airline pilots and workers in other industries benefit from naps, says Rita Cheek in MSU's College of Nursing. So instead of continuing to study the effect of naps on nurses, she is looking for ways to incorporate the results of such studies. Two Montana hospitals, in an anonymous survey, said they allow nurses to take naps, but naps wouldn't work in small hospitals with only one nurse on duty, Cheek said. When Cheek and MSU psychology professor Richard Block conducted their 2004 study, they analyzed the effects of a 30-minute nap between 1 and 3 a.m. on nurses working a 12-hour night shift. In a more recent project, Cheek's students conducted a survey to see how junior and senior nursing students in Missoula slept in March. Slightly over half said they slept poorly.

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