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Tom McCoy


This year, I'm pleased to report that expenditures for research and scholarly activities at MSU for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2000, reached an all-time high of nearly $61 million (see p. 32).

When we say that MSU continues to grow in research, what does that mean? The numbers offer little in the way of rich and compelling details about what "research" and "scholarship" are and why they are so critical to the life of a university and to the state of Montana.

MSU faculty are engaged in roughly 2,000 funded projects, plus many more intellectual endeavors that aren't reflected in the charts and tables. This report exists to share some of the many stories that lie behind the numbers.

For example, how could biologists have known decades ago about some of the powerful new tools that would one day allow them to ask entirely new questions? Global positioning systems, geographic information systems, super computers and related tools have, in many cases, redefined what biologists can learn about the environment. (p. 6)

A similar retooling is taking place in paleontology where CT scans, for example, can show what's inside a dinosaur's skull without cracking it open. MSU's dinosaur paleontology has not only become more high-tech, it has also become increasingly global. Bones and eggs from Africa, China and Argentina as well as Montana are under study by a growing group of MSU experts. (p.10)

Montana producers are well known for their high-quality wheat, barley and beef. With the help of MSU, two of these should see significant added value in the coming decade. The timing couldn't be better, as producers continue to face drought, low prices and uncertain international markets. (p. 18)

Meanwhile, a group of engineers, geologists and architects are reminding us that California isn't the only state that gets the shakes. Montana is the fourth most seismically active state in the nation. MSU faculty are involved in seismic research and public outreach to help spread the word that major earthquakes can and have happened here. (p.2)

This region has also been an epicenter for Euro-Native American conflict, dislocation and forced assimilation. One MSU scholar has listened carefully to the voice of a Native American author who lived during this time period. Her work has shed new light on issues of identity, culture and survival for this author as well as on her complicated relationship with a white male editor. (p.13)

Stories about healthy indoor air, infectious diseases, the development of new products for industry, and the value of a biotechnology education can also be found in these pages.

The common thread running through these projects is the desire to know and to create, to discover new concepts and technologies, and to use discoveries for the advancement of humankind.

It's my privilege to watch this university's intellectual assets grow and benefit those around it, namely the students, citizens and businesses/industries of Montana. My hope for the coming year is for an even more aggressive journey of discovery fueled by an indefatigable quest to know.

Tom McCoy
MSU Vice President for Research,
Creativity and Technology Transfer

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