Office of Research & Economic Development Team
Vice President for Research and Economic Development
Vice President for Research and Economic Development
Dr. Alison Harmon is Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Montana State University. Prior to this role, she served as Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Development at MSU and remains a professor of food and nutrition and sustainable food systems in the Department of Health and Human Development. Harmon’s scholarship has focused curriculum development and educator guidance around food systems and sustainability. She has provided leadership in the development of innovative curricula at Montana State University including the Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems Degree program; the Montana Dietetic Internship; the campus farm -- Towne’s Harvest Garden; Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts; and the LIFE Scholars Program. She has a passion for leadership development among higher education administrators, widening access to undergraduate and graduate higher education, and integrating discovery into all aspects of the curriculum at MSU. She enjoys the fine arts, culinary experimentation, and ‘getting lost’ in the great outdoors of Montana with her family.
Associate Vice President for Research Administration
Sandy began in the Office of Sponsored Programs in 1999. She received her B.S. in Finance from the University of Montana, her MPA from Montana State University, and became a Certified Research Administrator (CRA) in 2007. She grew up in Bozeman and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Associate Vice President for Research Development
Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Shanahan is the Associate Vice President for Research Development as well as a Professor in the Department of Political Science. As a public policy scholar, her research centers on how policy narratives influence public opinion and policy decisions. She is a co-architect of the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), a popular and internationally renowned policy process theory. Her current application of the NPF is centered on risk communication, specifically the development of a narrative risk communication framework that situates scientific risk information in story form. Her research crosses multiple policy domains—zoonotic spillovers, natural hazards, human-wildlife conflict, and cyber security. She has been awarded over $6.5 million in research from National Science Foundation, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies and foundations. She enjoys skiing and hiking in the mountains of Montana.
Executive Director of MSU Innovation Campus
Mark is passionate about applying innovation to overcome challenges. He founded and named his company Hogback Ventures after a geologic formation of narrow-crested, steep-sloped, hard-to-climb hills to help others clear obstacles and find success.
Mark is a 20-year Navy veteran with a BS from Florida State University in Multinational Business and an MA from the University of South Florida in Strategic Studies. Mark is married to Stephanie, a Hilleman Program Success Advisor at MSU, and they are parents of three children. One son serves in the U.S. Army and another lives and works in Nashville, TN. Their daughter is a recent graduate of Montana State University.
When Mark is not working -- which is rare -- he runs trails. His mission is to change the world.
Research Program & Grants Manager of the Core Facilities
Emily has a passion for developing systems that help other researchers maximize their time and effort, and she is excited to offer her support to MSU’s core laboratories. She holds a B.A. in chemistry from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Montana State University, where her research focused on palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and church community, playing music, and volunteering.
Associate Vice President for Research
& Dean of the Graduate School
Executive Assistant to the Vice President
Mai Allen was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. After she graduated from the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities, she took a hospitality management program in Brussels, Belgium, to fulfill her passion for the tourism industry. Mai worked for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok before deciding to further study in Chicago in 2003. Before moving to Bozeman in 2017, she worked for a Nonprofit Organization as an administrative assistant for nine years. For her role in the Office of Research, she manages the VP’s schedule, planning travel, meetings, events as well as providing support to the VP. When not at work, Mai likes to cook and spend time with her friends and family.
Mary Pat Lorente
Mary Pat moved to Bozeman in 2019 to be closer to her daughter’s family. Before beginning her Montana adventure, Mary Pat lived in Mount Vernon, WA, where she worked as an administrator for a non-profit for 20 years. She has also worked in several different roles at a community newspaper, including reporting, editing and production. Mary Pat graduated from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, with a B.A. in History. She has thoroughly enjoyed learning what it means to be a Bobcat at MSU.
Interim Budget Director
Tawnya Morgan is the Interim Budget Director for the Office of Research and Economic Development. She has expertise in budget analysis, revenue projections, process improvement, and organization development. She is a graduate of Montana State University, where she received her undergrad in Animal Science. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration. What she enjoys most about working at MSU is the opportunity it has provided to meet so many great people. When not at work, you can find Tawnya exploring the outdoors with her family.
Sara is a first-generation Ethiopian American, born and raised in Denver, CO. She attended the University of Colorado Denver and graduated with a BA in Public Health and Demography. Sara just moved from Denver, where she worked as a Labor and Employment Specialist for 6.5 years for the Department of Labor & Employment. Sara has prior experience working in a university setting, so she is very excited to return to such an environment. When she is not working, Sara likes to spend time with good energies, exercising & meditating, trying new foods, going to concerts and mountain hiking.