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Shaping the Future of Western Forests

Three researchers with The University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation recently won a prestigious grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a fellowship program that will train graduate students in natural resource management.

The recipients – Diana Six, professor of forest entomology and pathology; Cory Cleveland, assistant professor of soil science; and Solomon Dobrowski, assistant professor of landscape ecology – were awarded the Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowships Program grant earlier this month.

The grant will create a one-time fellowship program at UM for four students, two pursuing master’s degrees and two pursuing doctorates. The students will take a specialized core of courses that will prepare them to holistically examine the role of disturbance, climate change and land-use patterns on western U.S. forests through multiscale analysis. The fellowship students will develop and implement a research project focusing on the effects of mountain pine beetles, blister rust and climate change in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The National Needs Fellowship Program aims to encourage outstanding students to pursue training in areas where there is a national need for the development of scientific and professional expertise. This is the first year the Forest Resources c

Six, Cleveland and Dobrowski will serve as primary advisers to the four fellowship students. Several other professors and natural resource agency professionals will serve as mentors.

Six said they will begin recruiting potential students nationwide in the coming weeks with the goal of beginning the program in fall of 2009.