Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources

Boilerplate - About UM

(Updated January 2017) Founded in 1893, the University of Montana (UM) is an affiliation of four institutions around the state: the flagship campus in Missoula, University of Montana Western located in Dillon, Montana Tech of the University of Montana in Butte, and Helena College of the University of Montana.

Areas of research and academic excellence include biomedical sciences, health professions, humanities and sciences, education, forestry, business administration, journalism, law, visual and performing arts, and applied arts, sciences, and computing/engineering technology.   With exemplary research and professional training and an international and interdisciplinary emphases, UM-Missoula is home to top-notch researchers and educators, as well as about 12,500 students from around the globe, of which over 2,000 are enrolled in graduate and professional programs. 

UM-Missoula has a solid infrastructure for conducting externally supported research, as demonstrated by the Carnegie Foundation classifying UM as a Research High-Activity institution.  In FY 2016, the University secured nearly $87 million of external funding.  The Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship houses the fully supported Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.  The 18 specialists in this office disseminate funding information, provide assistance with the processing of proposals (including administrative review and sign-off), and assist with the negotiation of external agreements.  Additionally, the office provides the institutional financial management of grants, contracts, and other externally funded agreements beginning immediately after the award. 

Computing / Advanced Networking


The University of Montana provides a combination of centralized and unit-based support for high performance computing, including the following facilities:

  • A Campus Grid Framework that provides access to computational resources centrally supported on the campus.  
  • Condor Computer Clusters which provide access to computers in student labs when those computers would otherwise be unused. 
  • Unit-based Compute Facilities and Support which support specialized computation facilities, software, and staff support for various discipline-specific computing needs. 
  • A Gateway to National Resources in the form of the Campus Grid that provides seamless access to the local resources noted above, but also via external network connections to national resources like the TeraGrid and the Open Science Grid.

Advanced Networking

  • On-Campus Networks:  The University of Montana is served by a campus core network based on multi-10Gb links. On-campus buildings are connected to the core at a minimum of 1Gb, ranging up to 10Gb as needed.  Internally, buildings support a minimum 100Mb switched connectivity to desktops and servers, ranging up to 1Gb or higher as needed. 
  • State Network Connectivity:  The University of Montana participates in the Montana State network, which is in the process of being upgraded to a network with a multi-Gb core and minimum of 45Mb connections to the endpoints, which connects the multiple campuses of each university and connects the universities to the State and University System Office.  

Core Facilities

A core research facility is defined as a staffed research instrumentation facility that provides state-of-the-art technological services at a reasonable price to multiple groups to support diverse research activities. For more information, see Establishing Core Facilities.

A core facility is intended to provide high quality data and analysis to qualifying scientists at the University, as well as to the greater scientific community in order to enhance publication rates, successful grant applications, and teaching and outreach activities.  

Biospectroscopy Core Research Facility

The primary goal of the Biospectroscopy Core Research Facility (BCRF) is to facilitate the research programs of investigators at the University of Montana (UM) by providing state-of-the-art fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy tools to investigate biomolecular interactions at the ensemble-average and single-molecule levels.  The BCRF integrates its research and service activities with other UM cores to provide multidisciplinary approaches and short-term or long-term collaborations, from within and without the University, to address fundamental questions in biophysics, biochemistry and chemistry.

The BCRF carries out an internal research program directed toward the implementation and development of novel technologies for investigating structural dynamics and functional interactions of membrane proteins using time-resolved fluorescence methods.  Specific aims of this research program are: (1) implementation of Nanodisc technology as a tool for single-molecule studies (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) and time-resolved anisotropy) of neurologically important membrane proteins; (2) use of Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM – time-resolved FRET and anisotropy) to investigate macromolecular interactions in vitro and in cells; and (3) development of novel luminescent probes based on organo-metal ligand complexes for assessing the nanosecond-to-microsecond dynamics of membrane proteins.  New core research projects are driven by collaborative interaction with user investigators.nd optimization needs.

Core Laboratory in Neuromolecular Production 

The Core Laboratory in Neuromolecular Production (CLNP) provides researchers with customized small molecule tools, consultation, resources and support to assist and advance their investigations. The CLNP establishes and maintains essential chemistry services for investigators including the preparation, optimization, purification and/or separation of small molecule reagents, probes and/or targets that are focused on neurotransmitter-based structures. Additionally, the core works to synthesize bioactive ligands, cross-linkers, isotope enriched structures, peptides, structure and imaging probes, protein-tags and bioconjugates, library development (target- and diversity-oriented syntheses), and other molecular ensembles. The core also develops drug delivery systems for in vivo and/or ex vivo drug delivery.  

Website under construction; contact Dr. Chuck Thompson, 406-243-4643.

Earth Materials Instrumentation Facility

The mission of the Earth Materials Instrumentation Facility (EMIF) is to facilitate earth materials characterization using X-ray Diffraction for student, faculty, and staff-driven research projects at UM and also to provide contracted analyses to on- and off- campus clients.  X-ray diffraction (XRD) is primarily used to determine the mineralogy of an unknown powdered sample based on the interactions of X-rays and crystals. The powder is exposed to X-rays in a scan over a range of angles.  In accordance with Bragg’s law, the X-rays will diffract through the crystal lattice. The detector produces a diffractogram, recording the angles at which the X-rays are diffracted. Crystalline substances have unique diffraction patterns.  Diffraction patterns of samples are compared to diffraction patterns of known substances to determine the composition of the powder.  In addition to identifying crystalline phases in an unknown substance, XRD can be used to measure the crystal properties and crystallite size of crystalline materials.  XRD can also be used to quantify mixtures of crystalline substances.  

The XRD lab in the Department of Geosciences has two instruments, a Phillips 3720 APD XRD and a PANalytical X-Pert Pro MPD.  Both instruments analyze mixtures or pure powders.  The PANalytical X-Pert Pro MPD is the newer, more widely used and more versatile instrument.  Both instruments can perform qualitative analyses.  The PANalytical instrument will be able to perform quantitative analyses in the near future.


EMtrix is a remotely accessible electron microscopy facility. The fully staffed facility supports diverse research, teaching and outreach activities that require the use of transmission or scanning electron microscopy (TEM, SEM). Principal equipment includes a Hitachi 7100 TEM and a Hitachi S-4700 cold field emission SEM. Both microscopes can be accessed remotely via the internet. The fully equipped specimen preparatory laboratory includes ultramicrotomes, knifemakers, sputter coater, critical point dryer, vacuum evaporators, embedding ovens and light microscopes. Call x4669.  

Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory

The Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory (EBL) is a central laboratory designed to facilitate student, faculty, and staff-driven research projects at UM and to also provide contracted analyses to on- and off-campus clients.  The EBL conducts analyses on environmental materials such as waters, rocks, soils, sediments, biological tissues, microbial cultures, etc. Projects are divided into two categories: self-service and contract analysis. For researchers using the lab in self-service mode, the role of EBL personnel is to introduce the users to the analytical instrumentation and to guide them through the data acquisition and compilation process to ensure a high quality of the final data. Self-service users incur a minimum charge to cover costs for supplies and instrument maintenance. In addition, the EBL offers contract analyses to academic clients, individuals in the private sector, local, state, and federal agencies. These analyses are typically conducted with strict adherence to published US EPA methods. The pricing is structured to generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs for personnel, supplies, and instrument maintenance. A steady stream of revenue from contract analyses has allowed the EBL to replace aging equipment and adapt to changing demands of environmental analysis, e.g. by purchasing several mercury analyzers and a new ICP instrument over the last few years. Lab facilities and instruments are also used for lab exercises within courses in Geosciences, Chemistry, DBS and Montana Tech.

Fluorescence Cytometry Core

The mission of the Fluorescence Cytometry Core is to provide state of the art research instrumentation utilizing fluorescence labeling of cells and tissues as well as scientific expertise to UM researchers to aid them in their efforts to unravel disease processes to ultimately benefit human health.  The two flow cytometers allow cells to be analyzed quantitatively in multiple parameters.  The sorter can sort up to four different populations for further interrogation by other methods.  The Laser Scanning Cytometer marries the quantitative capabilities of flow cytometry with imaging systems.   Services provided include training of instrument theory and use, consultation in experiment design, consultation in data analysis, assistance with experiments and performing sorting experiments. 

Freshwater Research Laboratory at Flathead Lake Biological Station

The Freshwater Research Lab (FRL) is an ecosystem science facility which provides analytical services and technical support to UM researchers, students, and staff at local, state, national and international scales. A recent grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust provided a full upgrade to all analytical equipment and laboratory management tools.

Located at UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station near Polson, MT, FRL offers analyses on water, soil, air, biological, and radiochemical samples across a large spectrum of matrices from precipitation to wastewater. FRL adheres strictly to approved methodology and quality control procedures and participates in federal and international auditing programs to ensure high quality data.

In addition, as a research support facility, FRL works with scientists and graduate students to develop novel experimental and analytical methods in support of progressive and competitive research initiatives.

While offering analytical services on both grant and contract or fee-for-services schedules, FRL encourages students to inquire about taking an active role in learning the analytical techniques used to generate scientific data.

Inhalation & Pulmonary Physiology

The Inhalation and Pulmonary Physiology Core was established in 2010 with the mission of providing state-of-the-art technology for inhalation toxicology. Resources and expertise are provided to investigators, laboratory personnel, and students in the use of inhalation exposure chambers, murine pulmonary function measurements, and air sample collection and analysis. Core resources are available to researchers within and outside the CEHS whose emphasis is on understanding the etiology and progression of acute and chronic disorders resulting from inhalation exposures, developing and testing methods for monitoring external and internal (i.e., biomarkers) exposures in humans, and developing new preventive and therapeutic approaches for airborne gases- and particle-induced disease.

Macromolecular X-ray Diffraction Facility

The Macromolecular X-ray Diffraction Facility (MXDF) operated by the Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics and is funded by an NIH CoBRE grant, University support funds and in future, in part, by user fees. The goal of the core is to provide support, expertise and infrastructure to UM laboratories that use X-ray crystallography as a tool to determine the three-dimensional atomic structures of the biological macromolecules for their research projects.  Core staff offers expertise and guidance on protein expression, purification and crystallization for X-ray crystal structure analysis, provides crystallization of macromolecules and evaluation of crystallization experiments, and measurement of diffraction data from crystals.  Computational resources of the MXDF are available for X-ray data processing, structure determination, refinement and visualization. X-ray diffraction data from crystals at synchrotron sources at single and multiple wavelengths can be measured.   The Facility also provides a resource for training, education and consultation in X-ray crystallography techniques to allow individual investigators of any experience level to initiate and successfully complete a structural biology project for their research.

Mass spectrometry Core Facility

The Mass Spectrometry Core Facility provides centrally managed and maintained facilities essential for a broad array of research in the chemical and biomedical sciences at UM.  It contains three Mass Spectrometers: an Agilent GC/MS, a Bruker microflex MALDI-ToF Mass Spectrometer, and a Bruker-Daltonics ion trap Mass Spectrometer interfaced with a micro-capillary LC. These instruments provide the tools needed to characterize the structural and dynamic properties of biological macromolecules and the components of complex protein mixtures (proteomics), biopolymer sequence analysis, and small molecule characterization within environmental chemistry applications. Specifically, researchers utilize the core to investigate 1) the structure and dynamics of synaptic vesicles; 2) cellular targets of organophosphate insecticides; 3) the replication/transcription complex of arenaviruses; and 4) lipidated virulence factors; 5) fundamental aspects of protein dynamics related to sequence and stability and G-protein activation; 6) protein aggregation specific to the pathology of amyloids/prion proteins and the physiologically-important aggregation of the extracellular matrix protein, fibronectin; 7) the catalytic mechanisms of enzymes involved in tryptophan biosynthesis, H2 evolution and N2O decomposition and 8) engineered thermophilic enzymes for use in biofuel production.  

Molecular Computational Core Facility

The Molecular Computational Core Facility (MCCF) provides computational support and resources to researchers involved in structural biology, computational chemistry, and chemoinformatics. This includes training/consultation in software use, software licensing for several scientific software packages, access to high-powered workstations within the MCCF, and user workstation support for core users. The MCCF also promotes the use of the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE; http://www.xsede.org), an off-campus supercomputing resource that grants free time in a peer-reviewed process. The MCCF offers a small computational cluster for parallel computing.

Molecular Histology and Fluorescence Imaging Core Facility 

The mission of the Molecular Histology & Fluorescence Imaging Core Facility is to assist scientists at the University of Montana and across the state of Montana with projects involving the identification, visualization, and localization of proteins in samples from cell culture and sectioned tissues as well as live cell imaging.  The facility has two components: histology and imaging.  The purpose of the Molecular Histology side of the core is to provide researchers with the resources to prepare tissue sections for histological and immunohistochemical staining.  The Fluorescence Imaging side of the core provides researchers with analyzable images of cells/tissues. The core contains both the equipment and the technical assistance for acquiring and analyzing images taken from both the light and confocal microscope in both fixed tissue and live cells. The newly acquired Olympus FV1000 Scanning Confocal-TIRF Imaging Workstation (S10RR024535) has significantly enhanced the research and educational capacity at the University of Montana and surrounding area.  

Murdock DNA Sequencing Facility

The University of Montana Murdock DNA Sequencing Facility serves the needs of molecular biology researchers at universities, institutions, and government laboratories on the state, national, and international levels. It is equipped with an Applied Biosystems Genetic Analyzer for use in DNA Sequencing and Fragment Analysis (GeneScan). The facility is housed in the Division of Biological Sciences.  Our Mission is to provide rapid, high quality DNA sequencing at very low cost to the investigators, while offering unsurpassed customer service.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility

This Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility provides facilities essential for research in the chemical, biochemical and biomedical fields at the University of Montana. The facility has two NMR’s (500 and 600 MHz Varian) spectrometers, and a Bruker EMX plus EPR spectrometer. The 600 MHz NMR spectrometer is equipped with a Pulsed-field-gradient triple resonance probe and a salt tolerant cryo-probe permitting state-of the-art 3- and 4-dimensional NMR experiments critical for high-resolution structure determination of biological macromolecules. The 500 MHz NMR spectrometer has a broadband probe for 1- and 2-dimensional NMR experiments on small molecules and natural products, a solid state probe that is routinely used for studies on polymers, and a triple resonance probe for sophisticated NMR experiments on biological macromolecules. The EPR spectrometer is used to probe the chemical and structural environment of electrons in metals and organic free-radical molecules. It is a critical tool for inorganic chemists and for biochemists studying metalloenzymes.

Statistics and Applied Mathematics Core

The Statistics and Applied Mathematics Core (SAMC) is designed to help researchers at The University of Montana and wider community of Missoula and the State of Montana with the data analysis, modeling and optimization needs.