Message from the Vice President
During my tenure as vice president for research and development at The University of Montana, I’ve noticed our University generally garners national headlines in the popular press in one of two ways: sports or research.
With sports we seem to get noticed nationally when our football team penetrates deep into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs or our basketball teams make a splash in the NCAA tournaments. An excellent example is when Anthony Johnson scored a record 42 points in the Big Sky Conference basketball tournament championship game last season and later earned an ESPN Espy Award nomination.
But I’m pleased to note that our UM science enterprise is making a splash nationally as well. Just last December, our John J. Craighead Chair and professor of wildlife conservation, Joel Berger, was quoted extensively in a New York Times article about musk oxen. In a fall issue of Rolling Stone, UM glaciologist Joel Harper (featured in this issue on page 16) offered comments for an article titled “Vanishing Ice Sheets.” And in October, UM bee researchers with an exciting new lead regarding the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder were on the front page of The New York Times, the front page of our local Missoulian and featured on “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” all on the same day. That’s a hat trick of positive media coverage that has rarely happened in the history of this institution.
Such attention reinforces our growing national and international reputation as a dynamic research institution. Many people may stubbornly continue to think of us as a “frontier” university compared to older institutions in the East, and that’s fine as long as they also come to realize we are advancing the frontiers of knowledge.
The magazine you hold in your hands is another tool we use to get the word out about the outstanding research and scholarship taking place at UM. This particular issue has an environmental science focus, and it begins with an in-depth cover story about the same CCD breakthrough mentioned earlier. It describes how Jerry Bromenshenk, Colin Henderson and other researchers on their team discovered a one-two punch of a virus and a fungal pathogen that together may be causing bees around the globe to disappear. We say “may” because a lot of science remains to be done before any answers are conclusive.
Other stories examine evidence that increasing drought is slowing worldwide plant production, the nation’s first climate change minor, newfound cracks at the base of glaciers, the impacts of mountain pine beetles on sensitive whitebark pine, using ospreys to discover mercury contamination and Flathead Lake Biological Station river research. Another feature looks into the sometimes rocky relationships between scientists and journalists and the need for UM’s new Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism master’s program.
People are noticing our growing stature in the science world, and we all need to work together to continue spreading the word.
Daniel J. Dwyer
Vice President for Research and Development
The University of Montana
Message from the Vice President
Campus research generates positive headlines for UM.
UM science highlights from the past year
Mysterious Missing Bees
Researchers find major new suspect for Colony Collapse Disorder.
Downturn in plant production suggests drying world.
Into the Ice
Scientists discover hidden glacial crevasses.
Undergraduate helps study Greenland glaciers.
Beetles take massive toll on the West’s signature high-elevation trees.
Osprey research reveals river pollution.
Scientists study how streams work with floodplains to cleanse themselves.
Translating Hard Science
J-school educates next generation of environmental journalists.