Daniel Dwyer, UM Vice President for Research and Development, and a new mass spectrometer installed in the Interdisciplinary Science Building
This is my final introductory letter for Vision magazine, as I intend to step down from my position as vice president for research and development at the end of this year. I look forward to next academic year when I will join my colleagues in chemistry and return to the classroom. I also plan to dust off my fly rod and spend more time in Montana’s sparkling streams and mountain valleys that are so dear to me.
As I sit down to write this letter, I have one overriding thought: The research enterprise at The University of Montana is strong and growing stronger.
UM researchers expended nearly $64 million in external grants and contracts in fiscal year 2011. I applaud our incredible researchers, who are able to garner such resources in the current competitive climate. It proves we have some of the brightest people in the world working to expand humanity’s knowledge right here in western Montana.
Two recent awards deserve special mention. The Montana University System recently received a five-year, $20 million grant to strengthen the state’s science and engineering workforce. This award to the Montana National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) required 20 percent in matching funds from the state, and we appreciate Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s efforts to find the match. The grant should bring about $10 million to our campus. With the other award, Stephen Sprang and his partners earned a five-year, $9.9 million grant from NSF to fund UM’s Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics. The center was one of only four Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence across the nation to earn such funding this year. The UM center will inspire new therapeutic approaches to heart disease, behavioral disorders, viral diseases and drug resistance.
UM now has nearly a dozen core analytical facilities filled with incredible instrumentation such as electron microscopes and flow cytometers. The institution now has stepped up to the plate to support these centers with $300,000 per year, and we have started a fee system so that researchers with federal awards pay to use the equipment. This funding structure will support these vital research facilities for many years to come.
Speaking of new equipment, UM received two major research instrumentation awards from NSF during the past year. Bruce Bowler in chemistry brought a new mass spectrometer to UM, and Julie Baldwin in geosciences purchased a new sophisticated electron microscope for studying nanomaterials.
In addition, UM launched a research development program for the social and behavioral sciences, which we identified as areas we wanted to strengthen. This year about $80,000 will be distributed to social and behavioral scientists on a competitive basis. The money will allow researchers to free up time to focus on their research and prepare major funding proposals.
We have a lot going on, and the stories in this issue of Vision only bolster that argument. The magazine addresses UM studies with space probes, plant communities, helpful relationships with bacteria, earthquakes and more. UM is a productive place for science, and our past efforts have set the foundation for future success.
Daniel J. Dwyer
Vice President for Research and Development
The University of Montana
Message from the Vice President
UM works to enhance its research enterprise
UM science highlights from the past year
UM's Window on Space
Researchers help NASA reveal secrets of the solar system.
Planting New Ideas
UM ecologist promotes concepts of plant community interdependence.
Researcher maps earthquake zones to help those at risk.
Historian reveals UM's role in river restoration.
Scientist finds fascinating relationships between insects and one-celled stowaways.
UM professor's company seeks answers for deadly diseases.
Diabetics in study burned fat faster.
Mechanics of Movement
New University researcher studies limits of 'the human machine.'