SpectrUM and SciNation Receive Impact Innovation Award

A spectrUM educator shares wildlife specimens with young visitors to the Science Learning Tent at the Arlee Celebration.
Chauncey Means, a scientist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, leads an environmental science activity at the Science Learning Tent.
Chauncey Means, a scientist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, leads an environmental science activity at the Science Learning Tent.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area and SciNation, its advisory group on the Flathead Reservation, have received the 2021 Impact Innovation Award from Advancing Research Impact in Society.

ARIS is a center funded by the National Science Foundation. SpectrUM Director Jessie Herbert-Meny and members of SciNation accepted the award at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, May 11.

The ARIS Awards recognize people and programs that demonstrate excellence in work that aligns with NSF’s goals for broader impacts (the societal impact of research). SpectrUM and SciNation’s award in the Impact Innovation category honors their collaborative, place-based approach to developing and implementing culturally relevant science programming on the Flathead Reservation.

Since 2013, SciNation has partnered with spectrUM on an array of grant-funded initiatives, including an NSF-funded project that created the Kwul ’I’tkin Maker Truck, a mobile cultural makerspace; a Science Learning Tent that pops up at the Arlee Celebration and the Standing Arrow Powwow in Elmo; Science Bytes that bring hands-on science to free summer meal sites; and a reservation-wide Science and Tech Challenge. SpectrUM and SciNation’s work currently is supported by Montana NSF EPSCoR, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Cognizant and GSK.

As part of the nomination, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Chairwoman Shelly Fyant wrote on behalf of the CSKT Tribal Council: “SpectrUM and SciNation’s collaboration has inspired our community to engage in science in all aspects of their life, both in and out of school, and to be curious about science and the world around them.”

UM Broader Impacts Group Director Nathalie Wolfram, who nominated the spectrUM-SciNation partnership for the award, said, “Their collaboration embodies what the broader impacts of research are all about: promoting a sense of belonging for all in STEM and higher education; building trusting, reciprocal partnerships between the University and tribal communities; and putting research to work for the benefit of the public.”

SciNation’s members include Stephanie Gillin and Whisper Camel-Means (CSKT Natural Resources), Dr. LeeAnna Muzquiz (CSKT Health and University of Washington School of Medicine), Michelle Mitchell (CSKT Education), Cindi Laukes (UM Neural Injury Center), Dr. Wren Walker Robbins (Salish Kootenai College) and Aric Cooksley and Amy Vaughan (Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County).

Inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, spectrUM Discovery Area is UM’s hands-on science center based at the newly opened Missoula Public Library. Since 2006, spectrUM has brought exhibits and educators to 73 schools and public libraries in 32 Montana counties, including all seven of the state’s Indian reservations. SpectrUM is part of UM’s Broader Impacts Group, which works to engage the public, including K-12 students, with UM research and scholarship.

For more information, call spectrUM Director Jessie Herbert-Meny at 406-243-4828 or visit https://spectrum.umt.edu/.


Contact: Jessie Herbert-Meny, director, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-243-4828, jessie.herbert@umontana.edu.