University of Montana VISION 2009 – Research, Innovation & Scholarship

In my role as vice president for research and development at The University of Montana, I’m constantly amazed by the sheer breadth of scientific and academic inquiry taking place at this institution. Here in Western Montana, we are involved with bees sniffing out land mines, a NASA spacecraft mapping the edge of the solar system and the discovery of a drug that diminishes stroke damage in an animal model. The list of special projects goes on, revealing UM’s growing importance as a research institution.

Campus projects now expend more than $67 million annually. Most funding comes from federal granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy, to name just a few. This funding generates jobs that have become an important component of the local and state economies. They also finance laboratories that, in addition to doing outstanding science, become important, hands-on places of learning for UM undergraduate and graduate students. Our research endeavors allow us to train the next generation of scientists beyond the classroom. With campus brimming with ideas that push the frontiers of knowledge, it’s my pleasure to share a few of them with you in this issue of Vision, our annual research magazine.

The cover story features research Professor Brent Ruby and his Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism. Working either in a recent addition to McGill Hall or in a mobile laboratory Airstream trailer, Ruby and his team are searching for the outer limit of energy expenditure among human beings. This quest recently took them to California’s 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon and ultimately may improve safety and performance for extreme athletes, firefighters and U.S. troops.

Other stories in this issue involve pressing environmental issues. There is the movement of contaminated sediment after the historic removal of Milltown Dam upstream from Missoula and the fact that decades of vermiculite mining near Libby have laced the surrounding trees with hazardous asbestos.

Another article examines groundbreaking UM work to unearth an ancient “housepit” village in British Columbia, while another highlights work by a faculty member to develop an improved form of electronic note-taking. One story reveals how moose had to relearn their fear of wolves when the predators were reintroduced to Yellowstone, and another feature describes a UM law professor’s work to reveal the original intent of the Constitution using other documents that were contemporary to the Founding Fathers.

The sheer variety of research and scholarship being conducted at the University never fails to amaze. It makes it all the more appropriate that UM will host two of the nation’s premier scientific conferences in 2010 – the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in April and the Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference in October.

UM research has generated hundreds of stories begging to be told. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into a few of these efforts.

Daniel J. Dwyer
Vice President for Research and Development
The University of Montana

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