Newsletter Articles

Bob Swenson: Growth of Research at MSU in the 1980s and 90s – how – and why EPSCoR?

Bob Swenson receives a recognition from MSU President Waded Cruzado

Note: An edited version of this article appeared in the Spring and Summer 2015 Newsletters.  In order to allow access to the full article, we are posting it here on our website. 
Written: October 14, 2014


Robert Swenson, Emeritus Vice President for Research at MSU


ICN Graduate student researches microscopic pioneers of ecosystem succession

by Sarah Castle, University of Montana

When glaciers recede, previously buried land surfaces are exposed that may have been uninhabited by life for thousands of years or more. Substrates closest to the glacial terminus are the youngest while substrates furthest from the terminus are older. In some cases, continually melting glacial ice creates an annually resolved age-gradient. Soil organisms quickly colonize these barren substrates and begin the long process of soil formation that ultimately leads to the development of mature ecosystems. 

ICN Graduate student researches microscopic pioneers of ecosystem succession

Wildfire is a common and prominent force that is constantly reshaping ecosystems in the Northern Rockies. The response of various species to wildfire has been heavily studied and is relatively well-understood. However, interactions among species after fire is a somewhat overlooked area of research. 

New faculty: Ben Poulter, Ecology, MSU

Ben Poulter arrived at MSU-Bozeman in January as an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology.Through his Ecosystem Dynamics Lab, Poulter is investigating the role of climate and humans on terrestrial ecosystems, which play a critical role in the earth system by mitigating climate change, providing habitat for biodiversity, and resources, such as food, fiber and water for humans. His strategies include vegetation models, remote sensing, forest inventory and physiological measurements.

Outreach partnership honored

Living Colors: Microbes of Yellowstone

An educational partnership between the Institute on Ecosystems and the Yellowstone Association received an honorable mention in the Visitors Guide category of the Media & Partnership Awards for the Association of Partners for Public Lands. Living Colors: Microbes of Yellowstone is available in all Yellowstone National Park bookstores to help visitors learn about the abundance of microbial life in the Park and its role in the larger ecosystem.

IoE Graduate Student researches Insect-Bacteria Dependency

Figure 1. Cicada species Tettigades auropilosa. Photo by Sergio Bitran.

by James VanLeuven, PhD student in John McCutcheon’s lab (Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology), at the University of Montana

Grad students tackle interdisciplinary collaborations

Interdisciplinary Collaborative Network

By Jacob Lucero, PhD student in Ray Callaway’s lab (Organismal Biology & Ecology), UM

Researchers collaborate to incorporate humans’ role in ecosystems

What comes to mind when you visualize an ecosystem: Trees? Birds? Rivers? Fish? Most who take part in this exercise can rapidly visualize Mother Nature but often forget one critically important component: people.

Humans play a major role in ecosystem science, affecting everything from land use changes to wildife. Often, the role of people is at least as important--and complex--as the natural components and processes.

ecosystem researcher investigates honey bee health

Michelle Flenniken works with honeybees

While the food we most associate with honey bees is the sweet gooey stuff we put on our toast, bees play a much larger role in ecosystems around the world. Bees are essential pollinators of many agricultural crops, and if a honey bee colony collapses, nearby food crops are at risk.

Climate in My Backyard summer camp session immerses kids grades 5–7 in climate and ecosystem science

Dan Vanderpool teaches students about pine beetles.

Whether you ski, float, farm or fish, the climate affects you and your ecosystem – from microbes to entire watersheds. That was the main message conveyed to participants in the June 2013 IoE session of Montana State University’s weeklong Peaks & Potentials camp for high ability kids entering grades 5, 6 and 7.



MSU IoE Office

Montana State University
605 Leon Johnson Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-2374
MSU Director: Bruce Maxwell

UM IoE Office

The Universityi of Montana

The University of Montana
Davidson Honors College
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-6058
UM Director: Maury Valett


Montana University System

Montana University System

Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620