Upcoming Presentations

2019 Winter/Spring Science Inquiry Series

Explore cutting edge science topics, their latest developments, and their relevance to society through speaker presentations followed by conversations between speaker and audience.

Sponsored by the Gallatin Valley Friends of the Sciences, and hosted by the Museum of the Rockies, 600 W Kagy Blvd, Bozeman, Montana, the talks are presented on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm, followed by a brief social time with light refreshments in the museum lobby where audience members can engage the speaker.

The talks are free to the public.


2019 Jan 16 – Colors in the Sky:  The Science of Atmospheric Optical Phenomena

How does the sky produce rainbows, halos, auroras and other beautiful optical displays, and what can we learn from them?  Dr. Joseph Shaw, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University, will explain the science behind the sky’s color and how these natural phenomena relate to ongoing research in optical remote sensing to answer questions in fields ranging from climate science to national defense.

Aurora Borealis
Image copyrighted by Joseph Shaw and used with permission.


2019 Feb 13 – Yellowstone Wolves:  Science and Discovery in the World’s First National Park

What have scientists learned from the first 25 years of wolf restoration in Yellowstone National Park?  Dr. Douglas Smith, Senior Wildlife Biologist in Yellowstone, will discuss wolf population dynamics, impacts on elk and bison, wolf hunting and ecosystem impacts, and will offer philosophical ideas about the future of wolves in modern society.

Doug Smith and collared wolf
Image courtesy of Doug Smith, Yellowstone National Park.


2019 Mar 13 – Dangerous Snow:  Understanding How Avalanches Happen and How to Stay Safer

How and why do avalanches “release,” and how can an improved understanding improve backcountry safety?  Dr. Karl Birkeland, Director of the Forest Service’s National Avalanche Center, will offer the results of several decades of research on when snowpack conditions become avalanche prone, and how better understanding of avalanches can improve safety for those involved in winter activities.

Karl Birkeland in the snow
Image Courtesy Karl Birkeland, National Avalanche Center.


2019 Apr 17 – Dinosaurs on “the Cutting-Edge”:  Understanding Extinct Animals through Paleohistology

How can the microscopic examination of fossilized specimens shed light on dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures?  Ellen-Thérèse Lamm, the Museum of the Rockies’ Histology Lab Manager, will describe the “cutting-edge” thin-sectioning and microscopy techniques she uses, and how the work of the lab allows researchers, students, and investigators from around the word to make important discoveries about ancient life.

Photomicrograph of T-rex rib specimen collected from US Fish & Wildlife Service Lands.
Image ©2010 Museum of the Rockies – Montana State University. All Rights Reserved.
Photomicrograph of T-rex rib specimen collected from US Fish & Wildlife Service Lands.


2019 May 15 – To Be Announced.