2021 Nov 10 – Wildfires in Montana: What Does the Future Hold?
What are the factors driving large and destructive wildfires in the West, and how can we protect communities from a future projected to include more? Dr. David McWethy, Associate Professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences, will discuss the causes and threats of increasing wildfires and how communities can better adapt.
2021 Oct 13 – When Viruses Jump: Disease Transmission from Animals to Humans
How and why do some pathogens in wild animal species make the jump to domestic animal and human species? Dr. Raina Plowright, MSU Associate Professor of microbiology and immunology, will describe the mechanisms of such disease “spillover” and strategies to mitigate or prevent such occurences.
2021 Sep 22 – How and Why We Study the Sun from Space
What are we learning about the Sun’s energetic events and how they affect us on Earth? Dr. Dana Longcope, Professor and Head of the Physics Department at Montana State University, will discuss research into the Sun’s hot corona and its energetic events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These events, whose intensity varies over a roughly eleven-year cycle, can lead to beautiful aurora borealis displays as well as power outages and satellite disruptions.
2021 May 12 – The Origin of Supermassive Black Holes
What can we learn about the origin of supermassive black holes from studying small galaxies? Dr. Amy Reines, Assistant Professor of Physics at MSU, will discuss how observations of dwarf galaxies using world-class telescopes are being used to reveal the birth and growth of black holes that can reach masses upwards of a billion times the Sun’s mass.
Courtesy of Amy Reines
2021 Apr 14 – Microbes, Carbon and Climate: Impacts of a Changing Cryosphere
What can the study of microbes living in cold temperature environments tell us about the physical limits of life? Dr. Christine Foreman, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at MSU, will discuss how her research with deep ice cores and current environments provides insights into bacterial processes in cold places, past and present, and how carbon moves through these living systems in the context of a changing climate.
Courtesy of Christine Foreman.
2021 Mar 10 – Fighting Doubt By Facilitating Trust Between Scientists and The Public
How can Society advance evidence-based, science-related public policy when a portion of the public doesn’t believe in our best science? Dr. Kristen Intemann, Professor of Philosophy at Montana State University, will examine the evidence for explaining this “belief gap” and will discuss potential solutions and strategies for bridging the gap between scientists and the public on important issues including climate change and vaccine safety.
Courtesy of Kristen Intemann
2021 Feb 17 – Vaccines in the Age of COVID-19
How do vaccines work, how have Montanans helped, and what are the implications for COVID-19? Dr. Mark Jutila, MSU Regents Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, will discuss the mechanisms of effective vaccines, Montanans’ roles in vaccine development, and vaccine development and implementation for COVID-19.
2021 Jan 13 – The Role of Sleep in Maintaining Cardiovascular Health
Can better sleep reduce cardiovascular disease in the U.S.? Dr. Jason R. Carter, MSU Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education, will offer insights into current sleep research, its importance for a healthy heart, why sleep varies with age and gender, and practical tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
2020 Feb 12 – Our Mysterious Star: Probing the Heart of the Solar System
What is current research revealing about how our sun works? Dr. Charles Kankelborg, Professor of Physics at MSU, will discuss how his observations of the sun using rockets and satellites–as well as current solar missions–are trying to uncover the mechanisms of energy storage, release, and transport in the solar atmosphere, and what it all means for us on Earth.
Courtesy of Charles Kankelborg.
2020 Jan 15 – The Yellowstone Volcano: News from the Front
What does front line research tell us about the current state of the immense volcano that makes up much of Yellowstone National Park? Dr. Michael Poland, Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, will discuss the geologic hazards of the Yellowstone region, activity that has been recorded in 2019, and recent research into how the Yellowstone volcanic system works.
Courtesy of Michael Poland.
2019 Nov 13 – Ice Patch Archaeology: Exploring the Greater Yellowstone’s High-Elevation Human Past
What can we learn about the history and heritage of Greater Yellowstone’s human story as ancient materials are revealed in melting high-altitude ice? Dr. Craig Lee, Research Scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, and Assistant Teaching Professor at Montana State University, will share his insights in exploring high-elevation sites to understand the long Native American presence in the Greater Yellowstone Area within the context of Earth’s changing climate.
Courtesy of Matt Stim Photography.
2019 Oct 16 – Restoring Forests in a Time of Change
How can we measure the impact of climate change fire on forest ecosystems? Dr. C. Alina Cansler, research scientist in the School of Environmental Science at the University of Washington, will discuss how data from satellites and airborne lasers, coupled with on-the-ground measurements and simulation models, can help us understand the effects of fires, predict post-fire tree survival and tree regeneration, and design silviculture treatments that can make forests more resilient against climate change and future fires.
Courtesy of C. Alina Cansler.
2019 Sep 18 – Engineering New Materials for the Future
How can new materials improve our lives and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time? Dr. Ian Baker, Sherman Fairchild Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College, will discuss the properties novel metallic alloys whose use would increase the efficiency of power stations and concentrated solar power generation by allowing increases in operating temperature.
2019 May 15 – Using Technology to Fight the Flu—One Cell at a Time
How can technology be used to combat stubborn viruses like influenza? Dr. Connie Chang, assistant professor in MSU’s Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, will discuss how creating and processing tiny droplets containing individual virus-infected cells can help to develop therapies to fight viral diseases.
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.
2019 Mar 13 – Dangerous Snow: Understanding How Avalanches Release So You Can Be Safer in the Backcountry
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.
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.
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.
2018 Nov 28 – Yellowstone Grizzly Bears: 45 Years of Scientific Discovery
What factors have led to the recovery of one of North America’s most iconic wildlife populations and what is needed to ensure their survival in the future? Dr. Frank van Manen, leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team at the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, will share unique ecological insights from the team’s research and the important role of technological advances in monitoring the grizzly bear population.
2018 Oct 24 – Journey from the Center of the Sun
How does the sun work, and how do we know? MSU Research Professor of Physics Emeritus and space shuttle astronaut Dr. Loren Acton will describe how scientists have used tools to piece together a working model of the sun from its very center to its influence on Earth—and how his eight days of solar observations on space shuttle Challenger contributed to the picture.
2018 Sep 19 – Regenerative Medicine in Human Development and Aging
How can a better understanding of human cellular processes inform the fight against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases? Dr. Renee Reijo Pera, MSU Vice President of Research and Economic Development and Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, will share recent advances in strategies targeting these diseases.
2018 May 15 – A Revolution in Astronomy
How do you revolutionize astronomy four centuries after Galileo first turned a telescope to the sky? Dr. Neil Cornish, MSU professor of physics, offers his answer in a discussion of gravitational wave observatories detecting collisions of black holes and neutron stars, and providing new insights into the nature of gravity, the properties of matter at extreme densities, and the origin of many elements in the periodic table.
2018 Apr 18 – “Flying” Bacteria as Potential Rainmakers
Certain plant-infecting bacteria that can be found circulating high in the atmosphere can also promote the formation of ice crystals needed to produce rain. Dr. David Sands, Professor of Plant Pathology at MSU, will discuss the possibilities of such “bioprecipitation” and its implications for potential mitigation of natural events including droughts and wildfires.
2018 Mar 21 – What’s Killing the Bees? A Look at the Research
Honey bees are the primary insect pollinators of U.S. crops valued at $17 billion annually, but for the past 10 years, honey bees have suffered losses of more than 30% per year. Join Dr. Michelle Flenniken, MSU microbiologist and co-director of MSU’s Pollinator Health Center, for a discussion of factors affecting honey bee colony health, and the importance of both basic and applied science in addressing this global challenge.
2018 Feb 14 – Wildlife Enigmas on the Beartooth Plateau
High-altitude wildlife populations offer unique insights into both genetic isolation and adaptation to changing conditions. Patrick Cross, ecologist with the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center, will discuss his study of red foxes harboring persistent ancient DNA strains despite being surrounded by newer lineages, and an upcoming citizen science project on river otters expanding into previously unsuitable habitat as climate and food supplies change.
2018 Jan 17 – Montana’s Changing Climate: Insights from the Montana Climate Assessment
How has Montana’s climate changed, what are the impacts, and how do we plan for change in the future? Dr. Cathy Whitlock, MSU professor of Earth Sciences and lead author of the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, will offer key insights on the two-year science-based effort and what it means for Montanans coping with climate change.
2017 Nov 29 – Capturing an Eclipse by Balloon
On August 21, student teams across the country sent balloons aloft to conduct scientific studies of the total solar eclipse. Dr. Angela Des Jardins, principal investigator of the NASA-sponsored Eclipse Ballooning Project and director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium, will discuss early results of what the students learned and how it contributes to our understanding of eclipses and their effects.
2017 Oct 18 – Unseen Yellowstone: Microbial Discoveries and Biotech Applications
Hot springs are natural ecosystems where microorganisms have adapted to high temperatures and unique geochemical environments, making them ideal locations for understanding extreme ecosystems. Dr. Brent Peyton, Director of the Thermal Biology Institute at Montana State University, will tell you why thermal features are “target” environments for isolating novel and robust microorganisms for biotechnology and energy applications.
2017 Sep 20 – Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat Conservation and Ecology in the Northern Rockies
Dr. Robert Garrott, professor of wildlife ecology in MSU’s Ecology Department, will describe the conservation history of these two iconic mountain ungulates in the region and share some of the ecological insights from his on-going research project. He will also discuss an exciting bighorn sheep restoration effort in the Madison Range.
2017 May 10 – The Exotic Stellar Graveyard
All stars evolve to end up as white dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes, each with extraordinary properties—capable of producing huge explosions and gravitational waves. Dr. Bennett Link, professor of physics at Montana State University, will discuss what these extreme objects tell us about the universe in which we live.
2017 Apr 19 – DNA Surgery for Curing Genetic Diseases
How can immune strategies used by bacteria to fight off viruses be employed to cure genetic diseases in humans? Dr. Blake Wiedenheft, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at MSU, and recent winner of a Presidential Early Career Award, will present his research insights and their implications.
2017 Mar 22 – Adaptations in Owls
How well can they see at night, how well can they hear, how silently do they fly, why are they so hard to find—and why do people admire them so much? Denver Holt, president of the Owl Research Institute, will discuss what owls can tell us about adapting to environments.
2017 Feb 8 – Star Circle: A Cosmic Mirror on Medicine Mountain
How has the Big Horn Medicine Wheel kept cosmic time over thousands of years? More accurate than atomic clocks or the calendar on our walls—the Wheel’s tracking of cosmic cycles predicts our future, according to presenter Dr. Ivy Merriot, Director of Sky Traditions.
2017 Jan 18 – The Dinosaur in the Window
Why study dinosaurs? Interim Curator of Paleontology, Dr. John Scannella, discusses how Triceratops, T. rex and other ancient creatures impact our understanding of the world around us.