Joint effort: Astronaut Jerry Ross gives a tour of the International Space Station.
Rediscovering Lewis and Clark: A UM program will host a new National Lewis and Clark Education Center.
Out of the Classroom, Into the Field: Teachers spend part of their summer at UM, learning research skills in the Montana Teachers Investigate Ecology Project.
Exercising Minds: Montana students win big at Detroit's International Science and Engineering Fair.
by Caroline Lupfer Kurtz
NCUR conferences have been held since 1987, and UM was chosen to host the first conference in the Northwest region. Chemistry Associate Professor Garon Smith led the lobbying effort to secure Missoula as this years site, backed by UM President George Dennison and the campus and local communities.
It was a huge undertaking, Smith says. I dont know of anything thats been held here that even comes close to this.
Hard on the heels of NCURs success, the University hosted more than 1,200 scientists at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology June 9-12.
Smith and Continuing Education Dean Sharon Alexander co-chaired NCUR 2000 with help from more than 750 volunteer reviewers, moderators, guides, greeters, clerical workers and other support staff. The 21 members of NCURs Board of Governors also were on hand to ensure the conferences smooth running.
A crowning moment
Part of being host is getting to show off your own students work. Its part of the payback for doing the work, he says.
Only six UM students were able to attend last years conference at the University of Rochester in New York. This year 60 young men and women students from UM presented the results of their work in biology, environmental science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, womens studies, literature, psychology, geology, pharmaceutical science, music and dance. The sessions were full of attentive audiences, lively debate and fruitful interaction among students from different institutions sharing experiences and offering ideas for future research directions.
UM senior Allison Galbraith from Jefferson City, Mo., said the conference gave her an opportunity she most likely wouldnt have had otherwise.
This is a nice way to show people from other schools what Ive been doing, she says of her research on how winter stress affects shrews.
Noelle Bertelson, a UM senior from North Pole, Alaska, agrees. She and Kim Cybulski of Missoula have been working together on neurotransmitters and their role in diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons.
This is an awesome opportunity for UM students, Bertelson says. Its really neat to see what other people my age are working on.
Its also a great way to make graduate school contacts, adds Cybulski. Its important to have presented your work before; it looks good on your résumé. It gives you practice in putting your research into thoughts and words for other people.
Chris Rio, a first-year student in pharmacy from Glendive, says that participating has given him a head start on thinking about what research career he would like to pursue, and he hopes the conference will lead to some future job opportunities.
Portrait of an artist
My father is Algonquin and Scottish, and my mother is Creek and German, Clark says. I grew up listening to and reading these stories. They defined who I was.
Many of these myths deal with animals and their special qualities. For instance, the bear is a literal relative of the people, Clark says, a smarter brother from whom we can gain much knowledge.
Clark received the Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Fine Arts from UM this spring and a full scholarship to the graduate program in fine art at Boise State University, where he plans to learn cutting-edge printmaking techniques. Clark uses woodcut, etching and lithography to create his images and says he prefers the process over painting.
With a painting there is only one, he says, but prints are easier to let go of and more people can have them.
Clark, who also practices traditional native arts such as beading and leatherwork, moved to Missoula with his wife and four children to attend UM. He intends to continue printmaking using the same bold form-line style but is planning new subject matter.
Im thinking of dealing more with events and stories from my own life, he says, ones that my children can learn from.
Montana: A place to do great things
Our goal is to entice you to bring your quest for scholarly achievement back to Montana for an extended period of time a career perhaps. We hope you will want to make Montana your home, your lab. Its a great place to do great things, he said.
Plenary speakers during the conference included biologist and former U.S. Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas, artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, atmospheric scientist George Mount, bird researcher Kenneth Dial, and astronaut Col. Jerry Ross. (See related story on page 6.)
In his opening remarks as plenary speaker, Thomas, who also is Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation in UMs School of Forestry, said that research is among the most noble pursuits to which women or men can devote their lives. It is nothing more or less than the creation of knowledge ....The final goal may be unattainable, but that just makes the journey more interesting ....The search is everything.
Thomas urged todays undergraduate scholars to be interdisciplinary in their approach to problems, to be able to work as members of a team and as individuals, and to hone their communication skills in order to help the general public make more informed choices involving science and technology.
American Indian painter/printmaker Quick-to-See Smith reminded students that art and science used to be one. She says artists typically have been the shamans, inventors and interpreters of the world for others. The creative process is research, she says, and, like research, often is based on jumping into the unknown, observing the natural world and brainstorming with a community of people.
In particular, Quick-to-See Smith, who has lectured and exhibited her work internationally, described the close connection American Indians have with the natural world and the interpretation of that connection through art. She suggested that students should always be aware of what the environment has to offer.
A senior biology major in the Division of Biological Sciences, Poulin studied migration of bull trout in the Flathead River system, trying to determine whether various populations have been influenced by man-made obstacles such as dams. She presented her findings in a session on fish biology at NCUR.
In the lab, Poulin works with centrifuges, enzymes, nucleotides and other scientific material to hunt down the genetic signatures found in trout DNA. In the field, she caught trout at various locations along the North Fork of the Flathead River, releasing the fish after taking small fin clippings for the genetic secrets they contain. This work helped Poulin determine if the areas trout populations are still viable and whether man-made obstacles are isolating the fish into genetically distinctive groups.
Poulins research was made possible through UMs Integrated Biological Science Courses Organized Around Research Experience Project Project IBS-CORE. (See related story on pages 4 and 5.)
Here at UM its not just about cleaning petri dishes you are actually participating in research, she says. As an undergraduate I am getting experience that typically only graduate students get. Im sure this work will increase my chances of getting into the graduate program of my choice.
Caught in a mirror
A senior in drama/dance, Wolcott says she started choreographing only a year and a half ago. Her NCUR presentation was made before a large audience in UMs dance studio.
Ive never had to speak about my work before, she says. Ive never thought about it from the point of view of research. I think work can be approached in so many different ways. The research is the experience, the process of creating a dance.
In her piece the dancers abstractly represent the tension between desire and self-recrimination.
To represent these two opposing emotional states, I chose to develop and juxtapose two distinct movement patterns, she says. In the end, one dancer moves alone while the others softly shake and walk into the backdrop. This final moment captures a woman still unresolved, but not lost.