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Welcome to this fall issue of the Montanan. Summer has drawn to a close at the University of Montana, and we are back at full speed for a new academic year. Summer was busy and exciting on campus, highlighted by such events as the Paul McCartney concert, the North American Congress on Conservation Biology, visits from Korean and Chinese delegations, athletic camps, and music camps.
Summer is an especially active time for research and creative scholarship at UM. In this issue you can learn about groundbreaking research funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the unprecedented amount of $45 million. This is the largest research award in the history of our institution. Under the direction of Professor Ric Hauer, faculty members across campus will conduct studies on federal lands nationwide.
The Corps of Engineers award highlights the multifaceted role that research and creative scholarship play at UM. First, they greatly contribute to the education of our students, both graduate and undergraduate. Students become involved in investigating important questions or creating knowledge, and that enriches their educational experience. In just one example, undergraduate Amanda Kinck served as a research and development intern for Blue Marble Biomaterials, a Missoula company working to replace petroleum-based chemicals with more sustainable ones.
Research also is important for the discovery of fundamental knowledge. Physics Associate Professor Nate McCrady was mentioned in an earlier issue of the Montanan for his work to discover exoplanets around nearby stars that have the potential to harbor life.
Researchers and scholars from varied fields also contribute their expertise to solving important problems and enhancing our quality of life. Work by our Bureau of Business and Economic Research led to an in-depth understanding of the economic impact of Montana’s energy industry. And in this issue, we show how Associate Professor Nadia White empowered journalism and law students to cover a major federal case using new media. The artistic creativity of our musicians, artists, writers, film producers, and thespians enriches all our lives.
Technology transfer, the movement of ideas from the University to the private sector, is another important role for research. Our business incubator facility, MonTEC, is 100 percent full, now housing eleven companies.
As you can see, research and creative scholarship are a cornerstone of UM’s mission. In July, we showcased our research to policymakers and the business community during a Montana University System Research Tour. UM featured our big data and our brain initiatives, among others. It was an exciting way to show legislators and business executives how UM research benefits students, economic development, and the people of Montana.
Enjoy this issue!
Royce C. Engstrom, President