April 2018


April 2018


Dean's Message

Most of you know how beautiful our campus is when spring comes to Missoula. The sun shines warmly, and all the trees in our State Arboretum start to bud. We’ve had a few false starts since the first warm days, but I truly sense spring is coming. Read more

Upcoming Events:

  • Ongoing seminars: conservation social science seminar; systems ecology seminar; wilderness lecture series; UM Bridges seminar.
  • Sat. May 12: Commencement 2018. UM Professional Schools commencement 9:30 a.m.; FCFC college celebration 12 p.m.
  • UM Woodsman Team shows: April 14 - Moscow, ID; April 21 – Kalispell, MT; April 27-28 – Missoula for the College and ProAm Logging Shows (part of Forestry Days)
  • Summer courses: Practice Sustainable Ranching at Bandy Ranch May 14-25 or spend three weeks in Alaska on Alaska Field Studies. You don’t need to be a UM student to take these summer classes!
  • Save the Date: Student Scholarship Celebration Oct. 5, 2018 (this is also UM Homecoming weekend)!

UM Update

UM has undertaken a two-year, multi-step process to assess and prioritize its current offerings and set its future direction to enhance the University’s distinction. Our new President, Seth Bodnar, just released preliminary recommendations to set us on this path to celebrate another 125 years of excellent service to students, the State of Montana, and the world.  Read the President's Recommendations.

Student Highlights


Four of our current graduate students received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships this month. NSF awarded 2,000 fellowships nationally to support high-potential, early-career scientists.

The students include:

  • Mariah McIntosh - Advisor Cara Nelson
  • Amber Datta - Advisor Brian Chaffin
  • Kate Perkins - Advisor Ben Colman
  • T.J. Clark - Advisors Angie Luis & Mark Hebblewhite

Read more about these NSF fellows!

Congratulations to wildlife biology major Sarah Gaulke – her poster on whether bats hibernate in talus slopes won Best Student Poster prize at the Montana chapter of The Wildlife Society annual meeting.

patagonia-spring2018.jpgDuring winter-session 2018, 11 University of Montana students loaded up their backpacks and headed south to Patagonia, Chile to learn about ecology, restoration, and sustainable development in one of the most remote and stunning regions on the planet.


Six students utilized Franke Sustainability Fellowships to support this experience. Support from the Franke family made this educational experience a reality for them.


Luke Johnson says "I would not have been able to take the trip without [the fellowship]. This experience was such an important one for me; it felt like the realization of all my previous experience at UM and inspired me for my current studies and future career."


Arizona Martin says "“"As a born-and-raised Montanan, this award allowed for my first experience abroad." Arizona plans to continue expanding her knowledge of ecological restoration at an international level. Read more about the Patagonia course.

The 101st Foresters' Ball was a success, thanks to the continued dedication of Forestry Club members and alums. The Woodsman Team just brought home the 1st place trophy from the 79th annual AWFC Conclave.

Research Highlights

Associate professor of fire ecology Phil Higuera says the forests you see today are not what you'll see in the future. Higuera and co-authors analyzed data from nearly 1,500 sites in five states - Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and Montana - and measured more than 63,000 seedlings growing in 52 areas burned by wildfires during the past three decades. They wanted to understand if and how changing climate over the past several decades impacted post-fire tree regeneration, a key indicator of forest resilience.


They found significant decreases in tree regeneration following 21st century wildfires, a period that was markedly hotter and drier than the late 20th century. The research team said that with a warming climate, forests are losing their resilience to wildfires.


"While Rocky Mountain forests typically recover after wildfires, conditions are becoming increasingly stressful for tree seedlings to establish and survive," Higuera said. "Seedlings are more sensitive to warm, dry conditions than mature trees, so if the right conditions don't exist within a few years following a wildfire, tree seedlings may not establish."


Read more or listen to this story on Montana Public Radio.

Five Wildlife Biology graduate students are co-authors on a new paper in Science that explores whether adaptive evolution can rescue these animals in the face of rapidly changing climate.

As winters arrive later and snow melts earlier, the worldwide decrease in snow cover already may have dramatic impacts on animals that change coat colors with the seasons. An international scientific team led by University of Montana Professor L. Scott Mills has set out to discover whether adaptive evolution can rescue these animals in the face of rapidly changing climate.


Twenty-one species of mammals and birds rely on the ability to change their coat color from brown in summer to white in winter to avoid fatal encounters with predators, but in some parts of their range individuals forgo the white molt and remain brown in winter. Read more


sheep-spring2018.jpgNew research by University of Montana alumna Eva Masin and restoration ecology Professor Cara Nelson examines the effectiveness of using domestic sheep to control nonnative invasive plants.


The City of Missoula uses sheep as part of its arsenal of tools to combat invasive plants on the city's conservation properties.


The team found that although the sheep grazed on a higher percentage of nonnative than native forbs, plants other than grasses, they did eat natives, and their consumption of natives increased with the decreasing availability of the targeted nonnative plants.



Faculty Highlights

Congratulations to Professor Cory Cleveland! He was just elected a fellow in the Ecological Society of America. Cory is Professor of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology and Chair of our Department of Ecosystems & Conservation Sciences. His research focus is on how terrestrial ecosystems function, how they are being affected by human activities, and the consequences of environmental change for both humans and the ecosystems that we depend on. Selection as an ESA fellow, a lifetime honor, recognizes Cory's outstanding contributions to a wide range of fields served by ESA, including, but not restricted to those that advance or apply ecological knowledge. Congrats, Professor Cleveland!


Congratulations to Professor Diana Six! She was just appointed to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine's Committee on the Potential for Biotechnology to Address Forest Health. The committee will develop a report on the feasibility, benefits and risks of using biotechnology to address insect and pathogen pests in natural and plantation forests.


Congratulations to professor Beth Dodson, recipient of a 2018 UM Charter Day Award. Today Beth received the John Ruffatto Memorial Award, recognizing her work to bring practical, applicable business principles into the classroom

Alumni Highlights


Earlier this spring, Dean Tom DeLuca and Director of Development Sam Barkley met up with a festive group of alums in Washington DC. They enjoyed catching up with our alums Dawn Houle, Chad Dear, Laurie Ashley, Stephen Plant, Sarah Snyder, Curan Bonham, Norman Bourg and Michael Harrison, as well as alums from other UM programs.


Congrats to our '99 alum Kasey KC - Nevada's first female to lead the Division of Forestry! Kasey graduated with a degree in Resource Conservation and has more than 15 years experience in forest management and natural resource conservation.


Alum Eric Hoberg is spearheading the re-building of the Woodsman Team building at the Ft. Missoula competition grounds. If you can help with a donation of materials, labor or money, contact Eric: Eric Hoberg 406-531-9345 or flyfish9wt@yahoo.com.