Sam Pannoni

Photo of Pannoni, Sam

Sam Pannoni

PhD candidate, Fish & Wildlife Biology

  • Office: HS 501

Personal Summary


I'm a PhD student named Sam, I am also an NSF Graduate Fellow, which is nice. I grew up a short hike from Glacier National Park but my current home is in the Wildlife Biology department at UM. This departments "wildlife" brand can mislead the casual observer to believe our scientific interests are contained in the realm of large furry animals only but this is not the case. Ideas, students and faculty flow between departments here at UM and defy simple titles much like the interactions of the species and systems we investigate. The research here is impressively broad and many student investigators --like myself-- can draw from the diverse student and faculty experience to ask better questions and get better answers. As a result of this academic environment my various affiliations and interactions on campus are as fulfilling (and as complicated) as my scientific projects; I'm a Flathead Lake Bio-Station PhD Student in the Wildlife Biology department, whose office is in a microbial ecology lab in the Health Sciences building while asking various genetic, ecological and existential questions of elk and muskox... oh yes I am also confused, trying to keep it that way ;)


Ph.D. Candidate (current), University of Montana, Fish and Wildlife Biology.

Bioinformatics Certificate, 2017, High Honors; University of Montana, Computer Science Department.

B.S., 2015, Wildlife Biology High Honors; Minor: Mountain Studies (Geography), University of Montana.

Teaching Experience

  • Bioinformatics tutorial, ‪BIOM 411: Experimental Microbial Genetics Laboratory, Spring 2016
  • Invited lecture, BIOM 415: Microbial Diversity, Ecology, and Evolution, Spring 2016

Field of Study

  • Conservation Genetics

Specialized Skills

  • 16S rRNA amplicon bacterial community investigation
  • meta-barcode microbiome (bacteria, Eukaryota, etc.) analysis
  • Bioinformatics (RADseq, bacterial phylogenetics, landscape genetics)
  • Multi-dimensional approaches to pattern recognition (LDA, PCA, MDS)
  • Machine Learning algorithm based model validation

Professional Experience

  • Poster presentation at American Society for Microbiology (ASM) General Meeting, June 2015
  • Poster presentation Montana IoE Summit, 2014
  • Poster presentation at University of Montana’s Conference Undergraduate Research (UMCUR), 2014
  • 1st place poster Science Eduaction Alliance (SEA) -Phage Research Symposium, 2012

International Experience

  • Greenland Muskox (Ovibos moschatus) arctic ecology and microbiome research
    • Research collaboration established 2016-2018
      • Dr. Niels M. Schmidt, the Center for Permafrost (CENPERM) at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark
      • Dr. Carsten Suhr Jacobsen, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Environmental Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark
      • Zackenberg Ecological Research Operations (ZERO), Greenland

Honors / Awards

  • NSF IRES Fellow 2016-2018
  • NSF GRFP Fellow 2015-2020
  • American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Capstone Research Institute Award 2015
  • NSF EPSCoR Montana Institute on Ecosystems (IoE): Internship Award 2014


University of Montana is an ideal place to pursue a scientific education but many of the reasons for enjoying my time here reside beyond Campus Drive. The trails are endless, the flat ice is always welcoming and the vertical ice is occasionally irresistible. The craft beer is craft beer. The variety of skis a person could own and poorly use is astounding. The people are wonderful examples of Montana and beyond whether meeting them on the water, the trail or in the brewery, this place brings out the best in everyone. The other activities which I don't have time to partake in or allude to (river surfing for instance) are clearly amazing and I'm annoyed I only have 24 hours in a day.