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Possible Areas of Focus

Through innovative teaching, research, and service, the College of Forestry and Conservation empowers society and its future leaders to better understand and more effectively conserve, restore, and sustain complex social-ecological systems in the Rocky Mountains and beyond.

The College of Forestry and Conservation sustains a vigorous and diverse set of professional and research programs.  The breadth of opportunities for students is limitless.  A sampling of focus areas students may pursue include:

Select a topic from the  drop down list above.

Biometrics and Ecological Modeling

Biometrics & Ecological ModelingVariation is a fundamental characteristic of natural systems, from vegetation assemblages to wildlife communities.  Today’s resource professionals and researchers need efficient methods for describing and interpreting patterns of variability in a broad array of ecosystem attributes.  Faculty and students in this area focus on the development and application of statistical and analytical methods for assessing the status and trajectory of terrestrial ecosystems across a range of spatial and temporal scales.

Faculty in Interest Area:

David Affleck - Assistant Professor, Forest Biometrics/Director, INGY
Solomon Dobrowski - Assistant Professor, Forest Landscape Ecology
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology
Steve Running - Regent's Professor, Ecology/Director, NTSG/Chair, DECS

Climate Change

Climaet ChangeClimate change research is rapidly emerging as a focus of interest among natural resource professionals.  Understanding climate change involves investigating the ecological, social, and political aspects of global warming.  CFC Faculty and student research in this area examines how different ecosystems and human communities are responding to climate change, and how to create effective policies and restoration projects to address climate change.

Faculty in Interest Area:

David Affleck - Assistant Professor, Forest Biometrics/Director, INGY
Ashley Ballantyne - Assistant Professor, Bioclimatology
Cory Cleveland - Assistant Professor, Terrestrial Biogeochemistry
Solomon Dobrowski - Assistant Professor, Forest Landscape Ecology
Wayne Freimund - Arkwright Professor, Protected Area Management/Director, Wilderness Institute
Mark Hebblewhite - Assistant Professor, Wildlife Biology
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology
Nicky Phear - Climate Change Studies Instructor and Program Coordinator
Steve Running - Regent's Professor, Ecology/Director, NTSG/Chair, DECS
Carl Seielstad - Associate Professor, Fire Sciences and Management
Diana Six - Professor, Forest Entomology & Pathology
Tyron Venn - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Economics
Laurie Yung - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Social Science/RSCN Program Director

Community-Based Conservation

Temporary housing in Bonhine National Park, MozambiqueCommunity based engagement in conservation and natural resource management ranges from place-based collaboration and co-management of protected areas to community forestry and emerging institutions such as community-owned forests. CFC faculty and students working in this area seek to understand, facilitate, and evaluate these types of conservation efforts.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Jill Belsky - Professor, Rural & Environmental Social Science/Director, Bolle Center for People and Forests
Keith Bosak - Assistant Professor, Recreation & Tourism
Jim Burchfield - Dean, College of Forestry and Conservation/Associate Professor, Forest Social Sciences
Beth Dodson - Associate Professor, Integrated Natural Resource Planning/FOR Program Director
Alex Metcalf - Assistant Research Professor, Society and Resource Management/Assistant Director Bolle Center for People and Forests
Libby Metcalf - Assistant Professor, Parks, Tourism & Recreation Management
Steve Siebert - Professor & Coordinator, International Conservation & Development Program
Tyron Venn - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Economics
Laurie Yung - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Social Science/RSCN Program Director

Fire Science

Firefighters in actionFaculty in Interest Area:

Peter Kolb - Faculty Associate, Forest Ecology/MSU Extension Forester
Cara Nelson - Assistant Professor, Restoration Ecology/WLR Program Director
Lloyd Queen - Professor, Remote Sensing/Director, NCLFA
Carl Seielstad -Associate Professor, Fire Sciences and Management
Diana Six - Professor, Forest Entomology & Pathology
Ron Wakimoto - Professor, Forest Fire Science

Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology

Fisheries and Aquatic EcologyGraduate students in Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology are trained to link knowledge of population and community ecology to current issues in fish and aquatic conservation and management.  Many students take a multi-disciplinary approach interfacing among the traditional fields of aquatic and population ecology, population genetics, watershed science, and natural resource management.  The scope of aquatic systems ranges from watersheds, rivers and lakes, to estuarine and biotic communities therein.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Lisa Eby - Associate Professor, Aquatic Vertebrate Ecology
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology

Forest Ecology and Soils

Forest ecology and soilsThe forests of the northern Rockies are an ideal laboratory to learn ecological principles.  We span the sensitive grassland-forest and temperate-boreal forest ecotones, and a diverse geological backdrop which provides an ideal system to test relationships between belowground processes and forest ecosystem function.  Using a suite of analytical approaches, forest ecology and soils research in our College seeks to understand how forest biodiversity, structure and function respond to historical disturbances and management practices and how contemporary stressors such as climate change, exotic species invasions, changes in nutrient availability, and changes in fire regimes may affect forests across a broad range of spatial scales.  Our natural laboratory also extends to tropical and to temperate forests worldwide, allowing us to test the generality of the ecological patterns and phenomena that we observe.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Ashley Ballantyne - Assistant Professor, Bioclimatology
Cory Cleveland
- Assistant Professor, Terrestrial Biogeochemistry
Solomon Dobrowski - Assistant Professor, Forest Landscape Ecology
John Goodburn - Champion Associate Professor, Silviculture/Chair, FM
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology
Christopher Keyes - Research Associate Professor, Forest Management/Director, Applied Forest Mgmt Program
Peter Kolb - Faculty Associate, Forest Ecology/MSU Extension Forester
Cara Nelson - Assistant Professor, Restoration Ecology/WLR Program Director
Steve Siebert - Professor & Coordinator, International Conservation & Development Program
Diana Six - Professor, Forest Entomology & Pathology

Forest Entomology and Pathology

ButterflyCFC has emphasized various aspects of bark beetle ecology and management, including investigations into the interactions of bark beetles with fire and interactions among an exotic pathogen (white pine blister rust) and a native insect (the mountain pine beetle in high elevation whitebark pine ecosystems and effects of climate change on beetle-fungus symbioses.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Diana Six - Professor, Forest Entomology & Pathology

Forest Management

Forest ManagementOur forest management research focuses on developing innovative science, silvicultural strategies, and decision support tools to address challenges facing sustainable land management in the Northern Rockies and beyond.  Our research examines regeneration, growth and competition relationships, fuel dynamics and fire hazard reduction, economics, roads and harvesting systems, as well as developing novel geospatial technologies and sampling strategies.

Faculty in Interest Area:

David Affleck - Assistant Professor, Forest Biometrics/Director, INGY
Woodam Chung - Associate Professor, Forest Operations
Cory Cleveland - Assistant Professor, Terrestrial Biogeochemistry
Beth Dodson - Associate Professor, Integrated Natural Resource Planning/FOR Program Director
John Goodburn - Champion Associate Professor, Silviculture/Chair, FM
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology
Christopher Keyes - Research Associate Professor,Forest Management/Director, Applied Forest Mgmt Program
Peter Kolb - Faculty Associate, Forest Ecology/MSU Extension Forester
Alex Metcalf - Assistant Research Professor, Society and Resource Management/Assistant Director Bolle Center for People and Forests
Cara Nelson - Assistant Professor, Restoration Ecology/WLR Program Director
Diana Six - Professor, Forest Entomology & Pathology
Tyron Venn - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Economics

Forest Operations

Forest OperationsResearch and graduate education in Forest Operations provides students with opportunities to study and understand practical forest management activities and their financial, environmental and socio-economic effects.  Research areas include timber harvesting and management operations, forest roads and transportation, forest restoration, biomass utilization, forest planning and decision sciences, and GIS and remote sensing applications in forestry.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Woodam Chung - Associate Professor, Forest Operations
Beth Dodson - Associate Professor, Integrated Natural Resource Planning/FOR Program Director

Graduate Programs in Wood Science/Forest Products Technology

Wood Science / Forest ProductsGraduate studies in Wood Science and Forest Products Technology at the University of Montana are focused on the determination of fundamental properties of solid wood and composites as well as the development of new products, processes and applications for wood-based materials.  Projects as diverse as investigating the effects of early-stage decay on the bending properties of structural timbers, the ultrastructural characteristics of wood-plate furniture joints and the effect of double-threaded screw fasteners on vertical settlement in log walls.  The Wood Science Laboratory is an International Accreditation Service-accredited laboratory where industrial clients bring their products for research, development and qualification testing.  Students have the opportunity to combine fundamental research with practical application scenarios in a rigorous, ISO-compliant setting.  Students from several countries have taken advantage of the University’s location in the heart of the region’s wood products industry, to make the most of their graduate education in this demanding field.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Ed Burke - Professor, Wood Science & Technology/Director UM Wood Science & Engineering Lab

Graduate Education Opportunities in GIS and Remote Sensing

GIS MapThe CFC has a dozen faculty and 25 graduate students involved in the application of these technologies to natural resource problems.  Particular areas of expertise are fire sciences, hydrology, forest operations, ecosystem modeling and landscape dynamics related to climate change.  The CFC boasts state of the science facilities and maintains close working partnerships with local, state, national and international organizations such as NASA and the USDA Forest Service.

Faculty in Interest Area:

David Affleck - Assistant Professor, Forest Biometrics/Director, INGY
Woodam Chung - Associate Professor, Forest Operations
Solomon Dobrowski - Assistant Professor, Forest Landscape Ecology
Beth Dodson - Associate Professor, Integrated Natural Resource Planning/FOR Program Director
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology
Alex Metcalf - Assistant Research Professor, Society and Resource Management/Assistant Director Bolle Center for People and Forests
Lloyd Queen - Professor, Remote Sensing/Director, NCLFA
Carl Seielstad - Associate Professor, Fire Sciences and Management

International Conservation and Development Option (M.S. in RSCN)

ICDICD option allows graduate students to pursue integrated ecological and social studies of international conservation and development, and to apply that knowledge through international field work.  ICD studies involves completion of an core curriculum (12 credits), additional coursework in a specific area of academic and professional interest, and completion of an international assignment with the Peace Corps or an international organization.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Jill Belsky - Professor, Rural & Environmental Social Science/Director, Bolle Center for People and Forests
Keith Bosak - Assistant Professor, Recreation & Tourism
Wayne Freimund - Arkwright Professor, Protected Area Management/Director, Wilderness Institute
Steve Siebert - Professor & Coordinator, International Conservation & Development Program
Tyron Venn - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Economics
Laurie Yung - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Social Science/RSCN Program Director

Natural Resource Policy and Conflict Resolution

BuffaloStudents in our program can explore political conflict associated with natural resource issues.  CFC faculty research interests include public lands governance, wildlife policy, science policy, and contemporary strategies and tools for conservation policy.  In addition to coursework on topics such as federal lands, resource management, property ownership, and wildlife policy, students can also pursue a special certificate in natural resource conflict resolution.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Jim Burchfield - Dean, College of Forestry and Conservation/Associate Professor, Forest Social Sciences
Alex Metcalf - Assistant Research Professor, Society and Resource Management/Assistant Director Bolle Center for People and Forests
Martin Nie - Professor, Natural Resource Policy/Chair, SoCon
Mike Patterson - Associate Dean, College of Forestry and Conservation/Professor, Wildlife & Recreation Management
Tyron Venn - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Economics
Laurie Yung - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Social Science/RSCN Program Director

Recreation and Tourism Management

Students hikingOur focus is on wildland recreation and nature-based tourism.  Past CFC research projects range from studying visitor experiences in Yellowstone National Park, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to transportation planning for Glacier National Park to the use of self-guided GPS multi-media technology at Cedar Breaks National Monument to the ITRR studies of nature-based tourism in Montana.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Bill Borrie - Professor, Park & Recreation Management
Keith Bosak - Assistant Professor, Recreation & Tourism
Wayne Freimund - Arkwright Professor, Protected Area Management/Director, Wilderness Institute
Libby Metcalf - Assistant Professor, Parks, Tourism & Recreation Management
Norma Nickerson - Research Professor, Tourism/Director, ITRR/PTRM Program Director
Mike Patterson - Associate Dean, College of Forestry and Conservation/Professor, Wildlife & Recreation Management
Tyron Venn - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Economics

Restoration

BitterrootEcological restoration is one of the most rapidly growing field of research and employment in natural resources.  CFC faculty represent a diverse array of interests in this area ranging from the effects of disturbance on ecological processes in forests and watersheds to the efficacy of management activities for restorating ecological integrity and wildlife habitat connectivity in degraded landscapes.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Cory Cleveland - Assistant Professor, Terrestrial Biogeochemistry
Beth Dodson - Associate Professor, Integrated Natural Resource Planning/FOR Program Director
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology
Peter Kolb - Faculty Associate, Forest Ecology/MSU Extension Forester
Paul Krausman - Boone & Crockett Professor, Wildlife Conservation
Cara Nelson - Assistant Professor, Restoration Ecology/WLR Program Director
Diana Six - Professor, Forest Entomology & Pathology

Social, Political and Economic Aspects of Conservation

Deer overlooking MissoulaCFC Social science faculty bring a broad array of disciplinary backgrounds to the study of natural resource issues including economics, geography, political science, sociology, and environmental and social psychology.  This provides students access to a diverse set of analytic tools and approaches for examining human-environment relations.  Past projects in this area includes research on the role of planning in rural communities; how landowner views and practices affect conservation, public trust in managing agencies; and public perceptions of wildlife, fire, and environmental change.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Jill Belsky - Professor, Rural & Environmental Social Science/Director, Bolle Center for People and Forests
Bill Borrie - Professor, Park & Recreation Management
Keith Bosak - Assistant Professor, Recreation & Tourism
Jim Burchfield - Dean, College of Forestry and Conservation/Associate Professor, Forest Social Sciences
Alex Metcalf - Assistant Research Professor, Society and Resource Management/Assistant Director Bolle Center for People and Forests
Libby Metcalf - Assistant Professor, Parks, Tourism & Recreation Management
Martin Nie - Professor, Natural Resource Policy/Chair, SoCon
Mike Patterson - Associate Dean, College of Forestry and Conservation/Professor, Wildlife & Recreation Management
Tyron Venn - Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Economics
Laurie Yung - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Social Science/RSCN Program Director

Watershed Management and Hydrology

The water cycleHydrology is concerned with the origin, distribution and movement of surface and subsurface waters.  Forest and wildland hydrology are sub-disciplines of hydrology that assess and deal with the cumulative effects of land management on water quantity and quality.  Watershed management employs preventative strategies to guide sustainable development of natural resources in order to produce desired goods and services without adverse impacts to land and water resources.

Faculty in Interest Area:
Kelsey Jencso - Assistant Professor, Watershed Hydrology

Wilderness, Parks and Protected Area Studies

Wilderness, Parks, and Protected Area StudiesResearch in protected area management examines the role of parks, wilderness, and other protected lands in the U.S. and abroad.  Past CFC projects have examined community relationships with protected areas, institutional arrangements and policy frameworks, visitor experience and tourism, resource use and ecosystem restoration, and political conflict.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Jill Belsky - Professor, Rural & Environmental Social Science/Director, Bolle Center for People and Forests
Bill Borrie - Professor, Park & Recreation Management
Wayne Freimund - Arkwright Professor, Protected Area Management/Director, Wilderness Institute
Libby Metcalf - Assistant Professor, Parks, Tourism & Recreation Management
Laurie Yung - Associate Professor, Natural Resource Social Science/RSCN Program Director

Wildlife Biology

Buffalo in winterThe Wildlife Biology Program provides students with an extensive knowledge in ecology, population biology, wildlife biology, and critical thinking and quantitative skills so students become leaders in bringing science to the dynamic management of wildlife and fish populations and their habitat, communities, and ecosystems.  The program is a joint offering by the College of Forestry and Conservation, Division of Biological Sciences, and the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit.

Faculty in Interest Area:

Paul Krausman - Boone & Crockett Professor, Wildlife Conservation
David Naugle - Professor, Large Scale Wildlife Ecology
Dan Pletscher - Professor, Wildlife Biology/WBIO Program Director

Information about Degrees:

Master of Science in Forestry
Master of Science in Recreation Management
Master of Science in Resource Conservation
Master of Science in Systems Ecology
Master of Science in Wildlife Biology

Graduate Studies in International Conservation and Development

Ph.D. in Forest and Conservation Sciences
Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology
Ph.D. in Systems Ecology

Certificate - Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program
Certificate - GIS Sciences and Technologies
Certificate - Wilderness Management