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New Research Initiatives


Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Geohazards Program Awarded Grant from the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

Yann Gavillot
Yann Gavillot, Ph.D.,
Geologist and Associate Professor

The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG) Geohazards Program was recently awarded a grant (FY 2022) from the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and FEMA Individual State Earthquake Assistance through the Montana Department of Emergency Service. The project will identify all potentially active faults and landslides in Powell County using new Lidar data. This investigation will create new peer-review published maps and an interactive online database. These maps will provide references for mitigation strategies, and recommendations for more detailed study. New datasets of active faults will allow the US Geological Survey to include them in the next update to the National Seismic Hazard Maps.

A significant component of this proposed study will be the creation of online databases that can be accessed and downloaded from the MBMG Geohazards website. These databases will be made available as ESRI online map view data repositories with accompanying educational products such as Quaternary faults inventory, landslides inventory, landslide susceptibility, and Lidar data. These online products will integrate GIS maps and database for Powell County, and previous results from Jefferson and Deer Lodge Counties (FY 2021 funded project). A long-term research plan of the MBMG is to use online map view data repositories to display and share geohazards information as new Lidar become available across the state of Montana.

In addition, the MBMG will disseminate results from this study, past and future geohazards projects through an annual Montana Geohazards Workshop to be held at Montana Tech. This meeting will bring together geoscientists, engineers, county planners, and local and regional stakeholders from Montana and the Northern Rocky Mountain region to review recent results from geohazards projects by the MBMG, prioritize future research efforts, develop potential collaborative projects, and improve synergies between state and federal organizations to reduce risk to life and property from geohazards in Montana.

Yann Gavillot, Ph.D., Geologist and Associate Professor (MBMG) will lead the project. He will be joined by co-PIs, Michael Stickney, Professor and Director of Earthquake Studies Office (MBMG); and Colleen Elliott, Geologist and Professor (MBMG).


Montana Tech Professor Encourages Use of Weather Tracking Application

Doug Galarus
Doug Galarus, PhD
Assistant Professor

As holiday travel approaches, Montana Technological University Assistant Professor Douglas Galarus wants to remind the community to visit the One-Stop-Shop for Rural Traveler Information (OSS) web application which provides travelers in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado with comprehensive, real-time data that can be employed in planning their trip. The web application disseminates road and weather information for travelers across the entire western U.S.

The One-Stop-Shop was originally developed by Galarus’ former team at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University and has been funded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Western States Rural Transportation Consortium. In 2014, the project won an international award from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. The project is now in a maintenance phase at Montana Tech, and Galarus has incorporated it into his classroom work and undergraduate research assistants assist with the maintenance of OSS.

Galarus, who teaches in the Computer Science department, added, "As holiday travel approaches and weather changes are imminent, I encourage travelers in Montana and across the entire western United States to use the One-Stop-Shop to get seamless updates on current and forecast road-weather conditions. The site has received over 60,000 user sessions over the past week with the recent significant snow events and has served up over 2 million roadside camera images to users from all 50 states and over 40 countries."

The One-Stop-Shop consists of roadside camera images, sign messages, incidents, current and forecast weather, and more. OSS is mobile-friendly and works on phones, tablets, and desktop computers.

To access OSS, go to https://oss.weathershare.org/.

For further information, please contact Dr. Galarus at 406-496-4858 or dgalarus@mtech.edu.


Montana Tech, MSU Billings, University of Montana Awarded Grant to Improve Grad Student Mental Health

Montana Technological University (Montana Tech), Montana State University Billings (MSU-B), and the University of Montana (UM) were recently awarded a three-year, $500K grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant, Mental Health Opportunities for Professional Empowerment in STEM (HOPES), will allow these institutions to design, pilot, assess, and implement evidence-based, sustainable, and replicable strategies to improve graduate students' mental health in STEM fields.

This collaborative project is led by Montana Tech, which has graduate programs predominantly in engineering. MSU Billings brings special expertise in mental health interventions, and the University of Montana provides considerable experience in faculty professional development and additional STEM-related graduate programs.

Beverly Hartline, Ph.D., professor emerita at Montana Tech, will serve as the overall project leader. She will be joined on campus by co-PIs, Scott Risser, professor and department head of the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences; Charie Faught, associate professor in the nursing department; and Sue Schrader, associate professor in the Petroleum Engineering Department.

Read the full story.
See NBC Montana's coverage of this research.


Other Recent Research Initiatives


Thematic Faculty Expertise & Emerging Topics


Community Impact of Montana Tech Research and Scholarship

Saving the Birds at the Berkeley Pit

Business Insider, a financial and business news website, recently featured Montana Technological University alumnus Mark Mariano, now with Rampart Solutions, and Biological Sciences professor Dr. Stella Capoccia in their video series World Wide Waste. The online segment reports on the Waterfowl Protection Plan at the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. Titled “Meet the Man who Shoots at Birds all Day to Keep them Off a Toxic Pit,” has reached close to 7 million views and is on pace to be the most viewed video segment in the series.

Mariano, who graduated from Montana Tech’s restoration ecology graduate program, and Dr. Capoccia, were featured in the segment along with Gary Swant and Caleb Lashway, from the GoBirdMontana, and several miners, engineers, and information technology specialists. “This project owes its unique development to a truly multi-disciplinary group of professionals,” noted Capoccia. The segment can be viewed at www.youtube.com….

Education Programs & Outreach

Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP)

The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP) at Montana Tech (Rayelynn Brandl, Director) has been placing scientists in the classroom for STEM education/outreach since 2005. The CFWEP provides robust educational experiences to all 36 Superfund-affected communities of the Clark Fork Watershed.

CFWEP placing scientists in the classroom for STEM outreachCFWEP provides teacher professional development along with authentic research experiences for K-12 students. To date, CFWEP has served over 68,000 students and over 700 teachers. The annual operating budget of CFWEP is $767,000, funded by the MT Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program (NRD), with additional contributions from Butte-Silver Bow, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency. With the projected sunset of the NRD contract in early 2024, CFWEP is actively seeking philanthropic and federal support to continue its education and outreach to disadvantaged Montana communities.

Other Examples of Community Impact of Montana Tech Research


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Information for Students and Educators

At Montana Tech, Undergraduate Researchers Participate in Innovation

undergraduate research poster presentationAs an example of undergraduate research leading to innovation, Montana Tech’s PHAGES grant from the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award hosted several summer research projects on campus. These projects will discover and characterize bacteriophages (a.k.a. phages), which are tiny viruses that infect bacteria. Phages have been used to successfully treat infectious diseases caused by bacterial pathogens. The overwhelming majority of phages, the most numerous biological entities on the planet, have not yet been discovered.

Two undergraduate students, Kylie Marks, a sophomore biochemistry major from Helena and Sara Burgmeier, a senior biology major from Drummond will work with Biology Professor Marisa Pedulla and CFWEP’s Chris Doyle to isolate, purify, and characterize bacteriophages that infect a devastating fish pathogen bacteria. Partnerships with FWP Fish Scientists at the Washoe Fish Hatchery and Great Falls will test these phages for therapeutic applications in future studies. The Montana Tech undergraduates also worked with a group of middle and high school teachers and six high school students in the PHAGES Pipeline Program. The PHAGES project is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

Other Opportunities for Undergraduate Research at Montana Tech

For more information, please contact Dr. Katie Hailer, Professor, Chemistry Department Head.


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