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Tuesday, Jun. 28th, 2016

MSU scientist wins NASA fellowship to explore early life on Earth, other planets

A Montana State University graduate student who wants to better understand early life on Earth and the potential for life on other planets has received a one-year, $30,000 fellowship from NASA, with the potential to renew it for two additional years.

Melody Lindsay, of Honolulu, Hawaii, said the Earth and Space Science Fellowship will allow her to continue sampling hot springs in the world-class laboratory known as Yellowstone National Park. Besides examining the influence of hydrogen on microorganisms that thrive in the extreme conditions of the Norris Geyser Basin and other thermal areas, she will use her fellowship to analyze and present her findings at the NASA AbSciCon conference and, potentially, other scientific conferences. The fellowship will also allow her to pay tuition and other expenses as a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Agriculture and the College of Letters and Science.

"It's really great," Lindsay said. "Not only do you get to work on your research, but you get to present it."

Eric Boyd, Lindsay's adviser and an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, said the fellowship is extremely competitive. NASA's Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program offers fellowships in four areas of research, and more than 700 people applied for the 2016 awards. Lindsay was one of 28 who received a fellowship in planetary science.

Boyd said the fellowship is another major achievement for Lindsay, who has already accomplished much in both science and music.

Lindsay, who grew up in Honolulu the daughter of a physicist and musician, was also one of 20 U.S. college students selected to attend a June 20-24 conference in Spain. The 2016 International Summer School in Astrobiology allowed her to learn from some of the world's leading experts in astrobiology, a field that focuses on the origin, evolution, and future of life in the universe.

Lindsay is also lead author of a scientific paper accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal "Geobiology." The paper -- her first as lead author -- was the culmination of research conducted in one semester by 10 MSU graduate students who took a course last fall from Boyd and MSU Earth Sciences Professor David Lageson.

"This is a super phenomenal time in her life and her career," Boyd said of Lindsay. "She is rising to the top, and it's fun to watch. It's fun to be a part of."

Before coming to MSU, Lindsay earned her bachelor's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University. A harpist as well as a scientist, Lindsay attended Princeton with a $50,000 fellowship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Saying science won out over music, she nevertheless continues to play the harp for the Great Falls and Billings symphonies and occasionally plays a small harp while in Yellowstone for fieldwork. She has performed on NPR, her first time at age 13.

Lindsay said she met Boyd at an American Geophysical Union conference where she presented her undergraduate research on microbial life almost two miles below the surface of the earth in the gold, diamond and platinum mines of South Africa.

"I came to MSU because of the research Eric is doing, which is amazing," Lindsay said.

Although she encountered a grizzly bear and two cubs on her first day as a graduate student and her first day in Yellowstone, Lindsay said the opportunity to study extremophiles in Yellowstone National Park is incredible.

"To continue in the same line of work would be phenomenal," she added.

Boyd, who has many achievements of his own, was a NASA Early Career Fellow, won a NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and is deputy director of a $7 million NASA project to investigate the origin and future of life in the universe.

"He's wonderful," Lindsay said. "The opportunities he gives all his students are just insane. It's amazing what he can do for his students, what he has done. Plus, he's fun to work with."

Boyd, who currently supervises five graduate students, said he remembers the frustrations of graduate school so he looks for ways to keep his students excited about their research.

Besides going to Spain and starting her NASA fellowship this summer, Lindsay will also travel to Alaska to conduct fieldwork on mud volcanoes in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Max Amenabar, another of Boyd's students, spent six weeks in 2014 on a research ship best known for carrying researchers to the sunken Titanic. Amenabar was part of a team looking for microbial life in 3-million-year-old sediments beneath the floor of the North Atlantic Ocean.

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Monday, Jun. 27th, 2016

MSU Library to share resources statewide

The Montana State University Library is part of a new system that will allow academic library users across the state to access the collection holdings of 16 libraries in Montana through a single online search.

The MSU Library, along with 15 other institutions in Montana’s Treasure State Academic Information and Library Services (TRAILS) consortium, recently selected Ex Libris Alma Resource Management Service as its new integrated library system. The new system is expected to go live in December.

Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, is a leading global provider of cloud-based solutions for higher education. The data testing, reconfiguration and migration of the service began in late May.

“This new library management system will provide greater access to the state’s university library collections, not only for MSU students, faculty and staff, but for people across Montana,” said Bob Mokwa,interim executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at MSU. “The technology will also allow MSU and its partner institutions to modernize collections. We’re delighted to be part of this new system and to help increase the use of our valuable library resources.”

The TRAILS consortium sought a solution to increase staff efficiency by unifying workflows and reorganizing resources to have the greatest impact. Further requirements included a native, cloud-based system to help offset administration and energy costs; a discovery environment that would be flexible enough for large libraries to customize and powerful enough to provide excellent patron services out-of-the-box; a rich analytics environment; and a vendor with a proven record of partnering with academic institutions.

With the Alma resource management platform, the consortium will gain all of these features, offering member libraries benefits on many levels through the sharing of skills and resources.

“We chose Alma as the technological solution that will allow the 16 academic libraries of TRAILS to build and manage collections more cooperatively,” said Kenning Arlitsch, dean of MSU Library. “We expect this move will eventually bring greater access to information resources to students and faculty across Montana’s institutions of higher education.”

“The implementation of the Alma library system is going to be an exciting process,” said Shali Zhang, professor and dean of libraries at University of Montana. “The new system will enable all participating libraries to work more efficiently, share expertise and resources, and provide better services to our user community – students, faculty and staff – thus strengthening the library’s impact on learning and research initiatives. I am thrilled that in-depth collaboration between library colleagues at Montana’s academic campuses will soon be a reality.”

Ex Libris North America’s president, Eric Hines, said the company’s resource management platform will be a key factor in helping Montana’s academic libraries meet their goal to support student success and faculty research.

“It is wonderful to see so many long-standing customers in Montana joining the Alma community,” Hines said. “We look forward to many more years of successful partnership with Montana’s academic libraries.”

The TRAILS consortium formed in 2016 with the goal of providing click-through access for students and faculty to all digital information resources purchased by any college or university in Montana. For more information, visit

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Friday, Jun. 24th, 2016

Legendary Locals of Bozeman

From its inception as a supply town during Montana’s gold rush in the 1860s, Bozeman has attracted visionaries, leaders, and pioneering thinkers. Bozeman’s first mayor, John V. Bogert, established a precedent for keeping the city clean, safe, and orderly. City commissioner and tireless worker Mary Vant Hull spearheaded efforts to build a new library and to expand local parks and trails, and early physician Dr. Henry Foster successfully performed one of the first caesarean sections in Montana. Incredibly talented outdoor advocates and athletes like mountain climber Alex Lowe and long-distance runner Ed Anacker have complemented Bozeman’s outdoor lifestyle. An emphasis on art, music, and culture began in the 1860s with piano and voice sensation Emma Weeks Willson. Today, artist Jim Dolan’s sculptures are enjoyed all over town, and illusionist Jay Owenhouse wows children and adults with his live shows. Inspiring individuals like Cody Dieruf, who passed away from cystic fibrosis at the age of 23, and dedicated streetcar driver Larry O’Brien have added kindness and courage to local life.

Look for Rachel Phillips book on stands July 2016.

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Wednesday, Jun. 22nd, 2016

Livingston Depot Festival of the Arts - enjoy food, pies, art, and company

Fine art, creative crafts, and homemade pies define an unforgettable summer day.
The Livingston Depot Festival of the Arts will make a Saturday through Monday appearance on July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 2016, from 10 to 6.
Over a hundred fine artists and crafters from Montana and a wide range of western states region, usually with two dozen new presenters each year, will present fine arts and craftworks including oil paintings, fine pottery, blacksmithing, woodcrafts, decorative repurposed antiques, stained glass, vintage curios, inlaid furniture, photography, herbal soaps, gifts, attractive jewelry, and more.  

A central hallmark of the event each year is the Depot Foundation’s homemade pie booth with a tasty range of homemade pie offerings.
Plenty of main course options are lined up too.  The Livingston Sister City program raises money for students’ trips to Japan by serving up barbecue burgers, hot dogs, and sides.  Other vendors will offer fresh-popped kettle corn, chocolates, handcrafted lemonades, and more.
Visitors can also enjoy the adjacent Depot Museum’s historic rail and Yellowstone exhibits, as well as this year’s special exhibit, “The Railroads of Ron Nixon,” a selection of striking early- and mid-20th century train photography, as well as “Getting There: From Livingston to Yellowstone,” a look at the final leg of early Yellowstone rail travel.

This always popular event is a great chance to stroll in the fresh air and enjoy food, pies, art, and company -- a perfect finishing touch for a memorable Fourth of July weekend.
The Depot Museum exhibits are open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10 to 5, and Sunday from 1 to 5 with a modest admission. Group tours are also welcome, and more information is available through the Depot office at (406) 222-2300 or its website,

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Monday, Jun. 20th, 2016

MSU professor to be recognized for renewable and alternative energy power generation work

A veteran Montana State University engineering professor will be recognized this summer for his years of researching and teaching renewable and alternative energy power generation — a field he didn’t even approach until the second half of his 45-year career.

Hashem Nehrir, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in MSU’s College of Engineering, will receive the Ramakumar Family Renewable Energy Excellence Award from the IEEE Power and Energy Society next month in Boston. (IEEE stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The annual award recognizes a researcher’s contributions to incorporating renewable energy sources into the national power grid and is meant to spur utilization of renewable technologies for power generation, and further research and teaching in the field.

“This was not at all my formal academic training,” Nehrir said. “So this is really a great reward for me, because I found the opportunity to work in areas the whole world is interested in.”

Nehrir earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1969, 1971 and 1978, respectively. He came to MSU in 1987, where he taught courses and did research on traditional electrical power systems.

But in the early 1990s, the opportunity arose to work with the U.S. Department of Energy on hybrid wind-power generation technologies. Nehrir jumped at it.

“Since then, I’ve learned to use my background knowledge and experience to apply to these systems,” he said.

Nehrir’s work focuses on designing intelligent systems to manage hybrid, renewable-based energy systems. Think of the national power grid, the interconnected power lines and stations that move electricity to where it’s needed around the country. As more and more alternative sources of power are connected to the grid, such as solar panels and wind turbines, managing all those varied sources of power to keep the grid stable and safe becomes a priority.

“My work is modeling basically for better operation of emission-free systems that could ultimately save the planet,” Nehrir said.

For nearly a decade, from 2001-2010, he continued researching alternative energy sources in the form of fuel cells, modeling them for use in distributed power generation applications — where electricity is generated not at one central location but at many different spots. The models he developed are used around the world, along with the textbook he co-authored on the subject in 2009 with a former graduate student, Caisheng Wang.

Nehrir’s work has also pioneered the notion of using electric hot water heaters to absorb excess wind-generated power in the wind farms in the form of heat. The technology, which has already been prototyped by a major utility, keeps wind farms from having to shut down turbines, hence avoiding the curtailment of this emission-free power, at times when wind-generated power is high and power demand from the grid is low, for example in the middle of night, he said.

“This is important because everybody wants to see more renewable energy used, but our current grid in the U.S. and most of the world isn’t designed to have these intermittent sources like wind and solar,” said Robert Maher, head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “So there’s going to be a need to redesign the whole grid to use these sources, and Professor Nehrir’s research is really at the forefront of how that can be done.”

Over the years, Nehrir’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Montana Power Company (now NorthWestern Energy) and more.

In addition to three textbooks he’s authored and many lectures he has given around the world, he was a 2010 recipient of MSU's Wiley Faculty Award for Meritorious Research and was named a Life Fellow of IEEE in 2013.

Based on his work, he developed a senior/graduate-level course on alternative energy distributed power generation and has been teaching it at MSU since 2003. And though he says he’s trying to reduce his workload, every year students come up with a list of people interested in taking the course and turn it in to the department.

He continues to teach it, he said, because “I enjoy working with the students.”

Maher said Nehrir has been a constant in the department, especially through the 1990s when Montana’s power companies were deregulated, hiring slowed in the industry and fewer students sought such degrees.

“Hashem kept the spark alive through those years, and now we're back in the mode where everybody is looking to hire power engineers and he’s struggling to keep up with the demand,” Maher said.

"This is the kind of award he deserves."

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2016 Heart of the West North Star Award winner

The organizers and jury of the inaugural Heart of the West Art Show and Auction in Bozeman, MT have selected the 2016 North Star Award Winner: Michael Ome Untiedt.  The North Star Award was established in 2011 and recognizes an artist who has influenced their peers with a willingness to explore new realms of creativity and expression. In mentoring and inspiring other artists through their unparalleled vision, the artist has provided guidance, as the “North Star” guides fellow travelers.  Past recipients include lauded painters Charles Fritz, Donna Howell-Sickles and Tom Gilleon.

Untiedt will travel from his home in Denver, CO to exhibit alongside 60+ premier Western artists at the Best Western Plus Grantree Inn August 11-13, 2016 and will lead an Art Chat discussion of his life’s work Saturday, August 13 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.   Additional events include Quick Finish artist demonstrations on Friday Aug. 12 from 5 - 7 p.m. and Saturday 2 – 3:30 p.m. and a live art auction with over 100 lots at 4 p.m.  

Untiedt has been a professional painter for decades and has achieved national recognition in the last 10 years with dramatic landscapes, nocturnes and ranching scenes.  The titles of his paintings are sentences-long and often poetical, rooted in his fascination with the history of the Old West and backed up by a lifetime of research, writing and learning.  He also mentors young artists, drawing on his vast experience in marketing and selling his work, and will be demonstrating his skill in the Saturday Quick Finish.

As Untiedt writes on his website, “I paint ideas...things that come to me during the course of my life.  Be it an Irish castle or a Kiowa teepee, I attempt to portray the humanity behind the image, not the object itself.   This can be a challenge, a noble one worth pursuing.”  

Heart of the West Bozeman is proudly sponsored by Zoot Art Gallery of Four Corners, MT and media sponsor Western Art Collector magazine.

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GVLT Needs 10,000 Miles Logged to Hit Goal in Bozeman Trails Challenge

Since 1990, GVLT has collaborated with the City of Bozeman and dozens of public and private organizations to expand the Main Street to the Mountains system to over 80 miles of trails. These trails are used by commuters, runners, bikers, birdwatchers, dog walkers, and stargazers, and help make the Gallatin Valley the best place to live under the Big Sky!  To celebrate this work and help provide critical funds to continue it, GVLT is excited to be hosting the first annual Bozeman Trails Challenge.

Since June 4th, community members have been recording how far they walk, hike, or bike on area trails. They’ve been logging their miles on the GVLT website,

For every mile reported, GVLT receives $1 from the Trails Challenge Fund, supported by dozens of community businesses.  With $20,000 pledged, our goal is to log 20,000 miles by June 21st.  $1 for 1 mile.  It is that easy.  

Participants who log miles are invited to attend a celebration BBQ at the GVLT office on completion of the challenge at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, June 21.
Here’s how to log miles:
    •    Hike, bike, or walk on area trails.
    •    Log onto and record your miles.  
    •    Earn money for GVLT.

For more information, call EJ Porth, 406-587-8404 ext. 8 or email

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MSU Alumni Foundation unveils new ‘Bushels for Bobcats’ grain donation program

The Montana State University Alumni Foundation has developed a new way for farmers to support Montana State University: through donations of grain.

The new program, called Bushels for Bobcats, allows Montana farmers to donate a portion of their grain harvest to support MSU. Funds generated by this program will be counted toward MSU’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, What it Takes, and will fund MSU’s people, places and programs. Farmers who donate to MSU through the Bushels for Bobcats program can direct their gift of grain to support any area within MSU, including student scholarships and research programs, such as the Montana Plant Sciences Chair.

The new initiative provides farmers the opportunity to directly invest their crops to fund students and research that directly benefits them, said Charles Boyer, MSU vice president of agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture.

“Our university and college serve Montana through students, research and outreach,” Boyer said. “Montana’s agricultural family has always been a transformative supporter of MSU, and Bushels for Bobcats shines a light on our farmers’ contributions to feeding the world.”  

When producers donate a portion of their crop to the MSU Alumni Foundation, the foundation will sell the gifted grain for its full value and direct those funds to the area determined by the donor. The grain donor is not required to include the gifted grain in his or her income for the year, and therefore doesn’t pay taxes on it.

“Bushels for Bobcats provides a unique opportunity for farmers to invest in MSU’s future,” said MSU Alumni Foundation President and CEO Chris Murray. “It provides a tax-savvy way for donors to impact their land-grant university.”

For more information, or to learn how to donate, visit or contact Samantha Beebout at or 994-7099.

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Emerson Cultural Center Art Exhibits in July

Weaver Room

Carol Hartman’s, Challenges will be featured in the Weaver Room Gallery from
July 1 - August 26, 2016. A Montana native, Hartman creates large square colorful oil landscape paintings on cradled Royal Birch panels. She finger paints instead of using brushes, which allows her a significantly closer relationship with her art. Carol creates this art to honor the history and incredibly beautiful landscape of Montana.

Jessie Wilber Gallery
The Jessie Wilber Gallery will feature Gordon McConnell, a Colorado Native who first visited Montana in the 1960’s and was inspired by the historically haunted and wildly romantic places from the Little Bighorn to Yellowstone. Like early twentieth century illustrators, McConnell derives much of his imagery from photographic sources and is particularly drawn to classic black and white. He interprets these still images with animated brushwork, variegated paint handling and modulation of values for a graphic, expressive effect. The show entitled Outdoor Adventure will be on display from

July 8 - September 2, 2016

Lobby Gallery
The Lobby Gallery will showcase an Emerson Tenant Exhibit featuring the work of: Dana Aaberg, Bille Rose Agee, Susan Dabney, Loretta Domaszewski, David Hutchison, Duncan Kippen, Mike O’Connell, Jessica Palmer, Angela Prond, Robert Royhl, Kelly Sullivan, Kara Tripp, Cherlyn Wilcox and Rod Zullo. The Emerson is proud to build community while promoting arts and culture. The exhibit will run from July 8- September 2, 2016.

Reception: These shows will have an opening reception on July 8, 2016 from 5-8pm with an Art Walk Reception on August 12, 2016 from 5-8pm.

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Monday, Jun. 13th, 2016

Gallatin Valley YMCA Reminds Parents Learning is Part of Having the Best. Summer. Ever

Summer slide may sound like an exciting activity, but in reality it’s no fun. The term refers to the learning loss many children experience over the summer. Research shows that without access to learning activities throughout the summer, kids fall behind academically. For students who are already behind in school, summer learning loss pushes them even farther behind their peers. Repeat this year after year, and major consequences develop, as one in six children who do not read proficiently by third grade fail to graduate high school in time—four times the rate for third graders with proficient skills.

“We want children to have the best summer ever, and of course that means time for play, but it’s also important that children continue to engage and learn,” said Sarah Lutiger, Youth Development Director, Gallatin Valley YMCA. “A child’s development is never on vacation, and organizations like the Y offer opportunities to exercise the body as well as the mind.”

In the Gallatin Valley the YMCA helps prevent the summer slide by providing learning loss prevention camps in partnership with both the Bozeman and Belgrade School Districts. This is the 3rd year Y Achievers has been offered to incoming 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders in Bozeman and the 2nd year for 2nd and 3rd graders in Belgrade.  During the past summers, Y-Achievers has demonstrated significant success with a majority of students gaining six months or more of reading literacy in the 6-week summer program. “We are thankful for our partnership with both the Bozeman and Belgrade School District allowing us to utilize space at Saddle Peak Elementary in Belgrade and Whittier Elementary in Bozeman”, said Andrea Stevenson, CEO, Gallatin Valley YMCA. “It takes many partners to help us provide this critical reading program for our community. Not only are we thankful for our school partners, but also U.S. Bank, Mtn. Sky Guest Ranch, Y-USA and the Greater Gallatin United Way that helped provide funding in order that no child would be turned away due to inability to pay”, said Stevenson.

Parents and caregivers can help by keeping their children reading and engaged in learning throughout the summer. Here are a few tips from the Y to help parents get started:

Foster an Early and Ongoing Passion for Books—Read to and with your kids. Start a book series together and read each night as a family. Reading at night keeps the brain buzzing and young minds active!
Visit Your Local Library—Explore new books you and your kids may have missed to keep your mind sharp during the summer. Be sure to check out special programming while you’re there; many libraries offer classes, storytime or programs throughout the summer.

Cut Screen Time—With smartphones, tablets, video games, television and movies there are more options than ever for your child to entertain themselves with screens, but children should spend no more than two hours per day in front of a screen.

Enroll Your Kids in Camp—Camps like those offered at the Y provide well-rounded programming, make learning fun and provide a social outlet for your children throughout the summer.

To learn more about camps offered at the Gallatin Valley YMCA visit or call 994-9622.

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