Wednesday, Oct. 30th, 2019

MSU researchers win $3 million NIH grant to study gut immune system

One day, instead of requiring a painful needle injection, vaccinating against a host of formerly fatal diseases could be as simple as swallowing a pill. But getting to that point means first gaining a better understanding of how the immune system works in the complex human gut, according to Montana State University researcher Diane Bimczok.

"There's a big gap in our understanding," said Bimczok, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in MSU's College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science. Studies suggest a number of ways that immune cells surrounding the wall of the gastrointestinal tract interact with what's on the inside — whether harmful bacteria or an ingested vaccine — and trigger the body's response. But much about the exact mechanisms remains unclear, she said.

That's why she's excited to be part of an interdisciplinary MSU research team that won a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in September. The five-year project will explore the capabilities of a new, miniaturized way to simulate and study the gut's immune system.

"We're definitely pushing the boundaries with this technology," said associate professor of microbiology and immunology Seth Walk, who is co-leading the project with Bimczok and James Wilking, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering.

The technology is a cellphone-sized "chip" of plexiglass etched with laser-cut channels and chambers less than a millimeter wide. The chambers house spherical "organoids" engineered from human stem cells — "basically mini-guts," Bimczok explained. The channels, as well as tiny needles inserted into the organoids, allow the researchers to introduce bacteria and immune cells in a precisely controlled environment that mimics the gut's natural behavior, then observe the results.

The tool was inspired by Walk's ongoing research on microbial interactions in the human gut. Walk came up with the idea of an engineered organoid system with long-time collaborator Jason Spence of the University of Michigan. Along with MSU's Blake Wiedenheft, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, they won a grant from the Gates Foundation in 2013 to develop a working prototype. Walk then approached Wilking, a specialist in 3D printing, with the idea of developing a more sophisticated chip that could flow fluids through the organoids.

In September, Wilking and Walk published a paper with MSU chemical engineering graduate student Barkan Sidar in Lab on a Chip, a journal of The Royal Society of Chemistry, showing that the new chip could sustain controlled fluid flow through organoids for days at a time. Adding to the experimental setup for the new project, Bimczok recently developed a way of incorporating immune cells into organoids.

"Nobody has ever done this before," Wilking said. "And we think there's a lot of potential for further improving this technology (during the study funded by the new grant)."

Assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering Connie Chang, a partner on the project, will help the team harness new advances in microfluidics, in which the droplet-forming behavior of oil-infused liquid in the etched channels is used to enclose and transport tiny samples. In this case, Chang will help the team capture individual immune cells.

By examining the immune cells under powerful microscopes and analyzing their genetic material, the researchers hope to answer fundamental questions about the gut immune system: Do the immune cells work primarily by changing shape to penetrate the organ lining and probe the gut's contents? Are the biochemical cues secreted by the organ wall mainly what trigger the immune cells to turn on certain genes?

"This is a true collaboration between engineering and biology," Chang said. "Some of the most interesting problems in engineering right now are at the interface with human health."

According to microbiology and immunology department head and MUS Regents Professor Mark Jutila, the fifth member of the team, the project is part of a bigger push by the National Institutes of Health and others to find experimental tools that can more accurately predict how the human body will respond to new therapies. Traditionally, treatments are tested on animals and then cultures of human cells that are not as life-like as organoids. "I think this could be a huge advance for the field," he said.

That would open up new possibilities for developing and testing medicines that specifically target the complex immune system in the human gut. "If we understand this system at a fine level, we can design better oral vaccines," Walk said. "There's a lot of potential."

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New MSU instrument collects sun data aboard NASA rocket

On the launch pad at White Sands Missile Range, the 10-foot section of a NASA sounding rocket housing scientific instruments designed and built by a team at Montana State University to observe explosive events in the sun’s atmosphere was encased in Styrofoam to shield it from the New Mexico sun.

Graduate student Catherine Bunn monitored the instruments’ temperature, chilling them as needed with liquid nitrogen. Fellow graduate students Roy Smart and Jacob Parker, along with Charles Kankelborg, a professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Letters and Science, made last-minute checks.

But would the rocket fly?

It was late September. The launch had originally been scheduled for Aug. 20, but a critical vibration test shook a screw loose and left a mirror out of alignment.

“They were essentially trying to rattle the payload apart and more or less succeeded,” said Kankelborg. “As much as we dread vibration tests, they are a necessary test to ensure the payload is ready for launch. It is much better to break a screw on the ground than in flight.”

So, the team shipped their camera assembly to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for repairs. They converged back at White Sands at the beginning of September and again readied for launch.

But on Sept. 24, the clock counted down to zero on the second launch attempt, the ignition key turned, and — nothing happened. An open circuit fault in the ignition system pushed the launch back yet again.

Third time was the charm, however, for the first flight of ESIS, an Extreme ultraviolet Snapshot Imaging Spectrograph built by MSU’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Its predecessor MOSES, or Multi-Order Solar Extreme ultraviolet Spectrograph, was also on board.

While the ESIS and MOSES programs represent huge potential for future development as a primary instrument on a future satellite, the sounding rocket missions are only a part of the scope of the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory’s work, according to David Klumpar, a professor of physics and director of the laboratory. The interdisciplinary laboratory was founded in 2000 and has about four active projects with launches expected in the next few years. Those include tiny satellites between 2 and 15 pounds that will end up in orbit around the Earth and giant 1000-pound instrument payloads for large balloons that reach the edge of the atmosphere. Teams for each project include both undergraduate and graduate students.

“We work proactively to have students at all levels involved in what it takes to design and build and operate hardware for research in space,” Klumpar said.

This is the third time an MSU team has worked with NASA scientists at White Sands. The previous two launches in 2006 and 2015 carried only versions of MOSES.

“We just build the instrument,” Kankelborg said before the launch. “They’re going to launch it into space and point it at the sun.”

ESIS observes the sun’s atmosphere, specifically looking for explosive events in the solar transition region at the roots of the corona. The explosive events are powered by magnetic reconnection, where magnetic fields within a plasma rearrange and discharge heat and kinetic energy. This is the same process behind solar flares — extreme and sudden energy releases Kankelborg likens to nuclear bombs, if one were to multiply their power by a “very big number.”

While the team can’t plan for solar flares, even with a so-called quiet sun, free of sunspots or visible prominences, the smaller explosive events are common. On its first launch in February 2006, the MOSES instrument detected 41 explosive events in a five-minute window, Kankelborg said. And that was also a quiet sun.

“The magnetic network is always moving around, always changing,” Kankelborg said. “As the magnetic fields move around and crash into each other, they create little explosive events. They can be Earth-sized and reasonably powerful but are not spectacular like solar flares.”

The explosive events form jets of gas that emit light. Studying the images from a spectrograph frame by frame allows the team to measure the velocity of that gas through shifts in the light’s wavelength.

With the gathered data, the team will seek insights into how the sun stores and releases energy through magnetic reconnection. Large energy releases on the sun can hurl clouds of magnetized plasma into space. When that plasma nears Earth, it causes some beautiful phenomena, such as the northern lights. However, it could also expose flight crews to radiation or interrupt satellite signals.     

For the Sept. 30 launch, ESIS and MOSES were a roughly 600-pound payload on the NASA sounding rocket, which was otherwise loaded with equipment to control its trajectory, aim the instruments at the sun and bring the rocket safely back to Earth. Sounding rockets are suborbital rockets that carry instruments into outer space for scientific research but do not go fast or high enough to orbit the Earth.

That’s not to say they’re slow. Unlike rockets carrying people, the sounding rockets launch at incredible speeds, producing G-forces that would be dangerous to humans. The rocket’s engines carried the instruments 164 miles above the surface of the Earth on the 15-minute flight, creating about 12 Gs of force off the launch pad. After the rockets burnt out and separated from the payload, a door opened at the end of the experiment for the five-minute data collection window.

To ready for the launch, grad student Parker focused on optics, testing the alignment and focus of ESIS and MOSES over and over. Smart was focused on the software and data collection. He designed a powerful neural network to take the data from the 2-D detectors and process it into 3-D images.

The debut of ESIS looks to be a success in terms of sun data collection, Kankelborg said. Initial images from MOSES didn’t show solar features, a possible indicator of shutter failure, but what it did capture revealed something unexpected. High energy electrons above Earth's atmosphere passed easily through the aluminum skin of the experiment section to the MOSES cameras, leaving bright spots and tracks on the otherwise dark images.

“High energy electrons like that are normally associated with the Van Allen radiation belts,” Kankelborg said. “They are commonly detected in sounding rocket launches from Alaska or other high latitude locations. It is exceedingly rare to observe them as far south as New Mexico.”

Two of MSU’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory satellites in orbit since early 2015 collect data on these high energy electrons from an altitude about 150 miles above MOSES. According to Klumpar, these satellites may have serendipitously been in position to directly measure the electrons that caused the tracks to appear on the MOSES camera images.

Much of how the sun works remains a mystery, Smart explained, but the local star has long been a source of advancement in physics.

“It’s an awesome laboratory within our view,” he said.

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MSU collaborates with Native communities to launch equitable research partnerships

Montana State University has launched a planning initiative that will involve Montana tribes in a "true equitable partnership" during every step of research that involves Native entities.

The university began the collaboration recently during the inaugural MSU Tribal Partnership planning meeting held at MSU. More than 100 tribal representatives and university administrators, faculty, staff and students involved in research, education and outreach attended. MSU officials said they believe the effort to involve tribal representatives at every step and build a truly equitable partnership may be "game-changing" when it comes to procedures for how research is conducted within tribal nations.

"The meeting was really historic," said Walter Fleming, director of MSU's Department of Native American Studies.

Fleming explained that, very often, researchers, many of whom may be well-meaning, plan projects that involve Montana tribal members without asking for the tribe's permission or seeking their feedback. After the research is finished, the tribes may not receive the results, much less integrate those findings to improve lives in the community. As a result, tribes often mistrust researchers, he said.


Fleming said that even in projects that are based on a community-based participatory model, which seeks the input of communities that are being studied, the partnership between tribe and academic researcher can be imbalanced.

However, MSU is working to involve tribes from the beginning and strive for more balanced partnerships.

"It's going to be a gamechanger," Fleming said.

Fleming said tribal representatives at the meeting recommended several changes. First, they said that members of the tribal communities need to be co-principal investigators, or co-PIs, from the beginning of a research proposal. Also, resources, including funding, need to be shared.

"There needs to be a true partnership, and we think that's going to be a major improvement to business as usual," Fleming said. "(MSU has) great programs and "(is)doing great things. However, our mission is to do even better."

The MSU Tribal Partnership planning meeting was facilitated by Loren BirdRattler, a member of the Blackfeet Nation who was recently appointed Katz Endowed Chair in Native American Studies at MSU. His mandate in the professorship is to lead the tribal partnership initiative statewide and nationally.

BirdRattler led a community developed planning effort that created the first in-house tribal Agriculture Resource Management Plan in the country for the Blackfeet Nation. He has more than 20 years of public and private sector experience in organizational development, strategic planning, policy development, project management and civic engagement, much of it at the national level. Last year, BirdRattler addressed the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues about the Blackfeet ARMP, a presentation that was so successful he was invited to return to address the General Assembly.

BirdRattler said that about $25 million of MSU's annual research dollars come from Native-based projects. An equitable relationship between university and tribal communities has the possibility of "raising everyone up," both Native communities and MSU, he said.

At the meeting, several of MSU's Native partners spoke about their work and advised the group about what they felt was important in building tribal/academic relationships. They included Emily Salois, INBRE community research associate, of the Blackfeet Tribe; Alma McCormick, Apsaalooke, executive director of the Messengers for Health program; and Jill Falcon Mackin, an MSU doctoral student in history who is from the Anishinaabe: Ojibwa, or Chippewa, tribe. After those presentations, participants at the meeting broke into groups to discuss examples of MSU research that includes positive tribal partnership as well as how to build on those models in future research.

BirdRattler said the next step in the process will be to share information gathered from the meeting with all participants and then create an advisory group to continue the work.

"I think we made great progress in getting faculty to the table to listen to what meaningful partnerships look like from tribal partners and their perspective," BirdRattler said. "I think we also were successful in getting interested faculty members to share their ideas on the same topic as well."

President Waded Cruzado told the group that increasing mutually beneficial collaborations with tribal nations and partners was a goal expressed in MSU's new strategic plan, Choosing Promise.

"MSU puts tremendous importance on our partnerships with tribal nations," Cruzado said. "So, when we wrote MSU's new strategic plan, we carefully considered where we as an institution wanted to go."

Fleming said he is optimistic that MSU can be a national leader in fashioning this new approach.

"I think we can communicate to our tribal partners that this is our mission as a land-grant institution and that our commitment is committing the university as a whole," Fleming said.

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Tuesday, Oct. 29th, 2019

General deer, elk hunt begins with winter storm, mixed hunter success

Montana’s general hunting season for deer and elk began Saturday, with lower-than-average hunter participation and success in most areas of southwest Montana due to challenging weather and travel conditions. 

Wildlife biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks operated seven check stations in Region 3 over the weekend, checking 2,657 hunters. Biologists use check stations to collect data on hunter participation and success, as well as the species, sex and age class of the animals harvested. This supplements data collected through hunter harvest phone surveys. 

All stations saw slightly fewer hunters than the running five-year average for opening weekend, except for Cameron, which checked close to 600 hunters — about 40 hunters above average — between Saturday and Sunday. Overall, hunter success was below average, ranging from 5.3 percent at the Mill Creek check station to 9 percent at the Townsend check station. 

These figures do not account for different hunting season regulations over the years, which have varied from liberal to restrictive for elk and mule deer, depending on population status. 

In total, biologists checked 15 white-tailed deer, 35 mule deer and 130 elk in the region. Elk harvest was below average at each station, except for Mill Creek. Mule deer harvest was below average at each station except for stations at Townsend and Canyon Ferry. White-tailed deer harvest was above average at the Cameron check station, average at the Canyon Ferry check station and below average elsewhere. 

“Typically, hunter harvest success is improved by additional snow and winter-like conditions during the hunting season,” said Howard Burt, FWP’s Region 3 wildlife manager in Bozeman. “This could bode well for hunter opportunity and success if these conditions continue.” 

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MSU economics professor featured in Netflix documentary series on the business of sugar

A Montana State University economics professor known for his research on domestic and international agricultural trade policy is featured on a new Netflix documentary series, “Rotten,” which explores environmental and equity issues associated with food production and the politics of food policy.

Vincent Smith, co-director of the MSU Initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science, is interviewed in “A Sweet Deal,” the fourth episode of the series’ second season. The episode, which premiered earlier this month, examines the sugar cane industry in Florida and the Dominican Republic.

On average, U.S. sugar prices are about twice as high as global prices due to federal limits on imports and domestic production, according to academic research presented in the episode.

“The stakes associated with ensuring the sugar program continues are high for producers, especially in the concentrated sugar cane industry in Florida, and leads major processing companies to actively seek support from state and federal policy makers,” Smith said.

But sugar subsidies are costly for workers, consumers and taxpayers, he said.

“In the United States, fewer than 4,500 farm businesses produce sugar,” said Smith. “Yet, a broad range of studies consistently finds that on average the U.S. sugar program costs taxpayers between $3 and $4 billion annually in subsidies.”

Smith said producers contacted him to be featured in the episode based on his work on a two-volume book, “Agricultural Policy in Disarray,” published in 2018. He has presented research from that book during briefings of more than 200 congressional delegations on the structure and impact of the U.S. sugar program. Smith’s interview took place in New York City in late January, and he appears in several segments throughout the episode, which is available for online streaming.

“Rotten,” which premiered in 2018, was created by Zero Point Zero Production, the company behind the travel and food shows “Parts Unknown” and “No Reservations.” It examines the ins and outs of the world’s food supply chain to reveal hidden forces that shape what we eat, according to the series synopsis.

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Monday, Oct. 28th, 2019

FWP investigating human-caused grizzly bear mortalities; bears still active during hunting season

Bozeman, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is investigating a grizzly bear mortality after a hunter reportedly shot the bear in self-defense. The incident happened Saturday afternoon in Eureka Basin in the south Gravelly Mountains. The hunter, who was uninjured, reported the incident to FWP that day. Further details are unavailable as the investigation is ongoing. FWP and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are also investigating two other human-caused grizzly bear mortalities that happened last week in the West Yellowstone area. The interagency investigation is still ongoing, and details of those incidents will be released as they become available. 

Bear activity during fall hunting season 
FWP reminds all recreationists that bears are still active, and precautions should still be taken when hunting and recreating in bear country. Many black and grizzly bears will remain active during Montana’s general deer and elk hunting season, which began Oct. 26 and lasts through Dec. 1. Hunters and other recreationists should continue practicing situational awareness and be prepared for a bear encounter. 

Grizzly bear distributions have expanded to and become denser in areas in western and central Montana where they haven’t been in recent decades. Bears can remain active—even at low elevations—through December, and some grizzlies will even roam around for brief periods anytime during the winter. 

The fall hunting season also coincides with when bears are actively seeking protein- and calorie-rich foods in final preparation for hibernation. Certain hunter behaviors can increase the likelihood of encountering bears, such as elk bugling, wearing cover scents, processing animal carcasses and moving quietly in the field. 

Most bear attacks on humans happen in surprise close encounters and usually in timber or brush. As bears get closer to denning, they become lethargic and sleep more each day before they finally go to their dens. Sleeping bears can easily be approached at potentially dangerous distances. So be alert to your surroundings. 

Hunting safely in bear country 
In addition, black bear hunters need to be sure of the species they are hunting. Black bear hunters in Montana are required to pass a bear identification test, which is intended to prevent grizzly bear mortality as a result of mistaken identity. 

Proactive preparation can help hunters avoid negative encounters with grizzly and black bears. Avoid hunting alone whenever possible. Hunting with a partner has helped in both ending bear attacks and getting medical attention. If you must hunt by yourself, give someone details of your hunt plan and check in periodically with them. 

Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it at a moment’s notice. Bear spray has proven to be a valuable deterrent tool in surprise close encounters.  

Pay attention to fresh bear sign. Look for bear tracks, scat and concentrations of natural foods. Use caution when hunting in areas that have evidence of bear activity or areas with scavenging birds. Animal carcasses can attract bears, so avoid them. Follow U.S. Forest Service food storage regulations. 

If you harvest an animal during your hunt, get it home as quickly as possible. Some grizzly bears may move in the direction of gunshots because they have learned to associate hunting activities with a gut pile or animal carcass.  

If you need to make multiple trips to pack out your animal, leave the carcass in a place away from the gut pile where you can observe it from a distance of at least 200 yards, if possible, and cover it with a tarp. As you return, look for bear activity at the site. Then make noise while slowly approaching the carcass. If a bear is at the site, do not attempt to scare it away if it doesn’t leave when it becomes aware of you. Leave the area and contact FWP.  

If you are attacked by a bear, use your bear spray. Don’t run. Lie face-down, covering your neck and head with your hands and arms until the bear is gone. You shouldn’t play dead if you encounter an intent, calm or curious bear.  

For more information on avoiding negative encounters with bears, visit fwp.mt.gov or igbconline.org.

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Thursday, Oct. 24th, 2019

The Bozeman Municipal Band and Hayden Woods Present a Community Endeavor: 100 YEARS OF BOZEMAN MUNICIPAL BAND

The Bozeman Municipal Band in collaboration with local trombonist Hayden Woods, are seeking a commission piece that is backed by YOU, THE COMMUNITY with backer benefits and the opportunity to be featured as a major contributor! Perks include copies of the finished music score, collective pin(s), posters & more.

Donations may be made through the GoFundMe campaign, submitted to a dedicated account set up with Stockman Bank throughout Montana, or by mail to:

Bozeman Municipal Band
PO Box 674
Bozeman, MT 59771

Be sure checks are made out to and Stockman deposits are going to "Bozeman Municipal Band Commission Fund" and save your transaction for verification (email woods.haydenlee@gmail.com for verification) so that we can give the credit where it is due!

Local businesses focused on the communities of Bozeman and throughout the Gallatin Valley may be able to advertise on all correspondence leading up to the new season and at ALL performance events. Email woods.haydenlee@gmail.com to coordinate specific advertising specifications.

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Tuesday, Oct. 22nd, 2019

HRDC’s Blueprint Program to Celebrate Five Years as Sunrise Rotary Matches Gifts up to $25,000

This November, HRDC’s Blueprint will celebrate five years. Blueprint’s transition home opened in November 2015 to offer a safe and inclusive space for youth ages 16- 20 experiencing temporary homelessness.

Blueprint is a strengths-based program designed to provide a short-term solution for youth experiencing moments of homelessness in the Gallatin Valley. The program is designed to build on strengths, as it supports youth in educational attainment, housing stability, and sustainable employment. Often times, family challenges, economic instability, and residential instability are the causes of youth homelessness. In its five years, 82% of youth have transitioned out of Blueprint and in to stable housing.

On November 7, HRDC will host an event to celebrate the community’s support over the last five years. Blueprint is 100% community funded, and could not support youth experiencing temporary homelessness without the generosity of many donors and organizations in the Gallatin Valley. The event will occur at HRDC's Main Office on 32 S. Tracy Avenue in Bozeman.

As a generous support of HRDC’s youth programs, Bozeman’s Sunrise Rotary is contributing a $25,000 matching gift. Sunrise Rotary partnered with Blueprint early, committing over $35,000 to the program. Last fall, Rotary and Rotaract members constructed two new decks and installed a new dishwasher and microwave. This summer, Rotary supported efforts to create a new bathroom for Blueprint tenants.

“Bozeman Sunrise Rotary Club is a group of leaders, innovators, and driven advocates for our community. Their financial support has been crucial to keeping youth housed. Most notable, however, is their advocacy for youth experiencing homelessness in our community,” says Jeremy Alcoke, HRDC’s Youth Development.

For more information about HRDC’s Blueprint or any other HRDC program or service visit thehrdc.org.

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Thursday, Oct. 17th, 2019

New survey suggests improvements in Montanans’ understanding of noxious weeds

Farmers and ranchers in Montana are often intimately aware of the dangers posed by noxious weeds, but the general public’s knowledge of invasive species has also increased due to education and outreach efforts over the past 25 years, according to a recent survey.

The survey follows up an initial survey done in 1994, which determined the level of public knowledge at the time in order to gauge education needs. The 2019 survey was administered by Eric Raile of the Montana State University Human Ecology Learning and Problem Solving Lab; Jane Mangold of MSU Extension and the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science in the College of Agriculture; and Shantell Frame-Martin of the Montana Noxious Weed Education Campaign, or MNWEC. Both surveys were funded by the Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund, which is overseen by the Montana Department of Agriculture.

“The goal of that first survey was to gain insight into the level of knowledge that Montanans had about noxious weeds,” said Frame-Martin. “We found out that there wasn’t a whole lot of knowledge, so that was when the MNWEC was formed.”

The MNWEC, housed in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at MSU, is a cooperative effort among state and federal entities and non-governmental organizations that seeks to educate Montanans about noxious weeds, encouraging them to participate in integrated weed management.

Since 1994, the MNWEC has used billboards, pamphlets, educational classes, newspaper articles, and radio and television advertisements to increase knowledge across the state. Recently, it has focused has been on key audiences like recreationists and hunters who spend a lot of time in Montana’s natural areas and may accidentally spread noxious weeds. They also developed educational materials for real estate professionals.

Noxious weeds infest nearly 8 million acres of Montana, said Frame-Martin, and something as simple as walking or driving through a patch of noxious weeds without washing shoes or vehicles afterward can spread the weeds to areas that haven’t yet been exposed. Of particular concern are medusahead and ventenata, invasive grasses that are detrimental to rangelands because they decrease the amount of forage available for livestock and wildlife.

More than 800 Montanans responded to the newest survey. Of those, nearly half reported they drive on dirt roads or across fields, 41% reported that they routinely go hiking or backpacking, 37% work outside or in fields, 24% fish and 17% hunt. All of those are outdoor activities that, without proper awareness, can spread noxious weeds.

About half of respondents, 48%, said that they have “little to no” knowledge of noxious weeds. While it seems like a large proportion, it is an improvement over the 1994 survey, where 67% of respondents indicated they knew little or nothing about noxious weeds.

However, 73% of respondents were able to name at least one species of noxious weed, and at least 80% identified loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, increased wildfire and loss of native plants as particularly concerning impacts of noxious weeds, showing awareness of the impacts the weeds can have.

Nearly half of respondents said they do more now to prevent noxious weed spread than they did five years ago, which Frame-Martin said is encouraging. While all the numbers might not yet be where the researchers hoped, she said they are moving in the right direction. When it comes to environmental issues, educating people about the behaviors that contribute to the problem is critical, she said, and Montanans who know about noxious weeds are more likely to do their part to help stop the spread.

“The results that we gained are encouraging,” Frame-Martin said. “The trends in our data show that knowledge has increased.”

One of the less encouraging results from the survey for Frame-Martin was the trend of younger adults and female respondents tending to know less and show less interest in noxious weeds. But, she said, this finding will help the MNWEC adapt its educational efforts to engage those groups.

“Everybody has the capability and capacity to help stop noxious weeds,” Frame-Martin said. “We all love Montana, and we live here because of the great recreational opportunities. We need to protect those for future generations. Making sure that knowledge is out there and that everybody can do their part is essential.”

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Wednesday, Oct. 16th, 2019

Botox: Its History and Benefits

Have you ever wondered about the history of BOTOX, one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in the world? Here’s how a neurotoxin became a medical and cosmetic wonder and its many benefits today.

The History of BOTOX
Long before discovering its modern uses and fame as an anti-aging treatment, BOTOX injections lived a varied life for various medical treatments. While it is still in use for these various medical treatments to this day, these have been somewhat overshadowed by its popularity as in treating wrinkles.

BOTOX, the brand name for Botulinum toxin, first appeared in 1820 when a German medical officer named Justinus Kerner performed some tests and established its ability to interrupt signal transmissions without impairing sensory or mental functions. Fast-forwarding just over 100 years to the 1930s, the botulinum toxin was being investigated for its potential use as a chemical weapon.

Over the decades that followed, research and experimentation with botulinum continued, when in the 1950s researchers discovered the potential to reduce hyperactive muscle activity. Research then continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s to explore the possibility for use for muscle disorders, and even as a treatment for crossed eyes, a technique still used today, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The first treatment with botulinum toxin to be approved by the FDA came in 1989 when they approved the use of the toxin for treating eyelid spasms and crossed eyes, and it was given the name BOTOX. Further FDA approvals continued throughout the early 2000s when the BOTOX therapy became approved for increasingly more aesthetic treatments, such as for the treatment of various types of wrinkles and fine lines associated with aging. Around this time, treatment for conditions such as hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and muscle stiffness became FDA approved also.

To this day scientists and researchers are still finding many new medical applications for BOTOX.

The Benefits of BOTOX
Many great benefits that patients are looking to undergo BOTOX treatment can expect, ranging not only from its speed, effectiveness, and non-invasive nature to its applicability to numerous muscle-related medical treatments.


BOTOX can Treat a Range of Medical Conditions
There are myriad medical conditions for which BOTOX injections can be an incredibly effective treatment. Since BOTOX paralyzes muscle activity and can prevent nerves from sending signals to and from the brain, it has become an effective treatment for muscle-related problems like:

University of Minnesota Health
Hyperhidrosis: Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes the body, especially the armpits, to produce excessive amounts of sweat. By targeting sweat glands by blocking the nerves with BOTOX injections, the overactive nerves become paralyzed, making them unable to communicate with the sweat glands and preventing excessive sweating, according to the University of Minnesota Health

American Migraine Foundation
Migraines: When treating migraines with BOTOX injections, those suffering can see a significant reduction in the number of days in which they experience migraines and the duration for which they experience them. BOTOX also provided more pain-free days per month. Studies have shown that following two rounds of BOTOX treatment, 50% of patients saw a decrease in the number of days spent with migraines. Following 5 rounds of treatment, that number went up to 70%, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

Urinary incontinence: BOTOX injections can be an especially effective treatment for those with bladder control issues. After making around 20 injections of BOTOX around certain parts of the bladder wall, around 75% of women undergoing the treatment saw a definitive reduction in both the frequency and urgency with which they previously needed to visit the bathroom. While this is not a permanent solution, results can last for as long as 6 to 9 months.

Myofascial pain syndrome: This is a chronic condition causing sufferers to suffer symptoms of muscle pain around the neck and shoulders. Injecting BOTOX into certain trigger points block signals from being sent between muscles and nerves, leading to relief in those targeted areas.

Many other conditions can be treated with BOTOX injections too, ranging widely from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders to crossed eyes and even to depression.

An Effective Treatment for Wrinkles
As our bodies age, wrinkles and deep lines are inevitable. One of the most effective means of dealing with age-related wrinkles is with BOTOX treatment, and in the case of static wrinkles (as opposed to dynamic wrinkles), with the assistance of dermal fillers too. While cosmetic surgery is obviously also an option, BOTOX carries dramatically less cost, recovery, downtime and is non-invasive, according to Richard W. Maloney, BOTOX expert from Naples, FL.

Some of the different types of wrinkles that can be treated with BOTOX include:

Glabellar lines: Wrinkles located between the eyebrows and above the nose
Crows feet: Wrinkles that emerge from the corners of the eyes
Forehead wrinkles
Bunny lines: Wrinkles located on the bridge of the nose
Marionette lines: Vertical lines running from the corners of the mouth down to the chin

A Non-Invasive, Quick, and Effective Approach to Anti-Aging
BOTOX injections are one of the most popular cosmetic treatments because they are non-invasive, meaning that no surgery or incisions are required. The procedure simply consists of somewhere between 5 and 10 injections of BOTOX injected strategically into treatment areas.

Relatively speaking, the entire procedure is a quick one. BOTOX injections take only a few minutes and don’t require any anesthesia. Your entire appointment will last no longer than 30 minutes and can be done during a lunch break.

When compared to other alternative procedures such as cosmetic surgery, BOTOX offers incredibly fast results, with most people seeing results immediately or within a few days. The full effects of BOTOX are noticeable after just one week. Just as impressive are the long-lasting results that last for around 3 to 6 months. At this point, the results of the BOTOX treatment will begin to fade while muscle action gradually resumes, however, for patients undergoing BOTOX treatment for wrinkles and fine lines, most will see those wrinkles and fine lines fading gradually over time due to the muscle shrinkage that occurs over time.

To maintain the best possible results of the BOTOX treatment, repeated injections may be required every 4 or 5 months.

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