DBS Community Outreach
Faculty members in DBS are key contributors to the spectrUM Discovery Area, an energetic science outreach program with locations on campus and in downtown Missoula as well as a mobile science lab (MosSE). spectrUM is an interactive science museum, built for kids but with tremendous appeal for grown-ups and family. Unique to spectrUM is the BrainZone, a working lab collaboratively created and designed with spectrUM by UM’s Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience. Funded by NIH and staffed by UM researchers and Missoula High School students, BrainZone provides interactive activities for kids of all ages to explore neuroscience.
CMMB Assistant Professors Sarah Certel (shown with a student) and Ekaterina Voronina are passionate about demonstrating that science is fun and empowering all visitors to learn how brains and bodies function. Along with BrainZone staff, they design and implement exhibits for students of all ages. For example, examining the changes in a fruit fly from single gene mutations enable kids to learn that genes and gene products build animal bodies and brains.
In addition to being an outstanding teacher and creative researcher, OBE Professor Erick epitomizes the DBS spirit of community involvement. In 2014, the University of Montana Foundation awarded Erick the Tom Boone Town and Gown Award, in recognition of his ability to communicate to diverse audiences and for his contributions to the community.
With collaborators on the Montana Osprey Project, Erick has found that locally-high levels of mercury impact osprey egg and chick survival and has engaged local students and others to help protect these iconic birds from pollution and damaging baling twine in their nests. Thousands more across the country have connected with Missoula area ospreys through the project's Hellgate Osprey Cam. Ericks's work on chickadee communication (published in Science in 2005) even inspired a symphony, written by Craig Naylor and performed by the UM Wind Ensemble.