2017-2018 News

Hellgate High School Junior wins 2018 Montana Tech Science Fair

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Sophia Richter (Hellgate High School) won the highest scoring 11th grade project at the 2018 Montana Tech Science Fair for her work on Wolbachia bacteria with Assistant Professor Brandon S. Cooper. Sophia also won "Best Project References" for the scholarship of her research paper. Finally, Sophia also received 3rd place overall at the Intermountain Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for her work. Together, these awards send Sophia to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and to the national Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Congratulations, Sophia! 

UM Professor Earns Two Grants for Infection Prevention Research

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Patrick Secor, a new assistant professor in the University of Montana’s Division of Biological Sciences, recently won two grants for his research on the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Secor, who holds a doctorate in biological sciences and began work at UM in July, earned a Career Transition Award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for $250,000 over two years. The award – which assists young scientists who are transitioning from a mentored position, such as a postdoctoral fellow, to independent faculty – will allow Secor to conduct research, hire researchers and purchase key pieces of equipment.

Secor also earned a Transformational Award from the Falk Medical Research Trust. The Falk award, which is worth $1 million over two years, is split among Secor and researchers at Stanford, Ohio State and Baylor universities. The funding will go toward helping develop a human vaccine against the pathogen P. aeruginosa, which can cause infection in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, non-healing wounds and many other hospital-acquired infections.

For more info, see the full release.

Assistant Professor Patrick Secor awarded Transformational Award

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Assistant Professor Patrick R. Secor has been awarded a Transformational Award from the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust. The two-year grant of $1 million dollars aims to fund Secor and his collaborators at Stanford University, The Ohio State, and Baylor University to develop therapeutics that target a filamentous bacteriophage, or a virus, that infects bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa (See image). Secor and his collaborators at Stanford discovered that filamentous bacteriophage promote several pathogenic features of bacteria including enhanced antibiotic tolerance, desiccation survival, and bacterial adherence to mucosal surfaces (Cell Host & Microbe, 2015; 18:549-59; Infection and Immunity, 2017;85: e00648-16.

Professor Doug Emlen's Extreme Animal Weapons Documentary to Air on PBS/NOVA (November 22nd)

Professor Doug Emlen with Elk Antler

From lobster claws and dog teeth to bee stings and snake fangs, every creature depends on a weapon. But some are armed to extremes that make no practical sense—whether it’s bull elks with giant 40-pound antler racks or tiny rhinoceros beetles with horns bigger than their body. What explains giant tusks, horns, and claws that can slow an animal down and even impair health and nutrition? NOVA investigates the riddle of outsize weaponry and uncovers a bold new theory about what triggers an animal arms race. In creatures as varied as dung beetles and saber-toothed tigers, shrimp and elephants, the same hidden factors trigger the race and, once started, these arms races unfold in exactly the same pattern. Join scientists as they crack the secret biological code that underlies nature’s battleground.  Airing November 22, 2017 at 9 pm on PBS

New NIH grant funds research on host-microbe interactions

cooper_photo_galap.jpgAssistant Professor Brandon S. Cooper has been awarded an R35 MIRA grant from the NIH ($1,802,630) to fund his research on interactions between endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria and their Drosophila fly hosts. This research will identify genetic and environmental contexts that promote Wolbachiaspread, which is crucial to explain the prevalence of Wolbachia infections in nature and to improve the efficacy of Wolbachia biocontrol.  For more infomration, see UM's article regarding the grant.