Organismal Biology, Ecology, & Evolution

OBEE Overview

The  Organismal Biology, Ecology, & Evolution (OBEE) program at the University of Montana was created nearly three decades ago, with the fusion of UM Botany and Zoology programs. While founded on the principle that questions in ecology and evolution transcend taxonomic categories, OBEE retains a strong emphasis on the organism. Specifically, we foster faculty and students whose research investigates patterns of natural variation and the processes that generate them. OBE has long been outstanding in conservation biology, ecology, and functional morphology; more recently, we have added new strengths in evolutionary genomics.

 Field work in sagebrush country

Physiological ecology fieldwork on the Montana-Idaho border (photo: Anna Sala)

In 2013, The University recognized OBEE's commitment to excelllence with a Program of National Distinction (PoND) award. This competitive grant, along with a generous match from the Drollinger-Dial Foundation, has brought additional resources for the enhancement of international connections and, most importantly, graduate student support. OBE is a small graduate program, not a large department, and our primarily focus (beyond the questions that motivate our science) is graduate student development. This is reflected both in the structure of our M.S. and Ph.D degree programs and in the productivity and camaraderie of our students. Structurally, we emphasize breadth as well as depth by requiring a 3-semester core course series (including advanced topics in Ecology, Evolution & Genetics, and Organismal Function) of all Ph.D students; to foster the art of communication to a broad audience, all students give an annual public research seminar in our Noon Seminar Series, as well as participate in the Ecology & Evolution seminar series.
OBE grad students in Tanzania (photo credit: Robert Niese)Grad students Sharon Hood and Alexis Billings in Tanzania with 2014-2015 OBE field course. (Photo credit: Robert Niese)