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Under the M: Biology professor wins high award for book

Under the M: Biology professor wins high award for book

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Animal Weapons

Biology professor wins high award for book

A book written by Douglas Emlen, an acclaimed University of Montana evolutionary biologist, has been awarded the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.

Emlen officially will receive the award for his book “Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle” and a $10,000 prize at a gala dinner Dec. 4 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The award is presented by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. ­Since 1959, the group has presented the award to recognize outstanding contributions by scientists to the literature of science. Past book winners include the likes of “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond, which also won the Pulitzer Prize.

“I worked long hours on this book, and receiving this award is a wonderful affirmation,” Emlen said in a statement. “Writing at this level, with this voice and to this audience, was the most enjoyable and meaningful thing I’ve ever done. It’s a great feeling to know you are bringing real science to the public in an entertaining and meaningful way.”

“Animal Weapons” tells the story behind the incredible weapons we see in the animal world and what they can tell us about the way humans protect ourselves, according to a news release from University Relations. Emlen takes the reader outside the lab and deep into the forests and jungles of the world to explain the processes behind the most extreme of animal weapons.

The UM researcher also uses the evolution of these animal weapons to draw parallels to the way humans develop and employ their own weapons. “Animal Weapons” analyzes the role of camouflage, the evolution of the rifle and the structures human populations have built across different regions and eras to protect their homes and communities, among many other examples.

The book includes stunning illustrations of these concepts at work. “Animal Weapons” brings the reader the complete story of how weapons reach their most outsized, dramatic potential, and what the animal world can tell us about our own relationship with weapons.

One Phi Kappa selection panel member described the book as a “Lively, engrossing account of the arms races in animal evolution, development and ecology. Emlen is a natural storyteller and the book moves swiftly through different fields of science and military history.”

More information about the book is online at

Emlen is an internationally renowned expert on horns, antlers, claws and other animal armaments, and he frequently uses beetles as an animal model in his research. He earned his doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University in 1994 and joined the UM faculty in 1996.

His many awards, honors and grants include UM’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014, the E.O. Wilson Prize from the American Society of Naturalists in 2013, a Presidential Early Career Award in 2002 and the Young Investigator Prize in 1997. For more information visit

UM also announced the following:


Recycled wood products, fashionable hats for active Montanans, high-tech printers and personal grooming products for men are the subjects of a UM student-produced television program featuring Montana-based businesses.

The award-winning “Business: Made in Montana” profiles companies that create products in Big Sky Country and do business around the state, the country and the world. The newest program is scheduled to premiere at 7:30 p.m. Thursday across the state on Montana PBS. An encore presentation is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

This episode introduces viewers to three Missoula business – Fang Mountain Wilderness Hardware, Wizbang Hats and Acuity Design – and Beard Mountain Trading Company in Billings.

Students at the UM School of Journalism and Department of Radio-Television produced the program this fall. Junior journalism student Noelle McAvoy from Missoula hosts the program. In the past 22 years, “Business: Made in Montana” has featured more than 200 different businesses. 


Students in the UM School of Journalism have launched a new endeavor to tell the uncovered stories of racial experiences in Montana.

“The Montana Race Project: Everyone Has A Story” launched Oct. 12. Students in UM’s Diversity in Media class are gathering six-word essays by working with all 16 Montana University System campuses along with Montana’s seven tribal colleges. The class has the goal of reaching out to all 47,000 students enrolled in the Montana University System.

Additionally, the students invite anyone who lives in Montana to submit an essay. Interested individuals can share their essays online on, and they can do so anonymously if they choose. The project also is on Facebook.

As part of the campuswide DiverseU symposium, stories curated through the project are scheduled to be displayed at the University Center Nov. 4-5. Students in the Diversity in Media course are scheduled to formally present the project, read a curated selection of essays and lead a Q-and-A at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in the UC Theater, followed by a public presentation in conjunction with the display.

“Through this project, journalism students are helping to create a proactive, honest conversation about a topic that can be very difficult to discuss,” UM journalism Dean Larry Abramson said. “I encourage all Montanans to share their experiences or reflections on race with our students as they work to put classroom lessons to work in our communities.”


George Stanley, an accomplished paleontologist and UM geosciences professor, is scheduled to discuss mass extinctions during the next installment of the Provost’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series at UM.

Stanley is set to present “Mass Extinctions in Geologic Time and the Implications for the Past, Present and Future” at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the third-floor University Center North Ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Stanley’s research and teaching experiences are international in scope, dealing with paleontology and paleoecology, modern and ancient reefs, and Mesozoic paleontology. Stanley also directs the UM Paleontology Center and was named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in late 2014.


The widely popular novel and movie “The Help” fictionalized the relationships of white employers and black domestics in the South. On Thursday, Professor Jervette Ward from the University of Alaska Anchorage is slated to give a lecture at UM titled “The Real Help: The Story Behind ‘The Help’ in Print and on Screen.”

The lecture is scheduled at 7 p.m. in the Turner Hall Dell Brown Room at UM. It's free and open to the public.

Ward is an English professor who describes herself as “a Southerner who specializes in African-American women’s literature, living and working in the last frontier – Alaska.” Her research and teaching areas focus on American literature with an emphasis in African-American women’s literature.

The lecture is sponsored by UM’s Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, African-American Studies Program, Department of Sociology, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.

For more information, call UM associate professor of sociology Daisy Rooks at 406-243-2852 or email, or call UM associate professor of history Tobin Miller Shearer at 406-243-6225, or email


An author who won the Rome Prize and a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship will visit UM on Friday, Oct. 23, to lecture during the day and read nonfiction that evening. Both events are free and open to the public.

Tom Bissell is scheduled to present his craft lecture, “The Best Paragraph and The Worst Paragraph: A Comparison,” from 12:10-1 p.m. in Payne Family Native American Center Room 105. His nonfiction reading is scheduled at 7 p.m. in the Turner Hall Dell Brown Room.

Bissell has written several books, including “Extra Lives,” “Magic Hours” and “The Father of All Things.” He also is a video game writer and has worked on several franchises, including “Gears of War,” “Battlefield” and “Uncharted.” His new book, “Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve,” will be released next year.

To learn more about the Creative Writing Program and Bissell’s visit to UM, call Karin Schalm, program coordinator, at 406-243-5267, email or visit


The spectrUM Discovery Area and its partner on the Flathead Indian Reservation, SciNation, have received the 2015 Paul Shin Memorial Award from the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science. The award recognizes dedication to communicating science to the public and inspiring others to do the same.

The award was announced at the COPUS annual conference Oct. 2. SciNation members Whisper Camel-Means and Stephanie Gillin, both wildlife biologists with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Wildlife Management Program, and Jessie Herbert, spectrUM’s STEM Education Program manager, jointly accepted the award.

It honors spectrUM and SciNation’s collaborative engagement with the Flathead Reservation’s communities. Their cooperative efforts include the Science Learning Tent at the annual Arlee Celebration and the Science Bytes program that provides hands-on STEM enrichment at free lunch sites during the summer.

The public can visit spectrUM at 218 E. Front St. in Missoula 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person.

For more information or to book a school visit, call spectrUM STEM Education Program Manager Jessie Herbert at 406-243-4828 or visit


The Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana has 204 students in its entering cohort this year, the largest class since 2008. Competition for entry into the Davidson Honors College is more intense than ever; the average SAT and ACT scores of DHC applicants were at record highs, and the average GPA of all DHC applicants was the second highest in the past decade.

This year’s winners of the prestigious Presidential Leadership Scholarship also had a higher average GPA (3.96) and ACT score (32) than any previous class of PLS awardees.

“Perhaps the brightest point of progress, though, is the number of students we have studying and working overseas in a purposeful manner,” said Dean Brock Tessman.

The Presidential Leadership Scholarship is UM’s premier freshman scholarship and is awarded solely on academic merit. UM designates about 25 PLS awards – which include a full tuition waiver to resident students and in-state tuition credit equivalent for nonresident students – annually to incoming freshmen. Awardees may renew the scholarship for four years.

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