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The University of Montana's main hall. 

Henry C. Lee, one of the world’s foremost forensic scientists, is scheduled to deliver a keynote address from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday during a dinner event at the University of Montana as part of the 2016 Montana Medicolegal Death Investigation Conference.

Lee has worked with law enforcement agencies in helping to solve more than 6,000 cases. His testimony figured prominently during the O.J. Simpson trial and he assisted police during the investigation of the JonBenet Ramsey murder in Colorado. In recent years, Lee’s work has taken him to England, Bosnia, China, Brunei and other locations around the world.

Lee’s lecture is open to the public and may be attended by those who are not registered for the full conference. Tickets to the keynote cost $50, or $75 for two. Students with a valid ID may purchase tickets for $35. The event takes place in the University Center Ballroom and includes dinner, a lecture by Lee and a book signing. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 243-4623.

Registration is still open for the 2016 Montana Medicolegal Death Investigation Conference, which will be held Wednesday through Friday, Aug. 10-12, on the third floor of the UC. The conference is hosted by UM’s School of Extended and Lifelong Learning. The target audience for the conference is coroners, medical examiners, death investigators and other police and public safety officers, forensic scientists, physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians and others involved with the investigation of violent, suspicious or unexpected deaths.

Biomolecular Center earns $10.5M grant

A research center at UM recently was awarded $10.5 million from the National Institutes of Health.

The major, five-year award will augment UM’s Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, which works to unravel the molecular foundations of biological processes in health and disease. The funding is a Phase II NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) award.

The award will provide up to three years of research funding to four faculty investigators: Kasper Hansen, Celine Beamer and Philippe Diaz in the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences , and Dong Wang in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. It also will fund research programs of BMED’s Travis Hughes and Andrea Stierle.

The COBRE award also will support:

  • The BioSpectroscopy Research Laboratory directed by Sandy Ross and managed by Chelle Terwilliger.
  • The Molecular Computational Core directed by Nicholas Natale and managed by Dave Holley.
  • The Protein Expression and X-ray Diffraction Core operated by Tung-Chung Mou.
  • Small-molecule X-ray diffraction services provided by Orion Berryman.
  • The nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry core facilities managed in part by Earle Adams.

Research: Mountain environments more vulnerable to climate change

New research by University of Montana forest landscape ecology Professor Solomon Dobrowski shows that organisms will face more hardships as they relocate when climate change makes their current homes uninhabitable.

Dobrowski and co-author Sean Parks – a scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Aldo Leopold Research Institute and a UM alumnus – propose a new method to model how fast and where organisms will need to move to keep pace with climate change.

Mountains support roughly a quarter of the globe’s terrestrial biodiversity, contain about a third of its protected areas and house nearly half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. One reason for this biodiversity is that complex topography within mountains creates diverse climates within close proximity to one another.

One way scientists measure how vulnerable a site is to climate change is to estimate how far organisms at that site need to move to maintain a consistent temperature as the Earth warms. The diversity of climates in mountain landscapes means that when temperatures rise, organisms might have to only move a short distance to get to a cooler home.

However, Dobrowksi and Parks show that measuring the distance from one area of suitable climate to the next doesn’t account for the resistance organisms will encounter as they traverse areas with very different climates, like a warm valley between two mountain peaks.

“It’s not enough to just measure how far an organism will have to move in order to keep up with climate change,” Dobrowski said. “We also need to look at how much organisms will be exposed to dissimilar climates along the way. Once we do that, we find that even short movements in mountainous areas expose organisms to large climate differences. This may prevent plants and animals from being able to maintain a suitable climate as the earth warms.”

Dobrowski and Parks suggest that areas within mountains are more climatically isolated and thus more vulnerable to climate change than previously reported.

Their paper, “Climate change velocity underestimates climate change exposure in mountainous regions,” was published Aug. 1 in Nature Communications. It is available online at

Annual economic update addresses competition for talent

UM's Bureau of Business and Economic Research will take the 11th annual Economic Update Series on the road to Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Butte, Great Falls and Missoula Tuesday through Thursday.

BBER Director Pat Barkey will share the latest intelligence and projections of where the state and regional economies are headed, with a particular eye on the labor market. Barkey will be joined by Kate McGoldrick, the executive director of UM’s new enterprise and executive development efforts, who will share her insights on why the challenge of attracting talent is so important, and what companies can do to address it.

The Economic Update Series is sponsored by the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Each event runs approximately 1.5 hours and includes breakfast at the morning seminars and lunch at the afternoon seminars. Registration costs $30 for Montana Chamber of Commerce members and $35 for nonmembers. To register for the Economic Update series, visit the chamber’s website at or call 406-442-2405.

The Economic Update schedule is:

  • 7 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9: Billings, Crowne Plaza.
  • Noon Tuesday, Aug. 9: Bozeman, Holiday Inn.
  • 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10: Helena, Radisson Colonial Hotel.
  • Noon Wednesday, Aug.10: Butte, NorthWestern Energy.
  • 7 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 11: Great Falls, Hilton Garden Inn.
  • Noon Thursday, Aug. 11: Missoula, Hilton Garden Inn.

For more information visit BBER at or call 243-5113.

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Blackstone LaunchPad sets entrepreneurial conference

The University of Montana’s entrepreneurial incubator Blackstone LaunchPad invites all who seek inspiration to attend the inaugural Last Best Conference to help pursue their passions.

The conference is scheduled Thursday and Friday, Aug. 25-26, at The Wilma with additional activities all across town. It will feature nationally renowned speakers including Missoula native John Stone, head of innovation and commercialization at Samsung; Mark Roberge, HubSpot chief revenue officer; Ariel Adkins, Twitter art and culture liaison; and Lu Setnicka, former human resources director at Patagonia.

Between keynote speakers, conference attendees will attend participant-driven breakout sessions and social events designed to spark networking and community building. The Last Best Conference is designed and organized by a statewide team of volunteers who are passionate about supporting an innovative Montana full of creative dreamers and thinkers.

Academy topics range from starting a business to using creativity to change an organization and the world. For a full academy listing, visit

Tickets for the conference cost $199, which includes all main-stage sessions, conference swag and a drink token for Thursday’s cocktail party at The Wilma. Tickets are available online at Academies cost $29 per session. In addition, participants may choose to register for a two-day boot camp on Tuesday and Wednesday led by global accelerator program Seed Spot, which costs $450.


UM alum to advise manufacturers in new role

A University of Montana alumnus has joined the staff of Montana State University’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center as the new business adviser.

In his new role, Michael Manhardt will advise the west-central Montana region, including Missoula, where he will have an office with UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Manhardt holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Business Administration from UM. His previous experience includes serving as a powertrain development engineer at Waukesha Engine, a powertrain design and development engineer at Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle design program manager at Polaris Industries and the hard goods design manager at Sun Mountain Sports.

In addition, Manhardt owned two businesses in Missoula: Helix3D, a manufacturer of 3-D printers, and Acuity Design, a product design firm specializing in industrial design and fabrication.

For more information about BBER, visit or call 243-5113.

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