Areas of Study
Biofilm Science & Engineering
Biofilm form when bacteria attach to wetted surfaces, and begin to excrete a slimy,
glue-like substance. Colonies of biofilm bacteria carry out a variety of detrimental
or beneficial reactions that affect all of us daily.
At the Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE), multidisciplinary research teams find solutions and applications for industrially relevant problems and potentials of microbial biofilm formation. The CBE was established in 1990 as a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center to foster a new approach to university engineering and science education.
Cell, Developmental, & Molecular Biology
Bioinformatics, Genomics, Proteomics
Genomics is the large-scale investigation of the structure and function of genes. Understanding the structure and function of genomes aids in drug discovery and development, agricultural research, and other fields.
Proteomics is the genome-wide analysis of protein regulation, expression, structure, post-translational modification, interactions, and function. This term was coined to make an analogy with genomics, yet proteomics is much more complicated than genomics. The genome is a rather constant entity, while the proteome differs between cell types and fluctuates in response to interactions with the environment.
The interdisciplinary MSU faculty in Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics developed teaching and training programs that responds to current and future needs of the field.
We feel that a burgeoning area of research of such import is an ideal theme around which to focus graduate education. The research expertise and the instrumentation for chemical biology at Montana State University are outstanding. By fostering an environment that stimulates substantive communication between chemists and biologists, MSU has created a catalyst for new research opportunities and discoveries that will greatly enhance our knowledge of living systems.
*Editorial, no authors assigned. "A community of chemists and biologists" Nature Chemical Biology, 2005, 1, 3.
Many viral infections produce no discernible symptoms, and thus these viruses occur at frequencies of >90% in the host species without producing any disease. However, a subset of viruses can change in their properties over time and can begin to produce diseases such as diarrhea, AIDS, hepatitis, hemorraghic fever, or viral encephalitis.
The virology research programs at MSU seek to understand the biology of a wide range of viruses that are unique in their medical relevance, genetic properties, or ability to survive in extraordinarily harsh environments (e.g., boiling acid). If we are to prevent viral diseases such as AIDS, which currently claims the lives of over 8,000 people per day worldwide, then it is essential that we train a new generation of virologists whose understanding of molecular virology is matched by an even greater respect for the complex biology of the bacterial, plant, or animal hosts that viruses infect.
Immunology & Infectious Disease
Infectious diseases of humans and animals are caused by a wide spectrum of microorganisms including single-cell bacteria, multicellular parasites, viruses or infectious proteins known as ‘prions’ (i.e., causative agent of ‘mad cow disease’). Infectious disease research at MSU focuses on understanding the biology of each specific group of infectious agents and learning how these specific microbes produce disease when infections are established in people or animals
Life in Extreme Environments
Thermal Biology research at Montana State University is conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists studying the unique thermal environments in Yellowstone National Park. The close proximity to one of the largest geothermal areas in North America provides the researchers the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research focused on the chemistry and biology of geothermal systems.
MSU scientists work in other extreme environments too including the cold reaches of Antartica. MSU has internationally known scientists studing microbes found deep in the Antarctic ice. They are also currently constructing a 2,700 square foot Subzero Research Facility which will be a cold research facility like no other found in the world.
The environmental microbiology research programs at MSU provide world-class training opportunities for graduate students interested in solving future problems.
Ecology & Environmental Science
The Neuroscience group at MSU spans many of these levels and disciplines. The faculty employ a wide array of experimental and theoretical approaches to study the nervous systems of organisms ranging from invertebrates to non-human primates, and to investigate functions ranging from neuronal excitability and neural development to information processing, perception and cognition.