J-School part of NSF grant to study food, energy, water

UM Bridge text logoFaculty and graduate students at the School of Journalism are part of a new $3 million science grant focused on innovative approaches to studying the intersection of water, energy and food.

Nadia White, an associate professor of journalism, is part of an interdisciplinary program called “UM BRIDGES: Bridging Divides across the Food, Energy and Water Nexus.” The program will bring 30 new PhD and Master’s students to UM under the 5-year National Science Foundation research training grant.

“This grant challenges scientists to work together to better understand major areas of concern in a future affected by climate change and other dynamic modern forces,” White said. “One of our goals at the J School is to train journalists to understand the nuances and implications of cutting-edge scientific research. This grant helps create access to that inquiry.”

White teaches Story Lab, a science journalism class that pairs students pursing a Master’s degree in environmental science and natural resource journalism with research labs at the University of Montana.

Journalism faculty will teach communication strategies and journalism skills to Ph.D. and Masters degree students in a series of workshops.

Andrew Wilcox, an associate professor in Geosciences, and Laurie Yung, an associate professor in the College of Forestry lead UM BRIDGES.

The program, Yung said, is part of a new way of thinking about graduate education.

“This new approach seeks to train students to connect science and practice, to communicate with a range of audiences, and to move more seamlessly across traditional disciplinary boundaries,” Yung said.

The award puts the University of Montana at the forefront of a broader national initiative to build more sustainable and secure food, energy, and water systems and to develop innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to graduate education.

The Hard Way Selected as Banff Finalist

photo shows film's subject running down a wooded trail.
The Hard Way was awarded Best Short at the September 2016 Trail Running Film Festival Seattle

The Hard Way Documentary – the inspirational story about 89-year-old ultra runner Bob Hayes, has been selected as a Finalist for the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Competition. In its 41st year, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is one of the most prestigious mountain film festivals in the world. Presented by National Geographic and The North Face, it takes place October 29 – November 6, 2016, at Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

The Hard Way is the inspirational story of Bob Hayes, an 89-year-old who runs 30 races each year, cuts his firewood by hand and does things the hard way to remain active and alive. The film takes us on a journey that’s about more than running, it teaches us to live life with purpose and momentum. Montana independent filmmakers Erik Petersen, of Clyde Park, and Jeremy Lurgio, of Missoula spent more than a year documenting Hayes’ story about remaining active and vital as he approaches 90.

“He lives an authentic, inspirational life, and we were lucky enough to document that,” Petersen said. “Being selected as a finalist to Banff is just icing on the cake.”

“Bob lives the way many of us hope to in our later years. He has a nice balance of hard work, running and being active in the community,” Lurgio said. “He still contra dances, he goes to the library and continues to learn all the time. It’s just really inspiring.”

Erik and Jeremy are traveling up to Banff for the festival this weekend.

The Hard Way will screen November 5 and 6 in Banff, Alberta.

Other scheduled screenings:

  • November 5, 2016 – Missoula, Montana – The Missoula Trail Running Film Festival will feature The Hard Way at The Wilma Theater.
  • If selected for the Banff Official Tour, The Hard Way will play in Missoula at the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Dennison Theater Nov. 13th.

About the Filmmakers: Jeremy Lurgio is a freelance photographer and an associate professor of photojournalism and multimedia at the University of Montana School of Journalism. You can find his work at http://www.jeremylurgio.com

Erik Petersen is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Livingston, Montana. You can find his work at www.erikpetersenphoto.com

By Jeremy Lurgio

Welcoming Our New Director of Development

♦ From Cindy Williams, Vice President of Development

at the University of Montana Foundation ♦

head shot of Gita Saedi Kiely
Gita Saedi Kiely is a longtime friend and supporter of the J School, in addition to being a formidable filmmaker in her own right.

I’m pleased to announce that Gita Saedi Kiely has accepted the position of Director of Development assigned to work with the School of Journalism. In that role, Gita will collaborate with Dean Larry Abramson to grow private support of the School of Journalism through annual, major and principal gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations. Gita will begin work at the Foundation on Monday, December 5.

Gita has served as the Executive Director of the Big Sky Film Institute & Big Sky Documentary Film Festival since June 2014.  In that role she has directed all aspects of the 10-day film festival which draws an audience of 20,000 to Missoula. In addition, she worked with the Film Festival from 2012-2014 as Festival Director and later as DocShop Director. Gita served as an adjunct lecturer for the School of Journalism from 2007-2012. She is also a noted film producer. Among the critically acclaimed projects she produced is the series The New Americans, an award-winning multi-part series for public television which initially broadcast in Spring 2004. 

Many thanks to Jerelyn and Stacy, as well as the Development, Prospect Research, MarCom and Gift & Fund Administration teams who helped interview and evaluate candidates for this position. Please join me in welcoming Gita to the Foundation team.