On Special Assignment

Feb 19, 2013 1:11 PM by Suzanne Philippus - MTN News

Antarctica project has Montana ties

BOZEMAN - It turns out that Montana has a lot in common with Antarctica, and we're not just talking about the thermometer.

"Montana State University have been in Antarctica for over twenty seasons," President Waded Cruzado said.

More than 60 people from Montana, including eight scientists, call Antarctica home when it's summer at the bottom of the world.

Summer in Antarctica starts in October and feels like winters in Montana.

"I work at Montana State University as an Education Specialist and I am the Outreach Coordinator for the WISSARD project," said Susan Kelly.

A project where they drill a half a mile through the ice sheet, WISSARD is one of the largest inter-disciplinary projects currently underway in Antarctica.

A boon to the state's economy, millions of dollars are brought in through research grants allocated to Montana State University scientists from the National Science Foundation.

"Our researchers have been there studying new microbial communities that one day might hold the secret for new products including new discoveries for medicine or for machinery or who knows what," Cruzado commented.

MSU Scientists were awarded almost $4.4 million from the National Science Foundation this past year, which isn't bad for a state the size of Montana.

"The Antarctic program is very important to Montana State University, but I will also say that it is very important for Montana and to the...and to the whole world," Cruzado explained.

The world is watching as scientists from the Bozeman area continue to advance the frontiers of science in the most challenging environment at the bottom of the world.

Wages for support staff are an additional boon for the Montana economy.

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