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Science Inquiry Lecture: “Flying” Bacteria as Potential Rainmakers

Join MOR and the Gallatin Valley Friends of the Sciences as we explore cutting-edge science topics, their latest developments, and their relevance to society through speaker presentations followed by an engaging question and answer session.

Droughts and wildfires are persistent threats in states like Montana; can high-flying bacteria potentially mitigate such natural events by inducing more rainfall?  Dr. David Sands, professor of Plant Pathology at Montana State University, will discuss the possibilities of such “bioprecipitation” in the fourth presentation of the winter/spring Science Inquiry Lecture Series.

In his presentation, entitled “’Flying’ Bacteria as Potential Rainmakers,”  Sands will discuss how certain plant-infecting bacteria that end up circulating high in the atmosphere may also promote the formation of ice crystals needed to produce rain—with potential implications for reducing drought and fire danger.

Dr. Sands holds a PhD. from the University of California, Berkeley.  His research interests include plant bacteriology, biological control of weeds, and biotechnology; he founded the biotechnology curriculum at MSU.   He has worked on biocontrol methods in the U.S. and 11 other countries.  Sands is a recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenges Explorations grant for work on plant pathogens in Kenya, and a Charles Lindberg Award for significant contributions in balancing technology and nature.  

The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for audience members to engage in conversation with Sands in the museum lobby with light refreshments served. The speaker presentation and audience participation segments together will last approximately an hour.