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UM News
May 29, 2013

MISSOULA – The Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana recently selected three outstanding research projects for the annual $4,000 DHC Student-Faculty Summer Research Award.

The three teams, selected from about a dozen applicants, received funding that is split evenly between the student and their faculty mentor to help cover their summer research project expenses.

The awardees are:

  • Mercedes Becker, a junior from Belgrade majoring in psychology and minoring in political science, and political science Associate Professor Robert Saldin. Topic: “Public Policy Past and Future: The Effects of Mental Health Funding on Homelessness.” The study will examine the effects of the repeal of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1981 and will provide insight into the effectiveness of federally funded mental health programs in caring for people who often become homeless in the absence of such support.
  • Paige Ely, a senior from San Diego majoring in sociology and minoring in biology, and sociology Assistant Professor Daisy Rooks. Topic: “Children and Malnutrition in Low-Income Families.” Through detailed ethnographic field notes, Ely will describe everything she sees at the Missoula Food Bank, including what quantity of food each child receives, the nutritional value of the food and how the children and food bank staff interact. With the results, she hopes to work with the Missoula Food Bank and Missoula County Health Department to improve the health and livelihood of Missoula’s children.
  • Kimberly Ledger, a senior from Missoula majoring in ecology and organismal biology, and biological sciences Professor Ragan Callaway. Topic: “Impacts of a Global Invader, Soldigo canadensis, at Home and Away.” Ledger will investigate the biogeographical differences in competitive effects of Canada goldenrod on native North American species that co-occur in its home range and on native European subspecies that co-occur naturally in its invasive range. The award will enable her to conduct extensive fieldwork in Montana and Hungary.

The purpose of this award program is to enable highly motivated and accomplished students to work closely with a faculty mentor on a research project during the summer semester.

This award was established by UM alumnus Nelson Weller of Alexander Valley, Calif., who graduated in 1958 with an economics degree, in recognition of the exceptional educational value gained by students who have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a significant research or scholarly project. The faculty mentors also benefit from having outstanding students work with them on out-of-classroom projects.

Research teams apply for the award through the honors college and the funds can cover expenses including stipends, research materials and travel expenses. Funding priority is given to projects in the humanities, social sciences and fine arts, though exemplary projects in the natural and physical sciences also are considered.

More information is available online at




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Contact: James McKusick, dean, UM Davidson Honors College, 406-243-2541,