UM Professors Listed Among ‘World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds’

January 29, 2016

MISSOULA – Two University of Montana professors are listed as “highly cited researchers” in the 2015 edition of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”

The publication, recently released by Thomas-Reuters, lists UM Regents Professor of Ecology Ragan Callaway and conservation ecology and genetics Professor Gordon Luikart under the Environment/Ecology section.

The publication analyzes data to determine which researchers have produced work that is most frequently acknowledged by peers. Highly cited papers rank in the top 1 percent by citations for their field and year of publication. “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” lauds Callaway and Luikart for publishing the greatest number of highly cited papers between 2003 and 2013.

“The inclusion of Drs. Callaway and Luikart in a listing of the ‘World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds’ is quite an honor, but comes as no surprise for those of us at the University of Montana who work with them,” said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship. “They are both nationally and internationally recognized for their research in ecology, conservation biology, genetics and invasive species. Their research is of the highest caliber, and this recognition is much deserved.”  

Callaway is a professor in the UM Division of Biological Sciences who studies how plants function together in communities and ecosystems, and his research has taken him around the world. He tracked knapweed back to its native range in Central Europe, researching how the invader interacts with soil microbes and other plants in ways that might naturally keep knapweed in check. Callaway also has sought out low-lying cushion plants on mountaintops from Montana to Alaska, the Andes, Europe, the Caucasus and New Zealand, studying how plants facilitate survival among one another and form communities in some of the harshest environments on Earth.

Luikart works at UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station and the Montana Conservation Genomics Lab to develop novel DNA-based approaches to understand the ecology and conservation of native fish and wildlife species. His publications include a textbook on conservation and genetics and research articles describing genetic approaches to monitor and predict a population’s response to climate change, to track the spread infectious disease, and to help protect aquatic ecosystems from invasive species, such as zebra mussels, by testing for mussel DNA in water samples.

The list also includes Michael Schwartz, a researcher at the U.S. Forest Service’s National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation, based at UM. Callaway, Luikart and Schwartz are the only researchers in Montana included on the list. 

Contact: Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship, 406-243-6670,