GALLATIN VALLEY FRIENDS OF THE SCIENCES

Droughts and wildfires are persistent threats in states like Montana. But can high-flying bacteria potentially mitigate such natural events by inducing more rainfall?

David Sands, professor of plant pathology at Montana State University, will discuss the possibilities of such bio-precipitation in the fourth presentation of the winter/spring Science Inquiry Lecture Series.

The talk will be held at the Museum of the Rockies on Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Hager Auditorium.

The series, sponsored by the Gallatin Valley Friends of the Sciences, explores cutting edge science topics, their latest developments, and their relevance to society through speaker presentations followed by conversations between speaker and audience. The talks are free to the public.

In his presentation, “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. This has potential implications for reducing drought and fire danger.

Sands holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Founder of the biotechnology curriculum at MSU, his research interests include plant bacteriology, biological control of weeds, and biotechnology. 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.

To learn more about the Science Inquiry lecture series, visit gallatinscience.org.