Brown Bag Lecture Series

Sponsored by MSUN's Office of the Provost and organized by the Instruction, Research, & Faculty Development committee, along with the Office of Teaching & Learning Excellence


Seating is freely available but RSVPs are appreciated. A sack lunch will be reserved for those who fill out an RSVP here. Contact Lindsey Bennett with questions or cancellations. 

Brown Bag Lectures allow faculty across all disciplines at MSU-Northern to showcase their work and to build a sense of community inquiry and interest around that work. Campus and community members are welcome to attend!

Presentations will last about 1 hour and are located in either Hagener Science Center 101 ("The Pit") or Hensler Auditorium (in the Applied Tech Center/ATC). Printable campus map


Upcoming lectures

Evan Davison

Amos Taiswa

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Dr. Randy Maglinao, Senior Research Scientist at the Advanced Fuels Center

Evan Davison, MSUN Graduate

Amos Taiswa, PhD Candidate at Montana Tech Nanotechnology Laboratory

Lecture: Unlocking Sustainable Aromatic Hydrocarbon Production: Insights from Experimental and Theoretical Investigations

Summary: The production of aromatic hydrocarbons, essential for fuels, additives, and polymers, heavily relies on fossil resources. But what if we could find a more sustainable approach? Enter biocrude, a promising bio-based product derived from lignin, with untapped potential. Our presentation will highlight our research findings on transforming biocrude into valuable aromatic hydrocarbons while deciphering its underlying reaction mechanisms. We focused our study on the keto-tautomer mechanism, revealing that aromatic hydrocarbons can indeed be selectively synthesized from biocrude via this route. Computational chemistry simulations further validated the feasibility of our approach. These results led us to the development of an efficient catalyst, opening new avenues for sustainable hydrocarbon synthesis. 

Bio: Dr. Maglinao is the Senior Research Scientist at MSUN’s Advanced Fuels Center and is also appointed as MSUN's Chief Research Officer. Randy earned his PhD degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Idaho. At his current position, he spearheads projects in evaluating fuels, fuel additives, lubricant formulations through physical and chemical characterization and engine performance testing. He also directs out-of-the-box research projects, particularly in developing bio-based fuels and additives, which are funded by state, federal and international agencies. Randy has extensive experience in cross metathesis of oils, alkylation of aromatics with olefins, and advanced catalytic conversion of vegetable oils into hydrocarbons and aromatics.

Evan Davison recently graduated from MSUN with a Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2023, born and raised in Havre, Montana. Evan plans to further his education by pursuing a graduate degree in biochemistry and biotechnology. His contribution specialized in catalytic thermochemical reactions in the bio-additive synthesis. Evan enjoys hobbies such as computer programming, fishing, and hiking.

Amos Taiswa is a PhD candidate at Montana Tech Nanotechnology Laboratory with Dr. Jack Skinner at Montana Tech. His research focus is nanotechnology fabrication and characterization for energy storage-conversion materials as well as water security. He is an MSUN alumni graduating in 2020 with BS in Civil Engineering Technology. 

Past lectures

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Dr. Terri Hildebrand, Professor in Biology

Lecture: Algal Blooms Community Health Literacy Program

Summary: Public lands provide opportunities for students, educators, land managers, and community members to work together to enhance overall understanding of natural processes while also incorporating new information into land management efforts. This is especially true for freshwater habitats that comprise some of the most altered ecosystems on Earth. Many nutrient enriched waterways support Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), one of the greatest freshwater quality threats to public health and aquatic ecosystems. This presentation communicates results from a large study that included Montana State University Northern students and faculty. We sought to characterize water conditions in Beaver creek and incoming tributaries as they exist on Beaver Creek Park, Hill County, Montana. Two seasons of data collection yielded significant baseline information on the water system's aquatic geo-morphology and chemistry. In addition, a survey assessed community knowledge of HABs. Using a Community Based Participatory Approach (CBPA) that involves regional stakeholders, results from this work may reduce the occurance of regional HABs and improve the quality of local waters, as well as the economical and recreational opportunities they provide. 

Bio: Dr. Terri Hildebrand is a professor at Montana State University Northern where she teaches courses in Biology. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Kansas, where she performed plant research using ecological and molecular methods. Her professional career also includes conducting plant surveys for federal, state, and regional agencies. Hildebrand is a trained plant ecologist and systematist that uses molecular tools in her research. She has diverse skills that include new species and fossil site discovery, as well as university curricula development. Most recently, she has spent countless hours working on BCP, been featured with students in newspaper articles, and built strong, collaborative relationships with Beaver Creek Park Board (BCP) and Hill County Commisioners. She has used BCP in her outdoor student laboratories since 2014. 


Dr. Praveen Dubey


Dr. Angela Crevar

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2024 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Dr. Praveen K. Dubey, Assistant Professor of Education/Director of Clinical Experience and Partnerships

Dr. Angela R. Crevar, Postdoctoral Scholar, CIRCLE, Texas Tech University

Lecture: Right to Teacher Quality

Summary: Teacher quality is one of the most important factors influencing student achievement (Hanushek, 2011). A meta-analysis on teacher effectiveness suggests that teachers account for over 30% of the variance for student learning (Hattie, 2003). As education is the means to increase knowledge, increase opportunities, improve health, and reduce poverty, access to a quality teacher stands to increase human capital. 

This study uses data from the public education system in India to investigate whether students' perceptions of teacher quality are aligned with the school's perspective on teacher quality and reveals that there are some areas of inequity where schools could improve. Overall, the study provides valuable insights into how students perceive teacher quality across India through the use of structural equation modeling (SEM) by asking the following research questions: How does the school's teacher quality interpretation correlate with students' interpretation? How do students interpret teacher quality based on their learning experiences? 

Bio: Dr. Praveen Dubey (PI) conducts research in the areas of Multicultural Education, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusivity, Leadership and Change, Technology in Education (Digital Equity), STEM education, Immigrant Education, Comparative and International Education, Teacher Quality, and Teacher Choice for diverse classrooms. Dr. Dubey uses the statistical tools of Structural Education Modeling (SEM), Mediation & Moderation, and R programming in his research to address the improvement of learning experiences for diverse, immigrant/refugee, and minority students. Dr. Dubey has presented research papers at several national research conferences, such as AERA and UCIE.

Dr. Angela Crevar (Co-PI) is a postdoctoral scholar with CIRCLE at Texas Tech University. Her expertise is focused on the nexus of high school, college, and career transitions with a focus on Dual Enrollment and Career Technical Education through quantitative methods. Dr. Crevar has analyzed data using the UH-ERC and disseminated findings through research articles and reports, presentations at national conferences, policy briefs, and grant project deliverables. With extensive experience as a school leader focused on the Teacher Pipeline, Dual Enrollment, CTE, and STEM pathways for high school students, she continues her work with large-scale data analysis to improve college and career trajectories for high school students. 

Dr. Kyra Kaercher

Thursday, Dec 7, 2023 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Dr. Kyra Kaercher — Assistant Professor of Biology/General Science

Lecture: Mo' Sherds Mo' Problems? The Use of Ceramics in Archaeological Investigations

Summary: Ceramics, because of their durability and preservation, play a pivotal role in archaeology as invaluable artifacts for understanding past cultures. These vessels offer insights into ancient technologies, trade networks, and social practices. Using sciences like geology and chemistry, we can look at the technology used to create these vessels, to better understand the people behind the ceramics. This presentation will focus on two case studies, the first from my dissertation, focused on Islamic ceramics, and the second on our new project in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Rural Landscapes of Iron Age Imperial Mesopotamia. 

Bio: Dr. Kyra Kaercher grew up west of Havre, and graduated from Havre High. From there she received her BA in Archaeology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She then received her MA in Archaeology from Boston University and worked at the UPenn Museum on the Ur Digitization Project as a research assistant and on the ASOR Cultural Hertiage Initiatives monitoring destruction to cultural heritage due to the Syrian Civil War and ISIS. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2023 titled "Production and Consumption of Middle Islamic Ceramics (1000-1500 CE) in Western Asia: Regional Practices in an Interconnected World". She is now Assistant Director and Ceramicist of the Rural Landscapes of Iron Age Imperial Mesopotamia Project. She has worked in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Bolivia, England, and the USA.

Valerie Guyant

Wednesday, Oct 25, 2023 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Dr. Valerie Guyant — Associate Professor in English

Lecture: Vampires & Other Blood Drinkers: Take a Bite Out of Literary History Across Time and Cultures

Summary: If you say the word vampire, most people have an image that pops into their heads. However, few know the history that has led to that image, or the differences between the vampire we tend to imagine and the blood drinkers in other parts of the world. Come learn more about the history of the vampire and how it has changed over time and across cultures, from a brainless demon to a romantic hero at times. Dr. G. will discuss the ways in which the vampire has transformed from a myth to a creature that hunted the unsuspecting, from a hideous beast to a sparkling heartthrob, and how blood drinkers are presented in numerous cultures.

Bio: Dr. Valerie Guyant is an Associate Professor in her eighth year at MSU-Northern. She earned her Masters in the Teaching of English, with an emphasis in Renaissance female authors, from University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and her PhD from Northern Illinois University, where her dissertation was an examination of female sexuality in vampire literature. She has also earned graduate certificates in Women’s Studies from Northern Illinois University and in Native American Studies from Montana State University in Bozeman. Her research is focused on areas of speculative fiction, adaptation, and popular media, such as film adaptations, fairy tales, and serial killers in popular culture. Valerie has published research in The Many Lives of the Twilight Zone: Essays on the TV and Film Franchise, The Many Lives of the Purge: Essays on the Horror Franchise, The Many Lives of the Evil Dead: Essays on the Cult Film Franchise, Adaptation Before Cinema, The Explicator, The WISCON Chronicles, The Companion to Victorian Popular Fiction, FEMSPEC: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Journal, and London’s East End. Valerie is also an associate editor for The Wachtung Review, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, and Essence and Critique: Journal of Literature and Drama Studies.

Gwen Hart

Monday, April 17, 2023 — 11:00am to noon in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Dr. Gwen Hart — Assistant Professor in English

Lecture: Never Be the Same: Finding and Following Poetic Imagination

Summary: Where do poems come from? Everywhere! In this presentation, Dr. Hart will introduce her newly published volume of poetry, Never Be the Same, and share insights about her creative process.

Bio: Dr. Gwen Hart holds degrees in creative writing and argumentation. She is the author of two chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections. Her second collection, The Empress of Kisses, won the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Her third collection, Never Be the Same, was published in February 2023 by FutureCycle Press. Her poems have appeared in over thirty literary journals and anthologies. Her special interests include poetic forms and writing about popular culture. She is a member of the Academy of American Poets and the Popular Cultural Association.

Mary Ward

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 — 1:00pm to 2:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Presenter: Mary Ward, MFA — Assistant Professor in Graphic Design

Lecture: Building a Brand for Small Businesses and Organizations

Summary: Professor Ward will demonstrate how to create a brand style guide for a small business and how to implement it with an online, user-friendly tool called Canva Pro.

Bio: Mary Ward holds a BFA in Graphic Design from MSU Bozeman and an MFA in Digital Media from University of Montana. She worked in the graphic design industry for 11 years before starting her teaching career at MSU-Northern.

Tony Gryffin and Randy Maglinao

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC)

Dr. Tony Gryffin — Assistant Professor in Integrated Health Sciences
Dr. Randy Maglinao — Senior Research Scientist at the Advanced Fuels Center

Lecture: Effects of Alternative Fuels on Diesel Exhaust Emissions and the Role of Health Behavior in Harm Reduction 

Summary: Underground metal and nonmetal mine operators predominantly use diesel to power their equipment and vehicles. Creating effective strategies to reduce miner’s exposure to harmful diesel exhaust emissions is always a priority to both industry and scientific research. Dr. Gryffin and Dr. Maglinao will present an overview of their ongoing Montana INBRE Student-Focused Faculty Research Grant on investigating mine worker health behavior and exhaust emissions from alternative fuels. They will also provide insight into the value of grant-funded research projects to undergraduate students and the challenges of conducting health studies in this area. This research is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institute of Health.

Bios: Dr. Gryffin's research focus is community health, health behavior, and mindfulness based practices. He is a regular contributor and invited speaker for conferences, as well as for magazines and journals in the area of health and mindful exercise. He was an Alumni Fellow at the University of Florida where he received his PhD in Health and Human Performance, with a focus on health behavior, as well as mindful exercise. In his current position Tony teaches courses in the Integrated Health Sciences program focused on student-led community based research, practice, and program development, as well as in areas related to worksite health. The latter includes collaboration on a Montana INBRE Student-Focused Faculty Research (RFP) grant investigating the role of health behavior in harm reduction, related to the effects of alternative fuels on diesel exhaust emissions.

Dr. Maglinao is the Senior Research Scientist at MSUN’s Advanced Fuels Center and is also appointed as MSUN's Chief Research Officer. Randy earned his PhD degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Idaho. At his current position, he spearheads projects in evaluating fuels, fuel additives, lubricant formulations through physical and chemical characterization and engine performance testing. He also directs out-of-the-box research projects, particularly in developing bio-based fuels and additives, which are funded by state, federal and international agencies. Randy has extensive experience in cross metathesis of oils, alkylation of aromatics with olefins, and advanced catalytic conversion of vegetable oils into hydrocarbons and aromatics.

Chad Spangler

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 — noon to 1:00pm in Hagener Sci 101 ("The Pit")

Presenter: Dr. Chad Spangler — Associate Professor of Integrated Health Sciences

Lecture: The Metabolic Effects Related to 4-Weeks of High-Intensity Interval Training: a Pre-season with the Lights Basketball Team

Summary: In his presentation, Dr. Spangler will demonstrate the value of sport-specific fitness assessment. He will discuss the results and experience related to a recent evaluation of the Northern Lights’ pre-season conditioning program. Attendees will see the results of the evaluation and learn about the assessment capabilities at MSU-Northern. 

Bio: Dr. Chad Spangler is certified as an exercise physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine and holds a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies (Biology) from Montana State University-Northern, an MS in Health and Human Performance from the University of Montana, and a PhD in Public Health from Walden University. 

During the first of two graduate paths, he studied and worked in the fields of clinical exercise and sport/exercise psychology, focusing on use of the transtheoretical model to explain exercise behavior. Following completion of his first graduate program, he began working and researching in fields of infectious disease and hospital epidemiology. He was the co-investigator of a large NIH grant resulting in the establishment of a regional referral facility for a new Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory at the Rocky Mountain Labs. He also studied the epidemiology of Clostridium difficile, conducting an ecological study of Clostridium difficile associated disease in 54 U.S. hospitals.  

For the past eight years, Dr. Spangler has enjoyed sharing his interests of infectious disease and sport/exercise science with the students now sitting in seats that he once occupied. His current research involves immune function in athletes, allowing him to finally merge his two academic interests.  

Karyn Billmayer and Andy Bradshaw

Wednesday, December 14, 2022 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC building)

Andy Bradshaw — Assistant Professor in Diesel and Automotive Technology
Karyn Billmayer — Assistant Professor in Agricultural Technology

Lecture: How Precise is Precision Agriculture? Evaluating Real Time Kinematics (RTK) and Wide Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS)

Summary: In this presentation, two different Auto Guidance systems will be compared to determine the accuracy, cost rationale, and practical implications of each system. This research is a project that the presenters have undertaken for part of their Masters degree coursework.

Bios: Andy Bradshaw graduated from MSU-Northern in 2014 with BS in Diesel Technology and Automotive Technology. After graduation, he worked at Tractor and Equipment Company in Billings and the Transportation Department for Havre Public Schools. 

Karyn Billmayer graduated from MSU-Bozeman in 2020 with a BS in Agricultural Education and AS in Ag Business and Rangeland Management. After graduation, she taught Agriculture at Chinook High School and worked at Wing Road Farm.

Jeremy Siemens

Thursday, November 17, 2022 — 11:00am to noon in Hensler Auditorium (ATC building)

Presenter: Jeremy Siemens, PE, PLS — Associate Professor in Civil Engineering Technology

Lecture: A Dam Scan and Good Grades: Case Studies in Geospatial Data Collection and Analysis Using a Leica MS50 MultiStation Scanner and Infinity Software

Summary: In this presentation, Professor Siemens will use several case studies to demonstrate how he uses laser scanning to collect geospatial data that is critical for the construction industry. Recent examples include the gate removal and replacement on Morony Dam and slope verification for the MSU-Northern football field. He will also discuss how he uses his professional experience with laser technology and data analysis to help students gain insight into real-world problems and projects.

Bio: Jeremy Siemens is an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Technology program at MSU-Northern. He graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman with a BS in Construction Engineering Technology in 1994. Upon graduation, Jeremy began working as an engineer for Milk River Engineering, Inc. He obtained his license as a Professional Engineer in Montana in 1998. In 2001, he was afforded an opportunity to teach at MSU-Northern part time in the CET program, and he has been teaching full time since 2004. In 2008, Jeremy earned a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington as well as a Professional Surveyor’s license. He currently provides engineering and surveying services for Siemens Engineering Company and enjoys bringing his professional experience back into the classroom. He maintains professional memberships in the Montana Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and Montana Association of Registered Land Surveyors (MARLS).


Monday, October 31, 2022 — noon to 1:00pm in Hagener Science Center 101

Presenter: Dr. Giuseppe Cortese — Associate Professor in Biology

Lecture: Precision Psychiatry: Using Genomic Medicine to Identify Disease Mechanisms Underlying Psychiatric Disorders

Summary: In his presentation titled “Precision Psychiatry: Using Genomic Medicine to Identify Disease Mechanism Underlying Psychiatric Disorders”, Dr. Cortese will discuss the clinical and scientific benefits of a precision medicine-based approach for targeting individual pathophysiology associated with psychiatric disorders. Advances in genomic medicine have provided unique opportunities to better understand the genetic architecture of psychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and Schizophrenia, and allowed for more efficient identification of neurobiological disease mechanisms that can be used to develop novel treatments for therapeutic intervention. Dr. Cortese will review his research that utilized genomic medicine, in combination with cellular and molecular techniques to develop stem cell-derived neuronal models of 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (clinically termed DiGeorge Syndrome), a rare genetic disorder that is a true and established risk factor for Schizophrenia. 

Bio: Dr. Giuseppe P. Cortese is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Montana State University – Northern. He holds a BA in Physiology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to graduate school, he served as a Research Technician while pursuing post-baccalaureate studies at Harvard. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Columbia University, and later served as an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Division of Molecular Therapeutics at Columbia University Medical Center. The goals of his research are to uncover cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders, and to determine if neuroinflammation influences the severity and/or progression of these disorders. His research interests include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Schizophrenia.

Charlie Mack

Friday, April 22, 2022 — noon to 1:00pm in Hensler Auditorium (ATC Building)

Presenters: Brandon Matson, Charlie Mack, Keith Jensen — Assistant Professors in Diesel Technology

Lecture: The Value of Implementing an Oil Analysis Program 

Summary: Oil analysis is an investment that can ultimately result in saving money on repairs and unscheduled downtime when implemented correctly. When implementing oil analysis, failures can be identified before they become catastrophic failures. 

Bio: Matson, Mack, and Jensen are all graduates of MSU-Northern's Diesel Technology program. Upon completing their degrees, all three worked in the diesel industry, gaining a combined 30 years of experience before returning to MSU-Northern as faculty. Their research on the benefits and strategies of implementing an oil analysis system is a project that they have implemented as part of their Masters degree coursework.

Samantha Balemba

Thursday, March 31, 2022 — noon to 1:00pm in Hagener Science Center 101

Presenter: Dr. Samantha Balemba-Brownlee — Associate Professor in Criminal Justice

Lecture: Victim Vulnerability: How Disabilities Affect the Likelihood, Characteristics, & Outcomes of Sexual Assault

Summary: Dr. Balemba will discuss her research analyzing the role of victim vulnerability and the ways that these factors contribute important pieces of information to the crime puzzle. With a specific focus on incidents of sexual assault, Dr. Balemba’s study uses the most recent decade plus of NCVS data to examine the relationship between victim disability and situational crime correlates and outcomes. Among the crime factors examined are the likelihood of victimization, victim-offender relationship, weapon use, rape completion, and victim injury. Among other findings, her analyses have demonstrated an increased risk of sexual assault experienced by those with a reported disability.

Bio: Dr. Balemba received a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University in Ontario, Canada and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Criminology from Simon Fraser University in BC, Canada. She taught Criminology and Criminal Justice in Vancouver and Georgia before coming to work in the Criminal Justice Department at MSU-Northern. Dr. Balemba has several peer-reviewed publications and continues to conduct research on the topic of sex crimes. 

Casey Donoven

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 — 1:00pm to 2:00pm in Hagener Science Center 101

Presenter: Dr. Casey Donoven — Assistant Professor in Mathematics

Lecture: Beyond Numbers: The Algebra Of Symmetry

Summary: To most people, math is about numbers and learning to solve for x. The world of mathematics stretches far beyond this, however, and I will present some of the foundations of my research in algebra. As opposed to simply adding and multiplying numbers, algebra can describe how to combine words, compose symmetries, and much more.  I will focus on simple examples to build up to describing my original results on Thompson's Group V. Math can be intimidating, but I hope to make this a fun, understandable presentation on mathematics beyond numbers.

Bio: Originally from Kremlin, I have a math degree from MSU Bozeman and PhD in math from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. I held positions in Bristol, England and Binghamton, NY before coming back to the hi-line as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at MSU Northern. 

Information for presenters

Please see our presenter guidelines. If you have questions or would like to present, please contact Dr. Samantha Balemba-Brownlee or Keith Jensen.