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Mike Morrow came to Montana Western in 2002 with the mission of making the biology department competitive in the national arena. The nearly $2 million in grants he and a fellow professor soon secured for the department have helped to do just that.

Morrow and biology professor Michael Gilbert received the grants from the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence and the National Institutes of Health to begin recruiting and graduating more biomedical students. Their work paid off; from 2002 to 2008, the number of students graduating with medically oriented degrees jumped from five to 50. That number is still growing.

The grants funded state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure and helped to fund several student research projects, which Morrow says is a cornerstone of what makes the UMW biology department unique among undergraduate universities.

“National Institutes of Health funding for colleges this small is not common,” Morrow says. “The research opportunities here are really significant. Research is the best way to learn, and our students are able to get hands-on learning through novel research-based projects versus canned experiments.”

Morrow received his own degrees in Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelors of Science in biology from the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in cell, molecular and developmental biology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Morrow challenges his students with difficult laboratory experiments, but he also dedicates long hours to helping them work through those experiments. Whether helping his students with groundbreaking research on the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans or staying well past office hours to help students steer their education toward a career, Morrow’s infectious passion for biology is easily evident among his students who regularly present their work locally and even nationally.

For Morrow, who always wanted to teach biology and research at a small school, Montana Western and Experience One are perfect fits.

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