Bill Dyer

Bill Dyer

Professor, Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology
I have always been interested in agriculture, even though I was raised as a ‘city kid.’  This interest was brought into sharp focus when my wife and I worked as ranch hand and cook on a cow/calf operation in northern Montana in 1978.  This was quite an experience, mostly because that year still holds the record as the Worst Winter in Recorded History.  I certainly learned a lot, and this job indirectly led to my subsequent degrees in Agronomy (M.S.) and Plant Biochemistry (Ph.D.).  At MSU, Alison Harmon, Bruce Maxwell and I founded the SFBS program in 2009, and this program remains one of the highlights of my professional career.  I currently teach BIOB 110CS, Introduction to Plant Biology, and a graduate online course in herbicide physiology.  I advise about 30 students in the Sustainable Crop Production Option, and I am very involved in the daily operations of SFBS, Towne’s Harvest Garden, and student internships.  A long-term research interest of mine concerns the possible agronomic manipulation of crop plant antioxidants and phenolic compounds in order to improve human nutritional and immune system functions.  I firmly believe that sustainable food systems and especially the local food movement have great potential to improve our health, economics, and general well-being.  Please see for more information on my research and teaching activities.
Mary Stein

Mary Stein

Program Leader, Sustainable Foods and Bioenergy Sysytems
Mary Stein is the Program Leader of the Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems (SFBS) undergraduate degree program.  Mary has over 25 years of experience working in in the fields of human nutrition and food systems, in Montana and across the United States.  She was part of the team that launched the SFBS program in 2009 and served as that initial program leader of the SFBS program.  In 2011 Mary seized the opportunity to work nationally for a few years, serving as the Deputy Director of the National Farm to School Network.   She returned to MSU and the SFBS Program in the summer of 2016 where she is teaching, advising and providing coordinated leadership for this interdisciplinary program. Mary has a B.S. in Biology from Tufts University and a M.S. in Human Nutrition Science Colorado State University.   When not in her office here at MSU, you can find Mary harvesting the never ending supply of zucchini from her garden and exploring the beautiful outdoors with her family, friends and the world’s most perfect dog. 

Bruce Maxwell

Professor, Weed Ecology/Agroecology
Dr. Bruce Maxwell is Professor of Weed Ecology/Agroecology in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science at Montana State University. Bruce received his B.S. degree in Botany in 1977 and his M.S. degree in Agronomy in 1984 from MSU. Before beginning his B.S. degree he was on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team in 1973 and 1974. After completing his B.S. degree Bruce and his wife, Anne, were Peace Corps volunteers in Micronesia in 1978 and 1979 and traveled for a year in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. He received his Ph.D. in Crop Science/Forest Science from Oregon State University in 1989. After two years as Assistant Professor of Weed Ecology at the University of Minnesota, Bruce returned home to Montana in 1992 to become Assistant Professor of Weed Biology and Ecology at MSU. His research focuses on the application of ecological principles to agricultural pest management and land use planning. Modeling the spatial and temporal dynamics of organisms is an underlying theme of most of his research. Other research emphases are utilizing precision technologies to increase adoption of ecologically based crop management and developing methods for managers to inventory, survey, and monitor non-indigenous invasive plant species. Bruce currently has one post-doctoral research scientist, one research technician, and one graduate student working in his lab on various aspects of agroecology and ecologically based pest management. For more information on Bruce Maxwell, see:
pat hatfield

Pat Hatfield

Professor and Department Head, Animal and Range Sciences

Patrick Hatfield received a BS in range management from Montana State University (MSU) in 1983, an MS in range science from New Mexico State University in 1985, and a PhD in animal science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1988.  Upon completion of his PhD, Patrick started his career as a research scientist at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station.  After eight years at the sheep station, Patrick moved to MSU where he continued his research along with teaching five classes and advising students.  In addition to sheep nutrition and production research, Patrick’s research uses a team approach, incorporating expertise from agronomy, soil science, entomology, weed ecology, agricultural economics, and community development.  All specialists focus on the profitable and environmentally sound incorporation of sheep into crop production systems.   Since joining MSU in 1997, Patrick secured more than $7.5 million dollars in extramural competitive funding.  Patrick’s publications include more than 70 peer reviewed journal articles.  In addition to research and teaching, Patrick developed a free, online sheep ration program that has over 2000 active accounts in more than 60 countries.  Patrick has served as major advisor or committee member on 25 graduate committees.   Patrick served as Western Section American Society Animal Science (WSASAS) President in 2003 and was honored with the WSASAS distinguished service award in 2013.  In 2013 Patrick was asked to serve as interim department head and in 2015 he became the permanent head of the Animal and Range Sciences Department.  He and his wife, Nancy, have two children.  Jillian is an animal science graduate from MSU and Sam recently finished service in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a student in business at MSU. For more information on Patrick's research and teaching program go to:
Mac Burgess Head Shot

Mac Burgess

Assistant Professor, Plant Biosciences
Research in my lab strives to provide resources and educational opportunities for improved management of high-value crops and small-scale production systems, including demonstration and evaluation of season extension tools, precision irrigation management, cover crops, crop rotations, and soil fertility management.
Carmen Byker standing at maps

Carmen Byker Shanks

Assistant Professor, Foods and Nutrition; Sustainable Food Systems

I am an assistant professor of Food and Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems. I am excited to work at a land-grant university, which supports synergism between a research, teaching, and outreach appointment. My goal is to inspire future food system and nutrition leaders through informed and current research in teaching; facilitate research to solve complex problems in communities related to nutrition and food systems; and provide service to strengthen the educational institution and local community via my teaching and research areas. I teach courses that explore community nutrition, culinary methods and management, and research methods. I rely on problem solving and reflection through current events and practical, hands-on experience to promote systems thinking with my students. My expertise lies in behavioral and social sciences focused on food, nutrition, and human development. As a whole my research investigates how socioecological factors in diverse food environments influence the evolution of nutrition behaviors across the lifespan in three applied areas: (1) school food environment, (2) consumer food environment, and (3) food assistance programs. I co-lead, with Dr. Selena Ahmed, the Food and Health Lab, which provides collaborative space and research facilities for studies addressing society’s most pressing issues of feeding communities with nutritious foods while maintaining the health of our environment. Improving community food security is a central tenant of all of my outreach efforts. For more information see:

Selena Ahmed Headshot

Selena Ahmed

Assistant Professor, Sustainable Food Systems

My research, teaching, and outreach interests are at the intersection of the ecological, cultural, and health aspects of food systems with a focus on food security and food environments in health disparate communities. For the past 13 years, I have carried out transdisciplinary food systems research in a range of ecological and cultural contexts in China, India, Morocco, Venezuela, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Since joining the faculty of Montana State University in Fall 2013, I jointly initiated The Food and Health Lab in collaboration with Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks with the objective to carry out and provide training on basic, behavioral, and applied research to explore agricultural-nutrition-health linkages. As the Principle Investigator of the Agroecology and Phytochemistry Group of the Food and Health Lab, I am particularly interested in identifying the socio-ecological determinants of environmental and human wellbeing in the food system. This work involves quantifying the influence of environmental factors and agricultural practices on ecosystem services, food quality, food access, and diets in the context of global change. The ultimate translational goal of this work is to develop evidence-based plans to promote biodiversity in agricultural systems and mitigate risk of food insecurity and diet-related chronic disease. To learn more about my collaborative projects, please visit our website at the MSU Food and Health Lab: 


Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems Partnerships

What follows is a growing list of SFBS partners at MSU, in the Bozeman community, in Montana, and beyond.


American Indian Research Opportunities (AIRO)
Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC)
Indian Project Directors (IPD)
Montana Office of Rural Health
MSU Health Sciences Consortium
MT Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES)
MUS Water Center
Western Transportation Institute

Student Organizations

Friends of Local Foods (HHD, LRES & PSPP)
Land Resources & Environmental Science Club (LRES)
Montana Student Dietetic Association (HHD)
Students for a Sustainable Future (Engineering)
Sustainability Now (SNOW)


Bozeman Cultural Council
Chefs Collaborative
Community Food Co-op, Bozeman
Gallatin Valley Farm to School
Montana Outdoor Science School
Northern Rockies Bioneers
Rural Landscape Institute (formerly Cook Center for Sustainable Agriculture in the American West)


Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO)
Grow Montana
Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center
Montana Food and Agriculture Development Center Network
National Center for Appropriate Technology
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Western SARE)