Mar 7, 2014

FVCC Honors Symposium Continues March 11

Flathead Valley Community College’s Honors Symposium will continue March 11 with “Biotechnology:  One Problem at a Time.  Are you Kidding?” presented by Professor David Sands, Ph.D., from the Montana State University Department of Plant Science.

The presentation will explore how making a real inroad on a world-class problem might require solving as many as four world-class problems simultaneously.  Sands will examine how the approach of trying to solve one problem, while ignoring other problems, seems to be a prescription for failure.  During the lecture, Sands will look at a nexus of several problems:  drought, protein malnutrition, water misuse and violence, with the objective of mitigating them all.  He will outline the approach, building each solution separately and then combining their deployment.

Sands holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of California Berkeley, and has spent many years teaching biotech applications and field research at Montana State University.  His lab has produced a number of products including gluten-free foods, low-glycemic foods and high-protein rice.  In November, Sands received a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his work combating malnutrition in Africa with the discovery of a fungus that kills parasitic weed-destroying crops.

This year’s Honors Symposium welcomes science experts to address various topics that support this year’s theme, “Science Matters: Skepticism, Inquiry and the Need for Literacy.”  The college brings these free lectures to the community to provide credible and substantive information on important topics of public interest.

Following Sands’ presentation, the symposium will continue with the following presentations:

  • March 20:  “Climate Change, GMOs and Vaccine Safety:  Should We Trust Scientific Consensus?” presented by Kristen Intemann, Ph.D., Montana State University Department of Philosophy; and
  • March 24:  “Harnessing Science in Service of a Thriving Democracy” presented by Pallavi Phartiyal, Ph.D., senior analyst and program manager for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

All lectures will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the large community meeting room inside the Arts and Technology building on the FVCC campus.  The FVCC Honors Symposium is supported by FVCC, Humanities Montana, the Kalispell Branch of American Association of University Women, FVCC Alumni and Ambassadors and the Theodore Chase Endowment Fund.

For full presentation descriptions and speaker biographies, visit  For more information about the FVCC Honors Symposium, contact Ivan Lorentzen at 756-3864 or