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About Us

Origins and Purpose of the Center

Missoula Forestry Sciences Lab
The National Genomics Center is located in the Forestry Sciences Lab on the University of Montana campus in Missoula, MT

Scientists at the Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station have long recognized the important role of molecular genetics in wildlife management. Since 1998, the Wildlife Genetics Laboratory, central to the Station's Conservation Genetics Program, has been answering questions on wildlife genetics and management. A strong partnership with the University of Montana has benefited this work, which has focused on threatened, endangered, and culturally important species.

Although located in Missoula, Montana, demand for the lab's specialized services and research quickly expanded across the country. Station scientists have worked with states, tribes, universities, and private groups on more than 60 species. To better reflect the lab's importance as a national resource, it was reorganized and renamed the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation. The purpose of the Center is to provide cost-effective and reliable genetic and genomic data for species monitoring. The Center will also improve management of our fish and wildlife resources through cross-agency partnerships. The Center will continue to be based in Montana and administered by the Rocky Mountain Research Station, which is one of seven stations comprising Forest Service Research & Development. It is currently focusing on environmental DNA (eDNA monitoring) at broad scales, landscape genomics to identify species management units and movement patterns, and non-invasive genetic sampling projects.


Michael Schwartz (Center Director)

Michael Schwartz is the Conservation Genetics Team Leader at the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. Schwartz has spent the past 15 years focusing on the fields of population, conservation, and landscape genetics. He seeks practical answers to natural resource problems, combining field and lab work. Schwartz received his doctorate in wildlife biology from the University of Montana's School of Forestry in 2001, and is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering and the Rocky Mountain Research Station's Visionary Science Award.

Michael Young, Ph.D.

Kevin McKelvey, Ph.D.

Kristy Pilgrim, M.S., Laboratory Supervisor

Cory Engkjer, Biological Science Technician

Jessie Golding, M.S., Carnivore Research Associate

Tommy Franklin, M.S., eDNA Coordinator

Caleb Dysthe, Lead eDNA Technician

Samuel Greaves, eDNA Technician

Bryson Allen, eDNA Technician

Kim Ledger, Aquatic Genetics Technician

Rebecca Hendrix, Technician

Brittney Eubank, M.A., Technician

Inga Ortloff, Technician

Stephanie Back, Technician

Kellie Carim, Ph.D., Aquatic Research Biologist and Tribal Liaison

Jody Tucker, PhD., Sierra Nevada Monitoring Coordinator, R5

Todd Cross, Sage Grouse Connectivity Lead and Ph.D. Student

Taylor Wilcox, Ph.D. Student

Katie Zarn, M.S. Student

Paden Alexander, Undergraduate Intern

Center Partners

Forest Service partners from other agencies, industry, nongovernmental organizations, tribes, and states need timely and usable information on wildlife and fish populations to make informed decisions on natural resource policy and management.

The Genomics Center was developed with the recognition that synergy could be gained by multiple agencies working together to tackle natural resource problems with genomic information. While each agency has different mandates, there are times when similar information can be collected jointly and expertise can be shared, leading to better management decisions.

Agencies interested in becoming partners with the center can contact the center director.