University Relations and Communications

Bear researcher to be featured guest at 2012 Chicks in Science event

January 18, 2012



Kim Schweikert, MSUB Downtown, 896-5888
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


5th annual event set for March 3 at Alterowitz Gym


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — A top bear researcher for the U.S. Geological Survey will be the special guest at this year’s “Chicks in Science” event at Montana State University Billings.


Katherine Kendall at McNeill Falls in Alaska

Katherine Kendall , who studies grizzly and black bear populations in Montana and Idaho, will be the special guest scientist at the fifth annual “Chicks in Science,” scheduled for Saturday, March 3 from noon to 4 p.m. at Alterowitz Gym at MSU Billings.

The event is free and open to everyone.


“Chicks in Science” was developed in 2008 to encourage grade school and middle school-aged girls to enter math- and science-related fields. The event routinely draws hundreds of participants and about 50 booths from area science- and math-based exhibitors and educational partners.


Studies show that between the fourth and eighth grades, girls start losing interest in math and science.  Yet, industry surveys indicate that many emerging careers will require an understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptive and collaborative skills gained through the study of these subjects, according to Kim Schweikert, senior programmer at MSU Billings Downtown and organizer of the event.


“Chicks in Science” works to breach the psychological barriers, gender expectations, and the “coolness” factors that can stop girls from entering science and math fields. “Chicks in Science” strives to abolish those negative and fearful attitudes about math and science and discredit the stereotype of the ‘nerdy’ scientist, she said.


In order to do that, mentors come to the event to provide guidance and real-life examples of the potential any girl can have.

As a research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey, Kendall studies grizzly and black bear population status and ecology. For the past 15 years, she has been using noninvasive sampling  methods to learn more about bear populations in and around Glacier National Park as well other habitat areas in Montana and Idaho.  


She said “We learn many useful things about these populations without needing to handle the bears or even see them by snagging hair at barbed wire hair traps and identifying the bears through genetic analysis.”


Before moving to northwest Montana, she was a member of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Study Team. She attended graduate school at Montana State University in Bozeman and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.  


For information about this year’s “Chicks in Science” event, contact Kim Schweikert 896-5888 or by e-mail at


PHOTO ABOVE: Katherine Kendall, a bear researcher shown above at McNeil River Falls in Alaska, will be the special guest scientist at “Chicks in Science” in March at MSU Billings. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the event and is set for Saturday, March 3. It is free and open to everyone.