David  Firth

Contact Information

  • David Firth
  • GBB 360
  • Management Information Systems
  • 32 Campus Dr
    Missoula, MT 59812
  • Phone: 243-5979
  • Email: david.firth@umontana.edu

Personal Summary

David has a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in Physics from the University of Oxford, England, which he attended on a full-ride academic scholarship. He also has a Master of Arts in Natural Sciences from the University of Oxford, England.

Between degrees David worked for Ernst & Young in London as an assurance manager in the financial services audit division specializing in financial derivatives. On the firm's International Exchange program he moved to the United States and subsequently joined KPMG LLP in their audit division in San Francisco, where he managed the world's first IPO of a viatical settlements company (which bought life insurance policies from those who would die within 2 years).

He transferred to the Information Risk Management (IRM) practice as a senior manager to become an information systems consultant. Here he contributed significantly to the development of the IRM Transfer University, an intensive training program that teaches auditors and new hires (both college and experienced) the necessary skills to be an IS consultant. As part of his client service responsibilities with KPMG he served major companies such as Visa and Wells Fargo.

David moved to UCLA in 1998 as a student in the Ph.D. program of the Information Systems area at the Anderson Graduate School of Management, graduating with a Ph.D. in June 2003.

After graduating from UCLA, David is now an assistant professor of Information Systems and Technology at the University of Montana in Missoula. Here, with colleagues Dr. Cameron Lawrence and Dr. Clay Looney, he has revolutionized the teaching of the Introduction to Information Systems class. He plays a pivotal role in the School of Business's tech transfer efforts with other departments on campus.

David is involved with several start-up and tech transfer companies in Missoula, including Bee Alert Technology, Inc., which trains bees to find landmines and is a key player in the search for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder which has already killed 50% of the nation's bees.

Research Interests

David has two main research foci:

  1. Improving the Introduction to Information class and the Information Systems major in general.
  2. How consulting firms impact the adoption of Information Technology.

Published Papers

David has an active research agenda within the MIS field, mostly focused on improving the quality of education within the field. Professor Firth's most downloaded paper, and a top downloaded paper within the MIS discipline with almost 700 downloads, is Addressing the IS Enrollment Crisis: A 12-step Program to Bring about Change through the Introductory IS Course. The paper shows how to revolution the Introduction to MIS class in order to attract more undergraduate students to the major.

Professor Firth's other most downloaded paper, and also a top downloaded paper within the MIS discipline with almost 500 downloads, Managing Your PhD Student Career: How to Prepare for the Job Market. This practical paper, which is actually applicable to all Ph.D.s graduating and seeking a college professor position, is based on the most successful panel session ever at the America's Conference on Information Systems, and the most viewed webinar ever offered by the Association for Information Systems.

UM Advertising Campaign

Professor Firth was part of a TV commercial campaign for the University of Montana.

Writing a Consulting Resume

Professor Firth is often asked to comment on a student's resume, particularly a resume that's going to a consulting firm. You can see a short video of Dr. Firth's resume advice on YouTube.

Tech Transfer with Bee Alert Technology

Professor Firth has been the business manager and tech transfer consultant for Bee Alert Technology for a decade. He works with Bee Alert on a variety of projects, all of which involve using bees to solve problems or on managing bees in more sustainable ways. This Bee Alert video shows how trained bees find landmines. Bees can be trained to almost any scent, so this same technology can be used whenever a scent needs to be located within a large area. The laser system shown in this video can also just be used to show where bees go, which is currently the use-case for the system in almond groves, onion fields and such, where growers are seeking to better understand how bees interact with their crops.

Bee Alert is also currently developing a bee-based pesticide event detector. The detector can show that bees have been exposed to strong, moderate and mild pesticide events. Although currently only available in a custom-built format (which is for sale), the pesticide detector is almost complete as an Android format app for smartphones, and will soon be available through the Google Play Store. This same device already is able to detect health issues such as nosema and foul brood impacting bees simply by listening to them.


The picture above shows the bee-based pesticide event detector/bee health monitor in action.


As part of his work with the Bee Alert Technology team, Dr. Firth is a co-author on a seminal paper that found the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder in bees. The results made the front page of the New York Times and you can read the article here: "Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery"


The paper itself describing the findings is available from PLoS One and is one of the most viewed papers at PLoS One: "Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline"

In sum, Colony Collapse Disorder in bees can be attributed to a co-infection by an invertebrate iridescent virus (IIV) (Iridoviridae) and Nosema apis (a microsporidian unicellular parasite that is actually a fungus and reasonably common in bees). More publicised notions that Colony Collapse Disorder is related to a newly created neonicotinoid pesticide do not stand up to the fact that Colony Collapse Disorder has been observed on a cyclical basis over the last 100 years whereas neonicotinoid pesticides are only 15 years old.


Helping MIS Majors Get Great MIS Careers

The focus of Dr. Firth's teaching and student advising is all about helping MIS majors (and often other majors) get great MIS careers. As a Senior Manager in the Information Systems consulting practice of KPMG in San Francisco, Dr. Firth helped his clients solve their business problems. Now Dr. Firth helps his students get great careers, often in this very same Information Systems consulting world.

One major local company where MIS majors go is ATG (Advanced Technology Group) and their Missoula Solutions Center. Dr. Firth has been covered in several media sources for these efforts:

The Missoulian (March 2014): "IT consulting firm expands, offers big-city opportunity in Missoula"

Montana High Tech News (April 2015):  "ATG: Missoula High-Tech Firm Finds Montana Lifestyle Attracts Talent, Fortune 1000 Clients"


The Giving

The Giving is an emotionally powerful documentary that chronicles the difficult journeys of six women from the time they learn of their pregnancy to the signing of adoption papers. "The Giving" explores how and why these women make what is perhaps the most difficult decision a mother could face. Pulling their stories from the shadows of society, this film shatters the myth of the careless, abandoning birthmother, and reveals, once again, that courage and selflessness are found in the most unassuming places.

The Giving - #1 ranked and rated Adoption DVD on Amazon.com

For more detail and to purchase go to www.TheGiving.info

The Giving 

Local business located in the Palouse region for buying and selling textbooks, including many old editions: Textbook Recycling


David's resume available here.

Ph.D., Information Systems, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 2003

MA, Natural Sciences, University of Oxford, England, 1993

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, 1991

BA (honours), Physics, University of Oxford, England, 1988