Modern sky surveys, such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Two-Micron All Sky Survey, have revolutionized the study of low-mass stars. With millions of photometric and spectroscopic observations, intrinsic stellar properties can be studied with unprecedented statistical significance. Recent results, driven by SDSS observations, have sought to place the local low-mass stellar population in a broader Galactic context. I highlight a recent measurement of the luminosity and mass functions of M dwarfs, using a new technique optimized for large surveys. I also report on ongoing investigations employing M dwarfs as tracers of Galactic kinematics. The highlighted projects demonstrate the advantages and problems with using large data sets and will pave the way for studies with next-generation surveys, such as PanSTARRS and LSST.
Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1402.