NatSci researchers named MSU Foundation Professors

Published January 11, 2017

Five Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci) faculty members were among six researchers most recently named MSU Foundation Professors, a designation given to outstanding faculty who demonstrate excellence in research and teaching, while enhancing the prominence of the institution.

“This award recognizes the global stature of MSU scholars,” said MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt. “Their contributions to their fields exemplify a level of engagement and accomplishment MSU is proud to support.”

The professorships, established in 2014, are part of an initiative to attract and retain highly successful faculty members. Each of the recipients receives five years of supplemental research support and holds the MSU Foundation Professor designation permanently.

The new NatSci honorees are:

Joey Huston

Joey Huston, physics and astronomy professor, who is an internationally renowned expert in the field of high energy physics phenomenology, which links mathematical models with experimental particle physics. He is a member of the Higgs Cross Section Working Group and the PDF4LHC Working Group at the Large Hadron Collider at in Geneva, Switzerland. He played an instrumental role in global parton distribution fits, and in standard model and Higgs boson analyses in the ATLAS experiment.

Christopher Klausmeier

Christopher Klausmeier, plant biology professor and a Kellogg Biological Station faculty member, is an expert in theoretical ecology, especially related to microbial and aquatic systems. His laboratory group studies the general principles that organize ecological communities and ecosystems, with a particular focus on phytoplankton and zooplankton, the microscopic plants and animals at the base of lake and ocean food webs. His awards and honors include a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and an EU Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship, which supported a sabbatical visit to the Danish Technical University in Copenhagen.

Elena Litchman

Elena Litchman, integrative biology professor and a faculty member at the Kellogg Biological Station, is internationally recognized for her research on phytoplankton communities in both freshwater and marine environments. She has earned the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Litchman received her Honors Diploma in biology from Moscow State University, Russia, and her doctorate in ecology from the University of Minnesota. 

Beronda Montgomery

Beronda Montgomery, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of microbiology and molecular genetics, and a member of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, conducts pioneering research in the dynamic molecular processes used by photosynthetic organisms to adapt to changes in their photoenvironment. She is a National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipient and a fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Program. Montgomery received her doctorate in plant biology from the University of California, Davis.

Michael Thomashow

Michael Thomashow, University Distinguished Professor and founding director of MSU’s Plant Resilience Institute, is world-renowned for identifying regulatory pathways controlling freezing tolerance in model and agriculturally important plants. Thomashow has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Society of Plant Biologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded the American Society of Plant Biologists’ Steven Hales Prize.

“These faculty members are nationally and internationally recognized for their scientific accomplishments,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, NatSci dean. “Their research productivity, innovative thinking, quality teaching and leadership place them at the very top of their fields. Their distinction as MSU Foundation Professors is well deserved.”

The sixth faculty member in this cohort receiving an MSU Foundation Professor designation is Barry Pittendrigh, an entomology professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who joined MSU this year and focuses his research on pest problems in crops in developing countries.

These scientists join 18 other MSU researchers who have been named MSU Foundation Professors over the past two years, and brings the total number of NatSci MSU Foundation Professors to 14.