Welcome to the NatSci news page! Check back often to learn about the latest innovations, discoveries and accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni.
August 16, 2021
Missing metadata — data that provides information about other data — might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a costly problem that’s hindering humanity’s plans to protect the planet’s biodiversity. A Spartan-led research team reveals surprising gaps in ecological genetic data that could otherwise help global conservation efforts. MSU's Rachel Toczydlowski is the lead author of a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which features researchers from 14 institutions in three countries.The team audited the largest global repository for storing genetic sequence data to see if the entries included basic metadata needed to make them useful for monitoring genetic diversity.
August 11, 2021
For decades, scientists suspected that bacteria known as Geobacter could clean up radioactive uranium waste, but it wasn’t clear how the microbes did it. Now, MSU microbiologist Gemma Reguera and her team has the answer. Molecules called lipopolysaccharides coat the cell surface and soak up the uranium like a sponge. Their findings were recently published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
August 9, 2021
Currently, there is no cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, a condition that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. But new research led by MSU scientists is bringing fresh insight to the IBD table—an unexpected connection between specialized cells in the gut called glia and the genes involved in IBD. Their findings, published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, could lead to more effective treatments for one of the most elusive gut problems in the world.
August 5, 2021
A few years ago, Michigan State University quantitative ecologists Sarah Saunders and Elise Zipkin created a new statistical model to understand the threats endangered species face. Now, as federal agencies continue to use those findings, the research has earned this year’s Ecological Forecasting Outstanding Publication Award from the Ecological Society of America (ESA).
August 4, 2021
It was the beginning of the COVID pandemic and MSU plant biologist Emily Josephs could not go into her lab to work because of safety restrictions. So, she called up friend and colleague, Regina Baucom, from the University of Michigan, to see if she would be interested in collaborating virtually on an experimental evolution project using Baucom's existing system to study morning glory and Josephs' plant genomics data analysis expertise. The pair wanted to understand if a plant’s environmental response to stress is adaptive, or helpful to the plant. The results of this study were recently published in the journal Evolution Letters.
July 27, 2021
Researchers led by MSU’s Johannes Pollanen have developed a new device to help future quantum bits, or qubits (pronounced “Q bits”), take flight. Using liquid helium and readily available modern telecommunications technology —based on so-called “surface acoustic wave” devices — the Spartan team has created a new way to precisely manipulate electrons. With this capability, scientists can envision building what are known as trapped-electron quantum computers powered by processors whose quantum bits are free to move — or fly — around. The team showcased its new tech on July 6 in the journal Nature Communications.
July 26, 2021
Bruce Uhal, MSU professor of physiology, is a leading expert on ACE-2, the main receptor, or docking molecule, for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and is responsible for over half a million deaths in the United States. When SARS-CoV-2 began surging in 2020, Uhal joined an international group of scientists from India, Europe and the United States analyzing publicly available sequences of SARS-CoV-2 and ACE-2 to help track the origin and evolution of the virus and to develop targeted COVID-19 therapeutics.
July 26, 2021
While conducting outstanding research for capstone project honors, four MSU physiology undergraduate students found a blog to share their work sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS) that focuses on the presence of physiology in everyday life for both scientists and non-scientists. Questions such as, what is physiology? where is physiology? and why does it matter to you? provide a focus for the APS I Spy Physiology Blog: Spotting Physiology in Everyday Life.
July 21, 2021
MSU Distinguished Professor Kay Holekamp and her students have been observing hyenas as part of The Maasai Mara Hyena Project for over 30 years, following, tagging, sampling blood and feces, and amassing a rich dataset helping to answer questions previously thought impossible outside the lab. In a new study led by former postdoc Zachary Laubach, they found that less maternal care during the infant’s first year of life and less social connectedness once independent of the communal den are associated later in life with higher concentrations of stress hormones and less global DNA methylation. The exciting new study is published in Nature Communications.
July 19, 2021
MSU ecologists led an international research partnership of professional and volunteer scientists to reveal new insights into what’s driving the already-dwindling population of eastern monarch butterflies even lower. Between 2004 and 2018, changing climate at the monarch’s spring and summer breeding grounds has had the most significant impact on this declining population. In fact, the effects of climate change have been nearly seven times more significant than other contributors, such as habitat loss. The team published its report July 19 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
May 15, 2023Prominent cancer researcher joins MSU to lead biochemistry and molecular biology department, establish Center for Cancer Health Equity Research
May 12, 2023Seed grants sow dazzling return on investment