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News

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.

The wild radish has helped Michigan State University researchers posit that natural selection can preserve similarities in addition to driving changes.
August 24, 2023
Natural selection is usually understood in the context of change. When organisms deviate from the norm, they may gain advantages that let their lineages outlast those of their less-adaptable relatives. But new research from Michigan State University suggests that natural selection also has the power to keep things the same. MSU plant biologist Jeff Conner and his team have published a new report in the journal New Phytologist that expands science’s understanding of natural selection in the face of another evolutionary mechanism called genetic constraint.
Across the country, farmers once reliant on weather alone to provide water for their crops will turn to irrigation to increase yields and profits—and put new stresses on limited water resources.
August 21, 2023
In a new study, Michigan State University landscape hydrologist Anthony Kendall and his colleagues found that, by the middle of the 21st century under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the benefits of expanded irrigation will outweigh the costs of installation and operation over an extended portion of current U.S. croplands. With climate change projections showing higher temperatures, increased drought conditions, and shifting precipitation patterns, irrigating more crops in the United States will be critical to sustaining future yields. The findings were recently published in Communications Earth & Environment, an open-access journal from Nature Portfolio.
open field of tall corn under a blue sky with fluffy clouds
August 11, 2023
From intense heat and drought roasting crops to rain-delayed harvests, many who grow the food we rely on are having to find new ways to adapt. For some, that means going high-tech, using sensors that can tell them when their plants need more water or fertilizer. MSU sustainable agriculture researcher Bruno Basso joins WSJ’s Jala Everett to discuss how modern sensors are changing the world of farming and how some sensors the size of “bandages” could deliver even more precise data from individual plants.
The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift–Tuttle. The meteors are called the Perseids because they appear from the general direction of the constellation Perseus and in more modern times have a radiant bordering on Cassiopeia and Camelopardalis.
August 10, 2023
Shannon Schmoll, director of the Abrams Planetarium and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University, explains why the upcoming Perseid meteor shower is a great opportunity to see an object from space closer than usual — at a safe distance and with your naked eye.
Front of MSU College of Natural Science building, doors open and the cosmos is displayed inside.
August 9, 2023
Remarkable research can be found around every corner on MSU's main campus. Explore some of the surprising ways Spartans are transforming our understanding of life, our world and cosmos.
MSU physicists were part of an international collaboration that has discovered the highest-energy light coming from the sun. The results were recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
August 4, 2023
MSU physicists were part of an international collaboration that has discovered the highest-energy light coming from the sun. Their results, recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters, detail the discovery. The team, who conducted their work at the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory, or HAWC, also found that this type of light, known as gamma rays, is surprisingly bright.
One seedbank plot with germinating seeds growing from the Cedar Creek, Minn. site.
July 27, 2023
As biodiversity loss wreaks havoc on grasslands throughout the world, many have hoped that soil seed banks would act as a “biodiversity reservoir” and preserve species that are disappearing. However, in a recent study published in Nature Communications, Michigan State University plant biologist Lauren Sullivan and her team challenge that assumption. Previous studies have shown that fertilization can lead to biodiversity loss in the above ground community, but this is the first multi-site study to show a link to the seed bank community.
In response to warming temperatures, spring is now arriving substantially earlier than it did several decades ago. While North American songbirds are shifting when they migrate and breed, they are failing to keep pace with the rate of climate change, resulting in fewer young being produced.
July 24, 2023
Rising global temperatures are making it harder for birds to know when it’s spring and time to breed according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A large collaboration led by Michigan State University integrative biologist Casey Youngflesh in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that birds produce fewer young if they start breeding too early or late in the season. With climate change resulting in earlier springlike weather, the researchers report, birds have been unable to keep pace.
A handheld MultispeQ device is used on Arabidopsis thaliana plants to measure their rates of photosynthesis.
July 24, 2023
Understanding the intricate puzzle pieces that make up the photosynthetic systems of plants can help researchers better understand how to grow and create plants that can survive in changing climate conditions. Naveen Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher in the Federica Brandizzi lab at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL), is one of the few people in the PRL who studies carbonic anhydrases (CAs)—proteins found in the chloroplast stroma where photosynthesis takes place. A study led by Sharma to better characterize CAs in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, was recently published in The Plant Journal.
MSU science education researchers will investigate the role of mathematics in undergraduate biology, chemistry, and physics courses.
July 19, 2023
MSU science education researchers Kevin Haudek, Melanie Cooper, and Rachel Henderson have received a National Science Foundation grant to study the role of Mathematical Sensemaking in Science (MaSS) in undergraduate STEM courses. This collaborative project will develop new assessments to elicit mathematical thinking from biology, chemistry, and physics students. Research results will deepen our understanding of the role of mathematics in undergraduate science education. 

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