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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.

MSU scientists have landed a $2 million Department of Energy grant to improve the oilseed yield of Camelina sativa, a common plant that could provide cleaner jet fuels and teach us about other important crops.
December 9, 2022
MSU researchers are working to clear the runway for a new source of cleaner, more sustainable biodiesel and jet fuels derived from a relative of cabbage and cauliflower. With $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, MSU scientists, including College of Natural Science biochemist Erich Grotewold, are helping unravel the complex genetics of a plant named Camelina sativa to better equip researchers to improve the plant’s oilseed yield and establish it as a more viable alternative to current petroleum-based fuels that meet the unique demands of air travel.
Mariah Meek collecting brook trout for assessment, a species threatened by climate change.
December 6, 2022
As nature reels toward a hotter, drier, harsher future, new conservation tools – seed banks and frozen zoos, gene editing and assisted gene flow – hold promise to help struggling animal and plant populations. A group of biologists, including MSU researchers,make a case that innovations in understanding local adaptation now can be powerful tools to create second chances when habitats are challenged by changing climates.
Mauna Loa is a volcano located on the Big Island of Hawaii and is the largest volcano on the planet. The volcano, which has been dormant since 1984, began erupting on Nov. 27, 2022.
December 6, 2022
Jeffrey Freymueller, is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the MSU College of Natural Science. Freymueller is an Endowed Chair for Geology of the Solid Earth. He is an internationally recognized expert in geodesy, or the study of Earth’s size and shape. In this Ask the Expert article, he discusses the current Mauna Loa eruption and how it relates to his research at MSU.
The still active Yellowstone supervolcano, located in Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming, formed some 640,000 years ago. Its caldera –a large cauldron-like depression that forms when a volcano erupts and collapses–pictured here, measures 30 miles x 45 miles wide.
December 1, 2022
When Ross Maguire was a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University, he wanted to study the volume and distribution of molten magma underneath the Yellowstone volcano. Using a method called seismic tomography, he was able to create images showing where the magma was located, but they were not crystal clear. Using a method known as waveform tomography developed by the late MSU researcher Min Chen, Maguire et. al. were able to see that twice that amount of magma exists within Yellowstone’s magmatic system.
Requirements for earning a place in the 2021 Highly Cited Researchers list, an annual compilation of the global leaders in scientific influence by Clarivate Analytics list include publication of multiple highly cited papers from 2010 to 2020 and ranking in the top one percent of citations in their fields.
November 30, 2022
Three scientists affiliated with the MSU College of Natural Science have been recognized as being among the world’s most influential scientists thanks to their papers’ usefulness to other researchers in their fields. Biochemist Gregg A. Howe, ecosystem scientist G. Philip Robertson, and microbial ecologist James Tiedje are among 11 MSU scientists named to the 2022 Highly Cited Researchers List compiled by Clarivate Analytics.
A component of the structure of the drug istradefylline.
November 29, 2022
Michigan State University Geoffrey Laumet and members of his lab are part of an international team that found an existing drug that may help decrease the side effects of cisplatin, a widely used cancer treatment that was discovered at MSU in 1965. The team, consisting of scientists from MSU, the University of Lille, the University of Strausburg, the Pasteur Institute of Lille in France, and the University of Coimbra in Portugal, has found that istradefylline, a drug already approved by the FDA and used to treat Parkinson’s disease, can reduce the side effects of cisplatin, while preserving its cancer-fighting strength.
Sophia Lunt, biochemistry and molecular biology (left) and Sheba Onchiri, chemistry, were among 35 NatSci faculty, staff and students receiving awards at the college's 2022 Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony.
November 29, 2022
Thirty-five outstanding MSU College of Natural Science (NatSci) faculty, staff and students were recognized for their achievements and contributions at the NatSci Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony, held Nov. 18 at the STEM Teaching and Learning Facilityon campus. More than 100 faculty, staff, students, family and friends attended the event.
A computer simulation of plasma inside a device called a tokamak, one of the leading technologies in development for fusion energy.
November 18, 2022
MSU's Andrew Christlieb is leading a massive U.S. Department of Energy project to help deliver on the not-yet-realized promise of nuclear fusion. That promise? To create an unmatched source of affordable and sustainable energy. Christlieb is now the director of a Mathematical Multifaceted Integrated Capability Center, or MMICC, supported by $15 million in funding from the DOE. He is joined by researchers at eight other universities and national labs across the country to develop new mathematical and computational tools to better model the physics needed to understand, control and sustain fusion.
The Benning lab’s NSF-funded project connects the research lab environment with the classroom environment by developing a project that looks at how the chloroplast reacts to stress responses in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
November 15, 2022
Researchers from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory have received a $1.1 million National Science Foundation grant to bring research into the undergraduate classroom. The project, which looks at how the chloroplast reacts to stress responses in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, will allow students to not only learn techniques and concepts used in the lab, but to learn why researchers do what they do.
Experts and a unique research site at MSU are showing how the history of land being restored shapes the future and success of conservation efforts.
November 14, 2022
There's a popular saying that people who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It turns out that there's another reason not to ignore history according to new research from Michigan State University published in the journal Ecology. Experts and a unique research site at MSU are showing how the history of land being restored shapes the future and success of conservation efforts. With support from the National Science Foundation, this new study focuses on one of those factors — when a plot is restored — through the lens of biodiversity.

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