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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.

Installation of the rainfall exclusion experiment at the KBS LTER, one of the new treatments added to the experiment in 2021.
January 10, 2023
The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research program at Michigan State University was awarded a renewal of their foundational grant, reaffirming the program’s future and status as one of the country’s premier research sites. Continuation funding for the program began on Dec. 1, 2022 and will run through November 2028. MSU animal ecologist Nick Haddad and microbial ecologist Sarah Evans led the grant proposal, “Ecological and social mechanisms of resilience in agroecosystems.” In it, they detail the program’s new focus on climate change and land use change.
The College of Natural Science (NatSci) at Michigan State University is home to 27 departments and programs in the biological, physical and mathematical sciences. The college averages $57M in research expenditures annually while providing world-class educational opportunities to more than 6,000 undergraduate majors and 1,200 graduate and postdoc students. There are 800+ faculty and academic staff associated with NatSci and more than 63,000 living alumni worldwide.
January 10, 2023
Samuel Sottile, a senior majoring in advanced mathematics in the Michigan State University College of Natural Science, has been named a Churchill Scholar. The 18th Churchill Scholar from MSU, Sottile places MSU in the top 10 nationally (tied for No. 7) and No. 1 in the Big Ten for Churchill Scholars. This year, 16 Churchill Scholars were selected from 119 applicants and 77 institutions. The Churchill Scholarship supports one year of master’s study at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, England.
An often-studied flowering plant evolved reproductive self-sufficiency, and in the process some parts of the flower are starting to disappear. Michigan State University scientists, led by plant biologist Jeffrey Conner, will use a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant better understand this trait loss.
January 4, 2023
An often-studied flowering plant evolved reproductive self-sufficiency, and in the process some parts of the flower are starting to disappear. Michigan State University scientists, led by plant biologist Jeffrey Conner, will use a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant better understand this trait loss.
Michigan State University plant scientists may have found a link between climate change and plant nutrition.
January 3, 2023
A new study from plant scientists at Michigan State University demonstrates that there’s a link between climate change and nutrition. The research, led by MSU’s Berkley Walker and his team shows that, although elevated levels of carbon dioxide can be good for photosynthesis, increasing CO2 levels can tinker with other metabolic processes in plants. And these lesser-known processes could have implications for other functions like protein production. Their findings were recently published in Nature Plants.
The Charles Drew Science Scholars program is a residential program in the Michigan State University College of Natural Science and has worked to diversify the STEM talent pool and workforce for more than 40 years.
December 20, 2022
The Charles Drew Science Scholars program is a residential program in the MSU College of Natural Science and has worked to diversify the STEM talent pool and workforce for more than 40 years. The program, which has a legacy of providing robust academic experiences for nearly 2,000 scholars to date, has prioritized students from groups historically underrepresented in science and mathematics fields. Dozens of Drew Scholars have gone on to pursue medicine at institutions nationwide, including MSU’s College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine. 
This image shows a rendering of part of the protein shell of a synthetic microcompartment. These bacterial compartments house specific biochemical functions in an insulated environment, by means of protein shells that encapsulate enzymes.
December 15, 2022
With $10.65 million of support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan State University is home to one of the nation’s newest Energy Frontier Research Centers. Led by MSU's Cheryl Kerfeld and her team, the center will explore how nature compartmentalizes some of its most important biochemical reactions. This understanding will allow researchers to mimic nature’s methods to develop new and more efficient ways to produce important molecules and chemicals to benefit society, including clean, sustainable fuels.
Machine learning has the promise to accelerate research in STEM fields, but this will require people with unique training and expertise. MSU has won a nearly $3 million NSF grant to help prepare that next-generation workforce. This image was created by the DALL·E 2 AI system.
December 13, 2022
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded MSU nearly $3 million to create a graduate program that will help usher in a new era of STEM discoveries using the power of machine learning. Project leader Daniel Appelö and his team are working with the NSF to ensure the United States can maintain its leadership in the machine learning space — especially in science, technology, engineering and math applications — for generations to come.
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.
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.
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.

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