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 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.
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.
June 1, 2023
Saving the rainforest, biodiversity, and in the process, the planet, is often framed as a high-stakes race. Now that race has a timetable, a $10 million prize, and ACTNOW Amazonas, a high-powered women-led multidisciplinary team of Michigan State University experts collaborating with innovators, indigenous rainforest protectors, and a dedicated film crew, who together are semifinalists for the XPRIZE Rainforest—a global competition aiming to enhance the world’s understanding of the rainforest ecosystems to protect it.
May 17, 2023
Current conservation practices likely won’t do enough to save the black tern, a migratory bird species that nests in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, from disappearing.That’s according to new research from MSU and the National Audubon Society published in the journal Biological Conservation. But there’s also good news. The team’s report reveals new opportunities to enhance the outlook for these birds by strategically expanding conservation and land management practices. The approach can also be adapted to inform conservation practices for other species.
May 12, 2023
When it comes to securing key agency grant funds to support research projects, the quest to generate research data often favors those who already have enough data to prove their fundability. And that means grants to get grants can be a game changer. MSU's Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Program started a Seed Grant Initiative in 2020, and faculty members receiving them agree that these small investments make a big difference in leveraging more significant research funding.
May 4, 2023
MSU integrative biologist Elise Zipkin has been honored with the International Recognition of Professional Excellence Prize for her groundbreaking work transforming mountains of data into insights and tools to manage and protect some of the world’s most precious ecology. The prize honors young ecologists who have published uniquely independent, original and/or challenging research representing an important scientific breakthrough, and/or who must work under particularly difficult conditions.
September 15, 2023Accelerating nuclear science with machine learning