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.
November 7, 2022
If there’s news about amphibians these days, odds are it’s not going to be good. A pathogenic fungus has been decimating populations around the world for about forty years and counting, pushing many species to extinction. That’s why researchers have been stunned to see one genus — Atelopus or harlequin frogs — defying the odds. Now, new research from ecologists at Michigan State University and collaborators in Ecuador is setting the stage for an unprecedented underdog story — or, if you will, an underfrog story.
October 21, 2022
MSU graduate student Julie Butler is the recipient of a highly competitive Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program grant. Butler is one of 44 outstanding graduate students from across the nation representing 36 states in the program selected to conduct research at 12 DOE national laboratories. Butler will conduct her research on applications of machine learning to coupled cluster studies of infinite fermionic matter at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
August 25, 2022
MSU ecologists in Elise Zipkin's Qualitative Ecology lab in the College of Natural Science have developed a mathematical framework that could help monitor and preserve biodiversity without breaking the bank. This framework or model takes low-cost data about relatively abundant species in a community and uses it to generate valuable insights on their harder-to-find neighbors. The journal Conservation Biology published the research as an Early View article on Aug. 25
July 28, 2022
Michigan State University researchers have found that the Zika virus can halt an embryo’s development in the earliest stages of pregnancy, signaling that the risks posed by the virus are greater than previously appreciated. The team from MSU also hopes its work, which was performed with mouse models, will inspire more studies examining how other diseases, such as cytomegalovirus — the leading infectious cause of birth defects — affect early pregnancy. Their findings were recently published in the journal Development.
July 12, 2022
While studying for his Ph.D. at Michigan State University and working in Elise Zipkin’s Quantitative Ecology Lab, Alex Wright and his Ph.D. advisors set out to determine the best way to monitor wildlife to understand how biodiversity changes through time and space. A paper with their findings was recently published in Ecological Applications. The results will help conservationists optimize data collection to answer complex biodiversity questions at large scales.
June 6, 2022
MSU graduate student Hannah Christine Berg is the recipient of a highly competitive Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program grant. She is one of 80 outstanding graduate students representing 27 states in the program, each of whom was selected through peer review by external scientific experts. Berg, a Ph.D. student in nuclear astrophysics working at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, will conduct her research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
May 20, 2022
The gut microbiome has made a huge splash in human health with numerous products popping up promising vast benefits to everything from a healthy digestive system to better mood regulation. But humans aren’t the only ones partnering up with viruses, bacteria and fungi. Researchers at Michigan State University are peering into the dazzling world of microbiomes in plants and animals, searching for keys to a healthier world.
May 18, 2022
Michigan State researchers have helped peer inside a nova — a type of astrophysical nuclear explosion — without leaving Earth. These stellar events help forge the universe’s chemical elements, and Spartans helped explore their nature with an intense isotope beam and a custom experimental device with record-setting sensitivity at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, or NSCL. The team, led by MSU physics Professor Christopher Wrede, published its work May 3 in the journal Physical Review Letters.
April 28, 2022
Six Michigan State University College of Natural Science faculty members– Jeffrey Conner, Victor DiRita, Gemma Reguera, Jetze Tepe, Christopher Waters and Marjorie Weber – and one graduate student – Nicholas Rekuski – have received 2021-2022 All-University Awards in recognition of their outstanding contributions to education and research. The MSU Awards Convocation for 2022 will be held on May 11, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., in the Big Ten Rooms at the Kellogg Center.
April 25, 2022
Wildlife policy and management decisions often rely on estimates of animal abundance, so inaccurate counts can have negative consequences. Aerial surveys are an efficient survey platform; however, they can yield unreliable data if not carefully executed. Despite a long history of aerial survey use in ecological research, problems common to aerial surveys have not yet been adequately resolved. MSU Ph.D. student Kayla Davis and integrative biologist Elise Zipkin recently published a paper in the journal Ecology and Evolution that outlines the three-pronged approach their team used to tackle the problem.
March 15, 2023How biofuel crops harness fungal defenders
March 13, 2023MSU study reveals inequity in journal peer review