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.
January 30, 2023
MSU integrative biologist Julia Ganz will use a two-year, $439,408 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore the zebrafish’s unique superpower to gain insights that could someday lead to discoveries benefitting people suffering from neurological diseases of digestive system.
January 25, 2023
Michigan State University researchers have solved a puzzle that could help switchgrass realize its full potential as a low-cost, sustainable biofuel crop and curb our dependence on fossil fuels. Berkley Walker’s team in the Department of Plant Biology in MSU’s College of Natural Science has revealed why switchgrass stops performing photosynthesis in the middle of the summer — its growing season — limiting how much biofuel it yields. This knowledge, published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, is a key piece to overcoming this quirk and getting the most out of switchgrass.
January 23, 2023
MSU synthetic biologist Björn Hamberger and graduate students Emily Lanier and Abigail Bryson have traced the evolution of mint genomes for potential future applications that range from medicines, pesticides and antimicrobials. Their research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
January 17, 2023
Michigan State University and the National Audubon Society are teaming up to help protect declining bird populations across North America. With $1.3 million from a collaborative National Science Foundation grant, the team—led by MSU integrative biologist Elise Zipkin—will develop statistical models fueled by four massive data sets to evaluate how climate change and land use are affecting hundreds of bird species.
January 12, 2023
When the U.S. government committed last January to conserving 30 percent of the United States’ natural land and water by the year 2030, the decision was embraced by the majority of Americans. Now, Michigan State University ecologists are part of a team that’s sharing data to help inform those choices throughout the United States and beyond. Their research identified North America’s climate change refugia, habitats that will be the most likely to support the persistence of the greatest amount of biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.
January 11, 2023
Working with data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, Michigan State University has helped discover an Earth-sized exoplanet — a planet outside of our solar system. This planet, named TOI-700 e, falls within its star’s habitable zone, meaning the newfound planet could be capable of supporting life as we know it. The research team announced the finding Jan. 10 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January 30, 2023NIH grant seeks to tap fish's regenerative might
January 25, 2023$1.9 million NSF grant to amplify math research, community, takes shape at Michigan State
January 25, 2023Why this promising biofuel crop takes a summer break