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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.

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November 29, 2021
A team of researchers, including scientists Ryan Ringle and Alec Hamaker from the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University (MSU), have solved the case of zirconium-80s missing mass. Their findings were recently published in the journal Nature Physics.
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November 26, 2021
In a partnership between MSU and Spectrum Health called the Cystic Fibrosis Translational Research program, a team of researchers including MSU biochemist Robert Quinn, is studying the effectiveness of a promising FDA approved treatment called Trikafta that is a combination of the drugs Elexacaftor, Tezacaftor and Ivacaftor. The new treatment is proving to be life-changing for people with cystic fibrosis. The research was published Nov. 24 in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.
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November 24, 2021
When physicist Tyler Cocker joined MSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2018, he had a clear goal: build a powerful microscope that would be the first of its kind in the United States. Having accomplished that, it was time to put the microscope to work. With the novel microscope, Cocker’s team is using light and electrons to study materials with an unparalleled intimacy and resolution. The researchers can see atoms and measure quantum features within samples that could become the building blocks of quantum computers and next-generation solar cells. Their research was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.  
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November 24, 2021
On December 10, Netflix will debut the movie “Don’t Look Up,” a fictional comedy about MSU scientists who try to warn the government about a giant asteroid’s impending collision with Earth. In the story, no one from the government or press is paying attention, but in real life, NASA and MSU are very much engaged in the serious and important science of planetary defense. MSU planetary scientist Seth Jacobson is part of a multi-disciplinary research team working on this project.
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November 22, 2021
MSU Academic Specialist Nathan Emery and collaborators recently published a study in BioScience in which they surveyed college/university educators from around the globe on teaching practices related to data science as well as how scientists use data science in their own research. Their work offers a window into how data science is currently taught and how to best empower instructors to incorporate data science into future biology and environmental science courses.
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November 16, 2021
Journal articles of particular note in chemistry are occasionally honored through supplementary journal covers to promote the research content. Chemistry Professor Piotr Piecuch’s recent publication in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters was selected for such an honor. The journal awards supplementary covers to authors of articles it recognizes as having contributed significantly to advancing important principles in physical chemistry, and is an honor given to only a maximum of three articles per journal issue.
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November 10, 2021
Plants are master chemists, producing a dazzling array of molecules that are valuable to humans, including vitamins, pharmaceuticals and flavorings. In a paper published in Science Advances, a team of MSU scientists from the College of Natural Science followed up on their observation that the common black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) makes an unusually large number of different acylsugar protective compounds in their trichome hairs. A surprise finding from this study is that black nightshade acylsugars have distinct types of compounds not found together in other plants.
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November 8, 2021
Long ago in Earth’s history, individual cells began to communicate and coordinate with one another. Thanks to this and a few billion years of evolution, humans can now gather in lecture halls to share ideas about how to study this communication and its wide-ranging implications.MSU scientists Lee Kroos and Yann Dufour now have a paper, published online Nov. 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which they took a deep look at how single cells work together to choreograph collective behavior. In particular, the team looked at a bacterial species known as Myxococcus xanthus to tease out the basic rules of the dances bacteria do to survive, thrive and impact humanity, for better or worse.
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November 3, 2021
About 20 years ago, MSU's B. Alex Brown had an idea to reveal insights about a fundamental but enigmatic force at work in some of the most extreme environments in the universe. Brown’s theory laid the blueprints for connecting the properties of nuclei to neutron stars, but building that bridge with experiments continued to be challenging. That is until 2017 when he said he started thinking about the precision experiments run by his colleague Kei Minamisono's group at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, or NSCL, and in the near-future at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB. The goal of this new idea, which was recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters, was the same as his earlier theory, but it could be tested using what are known as “mirror nuclei” to provide a faster and simpler path to that destination.
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October 28, 2021
The NASA Astrobiology Institute funded Michigan State University geomicrobiologist Matt Schrenk’s lab to study life in the extreme environment of an aquifer near Lower Lake, Calif. Because similar environments occur in space—in the subsurface of Mars and in the oceans of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus—the microorganisms found in this aquifer, and their behavior, may provide insight into potential extraterrestrial life. Two former MSU earth and environmental sciences graduate students, Lindsay Putman and Mary Sabuda, have just published papers on this research.

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