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.
October 20, 2021
MSU ecosystems scientist Bruno Basso has received a $3.4 million grant from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency to help determine how much carbon is in unproductive agricultural lands now and how much carbon the soil can hold. The answers found by Basso and his team will contribute to a carbon storage initiative known as the Conservation Reserve Program, which allows unproductive land to return to native vegetation and hopefully to increase the amount of carbon to be stored in the soil while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agrochemical applications to mitigate climate change.
October 14, 2021
On Oct. 13, MSU’s Artemis Spyrou was selected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a distinction recognizing researchers for significant and innovative contributions to physics. Each year, less than one-half of a percent of the APS membership earns fellowship status. Fellows are elected by the APS Council based on nominations from a candidate’s peers. In the materials nominating Spyrou, her colleagues described her as an “unstoppable force” in nuclear physics research and outreach.
October 1, 2021
Researchers at MSU have made a surprising discovery about the human gut’s enteric nervous system. This system contains several specialized nervous system cells, including glial cells. In research published online on Oct. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Brian Gulbransen and his team revealed that glia act in a very precise way to influence the signals carried by neuronal circuits in the gut. This discovery could help pave the way for new treatments for intestinal illness that affects as much as 15 percent of the U.S. population.
October 1, 2021
Scientists in the Michigan State University-Department of Energy (DOE) Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) have published a new study that furthers our understanding of how plants make membranes in chloroplasts, the photosynthesis powerhouse. The study, which was recently published in The Plant Journal, focuses on RBL10, a rhomboid-like protein found in plant chloroplast membranes. The researchers found that RBL10 interacts with other chloroplast proteins and teases how it might perform some of its functions.
September 29, 2021
The source of troublesome lake algae is not always clear, but an interdisciplinary research project with two MSU researchers found an answer may include colder groundwater that feeds some inland lakes. This finding could help predict the formation of harmful algal blooms (HABs) to mitigate their impact on drinking water, tourism, fishing and fish toxicity. Their research was published Sept. 1 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.
September 28, 2021
With help from plants, Spartan biologists are unraveling forces at work today shaping life and health.MSU plant biologist Emily Josephs and her team are shedding light on a mystery of evolution with support from a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health: How is it that within the same species, individual responses to stimuli can dramatically differ? Their hope is that these findings will provide a solid foundation to develop connections to human health in the future.
September 24, 2021
Regulation, monitoring and enforcement of sustainable seafood harvest is difficult and hinges on the ability to correctly identify species that, on the surface, look extremely similar. Some species are almost impossible to distinguish based on appearance, while at other times customs officials may only have a fin to go on. That’s about to change. Starting this September, scientists from Michigan State University, and collaborating institutions will harness the power of genomics and an AI powered smartphone app to develop low-cost, rapid field-deployable species identification tools that will give fishers, fisheries, agency biologists, customs officials and seafood vendors the power to become their own piscatorial gumshoes.
September 22, 2021
MSU plant molecular biologist Michael Thomashow, along with colleagues Brad Day and Yongsig Kim, will use a $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant to better understand the connection between how plants navigate temperature changes and fight off pathogens. By understanding the biology behind how plants respond to a variety of stresses, scientists will be better equipped to help farmers and their crops adapt to a changing planet.
September 21, 2021
It takes one to know one—a community that is. With that in mind, a community of pioneering scientists from MSU’s College of Natural Science and the University of California, Los Angeles, came together to design a multifaceted approach to investigating one of the most complex and abundant communities on Earth—microbiomes. The first-of-its-kind ecological investigation into the complexity of gut microbiological communities is funded by the NSF and will provide new insights into microbial community interaction from mechanistic models and network theory and lead the way for numerous applications in health and human and natural systems.
September 16, 2021
A multidisciplinary, multi-institutional program that is co-led by Michigan State University's Center for Quantum Computing, Science and Engineering, or MSU-Q, is taking the next step in its aim to revolutionize quantum science education. QuSTEAM, an NSF Convergence Accelerator 2020 cohort Phase II awardee, brings together scientists and educators from more than 20 universities, national laboratories, community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish a revolutionary, modular template for an undergraduate minor and associate certificate program in Quantum Information Systems with the aim of developing a diverse, effective, and contemporary quantum-ready workforce.
September 15, 2023Accelerating nuclear science with machine learning