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.
September 13, 2021
Scientists from MSU and the University of California, Berkeley are developing a first-of-its-kind risk model for sustainable farm practices. The sophisticated statistical model will show that complex crop rotations are the best strategy for building ecological and economic resiliency, literally from the ground up. MSU statistician Frederi Viens is a member of the risk model working group, brought together by the non-profit Land Core, that will use remote-sensed data, soil samples, farmer surveys and statistical analyses to convince lenders to prioritize financing farmers that adopt practices such as cover crops, no-till, low-till and diverse crop rotations including hay and pasture for livestock.
August 30, 2021
As we live and breathe, ancient-looking fish known as bowfin are guarding genetic secrets that that can help unravel humanity’s evolutionary history and better understand its health. Michigan State researchers Ingo Braasch and Andrew Thompson are now decoding some of those secrets. Leading a project that included more than two dozen researchers spanning three continents, the Spartans have assembled the most complete picture of the bowfin genome to date. Their research findings were published Aug. 30 in the journal Nature Genetics.
August 24, 2021
Lake trout is an iconic native species to the Great Lakes. MSU integrative biology doctoral student Seth Smith is leading an effort along with his professor and an international team of researchers from the U.S. and Canada to create a reference genome for lake trout to support state and federal agencies with reintroduction and conservation efforts. The research from the team was published on Aug. 5 in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources.
August 18, 2021
With the help of a $500,000 grant from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and 30 years of data, MSU quantitative ecologist Elise Zipkin and her multi-institution team will shed new light on the “Insect Apocalypse.” In a recent study, Zipkin developed a modeling strategy to analyze climate effects on monarch butterflies and found a strong correlation between temperature and precipitation in spring and summer breeding ranges and the subsequent size of the overall population. Motivated by these findings, her team is extending the models to other species.
August 16, 2021
MSU seismologist Songqiao “Shawn” Wei is the recipient of a $501,597 National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award to conduct a series of seismic attenuation studies on regional and global scales. These systematic investigations will potentially advance our understanding of seismic interpretation, upper-mantle dynamics, and material recycling in the Earth’s interior.
August 16, 2021
Missing metadata — data that provides information about other data — might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a costly problem that’s hindering humanity’s plans to protect the planet’s biodiversity. A Spartan-led research team reveals surprising gaps in ecological genetic data that could otherwise help global conservation efforts. MSU's Rachel Toczydlowski is the lead author of a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which features researchers from 14 institutions in three countries.The team audited the largest global repository for storing genetic sequence data to see if the entries included basic metadata needed to make them useful for monitoring genetic diversity.
August 11, 2021
For decades, scientists suspected that bacteria known as Geobacter could clean up radioactive uranium waste, but it wasn’t clear how the microbes did it. Now, MSU microbiologist Gemma Reguera and her team has the answer. Molecules called lipopolysaccharides coat the cell surface and soak up the uranium like a sponge. Their findings were recently published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
August 9, 2021
Currently, there is no cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, a condition that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. But new research led by MSU scientists is bringing fresh insight to the IBD table—an unexpected connection between specialized cells in the gut called glia and the genes involved in IBD. Their findings, published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, could lead to more effective treatments for one of the most elusive gut problems in the world.
August 5, 2021
A few years ago, Michigan State University quantitative ecologists Sarah Saunders and Elise Zipkin created a new statistical model to understand the threats endangered species face. Now, as federal agencies continue to use those findings, the research has earned this year’s Ecological Forecasting Outstanding Publication Award from the Ecological Society of America (ESA).
August 4, 2021
It was the beginning of the COVID pandemic and MSU plant biologist Emily Josephs could not go into her lab to work because of safety restrictions. So, she called up friend and colleague, Regina Baucom, from the University of Michigan, to see if she would be interested in collaborating virtually on an experimental evolution project using Baucom's existing system to study morning glory and Josephs' plant genomics data analysis expertise. The pair wanted to understand if a plant’s environmental response to stress is adaptive, or helpful to the plant. The results of this study were recently published in the journal Evolution Letters.
September 15, 2023Accelerating nuclear science with machine learning