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.
April 12, 2021
MSU theoretical nuclear physicist Witold Nazarewicz has a simple way to describe the complex work he does at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB. In a new paper for Physical Review Letters, Simin Wang, a former research associate at FRIB, and Nazarewicz show how FRIB can spot signatures of unusual nuclear events and use those as windows into the nucleus.
April 9, 2021
MSU researchers have helped catch particles called muons behaving in a way that’s not predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics — the best theory that scientists have for explaining the universe’s fundamental particles and forces.The results from this experiment, called the Muon g-2 experiment, confirm a discrepancy that has been gnawing at researchers for decades. The team published its landmark result in the journal Physical Review Letters on April 7.
April 8, 2021
The network of nerves connecting our eyes to our brains is sophisticated and researchers have now shown that it evolved much earlier than previously thought, thanks to an unexpected source: the gar fish. MSU’s Ingo Braasch helped an international research team show that this connection scheme was already present in ancient fish at least 450 million years ago, making it about 100 million years older than previously believed. The work was published in the journal Science on April 8.
April 5, 2021
Should humans use technology to cool Earth? How would organisms and ecosystems respond? Every month since September 2019, a team of internationally recognized experts in climate science and ecology, the Climate Intervention Biology Working Group, has gathered remotely to bring science to bear on the important question of climate intervention. The pioneering group, co-led by the MSU community ecologist Phoebe Zarnetske, published their seminal paper in the most recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
April 5, 2021
MSU’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, located at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, was founded in 1988 to employ and understand the ecology of Midwest cropping systems and agricultural landscapes. When KBS passed the 30-year mark in 2018, three former KBS researchers, Sarah Cusser, Jackson Helms and Christie Bahlai, decided the 30th anniversary was not only a significant milestone, but a good time to ask questions about LTER’s database. Thanks to their efforts, which were recently published in Ecology Letters, they now know that ecological investigations of at least nine years are needed to achieve significant, consistent results related to accelerated climate and land use change.
March 29, 2021
Uncovering the genetics behind a six-decade long cholera pandemic is being funded with a $2.8 million National Institutes of Health grant awarded to MSU microbiologist Chris Waters. The research project will investigate 36 genes key to the persistence of cholera to increase understanding of how bacterial pandemics surface as well as boost development of new viral therapies to treat bacterial infections.
March 27, 2021
Under the direction of MSU physiologist Erica Wehrwein, the Physiology Majors Interest Group (P-MIG) published 14 manuscripts in a special collection of papers featured in Advances in Physiology Education. The papers in this first-of-its-kind special collection represent the culmination of recent P-MIG efforts and capture the breadth of the group’s work, including its history and purpose.
March 26, 2021
Life is messy, even at microscopic and molecular level, but MSU researchers, led by Michael Feig and Lisa Lapidus, have shown that some straightforward science can still account for important biological behavior. The team showed that relatively simple characteristics help RNA and proteins organize themselves. Researchers believe that when these biomolecules congregate, or condense, it can help speed up or enhance a range of cellular functions. Their results were recently published in the journal eLife.
March 17, 2021
MSU microbiologist Sean Crosson and colleague Aretha Fiebig brought sophisticated genomics tools from the lab to the to the field in a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Using unique, barcoded bacteria, they gained new insight into Brucellosis, a deadly disease capable of infecting humans that has been circulating among cows in the United States for a hundred years.
March 14, 2021
Plants were evolving for hundreds of millions of years before humans started cultivating them for food. So when the first farmers showed up some 12,000 years ago, plants had already picked up some inefficiencies — that is, adaptations that helped the plants survive but also limited their productivity as crops. Today, some of those inefficiencies appear to be getting worse as the planet warms. MSU's Berkley Walker and Eastern Michigan University's Aaron Liepman are leading an NSF grant project to better understand one of those inefficiencies with the hopes of turning the tide.
September 15, 2023Accelerating nuclear science with machine learning