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.
July 7, 2022
With energy costs rising and the increasing effects of burning fossil fuels on the global climate, researchers are looking for ways to produce products and fuels that are truly renewable. To address this issue, MSU organic chemist Ned Jackson and his former graduate student Yuting Zhou, have developed a new tool that breaks the strong chemical bonds in biomass or plant matter down into building blocks for fuels. This new tool also has the potential to destroy environmental pollutants. The research was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.
July 5, 2022
MSU’s renowned Long-Term Evolution Experiment – a remarkable 34-year biological drama in flasks, with bacteria competing for resources and fighting for dominance – is itself evolving. The bacteria’s main stage – frozen vials containing some 75,000 generations of E. coli – has been moved from MSU to University of Texas at Austin to be cared for by a former postdoctoral researcher in Richard Lenski's lab. While the daily propagation of the LTEE is moving, copies of all of the samples remain at MSU. Lenski, who started the experiment in 1988, has lots of plans and ideas for studying them, both in his lab and with collaborators around the world.
June 30, 2022
At MSU, Molecular Plant Sciences faculty member Patrick Edger teaches an undergraduate Honors College course that creates the opportunity for lab experience and publishing research in scientific publications. In Spring 2022, the research focused on finding the parental species of the popular sour cherry – a crop of great economic and cultural importance to Michigan. Students in his molecular phylogenomic and evolution class worked alongside teaching assistants on a semester-long research project. In addition to gaining research experience, a paper reporting their findings was recently published in Plants People Planet.
June 27, 2022
The National Institutes of Health have awarded Michigan State University researchers $2.7 million to continue developing artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that predict key features of viruses as they evolve. The team is led by Guowei Wei, an expert in AI who has published nearly 30 papers on COVID-19, and Yong-Hui Zheng, whose extensive background in virology is helping verify and improve AI predictions. The team also includes Jiahui Chen, a visiting assistant professor at MSU who played an essential role in developing the AI models.
June 23, 2022
An international team of 114 scientists has performed the most comprehensive study of aging and longevity to date with data collected in the wild from 107 populations of 77 species of reptiles and amphibians worldwide. The team, led by researchers at Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University and Northeastern Illinois University, reported its findings in the journal Science on June 23.
June 16, 2022
Songqiao “Shawn” Wei, an Endowed Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University, has been studying the earthquakes in response to Earth’s tectonic plate movement around the world. In this "Ask the Expert" column, he explains earthquakes, how they are detected and his current research related to them.
June 1, 2022
Researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Texas at Austin have made a shocking discovery. In a study published June1 in the journal Science Advances, the team explained how small genetic changes enable weakly electric fish to evolve their electric organs. The findings could have broader implications for human health and disease.
May 31, 2022
MSU chemists are discovering new information to help remediate “forever chemicals” by showing for the first time how they interact with soil at the molecular level. The researchers, Narasimhan Loganathan and Angela K. Wilson in the MSU College of Natural Science, published their findings May 11 online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
May 31, 2022
An integrated approach to land management practices in the United States can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere far more than earlier estimates based on separate approaches. MSU researchers including ecosystems ecologist Phil Robertson and colleagues from Colorado State University and the University of Aberdeen in the U.K. are now finding how combining practices might reduce carbon dioxide levels critical for keeping the global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius by year 2100. Their research was published May 31 in the journal Global Change Biology.
May 25, 2022
On the list of scientific tools that help us understand health, evolution or the environment, the Trinidadian guppy doesn't often come to mind. The fish are more often thought of as aquarium pets in the United States and, in their native Trinidad, wild guppies are so ubiquitous, they’re almost taken for granted. But thanks to a unique combination of biology and ecology, guppies have provided researchers with insights into evolution for decades. Integrative biologists Sarah Evans and Sarah Fitzpatrick are studying these fish to help probe big questions about how microbes living in host organisms contribute to health, survival and quality of life. The results of their research was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
September 15, 2023Accelerating nuclear science with machine learning