June 30, 2021
MSU is two for two in 2021 when it comes to the National Science Foundation’s highly competitive Focused Research Group grant. MSU mathematicians Teena Gerhardt and Ilya Kachkovskiy, in collaboration with principal investigators from institutions across the country, will use the 3-year grants to advance research in some of the most exciting questions in topology, geometry and mathematical analysis.
June 29, 2021
Michigan State University statistician Frederi Viens is one of a select group of 23 scholars worldwide who have achieved what has been dubbed the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) Annals quadfecta. The IMS publishes four flagship "Annals" research journals, considered to be top periodicals in each of their respective subfields. The notion of the Annals quadfecta came about when a two-person team at the University of Toronto wondered which authors had accomplished the feat of publishing at least one paper in all four of these journals.
June 29, 2021
The physics Graduate Record Examination (GRE) costs just over $200, is administered early Saturday morning and requires the prospective student to answer 100 rapid fire questions in just three hours. According to the physics GRE website, doing well on the test will help students stand out like a diamond in the rough among the thousands of other applications being sifted through admissions committees. But newly published research by MSU scientists concluded that rather than helping, taking the physics GRE could actually harm a student’s chances of admission.
June 27, 2021
Michigan State University-led research is showing how social dynamics can help us understand behaviors in geladas (a monkey species) and other primates, including humans. MSU integrative biologist Elizabeth Tinsley Johnson and collaborators at the University of Michigan, Arizona State University and Stony Brook University in New York, have studied geladas in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountain National Park for 14 years to look for answers. Their findings were published earlier this month in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
June 24, 2021
While invasive zebra mussels consume small plant-like organisms called phytoplankton, MSU researchers Stephen Hamilton and Orlando Sarnelle discovered during a long-term study that zebra mussels can actually increase Microcystis, a type of phytoplankton known as “blue-green algae” or cyanobacteria, that forms harmful floating blooms. The study, titled Cascading effects: Insights from the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research Network, is one of five projects recently highlighted in a special feature in the Ecological Society of America’s journal, Ecosphere.
June 18, 2021
MSU Foundation Professor Beronda Montgomery has been named a 2021 Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). Montgomery is being recognized for her distinguished and long-term contributions to plant biology and service to the society.
June 16, 2021
The original Star Trek television series took place in a future when space is the final frontier, but humanity hasn’t reached that point quite yet. As researchers like MSU entomologists Sarah Smith and Anthony Cognato are reminding us, there’s still plenty to discover right here on Earth. Working in Central and South America, the duo discovered more than three dozen species of ambrosia beetles — beetles that eat ambrosia fungus — previously unknown to science. Smith and Cognato described these new species on June 16 in the journal ZooKeys and named some after iconic sci-fi heroines.
June 15, 2021
In an exciting collaboration between MSU's Bruno Basso and Skidmore College's Kristofer Covey, farmers in the United States will have an opportunity to cultivate a sustainable future for themselves and the planet with MySOC, a platform that measures soil carbon through app-led field methods, sophisticated remote sensing technology and biophysical modelling recently awarded a $250,000 prize from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Solutions Collaborative.
June 14, 2021
Developing improved materials for things such as energy storage and drug discovery is of interest to researchers and society alike. Quantum mechanics (QM) is the basis for molecular and materials scientists who develop these useful, futuristic products. The challenge is that the QM calculations to describe the many properties of molecules and the materials they make up require a lot of computer power. To address this issue, a small team of postdoctoral scholars led by MSU’s Kenneth Merz, and University of California, San Diego’s Andreas Goetz developed software that takes advantage of powerful graphics processing units, or GPUs, for these complex QM calculations of molecules.
June 10, 2021
A champion team of three math instructors—Michael Brown, Math 102 supervisor; Rachael Lund, Math 101 supervisor, and Shiv Karunakaran, assistant professor of mathematics education at —assembled the summer before students virtually arrived in Fall 2020 with plans to design a new online platform for Math 101/102. COVID forced their plans into action sooner than anticipated. The quantitative literacy courses rolled out to more than 1,600 students that fall semester—just in the nick of time.
June 7, 2021
Kristin Parent, J.K. Billman, Jr., M.D. Endowed Research Professor at MSU, is lead investigator on a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award (MIRA). Her pioneering research utilizes basic microbiology and cutting-edge cryo-microscopy to investigate, at the near atomic level, how viruses known as bacteriophage, or phage, use cell surface proteins to connect to, infect and reproduce inside some of the world’s deadliest gut bacteria—bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Shigella—destroying them in the process.
June 3, 2021
Bruno Basso, a Michigan State University Foundation Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the MSU College of Natural Science and a W.K. Kellogg Biological Station faculty member, shares his thoughts on agricultural systems and feeding the future sustainably. Basso’s research broadly deals with sustainable agriculture. His main focus is on water, carbon, nitrogen cycling and modeling in agro-ecosystems, and spatial analysis of crop yield.
May 27, 2021
MSU microbiologist Chris Waters is using a five-year, $2.62 million National Institutes of Health MIRA grant to explore questions on the diversity of a class of signaling molecules known as cyclic di-nucleotides, or cdN. Since cdNs are critical for bacteria to cause disease as well as immune regulation in humans, understanding how they function can lead to new strategies to manipulate these systems for therapeutic treatments.
May 26, 2021
MSU researchers, including geomicrobiologist Matthew Schrenk, joined an interdisciplinary and international team of scientists who have revealed how ‘forests’ of microbes living in geological hotspots play an underestimated role in Earth’s carbon cycle.
May 25, 2021
Jabbar Bennett, Michigan State University vice president and chief diversity officer, was interviewed as part of a special section published May 22 in the Lansing State Journal on what’s changed in the year following George Floyd’s murder.
May 13, 2021
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring created a significant barrier to when shared facilities, such as microscope labs, became off-limits to all but essential employees, and instructors had to pivot to online courses. This online-only instruction prompted MSU geologist Tyrone Rooney and Ph.D. student Alex Steiner to begin talking about how to provide an accessible solution for creating and delivering microscopic educational materials to students. Their collective efforts resulted in the creation of an open‐source device known as the PiAutoStage system, providing an equivalent in-lab experience for students.
May 13, 2021
An international research team, including MSU's Tyler Cocker, to create a new type of ‘nanoscopy’ to characterize interesting materials like never before. A new microscopy technique lets researchers characterize materials with incredible precision while keeping its distance — at least from a nanoscopic perspective.
May 12, 2021
As climate change threatens global food security, researchers at MSU led by plant biologist Robin Buell are building better beans crucial to human nutrition by tapping into the genetics of the more heat-resistant tepary bean. Her research on bean genetics was published May 11 in Nature Communications.
May 10, 2021
Two Michigan State University scientists, Kristin Parent and Shannon Manning, have been selected for the 2021-2022 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Distinguished Lecturer Program. The ASM, one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences, chooses lecturers through a competitive nomination process each year, selecting only the most celebrated researchers as participants in the unique program.
May 7, 2021
Dean DellaPenna, Michigan State University Foundation Professor and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). DellaPenna, one of 120 members elected to NAS in 2021, joins 10 other Spartans who are active members. He’s also one of 16 active Spartan members of NAS and its two associated organizations, collectively referred to as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
May 4, 2021
Two key Michigan State University hires are paving the way for significant advances in chemistry and related sciences. Timothy H. Warren joins MSU as the Barnett Rosenberg Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Science (NatSci). Thomas V. O’Halloran comes to the university as an MSU Foundation Professor with joint appointments in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) and the Department of Chemistry.
May 3, 2021
Scientists have known about two of the most enormous and mysterious regions of the earth’s lower mantle, Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs), for decades, but no one knows what they are made of or where they came from. MSU experimental geologist Susannah Dorfman and a talented team of international researchers pieced together a way to make an iron-rich form of the mineral bridgmanite—a rusting rock—that may finally explain the existence of LLSVPs. Their results are published in Nature Communications.
April 30, 2021
Twenty-seven (27) Michigan State University College of Natural Science students were among 130 students who received an MSU Board of Trustees Award for earning a 4.0 GPA — the highest scholastic average — at the close of their last semester before graduation.
April 29, 2021
Forty-two (42) MSU College of Natural Science (NatSci) undergraduate students were among those receiving first-place honors for their 2021 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) entries. The annual event, which took place virtually this year from April 15 through April 19, provides students with an opportunity to showcase their scholarship and creative activity.
April 29, 2021
MSU computational biologist Arjun Krishnan is the recipient of a 5-year, $704,889 NSF Early CAREER Award to develop machine learning approaches that will automatically annotate publicly available samples from human and major animal models on a massive scale. His efforts will allow researchers to seamlessly search and re-analyze immense reserves of untapped omics data for advances in biology and human health. The award will also support Krishnan’s efforts to help students interested in programming and data science gain access to the “hidden curriculum” of bioinformatics.
April 27, 2021
Two Michigan State University students – one an undergraduate, the other in her second year of medical school – analyzed a decade’s worth of stroke studies and found a glaring flaw: women patients were significantly underrepresented. That two students made such an important finding is impressive enough. Even more so is that their study was published in JAMA Neurology, a prestigious journal of the American Medical Association.
April 26, 2021
More than 260 alumni, friends and guests registered for the MSU College of Natural Science's virtual Classes Without Quizzes held on April 24. The day’s “classes” featured three presentations about what researchers have been working on in NatSci labs. In addition to the three faculty presentations, two Dean’s Research Scholars presented their work to attendees.The 12th annual Classes Without Quizzes will be held April 23, 2022.
April 23, 2021
The MSU College of Natural Science has selected several alumni, faculty and students for outstanding achievements and excellence. Patrick Lukulay (Ph.D., analytical chemistry, ’95) received the 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award; Shannon Morey (B.S., chemistry, ’10) received the 2021 Recent Alumni Award; and Shannon Manning, MSU Foundation Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, received the 2021 Meritorious Faculty Award.
April 21, 2021
Yesterday, on April 20, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter for the death of George Floyd. While Chauvin’s conviction cannot undo the harm created, the outcome of this trial must spur essential systemic and societal change.
April 21, 2021
An international research team led by Michigan State University has helped created cosmic conditions at RIKEN's heavy-ion accelerator in Japan to better understand this extreme science. The team, which included MSU's d William Lynch and Betty Tsang recently shared its results in the journal Physical Review Letters.
April 19, 2021
An expansive project led by MSU plant biologist Lars Brudvig is examining the benefits, and limits, of environmental restoration on developed land after humans are done with it. Although humans can heal some of that damage by working to restore the land to its natural state, questions remain about how far restoration can go in overcoming a land’s past.. Brudvig and his collaborators now have some answers that they’ve published April 19 online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
April 13, 2021
The MSU College of Natural Science (NatSci) has named Amber Benton as its assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Benton, who was most previously director of diversity programming and student engagement in MSU’s James Madison College, stepped into her new role on April 12.
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 6, 2021
Three stellar early-career scholars bringing multi-disciplinary scientific exploration, collaboration and community engagement have been selected as MSU Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Cinnamon Mittan, Daniela Palmer and Olivia Smith will be the first cohort of the fellowship, created to increase the breadth and potential of research embracing ecology, evolution and behavior at MSU. They will begin their work in the 2021-2022 academic year.
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