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California tiger salamander is one of the endangered species that would benefit from the use of genetic rescue.
October 3, 2023
During a recent review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recovery plans for more than 200 endangered and threatened vertebrate species in the United States, Michigan State University researchers made an interesting discovery. They found that two-thirds of these species could benefit from a gene-boosting diversity strategy known as genetic rescue, yet only three of these plans to support species recovery currently use this approach. In a study recently published in the Journal of Heredity, MSU integrative biologist Sarah Fitzpatrick and postdoctoral researcher Cinnamon Mittan-Moreau found that more than two-thirds of the 222 species they evaluated would be good candidates for consideration of genetic rescue.
Michigan State University RISE students volunteer in the Bailey GREENhouse every Friday as a way to build community and learn about sustainable food and farming through direct experience.
September 29, 2023
The Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) at Michigan State University is an interdisciplinary living-learning program with a focus on sustainability and environmental studies that provides students with the skills and knowledge to become the next generation of leaders for a sustainable future. RISE students engage in undergraduate research, campus change projects and co-curricular initiatives in which they can explore their interests within a supportive community of students, faculty and staff with shared values.
Michigan State University Professors Danny Caballero (left) and Aman Yadav were each honored as Lappan-Phillips Endowed Professors at an investiture ceremony held Sept. 13 in the Jackson Lounge at MSU’s Wharton Center.
September 19, 2023
Michigan State University Professors Danny Caballero and Aman Yadav were each honored as Lappan-Phillips Endowed Professors at an investiture ceremony held Sept. 28 in the Jackson Lounge at MSU’s Wharton Center. The Lappan-Phillips Professorship was established in 2013 through royalties from the ‘Connected Mathematics 2’ textbook authored by Michigan State University’s Glenda Lappan and Elizabeth Phillips. The textbook, now in its fourth iteration, is the single most widely used mathematics textbook in America for students in grades 6-8.
Different types of T cells (red, green, pink, orange) in the tumor microenvironment. Most T cells that surround the tumor are unable to infiltrate into the tumor (cyan & blue).
September 18, 2023
Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) cause more than five percent all human cancers worldwide, yet for many, current treatments are ineffective. Dohun Pyeon, an MSU professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the College of Natural Science, has received a 2023 Strategic Partnership Grant; the MSU Research Foundation is funding his work on the development of a new immunotherapy for HPV-associated cancers. As one of just three recipients for 2023, Pyeon will receive $480,000 over three years to help his lab reach its long-term goal of developing an inexpensive immunotherapy.
New research at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University will harness the power of machine learning to accelerate nuclear science.
September 15, 2023
The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, at Michigan State University is home to a world-unique particle accelerator designed to push the boundaries of our understanding of nature. Now, FRIB is accelerating that work with a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning with support from the Office of Nuclear Physics and the Office of High Energy Physics at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. FRIB scientists have received several grants that aim to bring machine learning’s power to process immense data sets to bear in experiments, theoretical studies and the science and engineering that keeps the accelerator humming.
Tim Dorweiler, a Ph.D. candidate in the molecular, cellular and integrated physiology program at MSU, look at crystals in various retinal tissues.
September 7, 2023
Advancements that could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment for diabetic retinopathy, a common complication that affects the eyes, have been identified by a multi-department research team from Michigan State and other universities. Their findings were recently published in Diabetologia, the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. 
MSU chemist James McCusker believes that new approaches to the science of solar energy conversion need to include a focus on abundant, scalable materials that can capture and convert light into useable chemical potential. Toward this end, he and his team of students combine synthesis with ultrafast spectroscopy in order to develop a fundamental understanding of the interplay between the chemical structure and/or composition of a molecule and the mechanism by which that molecule redistributes energy it absorbs in the form of light.
September 7, 2023
Michigan State University Research Foundation Professor James K. McCusker is the recipient of the prestigious 2024 Josef Michl American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Photochemistry. This honor recognizes outstanding experimental and theoretical research in the fields of photochemistry and photophysics as applied to organic, inorganic or biological molecules or solids. McCusker will receive a certificate and a prize of $5,000, which will be presented at the ACS Spring 2024 meeting in New Orleans.
Shannon Schmoll, director of Abrams Planetarium at MSU, has been an integral part of the international community of planetariums. She was recently elected in the succession to become the next president of the International Planetarium Society. She will serve a six-year term beginning this year—two years each as president-elect, president and past president. Pictured here is part of the proceedings at the Revolve IPS 2016 Conference in Warsaw, Poland.
September 5, 2023
The stars aligned when Shannon Schmoll was elected to be the next president of the International Planetarium Society (IPS). Schmoll, director of Michigan State University’s Abrams Planetarium and an instructor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Science, has been a leader in the planetarium community for many years. She will serve a six-year term beginning this year—two years each as president-elect, president and past president.
A colorized electron microscope image shows a close-up of Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, many of which carry antibiotic resistant genes, as shown by Michigan State University researchers.
September 1, 2023
Working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan State University researchers have shown that antibiotic resistance genes are prevalent in the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni, a leading cause of foodborne illness.The team found that more than half of the C. jejuni, isolated from patients in Michigan, are genetically protected against at least one antibiotic used to fight bacterial infections. Their report, recently published in the journal Microbial Genomics, provides valuable technical insights to epidemiologists, health care workers and other specialists.
Working with Arabidopsis thaliana, a model organism, plant biologists at Michigan State University revealed the biomolecular controls of one of the systems that regulates cell death and plant health.
August 30, 2023
Michigan State University plant biologists have made a discovery that could help turn a natural kill switch in plant cells into a “life switch” that helps crops better survive the challenges presented by climate change. At its core, though, this is a fundamental finding, shared in the journal Nature Plants, that has implications across biology for how organisms respond to stress linked to overproduction of proteins by the cell.
The wild radish has helped Michigan State University researchers posit that natural selection can preserve similarities in addition to driving changes.
August 24, 2023
Natural selection is usually understood in the context of change. When organisms deviate from the norm, they may gain advantages that let their lineages outlast those of their less-adaptable relatives. But new research from Michigan State University suggests that natural selection also has the power to keep things the same. MSU plant biologist Jeff Conner and his team have published a new report in the journal New Phytologist that expands science’s understanding of natural selection in the face of another evolutionary mechanism called genetic constraint.
Across the country, farmers once reliant on weather alone to provide water for their crops will turn to irrigation to increase yields and profits—and put new stresses on limited water resources.
August 21, 2023
In a new study, Michigan State University landscape hydrologist Anthony Kendall and his colleagues found that, by the middle of the 21st century under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the benefits of expanded irrigation will outweigh the costs of installation and operation over an extended portion of current U.S. croplands. With climate change projections showing higher temperatures, increased drought conditions, and shifting precipitation patterns, irrigating more crops in the United States will be critical to sustaining future yields. The findings were recently published in Communications Earth & Environment, an open-access journal from Nature Portfolio.
open field of tall corn under a blue sky with fluffy clouds
August 11, 2023
From intense heat and drought roasting crops to rain-delayed harvests, many who grow the food we rely on are having to find new ways to adapt. For some, that means going high-tech, using sensors that can tell them when their plants need more water or fertilizer. MSU sustainable agriculture researcher Bruno Basso joins WSJ’s Jala Everett to discuss how modern sensors are changing the world of farming and how some sensors the size of “bandages” could deliver even more precise data from individual plants.
The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift–Tuttle. The meteors are called the Perseids because they appear from the general direction of the constellation Perseus and in more modern times have a radiant bordering on Cassiopeia and Camelopardalis.
August 10, 2023
Shannon Schmoll, director of the Abrams Planetarium and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University, explains why the upcoming Perseid meteor shower is a great opportunity to see an object from space closer than usual — at a safe distance and with your naked eye.
Front of MSU College of Natural Science building, doors open and the cosmos is displayed inside.
August 9, 2023
Remarkable research can be found around every corner on MSU's main campus. Explore some of the surprising ways Spartans are transforming our understanding of life, our world and cosmos.
MSU physicists were part of an international collaboration that has discovered the highest-energy light coming from the sun. The results were recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
August 4, 2023
MSU physicists were part of an international collaboration that has discovered the highest-energy light coming from the sun. Their results, recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters, detail the discovery. The team, who conducted their work at the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory, or HAWC, also found that this type of light, known as gamma rays, is surprisingly bright.
One seedbank plot with germinating seeds growing from the Cedar Creek, Minn. site.
July 27, 2023
As biodiversity loss wreaks havoc on grasslands throughout the world, many have hoped that soil seed banks would act as a “biodiversity reservoir” and preserve species that are disappearing. However, in a recent study published in Nature Communications, Michigan State University plant biologist Lauren Sullivan and her team challenge that assumption. Previous studies have shown that fertilization can lead to biodiversity loss in the above ground community, but this is the first multi-site study to show a link to the seed bank community.
A handheld MultispeQ device is used on Arabidopsis thaliana plants to measure their rates of photosynthesis.
July 24, 2023
Understanding the intricate puzzle pieces that make up the photosynthetic systems of plants can help researchers better understand how to grow and create plants that can survive in changing climate conditions. Naveen Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher in the Federica Brandizzi lab at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL), is one of the few people in the PRL who studies carbonic anhydrases (CAs)—proteins found in the chloroplast stroma where photosynthesis takes place. A study led by Sharma to better characterize CAs in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, was recently published in The Plant Journal.
In response to warming temperatures, spring is now arriving substantially earlier than it did several decades ago. While North American songbirds are shifting when they migrate and breed, they are failing to keep pace with the rate of climate change, resulting in fewer young being produced.
July 24, 2023
Rising global temperatures are making it harder for birds to know when it’s spring and time to breed according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A large collaboration led by Michigan State University integrative biologist Casey Youngflesh in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that birds produce fewer young if they start breeding too early or late in the season. With climate change resulting in earlier springlike weather, the researchers report, birds have been unable to keep pace.
MSU science education researchers will investigate the role of mathematics in undergraduate biology, chemistry, and physics courses.
July 19, 2023
MSU science education researchers Kevin Haudek, Melanie Cooper, and Rachel Henderson have received a National Science Foundation grant to study the role of Mathematical Sensemaking in Science (MaSS) in undergraduate STEM courses. This collaborative project will develop new assessments to elicit mathematical thinking from biology, chemistry, and physics students. Research results will deepen our understanding of the role of mathematics in undergraduate science education. 
A comic book developed by MSU educators and plant scientists is being used in area schools to reshape how high schoolers learn science. The main characters in the comic book, Maia and William above), encourage each other — and students — to be curious.
July 17, 2023
A comic book developed by MSU educators and plant scientists is being used in area schools to reshape how high schoolers learn science. The main characters in the comic book, Maia and William above), encourage each other — and students — to be curious.
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and, during that time, it has seen some things. Life has been a part of most of that history, but what life has looked like has changed dramatically over the eons.
July 13, 2023
MSU researcher Dalton Hardisty uses ocean sediment to dive deep into ancient Earth’s coupled evolution of life and ocean chemistry. He’s currently part of an international research collaboration that recently published work in the prestigious journal Nature, sharing a new approach for studying important chemical and biochemical processes in the Earth’s prehistoric past.
This graphic shows an abstraction of vibrational ripples.
July 12, 2023
When quantum systems, like those used in quantum computers, operate in the real world, they can lose information to mechanical vibrations. New research led by MSU, however, shows that a better understanding of the coupling between the quantum system and these vibrations can be used to mitigate loss. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help improve the design of quantum computers that companies such as IBM and Google are currently developing.
An image of neurons firing during brain activity. The bright white spots show which neurons are firing while the brain is making a memory. Credit: Tony Kim
July 10, 2023
Every day the brain makes and recalls new memories, but current brain imaging technology limits how much information can be gathered about this activity. Researchers at Michigan State University have built a state-of-the-art imaging system that will capture brain activity with a level of detail not possible before. Researcher Mark Reimers and his team will use a three-year $750,000 Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant to combine the imaging system with newly developed advanced image processing software. The goal is to eventually allow them to identify the specific neurons used by animals to record and recall memories.
A temporary Global Positioning System site in the Shumagin Islands, Alaska, to help measure and record plate positions.
June 22, 2023
Earthquakes are caused by the movement of the tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust. Between 2020 and 2021, the Pacific plate and the North American plate off the coast of Alaska slipped along the Alaska-Aleutian fault, producing a series of earthquakes, including the Chignik, Alaska, earthquake on July 29, 2021, which registered an 8.2 in magnitude. MSU’s Jeffrey Freymueller is researching this earthquake to learn more about exactly where that slip occurred (and how much) to better understand how faults work and the risk of future earthquakes and tsunamis.
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the Michigan State University-Department of Energy (MSU-DOE) Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) a $12 million DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences competitive renewal grant to continue research in photosynthetic energy capture, conversion and storage.
June 15, 2023
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) a $12 million Department of Energy  Office of Basic Energy Sciences competitive renewal grant to continue research in photosynthetic energy capture, conversion and storage. The three-year grant (2023-2026) will allow PRL scientists to continue in their mission to understand how photosynthetic organisms function and thrive in natural environments, and enable the development of new technologies that improve human lives.
Image of brain.
June 15, 2023
Michigan State University biochemist Jin He recently received a five year, $2.8 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his investigation into the role of the ASH1L (Absent, Small, or Hometoic discs 1-Like) gene in the origins of autism spectrum disorder and, specifically, the impact of epigenetics—non-genetic processes that regulate gene expression.
MSU scientists Christoph Benning and Robert Quinn are growing new coral in the lab that will be transplanted to a reef in Hawaii.
June 14, 2023
MSU biochemist Robert Quinn has spent years studying the biochemistry of coral bleaching, a heat-induced response to stress causing it to turn white. Bleaching is damaging to reefs and is expected to increase due to climate change. While Quinn has discovered unique betaine lipids in coral that are markers of resistance to coral bleaching, very little is known about them. During a literature review of these lipids, Quinn discovered that MSU colleague, Christoph Benning, had written on the subject. This connection led to the two scientists teaming up on a $1.9 million NSF grant to study the role that betaine lipids play in coral bleaching.
Using notoriously challenging ingredients, Michigan State University chemists have created single-molecule magnets that could enable new data storage and computational technology
June 6, 2023
Recent research from a team of MSU chemists has unveiled a new class of magnetic molecule. Reporting in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers led by Selvan Demir have brought together famously challenging building blocks to push single-molecule magnets a step closer to their promising applications, which could include pushing hard drives to a whole new level and opening doors to emerging technologies such as quantum computers.
American Physiological Society distinguished lectureship logo.
June 5, 2023
Brian Gulbransen, MSU Research Foundation Professor in the Department of Physiology and MSU’s Neuroscience Program, has been selected for an American Physiology Society (APS) Distinguished Lectureship with the award of the Raj and Prem Goyal Lectureship in Pathophysiology of Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. The award, offered by APS and the Gastrointestinal & Liver Section, recognizes exemplary contributions of research in physiology in understanding the mechanism and treatment of gastrointestinal and liver diseases.
Soil organic carbon is vital for healthy soils and plays an important role in terrestrial carbon cycling.
June 3, 2023
A research team led by Michigan State University ecosystems scientist Bruno Basso has received a $1.95 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to develop and disseminate educational information on soil organic carbon evaluation. The training materials will be geared toward underserved agriculture professionals in Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.
Over the next decade, the market for growing crops indoors or in controlled environments — known as Controlled Environment Agriculture, or CEA — is predicted to increase five times over today’s market. And researchers at Michigan State University are at the forefront of this growing method of agriculture.
June 2, 2023
Yongsig Kim, a senior research associate in the Michigan State Universit-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, is leading MSU’s $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture explore what controlled enviornment agriculture will look like in a low-carbon world and new vegetation that leaves a low-carbon footprint. 
MSU team members join with their ACT NOW – Amazonas Action Alliance XPRIZE Rainforest semifinalist team members to scope Singapore’s Windsor Nature Park and Central Catchment Reserve as they wait assignment of their plot to identify what creatures live there.
June 1, 2023
Saving the rainforest, biodiversity, and in the process, the planet, is often framed as a high-stakes race. Now that race has a timetable, a $10 million prize, and ACTNOW Amazonas, a high-powered women-led multidisciplinary team of Michigan State University experts collaborating with innovators, indigenous rainforest protectors, and a dedicated film crew, who together are semifinalists for the XPRIZE Rainforest—a global competition aiming to enhance the world’s understanding of the rainforest ecosystems to protect it.
MSU College of Natural Science 2023 NSF Early CAREER Award recipients (L to R): Tuo Wang, Department of Chemistry; Yang Yang, Deparment of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering; and Nathan Whitehorn, Department of Physics and Astronomy.
May 31, 2023
Three Michigan State University researchers in the College of Natural Science – Tuo Wang, Nathan Whitehorn and Yang Yang – are recipients of National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Faculty Awards. The award is one of NSF’s most prestigious and is given to faculty members who demonstrate leadership in research and education and have a passion for integrating the two.
Established in 1780 during the American Revolution, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was initiated by John Adams and John Hancock among other patriots. The Academy both celebrates its accomplished individual members and fosters collaborative research projects to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.
May 23, 2023
Michigan State University microbial ecologist James Tiedje joins the 2023 elite cohort of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year, the Academy elected 269 people across the arts and sciences. With a career spanning more than 50 years, Tiedje’s research contributions and mentoring have fundamentally changed the field of microbial science.
Two members of Audubon Great Lakes hold a black tern chick in a watery marsh in St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area. They’re placing a tag on the bird that will help provide useful conservation data.
May 17, 2023
Current conservation practices likely won’t do enough to save the black tern, a migratory bird species that nests in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, from disappearing.That’s according to new research from MSU and the National Audubon Society published in the journal Biological Conservation. But there’s also good news. The team’s report reveals new opportunities to enhance the outlook for these birds by strategically expanding conservation and land management practices. The approach can also be adapted to inform conservation practices for other species.

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