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News

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.

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February 7, 2022
James Tiedje, a Michigan State University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and internationally renowned microbial ecologist has been elected a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for 2021. Tiedje was selected for his pioneering work, particularly in developing molecular and genomics tools to understand the impacts of anthropogenic activity on environmental microbiomes. He is also instrumental in promoting international collaboration in microbial ecology between China and the rest of the world.
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February 3, 2022
The American Physical Society (APS), recognized MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy this year with a prestigious Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education. MSU undergraduate physics stood out for making significant improvements to its undergraduate educational experience and its ability to retain a high number of successful physics majors. APS will publicly honor awardees at its April meeting in New York City during the Education and Diversity Reception.
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January 28, 2022
Faculty members in the MSU College of Natural Science with general or specific concerns related to college processes and programs have a new contact and advocate in Heather Eisthen, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, who became the college’s new Faculty Excellence Advocate on January 1. Eisthen replaces Cynthia Jordan, who retired last August.
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January 24, 2022
MSU seismologist Songqiao “Shawn” Wei has been studying the Tonga region, one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, for more than a decade. Wei, one of a small group of scientists in the world who conducts research in this region, studies the Tonga subduction zone where two tectonic plates — the Pacific plate slips underneath the Australian plate. The following interview captures information and insights from Wei about this fascinating region and what it tells us about plate tectonics and eruptions.
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January 19, 2022
Through MSU’s Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant (CIEG) program, two new projects, one led by a NatSci graduate student, and a second by two NatSci faculty members will focus on improving STEM for historically excluded groups. Doctoral student Toby SantaMaria will use the grant to increase accessibility and inclusivity in the graduate school application process. Faculty members Stephen Thomas and Julie Libarkin will implement a system for mentoring faculty on how to facilitate inclusive experiences. CIEG supports projects that create collaboration within and across organizational systems in support of an inclusive educational and work environment.
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January 18, 2022
As irrigation practices expand worldwide, many bird species face an uncertain future. In a new paper published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, formerMSU visiting student Xabier Cabodevilla and his team found that 55 percent of common bird species in northern Spain decreased in their occurrence rates as a result of irrigation. Using ecological modeling, the team estimated the responses of multiple species to environmental factors. The hope is that their findings will influence the European Union’s common agricultural policy toward conservation.
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January 14, 2022
Michigan State University chemist Angela K. Wilson was recently featured in Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN)—the trade weekly of the American Chemical Society (ACS)—as the current ACS president. She was interviewed by C&EN about her plans for and leadership role in the organization.  
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January 14, 2022
Two MSU College of Natural Science graduate students—Allison Vanecek and Sarah Manski—recently won the inaugural awards from the Neogen Land Grant Prize in a competitive selection process. Each student was awarded $30,000 to advance their research projects: one focusing on drug discovery and the other on the economics of climate change.
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January 13, 2022
MSU plant scientists have developed a new gene discovery method that is helping them to understand how plants recover from stressful situations in their environments. The approach, which covers big data sets spanning thousands of genes and hundreds of interactions between DNA and proteins, has long-term implications for agricultural productivity and the breeding of more resilient crops. The study was recently published in the journal Communications Biology.
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January 11, 2022
Professor Jianping Hu has been appointed as the new director of the Molecular Plant Sciences Graduate Program in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University.

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