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.
September 21, 2021
It takes one to know one—a community that is. With that in mind, a community of pioneering scientists from MSU’s College of Natural Science and the University of California, Los Angeles, came together to design a multifaceted approach to investigating one of the most complex and abundant communities on Earth—microbiomes. The first-of-its-kind ecological investigation into the complexity of gut microbiological communities is funded by the NSF and will provide new insights into microbial community interaction from mechanistic models and network theory and lead the way for numerous applications in health and human and natural systems.
September 16, 2021
A multidisciplinary, multi-institutional program that is co-led by Michigan State University's Center for Quantum Computing, Science and Engineering, or MSU-Q, is taking the next step in its aim to revolutionize quantum science education. QuSTEAM, an NSF Convergence Accelerator 2020 cohort Phase II awardee, brings together scientists and educators from more than 20 universities, national laboratories, community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish a revolutionary, modular template for an undergraduate minor and associate certificate program in Quantum Information Systems with the aim of developing a diverse, effective, and contemporary quantum-ready workforce.
September 13, 2021
Scientists from MSU and the University of California, Berkeley are developing a first-of-its-kind risk model for sustainable farm practices. The sophisticated statistical model will show that complex crop rotations are the best strategy for building ecological and economic resiliency, literally from the ground up. MSU statistician Frederi Viens is a member of the risk model working group, brought together by the non-profit Land Core, that will use remote-sensed data, soil samples, farmer surveys and statistical analyses to convince lenders to prioritize financing farmers that adopt practices such as cover crops, no-till, low-till and diverse crop rotations including hay and pasture for livestock.
September 8, 2021
MSU plant biologist Frances Trail is the recipient of two prestigious honors in her field of study—mycology. Trail was recently named a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society and was awarded the 2021 Mycological Society of America Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching.
August 30, 2021
As we live and breathe, ancient-looking fish known as bowfin are guarding genetic secrets that that can help unravel humanity’s evolutionary history and better understand its health. Michigan State researchers Ingo Braasch and Andrew Thompson are now decoding some of those secrets. Leading a project that included more than two dozen researchers spanning three continents, the Spartans have assembled the most complete picture of the bowfin genome to date. Their research findings were published Aug. 30 in the journal Nature Genetics.
August 26, 2021
Laura McCabe, Ph.D., has been named the new assistant vice president for the Office of Regulatory Affairs at Michigan State University. Her appointment began on August 16, 2021. In the new role, she will be responsible for all current units under ORA and, additionally, Export Control and Trade Sanctions.
August 24, 2021
Lake trout is an iconic native species to the Great Lakes. MSU integrative biology doctoral student Seth Smith is leading an effort along with his professor and an international team of researchers from the U.S. and Canada to create a reference genome for lake trout to support state and federal agencies with reintroduction and conservation efforts. The research from the team was published on Aug. 5 in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources.
August 18, 2021
With the help of a $500,000 grant from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and 30 years of data, MSU quantitative ecologist Elise Zipkin and her multi-institution team will shed new light on the “Insect Apocalypse.” In a recent study, Zipkin developed a modeling strategy to analyze climate effects on monarch butterflies and found a strong correlation between temperature and precipitation in spring and summer breeding ranges and the subsequent size of the overall population. Motivated by these findings, her team is extending the models to other species.
August 16, 2021
Missing metadata — data that provides information about other data — might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a costly problem that’s hindering humanity’s plans to protect the planet’s biodiversity. A Spartan-led research team reveals surprising gaps in ecological genetic data that could otherwise help global conservation efforts. MSU's Rachel Toczydlowski is the lead author of a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which features researchers from 14 institutions in three countries.The team audited the largest global repository for storing genetic sequence data to see if the entries included basic metadata needed to make them useful for monitoring genetic diversity.
August 16, 2021
MSU seismologist Songqiao “Shawn” Wei is the recipient of a $501,597 National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award to conduct a series of seismic attenuation studies on regional and global scales. These systematic investigations will potentially advance our understanding of seismic interpretation, upper-mantle dynamics, and material recycling in the Earth’s interior.
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