MSU Faculty in the News Archive 2010
MSU environmental activities and accomplishments, from sources on and off-campus. We focus on ESPP-affiliated faculty and students. For additional information on MSU environmental work, see these sources.
Behavior frontiers: Can social science combat climate change?
U.S. households are responsible for 626 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, nearly 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 8 percent of global emissions….Still, Tom Dietz (Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy) remains optimistic. “I often hear energy experts who have never studied behavior say that behavior doesn't change,” says Dietz….. “But if we learn anything from the last 50 years, it's that behavior changes in huge ways.” More»
Harry and David stops buying commercial eggs
Harry & David became the first major Oregon-based company to exclusively use cage-free eggs. In response to similar questions from the egg industry, the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply is doing a study led by MSU and the University of California, Davis, to evaluate the various housing systems. More»
Congress poised to pass ambitious food safety bill
Los Angeles Times
In a world where we get garlic from China, shellfish from Thailand and sugar cane from Mexico, Congress is poised to approve an ambitious food safety bill that would strengthen the nation's top regulator and impose new rules on domestic production and trading partners. "They will be able to get better knowledge of who's producing clean food and who's producing suspect food," said Craig Harris (Sociology). More»
Waterways contribute to growth of potent greenhouse gas
Nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, has increased by more than 20 percent over the last century, and nitrogen in waterways is fueling part of that growth, according to a MSU study. Based on this new study, the role of rivers and streams as a source of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere now appears to be three times as high as estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Stephen Hamilton (Zoology and Kellogg Biological Station) was involved in the study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences. More»
Mich. beekeepers worry efforts to kill invasive plant will destroy important source of nectar
An effort to fight knapweed, an invasive plant, with insects that eat it has drawn opposition from beekeepers who worry it will leave them without an adequate source of nectar and pollen for their honeybees. Michigan officials don't expect to wipe it out but hope to pare it back. Doug Landis (Entomology) is working with the state on the project. More»
OSU climatologist takes stand on warming
Lonnie Thompson, one of the world's most highly regarded scientists on climate change, is often reluctant to step onto a soapbox, a trait shared by other scientists, who prefer letting their research speak for itself. Many scientists... fear accusations of bias, said Michael Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife; Lyman Briggs; Philosophy) "They are really worried that their credibility is at stake," he said.
Brudvig part of long-term species movement study to improve conservation practices
Predicting how and why organisms come to populate certain areas is an important but challenging aspect of conservation work. Lars Brudvig (Plant Biology) is helping to head a new, National Science Foundation-funded project to understand how plant and animals species move over long distances. The three-year study is a collaborative project among six universities and will help develop more effective conservation practices. The study will use a unique form of species tagging to measure movement as well as an experiment with a timeline and scale larger than any ever used. It will examine the effectiveness of wildlife corridors, which connect what would have been isolated habitat patches, and the impacts of forest fragmentation. More»
Invisible invasive species
While Asian carp, gypsy moths and zebra mussels hog invasive-species headlines, many invisible invaders are altering ecosystems and flourishing outside of the limelight. A study by Elena Litchman (Zoology) sheds light on why invasive microbial invaders shouldn’t be overlooked. “Invasive microbes have many of the same traits as their larger, ‘macro’ counterparts and have the potential to significantly impact terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,” said Litchman, whose research appears in the December issue of Ecology Letters. “Global change can exacerbate microbial invasions, so they will likely increase in the future.” More»
Bird call database nests on public website
A growing online library of bird sounds, photos and information offers a new resource for backyard birders and seasoned ornithologists alike. The Avian Vocalizations Center, or AVoCet, at MSU offers free downloads of bird sounds from around the world. It also features sonograms that visually chart the sounds, photos of birds recorded, Google Earth maps of recording locations and links to other online sound collections. More than 10,200 recordings from over 3,190 species in 45 countries are now available on AVoCet, “and that’s growing quickly,” said Pamela Rasmussen (Zoology). More»
MSU looks into turning leftover food into electricity
In the new food service area at MSU’s Brody Square, today's leftovers could be turning into an energy source for tomorrow. Steve Safferman (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) explains: "Food waste from a cafeteria, from processing plants, has a lot of embedded energy in it, and if we can take that food waste and, instead of putting it into a landfill, put it into a reactor and get energy from it, then we're taking it back to a useful purpose." More»
Green roofs are starting to sprout in American cities
Yale Environment 360
Long a proven technology in Europe, green roofs are becoming increasingly common in U.S. cities, with major initiatives in Chicago, Portland, and Washington, D.C. “The biggest obstacle for many is the initial cost,” said Brad Rowe (Horticulture). More»
ESPP hosts bioeconomy symposium
In December 2010, ESPP organized a networking event for faculty who received funds in 2009-2010 from the Michigan Economic Development Council (MEDC) for work on the bioeconomy. The symposium was an opportunity to bring together faculty members from all areas of MSU to allow connections to happen, said ESPP director Jinhua Zhao in his opening remarks. Through small workgroups, the symposium participants will continue and expand their collaborative work this spring semester. “I actually thought when the money was all spent that would be it,” said Steve Pueppke (Michigan AgBio Research) who saw the symposium as “an opportunity to break down barriers, explore new activities, and create new foundations.” The agenda and abstracts from the event can be found here. More»
MSU helps organize conference on environmental health sciences
MSU’s Center for Integrative Toxicology co-hosted a national conference on an emerging area in environmental health sciences, interactions between gut-associated microbes and environmental contaminants. MSU’s cohost was the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program (SRP). Findings from the workshop, held in November, will be published in an upcoming paper. More»
Planning for environmental disasters: Eva Kassens
When Eva Kassens was starting her master’s degree in transportation at MIT, she had an important decision to make. She knew she wanted to focus on large-scale events, but had a choice between studying what she describes as “happy” events, such as planning for festivals and pilgrimages, or “sad” events, such as hazards and disasters….Now, as a MSU professor with joint appointments in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction and the Global Urban Studies Program, she is shifting her interests toward the “sad” work, specifically issues of climate resilience, hazards and disasters. More»
MSU leading the way in green packaging
“Recycling and reuse are important components of green packaging and so is the use of biological materials,” said Joe Hotchkiss (Packaging). “The challenge is to take renewable resources and turn them into packages that have equal or better performance standards.” More»
MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center earns LEED gold certification
The MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center was recently recognized as the greenest building on campus. The building earned the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, the second highest certification offered. The building has many green features, including rooftop solar panels; rainwater collection for toilets, urinals and power washers; and green glass mixed in the surrounding concrete. More»
Shrubby crops can help fuel Africa's green revolution
Crop diversification could be the key to sustaining the green revolution in Africa, according to a study led by Sieglinde Snapp (Crop and Soil Sciences) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found that diversifying crops would keep the soil from being stripped of nutrients while increasing nutrient-rich grain productivity. The study involved an international group of researchers as well as participants throughout Malawi.
USA Today and National Public Radio had the story.
Advocates aim to boost hunt numbers
Capital News Service
The number of hunters is gradually decreasing, so officials and advocates are aiming to increase license sales in Michigan this season. A new $500,000 federal grant will pay farmers with a minimum of 40 acres to allow hunters on their land. Jordan Burroughs (Fisheries and Wildlife) said hunting on farms helps not only to reduce crop damage, but lessens the potential for disease and accidents. More»
Corporate university: Industry's reach into academia renews fears of undue influence
Money from Big Oil is funding three different, but hugely funded research projects which are at the core of a growing debate about whether the work carries the taint of corporate influence. "There's a more subtle aspect of this that's harder to get your hands on, but I think is clear," said Lawrence Busch (Sociology) who was hired by UC Berkeley's academic senate to head an evaluation of a five-year, $25 million contract UC Berkeley signed in 1998 with pharmaceutical company Novartis to research advances in plant genetics. More»
Should environmental scientists be advocates for environmental policy?
Should environmental scientists be advocates for environmental policy? To a wildife ecologist from Michigan Technological University and an environmental ethicist from MSU, the answer is a resounding yes. "Scientists, by virtue of being citizens first and scientists second, have a responsibility to advocate to the best of their abilities and in a justified and transparent manner," say John A. Vucetich (Michigan Tech) and Michael P. Nelson (Lyman Briggs College, Fisheries and Wildlife, and Philosophy). More»
5 effects you'd see from the food safety bill
My Health News Daily
The aim of Senate Bill 510 is to keep large-scale recalls - such as the ones directed at peanut butter last year and eggs this year - from happening again, said Craig Harris (Sociology). "As our food system in the U.S. has become more industrialized, and the companies have become much larger in scale, now a peanut outbreak… can affect people in more than half the country," Harris said. More»
Scientists as rock stars?
"If you are operating under the illusion that all scientists run around with pens and slide rulers in their lab coat pockets, then this campaign will say no, scientists look like ordinary people," said Jon Miller (Political Science), who directs MSU’s International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy. “But if you expect to ignite popular support for science with this campaign, I doubt that will happen.” More»
Urban farms could provide a majority of produce for Detroiters
Transforming vacant urban lots into farms and community gardens could provide Detroit residents with a majority of their fruits and vegetables. An MSU study finds that a combination of urban farms, community gardens, storage facilities and hoop houses could supply local residents with more than 75 percent of their vegetables and more than 40 percent of their fruits. Kathryn Colasanti (C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems) led the study, which also assessed public opinion of these projects, finding that different groups value urban farms for different reasons.
The New York Times had the story.
Echoes of grit and humor
Columbia Journalism Review
The Great Lakes Echo is a project of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at MSU. Launched in March 2009, the site covers the Great Lakes watershed... “We’re pushing the concept of defining a news community with natural rather than political borders,” writes Dave Poulson (Journalism), the Echo’s editor. “We look at the watershed as a whole.” More»
Loveridge named director of rural development center
Scott Loveridge (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics) will take on a new position as director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Land Grant Universities. As director, Loveridge will work with extension professionals, researchers and their collaborators to support rural development outcomes in the north central region of the U.S. More»
Natural selection in plants
The November/December issue of the International Journal of Plant Sciences explores the current state of our knowledge of natural selection in plants. "Plants were crucially important to Darwin's development of the theory of natural selection (six of his books were on plants)," writes Jeffrey Conner (Plant Biology), guest editor of the issue.
Can the U.S. compete on rare earths?
The New York Times
Jack Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife) participates in a discussion forum. He writes: “While the dangers and risks associated with the production of rare earths cannot be understated, the United States should revitalize its own industry….With more advanced mining technologies, higher environmental standards and stricter enforcement, the U.S. can make the mining and production of rare earths safer and cleaner.” More»
That which doesn't kill perch makes them stronger. Or does it?
While the causes and effects of fish kills have been studied repeatedly, the outcomes of poisoning that is less than lethal have not. Using a $498,334 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, Cheryl Murphy (Fisheries and Wildlife and Lyman Briggs) will lead a study of how increasing doses of toxic substances affect yellow perch, a species of economic and ecological importance to the Great Lakes. The study will focus on exposure to mercury, but will create a framework so other fish and contaminants can be studied.
The Daily Tribune had the story.
Scientists scramble to bridge the uncertainty gap in climate science
The New York Times
In the 1970s and 1980s, the United States had an Office of Technology Assessment, which analyzed complex scientific concepts, producing studies for Congress on subjects like the nation's energy future and ecosystem management and giving advice on how to address issues. It is something the United States should consider again, said Tom Dietz (Sociology and ESPP). More»
MSU to begin car-share program to reduce single vehicle traffic
In an effort to promote car pooling, commuting and increased use of mass transit, MSU has partnered with Zipcar to launch a pilot car-sharing program for the MSU community. The program will put six cars on campus and will officially launch in January. Zipcar is an alternative transportation option that provides cars that can be reserved by the hour or day. More»
MSU launches Brazil Partnership Program; Simmons pilots initial project
Michigan State University, Federal University of Para and Federal University of Bahia have launched The Brazil Partnership Program. The program will focus on three areas: global development and bioeconomy; global environmental change; and human health and the environment. An initial project for The Brazil Partnership Program is Globalization: Socio-economic, Political and Environmental Interdependence, an education and research exchange led by Cynthia Simmons (Geography). The project earned nearly $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Education and Brazilian Ministry of Education. More»
Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool honored with awards
The Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool recently earned awards from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation and the Environmental Council of States. The tool was developed by MSU’s Institute of Water Research in collaboration with government agencies and the University of Michigan. It estimates how water withdrawal from a certain area may impact local stream and river ecosystems; since 2008, Michigan legislation has required the tool to be used for all large capacity water withdrawals in the state. “This tool is unique because it gives the ecosystem a voice in the press,” said Jon Bartholic (Institute of Water Research). More»
Lansing Urban Farm Project receives federal support
Lansing's first urban farm project will soon have farming apprentices and a mobile vegetable cart to assist its efforts to economically revive the city's east side, thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The two-year, $90,000 grant will be administered by the Allen Neighborhood Center. Laura DeLind (Anthropology and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities) and Linda Anderson (Teacher Education) founded the Lansing Urban Farm Project in spring 2010. More»
Quakes don’t completely shake China’s environmental gains
When the earthquake hit China in 2008, the country saw extensive devastation, especially at the quake’s epicenter in the Sichuan Province, home to many fragile natural habitats. However, work published in a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science shows that conservation programs played a significant role in reducing the quake’s affects in fragile areas that are home to endangered species. Jianguo “Jack” Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife) and Andrés Viña (Fisheries and Wildlife) were contributors to the paper. More»
Community ecology, adoption of new farming practices, and biofuels' effects on greenhouse gases
ESPP welcomes three new faculty and student affiliates. Read profiles of Lars Brudvig (Plant Biology), who studies how human interact with plants; Diana Stuart (Sociology and Kellogg Biological Station) who seeks to reduce barriers farmers might face in adopting new agricultural practices; and Leilei Ruan (Crop and Soil Sciences), who studies how agricultural practices affect greenhouse emissions.
MSU launches math and science institute
MSU's new Institute for Research on Mathematics and Science Education will bring together science and education scholars to improve math and science learning form the kindergarten through college level. The institute is administered by the Colleges of Education and Natural Science; William Schmidt (Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education) will serve as interim director. More»
Get off Chuck's back!
... Stating that evolution is a myth is off the mark. And the rebuttal is off-base, too, because time isn't the issue, says Danita Brandt (Geological Sciences).
University Relationsalso had the story.
MSU faculty create documentary about urban farming in Flint
Geri Zeldes (Journalism) and Troy Hale (Telecommunications, Information Studies and Media) have released “The Kings of Flint,” a documentary featuring the Youth Karate-Ka: Harvesting Earth Farm and other urban farming in Flint. "I feel like the Earth is moving every time I go to Flint," Zeldes said. "I hope the word gets out about urban farming and viewers see that there is a community of people in Flint who have taken things into their hands and are making their own solution for the city."
The Flint Journal also had the story.
Pointing Motown toward the new green economy
Greening of the Great Lakes, MLive.com
Soji Adelaja leads MSU’s Land Policy Institute and tells Kirk Heinze about the difference between strategic growth and smart growth. More»
MSU examines how packages operate in ER, OR environments
Packaging World, Healthcarepackaging.com
Differences in the operating room and emergency room environments need to be considered in medical device package design. So do multiple factors that are seemingly unrelated, but lead to product waste. Those were two key “takeaways” noted by Laura Bix (Packaging), during a two-day event at MSU. More»
Monsanto's losing bet on GM sugar beets has bitter repercussions
...The issue is a shortage of real diversity in the seed supply. As Phil Howard (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) has documented extensively, the last decade has seen massive consolidation in the seed industry. More»
Researchers find indirect land use change impact minimal
Coinciding with the Department of Energy research, a paper published in Environmental Science & Technology and authored by Bruce Dale (Chemical Engineering and Material Sciences)…found that significantly larger volumes of biofuels can be produced without incurring indirect land use change. More»
Shaping the future of the High Plains water supply
The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest in the world and thanks to a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, MSU researchers will be working to protect the water supply. They will develop a sustainability plan based on issues affecting the aquifer that community and government leaders can then use in shaping future land policies and water management practices. ESPP affiliates working on the project are David Hyndman (Geological Sciences), Jinhua Zhao (Environmental Science and Policy Program), Stephen Gasteyer (Sociology), Nathan Moore (Geography), and Shiyuan (Sharon) Zhong (Geography).
The AP had the story.
Battling harmful algal blooms
The Great Lakes has become a home for harmful algal blooms, resulting in high numbers of fish deaths, polluted drinking water and closed beaches. MSU researchers will work to reduce these effects with the help of a $499,954 grant from the EPA as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The researchers will explore how algal blooms are receiving their nutrients in order to create an action plan that can be applied to the Great Lakes and beyond. ESPP affiliates involved are Jan Stevenson (Zoology), David Hyndman (Geological Sciences), and Jiaguo Qi (Geography) More»
MSU to educate health care providers on fish consumption
A $1.5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency will allow MSU researchers to work with physicians and other health care providers in Michigan to provide them with the tools they need to identify at-risk patients and inform them of the benefits and potential dangers of eating fish. Faculty working on the project are Ken Rosenman, Gary Ferenchick and David Solomon (College of Human Medicine) and Kari Hortos (College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The City Pulse had the story.
Porter named to Boone and Crockett chair
William Porter has been named MSU’s first Boone and Crockett Chair of Wildlife Conservation in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Porter will be working with the Boone and Crockett Club, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and other national organizations to inform policy makers on the conservation of wildlife resources. More»
Wisconsin Public Radio
Michael P. Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs, and Philosophy) talks about a moral vision for environmental repair and sustainability of the Earth. More»
MSU biofuels expert makes list of top 100 people in bioenergy
Bruce Dale (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) has claimed the 22nd spot on Biofuels Digest’s list of the top 100 people in bioenergy. More»
Researchers improve food supply in Senegal
Researchers at MSU have long worked on agricultural issues in Senegal. Recently, they became part of a five-year, $28 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development that will be used to help improve agriculture education and research systems in order to increase food supply and improve nutrition in the country. MSU will work with U.S. and Senegalese universities on the Capacity Building for Agricultural Education and Research project. More»
Bacteria form electric circuits?
... "It is the first time in which researchers actually measure electron transport along the wires at micrometer distances, which makes it a biologically relevant process," says Gemma Reguera (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics). More»
Scrap-tire market development grants increase reuse in Michigan
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment
... MSU, partnering with the Ingham County Road Commission, will receive a $453,199 grant for 50 percent of the cost to install and test three different modified asphalt pavement designs or types of modified asphalt pavement. More»
FTC: General green claims don't wash
... "Degradable," one of the most widely used — and misused phrases — can only be employed if a product is capable of decomposing in a landfill within a year. As a result, consumers can expect to see far fewer degradability claims, says Susan Selke (Packaging). More»
Michigan State, Fuji University offer discounted bikes to students
... MSU has joined Fuji University, a program that allows students, faculty and staff to buy new Fuji bikes at a discount.
Graduate student wins award for research in environmental crime
College of Social Science
Jessica Fry (ESPP and Criminal Justice) recently received the Frank Tomascik Fellowship, created by an MSU Criminal Justice and Accounting alumnus. Fry’s research interests go beyond the traditional scope of criminal justice, focusing on conservation criminology and environmental crime. More»
Office of Campus Sustainability creates new Websites
MSU’s Office of Campus Sustainability recently released its newest project: a Web site to act as a hub for sustainability information on campus. The site features MSU’s sustainability-related academic programs, research, outreach, and campus operations. “The goal of the site [is] to provide a central place where people can learn about sustainability at Michigan State and connect to their areas of interest,” writes Jennifer Battle (Office of Campus Sustainability). The Office of Campus Sustainability also hosts a reconfigured Be Spartan Green Web site, focused more on what Spartans can do to take action on campus. More»
ESPP affiliates answer the "big questions" in Spartan Sagas
MSU experts respond to questions on key environmental issues. Watch video of:
- Jeff Andresen (Geography) on climate change:
- Soji Adelaja (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) on alternative energy
- Jack Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife) on environmental health
- Joan Rose (Fisheries and Wildlife; Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering; Crop and Soil Sciences) on water quality and security
- Mike Hamm (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) on sustainable agriculture
Power electronics lab drives renewable energy research
College of Engineering
Fang Peng and Bingsen Wang (Electrical and Computer Engineering) work in collaboration to develop technologies to keep pace with demand for renewable energy, such as wind, solar and hybrid electric. Peng’s team is working to make renewable energy sources and high power electronics adaptable for smart power grids, while Wang’s is focused on improving the power converter technology necessary to make this successful. More»
Magazine highlights MSU researchers' work on climate change, food and agriculture issues in Africa, Asia
International Studies and Program
The latest issue of International highlights multiple environmental researchers. Jennifer Olson (Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media) is looking at climate change’s impacts on East African farms and crops (p.36). Karim Mereda (Entomology) is using biotechnology for better pest management in Central Asia, as director of MSU’s World Technology Access Program (p. 24). In Malawai, Sieglinde Snapp (Crop and Soil Sciences) is developing sustainable farming techniques in collaboration with social scientists, geographers and farmers (p.38). More»
Lenski's lab a leader in evolution research
College of Natural Sciences
Richard Lenski (Crop and Soil Sciences, Zoology, and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) has been doing E.colilong-term evolution experiments since 1988. His lab is considered a forerunner in evolutionary research and his work is now supported by a prestigious Science and Technology Center grant from NSF. More»
Luo awarded for collaborative research on droughts, floods
Department of Geography
Lifeng Luo (Geography) recently received two awards to forward his research. The Chinese Academy of Sciences awarded Luo the KC Wong Fellowship to facilitate his collaboration with an Academy scientist; they will work on a system to predict droughts and floods in China. The other award comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office, which has provided funding to support Luo’s work with collaborators at Princeton University and the University of Washington on drought monitoring and prediction. More»
Basis for North American wildlife conservation assessed
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Shawn Riley (Fisheries and Wildlife) participated in a recent review of the Public Trust Doctrine (PTD), the legal foundation for North American wildlife conservation. Legal and wildlife scholars assessed benefits and threats to the PTD for the Wildlife Society. Their work can be read here. More»
This fall, MSU offered its first curricular sustainability specialization. Planning for the specialization has been years in the making and those involved recently received a grant to help ensure its future. The $628,415 grant is from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education and will provide support to director Geoffrey Habron (Fisheries and Wildlife, Sociology) and assistant director Laurie Thorp (Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment) to evaluate the program’s success over the next three years and identify improvements. “The grant enables us to expand our assessment of sustainability competency learning beyond the specialization itself by applying those competencies to a range of experiential learning spaces,” said Habron. These spaces include an introductory sustainability class, a non-credit course at the Student Organic Farm, and study away programs in Australia and Isle Royale, Mich.
The State News had the story.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants announced
More than $3 million in federal grants focusing on restoring Great Lakes waterways have been awarded to MSU researchers, including many ESPP affiliates:
- Pouyan Nejadhashemi (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) will work on improving water quality in Coon Creek, Macomb County.
- Irene Xagoraraki (Civil and Environmental Engineering) will work on virus quantification and identifying pollution sources.
- Cheryl Murphy (Fisheries and Wildlife) will examine contaminants' effects on Great Lakes perch.
- A project on managing and controlling harmful algal blooms is led by Jan Stevenson (Zoology), David Hyndman (Geological Sciences), and Jiaguo Qi (Geography).
- Soji Adelaja (Land Policy Institute) will engage local stakeholders in pollution reduction.
- Joan Rose (Fisheries and Wildlife and Crop and Soil Sciences) will work on forecasting beach and near-shore health effects
MSU researchers working with DNRE on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants
In addition to the more than $3 million in federal grants received directly by MSU researchers to restore Great Lakes waterways, three other projects will receive funding through contracts with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE). Erin Dreelin (Fisheries and Wildlife) will lead a project to train local health departments in new methods for recreational water monitoring. Dave Poulson (Journalism) will lead another on training journalists to better communicate beach contamination and cover the Great Lakes region. Joan Rose (Fisheries and Wildlife, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, and Crop and Soil Sciences) will lead the third, on assessing water quality at Michigan beaches. MSU researchers Irene Xagoraraki (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Asli Aslan-Yilmaz (Fisheries and Wildlife) and Joanna Pope (Fisheries and Wildlife) will also contribute.
Pest-resistant soybeans grow out of MSU research lab
Two lines of pest-resistant soybean painstakingly developed by Dechun Wang (Crop and Soil Sciences) promise healthier harvests for growers and a little green for the university too. More»
Michigan climate change initiative nets $4.2 million federal grant
A joint initiative between MSU and the University of Michigan to improve the nation's ability to adapt to climate variability and change earned a $4.2 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The grant will support the new Great Lakes Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center, which will use the money to help communities and organizations in the Great Lakes region understand and adapt to a changing climate. MSU affiliates include Tom Dietz (Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy), Jeff Andresen (Geography), Julie Winkler (Geography), Charles Pistis (MSU Extension), and Michael Staton (MSU Extension). More»
New video highlights findings of climate panel report
National Research Council
The National Research Council has released a video based on Advancing the Science of Climate Change, a report from the America's Climate Choices project. The report maps out the realm of our accumulated knowledge regarding climate change, and urges that research on climate change enter a new era focused on the needs of decision makers. In this video…Thomas (Tom) Dietz (Environmental Science and Policy and Sociology) describes the panel's key findings and the lines of evidence that brought them to those conclusions. More»
Cleansing the Kalamazoo: Stephen Hamilton explains oil spill's impact on river
"It was an abrupt nightmare," says Stephen Hamilton (Department of Zoology and Kellogg Biological Station), who has studied the Kalamazoo River watershed for 15 years....
The Detroit Free Press also had the story. More»
Natural selection cuts broad swath through fruit fly genome
New York Times
... Richard Lenski (Crop and Soil Sciences, Zoology, and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) says the finding that natural selection had worked by changing gene frequencies in a fruit fly experiment was very interesting. More»
Where gravel is king
Leelanau Enterprise and Tribune
... Sand and gravel, crucial to economic development activities such as road building and concrete production, is in abundant supply in the township thanks to a "glacial out wash deposit" dating back 13,000 to 11,500 years ago, according to Grahame Larson (Geological Sciences) More»
Staff profiles: Lauren Olson
Lauren Olson (Office of Campus Sustainability) explains her job managing the Environmental Stewardship and Green Certification programs at MSU. More»
More waste-reducing toilets to be installed
As part of MSU’s continuous conservation efforts and initiatives to "Be Spartan Green," water-reducing toilets are appearing in many academic and residential buildings in an attempt to reduce costs related to water usage across campus, says Lynda Boomer MSU Physical Plant). More»
MSU partnership to develop African ecosystem services
MSU has partnered with Pennsylvania's Lincoln University and the University of Malawi to tackle the environmental challenges Africa faces due to population growth and climate change. "We are focused on enhancing and empowering institutions of higher education in Malawi so that their contributions are more effective in supporting development in Africa," said Anne Ferguson (Anthropology). The initiative is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and Higher Education for Development. More»
Study: Women more likely than men to accept global warming
Women tend to believe the scientific consensus on global warming more than men, according to a study by Aaron McCright (Sociology and Lyman Briggs College).
The findings, published in the September issue of the journal Population and Environment, challenge common perceptions that men are more scientifically literate, said McCright. More»
"Pseudovariety" and the beverage market
Boston Globe, Nashville Scene
...Behind that apparent diversity, however, a scant handful of companies overwhelmingly dominate the market, says Philip Howard (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies).
More of Howard's information graphics are available here. More»
Insecticides can affect wild bee populations, MAES research shows
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
To help growers make choices that conserve valuable native pollinators, Rufus Isaacs (Entomology) and Julianna Tuell (Entomology) studied how wild bee populations are affected by pest management programs in highbush blueberries. The research is published in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology. "The results indicate that wild bee communities are negatively affected by increasingly intensive chemical pest management activities in crop fields," Tuell said. Growers can use the scientists' results to make more informed choices about how to manage pests while continuing to get benefits from wild bees.
Also: new MSU horticulture garden features native pollinators (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources). More»
Xagoraraki develops innovative ways to understand and improve water safety
College of Engineering
By combining basic environmental engineering with molecular research methods, Irene Xagoraraki (Civil and Environmental Engineering) is discovering the best ways to detect viruses and how they’re transported and inactivated in the environment, water and wastewater treatment systems. She explains: “This information will give us quantitative means to assess the risk to the public and make decisions regarding optimum water management and treatment methods. More»
CWS New faculty member spotlight: Arika Ligmann-Zielinska
Splash! The Center for Water Sciences Newsletter
Arika Ligmann-Zielinska (Geography and ESPP) is interviewed about her work using modeling to understand how human decision making relates to land use change. Learn about why she finds this modeling important for water resource use and conservation and why the human body is her favorite body of water! More»
Environmental ethicist co-edits book calling for action
It's not enough to simply know the environmental impacts of climate change, according to Michael Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs, Philosophy). Instead, we must do something, and getting from knowing to acting is the challenge. That's the crux of "Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril," a book Nelson co-edited, which will be released Sept. 1. More»
Researchers discover mechanism protecting plants against freezing
New research helps explain how plants protect themselves from freezing temperatures and could lead to discoveries related to plant tolerance for drought and other extreme conditions. The research, published in the journal Science, was conducted by Christoph Benning, Eric Moellering, and Bagyalakshmi Muthan, all of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. With rising concern globally about water supplies and climate change, scientists see additional reasons to understand the ways hardy plants survive. More»
Egg industry faces new scrutiny after outbreak
New York Times
..."Some groups tend to cherry-pick studies to show the results that they want consumers to see," says Jeffrey Armstrong (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources). More»
Fred Poston: Striving to be Spartan green at MSU
"Sustainability is the program for the moment or almost a fad at many universities, but we’ve taken a different approach," says Fred Poston(Vice President for Finance and Operations), who leads MSU’s sustainability initiatives. More»
Genetically engineered salmon: If they build it, will we eat it?
"The thought of genetic engineering sort of excites the idea that there might be a kind of boundary-crossing going on that might be yucky," says Paul Thompson (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; Agricultural and Food Resource Economics; Philosophy) More»
Green and clueless
... Research led by Tom Dietz (Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy) estimated behavorial changes would cut U.S. carbon emissions by 123 million metric tons per year, which is 20 percent of household direct emissions.
PBS also had the story.
Grad student receives DOE fellowship
Ben Roller is one of 150 students nationally to receive a graduate fellowship award as part of a new U.S. Dept. of Energy Graduate Fellowship Program. Roller studies the interplay between bacterial physiology and the environment. He is pursuing a dual-degree Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior.
Workers say 'green' buildings boost productivity
Workers who moved from conventional office buildings to environmentally friendly “green” buildings said they called in sick less often and were more productive, according to a study by MSU researchers. The study appears in the American Journal of Public Health. “These preliminary findings indicate that green buildings may positively affect public health,” the researchers write. The research team included ESPP affiliates Matt Syal (School of Planning, Design, and Management) and Sue Grady (Geography).
The AP had the story.
Treehugger discussed a rebuttal.
MSU research assists Dow energy efficiency projects
Michigan homes could benefit from a new initiative focusing on retrofitting existing structures using energy efficient insulation, equipment and other strategies to reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent. MSU’s School of Planning, Design and Construction and the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research’s Office for Survey Research will join Dow Building and Construction, Habitat for Humanity International and Ferris State University on a multiyear initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Tim Mrozowski (School of Planning, Design & Construction) is project coordinator. More»
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon: Being green is in our DNA
Lou Anna Simon, who helped bring programming like Greening of the Great Lakes to WJR, talks with Kirk Heinze about environmental issues in the state. More»
Zebra mussels reported in 255 Michigan inland lakes
The Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative program between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, recently confirmed Zebra mussel infestations in 255 Michigan inland lakes and in 17 of the state's rivers and streams. "Boaters can be especially helpful in slowing the spread of the pesky mollusk and preventing damage to their equipment," said Jo Latimore (Fisheries and Wildlife) More»
MSU student weed team claims victory at national conference
Three MSU students took first place place in the graduate division of the Northeastern Weed Science Society Contest this summer. The students are Laura Bast, Alexander Lindsey, and Dan Tratt, all from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. The contest gives students a chance to apply what they have learned in four different tests: weed identification, herbicide identification, algebra-based herbicide distribution problems, and identifying a farmer’s problem by asking the farmer weed-related questions. Wes Everman (Crop and Soil Sciences), the group’s advisor, said that these real-life applications are what make the competition valuable. More»
Climate change education partnership strengthens connections in the Great Lakes
A grant from the National Science Foundation will enable scholars at MSU and other institutions in the Great Lakes to build a network that supports adoption of high quality educational resources related to climate change. Climate scientists, learning scientists, and educational practitioners will work together to assess what resources are available and what’s needed. “Anyone interested in climate change education and literacy can and should be involved,” says Julie Libarkin (Geological Sciences and Division of Science and Mathematics Education), one of the MSU investigators. Others involved at MSU are Dave Poulson (Journalism), Ken Frank (Fisheries and Wildlife and Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education), and Rochelle Sturtevant (Fisheries and Wildlife). The NSF abstract is here.
Freezing, preserving sperm vital to saving hellbender salamanders
The hellbender salamander - known affectionately as a snot otter or devil dog - is one of America's unique giant salamander species. For unexplained reasons, most hellbender populations have rapidly declined as very little reproduction has occurred in recent decades. MSU veterinarians Dalen Agnew and Carla Carleton are helping develop conservation techniques to sample and freeze the sperm from some of the last surviving salamanders. The project aims to enable future re-stocking of genetically viable hellbenders back to their streams and rivers, ensuring the survival of the species.
National Geographic had the story.
Ancient crocodile might have thrived on land, scientists say
The toothy grin of a recently discovered prehistoric reptile looked more mammal-like than that of modern crocodiles, according to an international group of researchers that includes MSU’s Michael Gottfried and Sifa Ngasala, both in the Department of Geological Sciences. The research group describes their findings from a fossil site in Tanzania in the journal Nature. More»
Oil spill cleanup workers include many very, very small ones
New York Times
Jay Lennon (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) said the gene sequencing helped show how Alcanivorax could break down the surface tension in fluids and attack oil. More»
Bruce Dale tapped twice for bioenergy expertise
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
Adding to numerous honors received throughout the more than 30 years of his career, Bruce Dale (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) was recently asked to lend his expertise to two high-level efforts aimed at advancing renewable energy technologies.
Dale was invited to serve as an expert reviewer for the draft International Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and was confirmed as a member of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More»
Tough food makes coyotes better biters
... To figure out what makes the animals so adaptable, ethologist Suzanne LaCroix (Zoology) and colleagues studied a group of coyotes being raised in captivity at a U.S. Department of Agriculture field station in Utah. ... More»
Kalamazoo oil spill assessed
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Steve Hamilton (Kellogg Biological Station and Zoology) talks about the Kalamazoo River oil spill in this video.
The State of Michigan provides more information about the spill.
The State News has an update on MSU involvement.
Most panda habitat is outside nature reserves, according to joint MSU-Chinese research
Although much effort has been expended to protect the endangered giant panda, research by an international team of scientists shows that much suitable panda habitat is outside the nature reserves and areas where the panda is reported to live.
"This research can help the Chinese government and international nongovernmental organizations develop comprehensive strategic plans for more effective conservation of the panda," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife). More»
Two ecologists win young scientist award
College of Natural Science
The Ecological Society of America has awarded recent MSU alumnus Meghan Duffy (Zoology) and former MSU postdoctoral student Spencer Hall (Kellogg Biological Station) the 2010 George Mercer Award for research done while at MSU. The Mercer Award is given for an outstanding recently-published ecological research paper by a young scientist. More»
Carbon2Markets program honored for five years of outstanding research
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
A carbon accounting system aimed at helping some of the world's poorest people grow trees that will boost their standards of living and slow climate change has been deemed outstanding for the last five years by one of its international funders.
"We are very pleased to have been recognized by the Asia Pacific Network, which is a joint program of the Japan Ministry of Environment and the National Science Foundation," said David Skole (Forestry), leader of the Carbon2Markets project. More»
Green roofs return nature to urban landscapes
Forbes, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal
... Brad Rowe(Horticulture) says benefits from green roofs are too numerous to ignore. "One of the benefits is the roof is protected from extreme temperature fluctuations, so it lasts longer," he says. .. More»
Research sheds light on sea lamprey stress hormones
MSU researchers have identified a stress hormone in the sea lamprey, using the 500-million-year-old species as a model to understand the evolution of the endocrine system. Weiming Li (Fisheries and Wildlife) helped lead the project, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Interlochen Public Radio had the story.
Waste-to-energy research and teaching facility opens
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
MSU’s new Anaerobic Digester Research and Education Center will advance the technology of farm and food waste conversion to energy through cutting-edge research and will play a key role in expanding Michigan’s bioeconomy.More»
Spartan Sagas: “A global perspective through garbage” and “Better world: Begin with better drains.”
MSU is collecting the stories of Spartans: alumni, students, faculty, and staff. Two of the inaugural sagas are environment-themed. Student Gabrielle Kleber (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Environmental Studies) describes traveling the world to trace the path of garbage. Alum William Wenk discusses his work on stormwater runoff. More»
Steve Harsh forecasts future of wind energy industry
President Obama wants 20 percent of U.S. electricity to come from wind sources by 2030. “And if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in the Great Lakes region,” says Steve Harsh (Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics)...But “the key bottleneck is the infrastructure, particularly the grid.” More»
Researcher targets gene regulators on link between arsenic, cancer
To determine how arsenic increases the risk of lung cancer and to identify potential treatments, Chengfeng Yang (Physiology) will use $1.7 million in federal funding during the next five years to examine why certain genes disrupt cells, leading to the disease. "Arsenic is one of the most common environmental pollutants,” explains Yang. More»
Faculty conversations: Frank Telewski
Frank Telewski talks about his roles as professor in the Department of Plant Biology and curator of the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden. “When you’re curator of a garden, you have kids,” Telewski jokes. Each of the thousands of trees on campus is marked on a map and logged in a computer database, recording the year the tree was acquired, where it came from and the health of the tree when it was last checked. More»
First research trip across western Amazon yields surprising results
During his unprecedented expedition into the heart of the Amazon, Bob Walker (Geography) discovered surprising evidence that many of the Brazilian government′s efforts to protect the environment are working.
Walker offers a gallery of photos from his trip.
The New York Times had the story.
Dead zone in gulf linked to ethanol production
San Francisco Chronicle
... As to which is worse, the oil spill or the hypoxia, "it's a really tough call," says Nathaniel Ostrom (Zoology). "There's no real answer to that question." ... More»
Research makes lake and stream conservation more effective
MSU scientists have developed a pioneering approach that makes conserving and managing freshwater lakes, streams and wetlands more integrated and effective.
“We call our approach landscape limnology," said Patricia Soranno (Fisheries and Wildlife). "It's a new way to study freshwater that considers all freshwaters together – lakes, rivers and wetlands – as they interact with one another and with natural and human landscapes."
Research by Soranno and Fisheries and Wildlife faculty members Mary Bremigan and Kendra Spence Cheruvelil was published in the journal BioScience. More»
Gulf oil spill could widen, worsen ‘dead zone’
While an out-of-control gusher deep in the Gulf of Mexico fouls beaches and chokes marshland habitat, another threat could be growing below the oil-slicked surface. The nation’s worst oil spill could worsen and expand the oxygen-starved region of the Gulf labeled “the dead zone” for its inhospitability to marine life, suggests Nathaniel Ostrom (Zoology). Ostrom and students Ben Kamphius (Zoology) and Sam DeCamp (Food Science) are analyzing samples from the Gulf to understand likely consequences. More»
- Dave Long (Geological Sciences) received the 2010 International Association of GeoChemistry Distinguished Service Award.
- James Tiedje (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Crop and Soil Sciences) received the Einstein Professorship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The award is intended to build relationships between Chinese Academy Institute scientists and leading scholars elsewhere and to honor international scientists.
- Julie Libarkin (Geological Sciences and Division of Science and Mathematics Education) received the Meritorius Faculty Award at the 2010 College of Natural Science Awards Convocation. Libarkin is director of MSU’s Geocognition Research Laboratory.
- Volodymyr Tarabara (Civil and Environmental Engineering) received the John K. Hudzik Emerging Leader in Advancing International Studies and Programs Award. Tarabara’s work aims to provide people around the globe with clean drinking water.
- Alvin Smucker (Crop and Soil Sciences) received a von Humboldt Research Award for his work on the biogeochemical mechanisms that control soil carbon sequestration.
- Rafael Auras (Packaging) received the 2009-2010 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Excellence in Teaching: New Teacher Award. Auras works on sustainable packaging.
Scholar heads into heart of the Amazon
Robert Walker (Geography) is helping lead the first research expedition along the western Transamazon Highway – a 700-mile stretch of dirt road in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.
The trip is part of Walker’s ongoing research, funded by the National Science Foundation, into the impact of deforestation on the Amazon. Walker will document logging activity as it impacts the forest and interview workers in the logging industry and longtime residents about the effects of development.
The Associated Press had the story. More»
Community-based research improves fish consumption safety
University Outreach and Engagement
Geoffrey Habron (Sociology and Fisheries and Wildlife) believes it is important not only to develop solutions to community problems and issues but also to involve community members throughout the research process. A recent project, “Improving Fish Advisories in Michigan's Upper Peninsula," integrated community-based research and outreach to improve the effectiveness of fish consumption advisories in four counties in the U.P. Habron’s collaborators on the project included Ronald Kinnunen (MSU Sea Grant) and John Hesse (Fisheries and Wildlife). More»
New issue of Futures highlights “research to energize Michigan’s economic development”
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES)
The current issue of the MAES magazine showcases MSU research on urban agriculture, biofuels and the role of turfgrass in community redevelopment. ESPP affiliate Stephen Gasteyer (Sociology) is collaborating with Thom Nikolai (Crop and Soil Sciences) and others on a project in Flint to investigate the interaction between the ecological environment and social change. The group hopes to use lawns to build community capacity and help contribute to Flint’s economic recovery. More»
Ramani Narayan contributes to Coca-Cola’s award-winning PlantBottle
College of Engineering
Ramani Narayan (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) collaborated on a project that recently received a Gold award in the annual DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation competition. The project, Coca-Cola’s new PlantBottle, uses a plastic comprised of up to 30 percent plant-based renewable material. More»
Fix proposed to keep insects away from solar panels
“Solar panels [create] ecological traps for many types of insect,” says Bruce Robertson (Kellogg Biological Station). Aquatic insects may deposit eggs on the panels thinking that they are water. Robertson and colleagues propose a solution in an article in Conservation Biology.
Discovery News had the story. More»
MSU faculty members help create Lansing’s first urban farm
Once covered with sticks and litter, a half-acre plot on Lansing’s east side will become the city’s first urban farm. The project is seen as a path to economic sustainability and improved health by two MSU faculty members involved, Laura DeLind (Anthropology and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities) and Linda Andersen (Teacher Education).
MLive and the City Pulse had the story. More»
Transforming landfills into landscapes
For many, landfills may conjure up a "can't live with it, can't live without it" attitude. But what if a completed landfill could be turned into a productive, sustainable thing of beauty? This may seem like a contradiction, but for Milind Khire (Civil and Environmental Engineering), turning this "contradiction" into a reality is a goal he's been achieving since 1991. More»
Powering cars with bugs: Scientist will use $1.7 million clean energy grant to harvest fuel from bacteria
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
R. Mark Worden (Chemical Engineering) is part of a team tapped to exploit a bacterium’s potential ability to produce an alternative fuel for automobiles. The group will receive $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. More»
Genetic discoveries could lead to healthier vegetable oil, improved biofuels
Genetic discoveries from a shrub called the burning bush, known for its brilliant red fall foliage, could fire new advances in biofuels and low-calorie food oils. Plant Biology researchers Timothy Durett, John Ohlrogge, Michael Pollard, and others published the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More»
MSU earns ‘Recycler of the Year’ award from Michigan Recycling Coalition
The MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center received the Recycler of the Year award from the Michigan Recycling Coalition, one of the state’s top nonprofit groups working to advance resource-conservation issues. More»
MSU earns $4 million USDA grant to improve upon the common bean
Common beans, which include black, navy, pinto, great northern, kidney and snap beans, are consumed by humans more than any other legume crop….Jim Kelly (Crop and Soil Sciences) is working on a four-year project to select for traits such as drought tolerance and disease resistance. More»
Ethical issues ignored in sustainability education, research
Just about everyone agrees that sustainability is a good thing. But why do we think that? Do we support sustainability for the right reasons? These are among the questions that Michael Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs, Philosophy) addresses in a paper published this month in the journal Bioscience.
U.S. News and World Report had the story.
How sustainable is our future in agriculture?
United Press International
Jeffrey Armstrong (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) provides his insights on how we can increase the sustainability of our agriculture community. More»
Quantifying tree bark fissures
David MacFarlane (Forestry) explains his research quantifying tree fissures - or bark. It is a new way for understanding forest ecosystems, he says, and could change the way scientists measure forest strength. More»
MSU's green roof guru
Mention green roofs around the MSU community and chances are Brad Rowe’s name will come up.
Since 2003, Rowe (Horticulture) and collaborators have been researching what plants work best on rooftops. His latest project at MSU looks at the viability of growing vegetable gardens on rooftops – a practice most effective in urban areas. More»
Grow Zones: Rehabbing the Red Cedar River
Ruth Kline-Robach (MSU Institute of Water Research) and Steve Frank (MSU Landscape Services) talk about vegetative buffer zones aimed at protecting the Red Cedar River from non-point source pollutants and heavy storm runoff. They discuss MSU's unique location on the river, what exactly grow zones are and why they are important. More»
Insect signals Rouge River is on mend
... The species identified is called Rhyacophila lobifera and is regularly seen in several states including Michigan. "It's usually an indicator of good clean water," says Rich Merritt Entomology). "But it's more accurate to say it's uncommon than rare." More»
MSU water expertise – a Web feature
Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
MSU has extensive expertise in water. This Web page details work by researchers, including a host of ESPP affiliates. It also highlights MSU’s involvement with the 2010 Singapore International Water Week. More»
Charles Anderson: A progressive approach to K-12 science curriculum
Interview with Charles “Andy” Anderson (Teacher Education): Anderson focuses on classroom teaching and learning of science. He works to help students understand science in the context of their own lives. The three key areas that Anderson focuses on are carbon, water and biodiversity. More»
MSU's Land Policy Institute hosts renewable energy event: Michigan residents want renewable energy
... The message at the Land Policy Institute event was one of hope and promise — the hope that Michigan can gets its ducks in a row and the promise that Michigan can be a prime mover in the coming era of renewable energy. More»
Do protected areas increase development of adjacent lands?
The creation of protected areas has served as a cornerstone strategy of the conservation movement. However, a new study in the journal Conservation Letters finds evidence that in certain situations protected areas can have the perverse effect of increasing the likelihood of development on adjacent lands. Daniel Kramer (Fisheries and Wildlife, James Madison) co-authored the study. More»
Tom Dietz studies science of climate change for Congress
Interview with Tom Dietz (Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy): In 2008, Congress asked Tom Dietz and his colleagues to study climate change and submit a report. Over two years later, the report has been released. The bottom line of the report: The planet is warming, and the warming is mostly caused by human activity. More»
Greening of the Great Lakes host Kirk Heinze talks with Spartan Podcast
The radio program is a collaborative effort between MSU and WJR... The show explores a broad range of issues related to sustainability. Topics range from the construction of “green” buildings to the development of energy-efficient automobiles to the creation of the biofuels that will help power automobiles and buildings of the future. ... More»
MSU solar panel research - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
National Science Foundation
Americans need to move away from fossil fuels, but “each of the options, with the exception of solar, have scalability issues,” says James McCusker (Chemistry). McCusker is leading a team of chemists, mathematicians, and engineers who are trying to develop a cheaper, more efficient alternative to the silicon currently used in solar cells. More»
America’s Climate Choices study released; MSU scientist leads “Advancing the Science” panel
A National Research Council study has concluded what many have assumed: Climate change is very real, is caused by human activities, and action must be taken soon to reduce this global threat.
Tom Dietz (Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy) served as vice chairperson of a panel whose mission was to take a hard look at the science of climate change – past, present and future – and help develop a national strategy to deal with the issue.
Reports and video of the public briefing are available here. More»
State climatologist Jeff Andresen on climate change
Jeff Andresen (Geography), state of Michigan climatologist, talks with Kirk Heinze about the latest data related to climate change and what it means for all of us. ... More»
Sustainability specialization for undergraduates begins in 2010
The new specialization helps students “gain holistic and integrated competencies around four broad core content areas: aesthetic appreciation, ecological integrity, social equity, and economic vitality through the domains of civic engagement, systems thinking, critical thinking, and personal development.”
The program is the first in the country that will use what’s known as a “competency-based curriculum,” which will demand more from its students than just the taking and passing of classes. This educational approach reflects the growing scholarship on teaching and learning as well as the call for more accountability in higher education, said program director Geoffrey Habron (Sociology and Fisheries and Wildlife). More»
Pasturing pigs: MSU organic farm benefits swine, students, researchers
Lansing State Journal
Eleven pigs have recently become residents of MSU’s Student Organic Farm. The Duroc-Yorkshire crossbreeds were born in the confinement of the university's Swine Teaching and Research Center. They'll spend the next few months in the open air as part of a multifaceted practical experiment in how swine can be integrated into small farming operations. ... "For us, it's really exciting for us to have a protein here that students can fold in," said Laurie Thorp (Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment), part of the steering team for the organic farm. More»
MSU becomes University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) affiliate
UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation to provide collaborative tools for the atmospheric & Earth system science community. UCAR includes 75 universities in North America. At the annual UCAR conference in October, MSU will formally be inducted as the 76th. "We thought it was time to get in," said Sharon Zhong (Geography), who is a member of the department's climate group. "It is amazing to see how many people at MSU are doing atmospheric research." Other geography faculty heavily involved with the application process include Jeff Andresen, Julie Winkler, Lifeng Luo, and Nathan Moore.
UCAR members help shape the course of climate and atmospheric research and have access to scholarships, fellowships, a postdoctoral program and observational facilities. The University of Indiana is the last Big Ten school unaffiliated with UCAR.
Building a better student discussion
American Society of Agronomy
Graduate student courses frequently incorporate student-led discussion sessions in order to encourage active participation over passive learning. Despite the popularity of discussion sessions, they often fall flat. Patricia Soranno (Fisheries and Wildlife) described a new approach to discussions in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education. More»
Diagnosing the enemy (in forum on “Invasion of the superweeds”)
New York Times
Scott Swinton (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics) was one of six experts invited to contribute to a debate on glyphosphate-tolerant weeds. He wrote:
Roundup Ready™ crops let corn and soybean farmers rely on a single weapon. A single weapon is predictable, and any warrior who is predictable is open to attack by opponents that can adjust. Roundup resistant weeds have done just that. To overcome these new “super weeds,” farmers need to take a leaf from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”…. More»
Food vs. fuel: Scientists say growing grain for food is more energy-efficient
Michigan Agriculture Experiment Station
Using productive farmland to grow crops for food instead of fuel is more energy-efficient, MAES scientists concluded after analyzing 17 years' worth of data to help settle the food versus fuel debate. "It's 36 percent more efficient to grow grain for food than for fuel," said lead author Ilya Gelfand (Kellogg Biological Station). "The ideal is to grow corn for food, then leave half the leftover stalks and leaves on the field for soil conservation and produce cellulosic ethanol with the other half." Gelfand’s co-authors in the Environmental Science & Technology paper were Phil Robertson and Sieglinde Snapp (Crop and Soil Sciences). More»
Project GREEEN announces $2 million in new grants
Michigan Agriculture Experiment Station
MSU researchers have been awarded more than $2 million for research and outreach projects to continue growing Michigan's $71.3 billion agri-food and agri-energy industries. Numerous ESPP affiliates’ projects were funded, including the work of Matt Grieshop (Entomology) on sustainable insect management, Zach Huang (Entomology) on honeybee health, Deborah McCullough (Forestry) on the emerald ash borer, Dawn Reinhold (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) on treatment of food processor wastewater, Brad Rowe (Crop and Soil Sciences) on carbon sequestration in landscapes, and Steve Safferman (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) on land applications of food processor wastewater. More»
Animal Agriculture Initiative awards research dollars for 2010-11
Michigan Agriculture Experiment Station
Six MSU animal agriculture research and extension projects will share $350,000 in funding awarded by the Animal Agriculture Initiative (AAI) Coalition for 2010-11. ESPP affiliate Wendy Powers (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Animal Science) received funding for a project on “Educating the General Public on Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture.” More»
MSU’s green commencement, from graduates to gowns - MSU special report
As MSU graduates walked across the stage May 7 through May 9, their experience was green, from recycled-paper diplomas to energy-efficient commencement facilities. More»
Leaders chosen for MSU Extension institutes
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
New institutes have emerged from MSU Extension’s statewide restructuring. Wendy Powers (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) will direct the “Institute for Enhancing Michigan's First Green Industry: Agriculture and Agribusiness.” She will direct education efforts across all agriculture and agribusiness issues. Rick Foster (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) will direct the “Institute for Greening Michigan: Leveraging Natural and Human Assets for Prosperity.” He will direct education efforts in community and economic development, natural resources and stewardship, food systems and resource allocation as it applies to finances, housing and energy.
Climate change speakers discuss agriculture, adaptation, business
Greening of the Great Lakes/ WJR
In an interview with Kirk Heinze, NASA scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig discusses projecting and preventing climate change. Heinze also interviewed Bjorn Stigson, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Both were at MSU as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series on Bioeconomy and Global Climate Change.
Rethinking the curriculum: Improving science education through environmental literacy
College of Education
Students may have a better chance to save the planet in the future if they are taught less in science class today. That’s because many science educators believe the curriculum in the United States attempts to cover too many topics without tying them together.
“Students are not getting the big ideas they need to be scientifically literate citizens,” said Amelia Wenk Gotwals (Teacher Education). She and other faculty members at MSU are working to improve science education, led by Charles “Andy” W. Anderson (Teacher Education). More»
Biosystems engineering students win national recognition in EPA P3 competition
A team of MSU senior biosystems engineering students won honorable mention in a nationwide competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote sustainable solutions to pressing needs. The annual competition is called “People, Prosperity, and the Planet.”
The students designed and evaluated an anaerobic digester system coupled to a wetland area to cost-effectively treat dairy waste and stormwater at the Kellogg Biological Station, and generate biogas for energy.
Students working on the project were Shannon Henderson, Louis Faivor, Patrick Triscari and Joseph Ahlquist, advised by ESPP affiliate Dawn Reinhold (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering). More»
Students gain research experience through plant genomics program
MSU will use a National Science Foundation “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (REU) grant to fund a 10-week summer research program designed to provide intensive experience for students in areas such as biochemistry, genetics and cutting-edge biological science methods. Robert Last (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) is the project’s principal investigator. More»
Study shows poor quality of our air
The American Lung Association gave out some grades and Ingham County got a C for air quality. Jack Harkema (Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation) studies air quality and pollution. He says the C grade refers to the number of days excessive levels of ozone are found in the atmosphere. .. More»
Get to know geocognition research
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
Dr. Julie Libarkin (Geological Sciences; Division of Science and Mathematics Education) explains the emerging field, how MSU facilitates research and what exciting new research is happening on campus. More»
Michigan State hopes to have car sharing program on campus
Lansing State Journal
Car sharing services allow people to rent a car by the hour or by the day and MSU hopes to have a car sharing program on campus by fall. ... More»
State biofuel subsidies costly but effective, MSU research shows
States aiming to lead the emerging biofuel industry might need to ante up substantial subsidies and tax incentives to ethanol producers just to get in the game, says Mark Skidmore (Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics). “State subsidies have played an important role in ethanol plant location decisions," Skidmore explains. "It's up to a state's political leaders to decide if … the benefits of ethanol production are worth the cost." More»
Faculty conversations: Don Morelli
For every gallon of gas burned, about two-thirds of it is wasted in the process. Don Morelli (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) is working to change that with thermoelectrics – the process of capturing waste heat and converting it into electricity to make a car run more efficiently. More»
Students' dresses to be auctioned off to support global sustainability
After weeks of sewing, research and classroom discussion, 16 eco-friendly fashion designers from Michigan State University will join "Avatar" producer and director James Cameron and wife Suzy Amis Cameron in Nashville for "Southern Shores," a fundraising fashion show and auction. More»
MSU: Bleeding and growing green
... Plants were key to MSU’s founding as a land grant college 155 years ago, and they are integral to it today as it contributes to a new economy based on renewable resources. ... More»
Michigan farmers, flower festivals adapt to a warm spring
Detroit Free Press
... Over the past 30 years, night temperatures in Michigan during winter and spring have risen 3-5 degrees statewide, says Jeff Andresen (Geography), the state climatologist. ... More»
McDonald's board opposes cage-free eggs for U.S.
New York Times
... Last year McDonald’s joined the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, which is organizing a commercial-scale study led by Michigan State University and the University of California, Davis, to examine different housing options for egg-laying hens. ... More»
With honey bee populations falling, agriculture industry should take note
Michigan's fruit and vegetable industry produces more than $2 billion a year, according to Zachary Huang (Entomology). And nearly 50 percent of that number is due to honey bee pollination — meaning honey bees are worth almost $1 billion per year in Michigan. ... More»
Knight Center for Environmental Journalism projects win kudos
Knight Center for Environmental Journalism
Two entries from students at the Knight Center were named national finalists in the Society of Professional Journalists' 2009 awards competition. Honored were Sarah Coefield, Elisabeth Pernicone, Yang Zhang and Rachael Gleason for "Cleaning Coal," an in-depth project which was published in Great Lakes Echo, an online environmental news service produced by the Knight Center in the MSU School of Journalism. Dave Poulson, associate director of the Knight Center, oversees the production of Great Lakes Echo. Also honored was the environmental documentary "The Night Shift," about research on owls. The Night Shift was produced by students Sarah Coefield, Mary Hansen and Marla Kalmbach under the direction of faculty member Lou D'Aria. It was recently nominated for a Michigan Emmy. More»
A renewable debate
... Fred Poston (MSU Finance and Operations) says clean-energy technology is not advanced or efficient enough to justify making a multimillion-dollar switch from coal, arguing it is too risky for the university. ... Robert Richardson (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies), said MSU needs to evaluate the opportunity cost of not switching to renewable energy. More»
Lansing City Pulse
Critics of author Michael Pollan gear up for a debate when he brings his gospel on healthful eating to MSU next week.... Laurie Thorp, coordinator for the MSU Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment and an adviser to the Student Organic Farm, uses the dichotomy of a large conventional agriculture university housing several sustainable agriculture initiatives as a way to inform students on both practices and allow them to decide for themselves which is best. More»
Building a sustainable future: MSU leads global effort to study link between people, planet
Hundreds of scientists from around the world are involved in a new initiative at MSU called the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems, or CHANS-Net. CHANS-Net aims to improve cutting-edge research on the increasingly fragile relationship between humans and the environment. The National Science Foundation is supporting the project with a $1.5 million, five-year grant. Jianguo ("Jack") Liu and William McConnell at MSU are shepherding the effort. More»
MSU includes LEED certification as part of an environmental initiative
Construction & Demolition Recycling
MSU...is attempting to add "environmental school" to its reputation with the addition of its new MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center, which pursues numerous recycling-related efforts, including running a materials recovery facility. More»
Increasing computational power makes possible simulations of geology's nitty-gritty chemistry
Chemical and Engineering News
You might say that geochemistry can make a mountain out of a molecular molehill. The atomic-level descriptions of the chemical behavior of mineral surfaces and their interactions with aqueous solutions ultimately explain some of the planet’s largest-scale phenomena….Last month’s American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco saw the deployment of computational geochemistry forces that have been advancing for several years, with a symposium cosponsored by the Divisions of Geochemistry and Computers in Chemistry. The symposium’s co-organizer was Andrey Kalinichev (Chemistry and Geological Sciences). More»
When two hyenas get the giggles
Science News, Daily Californian
... "Their vocalizations have received surprisingly little attention to date in the literature," says another hyena researcher, Kay Holekamp (Zoology), yet their vocal repertoire is very complex, she says... More»
Deb McCullough has hopeful news on the emerald ash borer front
... “We decided if we could integrate these tools that we have available and slow down the rate at which the ash borer populations build, we should be able to slow down the rate at which ash trees die and slow down this rolling tidal wave of dying ash trees,” says Deborah McCullough (Entomology). More»
Center for Water Sciences publishes "Splash," launches blog
Center for Water Sciences
The latest issue of "Splash," the CWS newsletter, is packed with articles by and about ESPP affiliates, including:
- Dawn Reinhold (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering) on her experience as a CWS Water Fellow
- Stephen Gasteyer (Sociology) on the connections between sociology and water sciences
- Mark Axelrod (Fisheries and Wildlife, James Madison) and Brian Roth (Fisheries and Wildlife) on their work in India
- Erin Dreelin (CWS associate director) and research assistant Rachel McNinch on a five-year plan for the center.
CWS has also launched a blog. Early posts from Joan Rose (Fisheries & Wildlife, Crop & Soil Sciences and Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering) discuss water sustainability and control of infectious diseasesMore»
Liu becomes regular in Science
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
Jianguo (Jack) Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife) became one of a handful of scientists who have published two papers in the prestigious journal Science in three weeks. Both papers focus on sustainability in China.
The Associated Press had the story. More»
New bioeconomy umbrella organization created
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
MSU's expanding bioeconomy activities have prompted development of a new umbrella organization: the MSU BioEconomy Network, which takes over and replaces the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies. More»
Richard Schmalensee: U.S. renewable energy policy "erratic and unfocused"
Greening of the Great Lakes
Host Kirk Heinze discusses domestic energy policy with MIT economist Richard Schmalensee in this audio interview. Schmalensee was in town as part of MSU's Distinguished Lecture Series on Bioeconomy and Global Climate Change, organized by ESPP and sponsored by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. More»
Spotlight video: Jim Detjen, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism
Communication Arts and Sciences Spotlight
Jim Detjen discusses current projects at the Knight Center, including EJ Magazine, Great Lakes Echo, and workshops for Detroit high school students. More»
Dogged researcher reports her first giant panda capture and release
After nearly three years of toil in a remote, rugged corner of China, Vanessa Hull (Fisheries and Wildlife) has succeeded in capturing a rare giant panda.
Hull and her Chinese colleagues affixed a global positioning satellite-tracking collar to the adult female panda and promptly released her, with plans to monitor her movements through the mountainous Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, China. More»
Dormant microbes promote diversity, serve environment
The ability of microbes, tiny organisms that do big jobs in our environment, to go dormant not only can save them from death and possible extinction but may also play a key role in promoting biodiversity and ecosystem stability. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, Jay Lennon (Kellogg Biological Station, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) and Stuart Jones (KBS) described how they used a mathematical model and molecular tools to study how dormancy affects the biodiversity of natural microbial communities, especially in lakes. More»
Local fruits, vegetables in school meals have multiple benefits
School districts that buy produce grown by local farmers can cut costs and provide students with nutritious food they want to eat, researchers found in the first-ever study of its kind.
"School food service professionals said they were paying lower prices for fruits and vegetables because the supply chain is shorter," said Mike Hamm (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; Crop and Soil Sciences; and Food Science and Human Nutrition). More»
Researchers to use NSF grant to develop better scientists
MSU graduate students will hone their skills as science communicators and teachers by working with K-12 students and teacher, thanks to a $2.65 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. Project leaders include ESPP affiliates Kay Gross (Plant Biology and Kellogg Biological Station), Jennifer Lau (KBS and Plant Biology) and Phil Robertson (Crop and Soil Sciences and KBS). More»
Researchers: China should take more effective approach to improve environment
The Chinese government has undertaken several restoration programs since the late 1990s, intended to protect the environment, reduce rural poverty and promote agricultural restructuring. Runsheng Yin (Forestry), David Rothstein (Forestry) and Jiaguo Qi (Geography) have investigated the impact of such programs in western China on land change and human livelihood. Their work is supported by the National Science Foundation. More»
Biological control may curb garlic mustard’s regional spread
Great Lakes Echo
ESPP affiliates Doug Landis (Entomology) and Doug Schemske (Plant Biology) spoke with Great Lakes Echo for this video report. More»
Consortium uses USAID grant to improve central Asian crops
A consortium led by MSU will continue addressing the need for better pest-management controls in Central Asia, a region suffering from an overuse of pesticides and limited crop diversity.
The U.S.-led team – which includes ESPP affiliates George Bird and Doug Landis (Entomology) – will use a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The Associated Press had the story. More»
Natural resources inspire art exhibition
Kresge Art Museum at MSU, in collaboration with the Department of Forestry, presents "Wood into Art," examining the ways in which artists have employed the versatile material from medieval to contemporary times. The show will be on display in Kresge Art Museum's Perspectives Gallery, March 12 through April 21. More»
Michigan's research universities start transportation consortium
Transportation research has always been a long-term interest of the University Research Corridor – an alliance of Michigan's top three research institutions – but now the URC will step up its involvement by building partnerships through a new transportation research consortium.
The goal is to find ways to transform the regional, state, national and, ultimately, global transportation industries. More»
Organic chickens: Free to roam
Great Lakes Echo
This video features footage from MSU’s Student Organic Farm, an interview with ESPP affiliate Laurie Thorp (Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment) and commentary from Braveheart, a rooster who is "living the dream." More»
Scientists develop more effective method of predicting lead-poisoning risk
As health departments across the United States seek a better way to determine which children should be tested for lead poisoning, a method created by MSU scientists has proven to be more accurate and cost-effective than current strategies.
The MSU risk assessment – based on a decade of research – is considerably better, according to an article in the journal Public Health Reports by Stan Kaplowitz and Harry Perlstadt, (Sociology), and Lori Post (Yale University). More»
Right now, corn is most profitable cellulosic biofuel crop in Michigan, research says
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
When farmers are deciding which crops to grow for cellulosic biofuels, return on investment is one critical variable. Corn stalks and leaves currently offer the most profit, according to new research by Scott Swinton (Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics), who teamed up with Kurt Thelen (Crop and Soil Sciences) and Laura James (Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics) to analyze the economics of growing various crops for cellulosic ethanol. More»
Walker travels to China to help steer new college of Global Change
Department of Geography
Robert Walker (Geography) traveled to Beijing in late January as a member of the Scientific Steering committee for a new college at Beijing Normal University. The college, the first of its kind in China, seeks to build a world class research center in the fields of global change studies and earth system science. More»
MAES researchers discuss society, ecosystems and energy at AAAS symposium
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station
Science and society need to come together if we are to effectively address the pressing environmental challenges we now face, Phil Robertson (Crop and Soil Sciences and Kellogg Biological Station) told a symposium audience at the 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.
Bruce Dale (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) told symposium attendees that if the world is to make better decisions about developing new energy sources, it needs better ways to measure progress toward energy goals. More»
Africa: Finding the food crops of the future
IRIN News (United Nations)
Many research institutions have been working on models to predict the impact of climate change on food production in Africa. The research could help produce climate-resilient varieties of food crops, says Jennifer Olson (Telecommunications, Information Studies and the Media). More»
Philippines journal, part 1
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
Laura Schmitt Olabisi (ESPP and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) is traveling in the Philippines, where she has worked in the past and plans to work in the future. This is the first of her field reports. More»
Intellectual integrity requires open dialogue
This blog post is from Dean Jeffrey Armstrong (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), in response to questions regarding the CANR decision to be included as a sponsor of a Wharton Center program featuring Michael Pollan. More»
Chuck Nelson on restoring our wetlands
Of the state's original 11 million acres of wetlands, about 5.5 million remain. Chuck Nelson (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) sat down with Kirk Heinze to discuss wetland restoration... More»
Staff profile: Jennifer Battle, Office of Campus Sustainability
Jennifer Battle, assistant director for the Office of Campus Sustainability, discusses how she's working to make MSU a model for sustainability. More»
Environmental Faculty Fellows chosen
MSU’s Environmental Faculty Fellows Program has its inaugural class. The program, supported by the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and organized by ESPP, brings six relatively new MSU faculty members together to work on a theme: this year, it is climate change and coupled human and natural systems. Fellows will discuss research and scholarly approaches to confronting the theme and work to prepare products, in partnership with each other and collaborators at other institutions. A Symposium next Spring will present the work. The new Fellows are: Ravi Bhavnani, Kendra Cheruvelil, Arika Ligmann-Zielinska, Sandy Marquart-Pyatt, Louie Rivers, and Laura Schmitt Olabisi. Brief descriptions of their scholarly interests are available on the ESPP biosketch page.
MSU leads U.S.-funded study of children's health
Researchers are recruiting pregnant Wayne County women for part of a $75 million federal study of the causes of autism, cerebral palsy, asthma and other diseases. The study looks at how genetics and environment affect children’s health. It will track 100,000 children from womb to adulthood. Nigel Paneth (Epidemiology) heads the project and says the National Children's study is starting in 30 counties nationwide after years of preparation...
For related stories, see Michigan Radio and State News. More»
Fisheries and Wildlife students publish Spotlight
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
The latest issue of Spotlight features MSU’s work on sustainable development in Nicaragua, pollution in Saginaw Bay, outdoor youth education and other subjects. The biannual magazine is designed, written and edited by graduate students in fisheries and wildlife. More»
Feds pass on surest solution to halt Great Lakes invasion
Lansing State Journal
... Scientists differ on whether the Asian carp would thrive in the Great Lakes, which are colder, deeper and ecologically different than rivers, and it is unclear just what effect they would have if they did. "We don't know, and anyone who tells you that they do know is not telling you the truth," says Brian Roth, professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University... More»
Dispatches from the bottom of the world:Journey to Antarctica
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
Daniel Hayes and Mary Bremigan from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife recently led a study abroad trip to Antarctica. Hayes, an ESPP affiliate, contributed these reports from the field. More»
Proposed Micronesia-wide conservation park a world first
... If successful, Micronesia will be the first nation to become a wholly protected area, adhering to development and conservation standards designed to safeguard the country's unique culture and rich marine biodiversity and kick-start its placid economy... MSU has already agreed to provide technical expertise for the park, and the National Geographic Society has also issued the project its stamp of approval...
The State News also had the story. And to watch a video about the world park proposal, check out MSU's agriculture and natural resources blog. More»
Student Designs Sustainable Dress for Oscars
The dress design of Jillian Granz (Apparel and Textile Design) will soon come to life on the red carpet at the 2010 Academy Awards when the wife of movie producer and director James Cameron wears Granz’s creation.
Suzy Amis Cameron chose Granz as the winner of her first annual “Red Carpet, Green Dress” contest. A worldwide dress and gown design competition, the event promoted sustainable design. More»
MSU researcher awarded $2 million to tackle parasitic tropical diseases
In an effort to eliminate the tropical diseases elephantiasis and river blindness, Charles Mackenzie (Veterinary Pathology) has been awarded $2 million to reformulate an existing drug. MacKenzie was awarded the funding via a larger $13 million grant the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More»
ESPP affiliates call for global action on fisheries
Greenboard (ESPP Blog)
There was good news and bad at a recent brownbag discussion hosted by the Canadian Studies Center. First the bad news: “Fisheries themselves are in a state of disarray,” said William Taylor, University Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries Sustainability. More»
MSU studies use of wireless sensors to monitor chicken well-being
A team of MSU researchers will explore the use of new wireless technology to determine its effectiveness in monitoring the welfare of egg-laying chickens.
Using a grant of $375,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the researchers will test wearable sensors that will monitor how hens use space and resources in non-cage environments. More»
In pictures: Family matters to hyenas
Family is no laughing matter for spotted hyenas, say scientists. Researchers from Michigan State University have found hyenas will step in to support their relatives during fights. More»
Scientists to study cold air inversions
United Press International
At times this winter the greater Salt Lake City area has harbored the most polluted air in the United States from winter weather temperature inversions. A three-year study, involving the University of Utah; the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.; and Michigan State University is designed to better understand the conditions that contribute to the development, maintenance and breakup of such weather conditions...
The Associated Press also had the story. More»
Stimulus funds drive environmental research
ESPP affiliates and other environmental researchers at MSU are claiming federal stimulus dollars to conduct a variety of projects on topics including wind energy, wildlife habitat and invasive species. Among the recipients:
- Deborah McCullough and Amos Zeigler (Entomology) landed $346,766 for work on treatment strategies targeted at slowing the expansion of ash tree mortality at three locations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emerald ash borer has been detected.
- Sandra Haslam (Physiology) will use $469,999 to study the effects of environmental agents and other factors in breast cancer susceptibility.
- Stephen Harsh (Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics) received $83,806 to create a wind power map for Michigan, allowing the state to identify and promote those areas best suited for wind power development.
- Ramani Narayan (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) will use $46,865 to improve properties of polylactic acid (PLA) resins with the goal of broadening their commercial potential. He will assess the reduction in carbon footprint achieved by replacing petroleum plastics with chemically modified PLA blends.
- Jianguo Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife) brought in $71,148 to analyze dynamics between humans, Bengal tiger and one-horned rhinos.
- Scott Calabrese Barton (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) received $85,025 to build more efficient and cleaner power generation systems (e.g., vehicle fuel cells).
MSU Operations Continue to Green
The MSU Recycling Drop-off Center is now open 24/7, and accepting new items, including plastics #1-7. The center is on Green Way, near the intersection of Service Road and Farm Lane. Faculty, staff and students are welcome to bring recyclables to the center. Also, MSU Today highlights MSU’s “Dim Down,” an effort in support of the World Wildlife Fund’s annual Earth Hour. Members of the university community turned off electronic equipment for an hour. And, Greening of the Great Lakes features Vennie Gore (MSU residential and hospitality services) describing how MSU has ramped up its efforts to purchase locally-grown products for its huge food services operation
Faculty win accolades
Laurie Thorp, director of MSU’s Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment, or RISE, has won a prestigious award for her contributions to service-learning and community service. Thorp was honored with the Michigan Campus Compact’s Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award. In this year's All-University Awards Convocation, Doug Schemske (Plant Biology, Kellogg Biological Station) won the distinguished faculty award and Maria Lapinski (Communication) the teacher-scholar award. And, Julie Winkler (Geography) is the recipient of the 2010 American Meteorological Society Charles Franklin Brooks Award for Outstanding Services to the Society. Winkler was cited for "extraordinary leadership of the Education and Human Resources Commission, outstanding service as editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, and distinguished mentoring."
More Great Lakes invaders predicted
Capital News Service (MSU)
... "I don't think anyone could tell you which species are going to be in the Great Lakes next," says Brian Roth, fisheries and wildlife assistant professor at Michigan State University. ... More»
Fermenting fodder into fuel
Identifying renewable fuel materials and developing processes that produce environmentally friendly, cost-competitive biofuels are becoming increasingly important.
Bruce Dale (Chemical Engineering and Material Sciences) is studying ways to use agricultural waste – the plant debris left after crops are harvested – as raw material for biofuels. More»
Michigan's high-speed train plan: On track or derailed?
... Eva Kassens, assistant professor at Michigan State University, says the benefits of high speed rail go beyond getting quickly from here to there. "Our world is faced with a challenge of climate change...and faced with a challenge that transportation is one of the highest contributors of greenhouse gases which cause climate change," says Kassens, "We need to think about different ways of traveling." ... More»
Biofuel crop diversity adds value, Michigan State researchers say
Diverse biofuel plantings such as native prairie attract more beneficial insects than do single crops such as corn, MSU scientists find. Therefore, biofuel policies should take such added value into account, they urge. “We found that the diversity of the plants has a direct effect on the number and diversity of beneficial insects," said Doug Landis (Entomology), co-author of the study in BioEnergy Research.
"While there were similar numbers of bee species in each crop, the abundance of bees was three to four times higher in switchgrass and native prairie than in corn," said Rufus Isaacs (Entomology), study co-author. More»
MSU faculty, students at 'green economy' policy conference
MSU’s deep involvement in environmental sustainability science and policy again was demonstrated in late January at a high-profile Washington, D.C., conference.
John Stone (MSU Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards) anchored a session devoted to sustainability policy and dominated by MSU experts. The session, “Public and Private Sustainability Policy: Is a Green Economy Sustainable and How Would One Know?,” featured MSU panelists Sandra Batie (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics), Paul Thompson (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; Philosophy; and Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics), Chris Peterson (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics), and Richard Bawden (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies). More»
Mike Hamm: Great Potential for Urban Agriculture in Detroit
Greening of the Great Lakes
Mike Hamm and Kathryn Colasanti (Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies) have been working on a way to use empty land in Detroit to develop an urban agriculture system. Their analysis identifies nine square miles of empty available land within the city limits. More»
Go easy on the environment – and our wallets, says Gen Y
When it comes to saving the environment, Generation Y is all for it – as long as it comes with an economic benefit, according to new research by MSU in collaboration with Deloitte LLP. Researchers found that young consumers will not pay a premium price for an automobile simply because it is environmentally friendly. Instead, the determining factor – by far – is fuel efficiency. Clay Voorhees (Marketing) said the findings indicate an eco-savvy generation that has grown up and is coming to grips with the economic reality of paying bills. More»
The University Research Corridor addresses environmental health
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
Michigan’s University Research Corridor launched three years ago. It seeks to bring researchers at the state’s major universities together around topics of shared interest. On January 20th the topic was environmental health, and researchers gathered at Wayne State to hear Linda Birnbaum, head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. But more importantly, URC affiliates heard from eachother. Norbert Kaminski (MSU), Howard Hu (U Michigan) and Melissa Runge-Morris (Wayne State) provided overviews of research at their universities. More»
Column: Michigan not immune to earthquakes
... "It’s being argued how dangerous the (Reelfoot Rift) is," says Kazuya Fujita, geology professor at Michigan State University who has studied Michigan earthquakes, "but we know it’s there. We know there's a historic record of earthquakes that happen every 200 to 800 years."
For a related story, see Lansing State Journal. More»
MSU researchers study climate change, food production in East Africa
For the first time, crop breeders and agricultural specialists in East Africa will have regionally specific climate data to research and manage crops in an effort to improve food production, say MSU researchers.
Using a $430,000 Rockefeller Foundation grant, researchers will study the impact of climate change on the drought-stricken area, including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, said lead researcher Jennifer Olson (Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media).
“Most of our research has focused on the causes and consequences of climate change,” said Nathan Moore (Geography), co-investigator on the project. “This grant will apply those results in a new way by asking African specialists what their information needs are, and how they want us to help.”
The Associated Press had the story. More»
MSU, African educators expand agricultural education
MSU researchers will use a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help African educators develop free and open access to agriculture education materials, which they hope could improve agricultural practices and build a sustainable economy.
“The project comes at an important time for African institutions, which are looking for effective ways to address the development of their educational agriculture programming with limited financial resources,” said Christine Geith (MSUglobal Learning Ventures). More»
Study says Michigan climate plan would boost economy
Michigan could gain a significant economic boost and thousands of new jobs by reducing emissions of gases that cause climate change, according to an analysis released (recently).
The report by the Center for Climate Strategies said a plan devised last year for battling global warming in Michigan would help limit the state's heat-trapping gas emissions over the next 15 years.
Steve Miller (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics) conducted the study, which is available in summary here. More»