Sara Tanis

Sara Tanis came to Michigan State to protect what she loves.

“The main reason I came back to school is because I love working in my yard,” she said. “I love trees.”

Tanis has been working particularly hard to save trees from the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has killed countless ash trees in Michigan alone. Her master’s thesis observed how insecticides marked with carbon-14 move through ash trees, to determine where best to make anti-ash borer injections. She also focuses on “trying to learn how to live with it and educate people not to move firewood,” to stop the expansion of the pest’s range.

Tanis said she’s excited about the ESPP specialization in part because of its policy dimension.

“It’ll be really interesting for me, because the emerald ash borer is more than just an environmental problem. It’s a policy problem. It’s a political problem.”

The Ludington, Michigan native earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Western Michigan University and her master’s in horticulture from MSU, where she’s now working toward a Ph.D. in forestry.

Tanis is “married with dogs,” and enjoys gardening, fishing, hiking and spending time with family.