MSU environmental activities and accomplishments, from sources on and off-campus. For additional information on MSU environmental work, see these sources.


Douglas Buhler recommended for CANR interim dean
MSU Today

Douglas Buhler, senior associate dean for research in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be recommended to the MSU Board of Trustees as interim dean designate of CANR from Dec. 10-31, and then interim dean, effective Jan. 1, 2016. Buhler also serves as assistant vice president for Research and Graduate Studies and director of MSU AgBioResearch, positions he will retain during his service as interim dean. Buhler will succeed Fred Poston, who also has served as MSU’s vice president for finance and operations and special adviser to the president, who is retiring on Dec. 31. “The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is making steady progress in its search for its next dean, with candidates expected on campus within the next few weeks,” said MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt. “I would like to thank Dr. Buhler for graciously agreeing to serve until the next dean is hired and to thank Dean Poston for his many years of dedicated service to CANR and the university.” Buhler came to MSU in 2000 and spent five years as professor and chairperson of the crop and soil sciences department, now called plant, soil and microbial sciences. He has served as CANR associate dean for research, as well as associate director of MSU AgBioResearch. Buhler served as CANR interim dean from 2011 to 2013. More»


four MSU scientists named AAAS Fellows
MSU Today

Phil Robertson, director of MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station Long-term Ecological Research Program. For distinguished contributions in ecosystem science and production agriculture with emphasis on nitrogen cycling, greenhouse gas production and environmental assessment of biofuel cropping systems. AAAS named 347 new fellows and will honor them More»


MSU holds forum on Flint water

It's well beyond just the talk of the town. It's the reason behind protests and the subject of mayoral debates, conversations in Lansing and now, hearings in Washington. But ask a college student 50 miles away about Flint's water emergency and a lot of them will say they haven't heard about it. That's a big reason why several departments at Michigan State came together to host a forum, Wednesday night, bringing in five panelists to discuss the city's drinking water issues. "It's important for students, it's important for people to understand the issues involving water," said Susan Masten, one of three MSU professors on the panel. Masten, a civil and environmental engineering professor, presented a timeline of the water emergency. She says Flint is the big topic of discussion in her classes. More»

MSU Professor named Geological Society of America Fellow

MSU Geological Sciences associate professor Julie Libarkin was recently elected a 2015 Fellow of the Geological Society of America. Libarkin heads the Geocognition Research Laboratory at MSU where she investigates how people perceive, understand and make decisions about the earth. She also holds appointments in the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science and the CREATE for STEM Institute at MSU, and is also affiliated with MSU’s Cognitive Science Program and Environmental Science and Policy Program. More»


Christina Azodi awarded prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Plant Biotechnology for Health and Sustainability

Christina Azodi Awarded Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Congratulations to Christina Azodi (Shiu Laboratory) for being awarded a three year NSF-GRF, which will start in 2016. The proposal, “Systems-level study of plant response to combined environmental stress”, focuses on using a combination of high throughput phenotyping and genotyping techniques to study plant-environment interactions. She will specifically focus on how plants respond to combinations of abiotic stresses such as heat and drought and how those responses are regulated. In addition to getting the chance to help tease apart the complexities of stress response, this fellowship will also allow Christina to dedicate time and effort toward mentoring undergraduate students in the lab and participating in outreach activities such as Girls Math and Science Day. More»


ESPP affiliated faculty on cyanobacteria in The Washington Post
The Washington Post

Dr. Elena Litchman, professor of aquatic ecology at MSU and an ESPP affiliated facultymember, discusses the behavior of cyanobacteria with The Washington Post. More»


Great Lakes' Viral Invaders

Viral invasions would make for a good plot in the next Spielberg blockbuster, but according to Michigan State University water researchers, it’s not a Hollywood fantasy. In fact, millions of tiny, dangerous microbes have been attacking native species in the Great Lakes for decades. These pathogens are hitching rides in ballast water – the water in the hulls of large ships that help stabilize them when on the move – which is then released into new environments when the ships dock at their destinations, according to Joan Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research at MSU. More»


Septic tanks aren't keeping poo out of rivers and lakes
MSU Today

The notion that septic tanks prevent fecal bacteria from seeping into rivers and lakes simply doesn’t hold water, says a new Michigan State University study. Water expert Joan Rose and her team of water detectives have discovered freshwater contamination stemming from septic systems. Appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is the largest watershed study of its kind to date, and provides a basis for evaluating water quality and health implications and the impact of septic systems on watersheds. More»


Researchers quantify nature's role in human well being
MSU Today

A team of researchers from Michigan State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are advancing new modeling technology to quantify human dependence on nature, human well-being and relationships between the two. The latest step is published in this week’s Ecosystem Health and Sustainability journal. The paper notes that people who depended on multiple types of ecosystem services – such as agricultural products, non-timber forest products, ecotourism – fared better than those who had all their earning eggs in one natural resource basket. “Quantifying the complex human-nature relationships will open the doors to respond to environmental changes and guide policies that support both people and the environment across human and natural systems,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and director of the MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. More»


New MSU Center tackles antibiotic resistance
MSU Today

The Center for Disease Control estimates that each year in the U.S. alone, 23,000 people die from resistant infections. Researchers at the Michigan State University Center for the Health Impacts of Agriculture are on a mission to find strategies to deal with the impending global threat of antibiotic resistance. “We are pleased to announce the first research project to be funded by the Center for the Health Impacts of Agriculture,” said Felicia Wu, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor and CHIA Co-director. “The study will target antibiotics used in animal agriculture to find out how they find their way into the environment and what the ultimate impact on humans, if any, might be.” Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria are able to acquire and develop resistance to the antibiotics that are used to fight them. The largest volume of antibiotic use today is in animal agriculture, and researchers plan to analyze soil and water samples from the environment to see if this use of antibiotics is having an effect. More»


Perennial biofuel crops' water consumption similar to corn

Dr. Stephen Hamilton’s team reports that the perennial system’s evapotranspiration did not differ greatly from corn – a finding that contrasts sharply with earlier studies that found particularly high perennial water use in areas with high water tables. Hamilton’s study, however, took place in Michigan’s temperate humid climate and on the kind of well-drained soil characteristic of marginal farming land. More»


Rose Water Fellowship awardee named
MSU Today

The Rose Water Fellowship has been awarded to ESPP student Kateri Salk, Michigan State University doctoral student for the 2015 spring semester. The award, endowed by Joan Rose, Homer Nowlin Chair in water research at MSU, is awarded to graduate level scientists seeking to advance the field of water science. Salk, who works under MSU professor Nathanial Ostrom in the department of zoology, specializes in environmental science and policy research. More»


Polar bears aren't only victims of climate change
MSU Today

From heat waves to damaged crops to asthma in children, climate change is a major public health concern, argues a Michigan State University researcher in a new study. Climate change is about more than melting ice caps and images of the Earth on fire, said Sean Valles, assistant professor in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Philosophy, who believes bioethicists could help reframe current climate change discourse. More»


MSU Engineering names three associate deans
MSU Today

Three associate deans have been appointed in the Michigan State University College of Engineering. Neeraj Buch will serve as the associate dean for undergraduate studies; John Verboncoeur is the new associate dean for research; and Thomas Voice will be the new associate dean for administrative affairs. More»

Social media should play greater role in disaster communication
MSU Today

When Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines in 2013, thousands of people were killed, in part because they didn’t know it was coming or didn’t know how to protect themselves. Could an increased use of social media, particularly on the part of the nation’s government, have made a difference? While that question remains open, it is clear that social media should play a larger role in emergency preparedness, says Bruno Takahashi, a Michigan State University assistant professor of journalism who studies the issue. More»


Poulson recognized for decades of Great Lakes environmental journalism
MSU Today

The International Association for Great Lakes Research has recognized David Poulson, the senior associate director of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, for a career-long dedication to inform and educate the public and policymakers on Great Lakes issues. The IAGLR board of directors recognized him with the John R. (Jack) Vallentyne award given for contributing substantially to education and outreach in the Great Lakes community for at least 20 years and with an impact beyond the awardee’s local community. The award recognizes people who bridge the gap between the science community and the public. Recipients can be engaged with any great lake in the world, including the North American Great Lakes and the African Great Lakes. “I always figured that environmental science is far too important, far too interesting and way too much fun to leave only to scientists, researchers and policymakers,” Poulson said. “I’m honored to receive this award and also pleased that the association recognizes journalism as critical to engaging the public with the environmental challenges of the world.” More»


MSU researchers publish article on the use of social media during natural disasters
Computers in Human Behavior

Dr. Bruno Takahashi, Journalism, has published "Communicating on Twitter during a disaster: An analysis of tweets during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines" Social media in crisis situations, such as natural disasters, have been recognized by scholars and practitioners as key communication channels that can complement traditional channels. However, there is limited empirical examination from the user perspective of the functions that social media play and the factors that explain such uses. In this study we examine Twitter use during and after Typhoon Haiyan pummeled the Philippines. We tested a typology of Twitter use based on previous research, and explored external factors – time of use and geographic location – and internal factors – type of stakeholders (e.g. ordinary citizens, journalists, etc.) and social media engagement – to predict these uses. The results showed that different stakeholders used social media mostly for dissemination of second-hand information, in coordinating relief efforts, and in memorializing those affected. Recommendations for future research and applications in future crises are also presented. More»


MSU professor to serve as founding editor for science journal
MSU Today

MSU professor Patricia Soranno was named founding editor-in-chief of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography’s new journal, Limnology and Oceanography Letters. “Pat Soranno’s innovative ideas about publishing and research excellence make her a fantastic choice to be the founding editor of ASLO’s newest journal,” said Jim Elser, ASLO president. A professor in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Soranno has spent the past 20 years conducting research that integrates freshwater ecosystems into a landscape perspective from local to continental scales. More»

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