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


MSU to use $14.7 million USDA grant to advance a fruit-tree canopy delivery system
MSU Today

Matthew Grieshop, an entomologist and organic pest management expert at MSU, leads the project, which originated through a SCRI grant in 2012. The team includes scientists from MSU and Washington State University, as well as private consultants from the spray technology and irrigation industries. More»


Jinhua Zhao: For the common good
MSU Today

As director of the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State since 2010, I believe the secret to our success has been, simply put, flexibility and inclusivity. ESPP has stated from the beginning that its goal is to be structured as a flexible and inclusive umbrella for environmental research and graduate education, and we work very hard to stay true to that goal. Our team is proud of its efforts to increase the diversity of the student body, faculty and research areas at MSU. Since its inception in 2003, ESPP has embraced the precept that finding common ground through different perspectives is the optimal way to overcome challenges. The basis of interdisciplinary scholarship is bringing diverse experiences and viewpoints together for a greater good. In our yearly Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship awards, ESPP regularly recruits MSU students from a wide variety of nations, background, genders and experiences. One shining example is Judith Namanya, a young woman from Uganda who was inspired by the gender inequities in her home village. Judith studied the ways environmental challenges affect sexes differently. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree with Amber Pearson in the Department of Geography. ESPP has also worked to bring an array of talented educators to MSU. Our most recent hires include researchers working with indigenous rights in Mexico, accessibility of drinking water in New Zealand and sanitation struggles in Detroit. Our events have become a showcase for diversity in scholarship. This past fall, our annual Research Symposium focused on international environmental research, allowing students to share their research from every corner of the globe, from farmers in Ghana to wastewater in Singapore and clean energy in rural Central America. And the Distinguished Lecture Series, now in its fourth generation, focuses on providing our community access to the best researchers in environmental policy and science from across the globe. Past Lecturers have included Jintao Xu, a professor of natural resource economics at Peking University, who is working to tackle the challenges of climate change in China. The signature event for ESPP is the Fate of the Earth symposium. In 2015, our poster competition brought some of the brightest high school students in the region together with top global researchers, advocates, scholars and journalists. At ESPP, we are always seeking ways to increase the opportunities for the most under-represented voices to be heard. We look for unique ways to involve unique voices, and there are many opportunities within our program for individuals interested in environmental research. More»


China's environmental investments show people and nature can win

China’s massive investment to mitigate the ecosystem bust that has come in the wake of the nation’s economic boom is paying off. An international group of scientists finds both humans and nature can thrive – with careful attention. The group, including scientists who have done research at Michigan State University, report on China’s first systematic national accounting of how the nation’s food production, carbon sequestration, soil and water retention, sandstorm prevention, flood mitigation and biodiversity are doing, and what trends have emerged. The work, which spans from 2000-2010, appears in this week’s edition of Science Magazine. More»


Jessica Bell Rizzolo: Preventing Elephant Abuse
MSU Today

Elephant riding is a popular tourist attraction in India and Thailand, but it comes at a cost for the animals. Understanding and preventing the abuse elephants suffer to satisfy tourists is the goal of MSU student Jessica Bell Rizzolo. Bell Rizzolo, who is working toward her Ph.D. in sociology, specializes in animal studies, environmental science and policy, and conservation criminology. She is researching the effects and trauma elephants experience to fill the needs of tourists. “In Thailand it is very common for the baby elephants to be separated from their mothers quite young and then to go through all these other traumas, such as dominance-based training, inadequate food or water, and the prohibition of natural behaviors,” said Bell Rizzolo, who completed her Bachelor of Science in education and social policy and Master of Arts in psychology at Northwestern University, as well as training in trans-species psychology with Gay Bradshaw, the foremost expert on PTSD in elephants. More»


Giant Pandas and Humans: A Lesson in Sustainability

Jianguo "Jack" Liu, who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability,has been working to better understand those relationships at Wolong since 1996. Liu, whose expertise fuses ecology and social sciences, has long viewed the reserve as an excellent laboratory because its truths have proven universal: Honor the needs of both people and nature — and acknowledge the dynamic, complex nature of that relationship — and sustainability is possible. Liu, along with other scholars in the field of sustainability from MSU and around the world, are applying the lessons they learned in Wolong to global challenges rooted in land use, trade, habitat conservation and resource and ecosystem service management. The researchers are bringing to bear the viewpoints of many disciplines — from ecology, plant and wildlife sciences to social, economic and behavioral sciences. The researchers, who are an international group of students, former students and collaborators, share Liu's holistic view of a world in which the fate of humans and nature are firmly entwined. They have published "Pandas and People: Coupling Human and Natural Systems for Sustainability" (Oxford University Press, 2016). The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA. - See more at: More»


Fertilizer use could reduce climate benefit of cellulosic biofuels
MSU Today

According to a new study from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and Michigan State University, the use of nitrogen fertilizer on switchgrass crops can produce a sharp increase in emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas up to 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide and a significant driver of global climate change. Switchgrass is one of several crops poised to become a feedstock for the production of “cellulosic biofuels,” fuels derived from grasses, wood or the nonfood portion of plants. Though touted for being a clean energy alternative to both fossil fuels and corn ethanol, cellulosic biofuel comes with its share of complexities. Many of its environmental benefit depends, for starters, on how its crops are grown. “We’ve established that the climate benefit of cellulosic biofuels is much greater and much more robust than people originally thought,” said Phil Robertson, University Distinguished Professor of Ecosystem Science at MSU and coauthor. “But what we’re also seeing is that much of that climate benefit is dependent. It’s dependent on factors such as land use history and – as we’re seeing with these results – it’s dependent on nitrogen fertilizer use.” Led by former MSU graduate student Leilei Ruan and published this week in Environmental Research Letters, the study reports nitrous oxide emissions from switchgrass grown at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station when fertilized at eight different levels. More»


ESPP student research on campus water consumption wins award
MSU Office of Sustainability

At Michigan State University, plastic water bottles account for a large amount of campus waste, yet it is estimated that only 25 percent of the nearly three million water bottles on campus make their way to MSU's Recycling Center each year. To better understand water consumption and uncover areas for improvement, graduate students Cheng-Hua Liu, Melissa Rojas-Downing and Zhenci Xu partnered with MSU Sustainability to conduct a research survey that measured water usage and preference of the MSU community. More»


ESPP affiliated faculty Dr. Bruno Basso receives the 2016 Innovation of the Year award
MSU Research

Michigan State University’s intellectual property office, MSU Technologies, selected Bruno Basso‘s work for the Innovation of the Year Award for 2016. Basso, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, received the award for his system of cropland evaluation and crop growth management. He uses an interdisciplinary approach to study agricultural systems and improve decision-making across a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from the smallholder farmer in the developing world to the industrial producer and policymaker. More»


ESPP student Betsy Riley accepted to a leadership program

PhD students Andrew Carlson, Betsy Riley and So-Jung Youn have been accepted to the Great Lakes Leadership Academy’s Emerging Leader Program, designed for potential and current leaders seeking continuing professional development, focused on developing individual and organizational leadership skills, and applying those skills in a collaborative fashion to the common issues of diverse communities. Carlson and Riley have been awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation and Environmental Leadership Fellowship, which both will use to help fund participation on the Great Lakes Leadership program. The award is to provide an opportunity for graduate or professional students to achieve a level of professional and personal growth that will prepare them for leadership roles in natural resource and conservation based organizations and agencies. Thomas Connor has won a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for students enrolled in a program that combines the study of a modern foreign language with advanced training in international development studies or in the international development aspects of professional or other fields of study. Connor will be studying Mandarin in this summer in China in addition to working on his panda studies there. These come on the heels of honors for graduate students Molly Good, Janet Hsiao and Joe Nohner. More»


Antibiotic Resistance Shows Up in Animals, Manure
National Geographic

In one study, published in April in the journal mBio, Timothy Johnson and James Tiedje of Michigan State University, along with collaborators at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, analyzed soil from very large modern hog farms in three regions of China. They found identical clusters of genes that confer resistance, and mobile genetic elements—short strings of genetic material containing multiple genes—even in widely spread out farm properties. More»


ESPP affiliated faculty Dr. Jay Zarnetske honored with outstanding faculty award
Department of Geological Sciences

Assistant Professor Jay Zarnetske was recognized for excellence by the Associated Students of MSU (ASMSU). The Outstanding Faculty/Staff Awards are presented to faculty or staff members who have exemplified achievement both personally and professionally through determination, enthusiasm and love for Michigan State University. Nominations come from graduating seniors. Congratulations, Dr. JZ! More»


Sexy ideas won't slow climate change if people don't buy in and buy them

As governments and researchers race to develop policies and technologies to make energy production more sustainable and mitigate climate change, they need to remember that the most-sophisticated endeavors won’t work if they’re not adopted. That’s the viewpoint of Thomas Dietz, Michigan State University professor of sociology and environmental science and policy, and co-editors in their introduction to a new collection of papers on addressing the linked problems of energy sustainability and climate change jointly published by the journals Nature Energy and Nature Climate Change. More»


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