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


What's nature worth? Study puts a price on groundwater and other natural capital
College of Natural Science

A multi-institution research team, including MSU geological sciences graduate student Erin Haacker, has adapted traditional asset valuation approaches to measure the value of such natural capital assets, linking economic measurements of ecosystem services with models of natural dynamics and human behavior. In a paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group of scholars demonstrate how to price natural capital using the example of the Kansas High Plains’ Aquifer — a critical natural resource that supports the region’s agriculture-based economy. According to their analysis, groundwater extraction and changes in aquifer management policies—driven largely by subsidizes and new technology—reduced the state’s total wealth held in groundwater by $110 million per year between 1996 and 2005. That’s a total of $1.1 billion. More»


Emilio Moran leading global initiative on food security and land use

MSU’s principal investigator is Emilio Moran, the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Global Change Science, a renowned social scientist and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Moran was MSU’s driving force earlier this year to bring Brazilian scientific organizations into a formal relationship with MSU. That declared partnership, he said, helped pave the way this proposal. “The Belmont Forum is the future’s mechanism for funding global change,” Moran said. “For the last 20 years, each country has had good programs, but there has never been an obvious mechanism to do globally scaled research. Nobody gets to first base with More»

ESPP Announces New Summer Research Fellowship for Students Studying Climate, Food, Water and Energy

ESPP announces the Climate, Food, Energy, and Water (C-FEW) Research Fellowship for the Summer of 2016 for Ph.D. students currently enrolled at MSU. The goal of the program is to provide funding to Ph.D. students to support the next generation of scientists and to advance work in climate, food, energy, and water at Michigan State University. The C-FEW Summer Fellowship provides funds to be used to enhance the educational and research experience of graduate students at MSU whose research focuses on the nexus of climate, food, energy and water. Recipients of the Fellowship will be expected to actively engage in C-FEW research during the summer of 2016, organize an ESPP colloquium during Fall 2016, and write a short paper about their work for ESPPulse, a semiannual series published by ESPP. More»


This is why sowing doubt about climate change is such an effective strategy
The Washington Post

“The positive frames really don’t move the needle at all, and the presence of the denial counter-frame seems to have a suppressive or a negative effect on people’s climate change belief,” says Aaron McCright, a researcher at Michigan State University who conducted the research with three university colleagues. The study is just out in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science. More»


Climate-change foes winning public opinion war
MSU Today

As world leaders meet this week and next at a historic climate change summit in Paris, a new study by Michigan State University environmental scientists suggests opponents of climate change appear to be winning the war of words. The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, finds that climate-change advocates are largely failing to influence public opinion. Climate-change foes, on the other hand, are successfully changing people’s minds – Republicans and Democrats alike – with messages denying the existence of global warming. “This is the first experiment of its kind to examine the influence of the denial messages on American adults,” said Aaron M. McCright, a sociologist and lead investigator on the study. “Until now, most people just assumed climate change deniers were having an influence on public opinion. Our experiment confirms this.” More»


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»


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