A study led by Elise Zipkin, featured on the cover of Science magazine, should sound alarm bells regarding the “biodiversity crisis” or the loss of wildlife around the world.
In a recent study, María Aranguren-Gassis and a team led by Elena Litchman questioned this widely held belief that evolution will rescue phytoplankton species from changes in climate.
Kay Holekamp, one of the world's leading behavioral ecologists, has been awarded the 2019 Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award from the Animal Behavior Society, in recognition of her outstanding career in animal behavior.
Birds use odor to identify other birds. Danielle Whittakers and her colleagues have shown that if the bacteria that produce the odor is altered, it could negatively impact a bird’s ability to communicate with other birds or find a mate.
Richard Lenski has been awarded the 2020 D.C. White Award by the American Society for Microbiology, the world’s oldest and largest life science organization, in recognition and honor of his distinguished accomplishments, not only in interdisciplinary research but in mentoring.
Kyle Jaynes, a graduate student in the Fitzpatrick Lab, has been awarded a highly competitive Early Career grant through the National Geographic Explorers grant program. The grant supports scientists and other professionals in the early stages of their careers by funding their fieldwork expeditions.
Zoology major, Joshua Simmonds, recounts his experiences as an intern at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.
The electric pulses emitted by electric fish can be quite variable in their duration: and as it turns out the reason can be quite “shocking.” Jason Gallant has received a three-year, $680,000 National Science Foundation grant to continue work on a discovery that this variation may be due to unusual changes in a common protein called a potassium channel.
Fred Dyer was a co-author on a new paper published in The American Naturalist that explores how computers could begin to evolve learning in the same way as natural organisms did – with implications for many fields, including artificial intelligence.
Samuel Ayebare, a Ph.D. student in Integrative Biology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior (EEBB) program, is the first MSU student to receive a prestigious Beinecke African Conservation Scholarship from the Wildlife Conservation Society.
By studying how fish regenerate fins, Ingo Braasch’s team pinpointed the genes and the mechanisms responsible that drive the regrowth.
Allison Sussman and Elise Zipkin show that conservation and construction decisions should rely on multiple approaches to determine waterbird “hotspots,” not just on one analysis method as is often done.
Zoology major, Adam Petrucco, returned to MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in summer 2019 as an avian care intern. He recounts his experiences and lessoned learned.
Mariah Meek received a two-year, $633,000 grant from the Delta Stewardship Council and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to study Chinook salmon in the California Central Valley using an improved genomics tool to characterize life history diversity and promote resilience.
Three Integrative Biology graduate students were among 11 MSU graduate students recently awarded Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program fellowships. Isabela Borges, Lindsey Kemmerling, and Corinn Rutkoski will participate in the program.
Sarah Fitzpatrick and graduate student Kyle Jaynes were awarded grant through the MSU Genomics Gore facility and Illumina® partnership. This grant allows them to investigate genomic patterns underlying population decline and recovery in Harlequin toads of Ecuador.
Monarch butterfly numbers have been dropping precipitously for more than two decades. Scientists studying monarch butterflies have traditionally focused on two sources for their decline – winter habitat loss in Mexico and fewer milkweed plants in the Midwest. The Zipkin team has found that a critical piece of the butterfly’s annual cycle was missing – the fall migration.
When it comes to advancing social status, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – for humans and spotted hyenas alike. Eli Strauss and Kay Holekamp show that hyenas that form strong coalitions can gain social status, which can have lasting benefits over many generations.
African carnivores face numerous threats from humans. So, it’s a fair assumption that the presence of more humans automatically equates to decreases across the board for carnivores. New research led by Matthew Farr and Elise Zipkin shows that’s not always the case.
The American Ornithological Society recently named Catherine Lindell the 15th editor in chief of The Condor: Ornithological Applications, one of two peer-reviewed journals published by the American Ornithological Society.
Richard Lenski was inducted into the American Philosophical Society — the oldest "learned society" in the United States — on Nov. 9, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
How predictable is evolution? The answer has long been debated by biologists grappling with the extent to which history affects the repeatability of evolution. A review published in Science explores the complexity of evolution’s predictability in extraordinary detail.
Paige Barne's summer internship at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research reaffirmed her commitment to animal behavior research.
Arend Hintze reflects on how useful biological concepts, such as evolution, are for engineering problems in an article he wrote for The Conversation. His research uses evolution as an approach to developing artificial intelligence.
Elena Litchman is leading a three-year, $993,000 project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) in collaboration with faculty at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). The project aims to investigate and to predict intraspecific trait variation in phytoplankton.
An inside look into why students should spend a summer at KBS.
Developing cutting-edge statistical tools that can handle these massive new datasets is a piece of the research puzzle, and new research by Gideon Bradburd and colleagues has just added a new tool for the modern genomic toolbox.
In summer 2018, Zoology major Chelsea Bandy spent a month in Thailand and Australia helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian through the Loop Abroad Program.
Wissam Jawad recounts tales and makes connections about his experiences at biological field stations around the world.
For future machines to be as smart as we are, they'll need to be able to learn like we do. Arend Hindze's lab has added a new method to the field of machine learning.
Recent Zoology alumna, Clara Lepard, is a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue a doctorate at the University of Oxford.
Jeanette McGuire, is a recipient of the 2017 College of Natural Science Teaching Prize.
Patrick “Pat” Muzzall is a respected parasitologist, working primarily with the parasites of fish and amphibians. Pat was heavily involved in undergraduate education, primarily teaching general biology and parasitology.
The new book, Hyena Scientist, is a new addition to the “Scientist in the Field” series by author Sy Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop that debunks myths about hyenas, while featuring the pioneering research of Kay Holekamp.
The Lenski Lab at Michigan State University is home to the famous Long-term Experimental Evolution Project. Caroline Turner, Richard Lenski, and colleagues recently published a pre-print about an exciting new finding from the project.
Each spring the Department of Integrative Biology recognizes undergraduate and graduate students who have won department, college, university, and extramural awards. Congratulations to all our 2015 award winners!
Ph.D. Candidate, Sean Williams, shares his experience at Los Amigos Biological Station in the Peruvian Amazon participating in the Global Big Day, an effort led by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to tally half of the world’s bird species in a single day to benefit bird conservation.
Alumna, Karen Kapheim, leads NIH-funded study published in Science.
Gideon Bradburd will join the Department of Integrative Biology as a new faculty member in Fall 2016. Gideon's research is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of genetic variation.
Catherine Lindell and Megan Shave have received two new grants to support ongoing research in the Lindell Lab at Michigan State University. The Lindell Lab investigates the roles of birds in ecological functions and ecosystem services.
Green recently defended his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology at Michigan State University, which focused on anthropogenic disturbance and ecological change in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Southwest Kenya. While a member of the Holekamp Lab, Green’s research focused on wildlife conservation and management in Africa. That experience helped him land a new job with Oregon State University as a postdoctoral scholar.
Jason Gallant and Matt Rowe were honored at the 2015 College of Natural Science Awards Ceremony hosted on November 20, 2015.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, a postdoc at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, and researchers from Colorado State University have documented genetic rescue in guppies, which was published in Evolutionary Applications. These findings suggest that this species could also provide a model system for informing effective conservation and management of imperiled populations.
Emily Weigel, a previous member of the Boughman Lab, graduated from our doctoral program in fall 2015. She has joined Spelman College as a National Science Foundation Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences Postdoctoral Fellow.
Bonnie McGill, an Integrative Biology graduate student in Steve Hamilton's Lab, won an Outstanding Student Paper Award at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union hosted in San Francisco, California.
Briana Hauff Salas graduated with her Ph.D. in Zoology in Fall 2015. Following graduation, Briana She secured a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Medical School in the Immunology and Microbiology Department.
Colleagues, staff, and students in the Department of Integrative Biology; the Neuroscience Program; Integrative Studies in Biology; and across MSU and around the world are saddened by the death of Lyn Clemens, following a long, quiet struggle with cancer.
Courtney Hughes was recently awarded the 2016 Dan Bolin Undergraduate Award in recognition of her leadership, academic excellence, and commitment to community. Hughes is a junior studying zoology with a concentration in animal behavior and neurobiology.
We are pleased to announce the formation of a new study abroad program in Conservation Medicine (Spring semesters every year)!
2016 was an outstanding year for Rohan Maddamsetti: he earned his doctorate in Zoology from Michigan State University, he was the first author on a paper that earned accolades for being one of the top three articles published in the journal Genetics in 2015, and this fall he will start a postdoc at the Harvard Medical School.
As an undergraduate, Michael Kuczynski discovered his passion for research, specifically the field of behavior ecology. He joined the lab of Tom Getty as a doctoral student to study individual variation in sexual signaling and sexual selection in gray treefrogs. Michael discovered a second passion during his time at MSU - teaching. Consequently, he accepted a position as a non-tenure track assistant professor at Truman State University where his primary responsibilities include teaching introductory biology lectures and labs.
Nicole’s curiosity about the natural world began at an early age. She spent countless days of her youth turning over logs in search of salamanders, stirring up river beds to catch crayfish, and fishing with her father in western Michigan. According to Nicole, “Such a fascination with the natural world came from being raised in a family that celebrated every neat creature I captured. At a young age, I recognized the beauty and intrinsic value of earth and its inhabitants.” Despite her early interests, Nicole never planned to study Zoology in college.
Congratulations to all the 2016 award winners: Steve Roels, Lily Johnson-Ulrich, Nikki Cavalieri, Kaycee Morra, Eli Strauss, Sean Williams, Taylor Schoen, Nicole Thompson, Casey Geisland, Meghan Bugaj, Ryan Grady, Michael Killewald, Matthew Welc, Lindsey Whitlock, and Ana Wodek.
New IBIO faculty member, Gideon Bradburd, has teamed up with David Lowry in Plant Biology (PLB) and other colleagues from across the country to develop a major analysis and synthesis of the state of the art in efforts to use modern genomic methods to understand the evolution of adaptations. The paper is in the October issue of the American Naturalist.
Recently the IBIO Communications Manager, Katie Licht, was elected to an international board member position at the 2016 Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents and Volunteers Conference in El Paso, Texas.
We are pleased to announce that Mariah Meek has joined our department as a new faculty member! Meek is a geneticist, fisheries ecologist, and conservation biologist. She is particularly interested in the evolutionary and ecological processes that generate and maintain diversity within and among populations.
Mariah Meek, a new faculty member, has published new research in the journal, Ecology and Evolution. In this study, Mariah and her collaborators demonstrated the usefulness of genomic resources for identifying genetic markers that allow fast and accurate identification of the imperiled Chinook salmon in the Great Central Valley of California.
Tayler Chicoine has always been passionate about improving the state of our agricultural system. In fall 2016 Tayler began her graduate research in the lab of Sarah Evans at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. Tayler is exploring plant-microbial interactions and hoping to better understand how, through selecting for beneficial plant-microbial systems, we can naturally improve agricultural systems. To support her research interests, Tayler Chicoine has been awarded the C.S. Mott Predoctoral Fellowship in Sustainable Agriculture.
Elena Litchman is internationally recognized for her research on phytoplankton communities in both freshwater and marine environments. Elena's many accolades include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and a National Science Foundation Career Award. Now she can add MSU Foundation Professor to the list.
The National Science Foundation awarded Jenny Boughman and a team of researchers a “Dimensions of Biodiversity” grant to pursue novel research studying the evolution of threespine stickleback throughout Iceland.
Zoology major, Kat Shupe, spent six weeks in South Africa working in conservation and wildlife medicine through a program called African Conservation Experience (ACE). Read about her experience helping with leopard, rhino, and elephant conservation projects.
Jenny Boughman as been elected Vice President of the Society for the Study of Evolution. The Society for the Study of Evolution is the premier international professional society for evolutionary biology.
Jeanette McGuire, was awarded the 2016 Lorena V. Blinn Endowed Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Natural Science. The Lorena V. Blinn Award is awarded to faculty members that demonstrate expertise in the teaching subject matter and integrate current research and/or new advancements relevant to the course topic into the pedagogy. Jeanette is the lead faculty member on the new Conservation Medicine in New Zealand study abroad program that provides an interdisciplinary approach to health while providing cutting-edge research opportunities for students on the program.
Julia Ganz, who joined the Integrative Biology faculty in 2017, recently published a paper in the journal, Developmental Dynamics, about gene expression properties of stem cells in the enteric nervous system (ENS).
Zoology major, Olivia Guswiler, has been awarded the 2016 Dr. Marvin Hensley Endowed Scholarship Fund in Zoology. Olivia came to Michigan State University as a transfer student to study Zoology in 2015. Her career goal is to conduct field-based research that will help conserve the natural world.
This year, Antonia Langfeldt, 19, of Clarkston, MI, spent three months in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Traveling with the Boston-based Loop Abroad, Antonia was part of a small team that learned alongside veterinarians from around the globe while volunteering with elephants, sea turtles, bears, primates, and dogs.
Connie Rojas, a graduate student pursuing a dual degree in Integrative Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior; has been awarded the College of Natural Science's 2017 Tracy A. Hammer Graduate Student Award for Professional Development. The Tracy A. Hammer Award recognizes and supports an outstanding graduate student with a one-time stipend of $750 for professional development activities.
Three Department of Integrative Biology graduate students were recently awarded Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation: Lauren Koenig, Connie Rojas, and Allison Young. They were among 15 Michigan State University graduate students to win this award.
Kay Holekamp, University Distinguished Professor of Integrative Biology, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Graduate School Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. This award was developed to formally recognize good mentoring practices at Michigan State University.
We are excited to announce that Eila (pronounced "A"-la) Roberts, Ph.D. joined the Department as a Specialist-Advisor on May 15, 2017. Not only does Eila bring a strong academic advising background to the Spartan community, but she has also has excelled as a researcher and educator.
Congratulations to all the 2017 award winners: Randy Knapik, Tracy Montgomery, Savvas Constantinou, Abhijna Parigi, Lauren Koenig, Patric Vaelli, Samuel Decker, Kecil John, Clara Lepard, Paige Barnes, Armen Brus, Jasmine Czajka, Nickolaus Green, Steven Gurney, Jacob Kimmel, Heather Seaman, and Jacob Wright.
Six Zoology majors have received the 2017 MSUFCU Internship Awards. These financial awards help support students' unpaid internships.
In 2014, Rachel Emory won the Outstanding Undergraduate Academic and Promise in Zoology award. She was recognized at Michigan State for her performance as an undergraduate inside and outside the classroom. Two weeks after graduation, Rachel moved to Oklahoma to take on her dream position as Elephant Keeper at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Since then she has traveled to India to work with rescued elephants and been promoted to Lead Elephant Caretaker. She is a member of a team that has built an incredibly successful platform of commitment to the health and care of elephants in captivity.
As a Zoology major, Sam Decker was very involved in experiential opportunities. Sam also excelled academically. At graduation, he was recognized for numerous academic achievements, including the 2017 Outstanding Academic Achievement and Promise in Zoology Award and Board of Trustees Award. He is pursuing a Master's program at the University of Guelph in the lab of Georgia Mason. One of Sam's career goals is to strengthen relationships between universities and animal care facilities to promote research-based welfare management. Specifically, implementing research-based welfare management in zoos.
After finishing his dual Ph.D. in Integrative Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior at Michigan State University, Jakob Nalley was off to Northwestern University to further pursue his passion for research and science education. Jakob’s new job focuses on enhancing community engagement and improving science education through Northwestern University’s Science in Society, a research center dedicated to science education and public engagement.
For many creatures, the big questions in life include who to mate with and how much to invest in the offspring. Sexual selection theory addresses the first question. Parental investment theory addresses the second. Historically, these questions have been analyzed as separate problems, or with drastic simplifications to make them analytically tractable. With support from the BEACON STC for the Study of Evolution in Action, Frazer Meacham and Tom Getty used an evolutionary replicator-dynamic modeling approach to find co-evolutionary solutions to this game.
Kecil John, was one of three students selected for the 2017 Outstanding Academic Achievement & Promise in Zoology Award. Kecil also won the Dr. Marvin Hensley Endowed Scholarship Fund in Zoology and was selected as an Outstanding Senior by the University. During her time at MSU, Kecil was a Professorial Assistant in the MSU Hyena Lab, a campus Resident Assistant, an intern at a public relations firm, and helped develop media for our communication channels.
Richard “Dick” Hill joined the Department in 1972 as an assistant professor. After 45 years at MSU, Dick retired in May 2017. Dick’s greatest legacy will be the students he inspired and mentored in the areas of research, education, and how to become better members of society.
Motivated by her passion to further understand and improve the care of livestock and domestic animals, Danielle Fortin has accomplished much as an active participant in undergraduate research and relevant career experience in her short time as an undergrad. She has recently been awarded the Vera M. Wallach Honors College Scholarship Fund Award for her dedication to her education and research at MSU.
A new semester-long, global educational initiative was successfully completed Spring Semester 2017, providing students with a unique opportunity for laboratory research, field studies, and cultural integration. The Conservation Medicine in New Zealand Program provided students with a fundamental understanding of the interconnected components of health while gaining research and communication skills. The students worked with leading researchers, government agencies, and local communities to facilitate global health initiatives.
Clara Lepard established an impressive, research-based resume at MSU as an undergraduate majoring in Zoology. Not only was she was actively involved in six research labs throughout her undergraduate career, but she presented her research twice at MSU’s Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum. Clara has been a recipient of many scholarships and awards, including the 2017 Outstanding Academic Achievement and Promise in Zoology Award.
Staring into the large soft eyes of a 2,700 lb. black rhino and learning about the plight of this endangered species in the wild can change any person’s perspective. For Cynthia Wagner, Director of Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo, this experience and understanding is a powerful driving force behind decisions she makes each and every day.
After completing her doctoral degree at Michigan State University, Kateri Salk joined the lab of Sherry Schiff and Jason Venkiteswaran at the University of Waterloo as a postdoctoral research fellow. Kateri will be working on a project that uses ecosystem modeling to understand the drivers of algal blooms in temperate lakes.
Mariah Faszczewski is a transfer student whose success in the Zoology Program helped guide her to her ultimate goal: educating the public on animals and conservation issues. We chatted with her to learn more about her transition to MSU, her experiences here, and how they impacted her future career goals.
Helen McCreery has joined our team as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Tom Getty. Originally an environmental engineer, Helen has always been fascinated by social groups, especially social insects. At MSU Helen will extend this research on cooperation to other species to see how other diverse groups coordinate their actions.
Elise Zipkin is the lead investigator of a $300,000 early career award from the National Science Foundation’s MarcoSystems Biology & Early NEON Science Program to investigate the effects of climate and land-use variables on the monarch butterfly and forecast future population changes at multiple scales across the continent.
Christie Bahlai and Elise Zipkin have received an award from the Mozilla Science Foundation to develop materials on open data policy and management for the Foundation's open data training program. The project will create an easy-to-follow set of resources to get people started in open data across research fields.
Zoology major, Wissam Jawad, provides a big-picture idea of a student's summer at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station.
This past summer Zoology major, Heather Seaman, had the chance to be a sea turtle nesting season intern at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida. She recounts the experience and how it has validated her future research career.
Zoology major, Paige Barnes, struggled to choose her major. She explains how she developed a sense of direction from participating in hands-on opportunities.
Researchers from Rice University, UCLA, Michigan State, and the University of New Mexico have discovered a planetary-scale tug-of-war between life, deep Earth and the upper atmosphere that is expressed in atmospheric nitrogen. The research appears in Science Advances.
Elise Zipkin will play a lead role in the model development of aerial seabird data for the Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species. The study area spans the coast from the Texas-Mexico border down to the tip of Florida.
Visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are often treated to tiny scurrying beachcombers – piping plovers. Future visitors, however, could see fewer of these celebrated shorebirds. A study conducted by the Zipkin Lab revealed that the endangered shorebird population could decline over the next 10 years if additional conservation efforts are not taken.
Lauren Pepper, a senior Zoology major, is part of two pairs of students on the MSU Debate Team who will compete in the 72nd annual National Debate Tournament. Pepper and teammate Alex Brown, a sophomore majoring in social relations and policy in James Madison College, will represent MSU at the tournament, marking the 22nd consecutive season that the university has qualified for the national competition.
Doctoral student, Allison Young, will spend nine months in India as a Fulbright Scholar investigating some of the most vastly understudied and critically important species for the pollination of both agricultural and wild plants—tropical honey bees.
With the help of a graduate student, Lauren designed a research study to be conducted in the Pantanal region of Brazil, but she lacked the funds to finance the project. Determined to capture wildlife on camera traps and use this data to define a sustainability plan, she applied for numerous scholarships. She was awarded Integrative Biology's Dr. Marvin Hensley Endowed Scholarship to make her dream a reality.
KBS & IBIO graduate student, Bonnie McGill, has been selected for a highly competitive postdoctoral research fellowship, which will begin in May following her graduation from MSU. McGill will be studying how nutrients move through agricultural watersheds in Iowa as part of the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship program, which chooses only 4 or 5 applicants each year nationally.By Bethany Bohlen
Catherine Lindell was selected as a 2017 American Ornithological Society Fellow. American Ornithological Society Fellows are selected each year in recognition of their experience, commitment, and contributions to the field of ornithology and the society.
Gary Mittelbach has been named a 2015 fellow of the Ecological Society of America.
Bonding with a friend of a friend is something most humans gravitate toward naturally, or at least Facebook likes to think so every time it suggests friends for you to “friend.” But a certain four-legged predator, the spotted hyena, seems to know the benefits of this type of social bonding instinctively, according to a new study from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis that considers the structural factors affecting the social network of these animals.
For a combined 105 years, Richard and Renate Snider have been at MSU studying “little animals.” To ensure that their work and the work of others will endure, they have made a $1 million planned gift.
Sarah Evans and a team of MSU colleagues have earned a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to better understand how biofuel crops acquire nitrogen, insights that could help maximize yields while minimizing fertilizer use. They will study how plants interact with microbes living near their roots to obtain nutrients, especially biofuel crops growing in abandoned farmlands, or marginal lands.
“Data Nuggets rock, and now we can investigate how and why,” said Louise Mead, education director of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, a National Science Foundation funded center headquartered at Michigan State University.
David Foran is a recognized expert in DNA identification whose work informs criminal investigations. With David’s research comes an element of mystery, as it looks to solve some of the most elusive and crucial questions in criminal investigations.
Clara Lepard is a junior majoring in zoology and a College of Natural Science Dean’s Research Scholar. Clara was recently featured on MSU's 360 Perspective.
A new species of bird has been discovered in northeastern India and adjacent parts of China by a team of scientists from Sweden, China, the U.S., India, and Russia. The has been named Himalayan forest thrush Zoothera salimalii.
The feral chickens of Kauai provide a unique opportunity to study what happens when domesticated animals escape and evolve.
You have a new video game and have spent weeks trying to defend yourself against your arch enemy. You finally found his weakness and how to stop him, and are joyfully exacting revenge. But one day you play and that game plan doesn’t work anymore. So what happened? Darwinian evolution stepped in and adapted your enemy’s response, and now you’re foiled. You can blame Arend Hintze.
The research by Matt Rowe and his co-authors dealing with effective science pedagogy was highlighted in the Editor’s Choice section of a recent issue of Science (volume 351, issue 6274, pg. 677). The results, which were published last fall in CBE-Life Sciences Education, demonstrate that a nonmajors’ science course focusing on the process of science, rather than just its factoids, leads to significant improvement in both the critical thinking skills of students and in their willingness to engage with evolutionary theory.
The genome of a slowly evolving fish, the spotted gar, is very similar to the genomes of both zebrafish and humans, and can be used as a ‘bridge species’ that opens a pathway to important advancements in biomedical research focused on human diseases. That is the conclusion of an international research consortium outlined in a paper lead-authored by the newly appointed assistant professor, Ingo Braasch.
IBIO's Zoo Science Program has partnered with the San Diego Zoo Global Academy to integrate the Academy's e-learning modules into the undergraduate classroom. Upon completion of the course, successful students will be granted a certificate authorized by San Diego Zoo Global Academy and MSU.
The Broad College of Business hosted the 5th annual Broad Business Model Competition on February 25, 2016. Graduate and undergraduate students pitched business ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of winning a cash prize. The graduate division’s second-place prize went to Colleen Friel, Jakob Nalley, and Qian Yang, creators of Dispel Chemical Technologies, which offers a chemical blend that removes biofilm and Legionella from industrial and building cooling towers.
Richard Lenski, Rohan Maddamsetti, and Jeffrey Barrick have been honored for having one of the top three articles published in the journal Genetics in 2015. The paper reconstructed the dynamics of 42 mutations over 20,000 generations of bacterial evolution.
Jason Gallant will use a National Science Foundation grant to decipher the secrets of electric organs in fish and apply the insights to human electrically excitable tissue.
Congratulations to Terri McElhinny, who has been named to the second cohort of fellows of the STEM Gateway Teaching Fellows Program!
This summer the Department of Integrative Biology Newsletter was sent through the postal service to our alumni and friends. A copy of this newsletter is now available on our Department website for readers to enjoy.
Elena Litchman, professor of integrative biology and faculty member at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, has been named an MSU Foundation Professor. Elena is internationally recognized for her research on phytoplankton communities in both freshwater and marine environments.
Matt Rowe and Marcus Gillespie (Sam Houston State University) shared a mutual concern about the gap between a student's understanding of science and the level of understanding required for true scientific literacy. They took action by developing a "Foundations of Science" course designed to help students think critically about scientific questions using a set of over-arching principles.
Zoology major and Honors College senior, Clara Lepard, is one of six MSU students nominated for a prestigious graduate school scholarship, the Marshall Scholarship. The Marshall Scholarship provides support to approximately 40 of the most outstanding undergraduates in the country to study at any university in the United Kingdom.
In spring 2016, we began a partnership with San Diego Zoo Global Academy to incorporate the Academy's Animal Care Fundamentals certification into IBIO 369: Introduction to Zoo and Aquarium Science, taught by Dr. Richard Snider. Integration of these modules into the university's course curriculum was so successful that Academy modules have also been incorporated into a section of IBIO 489: Seminar in Zoo and Aquarium Science in fall 2016.
Submitting to mob mentality is always a risky endeavor, for humans or hyenas. A new Michigan State University study focusing on the latter, though, shows that when it comes to battling for food, mobbing can be beneficial.The findings, featured in the journal, Current Zoology, fully describe for the first time, cooperative behavior during fights between two apex predators – spotted hyenas and lions.
Two Michigan State University scientists have been named AAAS Fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, James Smith. This national recognition is awarded to researchers for their efforts to advance science or its applications.
The College of Natural Sciences (NatSci) recognized 25 faculty and staff members at the annual award ceremony on November 11, among them Gary Mittelbach. Gary received a 2017 NatSci Outstanding Faculty Award.
Starting January 1, 2017, Sarah Fitzpatrick will begin as an Assistant Professor at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and in our department. Her research integrates evolution, ecology, and conservation, in part by measuring long-term fitness, or reproductive success, in wild populations of vertebrate species, using a combination of genomic tools and mark-recapture. Her work rides the wave of recent advances in molecular technologies to examine biological phenomena in ways not previously possible.
Alumna, Matthew Porter, was featured in the Fall 2016 edition of the MSU Alumni magazine. After graduating from MSU, Matthew landed an internship with the Detroit Zoo and found his niche. Today, he works as a zookeeper in the zoo's bird department. In 2015 he had the opportunity traveled to Antarctica to study the effect of climate change on Antarctic birds with field biologists. Matthew's trip to Antarctica allowed him not only to observe how the birds behave in the wild but also to apply his observations to the Detroit Zoo's new Polk Penguin Conservation Center. Matthew worked with the Detroit Zoo on the design of the new center.
What could artificial intelligence mean for us in the future? And when might intelligent machines and technology be at a point where they become an integral part of our lives?Those are the questions that Arend Hintze explores. He's an assistant professor of Integrative Biology and Computer Science and Engineering, and he runs the Hintze Lab, where they research the evolution of natural and artificial intelligence.
Elise Zipkin has been named a 2017 Early Career Fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Zipkin is one of seven early career fellows elected nationally by the society this year.
Nick Ballew, Kim Scribner, and Gary Mittelbach have published a new manuscript in the American Naturalist. The publication is based on a study done by Nick as part of his Doctoral Dissertation in Zoology (2014) which investigated the effects of boldness in largemouth mass on juvenile survival and adult reproductive success. The findings have important implications for fish conservation and management.
Gary Mittelbach is the recipient of the 2017 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award. Mittelbach is an internationally recognized ecologist whose research has contributed novel and lasting insights into complex biological systems.
Julie Turner was recognized by MSU for her excellence in teaching on February 7, 2017. MSU Excellence-In-Teaching Citations are made to six graduate teaching assistants who have distinguished themselves by the care they have given and the skill they have shown in meeting their classroom responsibilities.
Richard Lenski has received a Friend of Darwin award from the National Center for Science Education. Lenski is one of only three scientists nationally to receive the award in 2017.
Sarah Fitzpatrick joins a distinguished group of scientists who have won the American Society of Naturalist’s Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigators Award. The Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigators Award recognizes exceptional and promising scientists who have conferred their doctorates within the last three years or are in their final year of graduate school. Fitzpatrick was one of four recipients in 2017.
Elena Litchman is the recipient of an Excellence Professorship award from the Professor Dr. Werner – Petersen Foundation based in Kiel, Germany. This prestigious award is given to leading international scientists for excellence in their particular field. The foundation is honoring Elena for her outstanding accomplishments in the field of community and ecosystem ecology.
Elena Litchman was honored as an MSU Foundation Professor on March 10 at an investiture ceremony held at MSU’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners, Michigan. The professorships, established in 2014, are part of an initiative to attract and retain highly successful faculty members. Each of the recipients receives five years of supplemental research support and holds the MSU Foundation Professor designation permanently.
Conservation Medicine in New Zealand study abroad students recently had the rare opportunity to search for critically endangered carnivorous snails in the Marlborough Sounds. Their objective was to count how many of the snails were in the area. The project was arranged with the Department of Conservation and the Endeavour Inlet Conservation Trust.
Ingo Braasch has received a $727,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve the use of fish as disease models for human medicine. Ingo is leading the MSU efforts of this collaborative grant that will focus on the spotted gar, which has a similar genome to humans and zebrafish, a popular biomedical fish model. The spotted gar can serve as a "bridge species" between human and zebrafish, thereby opening pathways to important advancements in human biomedical research.
For thousands of years, the Hawaiian petrel has soared over the Pacific Ocean, feeding on fish and squid. Now, using evidence preserved in the birds’ bones, scientists at MSU and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have discovered that the now endangered seabird has experienced a significant shift in food resources most likely during the past 100 years – a disruption that may be due to industrial fishing practices. The study offers unique insight into how an ocean food web has changed since the onset of industrial fishing and other major human influences in oceanic ecology.
Five undergraduates mentored by Integrative Biology faculty won first place awards at MSU's 2017 University Undergraduate Research & Arts Forum. Winners include Zoology majors, Amber Suto and Olivia Gustwiler (Rowe); Environmental Biology-Zoology major, Paul Sullivan (Rasmussen); and Computer Science major, Brandon Vandekieft (Hintze). All winners were recognized at the Awards Ceremony held on April 12, 2017. Approximately 950 students participated in UURAF this year.
A recent publication by Nora Lewin, Eli Swanson, Barry Williams, and Kay Holekamp is a cover story for the April issue of Functional Ecology. The team found that hyena hormone levels measured early in life can predict trade-offs between growth, reproduction, and lifespan. Their study highlights the importance of early postnatal development as a determination point of life histories in mammals.
Zoology majors, Nicole Cappello and Samuel Decker, were among 52 graduating seniors who were recognized with Board of Trustees’ Awards for having the highest scholastic average (4.0) at the close of their last semester in attendance at Michigan State University.
Richard Hill was recognized as the Meritorious Faculty Award recipient at the MSU College of Natural Science annual Awards Program held April 21, 2017.By Photo provided by the College of Natural Science
Electric fish have been a model biology system since the 18th century. Their potential, though, has been mostly isolated to neurological studies.Thanks to the recent availability of electric fish genome sequences, Michigan State University researchers hope to harness the power of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in electric fish to make a new type of model for biology.
Every winter, trees on high mountains in a small area northwest of Mexico City turn orange. Close inspection reveals branches filled with brilliantly colorful monarch butterflies, rather than fiery leaves, as the eastern North American population of monarchs winters there. Their numbers, however, are shrinking. New research makes a strong case that the reasons for this decline go far beyond what’s happening on the wintering grounds and addresses a current controversy about the primary causes of the species' decline.
Sarah Saunders, a postdoctoral research associate in the Zipkin Lab, has received a Postdoctoral Excellence in Research Award by the MSU Postdoctoral Association and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. Each year two exceptional postdoctoral researchers are recognized for their contributions to Michigan State University and the research community. Winners are selected based on the significance, innovation, and impact of their scientific research.
Michigan State University is poised to play a big role in the newly formed Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. A five-year, $20 million dollar grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was awarded to support the Institute, strengthening current research efforts into the sustainable management of the Great Lakes region. The Institute is a partnership of nine universities and several nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits and private businesses. Jan Stevenson took the lead in developing MSU’s contribution to the proposal.
Elena Litchman is the lead investigator of a four-year, $2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Dimensions of Biodiversity grant to study how genetic and functional diversity in phytoplankton helps them adapt to rising ocean temperatures.
Richard Lenski has been elected an associate member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. Richard was one of 65 life scientists elected to EMBO’s membership in 2017. This cohort joins a group of more than 1,700 of the best researchers in Europe and around the world.
Just as the stars and stripes reflect the history of our nation, Ingo Braasch’s “Gars and Stripes” project represents the evolution of genomic and morphological relationships among vertebrate animals—connecting the past with the present. New research reveals the evolutionary link between fish and other vertebrate animals.
Janette Boughman has been named a 2017-18 Fulbright Scholar in recognition of her research in Iceland on the adaptation of stickleback fish to the rapid human-induced environmental changes in the arctic. Boughman, whose project will run from January to August 2018, will be affiliated with Hólar University College and the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.
Katherine (Kat) Magoulick strategically selected her majors (zoology and history) and hands-on experiences to bolster her goal of earning a doctorate in paleoecology. She wants to study aspects that caused ancient wildlife to go extinct so that she can prevent species from going extinct in the future.
After a search for a Senior Terrestrial Ecologist that began last October, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Nick Haddad has been selected for this faculty position. Haddad began his joint appointment at KBS and MSU’s Department of Integrative Biology on August 16. He brings his ecological expertise and leadership experience to the table as he helps to lead the KBS LTER.
Julia Ganz was selected for the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society’s Young Investigator Award for the 2017-2018 academic year. Each year, 15 scientists are selected among gastroenterology fellows, medical and Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty in the early stages of their career.
Clara Lepard, an Honors College alumna who earned a degree in zoology in 2017 is a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. The Rhodes Trust, the oldest of the major international competitive award foundations, provides 32 of the most outstanding undergraduates in the country an opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England.
Dr. Jim Atkinson has a long history working with invertebrates: as a researcher, teacher, and artist. The convergence of Jim’s research, teaching, and art first blossomed during his tenure at Michigan State University.
At the August MSU Board of Trustee meeting, Ingo Braasch explained what fish can tell us about our evolution, development, and diseases.
College of Natural Science's Interim Dean, Cheryl Sisk, has drafted a letter in response to recent events related to Michigan State University.
To showcase the latest in student-led research at Michigan State University, two scholars, including alumna Clara Lepard, presented their academic endeavors at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 13.
Jakob Nalley, a graduate student in Elena Litchman's laboratory at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, is using a local Michigan brewery's wastewater as a medium to grow algae. Brewery wastewater happens to be rich in the nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, needed to grow this potential biofuel. Nalley was excited to find that when the algae was removed from the wastewater, the water might even be clean enough to be recycled back to the brewery for washing the equipment and floors. The implications are twofold: (1) a means to recycle excess brewery wastewater while (2) growing a potential biofuel which could become an alternative to fossil fuels.
Zoology major, Julie Javorka, blogs about her experience as an Education Intern at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI.
Maris Wright's summer at the Florida Aquarium was an experience that she will never be able to forget. As one of the first interns for the Marine Operations department at the aquarium, she was excited to see what they had planned for me throughout the summer and to really get her feet wet.
Sarah Evans is a co-author of a new study which suggests that fog can transfer microbes into new environments.
Amphibian biologists watched in horror in 2004 as the frogs of El Copé, Panama, began dying by the thousands because of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a deadly fungus more commonly known as chytrid. A new study suggests that, within a decade, the species remaining in El Copé developed the ability to coexist with chytrid fungus.
Under normal conditions, the butterfly needs severe disturbance, such as fire or dense tree removal, to maintain its habitat and food source. The devastating hurricane in southern Florida created a second disturbance. Nick Haddad and Erica Henry have been awarded a grant to study whether these two disturbances create an even better habit and increase butterfly numbers or eliminate butterflies altogether.
Farmers around the world are turning to nature to help them reduce pesticide use, environmental impact and, subsequently, and in some cases, increasing yields. Specifically, they’re attracting birds and other vertebrates, which keep pests and other invasive species away from their crops. A study led by Catherine Lindell showcases some of the best global examples.
Deforestation remains the biggest threat to animals that call the rain forest “home.” However, even measured, sensible development projects can have unforeseen effects because there’s no model to follow. Now, thanks to new research published in Ecological Applications, there’s a guide to help land-use development and efforts to conserve amphibians, which are rapidly declining worldwide.
Scientists, including Nick Haddad, are working to save several species of butterflies from the brink of extinction.
Scientists have found that the evolutionary trick some fish use to make brief electrical discharges could provide new insights on treatments for diseases such as epilepsy.
New homes may help save a declining bird species, the American kestrel, and, at the same time, protect economically vital cherry crops from orchard-damaging enemies.
Richard Lenski's long-term evolution experiment is considered one of the world's longest-running science experiments. The experiment demonstrates that evolution occurs, is ever-present, and never stops. Insights from his research can lead to new ways to understand, prevent, and perhaps better treat diseases.
Science is often a series of failures that teach us how to succeed. After a first field season riddled with messes, graduate student Sean Griffin is making a beeline toward his research on pollinators in his second year of field work.
Elena Litchman and Christopher Klausmeier are the recipients of a two year, $360,000 NASA Astrobiology/Exobiology grant to fund research on modeling the evolutionary origin of diverse microbial metabolisms.
This winter, numerous snowy owls have been spotted in the Lansing area. The most recent reported spotting was by Pam Rasmussen.
What can help boost Michigan’s economy? American kestrels. In a recent study, the Lindell Lab shows that America’s smallest raptor can boost Michigan’s – and other fruit-growing states’ – bottom lines.
Environmental Biology-Zoology major, Alex Walus, participated in the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship (URA) Program at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station during summer 2016. Read about her research experience in the Brudvig Lab.
Sarah Fitzpatrick blogs about her presentation as an ASN Young Investigator winner at the Society for the Study of Evolution conference.
The 2017 newsletter highlights our Department's accomplishments from the past year including awards, grants, and influential research. Several alumni are also featured.
Zoology major, Katherine Magoulick, has been selected as an MSU Undergraduate Research Ambassador. The Undergraduate Research Ambassador program prepares current undergraduate researchers to facilitate workshops, assist at UURAF, and provide feedback to the UR staff on current and proposed program offerings. Magoulick’s research focuses on animal species recovery efforts around the world.
Arend Hintze researches the evolution of natural and artificial intelligence. He recently wrote an article for The Conversation discussing his concerns about artificial intelligence including (1) fear of the unforeseen, (2) fear of misuse, (3) fear of wrong social priorities, and (4) fear of the nightmare scenario.
Spartans lead effort to expand school in Uganda to honor late wildlife researcher and guide.
The research of alumnus, Des Rameriz, was highlighted in a recent New York Times Article. Rameriz completed a M.S. in Zoology in the Dyer Lab. He is currently a graduate student in the lab of Todd Oakley, Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
This summer the Department of Integrative Biology Newsletter was sent through the postal service to our alumni and friends. A copy of this newsletter is now available on our Department website for readers to enjoy.
The new, semester-long Conservation Medicine in New Zealand Study Abroad is underway! The program has launched a blog so you can read about their adventures.
Richard Lenski was invited to spoke at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received his doctorate in 1982. He spoke of core themes in his research and how these same themes play a role in life and our professional careers.
Michigan State University scientists, including Integrative Biology's Nathaniel Ostrom, have pinpointed a new source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that’s more potent than carbon dioxide. The culprit? Tiny bits of decomposing leaves in soil.
Pam Rasmussen is among a team of researchers who have discovered a new bird, the Sichuan bush warbler, in China. To date, Rasmussen has helped document and scientifically describe ten new species of birds.
The Rowe Lab is showcased in the XX Files Video Series by AAAS-Science Magazine. The XX Files takes viewers into the extraordinary worlds of extraordinary women scientists.
Chances are, wherever there is water there are Spartans. Researchers from dozens of disciplines across the globe study, monitor and protect our waters—from joining the front lines of the Flint water crisis response to combating the effects of climate change to ensuring access to safe, plentiful water for all. Integrative Biology graduate student, Kateri Salk, is featured.
Richard Lenski, called “The Man Who Bottled Evolution” by Science Magazine, was able to pinpoint the genes that give bacteria the beneficial mutations to outperform their ancestors, information important for human health.
Barred owls – unrivaled nocturnal predators and procreators – are moving into the Pacific Northwest. They’re encroaching on northern spotted owl territories and outcompeting this smaller, threatened cousin. A model developed at Michigan State University shows how it’s happening and gives wildlife conservationists a highly accurate, yet cost-effective tool to help shape management policies.
Steve Hamilton has been named an inaugural fellow of the Society for Freshwater Science for his contributions to promoting public appreciation of freshwater science through education and outreach.
Connie Rojas, a doctoral student working toward a dual degree in the Department of Integrative Biology, and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior (EEBB), was recently recognized for her activism, leadership, and service by the Michigan State University Council of Graduate Students. She has been awarded a Leadership Endowment Scholarship.
Jeanette McGuire and Gary Mittelbach were among the twenty-five NatSci faculty and staff members recognized for their achievements and contributions during 2016 at the annual College of Natural Science awards ceremony. Jeanette was recognized for her excellence in teaching with the Lorena V. Blinn Endowed Teaching Award while Gary received an Outstanding Faculty Award.
Have a look at Cara Krieg's podcast with AAAS Science Update about why female songbirds sing.
Kay Holekamp, a world-renowned hyena researcher, has been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is one of 197 new members. According to AAAS, “They include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, business, and philanthropic leaders.” Past inductees include Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Steve Hamilton and his former PhD student, Jorge Celi, were quoted in a recent report written by Liz Bimbrough for Mongabay.org.
Kateri Salk, a graduate student in the Ostrom Lab, was recently featured on MSU 360 Perspective.
Graduate student, Kateri Salk, has been awarded The Rose Water Fellowship. 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.
Eben Gering describes his recent research expedition in Thailand with a French film crew.