Research

We study life in context. Our research aims to answer fundamental questions that address national needs related to sustainable biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human and animal health and welfare. We focus on developing an integrative understanding of how complex biological systems develop, function, interact and evolve in a complex and changing world. Our vision is based on the proposition that by examining biological phenomena at all levels of the hierarchy of life in their ecological and evolutionary contexts, we can identify more meaningful questions and develop more meaningful answers. We work across the entire tree of life at all levels of biological organization, ranging from molecules to global ecosystems, over time scales ranging from milliseconds to millennia.

The faculty, postdoc, and graduate student directories provide general descriptions of our diverse research initiatives. A more vivid and dynamic picture can be seen from the news stories posted on our home page and abstracted below. Feel free to contact any of us for more information.

 

Our Research in the News

$2 Million NSF Grant Awarded to Predict Future Viability of Phytoplankton
$2 Million NSF Grant Awarded to Predict Future Viability of Phytoplankton

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.

MSU a key partner in Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research
MSU a key partner in Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes 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, professor of integrative biology in the MSU College of Natural Science and co-director of the MSU Center for Water Sciences, took the lead in developing MSU’s contribution to the NOAA proposal.

Frazer Meacham and Tom Getty Tackle the Big Questions in Life: Sexual Selection & Parental Investment
Frazer Meacham and Tom Getty Tackle the Big Questions in Life: Sexual Selection & Parental Investment

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.