Plant Biology Summer 2016 Newsletter : Page 1

SUMMER 2016 Plant Biology College of Natural Science | Newsletter for Alumni and Friends DEPARTMENT OF From the Department Chair . . . W elcome to the inaugural edition of the Department of Plant Biology newsletter. I became chair of the department in Janu-ary, and it’s been a great pleasure to learn about the numerous research, teaching, service and outreach activities. This is an extraordinary organization that lives up to its rankings as one of the top plant science programs in the country. As you scroll through the following pages, we hope you will get a snapshot of a few of the people and activities that contribute to our success. Much of the credit for plant biology’s success goes to my predecessor, Rich Triemer, who led the department for 13 years. During that time, it has grown to include 37 faculty members, 50 undergraduate majors, 48 graduate students, 30 postdocs and more than 30 research and support staff. Our core mission is to understand all aspects of plant biology, ranging from molecules to ecosystems. This provides for a diverse and stimulating environment for our undergraduate and graduate programs, which strive to provide the next generation of plant scientists with the intellectual and technical framework to address key questions in the plant sciences beyond the constraints of the traditional disciplines. The department’s research programs include molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, plant pathology, quantitative and computational genomics, systematics, evolutionary biology and ecology. Although emphasizing basic science, research in our labs has implications for developing sustainable solutions to the demands for clean energy production, the need for a secure food supply, and threats posed by climate change and environmental degradation. The department also has a tradition of promoting innovation in science education by applying the same rigorous scholarship to teaching and training as we do to our science. Our programs include research on the development and assessment of approaches to more effectively train students in the biological sciences. “One of the strongest testaments to our success is the success of our alumni and those who have worked with us in the past.” in agriculture and the environment. The initiative in Quantitative and Computational Plant Sciences is aimed at recruiting faculty using large-scale or systems approaches to address compelling research questions in plant science. In addition, the MSU Board of Trustees recently approved the establishment of the Plant Resilience Institute, which will conduct fundamental research on “mechanisms that contribute to plant resilience and impact plant productivity.” Both initiatives are supported by the MSU Global Impact Initiative, which aims to recruit more than 100 new faculty investigators to accelerate finding solutions to the recognized “Grand Challenges” identified by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy. We’re delighted to be able to share some of these activities and successes with our alumni, friends and colleagues in this first newsletter. One of the strongest testaments to our success is the success of our alumni and those who have worked with us in the past. We also hope that the newsletter will provide the opportunity for us to reconnect and learn more about you. We encourage you to contact us and discuss how we can build on the tradition of scholarly and educational excellence in plant biology together. Danny Schnell, Ph.D. Chairperson, Department of Plant Biology We are part of one of the largest and most recognized plant science communities in the world, encompassing approximately 160 faculty members in nine academic departments and research units at MSU. Many of our faculty members hold joint appointments in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory and the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), two of the world’s premier research institutes in plant molecular biology and ecology and evolution, respectively. Our laboratories also participate in the DOE-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the NSF-funded Long-Term Ecological Research program at KBS. This past year, our faculty played major leadership roles in the establishment of new programs to address critical needs PLANTBIO .NA T SCI.MSU .EDU

From The Department Chair . . .

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Department of Plant Biology newsletter. I became chair of the department in January, and it’s been a great pleasure to learn about the numerous research, teaching, service and outreach activities. This is an extraordinary organization that lives up to its rankings as one of the top plant science programs in the country. As you scroll through the following pages, we hope you will get a snapshot of a few of the people and activities that contribute to our success.

Much of the credit for plant biology’s success goes to my predecessor, Rich Triemer, who led the department for 13 years. During that time, it has grown to include 37 faculty members, 50 undergraduate majors, 48 graduate students, 30 postdocs and more than 30 research and support staff. Our core mission is to understand all aspects of plant biology, ranging from molecules to ecosystems. This provides for a diverse and stimulating environment for our undergraduate and graduate programs, which strive to provide the next generation of plant scientists with the intellectual and technical framework to address key questions in the plant sciences beyond the constraints of the traditional disciplines.

The department’s research programs include molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, plant pathology, quantitative and computational genomics, systematics, evolutionary biology and ecology. Although emphasizing basic science, research in our labs has implications for developing sustainable solutions to the demands for clean energy production, the need for a secure food supply, and threats posed by climate change and environmental degradation. The department also has a tradition of promoting innovation in science education by applying the same rigorous scholarship to teaching and training as we do to our science. Our programs include research on the development and assessment of approaches to more effectively train students in the biological sciences.


“One of the strongest testaments to our success is the success of our alumni and those who have worked with us in the past.”


We are part of one of the largest and most recognized plant science communities in the world, encompassing approximately 160 faculty members in nine academic departments and research units at MSU. Many of our faculty members hold joint appointments in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory and the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), two of the world’s premier research institutes in plant molecular biology and ecology and evolution, respectively. Our laboratories also participate in the DOE-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the NSF-funded Long- Term Ecological Research program at KBS.

This past year, our faculty played major leadership roles in the establishment of new programs to address critical needs in agriculture and the environment. The initiative in Quantitative and Computational Plant Sciences is aimed at recruiting faculty using large-scale or systems approaches to address compelling research questions in plant science. In addition, the MSU Board of Trustees recently approved the establishment of the Plant Resilience Institute, which will conduct fundamental research on “mechanisms that contribute to plant resilience and impact plant productivity.” Both initiatives are supported by the MSU Global Impact Initiative, which aims to recruit more than 100 new faculty investigators to accelerate finding solutions to the recognized “Grand Challenges” identified by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy.

We’re delighted to be able to share some of these activities and successes with our alumni, friends and colleagues in this first newsletter. One of the strongest testaments to our success is the success of our alumni and those who have worked with us in the past. We also hope that the newsletter will provide the opportunity for us to reconnect and learn more about you. We encourage you to contact us and discuss how we can build on the tradition of scholarly and educational excellence in plant biology together.




Danny Schnell, Ph.D. Chairperson, Department of Plant Biology

Read the full article at http://pubs.natsci.msu.edu/article/From+The+Department+Chair+.++.++./2532074/320097/article.html.

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