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


GMOs: A surrogate for the debate about agriculture?

Public concern over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is often associated with questions over their possible effects on human health and their environmental implications. However, perceptions of the agricultural and food industries, trends in higher education, questions around how research is funded, political leanings and socioeconomic factors can also play a part. Paul Thompson, holder of the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University (MSU), conducts research on the ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food. More»

Police identify man killed in crash on US-127 in Clinton County as MSU professor
Detroit Free Press

The man killed in a fatal crash Sunday in Clinton County has been identified as a 37-year-old Michigan State University professor. Shengpan Lin, who's from China and was living in Lansing, died at the scene of the crash on northbound U.S. 127 near the exit to Uncle John’s Cider Mill on Sunday afternoon, the Clinton County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Lin was an assistant professor in MSU's Social Science Data Analytics Initiative. He earned his PhD from the university in 2017, the same year he was appointed as an assistant professor. More»


ESPP PhD student Dylan Brewer (Economics) elected to the Nature Conservancy's Michigan Board of Trustees
The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy recently added two doctoral candidates to its Michigan Board of Trustees: Dylan Brewer, a PhD candidate in economics and environmental science and policy at Michigan State University (MSU) and Tracy Melvin, who is working on her Ph.D. in fisheries and wildlife and ecology, evolutionary biology and behavior with a certificate in spatial ecology, also at MSU. "Our world today is demanding a fresh, open approach to identifying and solving the biggest challenges we face for our environment in conservation" said Helen Taylor, state director in Michigan for The Nature Conservancy. "We're very hopeful that leaders like Dylan and Tracy will help us think about new and innovative approaches to our work." More»

A Few More Bad Apples: As The Climate Changes, Fruit Growing Does, Too
National Public Radio

For 150 years, western Michigan has been the perfect place to grow apples, says Jeff Andresen, professor at Michigan State University and the state climatologist. One reason is that Lake Michigan, to the west, moderates the climate here. More»

Yes, humans are depleting Earth's resources, but "footprint" estimates don't tell the full story
The Conversation

As an ecological economist and scholar of sustainability, I am particularly interested in metrics and indicators that can help us understand human uses of Earth’s ecosystems. Better measurements of the impacts of human activities can help identify ways to sustain both human well-being and natural resources. By Robert Richardson, Professor of Community Sustainability, MSU More»


ESPP affiliated faculty Drs. Vlad Tarabara, Robby Richardson, Michelle Rutty, and Doug Bessette, together with Dr. Grant Gunn, are awarded an Michigan Applied Public Policy Research grant for "Line 5: Oil Spill Detection, Remediation, and Risk Perceptions in Winter Conditions"
Institute for Public Policy and Social Research

Great Lakes Health Line 5: Oil Spill Detection, Remediation, and Risk Perceptions in Winter Conditions The project will examine the social perceptions of and physical risks associated with Line 5, an increasingly contentious oil transport pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. Specifically, this research will (1) provide insight into the public's and decision-makers' perceptions of the risks associated with a Line 5 underwater oil spill via surveys, focus groups, and agent-based modeling, which will be informed by (2) preliminary laboratory experiments that investigate how oil accumulates and spreads beneath ice in the winter season, which has not been previously studied. The findings from this research will have critical implications for identifying best practices and developing spill remediation policy for the State of Michigan. Contact: Grant Gunn, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Environment & Spatial Sciences, College of Social Science, Doug Bessette, Assistant Professor, Community Sustainability Robert Richardson, Associate Professor, Community Sustainability Michelle Rutty, Assistant Professor, Community Sustainability Volodymyr Tarabara, Professor, Environmental Engineering and ESPP More»


ESPP Faculty Dr. Sandy Marquart-Pyatt and ESPP student Riva Denny (Sociology) win a grant to research "Perceptions of Water Quality, Quantity and Access in Michigan"
Institute for Public Policy and Social Research

Perceptions of Water Quality, Quantity and Access in Michigan This research seeks Michigan residents' perception of water quality, quantity and access. Public perception relates to public satisfaction with water management decisions, satisfaction with and trust of drinking water providers, and the eventual success or failure of efforts to address water problems through compliance or opposition. Further, questions about how many of these issues are unique to the state of Michigan and how they might compare with public views in other states facing similar issues provides input to the decision process of policy leaders. Sandra T. Marquart-Pyatt, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Environmental Science & Policy Program; Riva C. H. Denny, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology More»


ESPP affiliated faculty Drs. Sharlissa Moore and Annick Anctil awarded grant to study "Understanding Public Opinion on Energy Transitions in Michigan"
Institute for Public Policy and Social Research

Energy Transitions Understanding Public Opinion on Energy Transitions in Michigan This research considers opinions more specific to the changes underway in Michigan energy transitions that could influence the integrated resource planning process through the Public Service Commission. The end report focuses on providing input into the Michigan Public Service Commission’s evaluation of utility integrated resource plans and decision-making on renewable energy adoption. Sharlissa Moore, James Madison College, Civil & Environmental Engineering; Annick Anctil, Civil & Environmental Engineering More»


New study focuses on disaster recovery

Scientists, led by doctoral student Hongbo Yang of the ESPP and MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, or CSIS, measured what constituted well-being for the quake’s human victims and found as yet unidentified losses. More»


Climate Change and Food Security
The Republic

Dr. Laura Schmitt Olabisi writes: Given the current challenges to agricultural production in Nigeria, climate change is expected to make the situation even worse. Both higher temperatures and shifting rainfall regimes will lower crop yields compared to what they could be under a stable climate. While scientists aren’t sure exactly how rainfall patterns in West Africa will change over the next century, the region will definitely be hotter, with negative consequences for staple crop production. Climate change can also exacerbate pest and disease outbreaks. There is some evidence that the Fall Armyworm outbreaks seen across Africa in 2017 were made worse because of climate change. More»


A fresh look at fresh water: Researchers create a 50,000-lake database
National Science Foundation

A team of 80 scientists in fields including limnology, ecology, computer science, geographic and information sciences, and other disciplines developed LAGOS. Their recent paper in the journal GigaScience makes the results available to researchers, policymakers and the public. "We're at an exciting time in environmental science, when people are recognizing that the big problems we face require us to work together across disciplinary boundaries and to openly share data, methods and tools," said paper co- author Kendra Cheruvelil, a scientist at Michigan State University (MSU). More»


Yadu Pokhrel to use NSF CAREER Award to advance water resource sustainability and food security
College of Engineering

The clock is ticking on the world’s freshwater supply. Yadu Pokhrel, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan State University, is concerned that with more than seven billion people on the planet, it is time to rethink how we use and manage freshwater systems.Yadu Pokhrel's NSF project will use the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia as a testbed. The Mekong River Basin is home to 60 million people in six nations and hosts the world’s largest freshwater fishery. Yadu Pokhrel's NSF project will use the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia as a testbed. The Mekong River Basin is home to 60 million people in six nations and hosts the world’s largest freshwater fishery. Pokhrel will use a five-year, $500,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to continue his work in water systems management. The grant begins on June 1, 2018. More»


Surprising species helps Lake Michigan E. coli levels
Detroit Free Press

New research out of Michigan State University shows Lake Michigan beach closings have dropped over the past 15 years as E. coli bacteria concentrations have dropped. That time period coincides with the explosion of quagga mussels across the Great Lakes and especially in Lake Michigan. More»


Climate change should help midwest corn production through 2050

Climate change and global warming put some forms of life at risk, but researchers found one instance that might not feel the heat – corn. Contrary to previous analyses, research published by Michigan State University shows that projected changes in temperature and humidity will not lead to greater water use in corn. This means that while changes in temperatures and humidity trend as they have in the past 50 years, crop yields can not only survive – but thrive. “There is a lot of optimism looking at the future for farmers, especially in the Midwest,” said Bruno Basso, lead author of the study and University Distinguished professor. More»

The hidden environmental costs of importing food

A new study has exposed the surprising fact that importing food can be just as damaging to ecological health as exporting food. Domestic farmers are sometimes forced to switch crops in response to the global food market, and this often leads to unforeseen environmental consequences. Study senior author Jianguo “Jack” Liu is the director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University. “What is obvious is not always the whole truth,” said Liu. “Unless a world is examined in a systemic, holistic way, environmental costs will be overlooked.” More»


Dr. Jennifer Carrera Awarded Prestigious NIEHS Grant
Department of Socilogy

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Carrera who was recently awarded the prestigious KO1 mentoring grant from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Dr. Carrera uses water as lens to focus on differential access to environmental resources and its impact on the well-being of individuals in marginalized communities. The grant will be used to work with residents in Flint, Michigan to develop novel, low-cost resources for environmental monitoring with the aims of enhancing self and community-efficacy towards protecting public health. The KO1 mentoring grant will provide the necessary funds to Dr. Carrera for 3 years to investigate her research objective: Engaging Community in the Development of Low Cost Technologies for Environmental Monitoring to Promote Environmental Health Literacy in a Low-Trust Setting. Known as a career transition award, the grant provides support for independent environmental health research and advanced research training while fostering additional experience in environmental health sciences. Dr. Carrera is jointly appointed in the Department of Sociology and the Environmental Science and Policy Program and she is part of the campus-wide Global Water Initiative, which is intended to deepen, enrich, and foster collaboration across MSU’s expansive water scholarship on campus. Anyone interested in learning more about the award should contact Dr. Carrera directly at More»

Conservation Costs Can Be Higher than Bargained For

MSU doctoral candidate Hongbo Yang and his colleagues created a systems approach to look at how farmers in southwestern China’s Wolong Nature Reserve were faring since they started taking payments under two of the country’s PES programs. The Grain-to-Green Program, one of the world’s largest PES programs, was created in 2000 to address the rapid degradation of ecosystems including giant panda habitat. By 2010, around 15 million hectares of farmland were returned to forests or grasslands. The local Grain-to-Bamboo Program, started in 2002, supported growing bamboo on cropland to feed pandas in captivity. More»


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