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The Endowed Faculty Ecosystem

investiture panorama

The Endowed Faculty Ecosystem

The 2019-2020 class of endowed faculty members and University Distinguished Professors are growing the seeds of knowledge by moving MSU and big ideas forward through their research, teaching and discoveries.

OPENING DOORS TO NEW DISCOVERIES

RESILIENCE RESEARCHER: Robin Buell
University Distinguished Professor
MSU Foundation Professor
College of Natural Science MSU has a long-standing reputation as a leader in plant science research, and Buell’s work in the area of plant genomics is helping to meet a rapidly growing need for more resilient plants that not only produce more yield, but that can survive the extremes brought on by climate change.


MICROBE MANAGER: Sean Crosson
Professor Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair
College of Natural Science
“MSU has provided a great opportunity to be part of a large microbiology program with breadth and strength in fundamental physiology, pathogenesis, microbial ecology and evolution. Plus, the opportunity to interface with investigators from the plant and animal sciences who are interested in microbes is very exciting to me. It’s a real privilege to have this job.”


GLOBAL EQUALIZER: Carl Davidson
University Distinguished Professor
College of Social Science
“What I’m interested in is, how can society continue to enjoy the benefits of globalization, but in a way that ensures that the benefits are distributed in a more equitable manner.”


TECTONIC TECHNICIAN: Jeffrey Freymueller
Thomas A. Vogel Chair for Geology of the Solid Earth
College of Natural Science
“I’m going to start some new things in Hawaii and Iceland—looking at whether these islands are starting to subside under the growing weight of their volcanoes. Right now, measurement networks in these places are not well poised for looking at these deep problems. People are looking at the shallow parts of the systems, but looking at the deep parts is a long-term project, a long-term need for data. It might require a decade—and we can get it started with the endowment funds. …That’s the beauty of having resources.”


BONE ANALYZER: Laura McCabe
MSU Foundation Professor
College of Osteopathic Medicine
McCabe’s internationally recognized research program has been continuous-ly funded for nearly 20 years. Her work in the area of bone cell differentiation, bone formation, and development of new strategies for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis has made her a sought-after voice in her field and has generated an expansive body of work, including an impressive stack of book chapters, peer-reviewed articles and patents.


ANTIBODY ACTIVIST: David Morgan
MSU Foundation Professor
College of Human Medicine
Morgan has devoted his entire career to the study of Alzheimer’s disease, and his research has been a driving force behind several clinical trials of antibody injections, which activate an immune system response to stop the buildup of protein in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. His ongoing work focuses on identifying who is at risk for the disease and finding the proper drug to treat the risk.


OBSERVER OF OFFICES: Brent Scott
Frederick S. Addy 
Distinguished Professor
Eli Broad College of Business
A professor in the Department of Management, Scott’s research focuses on the role of mood and emotions, organizational justice and overall well-being in the workplace. He has unearthed some surprising findings about the detrimental effects of “fake smiling” and people’s unfortunate tendency to treat “unattractive” workers more harshly—things that should make all of us think twice about our interactions in the office.

TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION

INJURY INNOVATOR: Michele J. Grimm
Wielenga Creative Engineering Endowed Professor
College of Engineering
Grimm’s current work lies at the inter-section of engineering and obstetrics. Her understanding of injury biomechanics, and the computer models she’s developed to assess them, have helped to shed light on the pathomechanics of neonatal brachial plexus injuries.


WATER WHISTLEBLOWER: Mona Hanna-Attisha
C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health
College of Human Medicine
“Dr. Mona” put Flint in the national spotlight when her research revealed that local children were displaying critically high blood lead levels, due to corrosion in the city’s aging pipes. As the director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Dr. Mona continues to build community and clinical programs to improve outcomes for the kids of Flint, whose childhoods were interrupted by the health issues brought on by lead poisoning.


PREVENTION PROPONENT: Todd Lucas
C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health
College of Human Medicine
Lucas’ research into the psychosocial causes of racial health disparities is pro-viding insight to the medical community about why people decide not to pursue preventive health screenings, namely for colorectal cancer. His research has revealed that access and affordability aren’t the only root causes, and that intangibles like emotion, personality characteristics and social environments also play a crucial role, and could be addressed by psychological interventions and better health communication strategies.


WATER WATCHER: Pouyan Nejadhashemi
MSU Foundation Professor
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Nejadhashemi is a leading expert in water resources modeling, examining water and its distribution, movement and quality in a variety of environments. He and his research team consult with national and international governmental agencies to help them make informed decisions on water resource management, sustainable crop production and climate change mitigation strategies.


EVOLUTION ENGINEER: Robert Pennock
University Distinguished Professor
Lyman Briggs College
As one of the co-PIs who started the BEACON Center, Pennock is the lead developer of the Avida-ED software platform: a now-widely used computer program used to study evolution in action. It allows students and researchers to observe the Darwinian principles of evolution through digital modeling, which takes much less time than trying to watch it happen in nature.


BIOMETRICS BELIEVER: Arun Ross
John and Eva Cillag Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering
College of Engineering
Ross specializes in biometrics, computer vision and machine learning, and is director of the iPRoBe Lab (integrated Pattern Recognition and Biometrics). He is an advocate for the responsible use of biometrics and has served as a presenter and panelist at events organized by NATO and the United Nations, where issues related to collecting and sharing biometric data go hand in hand with immigration, border security and counter- terrorism.


COLLABORATOR FOR CULTIVATORS: Scott Swinton
University Distinguished Professor
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
“MSU is a place with low barriers to cross-disciplinary work with biologists, engineers and social scientists. In the real world, problems are all connected. Farmers don’t just work on environ-mental management, they don’t just work with animals, they work with all these things together. So it’s important that we as researchers work together if we’re going to provide policy-relevant information to influence government and support decisions by farmers and managers.”


MALARIA MYSTERY-SOLVER: Terrie Taylor
MSU Foundation Professor
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Though she has been treating children with malaria in Malawi since 1986, Taylor’s biggest discovery came after years of watching families and communities deal with the sudden loss of a once bright, vibrant, healthy child to the disease. The devastation sparked something in her—a new determination to root out the cause of sudden death due to malaria.  Her care and tenacity are helping to unearth answers that could  change the course of malaria treatment in Africa.


SUPPLY CHAIN SENTINEL: Vedat Verter
John McConnell Endowed Chair of Business Administration
Eli Broad College of Business
Verter is chairperson of MSU’s renowned Department of Supply Chain Management, and his research focus-es on service chain design, hazardous materials logistics, sustainable operations and health care operations management. His expertise is highly relevant in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic as businesses look for guidance in how to respond, from retooling their operations to produce critical health care equipment to addressing worker safety and well-being and preventing the spread of disease in the workplace.

INSPIRING OUR STUDENTS & LIFTING UP OUR COLLEAGUES

TEACHER OF TEACHERS: Ann Austin
University Distinguished Professor
College of Education
“In the same way that people study businesses or agriculture, I study higher education. I also study faculty—how we carry out our missions, our teaching, our research. I really see the faculty as essential to the quality of the university. One of the most exciting parts of my career has been co-leading the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning. We have about 40 universities that are all working together to support doctoral students to make sure that our next generation of faculty are prepared to be excellent researchers but also to be excellent teachers at the same time.”


PEDAGOGICAL PHOTOSYNTHESIZER: Christoph Benning
University Distinguished Professor
MSU Foundation Professor
College of Natural Science
“I’ve had a large number of students that I had the fortune to mentor, and so I take it as a big part of my job to educate people and to train people to be successful in the scientific environment and to make discoveries on their own.”


DISEASE DECODER: Christina Chan
University Distinguished Professor
College of Engineering and College of Natural Science
“One of our most significant research accomplishments has been through the collaboration with graduate students at MSU. We were able to identify these markers in the bloodstream that might be able to identify whether or not a person will be developing Alzheimer’s. Being named a University Distinguished Professor is an honor… But I think it’s an honor that belongs to all of my students. With-out the students, it would be very difficult for MSU to be a world-class research institution.”


GALAXY GUIDE: Megan Donahue
University Distinguished Professor
College of Natural Science
“I was interested in science from the time I was 12, but I couldn’t imagine astronomy as a paying gig. It wasn’t until I decided to commit to a graduate school that had an astrophysics program that I really started to think of myself as an astronomer at all. Coming to Michigan State as a professor gave me a chance to teach from my own book in an interactive way. Students answer questions in class and explain it to each other—if you can’t explain it, you probably don’t understand it.”


ATHLETICS ADVOCATE: Daniel Gould
Gwen Norrell Professor in Youth Sport and Student-Athlete Well-Being
College of Education
“I am passionate about conducting research on practical issues critical to those working in the world of sport, and then working to translate what was learned to help sport stakeholders maximize the benefits of sport participation. Helping everyone involved reap the benefits of educational athletics is what I am most proud of.”


IMPACT INVESTIGATOR: Dalton Hardisty
Geological Sciences Endowed Professor
College of Natural Science
“I am particularly proud and feel a sense of responsibility to have an endowed position, and I take it very seriously. I am looking forward to being a leader in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and helping the department maintain its status as a leader going forward.”


TRIUMPH TEACHER: Robert Hausinger
University Distinguished Professor
College of Natural Science
“Teaching has two facets here: the classroom, and the teaching I do in the laboratory. The real pleasure of working with students is when you see those aha moments. Where they learn something in class, and then they come into the lab and they’re working, and suddenly they realize, ‘Oh that’s what the professor was trying to get across to me!’ It’s really exciting to see them understand how they can apply book learning to real-world examples.”


FINANCIAL PLANNER: Andrei Simonov
Philip J. May Endowed 
Professor in Finance
Eli Broad College of Business
Simonov is the faculty director of MSU’s Financial Markets Institute, a pro-gram for highly motivated finance and accounting students in the Eli Broad College of Business who want to pursue a career in investment banking, sales and trading, research or asset management. With years of expertise, Simonov is able to work closely with students in the pro-gram to construct a curricular plan that will set them up for academic and career success.


STRUCTURE SONOGRAPHER: Lalita Udpa
University Distinguished Professor
College of Engineering
Udpa is an expert in the area of non- destructive evaluation (NDE), which uses high-frequency sound waves to “see” into materials in order to determine the health of the structures they comprise. Udpa and her team are working to build MSU’s reputation as a best-in-the-country institution for NDE. As a minority woman in a male-dominated field, Udpa is also enthusiastic about empowering young girls to pursue careers and find their own passion in the field.

Author: Devon Barrett, '11

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