MSU Plant Biology Department
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Chairperson, Department of Plant Biology

Michigan State University

Michigan State University invites applications and nominations for the position of Chairperson of the Department of Plant Biology. The Chair would lead an internationally recognized department with a long history of university commitment to excellence in the Plant Sciences. The Department has more than 30 faculty members, strong graduate and undergraduate programs, and a supportive administrative and technical staff. It is built on the concept of integrating all sub-disciplines of plant biology, ranging from evolution and ecology to cellular, molecular and genomic biology. Research is conducted in modern research facilities on campus and at field sites across Michigan and throughout the world. The department includes faculty affiliated with the Kellogg Biological Station, the MSU Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

The Chair is expected to provide leadership and to promote a creative environment that fosters innovation and excellence in research and teaching/educational programs in Plant Biology. Candidates must possess an established record of strong scholarship in a relevant field, proven academic leadership, and strong interpersonal skills. Continuation of an active research program is encouraged and will be supported. Candidates should be qualified to hold the rank of tenured Full Professor. Applicants should submit: a complete curriculum vitae; a statement of interest highlighting specific strengths related to this position, including research and administrative experience and accomplishments; and the names of three references (who will be contacted only with your permission). Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality until a list of candidates for interviewing is determined. All materials should be assembled into one PDF and uploaded to: for position #9727.

Review of applications will begin October 15, 2014, and will continue until the position is filled. Questions regarding the position may be sent to the Chair of the search committee, at

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer and is committed to achieving excellence through diversity. The University actively encourages applications of women, persons of color, veterans, and persons with disabilities, and we endeavor to facilitate employment assistance to spouses or partners of candidates for faculty and academic staff positions. 


MSU is using drones to help improve farming and biofuels practices. Carolyn Malmstrom, associate professor of plant biology, explains how having close-up, aerial views of crops can improve yields and sustainability. Watch the video produced by MSU, "Flying the Fields."


The discovery of a cellular snooze button has allowed a team of Michigan State University scientists to potentially improve biofuel production and offer insight on the early stages of cancer. Plant Biology graduate students Chia-Hong Tsai and Jaruswan Warakanont along with faculty emeritus Dr. Barbara Sears working in the lab of Dr. Christoph Benning, have worked on the team making this important discovery. Read more here on the College of Natural Science's website.


Congratulations to Jeff Simpson who received an award for the best presentation by a graduate student at the 21st International Symposium on Plant Lipids. Jeff presented a 15 min talk entitled: “A new pathway for triacylglycerol production in plants discovered from biochemical and genetic characterization of the massive wax accumulation on the surface of Bayberry fruits.

Dr. Robin Buell has been awarded $1 million from a joint USDA and DOE program for the improvement of plant feedstock used for the production of biofuels, bio-power, and bio-based products. You can read more on the CNS website.


Congratulations to Plant Biology's Award Winners:

(in photo, from left to right; Dr. Richard Triemer, Jonathan Markey, Chia-Hong Tsai, Xiufang Xin, Dr. Alan Prather, Wenyan Du)

-Jonathan Markey, who was granted the William G. Fields Award for outstanding teaching. 

-Xiufang Xin, recipient of the graduate Ernest A. Bessey Research Award.

-Kirk Gordon and Andrew Lapinsky who both were granted the Ernest A. Bessey Award for undergraduates.


Drs. Frances Trail and Jonathan Walton from the Department of Plant Biology helped organize the recently held Mycological Society of America Annual Meeting here in East Lansing, MI this past June. For more information about the event, click here to read this article from the College of Natural Science homepage.


Thanks to everyone who has come to see the flower - as of June 28th, the flower is no longer in bloom, and no longer on public display. If you'd like to offer a tax deductible contribution, follow the instructions here:



Press play below to watch a time lapse video of Plant Biology's corpse flower!



The “Corpse Flower” (Amorphothallus titanium), now blooming in the Plant Biology Teaching Conservatory, has been attracting a great deal of interest.  In the past two days, over 4000 people have come to the conservatory to view the largest unbranched flower in the world.  A special thanks to Jan Szyren, our horticulturalist and green house manager who maintains and nurtures this plant and whose efforts have brought about this wonderful flowering event and to Frank Telewski and Peter Carrington who have helped to coordinate this event.

Read all about the flower here on MSU Today's 360 Perspective, featuring photos, feature pieces, and more.


Chad Zirbel, graduate student in Dr. Lars Brudvig's lab, is one of ten graduate students at Michigan State University to receive a research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. You can read more about these prestigious fellowships on the College of Natural Science website on this page.



Dr. Kenneth Keegstra has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his work in investigating the biogenesis of chloroplasts and the biosynthesis of plant cell walls, both unique parts of plant cells that distinguish them from the cells of other living organisms. Read more here.


Dr. Nathan Swenson has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for his research into creating phylogenomic and functional trait databases in New Zealand. The College of Natural Science has issued a story about Dr. Swenson's fellowship that can be read here. Additionally, you can Dr. Swenson's profile on the Guggenheim Fellowship website can be viewed at this link.  


Dr. Curtis Wilkerson's research into enhancing the viability of poplar trees as biofuel has been published by Science Magazine in the current (April 2014) issue. Dr. Wilkerson spoke with MSU Today to discuss his research; that article can be read here.



The Herbarium participated in the MSU Science Festival on Saturday, April 5th by hosting a public open house for over 160 visitors. Visit this website to learn more about the MSU Herbarium.

Dr. Robin Buell presents her research to President Obama during his recent visit to MSU to sign the Farm Bill.

This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House..


Dr. Carolyn Malmstrom appeared on a podcast for Microbe magazine with an interview about plant-virus interactions. You can listen to the interview at this link.



Dr. Frank Telewski has produced a preliminary study analyzing  the damage to Michigan's trees from the December ice storm. More information can be read at this link. A video has also been posted by Natural Science featuring Dr. Telewski, and can be viewed here.



   MSU Today has a produced feature story about the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and current work of Plant Biology Faculty Member Dr. Frank Telewski. Click on the photo below for more:

Recent Publications
  • Chen, YN; Aung, K; Rolcik, J; Walicki, K; Friml, J; Brandizzi, F (2014). Inter-regulation of the unfolded protein response and auxin signaling. Plant Journal. 77:97-107
  • Poskar, CH; Huege, J; Krach, C; Shachar-Hill, Y; Junker, BH (2014). High-Throughput Data Pipelines for Metabolic Flux Analysis in Plants. Plant Metabolic Flux Analysis: Methods And Protocols. 1090:223-246
  • Wang, Z; Lopez-Giraldez, F; Lehr, N; Farre, M; Common, R; Trail, F; Townsend, JP (2014). Global Gene Expression and Focused Knockout Analysis Reveals Genes Associated with Fungal Fruiting Body Development in Neurospora crassa. Eukaryotic Cell. 13:154-169
  • Muggia, L; Perez-Ortega, S; Fryday, A; Spribille, T; Grube, M (2014). Global assessment of genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity in the lichen-forming species Tephromela atra. Fungal Diversity. 64:233-251

See more...

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