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CNS Internship Spotlight highlights KBS URA experience PDF Print E-mail
KBS Research News
Monday, 09 November 2015 16:00

Our very own Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship (URA), William Davie, gives his perspective on the research he did at KBS this summer!

Read about it in the MSU College of Natural Science Internship Spotlight.

Meet the K-12 Partnership Fellows PDF Print E-mail
KBS News
Monday, 02 November 2015 16:50

Fellow Educators,

Take yourself back to the distant past, to the 2012-2013 academic year. The year that the Summer Institute was a glorious week long, and the Spring Workshop had an early 2000’s rap theme (“99 Problems But A Root Ain’t One”). Well, we have some great news, some of those GK-12 fellows are back, and ready to help keep the K-12 Partnership going strong! Tyler Bassett, Cara Krieg, Michael Kuczynski and Jake Nalley are back! As you might remember, all of them are graduate students at the Kellogg Biological Station and more information on what they are up to at KBS and why they love working with the K-12 Partnership can be seen below. Michael and Cara are working under the direction of Tom Getty to round out the GK-12 BEST Plot Project.  They are focusing on polishing the many lessons the fellows developed throughout the years and they are even taking the brave plunge to begin deciphering the BEST Plot data to generate some publications. Jake and Tyler are working directly with the K-12 Partnership under the guidance of Kara Haas. Jake and Tyler are working in a similar to the traditional GK-12 Fellow arrangement, just with less connection to a single school and more broadly available to any district, school and age level. One of the “most liked” aspects of the GK-12 partnership (by both teachers and fellows) was fellows visiting the classroom and interacting with students.  So to continue this, Jake, Tyler and Michael are currently each developing a lesson that will showcase their personal research focus. We will unveil these lessons at the upcoming November 10th K-12 Partnership Fall Workshop and we will begin scheduling visit dates. Also, Jake is showcasing some of his personal research, “Tapping Into Brewery Wastewater to Generate Biofuels,” at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Sunday Series on November 8th at 1:30pm. We look forward to seeing you all at the upcoming Workshop on November 10th!

Biographies of our current 2015-2016 Fellows:

Tyler_Bassett_pic_2015Tyler Bassett: Plants are everywhere, and everywhere they are different. If you love plants as much as I do, all of that biodiversity makes the world an endlessly curious place. Why is that species here . . . and not there? How have certain plant species come to form the plant communities we see today? How is each community differently responsible for providing the clean air, pollinator habitat, and all the other ‘services’ that nature provides, free of charge? As a scientist, I explore questions like these in order to understand how to better restore damaged ecosystems. The better we understand how nature works, the better we can put the pieces back together. Working with the K-12 partnership gives me an opportunity to pass on my passion and curiosity about the natural world. Teaching science by doing science gives students the skills to understand both the wonder and the value of biodiversity, and be more willing to protect it. I am excited to do my small part to facilitate that process.


Cara_Krieg_pic_2015Cara Krieg: My name is Cara Krieg.  I’m a scientist and I study female behavior in songbirds.  I’m excited to be working with the K-12 partnership because I love getting students excited about science too!  Have you ever heard the saying “men are from Mars and women are from Venus?”  Have you ever wondered how much of this is a product of biology and how much is a result of culture?  Many scientists expect male animals to be aggressive.  However, it turns out many female animals are aggressive too!  I explore this under-studied female behavior in a population of house wrens nesting at KBS.  Using recordings to simulate fights in the field, I study why females fight, what benefits they might gain, and how this behavior is different from males.  Do the demands of raising babies prevent one sex from being very aggressive?  Does aggression provide a bigger benefit for the other sex?  Or are the sexes more similar than we think?

Michael_Kuczynski_pic_2015Michael Kuczynski: My name is Michael Kuczynski, I am a graduate student here at KBS studying the mating behaviors of local frogs and toads.  If you have ever lived near a pond or swamp then chances are every spring your nights were filled with the sounds of singing frogs.  Male frogs form these large choruses to attract females.  We know that females in some species prefer to mate with males that call at a high rate and produce long calls; however, not every male calls this way.  Why wouldn’t every male try to call as frequently and as long as possible?   Well one reason is that calling is costly; singing takes a lot of energy and exposes the frog to predators.  In my research I study the causes behind individual variation in mating behavior, focusing specifically on the influence of age, size and physical condition on mate attraction and mate choice.  I am interested in questions such as whether males that are older or in poor condition take greater risks or put greater effort into attracting mates because they are near the end of their lives and have less to lose if they are captured by a predator.  Additionally, I am also interested in how size and age influence female choosiness in selecting a mate.  I am very excited to be working with the K-12 partnership because science education, especially at the younger levels, is extremely important.  Exposing students to the scientific method and scientific thinking at an early age builds scientific literacy which is crucial for a society faced with complex scientific problems such as global climate change.  Additionally, having graduate students interact and share their research with K-12 classrooms provides students with a better understanding of what it means to be a scientist (we don’t always wear lab coats and have crazy hair) while exposing them to the numerous different fields of scientific inquiry.  This in turn may serve to inspire the future generation of researchers and scientists.

Jakob_Nalley_pic_2015Jakob Nalley: As we continue to consume natural resources at extremely high rates, exterminate species, and pollute the environment around us, developing a more sustainable role for humans in the environment is extremely important. My research focuses on our energy consumption, mainly on identifying an alternative fuel source to the traditional fossil fuel supplies humans have quickly diminished. I believe one answer could be algae. Algae can produce loads of fuel on undesirable lands, all while sucking the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to fuel its rapid growth. My research into alternative fuel sources stems from a deep passion for understanding how, as humans, we can continue to develop as a society while maintaining our status as stewards of the Earth. I feel that my love for applying science to solve complex environmental issues perfectly aligns with my passion for science outreach and K-12 education. Science is incredible in that it can demystify the world around us, making it more approachable and exciting. But energizing students for STEM careers requires educators to be innovative, exposing students to interactive and experiential curriculum. Developing and implementing some of these interactive lessons is what draws me to science education. The world is an amazing place, understanding it is even more amazing.


Fall 2015 K-12 Partnership Workshop PDF Print E-mail
KBS News
Friday, 16 October 2015 15:26

Please join us to learn more about Climate Change at the KBS K-12 Partnership Fall Workshop.

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Handouts and presenations are linked below:

Plenary: Dr. Phil Robertson's "Climate Change and Michigan Agriculture"

Concurrent Sessions 1
A. Sandbox: Bringing students to STEM through teaching climate change
B. Teaching Science Outdoors: Watershed in the Schoolyard
C. Mapping Land Use Change

Concurrent Session 2
A. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary visit
B. LTER Book Series brainstorm
C. Interpreting data related to Arctic Ice Melt and the Keeling Curve

Plenary: Dr. Karel Jacobs "Thinking and Tinkering: Addressing the NGSS Science AND Engineering Practices"

Fellow led lessons for 2015-16

Who? Teachers interested in gaining science content and pedagogical knowledge to bring back to their classrooms.

Register online: CLOSED

Where? MSU’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station


3700 East Gull Lake Dr.

Hickory Corners, MI 49060

Directions: http://www.kbs.msu.edu/index.php/visit/directions

What to expect:

K-12 Partnership Fellow, Jake Nalley, has coordinated an exciting day of learning for us.  To get things started, one of our own KBS scientists, Dr. Phil Robertson will share “Climate Change and Michigan Agriculture: What we’ve seen and what we can expect.”  Then we will spend the rest of the morning engaged in two rounds of concurrent session, reference the full agenda linked above for details.  We’ll take a well deserved break for lunch, followed by a presentation on nutrition programs available through MSUExtension.  Next, Cara Krieg and Michael Kuczynski, GK12 Fellows, will work with all of us to strengthen existing lesson plans created by fellows in recent years.  We’ll take a break to stretch and then will enjoy a special plenary by KBS Visiting Scholar, Dr. Karel Jacobs.  Dr. Jacobs is an associate professor of biology at Chicago State University and she coordinates the secondary education program at CSU.  Since Illinois was an early adopter of the Next Generation Science Standards, she will highlight some examples of engineering design in secondary science classrooms.  To conclude our day Jake Nalley and Tyler Bassett, K-12 Partnership Fellows, will pitch the lessons they have created to bring to your school this year.

To learn more about the KBS K-12 Partnership click here.

Handouts and presenations from the November 10, 2015 Workshop


MSU geological sciences professor named 2015 Soil Science Society of America Fellow PDF Print E-mail
KBS Research News
Friday, 18 September 2015 16:14

bruno_salutaMichigan State University Geological Sciences Professor and KBS Faculty member Bruno Basso was recently elected a 2015 Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) for his outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research. Read more at MSU CNS News.

Grant to help increase biofuel yield while limiting fertilizer use PDF Print E-mail
KBS Research News
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 19:36

Michigan State has netted a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to better Sarah Evans Lisa Tiemann Maren Friesen Jim Cole switchgrassunderstand how biofuel crops acquire nitrogen, insights that could help maximize yields while minimizing fertilizer use.

Sarah Evans, an integrative biologist at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station, and a team of MSU colleagues will study how plants interact with microbes living near their roots to obtain nutrients, especially biofuel crops growing in abandoned farmlands, or marginal lands. Read more at MSU Today.

Pollinator Garden Blossoms Thanks to Grant and Volunteers PDF Print E-mail
KBS News
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 17:17

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary was awarded a regional Interpretive Project Grant Award from the National Association for Interpretation last fall for the beautiful Pollinator Garden. The exhibit educates visitors on the incredible significance of native Michigan plants and the pollinators that love them – birds, bees and butterflies. It’s also a stop on tours and walking trails.

The grant is funding new interpretive signs for the garden. According to Kimberly Ginn, KBS Resource Center Assistant, 25 smaller signs will indicate specific plants’ pollinators. Signs will include a picture of the flower and one of the birds, butterflies or insects that tend to like the plant. The signs will rotate seasonally through spring, summer and fall for the species that are presently in bloom.

Ginn hopes the new interpretive signs, co-designed with volunteer Mary Robertson, will emphasize to visitors the significance of pollinators, as well as the viability of native species as additions to home gardens. Some of the plants are native species of plants that many gardeners already use, such as wild phlox, asters, coneflowers and wild petunias. These plants are great examples of how visitors could adapt their own gardens to include more native plants, which are pollinated by native pollinators.

Kimberly Ginn of the Bird Sanctuary identifies plants with volunteers“Our demonstration garden shows how people can garden in different situations. We give examples of ways you can make it happen,” Ginn said. There are four areas within the Pollinator Garden – a shaded area designed to attract native to Michigan bees, a full sun area with plants that enjoy average soil and moisture, a rain garden that is designed to handle a great deal of water and a xeriscape garden designed to flourish with minimal water. There are over 50 different species in the Pollinator Garden, all of which are completely pesticide-free and native to Michigan.

In addition to the smaller interpretive pollinator signs, two larger signs will educate visitors on the new bee condominium. Ginn said, “One sign will explain why you would want to attract bees in the first place, and the other one will be about the kinds of bees we’re trying to attract. There are over 400 species of bees that are native to Michigan.”

The bee condo and the signs that will explain it will educate visitors on the importance of bees, as well as their characteristics. The honey bee, a non-native species, has taken a major hit in its population in recent years due to the colony collapse disorder. As a result, some farmers now rent honey bee hives to pollinate their farms. “Because it’s an import, it has some chinks in its immune system. We want to illustrate that you don’t need the honey bees particularly; we have 400 others waiting in the wings, and we have other pollinators, too,” said Ginn.

Many people assume all bees are aggressive and, as a result, are afraid of being stung if they see a bee. However, according to Ginn, this is not the case with the majority of bees. “Most of them are only interested in going about their business. They just want to make a living like anybody else,” Ginn said. Ginn said she hopes the new interpretive signs will help visitors to see the value of bees and become more comfortable with them.

Thanks to the grant and a volumn discount from local native plant nursery Hidden Savannah, KBS staff and volunteers have added a diversity of native plants to the existing garden. The garden is a community effort. So far this season, KBS volunteers have given 176 hours, from high school students to senior citizens. For example, Jacob Goss, a high school senior at Gull Lake, recently applied to attend MSU next year to study landscape architecture and regularly volunteers at KBS to grow in his gardening skills and knowledge.

Most volunteers come for weekly organized work days in the garden, others come whenever they can throughout the week. Ginn says there is a great deal of flexibility in how volunteers can contribute to the garden. “They bring their ideas, and we consider everything. There is a plan, but it’s open ended.”

“Volunteers are passionate about it; they want to garden, and they want to learn more about native plants,” Ginn said with a smile. “People have a sense of ownership in the garden. This is something we can all participate in and feel good about, environmentally speaking. It’s conservation action, and it’s beautiful action.”

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