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Modern Ecology: Workshop with Chinese Researchers at MSU

Published: Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017
Author: VIPP
Department: Visiting International Professional Program

This October, the Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) at Michigan State University (MSU) welcomed a delegation from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in China to a professional development workshop at MSU. The members of the delegation were senior engineers and professors who are involved in ecological and geographical research in China. The group is currently working on establishing a research hub in Central Asia and was at MSU to establish connections to future network partners and to learn about innovative research approaches.

MSU was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, one of the country's first institutions of higher education to teach scientific agriculture about 150 years ago. To this date, agriculture and ecosystem management are very strong research areas at MSU. MSU faculties and researchers work diligently to address some of the world's most pressing challenges, such as climate change and ecosystem management. MSU has enormous resources to share with ecological and geographical researchers around the world.

The five delegates visited Kellogg Biological Station, the Institute of Water Research, the Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education (ADREC), and the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at MSU. They were able to attend a research conference, keynote lectures, and presentations, and more importantly, connect with many faculty members and researchers at MSU to discuss global challenges in modern ecology research. Following are some highlights of the workshop.

One of the first stops of the group was at Kellogg Biological Station. Professor Steven Hamilton, professor of Ecosystem Ecology & Biogeochemistry at the College of Natural Science provided a guided tour and helped the group understand the US-wide network of biological stations. He then took the group to one of the agricultural research fields where different crops and grasses are cultivated for biological fuel research.

Professor Hamilton and the workshop delegation at Kellogg Biological Station

The timing of the visit was perfect, as all long-term researchers at the Kellogg Biological station gathered for the 2017 KBS LTER All Scientist Meeting and Investigators Field Tour, and invited the delegation to join them. In the morning, lead researchers presented their work. In the afternoon, the group took the opportunity to work in small teams to discuss future challenges in ecology research.

The delegation attends the KBS long-term-researchers conference

On the second day of the conference, the group was invited to join field tours and in-depth presentations of the current work at Kellogg Biological Station. It was a great chance to connect with researchers at MSU and exchange ideas for future projects. The day was spent out in the field, providing a first-hand experience and insight into the various data that is gathered.

A snapshot of all conference participants from a field camera

Another highlight was the meeting with Professor Jan Stevenson from the Center for Water Sciences and the Department of Zoology. He explained the concept of water management and introduced the idea that not all water bodies should be treated equal, but should be managed up to their best potential. Professor Stevenson demonstrated this process and the challenges that come with the task of choosing the right goal for each ecosystem. The delegation agreed that this broadened their view on ecological management.

Proffesor Stevenson discusses his research work with the delegation

The group very much enjoyed a field trip to the Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education (ADREC) at MSU. Dr. Wei Liao presented his work on the microbial ecology of soil carbon cycling in biofuel ecosystems and showed the delegation his lab. The group was impressed by the concept of treating animal waste as an invaluable resource.

Proffesor Liao shows the delegation his lab

At the end of the workshop, the delegation connected with Dr. Matthew Grieshop at the Department of Entomology. He provided an overview of organic pest management and introduced past and current research projects. He showed the group his lab, introduced them to some of his fellow researchers, and demonstrated some experiments in his lab.

Dr. Grieshop demonstrates his research work

The workshop ended with a field visit to Lake Michigan, where the unique ecosystem of Michigan could be enjoyed at the beach and with a dune walk.

The delegation with the director of VIPP, Dr. Xinyu Wu, and program coordinator Nicole Ambacher

VIPP is proud to bridge world ecological, agricultural, and geological researchers together to exchange ideas and knowledge, and help them develop a partnership. Another successful workshop like this demonstrates VIPP's commitment to MSU's new vision as a world grant university.