Michigan State University, with support from the MSU Foundation, will honor four faculty members with the designation of MSU Foundation Professor, in recognition of their exceptional contributions to research and instruction.
According to MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt, MSU Foundation Professorships demonstrate the university’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding world-class scholars. The title is bestowed by MSU, with support from the MSU Foundation, to provide five years of supplemental research support to awardees.
Those honored will hold the MSU Foundation Professor designation permanently.
This year's four honorees are:
- Ultrafast laser researcher Marcos Dantus is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics and Astronomy who has pioneered the use of spectrally and temporally shaped ultrafast pulses. Dantus has invented revolutionary laser optimization instruments. R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science, said Dantus’s development of an instrument capable of automated laser pulse compression is enabling research around the world as well as novel fiber laser designs. “He has consistently earned top awards and recognition for his work.” Since joining MSU in 1993, Dantus has published more than 200 scholarly articles and has been issued 25 patents, with several more pending. Dantus regularly collaborates with different branches of the U.S. Department of Defense.
- Plant scientist Gregg Howe is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a researcher in the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory. Howe studies how plants defend themselves in response to insects and other environmental stresses. Kirkpatrick said Howe uses a combination of genetic, cell biological, molecular, and biochemical analyses to study how plants use defensive compounds to thwart insect attack. “Howe has taken the novel approach of inferring plant processes by studying how predatory insects are affected by a plant’s defensive arsenal.” Since joining the MSU faculty in 1997, Howe has become an internationally recognized leader in research on plant hormone biology and plant-insect interactions.
- Thermochemical energy researcher James Klausner joined MSU on Jan. 1 as chairperson of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Klausner was previously the Newton C. Ebaugh Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville and a program director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering, said Klausner’s work with thermochemical energy storage, energy efficient manufacturing and thermal management for energy efficient processes represents cutting-edge research. “Dr. Klausner’s focus on waste heat and solar-driven, low temperature desalination, solar thermal energy-driven synthetic fuel synthesis, heat exchangers for spacecraft, and high-heat flux cooling has had – and will continue to have – a significant impact on the field.”
- Robotics engineer Xiaobo Tan is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of MSU’s Smart Microsystems Laboratory. Tan focuses his research on electroactive polymer sensors and actuators, modeling and control of smart materials, and bio-inspired underwater robots. “Professor Tan’s work – particularly with fish-like underwater robots and their application to environmental sensing – has received worldwide attention,” said Youatt. “He has developed prototype robots that have applications for such wide-ranging problems as detection of environmental contaminants to tracking of invasive species in lakes.” Joining MSU in 2004, Tan has been leading a Research Experiences for Teachers Site program since 2009.