MSU Foundation Professorships

MSU College of Natural Science, MSU Foundation Professors

Left to right: Andrew Christlieb, Dean DellaPenna, C. Robin Buell, Christoph Benning

Candidates are proposed by deans of individual colleges. The proposals will includeCV, brief evaluation and possibly letters of recommendation for the candidate. The MSU VPRGS and Provost will decide on the suitability of the candidate, and if approved, the amount of the 5-year stipend.

Candidates must be exceptionally accomplished researchers who are leaders in their disciplines. Some specific scenarios in which Foundation Professorships shall be used are recruitment (i.e., hiring from an outside institution) and retention (i.e., retaining our best faculty members in response to possible outside offers).

2014 MSU Foundation Professors:

Christoph Benning received his M.S. from Albert-Ludwigs Universitaet in Freiburg, Germany, and his Ph.D. in genetics from Michigan State University. Benning came to Michigan State University as an assistant professor in 1998 and was promoted to professor in 2005. He has been working for more than 20 years on different aspects of lipid metabolism in photosynthetic organisms. Recently, he has applied genomic and genetic approaches to identify key regulatory factors and enzymes required for triacylglycerol biosynthesis and turnover in microalgae. Benning also has extensive experience as a journal editor and is currently the editor in chief of The Plant Journal. He received the MSU College of Natural Science Postdoctoral Mentoring Award in 2014. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release).

Robin Buell received her PhD. from Utah State University. In 1997, she accepted a position as an assistant professor at Louisiana State University. In 1999, she joined the faculty at The Institute for Genomic Research in Maryland where she remained until 2007 when she came to Michigan State University. Her research is focused on the genome biology of plants and plant pathogens, including comparative genomics, bioinformatics and computational biology. Buell’s research involves crop plants, biofuels and medicinal plants while her work with plant pathogens has focused primarily on bacteria and oomycetes. Buell has an active research group and collaborates with scientists at MSU, across the United States and throughout the world. She is a fellow of the AAAS, received the MSU College of Natural Science Meritorious Faculty Award in 2011, the MSU College of Natural Science Distinguished Faculty Award in 2013 and the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award in 2015. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release).

Andrew Christlieb received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. He held two postdoctoral positions, one in aerospace and a second in mathematics, at the University of Michigan. Christlieb joined Michigan State University in 2006. In 2010, he was promoted to associate professor, received a joint appointment in the MSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013, and in 2014, was promoted to professor. He received the Air Force Young Investigator Award in 2007 and has been funded by several programs at the Air Force and the National Science Foundation. Christlieb currently leads a research group that focuses on the development of new scalable algorithms for heterogeneous computing platforms with interest in material science, plasma physics and big data arising in large-scale computing. (College of Natural Science Press Release).

Dean DellaPenna received his B.S. in cellular biology from Ohio University and his Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of California, Davis. He was on the faculty in the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Arizona and then in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, before coming to Michigan Sate University in 2000. His scientific interest are in the general area of plant metabolism with an emphasis on pathways and processes that occur in the chloroplast, especially compounds related to aspects of human health. He is currently on the editorial board of the Annual Review of Plant Biology. DellaPenna was elected a fellow of the AAAS in 2009 and named an MSU University Distinguished Professor in 2013. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)


Kelly Klump

Kelly Klump, Professor of Psychology, whose research focuses on finding the causes of eating disorders. Her work has been recognized globally, including the Price Foundation Award for Research Excellence in 2012. She has been awarded the American Psychological Association’s Early Contributions Award, and has served as the President of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED). She is a Fellow of the AED and the Association for Psychological Science. Klump is a licensed psychologist and earned her B.S. in psychology summa cum laude from MSU and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota. She completed her predoctoral internship at McLean Hospital in the Harvard University Medical School, and her postdoctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She joined the MSU Department of Psychology in 2000, and co-founded the MSU Twin Registry. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)


2015 MSU Foundation Professors:

Thomas Jayne, 2015 MSU Foundation Professor

Thomas Jayne, Professor of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics in  the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), has been awarded the title of MSU Foundation Professor, in recognition of his exceptional contributions to research and instruction, prominence in his field and significant international impact. “As a thought leader in agricultural economics, Thom certainly advances the university’s reputation in an area of long-term institutional excellence,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “But more importantly, his work in Africa is making a difference in people’s lives. Thom is paving the way for a sustainable future there by helping to confront a number of ‘grand challenges.’” (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



Ken Frank has dedicated his research career to better understanding social structures and their impacts on organizations. His significant research, international recognition, and creative teaching methods, have led to Frank being named the latest MSU Foundation Professor and the first for the College of Education at Michigan State. Frank specifically researches social networks within schools, looking at groups of teachers and adolescents and how those social contexts–institutional pressures or peer pressures–can shape reactions and practices. He also studies both the organizational characteristics of the school (e.g., classroom sizes and set-ups) and the individual characteristics (e.g., gender and socioeconomic status) and their impacts on friendships in teenagers. Translating to practice, Dr. Frank’s work has informed schools on the implementation of interventions to improve both teaching and student outcomes. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)


Professor Richard Lucas

Richard Lucas, “is known internationally for his research on happiness and subjective well-being, positive emotions, and the effects of life events on life satisfaction,” said Interim Dean of the College of Social Science Neal Schmitt. “His work in personality traits, extraversion, and personality assessment has been supported by the National Institute on Aging, among others, and has been published extensively in the top research journals in the field.” According to Stephen Hsu, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies, the work Lucas has done to further scientists’ – and society’s – understanding of human behavior underscores MSU’s mission to advance the common good. “Exploring and quantifying peoples’ sense of well-being across cultures and through time, as Dr. Lucas has done, has far-reaching implications for the future of humanity.” (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



Federica Brandizzi – Michigan State University (MSU) professor of plant science Federica Brandizzi has been named an MSU Foundation Professor. “Federica’s lab focuses on the key biological questions related to the plant secretory pathway,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science. “Her work has provided us with a better understanding of mechanisms that govern the steps of secretion in plants, and may ultimately enable us to regulate cell secretion and acquire genetic tools that could lead to better management of natural resources.” (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



Manning 150x150Shannon Manning, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics Shannon Manning has been named an MSU Foundation Professor. She is also an AgBioResearch scientist. “Shannon’s research focuses on applying molecular and evolutionary approaches to study the virulence, epidemiology, and evolution of bacterial pathogens, such as E.coli,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science. “As a result of her work, we now have a better understanding of the pathogenesis, emergence, and transmission of pathogens in human and animal populations.”(Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



Ioannis "John" Papapolymerou

Ioannis “John” Papapolymerou has been named chair of the Michigan State University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). His appointment is effective Aug. 16, 2015. Papapolymerou comes to MSU from Georgia Tech where he served as the Ken Byers Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and associate director of the Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC). His research interests include the development of microwave/mm-wave/submm-wave circuits, antennas and modules for wireless communication, radar and sensing systems. “We are pleased to welcome John to the MSU College of Engineering,” said Dean Leo Kempel. “During a period of expansion for the department and college, his experiences as a research-intense faculty member at a Top Ten program will benefit the department, college, and university. Papapolymerou will also serve as the MSU Foundation Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



Alexander (Sasha) VolbergVolberg 150x150, Professor of Mathematics, has been named an MSU Foundation Professor. A University Distinguished Professor since 2001, Volberg specializes in harmonic analysis, singular integrals, and operator theory. His 2014 paper in Acta Mathematica resolved the 30-year old David-Semmes conjecture, concerning the possible structure of the singularity in the underlying measure of bounded Calderon-Zygmund operators. “Sasha continues to make great progress in the problems that challenge the best minds in his field,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science. “He has earned top awards and recognition from mathematicians around the world for his work.” (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



Dimitar Deliyski, a pioneer and international leader in the field of voice and speech disorders, has been awarded the designation of deliyski150x150MSU Foundation Professor, the first for the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Deliyski recently was named Chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. His appointment was effective Aug. 16, 2015. Deliyski comes to MSU from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where he served as the Cotton Chair of Otolaryngology Research and Associate Director of the Communication Sciences Research Center. He also held academic appointments with the University of Cincinnati as a tenured Associate Professor in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and affiliated Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and he served as an Adjunct Professor with the Interdisciplinary Mathematics Institute at the University of South Carolina – Columbia. (Research & Graduate Studies Press Release)



2016 MSU Foundation Professors:


Marcos Dantus, MichigaMarcos Dantusn State University (MSU) Distinguished Professor, has been named an MSU Foundation Professor. Dantus, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has pioneered the use of spectrally and temporally shaped ultrafast pulses and 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.”Stephen Hsu, Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies said, “Dantus’s contributions range from the discovery of nonlinear optical properties and processes to the development of theory to simulate and predict the interaction of molecules with shaped laser beams.”



Michigan State University (MSU) plant scientist Gregg Howe has been named an MSU Foundation Professor. Howe, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a researcher in the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, studies how plants defend themselves in response to insects and other environmental stresses. R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science, said Howe uses a combination of genetic, cell biological, mGregg Howeolecular, 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. Howe’s research program is funded by major grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.



James F. KlausneJames Klausnerr, MSU Foundation Professor, joined MSU on January 1, 2016, as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He 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.” Klausner, who earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1989, has authored more than 100 technical publications in the thermal fluid sciences and holds eight patents or patent applications.



Xiaobo TanMichigan State University (MSU) has named Xiaobo Tan an MSU Foundation Professor. Tan, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of MSU’s Smart Microsystems Laboratory, focuses his research on electroactive polymer sensors and actuators, modeling and control of smart materials, and bio-inspired underwater robots. Tan’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission among others. Stephen Hsu, Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies, said “Tan’s research has advanced the field of robotics and inspired a new generation of engineers.” Hsu noted that Tan, who received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 2002 and joined MSU in 2004, was already awarded twelve NSF grants as a sole or lead principal investigator. Tan also has a strong outreach effort. He has been leading a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site program at MSU since 2009, and serves as the curator for an upcoming exhibit “Robofish Rendezvous”, scheduled to open at the MSU Museum in March.