Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Get to know Michigan State University research with our special Cotton Bowl preview


After claiming their second consecutive conference championship, the Baylor Bears have one final test this year when they face off with Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. Dr. Steve Hsu, vice president for research and graduate studies at Michigan State University, joins us for a special Q&A to help us get ready for the game.

We’re excited for a great matchup on the field, and we’re also glad for the opportunity to learn more about Michigan State research!


What are some of the most interesting research projects going on currently at MSU?

The largest project currently underway is the construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams or, as we like to call it, “the FRIB”. FRIB will be a new, $600 M national user facility for nuclear science, funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), Michigan State University (MSU), and the State of Michigan. Located on campus and operated by MSU, FRIB will provide intense beams of rare isotopes (that is, short-lived nuclei not normally found on Earth). FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of these rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society. FRIB is a long-term project and scheduled to open in 2022.

MSU research is diverse and extensive. A significant fraction focuses on discoveries that solve world problems in health, food and fuel:

  • We continue our work to help eradicate malaria with researchers on the ground in Malawi leading our International Center for Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR)
  • In collaboration with the University of Wisconsin and other research institutions, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center is hard at work finding innovative ways to covert cellulosic biomass to ethanol and other advanced biofuels.
  • We host studies of “evolution in action” through BEACON, an NSF-funded consortium of several universities dedicated to multi-disciplinary applications of evolution.
  • MSU is also excited about a new, international research collaboration on autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.

How is the research administration organization at MSU structured?

As the VP of Research and Graduate Studies, I report directly to the president. I am responsible for the entire research enterprise including funding, compliance, and commercialization.

MSU is also a proud member of the University Research Corridor (URC) along with our partners at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. Together we find ways to apply and leverage research to drive economic development for our region and the state of Michigan.


What are some unique elements of your campus culture that people outside East Lansing may not know about?

As the pioneer land grant university in the country, Michigan State was founded on the idea of expanding education in agriculture and mechanics. Built on that notion, our campus is one of the largest in the country at 5,200 acres with nearly 3,000 acres of that dedicated to plant and animal research and another 19,000 around the state for research studies. MSU is equally proud of its status as a leading research university, evidenced in part by our membership in the AAU since 1964.

Visitors to campus will see everything from ivy covered classic architecture to the ultra-modern Broad Art Museum. This year MSU reached a milestone exceeding 50,000 in student enrollment with students from all 83 counties in Michigan, all 50 states in the United States, and more than 130 other countries. MSU is ranked a top 100 research university as well as a top 10 global university based on our strong international student attendance and study abroad programs. Our international research activity includes institutional partnership in the 4.2 meter SOAR Telescope at Cerro Pachon, Chile.

The culture here is extremely proud, warm and friendly – indicative of the Midwest –but also very diverse and full of international flair.

What has been the reaction on campus to the football team playing in the Cotton Bowl?

Having been at MSU for two years now (I was previously an Oregon Duck) I can tell you personally that the pride of the Spartan Nation is alive and well. It’s quite an accomplishment to win a Rose Bowl, and then appear the following year in another top bowl game. The Spartans are ready for fierce competition from the Baylor Bears – strong competitors on the field and academically. In only the second meeting of these teams, it’s a game that I expect will bring credit and excitement to both universities. Go Green!

Thanks to Dr. Steve Hsu and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies for participating in our special Cotton Bowl Preview.  Follow Dr. Hsu on Twitter at @hsu_steve and read MSU faculty blogs at Spartan Ideas.



Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.