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Two EEB faculty named Red Cedar Distinguished Professors

Two EEB core faculty members have been recognized with Red Cedar Distinguished Professorships at Michigan State University in 2024.

Elise Zipkin in the Department of Integrative Biology and Shinhan Shiu in the Departments of Plant Biology and Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering were awarded as Spartans with “exemplary scholarly accomplishments” and who demonstrate “teaching innovation and excellence” by the Office of Research and Innovation, the Office of the Provost and in the case of Zipkin and Shiu, the College of Natural Science.

"It is wonderful to see that Drs. Shinhan Shiu and Elise Zipkin have been named  Red Cedar Distinguished Professors,” said Phil Duxbury, dean of the College of Natural Science.

“This recognition is a testament to the excellence of their research programs, the broad range of impactful teaching they provide and the leadership both within and outside of MSU. Congratulations to these esteemed faculty! I also want to thank the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Innovation for providing this award which is critical to recognizing outstanding faculty at MSU."

Portrait of Shinhan Shiu
Shinhan Shiu

Red Cedar Distinguished Professor Shiu is a computational biologist who studies the connections between organisms’ DNA, behaviors and phenotypes. His research group leverages both experimental and computational approaches to answer genetic questions and integrate machine learning into studies revealing how complex biological systems function.  

He’s also been working with colleagues for more than 10 years to bring these ideas to life through projects such as MSU’s Integrated Training Model in Plant and Computational Sciences, or IMPACTS, program. IMPACTS is an NSF-funded training program that brings together graduate students from across the plant and computational sciences to be future leaders in solving grand challenges in plant biology and agriculture.

Education and training can future-proof students with evolving skills in an environment of rapid change,” Shiu said. “I am empowered to think more about how to make impacts over the next 10 years, to meet the expectation set by this award.”

“He exemplifies interdisciplinarity. He has also been an enthusiastic and effective leader at MSU,” said Professor Andrea Case, chair of the Department of Plant Biology. “With years of successful research, education, service and community building, he is richly deserving of this recognition for his contributions to MSU plant science.”

Shiu said this award is a recognition of the work done by everyone in the Shiu lab, which is run jointly by Melissa Lehti-Shiu, an assistant professor of plant biology.

Portrait of Elise Zipkin
Elise Zipkin

Zipkin is a Red Cedar Distinguished Associate Professor who develops statistical models to assess and predict changes in biodiversity across ecosystems and species. The Zipkin Quantitative Ecology Lab also helps further the field by making its results and methodology open to the research community.

“The ongoing loss of biodiversity is having rippling effects across all of our lives.” said Zipkin, who is  also the director of the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior program, or EEB, at MSU “Recognizing the significance of this research is an important incentive for others to pursue this challenging work.”

“I'm very pleased to see Elise recognized with a Red Cedar Professorship,” said Catherine Lindell, interim chair of the Department of Integrative Biology. “Elise combines outstanding scholarly achievement in quantitative ecology with meaningful engagement with her colleagues and students. Her leadership of the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior program is another outstanding contribution to MSU.” 

Through EEB and her own lab, Zipkin is continuing to strengthen a globally-ranked program at MSU that’s attracting and training the next generation of leaders. And these early career scholars are already helping confront some of the biggest questions facing life on this planet.

“This award says as much about the people in my lab as it does about me. The students and postdocs that I work with are amazing,” Zipkin said. “They come in with fantastic ideas, they push and champion each other, and they make the whole process so much fun!

Established in fall of 2022, the title of Red Cedar Distinguished Professor is given to current and new faculty who exhibit a commitment to creating an environment at MSU that fosters excellence and opportunity. The efforts of these Spartans contribute to the attraction and retention of talent while also inspiring student, faculty and staff.

This year, the Red Cedar Distinguished Professor title was awarded to six MSU faculty members in addition to Shiu and Zipkin: Gina Leinninger in the College of Natural Science; Patrick Edger in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Zhaojian Li and Minami Yoda in the College of Engineering; and Karin Pfeiffer and Kui Xie in the College of Education.

Read the full story in the College of Natural Science.

To learn more about Shinhan Shiu, read the Department of Plant Biology's news story.

To learn more about Elise Zipkin, read the Department of Integrative Biology's news story.