MSU research associate receives postdoctoral fellowship

Michigan State University (MSU) research associate Nina Lany was named a 2015 Arnold O. Beckman postdoctoral fellow by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

Michigan State University (MSU) research associate Nina Lany was named a 2015 Arnold O. Beckman postdoctoral fellow by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. She is the sole recipient at MSU.

Lany’s work in the MSU departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and Forestry centers on climate change. The grant will fund her research, titled “Improving Predictions of Climate Change Effects on Ecological Communities with Ecological Complexity.”

“I am grateful and honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the Arnold O. Beckman postdoctoral fellow award,” Lany said. “Support from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation will support me as I continue research on the ecological effects of climate change on species interactions in food webs.”

Lany works primarily with forest insects and their host trees, at scales ranging from the individual organism to landscape-scale spatial-temporal patterns of distribution and abundance.

“I especially appreciate this recognition because the Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports scientists during the transition from graduate student to independent researcher. I also greatly appreciate support from my primary mentor, Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske, in the Department of Forestry at MSU,” Lany added.

Richard Kobe is the chairperson of the Department of Forestry. He said Lany’s receipt of the fellowship is “an incredible honor and a testament to the strength of the academic programs at MSU, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and in the Department of Forestry.

“Typically these awards have gone to postdocs in chemistry and the life sciences – the fact that this award has gone to a researcher who is studying plant community responses to changes in climate speaks volumes to the relevance of ecology and forestry in addressing some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues,” he continued.

“Her work modeling how climate change will alter plant-insect interactions will improve forecasts of when, where and how climate change and biotic interactions will change both the range and the phenology of forest insects and their host trees,” Zarnetske explained.

Lany’s research will focus on jack pine forests in the Great Lakes Basin and northern hardwoods at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. The model she plans to develop will be transferrable to other ecological systems facing common challenges.

Lany believes that her research will aid researchers working with data collected on species by citizen scientists.

Lany's somewhat unusual background includes a first bachelor’s degree in comparative literature. She later received a second bachelor’s degree in biology. Between those two degrees, she developed a very successful business building log cabins (beginning with raw timber and using a home-engineered sawmill). She received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Dartmouth College.

The Arnold 0. Beckman postdoctoral fellow award is presented annually to postdoctoral fellows who are judged to have the highest potential for success in a career in chemistry and the life sciences, and who will become the next generation of leaders and innovators in science, engineering and technology.  

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