New AgBioResearch faculty members announced

Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch is pleased to welcome three new faculty members, all of whom joined MSU and became affiliated with AgBioResearch in August.

Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch is pleased to welcome three new faculty members, all of whom joined MSU and became affiliated with AgBioResearch in August.

Emily MerewitzEmily Merewitz, assistant professor in plant, soil and microbial sciences, focuses her research on the environmental stress physiology of turfgrasses. She will explore turfgrasses’ reactions to multiple abiotic stresses, such as drought, heat and low irradiance stresses. Merewitz will utilize multiple research methods to understand abiotic stress tolerance mechanisms, such as physiological, genetic, proteomic and metabolomic analyses.

She has been published in numerous scientific journals and has actively participated in conferences with the American Society for Horticultural Sciences, the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. She received the Rutgers Graduate School Dissertation Research Award this year, as well as the Gerald O. Mott Meritorious Graduate Student in Crop Science Award and Scholarship in 2011 and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s James R. Watson fellowship in 2010.

Merewitz received her doctorate in plant biology and pathology this year from Rutgers University. She earned dual bachelor’s degrees in plant biotechnology and plant science from Rutgers University in 2005. Merewitz also served as a course instructor for the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in 2011.

Jade Mitchell

Jade Mitchell, assistant professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, will analysis human health risks. Under the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment, Mitchell characterizes the risks associated with human exposure to pathogens in the air, water and soil. Using quantitative risk assessment, her work informs decisions about the appropriate level of concern for public health and public safety for policy makers and risk managers.

Mitchell’s research recently expanded into chemical risk assessment for food safety. She will examine the levels of chemical residues that could be present in our food supply to inform the development of risk-based intervention strategies.

Before coming to MSU, Mitchell was a risk analyst with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service from March to August of this year. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Exposure Research Laboratory from 2010 to 2012. Mitchell received her doctorate in environmental engineering in 2010 and her master’s degree in civil engineering in 2007 from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her graduate work was supported by a number of fellowships, including the National Science Foundation GK12, the Department of Education Graduate Assistantship in Areas of National Need and a PhD engineering fellowship from the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. 

Mitchell’s graduate research was honored with the Society of Risk Analysis, Biological Stressors Specialty Group Student Merit Award repeatedly over three years. Mitchell earned her bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997 and worked professionally as an engineering consultant prior to graduate school.

Michael O'RourkeMichael O’Rourke, professor of philosophy, examines the process of developing communication and integration in cross-disciplinary research and the nature of linguistic communication between intelligent agents.

O’Rourke is director of the ToolBox Project, a National-Science-Foundation-sponsored research initiative that investigates philosophical approaches to facilitating interdisciplinary research. . He has been a co-principal investigator and collaborator on several funded projects involving autonomous underwater vehicles. He co-founded and served as co-director of the Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference, an interdisciplinary conference on philosophical themes, and he co-edited the series, Topics in Contemporary Philosophy, published by MIT Press. He is frequently published for communication, philosophy, interdisciplinary theory and practice, and robotic agent design topics.

Before coming to MSU, O’Rourke was a professor at the University of Idaho for 16 years, teaching philosophy, environmental science and neuroscience. He taught at Kansas State University from 1994 to 1996 and lectured at Stanford University in 1993 and 1994. O’Rourke received his doctorate in philosophy in 1995 and his master’s degree in philosophy in 1991 from Stanford University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Kansas in 1987.

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