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Gregg Howe: Three NatSci faculty members ranked for their global publication power

Scientific papers are the threads that weave discovery and solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. The most impactful publications are workhorses that advance the work of others and drive further discovery.

This month, three scientists affiliated with the Michigan State University College of Natural Science have been recognized as being among the world’s most influential scientists thanks to their papers’ usefulness to other researchers in their fields.

Gregg A. Howe, MSU Foundation Professor and University Distinguished Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and an MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) faculty member; G. Philip Robertson, University Distinguished Professor of ecosystem science and a W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) faculty member; and James Tiedje, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of microbiology and molecular genetics, are among 11 MSU scientists named to the 2022 Highly Cited Researchers List compiled by Clarivate Analytics.

“Citations of your work by other researchers is a strong measure of your impact,” said Douglas Gage, vice president for research and innovation at MSU. “These scholars have demonstrated significant and broad influence in their chosen field and are representative of the high caliber faculty and overall research excellence we have at Michigan State.”

Clarivate’s methodology draws on data from the Web of Science citation index of individuals at universities, research institutes and commercial organizations who have demonstrated a disproportionate level of significant and broad influence in their field or fields of research over the last decade.

Gregg Howe
Gregg Howe
Credit: Kurt Stepnitz

Howe, who is also affiliated with MSU’s Plant Resilience Institute, is an internationally recognized leader in research on plant hormone biology and how plants defend themselves in response to insects and other environmental stresses. Howe was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2020 in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. He was also recently selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for the 2022-2023 academic year. He will be heading to Japan to apply cutting-edge genetic technologies to the development of crop plants that will contribute to sustainable agriculture and food security.


G. Philip Robertson
G. Philip Robertson
Credit: KBS

Robertson directed the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program in Agricultural Ecology from 1988 to 2017 at KBS and is currently is science director of the Department of Energy’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Robertson is widely known for his research in agricultural sustainability, with a focus on the ecology of field crop ecosystems and landscapes. He is particularly interested in questions of nitrogen cycling and loss, soil carbon dynamics, and fluxes of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. His research ranges in scale from microbial to global.



James Tiedje
James Tiedje
Credit: Harley J. Seeley

Tiedje, who is the former (and founding) director of the MSU Center for Microbial Ecology, and also a faculty member in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is a leading expert in the fields of microbial ecology and antimicrobial resistance. His research focuses on microbial ecology, physiology and diversity, especially regarding the nitrogen cycle, biodegradation of environmental pollutants and use of molecular methods to understand microbial community structure and function. Tiedje was elected a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2021 and was awarded the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society of Microbiology.

The three share the honor with MSU scientists Jianguo “Jack” Liu in fisheries in wildlife and Rufus Isaacs in entomology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Tomas Hult in marketing and Russell Johnson in management in the Eli Broad College of Business; Aaron McCright, in sociology, David Roy in geography and Richard Lucas in psychology in the College of Social Science; and Morteza Mahmoudi, in radiology and the Precision Health Program in the College of Human Medicine.

According to Clarivate, 6,938 researchers from 69 countries and regions have been named this year. There are 3,981 awards in specific fields (with some named in two to four fields) and 3,244 awards for cross-field impact, totaling 7,225 awards across all the individual researchers named this year. Howe is in the plant and animal science category.

This story was originally published on MSU NatSci.