Photo by Shawn Allee

Dioxins are environmental pollutants that are known to be toxic to many animal species, and since dioxins work their way up the food chain, there needs to be a clearer understanding of their effects on humans.

That's why we wanted you to know about a more than $14 million study being launched at Michigan State University. Researchers hope to get a better idea of how dioxins affect human health and they hope to figure out new ways of removing them from the environment.

Norbert Kaminski directs Michigan State University's Center for Integrative Toxicology and he is the lead researcher in this major study. He joined us today from the campus in East Lansing.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is getting  $14 million to study how dioxins affect human health.

MSU researchers will look for ways to remove dioxins from the environment and reach out to communities burdened with the toxic pollutants.

Dioxin contamination has been a problem in parts of Michigan, including along the Tittabawassee and Kalamazoo Rivers.

Norbert Kaminski is heading up the multi-disciplinary study. He notes that dioxins have been linked to illnesses like cancer.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University's Writing Department is testing out a new way to educate its students and, potentially, the masses.

Professors Julie Lindquist and Jeff Grabill are teaching an experimental online course this summer called "Thinking Like a Writer." It is free and open to the public.

Lindquist is quick to admit the downfalls of online classes. They're often large and impersonal, and relationships between students and instructors can be sacrificed for efficiency.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State records show Michigan State University's license plate is the No. 1 specialty plate in Michigan.

The Lansing State Journal reports Friday that a half-million of the MSU plates have been sold since it debuted in 2000.

That puts the East Lansing school squarely ahead of its rival to the southeast.

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor's license plate has drawn about 362,000 patrons. That puts it in third place behind a patriotic plate that debuted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University students should prepare to pay more tuition this fall.

The M-U Board of Trustees will vote on a tuition hike this morning. 

The proposed tuition hike averages out to about 2.8%.

MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon defends the tuition increase.

“In terms of planning for families, we’ve tried to be as transparent as possible,” says Simon, “And we actually have a lower number than we planned.”

The tuition rate increase will not be uniform across the board.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University broke ground today on a new, $60 million dollar bioengineering building.

The building will serve as place for researchers in different disciplines to share ideas for advancements in medicine and other sciences.

“Let’s not forget that as important as the facility is to our success, it is the people, the researchers, the medical professionals applying their knowledge, curiosity and perseverance that will ultimately triumph,” said Stephen Hsu, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at MSU.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new Michigan State University survey finds a growing number of school lunch rooms, hospitals cafeterias and other institutions are interested in filling their pantries with locally grown food.

MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems has been asking institutions about whether they buy locally grown fruits, vegetables and other food staples since 2004.

Center director Michael Hamm says the number of school cafeterias buying local has tripled in the last decade. But he says there’s only so much more local farmers can produce now.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Union leaders are applauding a promise by state Democratic lawmakers to reinstate workplace safety regulations in Michigan.

The names of dozens of Michigan workers who died on the job were read aloud during a ceremony in Lansing. There are about 120 deaths in the workplace every year in Michigan.

Karla Swift is the president of the state AFL-CIO. She says Michigan workers need good safety regulations in place to protect them on the job "so that they come home after a day’s work in the same condition that they left in." 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

For the first time in nearly a half century, people will be encouraged to fish along a portion of the Red Cedar River as it winds its way through the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing.

At a ceremony Monday near the campus’s western edge, MSU dignitaries, including Sparty, took turns dumping buckets of Steelhead trout into the meandering Red Cedar River.

Organizers want anglers to start casting their lines into the Red Ceder in hopes of reeling in the sportfish.

That’s a big change.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michiganders are deeply divided over the state’s new right-to-work law. The law takes effect today.

Under Michigan’s right-to-work law, workers can't be forced to join a union.

Michigan State University’s “State of the State Survey” asked more than a thousand people whether they thought Right to Work would be good for Michigan’s economy.

42.7 percent said it would be good.  41 percent said it would be bad.  16 percent said the right-to-work law would have no effect on Michigan’s economy.

Economist Charles Ballard is the survey’s director. He says right to work supporters tend to be overwhelmingly white, male, non-union conservatives, while opponents tend to be overwhelmingly minority, female, pro-union liberals.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the public is split. I think the public really is split and these survey results are a fairly accurate reflection of that,” says Ballard.

As an economist, Ballard thinks right-to-work will have little effect on Michigan’s economy.

“And on that basis, I’m thinking this issue probably will not go away,” says Ballard.

Michigan is the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Courtesy: Michigan State University

Michigan State University researchers may have developed a model to help advertisers figure out where to put their dollars. They say that's critical in an environment where people now view TV while using smart phones, laptops or tablets.

Chen Lin is a marketing professor at MSU who helped develop the model. She says with a little information, it can predict consumer behavior with up to 97% accuracy.  “If you give me the demographics and the media consumption habits for your consumers, I can predict exactly where you should allocate your firm resources.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tens of billions of dollars in federal spending cuts will take effect March first, unless Congress does something to stop the sequestration.

And Michigan’s major research universities may be among those feeling the sting.

Stateside: Use your words

Feb 11, 2013
Tanya Wright, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University
Michigan State University

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

According to a new study published in Elementary School Journal, the vocabulary lessons our children are getting in grade school fall woefully short of giving students the range and scope of words they need to become good, effective readers throughout their lives. 

Tanya Wright is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University.  She spoke with Cindy about the study and what it could cost our kids to be saddled with a deficient vocabulary.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Joel Ferguson has been re-elected to a fourth two-year term as chairman of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

At a special meeting Friday, the board also elected Brian Breslin of Williamston to a two-year term as vice chairman.

Ferguson first was elected to the MSU board in 1986. The Lansing resident was elected again in 1996, 2004 and 2012. He was elected board chairman in 1992, 2007 and 2010.

Ferguson is the co-founder of F & S Development Company.

MSU Study Shows Brief Interuptions May Double Errors

Jan 7, 2013
Michigan State University

A quick glance at a cell phone won’t just hurt your ability to drive.  It may also double the errors you make at work.

Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring how interruptions affect the work place.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan college graduates are entering a sluggish job market.

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends report finds employers are not confident about the nation’s economic direction in 2013.    Many are worried about problems with Europe’s economy.   There’s also concern about the nation's deeply divided political leadership.   That's all putting a damper on employers’ hiring plans.

Phil Gardner is the director of MSU’s College Employment Research Institute.

Congress is expected to tackle the ‘fiscal cliff’ after next month’s election.

The “fiscal cliff’s” combination of programmed tax increases and spending cuts have many people concerned, including officials at Michigan State University.

The federal government is supposed to pick up most of the cost of MSU’s new nuclear physics research lab known as the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. FRIB is expected to cost more than 600 million dollars.

Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring the use of Twitter in the classroom.  

The study suggests Twitter will change the way people communicate in the classroom.

Michigan State University researchers are developing a profile of individuals who carry out ‘cyber-attacks’ on government websites.

The results may help law enforcement identify who might be behind future attacks.

MSU criminal justice professor Thomas Holt asked hundreds of American and international college students about their feelings about being hypothetical ‘civilian cyber-warriors’, individuals who use the internet to attack or disable government computers.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are inadvertently benefiting from sanctions handed down against Penn State today.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University researchers say a popular video game is helping patients recover from lung cancer surgery.

After surgery, it’s important for lung cancer patients to aid their recovery with exercise.   Exercise helps patients with fatigue and avoid common complications, like pneumonia.   But the prospect of exercise can be daunting for many patients.

More than a million Michiganders will be traveling during the Fourth of July holiday period. Many of them made hotel reservations online.

A Michigan State University professor says making online hotel reservations is an unsatisfactory experience for many people.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State University has dropped mandatory health insurance for students after opposition from lawmakers.

Officials said Friday that insurance available through the school will be voluntary, but they'll still ask if students have coverage this fall. Only 320 students were automatically signed up last year.

But one of them was the son of a state lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, who got a bill. It turned out that Farrington's son had insurance.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s going to cost the average Michigan State University student $210 more to attend the fall semester.

The MSU Trustees today approved a 3.5 percent tuition increase for next year.  

The increase will be slightly higher for out-of-state students.

Lou Anna Simon is president of MSU. She says no one wants to raise college tuition.

“There are stories about students who are definitely in debt at a higher level than they should be,” Simon told the MSU Board of Trustees before the vote.

Other Michigan public colleges and universities also approved tuition hikes this week, including the University of Michigan and Michigan Tech.

(Photo by G.L. Kohuth)

A new Michigan State University study finds the brains of “anxious” womens work much harder, but no better than others.    The study’s authors say their findings could help diagnose and treat women with “anxiety disorders."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new Michigan State University study finds the peak of teen misuse of prescription drugs comes earlier than previously believed.

MSU researchers say teen misuse of prescription drugs peaks at age 16, not the later teens as previously believed.   Many children start using pain killers and other prescription drugs to get high in their tweens.   

The MSU study shows about 1 in 60 young people between 12 and 21 years old starts abusing prescription pain relievers each year.    That ratio rises to roughly 1 in 30 at age 16.  

Jim Anthony is a professor of Epidemiology at MSU.    He says the study shows it’s important to get the public health message against misusing prescription drugs to children when they are in middle school.

“We don’t want to delay public health programs…until the high school years or college years," says Anthony,   "We want to begin to think about them as early as 12 and 13.”

Anthony says it may also be a good idea for doctors to write some pain killer prescriptions for just a few day supply instead of the more common one or two week supply.   He says that might reduce the number of prescription drugs that sit unused in the family medicine cabinet.  

Anthony says parents need to pay close attention to their teenager and their medicine cabinet and properly dispose of unneeded painkillers and other prescription drugs.

The MSU study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.


(courtesy of

There’s a new study from Michigan State University that finds stun guns, when used by police officers, are more likely to cause injuries to civilians than previously believed.

Its becoming more common for police officers to carry stun guns. The weapons deliver a high voltage electric charge subduing combative individuals. The weapons are marketed as being ‘non-harmful’.    

But MSU criminologist Bill Terrill disagrees.

"It’s clearly not the case in our studies," says Terrill, "In fact, they have significant greater percentage of injuries when officers use a Taser as opposed to using other types of force.”

Steve Tuttle is a spokesman for Taser, the largest manufacturer of stun guns.  Pointing to other studies, he says the MSU study’s numbers are inflated. Tuttle says the type of minor puncture wounds and burns caused by most stun guns are hardly significant injuries.

"We would be seeing challenges in court if there were significant injuries from these and we’re not," says Tuttle.

MSU researchers also found police officers who use a stun gun to subdue an individual are half as likely to be injured as an officer who uses a different non-lethal method. 

(courtesy of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow say a Senate subcommittee has significantly increased the recommended annual funding for a planned $600 million physics research facility at Michigan State University.

The Michigan Democrats said Tuesday that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water has budgeted $30 million in the 2013 fiscal year for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

That's up from $22 million that President Barack Obama recommended Feb. 13 in his budget proposal. About $55 million in funding was stipulated by the original agreement.

Michigan State won a national competition to land the project in December 2008, and design work is under way.

Levin and Stabenow say construction of the facility will create about 5,000 construction jobs, with 400 permanent jobs after completion.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has approved a plan that will increase the East Lansing campus’ reliance on renewable energy sources.

The plan approved this morning will require MSU to get 40 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other alternative energy sources by 2030. Renewables account for about two percent of MSU’s power right now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is in the midst of a debate over how much the school  can rely on alternative energy sources to power its East Lansing campus.   

The university’s Board of Trustees meets Friday to vote on an energy plan for MSU. 

Earlier this week, MSU students used a giant inflatable inhaler to dramatize their concerns about the university’s large coal fired power plant located just south of campus. 

The students want MSU to commit to turning completely to wind, solar and other alternative energy sources for the university’s electricity needs.