CNS professors top list of outstanding women faculty in Michigan

Two Michigan State University (MSU) College of Natural Science (CNS) professors were recently named to a list of top women professors in Michigan for 2013. Diane Ebert-May and Katherine Osteryoung, both plant biologists, were among 25 female professors named to the list, which was developed by StateStats and is featured on its partner website, Online Schools Michigan.  The women were selected for excellence in the classroom, on campus and in the community.


Diane Ebert-May

Diane Ebert-May heads the Biology Education Research Laboratory, which provides international leadership for discipline-based biology education research that integrates life sciences and cognitive science. She promotes professional development and the assessment and improvement of faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students who actively participate in creative research about teaching and learning in the context of their scientific discipline.

Ebert-May also leads FIRST IV, an NSF-funded professional development program to help postdoctoral scholars create and teach their first introductory biology course in preparation for their future academic positions. Her book, “Pathways to Scientific Teaching,” is based on active learning, inquiry-based instructional strategies, assessment, and research.

Ebert-May is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and was selected as the 2011 CASE/Carnegie Professor of the Year for Michigan. In 2012, she received the American Institute for Biological Sciences Education Award, an MSU Distinguished Faculty Award and a CNS Distinguished Faculty Award.

“In order for students to develop deep conceptual thinking, they must become active participants in, and reflective of, their learning. ‘Scientific teaching’ describes my vision of what an active learning classroom looks like, sounds like and feels like,” Ebert-May explained. “I use the principles of scientific teaching to design instruction that enables students to learn through the process of scientific inquiry – especially in large enrollment courses. When I implement this in my courses, I have evidence that students are actively engaged in the thinking, creativity, rigor and experimentation that we associate with the practice of science. This empowers students to learn.”


Katherine Osteryoung

Katherine W. Osteryoung, who recently received a 2013 MSU Distinguished Faculty Award, is a pioneer in the field of chloroplast division and biology in plants. Chloroplasts carry out photosynthesis and produce many compounds critical for plant growth and development.

Osteryoung’s discovery of the first chloroplast division gene is considered to be the definitive evidence supporting the hypothesis that photosynthetic bacteria were the evolutionary ancestors of chloroplasts. This discovery launched a new field of research on the molecular analysis of chloroplast division in plants and algae. Since this discovery, Osteryoung and her team have combined genetic and genomic resources of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana with the tools of biochemistry and cell biology to uncover new components of the chloroplast division machinery and to investigate how they function together to divide chloroplasts.

She is a fellow of the AAAS and the American Society of Plant Biologists and the recipient of a CNS Distinguished Faculty Award this past fall.

“I am surprised and honored to receive this recognition and to share it with such an exceptional slate of women professors,” Osteryoung said.  “Because scientific research is a team effort, it is also a tribute to the many talented members of my laboratory, including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and undergraduate researchers, who have contributed their energy and creativity to advancing our work.”

StateStats, which works to advance education through technology and information tools, especially helping future college students find educational opportunities and information, has developed three other lists, including the top nursing and medical professors, the top education professors and the top psychology professors. The complete lists are available at