New AgBioResearch faculty members announced

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Robert B. AbramovitchRobert B. Abramovitch, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, became affiliated with Michigan State University and AgBioResearch in January. His research focuses on utilizing genetic, genomic and biochemical approaches to characterize new genes and proteins that enable pathogens to survive and reproduce within host cells. He works primarily with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), which causes tuberculosis, a leading cause of death in humans by an infectious disease.  Abramovitch is initiating research to study Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which causes tuberculosis in animals and humans. M. bovis is endemic in certain Michigan deer populations and poses a threat to both agriculture and public health. Abramovitch’s lab will undertake comparative studies of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis genetics, biochemistry and host-pathogen interactions with the ultimate goal of developing improved diagnostic tools and new vaccines.

Before coming to MSU, Abramovitch was a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine from 2006 to 2011. He received his doctorate in plant pathology from Cornell University in 2006 and his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of British Columbia in 2000.

Andrew DillonAndrew Dillon, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, became affiliated with Michigan State University and AgBioResearch in January. He is a development economist with research interests in agriculture, health and nutrition, education and labor decisions made by agricultural households, and the role of social networks in adoption decisions.  Dillon is currently involved in randomized evaluations of projects in Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria.  

Before coming to MSU, Dillon was a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute from 2008 to 2011. Dillon received both his doctorate and master’s degree in applied economics and management from Cornell University in 2008 and 2007, respectively. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and political and social thought from the University of Virginia in 1999.

Lenis Saweda Liverpool-TasieLenis Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, assistant professor of agriculture and food resource economics, joined Michigan State University and became affiliated with AgBioResearch in January.  Her research focuses on differential effects of policies and poverty reduction strategies on farmer behavior and welfare.  Saweda’s work includes investigating the differential effects of social networks on technology adoption by and bargaining power of households and developing strategies to improve efficient fertilizer access and use in developing countries.  In previous research, she used asset poverty measures to better understand the dynamics of rural poverty and its effect on the behavior of farmers.

Before coming to MSU, Saweda was a postdoctoral fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute from 2009 to 2012. She received her doctorate in agriculture and consumer economics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2009. Saweda also received a master’s degree in urban and regional planning and a master’s degree in third world development support—both from the University of Iowa—in 2004, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Jos, Nigeria, in 2000.

Wei ZhangWei Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Environmental Science and Policy Program, joined Michigan State University and became affiliated with AgBioResearch in January. His research focuses on soil and water quality and sustainability, with emphasis on the movement of water, solutes (e.g., nutrients, agrochemicals and environmental toxins), and fine particles such as microorganisms, abiotic colloids and engineered nanomaterials in natural and engineered systems, particularly in unsaturated soils. The overarching goal of Zhang’s research is to promote protection of soil and water resources and sustainable agricultural production through the understanding of fundamental transport processes and scientifically sound management practices.

Before coming to MSU, Zhang held a prestigious National Research Council research associateship hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  He received his doctorate in environmental engineering from Cornell University in 2010, his master’s degree in biosystems engineering from Oklahoma State University in 2006 and his bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry from Nanjing University in 2000.

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