In the museum, Research Stations are compact temporary exhibits that offer a window into the research and inspiration of a particular lab or individual. They are dispersed through the building, and the research topics align with the subject of the gallery they are in. Here, we’ve taken the in-person experience and turned it digital. 

Now you can explore past Research Stations from home!




U-M Biological Station:
Ecology and Landscape

The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) was founded in 1909 on land acquired from lumber barons. Studying a landscape destroyed by logging and fires and how it reforested via natural processes allowed students and faculty to learn first-hand how land exploitation impacts the environment. Now, new environmental challenges have emerged—climate change and invasive species foremost among them.

Jesse Capecelatro:
The Physics of Flow

99% of the observable Universe exists in a fluid state—liquids and gases. Computational fluid dynamics is the branch of fluid mechanics that simulates fluid motion using mathematical models. Jesse Capecelatro uses supercomputers to solve complex equations that describe fluid motion and the forces they exert—like how would Covid-19 virus travel through the air in the interior of a U-M blue bus?

Leslie Decker:
Butterflies in Peril

Habitat loss, global warming, and elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide negatively affect both monarch butterflies and their milkweed hosts, and monarchs are in trouble. Leslie Decker and her colleagues study those impacts to find ways people can help.



Francine Dolins:
Primates in VR

Bonobos are a type of endangered great ape and virtual reality (VR) software is unlocking behavior patterns that could help save the species. Dr. Francine Dolins is a comparative psychologist collaborating with the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (ACCI) using avatars and virtual environments to study bonobos’ social and spatial cognition.

Monica Dus:
Sugar Central

People think obesity comes from enjoying sugar too much, but the opposite is actually true—the more sugar you eat, the less you can taste and enjoy the sweetness. Monica Dus studies fruit flies to understand why people seek out even more sugar to get the same pleasure.

David Gerdes:
Discovering a New Planet

David Gerdes’ team of U-M researchers was studying dark energy, the effects of which can only be seen by observing other galaxies far outside our own solar system. But their extremely sensitive camera also picked up hundreds of small, icy worlds much closer to home—in the cloud of dust, rocks, and planetoids known as the Kuiper Belt. One of these objects was a new dwarf planet!



Valeriy Ivanov:
Decoding Rainforests

Ecohydrology is the study of the connections between living things and water. Valeriy Ivanov believes the planet’s future may depend on building a deeper understanding of ecohydrology in the Amazon. Understanding the science behind the rainforest could help researchers predict future global impacts due to climate change and seek solutions.

Valeriy Ivanov:
The Warming Arctic

Valeriy Ivanov works in extreme places, studying the impacts of climate change. By monitoring frozen buried soil in the Arctic called permafrost and other aspects of the landscape, he is trying to learn why the Arctic is melting even faster than scientists predicted.

Lacey Knowles:
The Origin of New Species

Lacey Knowles studies speciation. All the amazing biodiversity on Earth originated through speciation, the formation of species. When a group of individuals within a species separates from others via geographic isolation, natural selection, or genetic mutation, it develops its own unique characteristics and forms a new species. The first step in studying biodiversity is identifying new species.



David Kwabi: 
Building Better Batteries

As a child in Ghana, David Kwabi saw first-hand how helpful it was to have a generator when the power failed.  Now an adult, he is working to improve a type of large-scale power storage solution called a flow battery. He and his team are looking for more efficient and sustainable options in an effort to reduce the cost of these batteries and make them more widely available. 

Dan Rabosky: 
The Adaptable Reptiles

Dan Rabosky and his team explore rainforests, deserts, and other environments to collect specimens, genetic samples, and ecological data. Because human actions are changing animal habitats all over the world, he feels it is important to study and preserve information about as many species as possible now, while we can. 

Selena Smith: 
Using Fossils to Find Roots

It's not easy to understand what a fossil plant is trying to teach you.  U-M researcher Selena Smith and her team use slices of fossil and modern plants to ​understand how plants have evolved and changed over geologic time. Learning how plants responded to different kinds of environmental changes over time teaches us about plants, the environment, and helps us understand what future changes may look like.



Trisha Wittkopp:
Measuring Mutations

To Trisha Wittkopp, it seemed obvious that laser eyes would give cats an evolutionary advantage as predators. So why didn’t this happen?  Her research uses fruit flies to answer questions like this. It turns out there are no likely mutations in their genetic material that would allow cats to project lasers from their eyes, and without such mutations, natural selection cannot favor the evolution of this trait.

Liuyan Zhao:
Lasers and Magnetism

In experimental condensed matter physics, scientists like Liuyan Zhao look for new states in materials. These new states, such as magnetism, originate from interactions at the electron level. Discovering these new magnetic properties may be the key to unlocking future technologies in computer sciences and faster data processing.