National magazine names U-M professor one of 10 "Scientists to Watch"

Dr. Marjorie Weber, a University of Michigan (U-M) professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was recently named to Science News magazine’s list of 10 "Scientists to Watch" for 2023. The annually updated list, also known as the SN 10, recognizes 10 young researchers "for their potential to shape the science of the future."

Weber, who taught at Michigan State University for six years before coming to U-M last year, says she’s always appreciated the natural world, and becoming a scientist allowed her to see the world in an unbiased way.

"Things can be complicated, and there can be misinformation, but science – especially through understanding biology and biodiversity – can be a way to cut through that, which I find very powerful," she says.

Weber’s research focuses on the evolution of cooperation in nature and how cooperation drives diversity, as well as human diversity in the sciences and exploring how science is taught in classrooms. Her work in these areas caught the attention of Science News staff. Weber says the two aspects of her research overlap in interesting ways. 

"I used to think of them as really separate things," she says. "But they’re actually very similar. Themes like cooperation and diversity exist across the human dimension and in the biological world."

Weber says her upcoming projects will continue to follow those themes. She and others from her lab at U-M will conduct research on how cooperation drives diversity in North American trees, as well as research on how crop plants cooperate with other organisms to defend themselves. The latter project aims to find ways to grow crops without the use of pesticides.

Weber says the recognition from Science News has been "validating and heartening."

"This award honors young scientists," Weber says. "It feels like a younger version of myself would be so amazed and excited that I received it. I feel very honored and humbled. Landmark moments like these feel incredible."

More information on Weber and her research is available here. To learn more about SN 10, or to see all previous SN 10 named scientists, visit Science News magazine’s website.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Marjorie Weber.
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