Spartan scientists sport their love of research on their license plates.

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Marcos Dantus

Marcos Dantus is known for his groundbreaking work with super-fast lasers. The University Distinguished Professor of chemistry uses them to detect cancer, roadside bombs and even a key element theorized to have formed the universe.

Zachary Blount

Postdoctoral researcher Zachary Blount works with Hannah Distinguished Professor Richard Lenski, whose long-term experiment showcases natural selection and allows scientists to observe evolution in action. One of Blount’s experiments showed how organisms evolve new functions.

Barbara Sears

“Chlamy” is the worldwide nickname for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a unicellular green algae Professor Emerita of Genetics and Plant Biology Barbara Sears studies. Chlamy is a model organism that offers insights on everything from biofuels to photosynthesis and from cancer to cellular movement.

Peter Carrington

When MSU’s corpse flower bloomed on campus—a rare and totally putrid experiencePeter Carrington, assistant curator of Beal Botanical Garden, was there to explain the qualities of the “giant sequoia” of the philodendron family to the throngs of visitors.

Jason Gallant

Integrative biologist Jason Gallant’s career focuses on deciphering the secrets of the electric fish genome. His research seeks to better understand bioelectrogenesis – the ability to produce electric fields outside the body – and how it applies to humans in terms of brain circuitry and complex behavior.

Sekhar Chivukula

Sekhar Chivukula came to MSU as an astronomer. Now that Chivukula, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of undergraduate studies, leads academic initiatives, he fosters connections that lead to student success.

Xueying Huyan

Graduate student Xueying Huyan works at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory – the nation’s premier rare-isotope accelerator facility and one of the lynchpins of the university’s long-term No. 1 ranking in nuclear physics.

Anne Rea

It takes a plant biologist to appreciate the beauty of the cells that make up the reproductive parts of a flower. Anne Rea, a postdoctoral research associate in MSU’s top-ranked plant science program, studies how proteins and molecules influence the shapes of organelles, which help determine the shape of the overall plant.

Ingo Braasch

Assistant Professor and Integrative Biologist Ingo Braasch studies the spotted gar. The fish’s genome is similar to humans and zebrafish, making it a popular biomedical fish model that could lead to important advancements in human biomedical research.

Victor DiRita

Victor DiRita studies small things. In addition, the Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair in Microbial Pathogenesis leads one of the nation’s largest and oldest microbiology labs. So, it’s no surprise that he drives an economy car, properly plated, “Micro.”

David Douches

David Douches is one of the world’s leading potato experts. As the director of MSU’s Potato Breeding and Genetics Program, he travels the globe – from Ingham County to Indonesia – to help people produce more and better potatoes.


“I can tell you that all my neighbors would ask my wife what it means. She can explain that a femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second. The joke is that I am one of those scientists portrayed in the ‘Big Bang Theory’—Cal Tech Ph.D. and all.”


“Cit+ is the mutant phenotype that my research involves. When I got a new car in 2007, I thought a vanity plate referencing the mutant would be sufficiently nerdy and that it wouldn't feel too, well, vain. My plate to this day is CITPLUS.”


“My friends, colleagues and acquaintances in plant biology understand it without explanation, but I am frequently asked by non-science acquaintances what it means. Usually, people think of somewhat unattractive meanings like clammy or chlamydia, and they are perplexed why someone would want such a word on her license plate.”


“This plate is a birthday gift from my wife, Linda. She thought about getting me a vanity plate based on my doctoral thesis. We came up with PLNTGUY, which she got for me in 2015. That’s the year I earned my Ph.D.”


“Call it an occupational hazard, but electric fish are a big part of who I am, both at work and outside of it. When I saw all of the MSU sports-related vanity plates, I thought why not brag about MSU’s cool science?”


“Syzygy is a pair of connected or corresponding things. ‘Animus and anima represent a supreme pair of opposites, the syzygy.’ It also can be used as a conjunction or opposition, especially of the moon with the sun. ‘The planets were aligned in syzygy.’”


“My plate is CPT, which is the most fundamental symmetry of physics laws. If CPT is found to be broken, the whole big picture of physics should be reconsidered. Coincidently, my license plate was bent when it was hit in a parking lot. So, I joke that I have a broken CPT, and new physics follows me.”


“I consider myself a plant cell biologist, and due to my love for plant cells, it was only fitting that I use ‘PLNTCEL’ for my vanity license plate. It was the first combination of letters that came to mind, and I was lucky that no one else had chosen it yet.”


“In the ‘Origin of Species,’ Charles Darwin introduced the term ‘living fossil,’ using gars and other so-called ganoid fishes as examples because the living species resembles long-extinct relatives from the fossil record. In his honor, I named my car ‘Garwin.’”


“My plate was inspired by my former department chair at the University of Michigan. I’ve tried to emulate him since becoming chair at MSU, my alma mater. I appropriated the vanity plate idea and adopted M1CRO as mine. The ‘1’ acknowledges that MSU’s department was founded a year ahead of U-M’s.”


“When I went to graduate school, I left my home state and started potato breeding and genetics research. I thought SPUDS would be a fun license plate for my VW Beetle. It made sense to keep a license plate that lets people know I am associated with America's number-one vegetable!”