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Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, Ph.D.

Kendra Spence Cheruvelil
  • Dean
  • Professor
  • Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • pronouns: she/her
  • Holmes Hall, W-183
  • 919 E. Shaw Lane
  • East Lansing, MI 48825
  • (517) 353-6486


  • LB 144: Introductory Organismal Biology
  • LB 492: Vaccines at the Intersection of Science and Society
  • LB 492: What is a scientist?


I am a Professor with a joint appointment in the Lyman Briggs College (LBC) and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. My disciplinary expertise is as a freshwater ecologist, and I work collaboratively to better-understand what drives variation among large populations of lakes both across space and through time. At the undergraduate level, I mainly teach introductory organismal biology (ecology, evolution, diversity of life). I am dedicated to scholarly teaching and I conduct research on teaching and learning mainly related to promoting effective student teamwork and ways to increase diversity in STEM. I am also very active in graduate student professional development. I teach a graduate Landscape Ecology course and graduate seminars in the Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife, I serve on the Steering Committee for the MSU Future Academic Scholars in Teaching Program, and I was Founding Directing of the LBC Graduate Fellowship Program in the Scholarship of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning. I love helping early-career scientists at all stages (undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers) engage in research and realize their career dreams.

In February 2022 I was honored to be named the next dean of Lyman Briggs College, which I have been part of for almost 16 years. I continue to be energized by the college’s commitment to supporting students in their professional growth as scientists in our small, liberal-arts-college environment. We center diversity and inclusion in the sciences and engage with the sciences in their contemporary and historical, social, and global contexts, empowering our students to be leaders. LBC’s future is bright, with strong partnerships throughout the university, engaged alumni supporting our students and programs, and innovative and award-winning teaching.


  • Ph.D., Fisheries and Wildlife & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior, Michigan State University 
  • M.S., Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
  • B.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Statistics Minor, The University of Rochester, Rochester, NY


William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award, 2021.

Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Program Fellow, 2018.

Fellow, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). ASLO Fellows are recognized as having achieved excellence in their contributions to ASLO and the aquatic sciences. 2018.

Research Exemplar, Professionalism and Integrity in Research Program (http://integrityprogram.org/exemplar-project/). 2017.

Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship [with K. Elliot, G. Montgomery, P. Soranno, I. Settles, and P.-N. Tan], MSU Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Scholarship Theme: Promoting inclusive, ethical, and successful STEM teams. 2015.

STEM Gateway Fellow, Michigan State University. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Project: Assessing the effects of a semester-long, course-based, authentic research experience on student learning in Intro Organismal Biology. 2014-2016.

Teacher-Scholar Award, Michigan State University. 2012.

Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award [with C. Fata-Hartley], Michigan State University. 2010.

Environmental Faculty Fellow, Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Program. Theme: Climate change and coupled human and natural systems. 2010-2011.

Lilly Teaching Fellow, Michigan State University. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Project: Assessing the impact of diverse base groups on student learning and attitudes in Intro Organismal Biology. 2009-2010.


I am co-director of the MSU Data-intensive landscape limnology lab. You can read about the research we do here: https://bigdatalimno.org/research-themes/.

The two large funded projects I have going right now are:

  1.  A macrosystems framework for continental-scale prediction and understanding of lakes: Funded by the National Science Foundation, Macrosystems Biology Program. $4.2 mil 2016 – 2021. You can read more about it here: https://lagoslakes.org/.
  2. Ethical Standards and Practices of Environmental Science Teams: Does Team Diversity Matter? This project is funded by the National Science Foundation Cultivating Cultures for Ethical STEM Program, $600,000. 2014 – 2020.


Data-intensive landscape limnology:

Team science:

  • Elliott, K.C., I.H. Settles, S.T. Brassel, P.A. Soranno, K.S. Cheruvelil, and G.M. Montgomery. 2019. Team climate mediates the effect of diversity on environmental science team satisfaction and data sharing. PlosOne 14(7): e0219196. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219196
  • Settles, I.H., S.T. Brassel, G.M. Montgomery, K.C. Elliott, P.A. Soranno, K.S. Cheruvelil. 2018. Missing the mark: A new form of honorary authorship motivated by desires for inclusion. Innovative Higher Education 43: 303-319. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-018-9429-z
  • Oliver, S., C.E. Fergus, N. Skaff, T. Wagner, P.-N. Tan, K.S. Cheruvelil, P.A. Soranno. 2018. Strategies for effective collaborative manuscript development in interdisciplinary science teams. Ecosphere 9(4):e02206. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2206. Attention Score of 33 = In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric as of September 2019.

Teaching and learning:

  • Cheruvelil, K.S., A. De Palma-Dow, and K. Smith. In press. Strategies to promote effective student research teams in undergraduate biology labs. American Biology Teacher. Accepted 4/23/19. January 2020 issue.