NatSci Profiles

The challenges facing society in the 21st century are complex.

In true Spartan fashion, the extraordinary individuals and groups that comprise the MSU College of Natural Science (NatSci) family – faculty members, staff members, students and alumni – are hard at work every day, making a difference in their classrooms, labs, businesses, communities and the world around them. In an effort to tell their stories, we've created this collection of profiles to feature people in our NatSci family and how they are contributing to the common good in ways both big and small. SPARTANS WILL.


Ryan Griffin: Paving the path to success

When Ryan arrived at MSU, he had a plan to practice medicine as a career. His interest in this path became even greater when his father was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. After spending countless nights being angry about cancer’s existence, he decided to do something about it. He joined a lab that was studying natural killer T-cells with the goal of using them to improve the cure rate for people with cancer. This experience has allowed him to take a negative life event and turn it into an experience that has given him purpose and prepared him for his future career.

Thomas Grubb: Falling in love with math

Every year, the Mathematical Association of America hosts the Putnam Competition, a notoriously difficult mathematics test for undergraduate students. During the first semester of his freshman year, Thomas’s calculus professor was running the MSU’s Putnam training course, so he decided to go to the first meeting to see if the exam could live up to its reputation. Taking part in the Putnam training session and studying for the exam ultimately led him to one of his greatest passions at MSU – mathematics.

Gregory Hauser: "The world really needs MSU"

When asked why he donates to Michigan State University, Gregory Hauser (B.S., zoology, Honors College, ’75; M.S., zoology, ’81), a partner in the law firm of Wuersch & Gering LLP in New York City, answered the question immediately -- “I believe in the institution and its mission. MSU’s mix of research, teaching and its land-grant mission make it a very special place. It’s one of the few places that has it all. The world really needs MSU.”

Laura Hesse Student View: "I want to be a scientist"

As early as kindergarten, Laura Hesse knew she wanted to be a scientist. Sixteen years later, she is well on her way to accomplish that goal. The fundamental concepts and skills she learned over the past four years at MSU, through coursework and laboratory experience, have taken her to the next step—pursuing a Ph.D. in microbiology at Vanderbilt University.

James Hoeschele: Alumnus gives back to MSU--his "second home"

Although James Hoeschele (Ph.D., chemistry, ’65) didn’t have the opportunity to work in a lab during his undergraduate years, he realizes just how important this type of experience is. That’s why Hoeschele has been one of the key supporters of MSU’s Dean’s Research Scholars Program—from interviewing potential scholars to providing financial support. Hoeschele and his wife, Audrone, have also provided generous gifts to the Department of Chemistry and to other MSU programs.

Madison "Maddy" Jenner: Research experience lends a broader view (student)

When Maddy transferred to Michigan State University from Northwestern Community College for her sophomore year, she had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in. At MSU orientation, she was advised by a research faculty member to get involved in undergraduate research because of the amazing benefits it provided—including finding the right career path. She quickly learned that research had much more to offer than discovering career interests.

Norman and Hanna Kelker: Supporting student research

Norman (Ph.D., microbiology and public health, ’68) and Hanna (Ph.D., botany and plant pathology, ’69) Kelker both had long careers as scientists in New York City, so it’s not surprising that their philanthropic efforts focus on research opportunities for undergraduates.

Clara Lepard: Science and the art of human connection

When she was little, Clara would sit cross-legged in the middle of the living room floor and watch TV programs about faraway places and the animals that lived there. As she studied and grew to be the zoologist she is today, she attributed much of her passion to what she learned from those shows as a child. Looking back, however, she recognized that there was a bigger factor at play – the importance of human connection in what we do.

Sarah MacLachlan: Discovering the process of science from start to finish

During her first semester on campus, Sarah heard a lot about undergraduate research, but was nervous to reach out to professors and put herself out there. Then, during her sophomore year, she heard about Dr. Kay Holekamp’s work with spotted hyenas. Fascinated, she sent an email to Holekamp and was accepted into her lab as an undergraduate researcher, where she continues with her own research project.

Cody Madsen: Graduating with much more than a degree

Senior year has approached Cody Madsen more rapidly than words could ever describe. He will graduate in May 2018 with a major in biochemistry and molecular biology and a minor in environmental and sustainability studies, and as he looks toward the future, he sees the pursuit of a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and a lifetime of living out what it means to have Spartan Will.