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.
MSU zoology alumni Laura and Robert Sams, a sister-brother creative team who own Sisbro Studios, LLC, in Portland, Ore., produce science-based films, books, music, educational media and live programs that help people discover the natural world (and laugh along the way).
Betty L. Schoepke, a lifetime member of the MSU Alumni Association along with her husband, John, heartily agrees that MSUAA is a “. . . Personal Network for Life.” “MSU has ‘been my lifeline’ several times, just when I needed it,” she said. Conversely, Schoepke has been there for MSU when it needed her.
You could say that because of MSU, Elizabeth B. Seaman, M.D., (zoology, ’68) has been making beautiful music her entire life. Whether in the orchestra chair, or in her doctor’s chair, her lifelong passions are obvious. “Growing up, my whole life was at MSU. It’s important for me to give back to the university that had such an influence on me,” Seaman said.
Ron Simon began his college studies in mathematics at Michigan State in 1963. The now-retired Auto-Owners Insurance Company CEO has always appreciated and recognized the value of an MSU education. Now, he and his wife, Mary, are giving back to the university that started him down a highly successful career path.
Emmalee Skorich’s childhood summers were spent traveling around the country with her family, giving her the travel bug at a very young age. Excited to attend MSU because of its top-rated study abroad program, the busyness of college and preparing for medical school soon saw her study abroad dreams taking a back seat . . .until she stumbled upon an opportunity to go to the Galapagos Islands in the fall of her junior year.
“Why do you like physics?” “What, exactly, is your research?” This first-generation college student is often asked those questions by friends and relatives. The concept of having a career in “science research” had been foreign to his family—and to him. But once Han Setiawan and his family immigrated to the United States, his educational path changed dramatically.
Brendyn vividly remembers sitting in art class as an elementary school student frustrated. The vision of the art he wanted to portray was clear in his mind but, for some reason, he could not express the idea that he had onto paper. It wasn’t until he discovered the intellectual freedom and creativity associated with scientific research that he realized research could be a way for him to “get his idea onto paper.” Now a senior, Smith says that his research experience thus far has given him the opportunity to become the artist that he never was.
When she was a freshman in MSU’s Lyman Briggs College, Audrianna St. Germain learned about the vast number of research positions available at MSU; and she was determined to get involved from the get-go. The opportunity to perform research during her first year at MSU, the individualized attention she received, and the personal interactions with faculty, all provided her with a diverse and stimulating experience as an undergraduate student.
Ever since he was old enough to know that things could come apart, Gary Starkweather loved science. Born and raised in Lansing, Mich., Starkweather, who received his bachelor’s degree in physics from MSU, went on to invent the laser printer, which revolutionized the commercial printing industry and transformed the workplace.
When Emily started dabbling in research, she had no idea how many places it would take her. For her, the process of discovering what she’s most passionate about means trying lots of different things, including spending her summers in different labs studying a wide range of topics in some very different places. In the end, she says, research is about so much more than the exploration of scientific ideas—it’s about exploring new places, new ways of thinking, new ways of living and new ways of understanding one’s role in this world.