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.


Anna Baghdadi: Expanding her horizons through research
Anna Baghdadi: Expanding her horizons through research

Being a College of Natural Science Dean’s Research Scholar has broadened Anna’s view of Michigan State and the remarkable research being undertaken on campus. Now a senior, she has been impressed with all of the resources available and the opportunities that undergraduates have to join research labs at MSU. Combining her research experiences in neuroscience, pharmacology and bioengineering has imparted her with important skills that she will be carrying into her future adventures and success as a scientist.

Andrew Baker: Finding the secret to a successful life
Andrew Baker: Finding the secret to a successful life

Andrew Baker is an outstanding student, a dynamic researcher and a humanitarian. This well-rounded biochemistry and molecular biology senior has worked in the lab of Robert Root-Bernstein, professor of physiology, for three years. He is also a leader in MSU’s Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience & Intercultural Aide Program.

Bradley Disbrow: Unfamiliar Ground
Bradley Disbrow: Unfamiliar Ground

Taking a seat at the first meeting of his first class at MSU felt like stepping into a foreign land. Perhaps that’s because that first meeting was held in a classroom in the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy, in a building likely older than Michigan State itself.

Kiera Fisher: From lost to lovin' it
Kiera Fisher: From lost to lovin' it

Her whole life, Kiera Fisher wanted to be a veterinarian. But the summer before her freshman year at MSU, she shadowed a veterinary surgery and immediately realized it wasn’t for her. She started at MSU that fall, lost and not knowing what major she should now pursue. However, a professional assistant job in an MSU research lab ignited a passion for research and a career in cancer biology and oncology.

Katrina Gensterblum: Math and research - It all adds up
Katrina Gensterblum: Math and research - It all adds up

Time and time again, Katrina has to explain why a math degree is not only useful, but also powerful—especially within research. During her first two years at Michigan State, she’s been fortunate enough to have a variety of research experiences that demonstrate a wide range of applications for a math degree—even just an undergraduate one. The question, she says, isn’t what can you do with a math degree, but rather what WILL you do with a math degree?

Ryan Griffin: Paving the path to success
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
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.

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

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

Clara Lepard: Science and the art of human connection
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.