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.


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.

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.

Sarah MacLachlan: Discovering the process of science from start to finish
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: Finding world-changing inspiration in research (student)
Cody Madsen: Finding world-changing inspiration in research (student)

Cody’s freshman year in 2014 brought about a new world with many opportunities, many of which were, as yet, unseen. In the fall of 2015, he got the opportunity to work in a lab run by Michaela TerAvest, a new assistant professor in the MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who was studying biofuel production. To his surprise, Cody was  given his own research project and the freedom to explore his interests in her area of research. This gave him direction and inspiration to change the world through applying knowledge gained in research.

Kat Magoulick: Crossing oceans and disciplines
Kat Magoulick: Crossing oceans and disciplines

Study abroad,  as well as a broad range of interests, has helped put Kat Magoulick on a  unique career path. Combining her love of zoology and history, she has been able to carve out the basis for a career that is perfect for her.