Seventh annual Classes Without Quizzes puts science in perspective

  • Apr 25, 2016
  • Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Biochemistry, Chemistry, CMSE, Microbiology, Physics & Astronomy

4 women attending Classes Without Quizzes

Nearly 170 alumni, friends and guests of the MSU College of Natural Science attended the 7th annual Classes Without Quizzes on April 23.

A group of MSU College of Natural Science alumni, friends and guests spent a recent Saturday morning taking classes that helped put science in perspective, ranging from the microscopic (viruses) to the grand (the universe).

Nearly 170 attended the 7th annual Classes Without Quizzes, held this year on April 23 at the Molecular Plant Sciences Building on the MSU campus. Hosted by the College of Natural Science (NatSci), the event gives participants a chance to meet with NatSci faculty members and students, while getting an insider’s look at some of the latest research activities being undertaken here on campus.

The day’s “classes” featured five presentations: how viruses attach to their hosts and cause infection; using supercomputers to study simulations of galaxies; the link between a high-fat diet and breast cancer susceptibility; engineering plant cell wells to break down more easily, improving their viability as a biofuel; and how elements are made in the stars. Three of the sessions were livestreamed to allow for a broader viewing audience. To watch them, go to

Amy Winans (social science, ’69; M.A. education, ’72) of East Lansing, Mich., attended for the first time.

“I love everything MSU does to connect the university to the community; I think we are assets to each other,” she said. “I love the idea of learning something—without quizzes!”

“I think I’ve been to every Classes Without Quizzes,” said Leonard Tabaka (biological science, ’64; MBA, ’75), who has also been involved with interviewing students during the NatSci Dean’s Research Scholars selection process. “I like the enthusiasm of the speakers and the varied topics. It’s good to learn what’s happening,”

He and his wife, Sharon (retail of textiles and clothing, ’64; M.A., education, ’87)—who attended for the first time—live in Holland, Mich., and also spend time in Chicago for Sharon’s interior design business.

Katherine Ruby (biochemistry/Lyman Briggs, ’05) of San Diego, California, attended along with her parents Ruth and Tim Ruby (mathematics, ’69), who live in Saginaw, Mich. They have attended most—if not all—of the Classes Without Quizzes.

“Obviously, we’re very proud of Katherine,” Ruth said. “We want to support her in the work she has chosen to do. So we come here to see what the latest and the greatest is.”

“It’s really refreshing to hear a presentation that is for a general audience—whether you’re an expert in the field, or you’ve never heard of the field before, you can follow it,” said Katherine, who currently works at MilliporeSigma and has served on the College of Natural Science Alumni Association board of directors for six years. “It renews my love for science.”

The day concluded with an undergraduate student panel of 2015-16 NatSci Dean’s Research Scholars sharing their research experiences.

“I come to hear about the research that’s going on at MSU; but, more important, I’m a big supporter of the Dean’s Research Scholars program,” said Mark Ehlert (microbiology, ’75) of Munising, Mich., who attended CWQ for the fourth time and serves on the NatSci Capital Campaign Committee. “I love to hear what they are doing.”

One of the youngest attendees was Elliot Christlieb, an 11-year-old 5th-grader. This was his first time at the event.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Elliot, who attended with his father, Andrew Christlieb, chair of MSU’s new department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering. He said he especially liked the sessions on viruses and galaxies.

“I think science is one of the best things . . . . Because science contains pretty much everything in the world around you,” Elliot said.

The 8th annual Classes Without Quizzes will be held in April 2017 and is open to all MSU alumni and friends. For more information, or to be added to the mailing list, contact Elizabeth Wheeler, alumni relations coordinator, at 

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