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Classes Without Quizzes celebrates 14 years

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Every spring for the past 14 years, the College of Natural Science has pulled out all the stops to encourage alumni and other Spartan community members to devote a Saturday morning to learning.

There’s a wonderful breakfast spread, coupons for free ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store and a promise that attendees won’t be tested. In fact, that promise is baked right into the program’s name: Classes Without Quizzes.

In surveying the nearly 200 “students” who registered for the April 6 event, however, the program’s biggest draw was clearly getting to hear from the college’s world-class student and faculty researchers.

Father and son Don Taylor III and Don "Donny" Taylor IV — the latter of whom is a 2008 MSU astrophysics graduate — have been coming to Classes Without Quizzes for about a decade.

“We just keep coming back because it’s so interesting,” said Taylor IV. “It’s fun and I learn something new every time. I always mark it on my calendar.”

“And it’s always exciting to hear young folks talk about their work,” added Taylor III, alluding to the undergraduate Dean’s Research Scholars who were also presenting at the event. “They’ve got bright futures.”

The Classes Without Quizzes 2024 presenters. From left to right: Jay Zarnetske, Bruno Basso, Federica Brandizzi, James Suggitt and Emily Bardwell

The Classes Without Quizzes 2024 presenters. From left to right: Jay Zarnetske, Bruno Basso, Federica Brandizzi, James Suggitt and Emily Bardwell. Credit: Trumpie Photography/MSU College of Natural Science

This year’s program continued the tradition of showcasing the college's research excellence with a special focus on sustainability. In addition to undergraduate researchers, attendees also heard presentations from Hannah Distinguished Professor Bruno Basso, MSU Research Foundation Professor Federica Brandizzi and Associate Professor Jay Zarnetske.

Classes Without Quizzes participants who were able to attend in person at the WKAR Studio also had an opportunity to visit with the researchers during breakfast and breaks. The program was also broadcast life on the internet so registrants could attend virtually.

“A superior production,” wrote one online attendee. “MSU really seems to be leading in important subjects I follow.”

Keep reading to view recordings of the event’s presentations. Photos from the event can be found at the following Flickr album: 2024 Classes Without Quizzes | Flickr

Undergraduate Research: Plant Enzyme Pathways and Conservation Genomics

Dean’s Research Scholars James Suggitt and Emily Bardwell talk about their research at MSU.

Bruno Basso: The Future of Agriculture and Our Food Systems

Basso, who is also an MSU Research Foundation Professor with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, showed how technology is helping make agriculture more efficient and sustainable.

Federica Brandizzi: Improving Plants for a Healthy and Sustainable Future on Earth and Beyond


Brandizzi, who works in the Department of Plant Biology and with the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, shared how her team is working to help plants thrive in terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments.

Jay Zarnetske: Telling the “Hidden” Stories of Water

Zarnetske is the leader of the Watershed Science and Hydroecology Lab in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at MSU. With this presentation, Zarnetske invites you to appreciate the world from the perspective of water.