Oct. 22, 2014
What if? This question often creeps into my wandering mind in strange ways. What if my aunt had fixed up my dad with someone other than my mom? I wouldn’t be here. What if I hadn’t literally run into my husband on the street that day? We might not have started dating and I wouldn’t have the daughter I do. What if my French teacher had assigned someone else to carry my books when I was on crutches? I would have missed out on meeting one of my best friends. What if hadn’t gotten that job in Lansing? I wouldn’t have met the woman who much later told me about a job opening at MSU and I wouldn’t be writing this. Then there’s the scariest what if—what if the whole line of events that had to happen for me to end up with my defibrillator hadn’t? I try not to think about the answer to that one very much.
Different timing, decisions, actions and even luck could have sent my life down a completely different path than the one I’ve been on. Is there such a thing as fate? Are we all meant to do what we’re meant to do? I honestly have no idea and it kind of boggles my mind when I start to think about it too much.
Did fate come into play with Jessica Suisman, a clinical psychology doctoral student and a research assistant? When she was an undergraduate at MSU, she took Psychology 101 and by chance ended up sitting next to someone who was a research assistant in a lab studying eating disorders. She ended up getting a research job in the same lab and is still doing research there as she pursues her doctorate. If she had chosen a different seat would she still have dedicated her life to finding answers to the serious problems of bulimia and anorexia?
While I’m concerning myself with that what if, she’s busy in the lab with much more important what ifs. What if genetics play a role? What if we can identify those genes? What if we can find a way to help those who suffer from eating disorders? What if I can save lives? Check out her video in the STUDENT VIEW: Decoding Eating Disorders, to learn more about her work.
Jessica’s faculty advisor is Kelly Klump, a professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology and an internationally recognized expert on eating disorders. As a top researcher in the field, she’s constantly asking the what if questions that are leading her lab to uncover more and more secrets about the genetic components of eating disorders. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Continuing the Quest, to learn more about her work.
What ifs are happening all over campus every day. A group of four researchers from different fields wondered, “What if we work together? What if our individual strengths can turn into collective power?"
Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, Kevin Elliott, Georgina Montgomery and Patricia Soranno are an interdisciplinary research team studying environmental science. Check out their FACULTY VOICE: Studying Environmental Science, to hear from them about the value of collaboration in research.
Spartans never stop asking, “What if?” What if we can cure disease? What if we can create new technology? What if we can feed the hungry? What if we can clean the environment? What if we can teach students better? The tough questions never end, but Spartans are passionate about finding the answers. What if we can change the world?
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz