From the editor:

Awesome little monsters

Nov. 7, 2018

Ugh. It’s that time of year again. No matter how many times I wash my hands, how much vitamin C I take or how much sleep I get, I always seem to end up with a cold. You know the type. Nothing really serious — just a stuffy nose, scratchy throat and lingering cough. It’s not the flu and doesn’t really knock me out — it just makes life a little more uncomfortable.

Since it’s most likely caused by a virus, there’s not a lot I can do other than stock up on Kleenex, drink liquids and try to rest up. Viruses can be nasty little buggers and they annoy me to no end. I’m guessing most of us are irritated by them.

But not Kristin Parent — she is “absolutely fascinated by viruses” and says that “in the electron microscope, some of them look like really awesome little monsters.” In her world as an MSU researcher studying them, I suppose it’s a good thing to be fascinated by them. In my world, I’ll go along with calling them little monsters, but I’ll stop short of calling them awesome.

Parent, the J.K. Billman Jr., M.D. Endowed Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at MSU, is doing some important work developing new techniques to study viruses that could mean some pretty big possibilities for better human health. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Under the microscope, to watch a short video about her work and the impact she is making.

Since I just think viruses are bothersome and not fascinating to study, I rely on brilliant Spartans like Parent to do the research that will improve our lives. Dean Lee, a professor of physics at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, is another ridiculously smart scientist who is dedicated to finding answers to big challenges. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Answering philosophical questions, to learn more about his work and why he says studying nuclear physics is “like a journey up a towering mountain.”

Sometimes, it takes more than just research to attack the fears that threaten our lives. Paige Duren, a freshman studying nursing, faced a huge, scary monster called cancer when she was just 11 years old. During her battle against the disease, the Spartan football coaches, players and staff became some of her most determined supporters. Watch the beautiful and moving video in the STUDENT VIEW: My Spartan family, to see how the Spartan community rallied around this courageous woman.

old time cardThough not really a scary monster, here’s a quick update on our Olds Hall ghost, Sal, who I wrote about last week. Well, not really about him but about one of my hilariously talented colleagues who remains unknown. I mentioned how someone left a Sal patch on the floor. A few days ago, a weathered custodial time card for Giovanni Salvatore showed up in the same place. Someone went to a lot of trouble to make it look authentic. If I had pulled off a prank this well, I wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret, but so far no one has owned up to it.

In our world, scary things come in all shapes and sizes – dangerous viruses, disease, environmental concerns, poverty, food insecurity, dwindling natural resources, societal ills and more. Luckily, Spartans simply aren’t afraid to face whatever fears the world might experience. No matter how foreboding the challenge, we roll up our sleeves, dig deep and work together to find solutions. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone