From the editor:

Childhood dreams

Sept. 18, 2018

“Growing up on a steady diet of fantasy and sci-fi novels, I've been attracted to the idea of the unusual and alien for as long as I can remember. So imagine my delight when I first started to pick up books on microbiology and cell biology.” So starts the FACULTY VOICE: Hooked on microbiology, by Danny Ducat, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

I really love when I can learn a little bit more about the ridiculously smart researchers here at MSU. I’m intrigued  by the paths they took to get here and how their childhoods impacted their chosen fields of study. I remember a math prof talking about discovering his love of numbers by coming closest to guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar and a Star Wars fanatic growing up to study astronomy. Maybe because my own had many twists and turns, the paths people take in life fascinate me.

Just as Danny loved sci-fi, as a child I loved stories and characters. I spent hours and hours devouring books of all kinds. My favorite thing about summer vacation was trips to the local library. I loved language and sentences and writing from the time I read my first words, “All fall, we all fall,” in “Hop on Pop.” It’s no wonder that I ended up immersed in language and writing in my career. I’m extremely lucky to be doing something I’ve loved my whole life.

My husband also loved books – but he was more into non-fiction history and biographies. Fast forward to his career in the military, law and politics. My sister wanted to be a doctor, despite fainting when she had to prick her own finger. Today, she’s an excellent physician. My daughter was creating stages and singing full songs before kindergarten. It’s no wonder her degree is in musical theater. No matter how much we grow and mature, there’s still that kid in us who had likes and passions that never really went away. If we’re lucky, we get to follow those dreams, or at least something related to them, in our adult lives.

Here at MSU, there are endless opportunities for young adults to follow their passions and childhood dreams. Love bugs? Study entomology. Want to work with children? Our teaching programs are nationally recognized. Captivated with how things work? Engineering sounds like a great path. Communications, medicine, music, business, agriculture, political science, arts, social sciences, etc. – the list goes on and on. With more than 200 programs of study, Spartans can follow any dreams they have.

The opportunities don’t end in the classroom. With more than 900 student organizations and countless opportunities for supplemental experiences like undergraduate research, service projects and education abroad, students have a multitude of ways to turn their childhood passions into real, meaningful careers.

Rebecca Kettel, a junior majoring in veterinary technology, is still exploring what exactly she wants to do with her career. She had the opportunity to study abroad to give her the experience she was looking for and food for thought as she considers her future. Check out her STUDENT VIEW: Animal care in Nepal to learn more about her time abroad.

When you read more about Danny, you’ll find that he’s not really studying aliens, but something that’s alien to me – cyanobacteria, which can play a role in creating biodegradable plastics by using the power of the sun. Talk about reaching for the stars – he’s reaching for the power of the ultimate star to create a cleaner world.

There are other brilliant scientists on campus who are also looking to the sun to power brighter tomorrows. Richard Lunt discovered a way to use transparent solar panels to create electricity and Cheryl Kerfeld is using it to study photosynthesis to create plants that grow in extreme environments. Check out more about all three researchers in some cool (or should I say hot) new content, A NEW SUPERPOWER ON THE HORIZON, in a paid post on the New York Times site.

So many Spartans are living their dreams because of the endless opportunities provided them as students and researchers. People around the world will get to follow their own dreams because of the work that Spartans do cleaning the environment, feeding the world, saving lives and more. Take time today to remember the kid in you and find a way to follow your own dreams. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Derrick Turner