May 30, 2018
Holy heatwave, Batman! Summer arrived in East Lansing with a vengeance last week, bringing with it scorching temperatures in the mid-90s and dive-bombing mosquitoes out for blood. My dog slowed down, my hair went up and walking out on my deck was like stepping on hot coals. Before anyone points out that summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, I know that it’s technically still spring, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature.
And while it’s not officially summer, it is definitely summer on campus. Some students started the summer session of classes a few weeks ago, but it’s still pretty empty around here. Everything is lush and in bloom, weddings at the Alumni Chapel are frequent, parking is easier and the Dairy Store is hopping. Yep, it’s definitely summer at MSU.
Even though many students and faculty have left campus, they’re not really taking the summer off. They're traveling around the world for internships, study abroad and research projects. Plus, there are plenty of Spartans working hard in labs, classrooms, fields and offices right here on campus, no matter what season it is. Spartans don’t take summers off when there is work to be done.
Anil Jain, University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering is one hardworking Spartan who never seems to stop. The applied research and discoveries coming out of his and his colleague’s biometrics labs is a constant flow. The work done with fingerprints, facial recognition, iris and eye movement has unlocked solutions for security, privacy and health care.
Honestly, some of it seems straight out of James Bond, but these Spartans are doing exceptionally critical work so that this connected world of ours is smarter and safer. Check out the fascinating MSUTODAY FEATURE: Unlocking new possibilities for biometrics, to learn more. (Also, be warned that a couple of the photos kind of freaked me out!)
Jain’s work doesn’t just apply to humans either. Just this week, we released a story about how his new facial recognition software and app could help endangered primates and slow illegal trafficking. It’s really interesting how many different applications MSU researchers are finding for their technology.
While some people might use the summer to enjoy a competitive game of soccer, Peter Alegi, professor of history in the College of Social Science, has found a way to bring soccer into the classroom. This summer, he’s teaching “Global Soccer,” an online summer course that examines the relationship between soccer and social change. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Teaching 'soccer' online, to learn why teaching an unconventional topic to students from all majors is “invigorating” to this Spartan.
Given what I’ve read about graduate student Aiko Turmo, I’m guessing she probably doesn’t spend her summers lying around the house binging on Netflix and chips. She is an incredibly motivated and brilliant student working in the lab of MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory scientist Cheryl Kerfeld and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Working hard to achieve my aspirations, to learn about her work and the early morning email that changed the trajectory of her studies.
While it might feel great to enjoy feeling the sun on your shoulders this season, remember to take care of your skin. Skin cancer is a very real threat to anyone who spends time outdoors without proper protection. Next month, MSU will hold its annual MSU Gran Fondo to combat skin cancer. The timed, non-competitive cycling event benefits MSU College of Human Medicine’s skin cancer awareness, prevention and research. So, enjoy the sun, but take care of yourself too.
As we start this new season on campus, I’m starting a new season right here in my office – one without what has been a constant for more than seven years. My colleague, Jen Orlando, who has been an integral part of helping me manage MSUToday and deliver the weekly email each week, is headed off to new opportunities in the College of Communications Arts and Sciences.
While I know she’ll do a phenomenal job and I wish her well, I will miss her greatly. Most people have no idea about the hard work people are doing behind the scenes to bring MSU news and information to the public, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to publicly thank her for all she’s done before she heads out tomorrow to explore new horizons. (As one last hurrah, she even served as model for the illustration in the biometrics feature, which she also wrote.)
But, that’s what Spartans do. Spartans don’t look at the changing seasons as a time to sit back; instead it is a time of new opportunities. Whether it’s 90 degrees or 4 below zero, Spartans simply don’t stop working toward better tomorrows for all. Stay cool. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner