Sept. 6, 2013
I really wanted to be good at science. I did. It wasn’t like I grew up thinking it was only for boys or that it was gross or anything like that. I thought it was all pretty fascinating.
I happily learned the basics in elementary school, did projects for science fairs and didn’t even blink or squeal when we dissected frogs in middle school. I got to high school and followed my friends down the science path to biology, physics and chemistry. And, bowing to peer pressure (I had really smart friends, not delinquent ones) I somehow found myself in AP chemistry my senior year.
Truth is, I just really wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t that I disliked it or didn’t try hard—it just didn’t come very easily to me. I even remember my AP chem teacher, Mr. Danes, moving me from the back row to the very front row, in between Alex and Matt—arguably the two smartest boys in the class. I’m pretty sure he hoped I’d soak up some of their abilities.
Only through sheer determination, countless cramming sessions and study breaks to Baskin Robbins with my friend, Mirra, did I manage to eke out a C in the class.
It’s also when I realized I was not going to be a scientist.
Now that I work at MSU, I am constantly amazed at the scientific research that goes on here. Every day and every night, brilliant scientists are working in their labs, in fields and around the world to solve complex world problems. They study the brain, stars, water, disease, behavior, crops, food, animals, genetics, plants—the list goes on and on. It’s still fascinating to me and I love being part of it—especially when I don’t have to actually solve chemical equations.
Michael Thomashow is one of those scientists. He’s a University Distinguished Professor of molecular genetics and the director of MSU’s Plant Research Laboratory. He is an expert in environmental stress tolerance in plants, particularly cold acclimation and response to drought. The work he does is key to being able to grow crops where food is desperately needed. Read his Faculty Voice to learn about the turning point in his career.
Another thing I love about working at MSU, is learning about the new generation of scientists that are being taught here. You know, the Alexs and Matts of the world who excel in the field. Some of their stories are incredibly inspirational—like Raeuf Roushangar’s.
Raeuf is an MSU biochemistry and molecular biology senior, who spent time living on the streets after arriving in the United States. He’s now working as an undergraduate research assistant in the lab of Brian Schutte, associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and plans to go to medical school. Read his incredible story in the Student View.
While I was never meant to have a career in science, I’m grateful that researchers and students we have at MSU chose that path. Just keep watching—they will change the world.
Photo of the sunrise over MSU farms by Kurt Stepnitz