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Dec. 4, 2013

Unlikely pairings

Dec. 4, 2013

Peanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Love and marriage. Rock and roll. Spaghetti and meatballs. Chips and salsa. Cheese and crackers. Tom Izzo and basketball. Some things were just made to go together. Individually, each thing is fine, but together they become something even better. (I just realized most of my examples are food—it must be getting close to lunchtime).

And then there are those things that seem diametrically opposed. Fire and ice. Oil and water. Cats and dogs. Democrats and Republicans. Michigan and Michigan State. (Or maybe this week it’s more like Michigan State and Ohio State). Either way, these things just don’t really go together. 

Or do they?

A campfire on an icy night is beautiful. With the addition of just an egg and a mix, oil and water can make delicious brownies. My Facebook feed is often filled with adorable pictures of cats and dogs cuddling. Occasionally politicians do work together across the aisles.

And believe it or not, though rivals in the sports arena, Michigan and Michigan State actually do a lot of great work together. In the academic realm, there’s a lot of respect and collaboration. Many people might not even know that U-M, MSU and Wayne State are part of the University Research Corridor that aims to transform, strengthen and diversify the state’s economy.

During this month’s commencement exercises, Michigan will honor MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon with an honorary degree, while MSU will honor U-M President Mary Sue Coleman with one here in East Lansing. 

Here on campus you can find all sorts of interesting pairings that you wouldn’t expect.

MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, which is really all about some pretty heavy science and research, held an art competition. That’s right, science and art—who knew?  

Or take the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum that just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Many people thought, or even still think, that it’s futuristic design doesn’t fit with the north part of campus. Yet you can find many people who think the very nature of it not fitting in is what makes it work there even better. I happen to love it. The museum has an annual residency program for artists whose work addresses land use, food and urban development with a focus on sustainability—a pairing that isn’t necessarily a natural.  

Engineers and poetry—now there’s something no one expects. Yet, here at MSU, the College of Engineering has been sponsoring a poetry forum for 13 years. 

How about music, environmental studies and filmmaking? Traditional thinking says those things don’t really belong in the same category. Yet, MSU student Alex Smith, a master’s candidate in performance and musicology at MSU, thinks they go together just fine. Recently, he set out to make a sustainable, affordable marimba from resources obtained here in Michigan. Then he shot and produced a short documentary about the project which premiers at a free showing Sunday, Dec. 8, on campus. Read the STUDENT VIEW: The Michigandered Marimba to learn more and watch a movie trailer. 

That’s one of the best things about MSU—students have incredible opportunities to explore and study whatever interests them, even if they seem like they don’t match. Remember a Student View from a few weeks ago by Anzar Abbas? He’s studying neuroscience, theater and history. Students get to really follow their dreams and passions here at MSU. 

How about scientists and roller derby? There’s something I wouldn’t have imagined I would come across. Yet, here at MSU, I have. Danielle Whittaker is a brilliant evolutionary biologist—and she also happens to be a roller derby referee who goes by the name Chunk Rock Girl. She’s going to be featured on a PBS/NOVA web series “The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” when they premiere their season this Thursday. Read more about it in the FACULTY VOICE: Chunk Rock Girl

You just never know when two things you didn’t think would go together actually do. I never dreamed how cheese and caramel popcorn mixed together could be as incredibly delicious as Garrett’s Chicago Mix is, yet it’s one of the most addicting things I’ve ever had. I could eat an entire tin myself. I think Spartans are like that— we’re not always what you’d expect and we might be a mix of things you don’t think would work together, but, in the end, the result is always something pretty amazing.

Spartans Will. 

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday


Photo of Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum by Derrick L. Turner



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