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Oct. 9, 2019

Cade Dembski: Best of both worlds

Cade Dembski is a sophomore Dean's Research Scholar majoring in physics in the College of Natural Science and clarinet performance in the College of Music.


East Lansing, Michigan

How did you decide to attend MSU?

MSU was the hometown university for me, so I had many connections here and was aware of the unique opportunities in both cross-disciplinary studies and research that would be available to me.

How did you select your major?

Physics and music are my two passions. I couldn’t decide which to pursue entering college, so I chose to study both.

In 1-2 sentences, describe your research.

My group researches the properties of rare isotopes relevant to significant astrophysical events, such as supernovae. Currently, my project involves the development of machine learning programs to quickly and efficiently analyze the data we record during gamma-radiation experiments.

What is the societal impact of your research?

Nuclear physics has significant applications in medical technologies such as MRI, PET Scans and brachytherapy. Research on rare isotopes and their properties allows us to develop such potentially life-saving technologies, as well as other societally significant endeavors such as the production of nuclear energy.

How has your undergraduate experience been impacted by this experience?

Participating in research has provided a new dimension in my undergraduate career. It’s developed my problem-solving skills and approach because there’s often not a definitive solution to the questions that we try to solve. Even if one approach gives acceptable results, there’s another angle to attack the problem that may offer valuable insight. Overall, it has been a learning experience that might’ve seemed overwhelming at times (particularly at first), but it’s forced me to adapt the way that I think and pursue knowledge in a way that’s been incredibly valuable.

Of everything you have experienced at MSU, what has surprised you the most/what is something you never expected?

The thing that surprised me the most about MSU is the interconnectedness of the campus. There are so many faculty and students spread across campus, and a lot of people who you’d never think would know each other are friends. One of my good friends from high school did a computer science project with another student I know from the clarinet studio, for example. I think it’s great how many people are involved in a wide variety of activities.

If your little brother/sister was coming to MSU, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

Make the most of the time you have here. College is a wonderful time to experience new things, including some you may never have thought to try before. Keep an open mind and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.

Person/People who have inspired you?

My mother, a professor of packaging and assistant dean for teaching, learning and academic analysis in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I’ve been around the academy for my entire life because of my mom, and her influence has shaped my career goals. I may be pursuing different fields than her, but I want to do what she does for a living.

Favorite food


Best song/group

Ottorino Respighi’s "Pines of Rome"

Book I’d recommend

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas

Coolest gadget

The Theremin

Best invention


Worst invention

The alarm clock

On my bucket list

Be a contestant on Jeopardy!

Person I’d most like to meet (living or dead)

Leonard Bernstein

On a Saturday afternoon, you’ll likely find me

Practicing clarinet

Major research breakthrough of the next decade (not your own, but overall)

Discovery of dark matter (hopefully)

Plans after graduation

I plan on attending graduate school after my undergraduate career is over.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years

Graduate school

Where do you see yourself in 25 years

Hopefully working as a professor in academia

What are some of your favorite MSU memories?

It’s hard to name a specific memory that is my favorite at MSU because it’s the overall experience that’s been so positive. Going to performances, spending time with my clarinet quartet, eating with friends at the dining hall and meeting new people while studying my two favorite things in the world is what MSU is all about for me.

Importance of this scholarship to you personally and to your future career

This scholarship provides me with invaluable experience in speaking and presenting. On top of getting into research, finding opportunities to formally present to an engaged audience as an undergraduate student can be difficult. Public speaking is a skill that takes time and practice, so this scholarship is a fantastic way for me to begin developing it for my career.

Reused with permission from the College of Natural Science.