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March 4, 2020

Robert Hausinger: 'Ah-ha' moments

March 4, 2020

Robert Hausinger is a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the College of Natural Science. He was recently named one of MSU’s University Distinguished Professors in 2019.

Enzymes are proteins, they’re encoded in our DNA, all of the different types of chemical reactions essential to life are catalyzed by enzymes. I’m particularly interested in enzymes that contain metal ions. What the ions are doing, how they facilitate catalysis. If they’re not functioning well, then we can have genetic diseases because the right metal is not getting to the right enzyme.

Teaching has two facets here: one is the classroom and the other is the teaching I do in the laboratory. The real pleasure of working with students is when you see those “ah-ha” moments where they learn something in the class and then they come into the lab, they’re working and then suddenly they realize what the professor is trying to get across to them. It’s really exciting to see them understand how they can apply book learning to a real-world example. 

When a student from my lab completes his or her Ph.D., we have a bottle of champagne. When we have a manuscript accepted, we celebrate by having a bottle of wine. When I see the bottles on my shelves, it represents accomplishments that we’ve made. Not for me, but for the people in my lab. 

Reused with permission from WKAR.