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Oct. 27, 2021

Editor’s note: All the small things

If you think small things don’t matter, I challenge you to take a barre class and you’ll quickly change your mind. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a total body workout that focuses on small, controlled movements that isolate and target your muscles. And oh, your muscles will definitely let you know they’re being targeted.


I started taking classes a few years ago and found that, as hard as they can be, I loved them. Pushing myself through the class not only made me feel strong, but I got stronger. And it really is all about the small things. Some moves are so small, someone watching might not even see them, but real work is going on with every tiny effort.


The pandemic made it unsafe to go to group classes for a long time, but I tried to keep up with it through remote options or simply doing the moves I learned on my own. But it wasn’t the same.


Turns out, it’s not just the small moves that matter, but the short conversations, little community of others, minor encouragements from the instructor and other slight differences that happen in a group class.


Now that I and others are vaccinated, I’m back at it. I’m even getting up way before sunrise to get to a class. Because all the small things add up to something important to me — a healthier lifestyle and a stronger body to move me through my days.


All the small things absolutely matter when researchers are doing scientific work. One slight change could make a huge difference. Unfortunately, the details don’t always get communicated in a way that can help the next scientist who comes along. Data from more than 2 million biological experiments available in public databases isn’t used because it’s incomplete.


Enter Arjun Krishnan, MSU’s award-winning computational scientist, who has dedicated his work to organizing the ocean of public data to standardize it and make it usable. His work is so important he recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation award to help him continue it.


Small things can also impact the outcomes of a lot of different things. Like a little trouble with the snap could lead to a whole different ending than fans might have expected. Who knows what this weekend’s matchup between U-M and MSU will bring, but I’m hoping for a big Spartan victory. And even though we’re rivals on the field, we can all be partners in celebrating responsibly and keeping each other safe.


One way to celebrate is with a great playlist — maybe with some jazz tracks. Jazz music, with all its different instruments, styles, tempos and lines is a great example of how a group of smaller things can come together and create something amazing. MSU has some of the best jazz musicians around, including Michael Dease, professor of jazz trombone. Learn more about his work, what inspires him and more in Listen up! Q&A with Michael Dease.


J. Scott Yaruss, professor, and Bridget Walsh, assistant professor, understand how seemingly small things can impact lives. They’re both speech-language pathologists in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. They’re experts in stuttering and are working to improve lives and create a world in which stuttering isn’t stigmatized. Read more about their important work in the Faculty voice: Reducing stigma about people who stutter.


If you haven’t been to campus lately, the leaves have finally started to change. It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to see the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of autumn. Each tiny leaf is part of a much bigger spectacle on campus.


We all might think that we are simply one person on this earth — a small blip in the history of the world. But no one is small. Everyone can create big change. The smallest of gestures, the tiniest of actions can change a life, and that’s pretty enormous power. Never count out the small things. Sometimes they’re the ones that make all the difference. Spartans Will.


Lisa Mulcrone 

Editor, MSUToday


Photo by Derrick L. Turner




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