2010 President's Report

MSU undergraduate students participate in research and creative activities of all kinds, including:

  • Exploring environmental impacts of bioenergy and biofuels production
  • Developing software for applications in astrophysics
  • Studying the effects of stuttering on multilingual speakers
  • Testing the safety of organic insecticides compared to conventional counterparts
  • Identifying barriers to HIV/AIDS treatment in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa
  • Conducting archeological digs on campus and analyzing artifacts
  • Collaborating on a faculty-produced film about the experiences of Arabs and Jews in Michigan

Tanseem Pierce
Tasneem Pierce

William Langford
William T. Langford IV

Kendell Pawelec
Kendell Pawelec

2010 President's Report Student Stories MSU students aren’t ones to brag. So we’ll do it for them.

One of the nation’s largest leading research universities, Michigan State University offers its 47,000 students more than a world-class education. It offers them an epic adventure.

After all, MSU is a place where vaccines are invented and rare isotopes are discovered. And it’s where Spartans get their start before making an impact in every time zone around the globe—from Antarctica to Hollywood to Kenya.

At MSU, the vast number of opportunities available to students is matched only by the immensity of the chance to make a difference—often before they graduate.

It’s not uncommon to find undergraduate students working alongside faculty on research projects, studying abroad, or starting a new student organization. You might be amazed at some of the things they are accomplishing. And while the students featured here are exceptional, they’re hardly the exception at MSU.

Cracking embryonic mysteries

Tasneem Pierce likes to solve puzzles, but you won’t find her bent over a crossword. Instead, the Honors College senior, who is majoring in genomics and molecular genetics, is most likely to be found in a campus laboratory, bent over a microscope while inspecting chicken embryos.

At MSU, Pierce developed a fascination for how genes regulate themselves and evolve over time, allowing scientists to compare how various species develop. A dedicated researcher, the Grand Rapids native currently manages the laboratory of her faculty mentor, C. Titus Brown.

Her love of science paired with a record of academic excellence earned Pierce a place as a 2010 Goldwater Scholar, one of 278 college students nationwide to receive the prestigious honor from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which awards scholarships to budding mathematicians, scientists, and engineers. The 28th such scholar in MSU’s history, Pierce hopes to pursue a career conducting research in a genetics lab and teaching at the university level.

Engaging in lyrical battles

William T. Langford IV, a College of Arts and Letters senior majoring in English, doesn’t just have a way with words. He has an innate gift for bringing his poetry to life on the page and on stage.

The founder and president of the MSU Slam Poetry Team, Langford captivates crowds on campus and beyond with his moving spoken-word poetry. In September, the Detroit native was named one of two winners of the 2010 Detroit Jazz Fest “Rhythm, Roots, and Rhyme Poetry Slam.” One of his original poems was featured on Time magazine’s The Detroit Blog, which chronicles one year of stories from the city.

Later in September—during a ceremonial groundbreaking on campus for the new 88,000-square-foot Wells Hall addition that will house a number of departments in the College of Arts and Letters—Langford delivered a poem he wrote for the event. His delivery of “Legion,” which celebrates MSU Spartans and their awe-inspiring contributions, garnered a standing ovation. After graduating from MSU, Langford plans to become a professor of English, African literature, and creative writing.

Advancing medical technologies

Kendell Pawelec is an adventurous academic. The recent MSU graduate was named a 2010 United States Gates Scholar—the only such scholar selected from the Big Ten that year—enabling her to pursue her passion for materials science research at Cambridge University in England, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and to help fill the gap of women engineers.

As an undergraduate at MSU, Pawelec, a Howell, Michigan, native, conducted biomaterials research and interned at the Institute of Material Science and Technology in Jena, Germany. A member of the Honors College, she maintained a 4.0 GPA and coauthored several papers. Now with her full-ride scholarship to Cambridge, Pawelec is that much closer to her goal of pursuing a career in advancing medical technology.