The Spartan Podcast


Suzy17.jpg Hear the Conversation 17:30 min – 10 mb mp3

MSU women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant joins Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis for their annual conversation on MSU Today.

Merchant talks about the impact the team’s August 2016 trip to Europe had on her players. And she talks about how rest and recovery are important parts of her players’ offseason. She says it’s important for young athletes to play a variety of sports while growing up and not specialize in one too early.

“It’s tough for a lot of parents who don’t understand that if you’re an athlete and you’re good, you’re going to be seen. Some of my favorite players who I’ve ever coached have been multi-sport athletes.”

She tries to teach her own sons just to be good teammates. Read more »


Sitkins.jpg Hear the Conversation 9:27 min – 5.4 mb mp3

May brings warmer weather, and that means another season on the water for the Suttons Bay-based Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA).

With a mission of “helping people of all ages experience the science and spirit of the Great Lakes through shipboard and on-shore educational programs,” the ISEA annually hosts teachers and students representing over 120 classrooms from across Michigan.

“Our goal is to foster and nurture Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship and passion,” says Fred Sitkins, ISEA executive director. “We follow the Jacque Cousteau model that people protect what they love, and we try to instill that emotion in all our programs.”

The signature shipboard classes are generally a half day on the 77’ schooner, Inland Seas or the 114’ Manitou. The focus is on science, including such activities as collecting and analyzing fish, plankton and organisms that live on the lake bottom. Students also learn some sailing basics by helping hoist anchors and raise sails. New this year is an underwater, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) program “to increase STEM options and encourage young people in STEM careers,” Sitkins says. Read more »


sc17.jpg Hear the Conversation 34:49 min – 19.9 mb mp3

“Every NCAA institution is required to have a faculty athletic representative, someone who serves as the linkage between athletics and academics,” Sue Carter tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today. “My role involves guarding the institutions academic integrity. I’m the eyes and ears, and students really matter to me.”

Carter is MSU’s faculty athletic representative to the Big Ten and NCAA, and she’s a professor of journalism at the university.

Hollis adds that “student-athletes are indeed students, and many of the challenges that we face as an athletic department are also being faced by today’s faculty – issues that are out there in our society that aren’t specific to athletics.” Read more »


RMWKOB.jpg Hear the Conversations 34:58 min – 20 mb mp3

Greening of the Great Lakes was on hand May 18 at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center for the Michigan Recycling Coalition‘s 35th Annual Conference and Governor’s Recycling Summit, Michigan’s largest conference and exhibition about recycling and organics management.

Kerrin O’Brien is the executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition.

She says the focus of this year’s gathering was to “catalyze the interest in updating Michigan’s solid waste policy. We have an old policy now that was focused on our move from open dumps to modern landfills. Now we know the materials we put into landfills have value. We need to help people understand and get a hold of that economic value.” Read more »


horse tales.jpg Hear the Conversation 14:20 min – 19.6 mb mp3

The Horse Tales Literacy Project combines excitement from two different areas—horses and books. Throw in 120 local first graders visiting the Michigan State University Horse Teaching and Research Center, and you have the makings of elementary equine entertainment. Nine stops greeted the youthful visitors—everything from a farrier to tack to trailers.

The biggest draw for the scholars in the making on this field trip was the opportunity to read the book “Little Black, A Pony,” to the horses. “He was my very, very, very good friend. The two of us went all over the farm. We had fun. We went to see the other horses. We saw Big Red. My that horse could run!” stated a very good first grade reader.

Horse and book enthusiasts volunteered their time to hold the horses while the book was read. “Oh my gosh, it’s so critical for so many things. It doesn’t matter if the kids don’t fall in love and become crazy about horses. It would be great, it would be awesome—but just an interest in books starts so much in kids,” said volunteer Laura Probyn. Read more »


Cause Payn.jpg Hear the Conversation 10:17 min – 5.9 mb mp3

The book, Food Truths from Farm to Table: 25 Surprising Ways to Shop & Eat without Guilt, was a #1 new release by Amazon earlier this year, and its provocative goal is “to serve as a guide for overcoming confusion and reducing guilt” when it comes to consuming food.

I recently interviewed the book’s author, Michele Payn, founder and president of Cause Matters, and an exceedingly loyal Spartan alumna.

Payn wrote the book to address and help bridge “several disconnects” associated with food production and consumption—disconnects she first observed during her undergraduate years at MSU. “I have seen a huge disconnect among farmers, dieticians and other food experts between the perception of how food is produced and the reality of how it is produced. I have also seen a disconnect between agricultural producers and consumers regarding mutual understanding and a willingness to engage.”

For Payn, the reasons for so many myths and misconceptions surrounding food and food production include that fact that “there are so many claims about food that are not science-based and, frankly, agriculture has not done a great job educating consumers about how food is raised.”

More specifically, the book explores “25 Food Truths” that will enable people to “shop and eat without guilt.” For example, Truth #3: “Animal welfare is an hourly concern on farms and ranches.” Read more »


reutter.jpg Hear the Conversation 14:57 min – 8.6 mb mp3

“Right now we’re fighting the third battle of Lake Erie,” Dr. Jeffrey Reutter tells Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes. “We fought the first battle during the War of 1812. The second battle was during the 1970’s. The Cuyahoga River burned in 1969, which was the bellwether moment in this country when many people became fed up with pollution and the state of our environment. The next year the U.S. EPA and NOAA were formed, and we had the first Earth Day.”

Reutter is The Ohio State University special adviser to the Ohio Sea Grant College Program and former director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab. An aquatic biologist, limnologist and educator, he has spent over four decades committed to the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem in general and Lake Erie in particular.

“Now we’re in the third battle of Lake Erie,” Reutter says. Steadily increasing concentrations of phosphorus, a vital nutrient for both agriculture crops and home lawns, have caused a concomitant increase in the occurrence and severity of algal blooms, he explains. Read more »


Well-Connect.jpg Hear the Conversation 14:22 min – 8.2 mb mp3

by Kirk Heinze

About nine months ago, I interviewed two entrepreneurs and business partners, one of whom was honored as “Innovator of the Year” at the 2016 Michigan Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards ceremony. During that interview, I learned about their Well-Connect heating/cooling system, and, after a good deal of research, I purchased it for my home.

The system, which uses my well water, has virtually eliminated my reliance on fossil fuel and has cut my heating and cooling costs considerably. It will pay for itself in 4-5 years. Needless to add, I am one happy camper—so pleased, in fact, that I thought it appropriate and timely to have Dennis and Tim Schultz back on Greening of the Great Lakes.

“Our company, Terra Caloric, was founded with one simple belief in mind—rural homeowners shouldn’t have to pay substantially more than everyone else to heat and cool their homes,” Dennis explains. Read more »


kirk-gibson.jpeg Hear the Address 14:24 min – 6.6 mb mp3

Kirk Gibson began his commencement address to the 2017 Michigan State University graduates by reminiscing about his teammates on the 1978 Big Ten football championship team and quippped that now that he has earned his honorary degree from his alma mater, “at our next reunion, I’m going to make those guys start calling me Dr. Gibson.”

He tells the graduates “I don’t have a perfect formula for success, but I have seen things that successful people share – qualities that guide their conduct, work habits and relationships.

“No matter what you decide to do in life, do it the right way and be your best. Always do it with integrity.”

Gibson recalls Sparky Anderson (who he describes as a “great mentor”) saying “It’s not worth doing if you taint your accomplishment. From mentors like Sparky, I learned to slow down and listen. They help you change your future, mentors do.”

He advises the new Spartan alumni to “be tenacious and start living like the person you want to become. Remain humble, and always treat others with kindness and respect. Read more »


Haydersp.jpg Hear the Show 28:25 min – 16.2 mb mp3

When it comes to the development of autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. It takes a warehouse full of technology – cameras, radars and other sensors, security and recognition technology, not to mention a trunkful of computers – to make it happen.

At Michigan State University, researchers are involved in the work that will someday make self-driving vehicles not just a reality, but commonplace.

Working as part of a project known as CANVAS – Connected and Autonomous Networked Vehicles for Active Safety – the scientists are focusing much of their energy on key areas, including recognition and tracking objects such as pedestrians or other vehicles; fusion of data captured by radars and cameras; localization, mapping and advanced artificial intelligence algorithms that allow an autonomous vehicle to maneuver in its environment; and computer software to control the vehicle. Read more »

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