The Spartan Podcast


PhilR2.jpg Hear the Conversation 24:18 – 5.4 mb mp3

“I do bioenergy research and try to turn biomass into energy to replace fossil fuels,” Phil Robertson, scientific director and sustainability lead for the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

The mission of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center is grand, but simply stated: to generate the knowledge needed to sustainably produce specialty biofules and bioproducts from lignocellulosic bioenergy crops.

The GLBRC is led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with Michigan State University as a major partner, and is one of three bioenergy research centers established in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

With more than 400 scientists, students and staff representing a wide array of disciplines from microbiology to economics and engineering, the GLBRC’s collaborative spirit illustrates how cooperation among academic, federal and private sector researchers can generate an entity that is greater than the sum of its parts.

GLBRC is working to meet the nation’s need for a comprehensive suite of clean energy technologies, including next generation and drop-in fuels that can be used in today’s engines, as well as a suite of bioproducts. The GLBRC’s research supports the development of a robust pipeline from biomass production through pretreatment and final conversion to biofuels and bioproducts, with sustainability providing a unifying theme.

In addition to basic research and industry engagement, the GLBRC has a strong Education and Outreach program that broadens public understanding of current issues in bioenergy, provides professional development resources for educators, and learning opportunities for tomorrow’s energy leaders.

In the summer of 2017, DOE announced that the three current centers and one new center had received funding for another five years. As GLBRC leaders start the new GLBRC, their goal is to continue integrating the center’s expertise in support of three key knowledge gaps: comprehensive integration of the field-to-product pipeline, sustainable production of bioenergy crops with desirable traits, and efficient conversion of biomass into specialty biofuels and bioproducts.


pgsp.jpg Hear the Conversation 9:29 – 5.4 mb mp3

Employers will face tough competition for talent in the 2017-18 job market, thanks to a seven-year growth streak in the college labor market, according to Michigan State University’s Recruiting Trends, the largest annual survey of employers in the nation.

This year’s graduates will enter one of the longest sustained periods of job growth, which puts them at an advantage, said Phil Gardner, survey author and director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

Fueled by turnover and company growth, hiring is expected to increase 19 percent, driven by a 15 percent increase for bachelor’s degrees and 40 percent for associate’s degrees.

“I’m stilled wowed at how strong this market is,” Gardner says. “There should be no complaints anywhere about jobs. So if students aren’t ready, they’re going to get passed over.”

Recruiting Trends 2017-18 summarizes data from 3,370 employers from every major industrial sector from every state. The employers represented in the survey plan to hire 74,000 new graduates. Read more »


OT2.jpg Hear the Conversation 6:16 – 3.6 mb mp3

The Food@MSU initiative recently held its first Our Table conversation. It took place at Lansing’s Cristo Rey Community Center, and the topic was food access.

“Our Table is the centerpiece of Food@MSU. It’s a series of roundtable discussions, each with a different topic. We will explore other topics like sustainability, nutrition, and GMOs,” says Our Table moderator Sheril Kirshenbaum. “We’ll be taking Our Table from community to community around Michigan and eventually the nation in hopes of sparking a dialogue and a conversation on a variety of topics related to food.”

Our Table brings together food experts, agricultural producers, health professionals and community members to listen to each other and foster dialogue. It is a new campus-wide initiative led by the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Arts and Letters, and Communication Arts and Sciences that aims to help consumers make more informed decisions about food, and its impacts on health and the planet. Read more »


Dwyer217.jpg Hear the Conversation 24:41 – 14.1 mb mp3

MSU launches partnership for urban agriculture in Detroit

A Detroit neighborhood will host Michigan State University’s first urban food research center, developing solutions to economic and nutritional challenges unique in urban environments.

The MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation will break ground in the first half of 2018 at the site of the former Houghton Elementary School in the Riverdale neighborhood, near Brightmoor. Urban-focused research areas envisioned for the center include soil sampling and pollution cleanup, pest and crop disease management, forestry, innovative growing systems and community food systems development. Read more »


GGD.jpg Hear the Conversation 5:43 – 3.3 mb mp3

Give Green Day is Michigan State University’s participation in the national day of giving,” says Lisa Parker, the MSU Alumni Association’s senior director of alumni engagement and professional initiatives. “It’s an opportunity for alumni and friends to support student-related funds at the university.”

The ultimate goal of Give Green Day is to engage alumni and friends in an online effort to make real-time, fast, easy, and secure gifts in support of students.

Kathleen Deneau is senior director of development at MSU. She talks about the “plethora of funds” from which to choose and that there’s likely one “that will resonate with everyone. But all of them will make a difference in students’ lives.” Read more »


Nothumbria2.jpg Hear the Conversation 28:43 – 16.4 mb mp3

Andrew Lane and Katy Storey from Great Britain’s Northumbria University visit with Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis. The universities partner on international learning abroad opportunities for student-athletes.

Lane is the university’s Deputy Director of International Development and Storey is International Development Manager for Sport at Northumbria University.

The group compares and contrasts student-athlete opportunities and participation in the United States and United Kingdom.

Northumbria University, officially the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, is a university located in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. It’s a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence.


Kaleb2.jpg Hear the Conversation 8:58 – 5.1 mb mp3

MSU alumnus Kaleb Thornhill is the director of player engagement for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

“It’s an all-encompassing role with many obligations,” says Thornhill. “I get the opportunity to impact lives, which is what I love.”

It may not be an NFL position you’ve heard of before, but Thornhill says every team has one. He describes how he wants to be a “guiding light” for young NFL players.

“How do you leverage the NFL, not as the end point in your life and the pinnacle, but just the beginning and the catalyst towards the future?

“The most fun part of the job is that I don’t know what’s coming from day to day. But I have to be ready with a solution for whatever issue walks through the door.” Read more »


LorenzoS.jpg Hear the Conversation 18:19 – 10.4 mb mp3

ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today that he’s grateful that the MSU student body “has placed their trust in me to be their voice at Michigan State University.”

Santavicca is a senior studying international relations and political economy in James Madison College.

“It’s really there that I found my love for this university because you have this small college feel at this big institution where there are so many interests.”

Santavicca describes what he means by vulnerable storytelling, and the trio talks about the value of putting our phones down and engaging face-to-face. And he says we should celebrate the good things MSU students do and focus less on the ten percent that can generate negative headlines. Read more »


qualman.jpg Hear the Conversation 15:03 – 8.6 mb mp3

MSU alumnus Erik Qualman – better known as Equal Man – likes to empower people.

“My mission is to empower 7 billion people this century,” he says. Equal Man does that through edu-tainment.

Qualman relates specific tactics to help one achieve empowerment and be a “superhero.”

Equal Man is well known for his best seller Socialnomics. Now, though, he’s finding he has to write about focus.

“Some people have stepped too far into the technology and are walking around like zombies with their phones in their face.” He says we need to step back a bit from the technology. “The technology is great, but you can’t replace face-to-face.”

Qualman says social media is here to stay, even if it does become less of an overwhelming force in our lives over time.

Erik Qualman is on the cover of the newly designed Michigan State University Alumni Magazine now titled Spartan. The Spartan issue featuring Equal Man on the cover focuses on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship has become somewhat of a buzzword that means different things to different people. He thinks entrepreneurship is a mindset more than anything else. Read more »


JKirkpic.jpg Hear the Conversation 9:39 – 11.7 mb mp3

Southfield native and MSU alumnus Jonathan Kirkland is playing George Washington in the Chicago production of Hamilton. He recently received a distinguished young alumnus award from his alma mater.

“It’s such an honor to know that a place that helped groom me and a place that helped cultivate who I really am has followed my career and what I’ve done.” He says he wouldn’t be in Hamilton today if not for his time at MSU.

He loves the family feel at MSU. “And what MSU did for me specifically was make it OK to be who I am.” Read more »

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