Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Aides tour research facilities

August 9, 2001
Electrical engineering graduate student Jindong Tan demonstrates the capabilities of a robot Wednesday in the Engineering Building. U.S. Congressional staffers visited MSU science facilities to determine if MSU needs more federal money. —

U.S. congressional representatives for Michigan legislators made their way to MSU to tour the university and its research facilities.

The group wrapped up a three-day tour of Michigan research universities. The representatives already visited Wayne State University and the University of Michigan earlier this week.

The focus of the tour is to see the progress of the universities’ federally funded projects and what future research projects and buildings are in the works.

“We are here firsthand to talk with the researchers and scientists. We read the results and listen to them speak, but now we actually get to see the work,” said Jackie Parker, representative for U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit. “Nothing replaces that.”

Parker, who has been taking tours like this since Levin took office in 1979, said the tour of the universities helps the representatives feel good about what’s being done with taxpayer dollars.

“We are seeking to fund a lot of these projects,” she said. “We aren’t experts but we see the sophistication and relevancy of the research.

“(The research) is for the goodness for humankind and the environment. The real people, the farmers and the plants.”

The group has different members who specialize in their own field. Some are responsible for appropriations and some are responsible for science research.

The representatives will report back to the U.S. representatives and senators about what they saw during their three-day excursion through Michigan.

The tour started at the Cyclotron and made its way through the Plant Biology Building, the Biochemistry Building and ended at the Engineering Building.

Shelagh Ferguson-Miller, professor and associate chairperson for the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, said federal funding is important for university research by continuing the flow of money for projects.

“We were granted $50 million as an infrastructure - that’s it. From there we are expected to show our good work,” she said.

Ferguson-Miller is also the co-director of the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, a research organization consisting of faculty members from MSU, U-M, Wayne State, the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids and pharmaceutical companies.

The tour was not only to show the representatives the campus research and facilities, but to also show that professors and researchers from all fields work together - and even work with other universities to create a synergy.

“The genius of this place is that we get people to talk to each other to create new paradigms and ideas,” Provost Lou Anna Simon said. “(Former MSU President) John Hannah had it right when he said that it’s about the people and their ideas.”

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