Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Memorial service held for MSU Assistant Professor Shengpan Lin

September 28, 2018
<p>Shengpan Lin, left, is pictured on a boat with MSU Professor Jan Stevenson. <strong>Photo courtesy of Ashton Shortridge.</strong></p>

Shengpan Lin, left, is pictured on a boat with MSU Professor Jan Stevenson. Photo courtesy of Ashton Shortridge.

A memorial service for MSU assistant professor Dr. Shengpan Lin took place Thursday in the MSU Union Ballroom. Lin, 37, died in a car crash near Uncle John’s Cider Mill in Clinton County Sept. 2. 

He was known for his engaging smile and for making people laugh, according to the official obituary from Becky Jensen, the director of MSU’s Marketing and Communications in the College of Social Science.

“One professor described him an inspiration for his collegiality because he was always ready to help others without any expectation for reward. Friends and colleagues will also remember him as a brilliant and creative scientist,” according to the obituary. 

Lin’s memorial service was held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. Lin’s friends and colleagues shared their memories and stories about him. 

Ashton Shortridge, a professor in the Department of Geography who knew Lin since 2012, began.

“Shengpan had a rare combination of scientific ability and social connectivity,” he said. “I needed him to help me build a group of people who didn't necessarily know that they needed to be linked, and he created an innovative way to accomplish this, and we grew the SSDA culture substantially over the next year.”

Shortridge said he's heard many stories of Lin from people he knows well — and from people whom he has never met.

“Through these stories, I'm warmed by the positive impact that Shengpan had on so many people,” Shortridge said. 

Professor Jan Stevenson, Lin’s academic advisor, talked about Lin's achievements.

“He figured out how climate affected algae and variables associated with climate and then he build a model for how algae would be affected by climate change,” Stevenson said. 

After the speakers talked, guests were also given a chance to share their memories of Lin.

Daniel Hughes, a research technologist at MSU's Plant Biology Lab, had known Lin for about a year. 

“Shengpan was probably the most performative person I've ever met,” he said. “He was the kind of person who would do things just do them. He didn't wallow in his success or his failures.”

“He was concerned with the process rather than the result, and that's one of the biggest things I'll have taken from my year with him,” Hughes said. 

A video was shown in which six of Lin’s friends abroad said they wished they could be at the event. They wanted to say “see you” rather than a “goodbye” to Lin. 

Lisa Laughman, an MSU health consultant, talked about the grieving process for when memorial services and similar events occur. 

“I often say that love and loss are two sides of the same coin,” she said. “The more love we have for a person, the bigger that coin and the bigger the loss is, too.”

People are expected to grieve quickly in Western culture, Laughman said. When people are grieving, she asks them: If she had the power to take the loss, would you give it to her if you also had to give up the love?

“I've never had anybody say they would give me the loss,” she said. “If we're not afraid to feel loss, we'll keep them closer.”

City of Lansing Mayor Andy Schor was absent from the service, but he sent a message to those in attendance. 

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“I, Andy Schor, Mayor of the City of Lansing, by the power vested in me, do hereby proclaim Sept. 2 as Dr. Shengpan Lin day in Lansing.”

Because Lin’s family is in China, they asked to watch the memorial service online. The MSU Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) helped by providing a live stream.


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