Hello Spartan community! As we embark on another academic year, I'd like to take
a moment to reflect on the journey we've been through together and share some exciting
prospects for the future of the department.
Last year and this past spring semester presented us with numerous challenges, some
of which we could have never anticipated and forever changed us as a community. After
nine years as department chair, Dr. Lee Cox stepped down last May to accept a new
position as the university's Research Integrity Officer. We hired eight new faculty
members to accommodate the growth of our department and meet the increased enrollment
pressure in our undergraduate physiology and neuroscience courses and programs. We
also saw some faculty and staff departures; we wish them well in their new endeavors.
A sense of normalcy returned to the department as COVID-19 mandates and restrictions
were fully lifted at the start of the 2022 academic year. This was short-lived, as
tragedy struck our campus earlier this year in February; we were all left with many
unanswered questions, but we have persevered. Our MSU family continues to heal and
feel the acts of kindness and compassion from our many surrounding communities.
Despite these hurdles, I am incredibly proud of how our department has endured and
adapted. Together, we navigated unprecedented circumstances and continued to provide
an exceptional educational experience for our students.
We continue to see remarkable achievements and breakthroughs from our faculty. The
stories in this issue are a testament to their research and scholarly endeavors, which
have had a significant impact in their respective fields.
Our students' accomplishments both inside and outside the classroom have been nothing
short of exceptional. These successes fuel our passion for teaching, learning and
research and remind us why we are dedicated to our mission.
Moving into the next academic year, we are committed to building on our strengths,
fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, and promoting innovation and an interdisciplinary
academic community. We will continue to enhance our curriculum, exploring new approaches
to ensure our students receive a comprehensive and well-rounded education that prepares
them for the ever-changing world. We will also invest in faculty development, providing
opportunities for research and professional growth. By supporting our faculty, we
ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to thrive and, in turn, enrich
the lives of our students.
As we embrace the future, we will be guided by our core values: integrity, respect,
inclusivity and a commitment to making a positive impact on society. Together, we
will continue to shape the minds of future leaders, create knowledge that pushes the
boundaries of understanding, and contribute to the betterment of our community and
beyond. I am excited about what lies ahead and confident that our department will
continue to achieve new heights. Let us approach the future with enthusiasm, open
minds and a shared sense of purpose.
Thank you once again for your continued contributions and unwavering support of the
Department of Physiology. Together, we are poised to create a transformative and inspiring
environment for all.
Emily (Smith) Farkas, physiology, '97, retired from the United States Air Force as a colonel after nearly
25 years of honorable service. Farkas is currently a graduate student in the University
of South Florida's Masters of Science in Medical Sciences program in Tampa, Fla.,
where she is pursuing a new career as a medical professional.
Daniel Harvey, physiology, '79, has been in solo practice in family medicine since 2000. He has
served on the Academy of Family Physicians as Los Angeles Chapter president, California
board of directors; is co-founder of Mercy Outreach Missions (now in its 25th year)
through his church, which provides medical and dental services to migrant communities
in Baja, refugees in Tijuana, and other areas of Mexico and Panama; is on the faculty
at the Harbor-UCLA residency program, overseeing their homeless program; and was a
front-line responder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shirley Siew, professor of human pathology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), passed
away on June 16, 2022. She was 97 years old. The South African native was born on
March 12, 1925. Siew received her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Witwatersrand
in Johannesburg, South Africa. She came to the United States in 1970 and joined the
MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) in 1977, where she taught for more than
20 years. Her dedication to learning is evident in the student scholarship endowment
named in her honor, which supports students pursuing clinical or doctoral degrees
from MSU COM.
Barb Bird retired in June of 2022 after 20 years of service at MSU. During her time here, she
worked in various units including the special education department, the Michigan Agricultural
Experiment Station (now known as MSU AgBioResearch), the Office of Supportive Services
and the Department of Physiology. Her main duties as an undergraduate assistant were
processing overrides and job hires for students and helping to maintain schedules
for faculty and other advisors. Barb plans to use her free time making jewelry, and
spending time with her husband, Brian, of 31 years, who also retired from MSU last
July - as a magnet engineer in the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB.
Arthur Weber retired in May 2023 after 29 years of teaching and research at MSU. His primary
studies focused on retinal degeneration as it relates to glaucoma. During his storied
career, Weber was the recipient of the Ruth Salta Junior Investigator Achievement
Award from the BrightFocus Foundation of the National Glaucoma Research; was twice
featured in Michigan Medicine magazine for his research; and holds a patent on the
development of a non-invasive contact lensÐbased sensor for monitoring intraocular
pressure, or IOP, which is a primary risk factor in glaucoma. He plans to continue
working toward the commercialization of the IOP sensor. Weber received his bachelor's
degree in biology from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the
University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Jennifer Doherty joined the department and Lyman Briggs College as an assistant professor in August
2022. Doherty is a discipline-based education researcher who investigates how students
develop principle-based mechanistic reasoning in physiology. She received her Ph.D.
in biology from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Byron Gipson joined the department as a fixed-term assistant professor in August 2022. Gipson's
area of research is drug addiction, more specifically changes in neural communication
related to cocaine use. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Indiana University
Tyler Lee joined the department as its communications manager in April 2022. Lee manages print
and digital communications in the joint physiology and pathology units of the Colleges
of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Natural Science and Veterinary Medicine.
He received his M.A. in public relations and organizational communications from Wayne
State University, Detroit, Mich., and his B.A. from MSU's School of Journalism.
Keeler Steele started his role as an instructional laboratory coordinator in August 2023. Steele
was previously an instructional equipment and supplies technician. He has been instrumental
in leading community outreach efforts. He has an interest in studying the autonomic
nervous system and integrative physiology and technology in the classroom and laboratory.
Steele received a dual B.S. degree in physiology and human biology from MSU in 2021.
Nathan Lanning joined the department as a fixed-term associate professor in June 2023. Lanning's
research focuses on how cell signaling, mitochondrial function and metabolism are
interrelated. He received his Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University
of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Yun Liang joined the department as an assistant professor in January 2023. Liang's research
focuses on the inflammatory disease lupus, and its symptoms in women and children.
She received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of California, San
Diego, and Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Stephanie Ly joined the department as the unit HR administrator in August 2023. Ly serves as the
lead human resources position for the department and its affiliated units. Most previously,
she was an advisor with the Office for International Students and Scholars. Stephanie
received her B.A. in Humanities/Pre-Law from MSU in 2013.
Shahnaz Masani joined the department and Lyman Briggs College as an assistant professor in August
2022. Masani's research focuses on increasing equity and inclusion in undergraduate
classrooms. Her goal is to design a classroom where all students can succeed. She
received her Ph.D. in genetics from MSU.
Cameron Prigge joined the department as a fixed-term assistant professor in August 2022. Prigge's
research interests are cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural circuit development,
neurophysiology, neurogenetics and the retina. She received her Ph.D. in biological
and biomedical sciences from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.
Ashley Maloff joined the department as an academic advisor in December 2022. Maloff advises approximately
1,200 undergraduate physiology and neuroscience majors. Prior to this position, she
was an ability access specialist at the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.
Maloff received her B.A. in special education learning disabilities from MSU and her
M.Ed. in higher education from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich.
Theodore Towse joined the department as a fixed-term associate professor in August 2022. Towse's
research focuses on skeletal muscle physiology and brown adipose tissue. Prior to
joining MSU, he was an associate professor of biomedical sciences at Grand Valley
State University, Allendale, Mich. Towse received his Ph.D. in physiology from MSU.
Charlotte Vanacker joined the department as a fixed-term assistant professor in August 2022. Vanacker
investigates the mechanisms controlling reproductive function and fertility in the
brain. She received her Ph.D. in neurobiology and neurosciences from the University
of Lille Nord de France.
Bradley Robinson joined the department as the educational program coordinator in June 2022. Prior to
this role, Robinson was an administrative assistant in the MSU Department of Pharmacology
and Toxicology. He received his B.A. in business administration from Ferris State
University, Big Rapids, Mich.
Julia Busik left in August 2023, after 27 years in the department, to serve as chairperson of
the University of Oklahoma Health and Science Center's departments of physiology and
biochemistry. During her tenure at MSU, Busik headed the Laboratory of Diabetic Complications
and helped establish the Mass Spectrometry and Metabolics and IVIS Spectrum Imaging
Sydney Miller left their position as an instructional equipment and supplies technician in the
Neuroscience Teaching Lab in May 2023 to take a position as a research assistant studying
ovarian cancer at Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich.
Kanchan Pavangadkar left her position in the department as academic specialist/advisor for neuroscience undergraduate
majors in April 2022 to serve as the Assistant Director of Student Success for the
MSU College of Natural Science.
Sherri Reese left her position as unit human resources administrator in October 2022 to take a
position with the MSU Office of the Provost as its unit human resources administrator.
During her time with the department, Reese guided the department's Diversity, Equity
and Inclusion initiatives and the hiring of top scholars, faculty and staff.
Jenny Taylor left the department in June 2022 after nearly 10 years at MSU to take a position
as program manager for the National Networks of Depression Centers headquartered in
Ann Arbor, Mich. The former assistant professor was the primary lead instructor and
coordinator for the neuroscience laboratory course, NEU 311L, and helped organize
the Neuroscience Fair for several years.
Brian Gulbransen was selected for an American Physiological Society (APS) Distinguished Lectureship
with the award of the Raj and Prem Goyal Lectureship in Pathophysiology of Gastrointestinal
and Liver Disease. The award, offered by APS and the Gastrointestinal & Liver Section,
recognizes exemplary contributions of research in physiology in understanding the
mechanism and treatment of gastrointestinal and liver diseases.
Erica Wehrwein, associate professor, received the 2022 Arthur C. Guyton Distinguished Educator of
the Year Award presented by the Teaching Section of the American Physiological Society.
Wehrwein was recognized for demonstrated excellence in teaching and significant contributions
to physiology education, including curricular design and reform.
The Investigative Histopathology Laboratory, under the management of supervisor Amy Porter and Jessie Lee Neuman, was honored with the 2022 Outstanding MSU Core Facility Award during the MSU Office
of Environmental Health and Safety's Lab Safety Recognition Awards. Porter and Neuman
were praised for their management and handling of various chemicals, tissue samples
and waste disposal.
Porter and Neuman were praised for their management and handling of various chemicals,
tissue samples and waste disposal.
Carson Broeker, graduate student (Andrechek lab), was named an MSU Cancer Research Pentecost Foundation
Aitch Fellow. The fellowship is awarded to graduate students who are conducting research
in early detection and diagnostics, genetic and cellular changes to tumor development,
or the identification of new cancer targets or therapeutic agents.
Tim Dorweiler, graduate student (Busik lab), was elected to the International Society for Eye Research
(ISER) Early Career Researcher Committee. He was also selected for the global mentorship
program of the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology and ISER.
Nick Giacobbi, graduate student (Pyeon lab), was named an MSU Cancer Research Pentecost Foundation
Aitch Fellow. Giacobbi also received the department's 2023 Jack R. Hoffert Memorial
Scholarship in recognition of his research on cancer immunology and the relationship
to human papillomavirus or HPV.
Cristina Rivera Quiles, graduate student (Mazei-Robison lab), received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Gilliam Fellowship for her demonstrated leadership in science and for advancing equity
and inclusion. She also received a 2023 American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental
Therapeutics Conference Travel Award.
Jariel Ram’rez Virella, a graduate student (Leinninger Lab), was awarded a National Institutes of Health
F31 (individual predoctoral fellowship) grant in support of his research to understand
how the brain controls feeding and obesity. He also received a travel award to the
NEURAL conference to share his findings on modulating the neurotensin signaling system
to support weight loss.
Meenakshi Sudhakaran, graduate student (Doseff lab), was awarded a 2022 Barnett Rosenberg Endowed Research
Assistantship, in recognition of a distinguished record of accomplishment at MSU.
She was also the department's 2022 recipient of the Jack R. Hoffert Memorial Scholarship.
Brett Trombley, graduate student (Mohr lab), was awarded the 2023 Outstanding Scholar Fellowship
from the College of Natural Science. He also placed third in a poster session at the
International Society for Eye Research conference held in Gold Coast, Australia, this
Powering up to fight disease
Many diseases and disorders stem from disruptions in metabolic function. Michigan
State University's Jason Bazil is hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying
causes of metabolic dysfunction in order to discover fresh approaches to combat a
wide range of illnesses and disorders associated with dysfunctional mitochondria.
"Metabolism is foundational to all life, and mitochondria constitute a major element
of metabolism," said Bazil, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology.
"They are ubiquitous and form a diverse family of organelles that are used by most
forms of life as we know it. Mitochondria are essentially little batteries for your
cells, and we still have so much more to learn about them."
His research was recently awarded an $888,000 National Science Foundation Faculty
Early CAREER grant, the foundation's highest award in support of junior faculty who
have the potential to serve as role models in research and education.
Support from the grant will allow Bazil to employ advanced microscopy to visualize
mitochondrial structural details and molecular methods to mimic disrupted mitochondrial
metabolism. He is hoping this research will open new avenues of scientific inquiry
focused on improving the health and well-being of people across the world.
"The short-term goal of this project is to demonstrate that ultrastructure is a major
governing factor behind the metabolic behavior of mitochondria," said Bazil, adding
that this will lead to the development of sophisticated, spatial models of mitochondrial
metabolism that reveal causal origins of various disease pathologies affecting people
Bazil's desire to learn how systems work and to seek ways to control them was what
drove him to pursue his research studies in understanding the precise mechanism in
"This field provides some of the most challenging puzzles to solve," said Bazil, whose
lab is developing methods for large-scale data analysis to generate predictive models
that are useful for emerging applications in pharmacogenomics and systems pharmacology.
In addition, the grant will help Bazil with his commitment to improving equity in
the STEM fields.
"I aim to recruit curious and hardworking individuals from various underrepresented
groups," said Bazil, who is also the chair of the MSU Department of Physiology's DEI
Committee. "For example, I just accepted a new URM graduate student to work on some
aspects of this project. Without this award, I wouldn't have been able to bring her
Looking ahead, Bazil knows that this project won't be without its challenges but knows
it will be worth it.
"This is a multidisciplinary project with lofty aspirations, so putting all the pieces
together in an optimal way will be challenging," Bazil said. "However, working with
others to solve this daunting problem will be very rewarding."
Thomas Adams celebrates 10 years
"It was profoundly influential for my MSU collegiate career, and helped propel me
to reach my professional goals," said Ronald Roseman, M.D.
"It was a key instrument to my success at MSU; it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say
that I wouldn't be where I am today without it," Michael Bekele said.
It has been immensely helpful to furthering my education in medicine," Kelsey Gullick
These are the comments made by three recipients of the Thomas Adams Memorial Scholarship,
which is celebrating its 10th year. The first scholarship was awarded in 2013; to
date, 12 students have received funding.
Professor Thomas Adams was an outstanding and dedicated researcher, teacher and mentor
in MSU's Department of Physiology. More than 16,000 students have enrolled in courses
taught by Adams during his 44 years of teaching at MSU.
After his death in 2011, his wife, Peggy, established the endowed scholarship in his
"Dr. Adams was extremely dedicated to advancing undergraduate students in physiology,"
said Laura McCabe, MSU Foundation Professor in the physiology department. "He not
only taught physiology concepts, but he applied them to real-life situations."
"The scholarship not only aided with my financial needs but also allowed me to be
a part of the Thomas Adams Scholars legacy," said Roseman, who received the scholarship
Since graduating from MSU in 2015, Roseman received his medical degree from MSU's
College of Human Medicine and has now begun his residency in family medicine at the
University of Rochester, New York.
"I had very limited resources, but I had big goals I wanted to accomplish," said Bekele,
the 2021 recipient. Originally from Ethiopia, he moved to the United States in 2014.
"When I was selected for the [scholarship], it was a miracle and a dream come true,"
Bekele said. "It also has had an impact on my view of the world, how generosity can
change lives for the better."
Bekele received his undergraduate degree from MSU in 2022 and is currently a first-year
pharmacy student at the University of Maryland and works part time as a laboratory
technician. After graduation, he plans to join a nonprofit and help disadvantaged
communities in Ethiopia.
"Because of this scholarship, I have been able to fully apply to physician assistant
school," said Gullick, the 2022 scholarship recipient who earned her B.S. degree in
May 2023. "Additionally, I hope to use the scholarship for an admissions seat deposit,
Gullick is currently working full-time as a patient care technician at a pediatric
office in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"Dr. Adams set a strong foundation - and we have built upon that," McCabe said. "This
award continues his enthusiasm and devotion to physiology through the support of outstanding
students who are creative, innovative, dedicated and on the trajectory to make great
contributions to the physiology field."
Eran Andrechek, professor, will use a five-year, $2.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH)
grant to help define the role of the repressor E2F5 gene in mammary gland development.
It's important to investigate how this transcription factor E2F5 works, because when
it gets mis-regulated, the genes they control can transition to cancer. This research
will lay the foundation to help understand the implications for cancer biology.
Shane Crandall, assistant professor, was awarded a five-year, $1.9 million NIH grant to study how
neocortical feedback projections influence sensory processing in the brain. Researchers
will utilize new generation optogenetic technologies to allow them to precisely control
the activity of neurons with light in both isolated and intact brain preparations.
Research results may lead to improved treatment strategies for certain neurological
and psychiatric disorders that involve abnormal communication in the neocortex.
Michelle Mazei-Robison, associate professor, received a two-year, $423,000 NIH-National Institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA) grant to investigate the role of neuromedin S (NMS) neurons in the ventral
tegmental area of the brain in morphine responses. These data will provide rationale
for design of specific NMS pharmacological reagents, offering the promise that insights
gained in these studies could lead to improved treatment of addiction.
Susanne Mohr, associate professor, received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the American Diabetes
Association for a clinical trial to understand hurdles that affect efficacy of standard
(anti-VEGF) treatment for diabetic macular edema in a diverse patient population.
Statistics reveal that 30 to 50 percent of diabetic patients, especially minority
patients, do not respond adequately to anti-VEGF therapy. The goal is to identify
retinal markers early on that will allow a physician to develop personalized treatment
A.J. Robison, associate professor and director of the Neuroscience Program at MSU, has received
two NIH grants. The first is a $3 million R01 to investigate how male and female brains
respond to stress differently, and how testosterone could be the key to increasing
resilience. The second is a $2.9 million R01 with Adam Moeser, D.V.M., to investigate
stress- and infection-driven neuroimmune activation in the brain. Mast cells (MCs)
are innate immune cells that play a central role in sickness, allergies and psychiatric
diseases. This research will uncover the specific mechanisms by which MC gene expression
is regulated, as well as uncover potential gene targets for therapeutic intervention
in MC-related diseases or infection.
Mass Spec lab helps uncover molecular mechanisms of disease
Once Todd Lydic set foot on the MSU campus, he never left. He transferred into MSU
as an undergraduate student, completed his Ph.D. in physiology in 2012 and then took
a post-doctoral position in an MSU chemistry lab.
"That's what I was doing when I learned about the opportunity to start the mass spec
lab," he said. "I decided to jump in and see what happened!"
What happened is Todd Lydic is now director of MSU's Collaborative Mass Spectrometry
Core Facility - colloquially referred to as the mass spec lab. Now located in the
Biomedical Physical Sciences Building, the lab - which provides untargeted and targeted
metabolomics and lipidomics analysis - was relocated from the Chemistry Building last
"Untargeted lipidomics analysis is the 'bread and butter' of the lab, but we have
methods in place to analyze most types of biological molecules from nearly any type
of sample," Lydic said. "Most of our projects revolve around helping MSU investigators
uncover molecular mechanisms of a disease."
One current study in the lab is investigating lipid metabolites associated with the
onset and progression of allergic asthma; another project examines how a drug used
in a clinical trial may impact serum and lipoprotein lipid markers.
"Soon," Lydic added, "I think advancements in the instrument platforms and in the
software used to analyze the data will help us dig much deeper into large datasets
in a shorter amount of time."
Enhancing learning through virtual reality
Students in PSL 311L may feel a little more comfortable "jumping" into in-person dissections
after completing the Virtual Frog Lab experience.This past year, John Zubek, assistant
professor, began testing the use of virtual reality (VR) in his physiology course
for pre-professional students, in which 250 students are enrolled each year.
More than 20 students participated in the voluntary program and completed pre- and
post-surveys. The initial survey revealed that 50 percent of the students had one
or fewer animal dissection experiences, and 89 percent had little to no virtual reality
experience. Zubek also found that some students were reluctant to perform dissections
on previously live animals.
"With virtual reality, students are able to practice in a simulated environment before
coming into the lab and performing a hands-on dissection," said Zubek adding that
other physiology courses and units across campus are beginning to incorporate VR into
its curriculum, too.
After completing both the virtual and hands-on dissections, 73 percent of the students
felt that in-person animal dissections were "still necessary" in learning science;
and 44 percent said it was "cool" and they "felt more prepared."
Zubek now has enough VR headsets so an entire class of students can participate this
"We're at the very beginning stage of using VR in the classroom," he said. "But I
think students will engage at a level that will spark their interest a little more,
and they'll be able to explore concepts more deeply than they would in a traditional
Pain and pounds: A partnering pursuit
An unprecedented collaboration is underway within the Michigan State University Department
of Physiology, blending the realms of neuroscience, pain perception and metabolism.
Associate Professor Gina Leinninger and Assistant Professor Geoffroy Laumet have teamed
up to embark on a groundbreaking research project with the support of a four-year,
$1.36 million Department of Defense partnering principal investigator (PI) grant.
The two researchers are hoping to discover the intricate relationship between chronic
pain and obesity, a dual epidemic affecting millions of Americans, particularly veterans
who are more susceptible to these health issues than the general population.
"Our goal is to understand how neurons in the brain use a neurochemical called neurotensin
to modify feeding and pain that might be useful to relieve obesity and obesity-induced
pain," said Leinninger, adding that one-third of Americans are obese and at an increased
risk to develop chronic pain. "Neurotensin has been shown in separate studies to reduce
feeding and relieve pain, but how and where it does so is unclear."
Leinninger and Laumet built the hypothesis that the neurotensin system may be a target
to simultaneously promote weight loss and relieve pain, which would be ideal for addressing
comorbid obesity and chronic pain.
"Our discoveries may be a breakthrough for treating people suffering from both chronic
pain and obesity, especially veterans who have given so much for their country," Laumet
The partner principal investigator (PI) grant wouldn't have been possible without
of neurons responsible for feeding behavior and Laumet's study of neurons modulating
"Together we have the ideal combination of expertise and unique reagents necessary
to address this cross-disciplinary topic," said Leinninger, who is also the director
of the department's Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology graduate program.
"This project could not be undertaken by either PI individually, but together our
expertise makes us uniquely positioned to address this significant line of research."
In the long term, Leinninger and Laumet aim to wield their newfound knowledge to design
safe and effective treatments for the millions suffering from this dual affliction.
"We hope to develop the idea that the same drug may alleviate both diseases," Laumet
"Looking ahead, Laumet hopes this is the start of a long collaboration between the
"Four years will never be enough to address all the questions we have about the physiology
of these neurons," he said. "Outstanding questions for the future include, 'What happens
in these neurons for a person with obesity, [significant] weight loss, or anorexia?'"
As for Leinninger, the collaboration holds a deeper and personal meaning.
"I have long wanted to study how neurotensin might be used to alleviate pain, but
just didn't have the additional expertise to do so," she said, acknowledging Laumet's
expertise in the neurobiology of pain. "Now I can funnel [my] original curiosity about
how brain signals modify behavior to an important health problem that I've long been
wanting to study. This is a realization of my lifelong academic and personal goals."
Empowering equitable learning through open educational resources
It started off as an anonymous poll asking if students were planning to purchase the
course textbook or not.For Valerie Hedges, who teaches the two Introduction to Neuroscience
courses (NEU 301 and 302), the results were shocking.
"I was surprised to learn that consistently, nearly a third of the students in the
class would not be planning on purchasing the textbook, which would be used for the
next two semesters," said Hedges, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology.
"The poll also asked if the textbook was cost prohibitive, and about 25 percent of
the students in the course indicated it was."
This got Hedges thinking about ways to close this gap and make the classroom more
equitable for her students. Hedges embarked on a transformative endeavor that would
culminate in her Open Educational Resource, or OER, textbook. The idea of OER is creating
high-quality learning materials that are free to access and can be redistributed to
others. The effort has resulted in a vast collection of textbooks, research papers,
articles and interactive multimedia that cater to diverse educational needs.
For students, the advantages of free online texts are many. Financially disadvantaged
learners can now breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that they can access crucial learning
materials without straining their limited budgets.
"When I see the statistics on how many people are accessing my book daily, I know
that this text is not only serving my students, but many people outside of MSU," Hedges
said. "This has helped me reach my personal goal of removing the additional costs
associated with my course and creating a more inclusive and equitable classroom environment."