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Dean's summer message to Lyman Briggs alumni

June 30, 2021 - LBC Communications

Dear Lyman Briggs College and School Alumni,

Last month's summer solstice is a reminder that we have entered another season. In Michigan, we have entered a phase of warm temperatures, green plants, tree frogs, fireflies, and even some gatherings with family and friends. We are also in a different phase of the pandemic. With many adults vaccinated and even 12 year-olds eligible to be vaccinated, we are feeling the return of optimism. I hope that you are soaking in some of the warmth and feeling some lightness, wherever you may be located.

We enter this new summer season, not fully forgetting the last year of challenges, conflict, disease, ongoing police violence and racial injustice, but also not wanting to be wholly defined by it. I am proud of the tenacity and flexibility of the LBC faculty, staff, and advisors over the Holmes Dining Hall from the Sanford Natural Area sidepast year. Incoming first-year Briggsies were mentored by their peers, remotely, in a brand new peer mentoring program. Faculty members continued to offer meaningful learning experiences for our students, remotely. Even labs were a great success! Two of our biology faculty members, Dr. Shahnaz Masani and Dr. Cassie Dresser-Briggs, created at-home molecular biology lab kits with sous-vide cooking machines. Students were able to investigate the cellular and molecular processes involved in gardening practices like worm composting through PCR-based DNA amplification and gel electrophoresis. Faculty, advisors, and career consultants offered office hours and advising appointments online, allowing students ease of access. And New Student Orientation went fully virtual this last year. Not surprisingly, many of our amazing Briggs students continued to follow their scientific curiosity through research, won prestigious awards, and presented on a national stage.  

I am also proud of the Briggs alumni near and far who have been making a difference during this global pandemic, using their compassion and knowledge of science gained through their time at Lyman Briggs. We recognize that many Briggsies are having an impact in the world. We would love to hear from more of you! Reach out to Alumni & Donor Relations Coordinator, Sarah Dickinson to share what you're up to.

On April 30, in outdoor ceremonies with physical distancing and masks, we rallied around the Spring LBC graduates who had faced so much during their time at MSU. My opening remarks set the context for these speeches, including providing resources for audiences near and far, and can be found at the 4:00 minute mark of the 2 p.m. ceremony recording. Senior Class Speaker Hamza Kaakarli (starting at 15:22, 11 a.m. ceremony) reminded us of the deeper meaning of studying science and the responsibilities scientists have to individuals and society. Alumna speaker Tamika D. Payne (starting at 20:06, 2 p.m. ceremony) shared her inspiring and difficult personal journey of moving past rigid career plans to find a deeply fulfilling career as a humanitarian working to end sexual assault and gender-based violence around the world. These speakers gave powerful messages, calling on our newest graduates and all LBC alumni to work for justice and equity with compassion and conviction.

We are now in the midst of another summer of New Student Orientation, and are poised to welcome approximately 625 new LBC students to campus. As we enter another year of science-focused and student-centered education and experiences, I invite you to partner with us as we seek to build a more safe, just, and supportive climate for all. 

I’ll end with a quote from our Senior Class Speaker:

“As graduates of Briggs, we know that to be good scientists, it’s not just about following the scientific method, controlling variables, and collecting data. Science is so much more than that. It’s a tool for the service of others. A tool for addressing inequities and creating innovation. Whether it is in the fight to save our climate or address disparities in healthcare, there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Briggsies will be leading the charge, radiating empathy and compassion for all the world to see.”


I wish you a wonderful summer, 

Kendra Cheruvelil signature

Kendra Spence Cheruvelil


Interim Dean, Lyman Briggs College


Image credit: Nick Schrader of IPF Communications