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Coffee with the Profs

Cup of coffee with a notebook and pile of books

One of the MSU Alumni Office's long-standing featured offerings, the Coffee with the Profs series, highlights research and work done by some of MSU’s finest faculty and staff. This lifelong education program is open to all.
Participants will not be joining us in person on campus. Instead, it’s a virtual experience that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Registration will open Feb. 1.
  • For the March 8 presentation – Register by March 3
  • For the March 15 presentation – Register by March 10
  • For the March 22 presentation – Register by March 17
  • For the March 29 presentation – Register by March 24
Guests can register for individual presentations, as well as the series.
For each presentation you register for, there will be a different Zoom link. You’ll receive the Zoom link and password in your confirmation email.
We strongly encourage you to submit your questions before the event. There will be an opportunity to ask questions live, but we may not have time to cover all questions. The best way to get your questions answered is to submit them in advance. Deadlines to submit questions for each session will be provided in the confirmation you receive after registering. 


March 8 - Biodiversity Science at MSU
Elise Zipkin, associate professor, Department of Integrative Biology, and director, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program
Phoebe Zarnetske, associate professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Climate change, habitat degradation, direct exploitation, pollution, disease and invasive species are all contributing to a decline in biodiversity. Learn about the research that MSU is doing to make an impact in addressing significant challenges in this field as we discuss the factoring affecting biodiversity declines, how we can predict biodiversity across time and space and the consequences of biodiversity loss.
March 15 - A Question 0f Power and Glory: The American Psyche and Superheroes
Julian Chambliss, Val Berryman Curator of History, Michigan State University Museum, and professor, Department of English
Comics tell our story. Superheroes mirror our culture from pulp magazine origins to recent cinema triumphs. Through a uniquely American window reflecting enduring values, these characters help define the inspiration and aspiration of our society.
March 22 - Asian Migration and the Hidden History of Ellis Island
Anna Pegler-Gordon, professor, James Madison College and Asian Pacific American Studies program
How does our understanding of Ellis Island change when we learn about the histories of Asian immigrants in New York? How does our understanding of Asian immigration change when we view it through Ellis Island? We’ll rethink American immigration by exploring the stories of South Asian sailors, Chinese smugglers and stowaways and Japanese “enemy aliens” who traveled through New York and were detained at, and deported from, Ellis Island.
March 29 - Drains, Germs and Profits: How American Medicine Came of Age
John Waller, associate professor, Department of History
Doctors in the Civil War era had little understanding of what causes infection, hardly any effective remedies and swore by drugs like mercury chloride that caused terrible discomfort. This presentation will chart the unanticipated revolution in knowledge and practice that followed the war - the advent of germ theory, the widespread introduction of sanitation, the regulation of medical practice and the conquering of the giant contagious killers. This period is also full of controversy and we’ll learn how the fruits of medical science were unevenly distributed and how basic features of U.S. society sets its system of providing medical care on a very different trajectory than that of western Europe. 

Archived Series

Several presentations from the series are livestreamed each semester. Check out our livestream archive for past presentations that you can watch at any time.

For more information: If you have questions about the Coffee with the Profs program or would like to be added to the email list, please contact Elizabeth Wheeler via email or by calling (517) 884-2106.