Nobel Prize winner highlights Michigan State fall commencement speakers

EAST LANSING — A Nobel Prize winning scientist is set to give the commencement speech for Michigan State University fall graduates this month, the school announced Thursday.

Doctoral, masters and education specialist degree recipients will be honored at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 15, and all baccalaureate degrees will be awarded at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. Dec. 16, the school announced in a press release. All ceremonies take place in the Breslin Student Events Center.

Speakers include Nobel Prize winner David MacMillan, who received the 2021 award in chemistry; MSU alumna Linda Apsey, the president and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company; and John Hildebrand, a leader and scholar in the fields of neurobiology and chemical ecology.

MacMillan will address graduating students from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Lyman Briggs College, Natural Science and Nursing. In addition to speaking, he will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

Apsey will address graduating students from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business, Education, Music, Social Science, James Madison College and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities. The school will award her an honorary doctor of business degree.

Hildebrand will address doctoral, master’s and educational specialist degree recipients, and will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

MSU said more than 4,400 students will receive either undergraduate or graduate degrees.

“I want to congratulate our fall graduates as they complete their academic goals and cross the Breslin stage to collect their diplomas,” said MSU interim President Teresa Woodruff in a press release.

David MacMillan

MacMillan is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University.

MacMillan’s research is centered around organic synthesis and catalysis. He helped launch and direct the Princeton Catalysis Initiative, which performs collaborative research with pharmaceuticals in labs like the Merck Center for Catalysis, and has developed technologies while addressing difficulties in molecule construction for drug discovery.

MacMillan also received the Chirality Medal, the American Chemical Society’s Kosolapoff Award and the Harrison Howe ACS Award in Chemistry.

He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Glasgow and a doctor of chemistry from the University of California Irvine.

Linda Apsey

Apsey previously held appointments to the Growing Michigan Together Council, Detroit Economic Club and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. Apsey is also a member of the Broad College of Business Alumni Board of Directors.

Her professional accomplishments include receiving the Forest Project Award and 2022 Gold Tier Program Award from the Wildlife Habitat Council.

Her educational background includes a bachelor of science in public affairs management and master of business administration from Michigan State University.

John Hildebrand

Hildebrand's work includes research regarding insect chemosensory behavior and building defense strategies against crop pests and carriers of human diseases.

Hildebrand has leadership roles within the international societies of Chemical Ecology and Neuroethology, the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, the Society for Neuroscience and the National Academy of Sciences.

Hildebrand has received the Humboldt Research Award, the Max Planck Research Award, the Wigglesworth Memorial Award and the Silver Medal from the International Society of Chemical Ecology.

Hildebrand holds a bachelor of arts in biology from Harvard University and a doctor of biochemistry from the Rockefeller University.

Contact Sarah Atwood at satwood@lsj.com

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Michigan State University announces fall commencement speakers