Photo of Walt Esselman Walter J. Esselman, PhD,

is Senior Associate Dean of Research in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Dr. Esselman steers the research efforts in the departments and divisions in the College of Human Medicine. He also oversaw the creation of the Health Colleges Research Services Office, which provides pre-award grant submission services to the departments of three colleges. The office also matches medical students to faculty members for research experiences.

Known for fostering cross-college research collaborations, Dr. Esselman has expanded these efforts to foster regional and national cooperation. Most recently, he recruited a Stanford University professor to lead the MSU-based Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ), and a Harvard Medical School professor to implement MSU’s Precision Health program. From 2016-2019, Esselman led the College of Human Medicine’s efforts to hire 19 researchers through the University’s Global Impact Initiative. Through this Initiative, MSU will recruit more than 100 new faculty investigators to help with Grand Challenges, a global effort to solve key health and development problems.  About 20 other college researchers have been hired over the same period.

At the regional level, Associate Dean Esselman has promoted relationships between physicians and scientists, institutional and business leaders, and community partners, harnessing their combined efforts to transform healthcare in Michigan. He is a key member of: the Gibby and Friends vs Parky Parkinson’s Disease Research Project Award; the Spectrum Health-MSU Alliance; and the Cancer Research Consortium of West Michigan. Additionally, he leads the MSU Chairs involved in research with colleagues from Van Andel Institute, Spectrum Health, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and Grand Valley State University, and the researchers and leaders in the Traverse City region.

Before joining the College of Human Medicine, Dr. Esselman served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics for ten years. Under his leadership, the department recruited more than 20 faculty members in a range of disciplines, including microbial ecology, infectious diseases, genetics, immunology, virology and microbiology. During this period, the research productivity of the department more than doubled, and the department had four National Academy members.

Dr. Esselman earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry at the Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.) and his PhD in biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. After post-doctoral work at Michigan State University, he joined the faculty of the departments of Surgery and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics in the College of Human Medicine. His research endeavors have included investigating the mechanism of vascular inflammation in diabetic retinopathy, cellular signaling pathways in lymphocytes, immunology, mass spectrometry, and sphingolipids.


Photo of Theresa Couch

Theresa Couch joined MSU in 2015 in the Office of Sponsored Programs and transitioned to HCRS in December 2018. She previously held positions at nonprofit organizations and the University of Chicago. Theresa’s professional experience is wide ranging including proposal preparation and submission, program reporting, financial management, and nonprofit development.

Theresa earned her B.A. in Science, Technology & Society from Butler University and holds the Board Leadership Certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School. Theresa was the recipient of the SRAI Future of the Field award and SPA Unit Administrator Spotlight award in 2021.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


ThomasTeresa 200x260 2

Teresa joined the Health Colleges Research Office in 2016 as a research administrator assisting faculty and staff in pre-award grant submission and reporting, and is available to assist departmental administrators and faculty on post-award/compliance issues.

Throughout her extensive career at MSU, Teresa has directed other college pre-award offices and assisted with unit/project setups and process development.  She has coordinated research activities from several federal agencies (National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Education, etc.).  Teresa has worked extensively with public/private foundations and industrial contracts, proposals and awards.  She has provided project management and guidance for new setups, post award management, conducted faculty and staff workshops/training sessions, assisted with the development of large multi-disciplinary proposals/projects and assisted with negotiations related to cost share and overhead distribution.  She has served on many University committees and presents at local and national trainings/conferences.

A true Spartan at heart, Teresa has earned two degrees from Michigan State University; a Bachelor of Science in Physical Science-Secondary Education/Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education and Technology.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Jourden began her career in research in 2014 as a Clinical Research Coordinator and joined MSU in 2015 with the Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute (CSTI) department. She has experience with both federal, industry-funded and PI-initiated clinical trials performing all necessary tasks from study start-up and close out, regulatory duties, subject related services, coordination and administration. Additionally, Jourden assisted with post award management. She joined HCRS in January 2020 with a primary focus on pre-award tasks. Jourden has experience with multiple funding agency policies including NIH, CDC, DoD, and numerous foundations. Jourden maintains the Essentials of Research Administration certification, is a member of the SPROUT committee and is a recent recipient of the SRAI Future of the Field award.

Jourden earned her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Healthcare Services and a Graduate Certificate in the Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse from Western Michigan University.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Cathy began her career in research in 2001 as a Research Coordinator at Henry Ford Health System in the Sleep Disorders and Research Center. She later transitioned to the pre-award team in the central research department and after five years she managed the Gastroenterology and Hepatology research clinical trial department. She also worked managing a team of research administrators in Public Health Sciences overseeing grant funding both pre-award and post-award management. She joined the MSU HCRS in March 2022. 

Cathy holds dual Bachelor’s degrees from Wayne State University as well as a Master of Health Service Administration degree from Central Michigan University.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Photo of Ryan Johnston

Ryan joined the Health Colleges Research Services office in 2021 as a Research Administrator Assistant focusing on pre-award grant submissions.

He has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry with his duties ranging from project implementation/management to conducting training seminars and becoming a certified financial counselor.

A lifelong Spartan, Ryan earned his BA in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences here at Michigan State University.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Photo of Lu Liu

Lu Liu has a decade of Research Administration experience at both MIT and MSU.  She has prepared grant proposals for nearly every Federal agency and countless non-federal sponsors. 

Lu joined HCRS with a unique background in Communications and Accounting.  She earned her B.A. in Radio and Television editing and directing in China.  She then wrote, produced and hosted a morning news radio show for five years before coming to the US.  Here, she earned her M.S. in Accounting from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Photo of Michelle Trierweiler

Michelle joined the Health Colleges Research Services team in 2021 where her focus is primarily on pre-award grant submissions.

Prior to joining MSU, Michelle worked for six years with the Michigan Department of Treasury. During that time, she held various roles within the Tax Compliance and Tax Policy Bureaus. Michelle served as the Security and IT liaison for multiple departments. She was responsible for employee training and regularly contributed to process improvement initiatives.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




965 Wilson Road,
A209 East Fee Hall
East Lansing, Mi 48824
517 432 4789
517 432 8021
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.