Dr. Durocher Leads PhUn Week Activities

Faculty, staff, and undergraduate students from Michigan Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences led Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Week activities last week for LeAnn Larson’s 4th grade class at the E.B. Holman School in Stanton Township. PhUn Week is a nationwide outreach program organized through the American Physiological Society (APS) aimed to build connections between scientists and their local K-12 schools.

The events were organized by Dr. John Durocher with the assistance of several outstanding undergraduate students, including: Cassie Cecchettini, Erin McKenzie, Justin Mitchell, Chance Sherretz-Hayes, and Colleen Toorongian. Some of these students are part of the new Alpha Epsilon Delta – Health Preprofessional Honors Society at Michigan Tech.

Dr. Durocher also particpated in the exercise to show proper wall squat form (and to have some fun)!
Dr. Durocher also particpated in the exercise to show proper wall squat form (and to have some fun)!

On Tuesday, students learned about careers related to physiology from Dr. Durocher. Undergraduate student volunteers then helped teach the students how to take vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate.

On Wednesday, students formed their own hypotheses about physiological responses to several different types of exercise. Then they hit the gym to test their hypotheses by using the techniques they learned the previous day.

On Thursday, Travis Wakeham (Laboratory Supervisor) led students through a heart dissection. Afterwards, Dr. Durocher demonstrated how he measures aortic blood pressure on the school’s principal and several students!

Students had a lot of fun while learning about possible careers and how their own body works throughout the events. They each received a bag filled with a physiology coloring book, scientist trading cards, and a foam heart provided by the APS.


Professor Emerita, Janice Glime, honored by International Association of Bryologists.

Image22The International Association of Bryologists dedicated its most recent issue of Bryophyte Diversity and Evolution to Janice Glime, professor emerita of biological sciences.

Bryophytes, seedless plants without specialized water-conducting tissues, include mosses, liverworts and hornworts.

In making the dedication, the IAB wrote, “The Association and the contributing authors wish to recognize the significant contributions you have made to bryophyte biology, through your exemplary service and dedication to developing an online discussion medium, and also your exemplary scholarly contributions, in particular your book on bryophyte ecology.”

In addition, two new species are named for Glime in the issue. Read the issue here. The book is also available through Digital Commons through the Michigan Tech library.


Library Launches Work by Janice Glime

Photo by Michael Lüth
Photo by Michael Lüth

“Bryophyte Ecology” is the result of more than a decade of research, collaboration and composition by Professor Emerita Janice Glime (Bio Sci) and many contributors and photographers.

The five-volume work is unique not only as the most recent comprehensive reference on bryophyte ecology, but because it is “open” to the world. “Bryophyte Ecology” was initially self-published on the web and is now accessible on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.

Moving the work to Digital Commons ensures long-term preservation and easier access. Additionally, the work reaches top slots using any search engine.

Glime’s goal in creating an open work “was to reach a broad audience in an affordable format with lots of illustrations and a readable style.

“Bryophyte Ecology” has been used as a textbook, reference source and field guide. It contains many color photographs, information on physiological ecology, bryological interactions, methods of collection and various uses of bryophytes as well as question sections throughout to facilitate learning.

Discover the world of bryophytes here.

Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, the university’s digital repository, is a platform for storing, sharing and showcasing research and educational resources. To learn more or to consider adding your own work contact digitalcommons@mtu.edu.


Top 10% Biological Science Instructors 2016-17

Karyn Fay teaching a student.Heartiest congratulations to the following faculty, staff and graduate students from Biological Sciences Department who have been identified as one of instructors who received an exceptional “Average of 7 Dimensions” student evaluation scores during the 2016-17 academic year. Their scores were in the top 10% of similarly sized sections university-wide that had at least a 50% response rate.

Provost Jacqueline Huntoon recently congratulated them for their outstanding accomplishments in teaching.

The following faculty received scores above 4.67 out of 5 on average of 7 elements of university-wide class size group during the Fall 2016 semester:

  • Dr. John Durocher, Assistant Professor
  • Ms. Brigitte Morin, Lecturer
  • Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Thomas Werner, Assistant Professor (Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient in 2013)

The following instructors received scores above 4.7 out of 5 on average of 7 elements of university-wide class size group during the Fall 2016 semester:

  • Cameron Goble, Graduate Student Instructor
  • Lexi Herrewig, Graduate Student Instructor
  • Travis Wakeham, Graduate Student Instructor
  • Lukai Zhai, Graduate Student Instructor

The following faculty received scores above 4.59 out of 5 on average of 7 elements of university-wide class size group during the Spring 2017 semester:

  • Dr. Casey Huckins, Professor
  • Ms. Brigitte Morin, Lecturer (Nominated for Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017)
  • Ms. Karyn Fay, Professor of Practice (Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient in 2016)
  • Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Thomas Werner, Assistant Professor (Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient in 2013)

The following instructors received scores above 4.61 out of 5 on “average of 7 elements” of university-wide class size group during the Spring 2017 semester:

  • Yiping Mao, Graduate Student Instructor
  • Travis Wakeham, Instructor and Lab Supervisor

A.D. Johnston earns first place in the 28th annual Bioathlon

A.D. Johnston team photoThe 28th annual Department of Biological Sciences Bioathlon for high school biology students was held on Wednesday at Michigan Tech. Simultaneously, a workshop was held for the accompanying biology teachers.

The Bioathlon serves as a means to stimulate interest and problem-solving in biology among our area youth. Teams from 12 Upper Peninsula high schools participated.

The team winning was A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer. Team members were Devon Byers, Andy Aspinwall, Abbey Johnson and Sydney Wittla-Sprague. The Instructor is David Rowe.

Second place went to Marquette, third place was Calumet.

Each team was composed of four students who have no formal class work in biology beyond the traditional sophomore general biology course. All teams tackled these same four problems:

  • Dissection: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Ian Greenlund and assisted by undergraduate Beth Chaney. The activity was the dissection of a preserved vertebrate animal with the identification of organs or structures required.
  • Microbiology: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Lukai Zhai, assisted by graduate student Rupsa Basu. This activity required students to identify the genus and species of each unknown microorganism by performing three basic microbiology techniques for each unknown.
  • Field Identification: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Taylor Zallek assisted by graduate students Sunflower Wilson and Bradley Wells. This activity involved a search for some common organisms or their parts during a brief field trip.
  • Medical Laboratory Science: designed by undergraduate Taylor Tienhaara and assisted by medical laboratory science undergraduate students, Samantha Doyle, Kat Wheeler and Audri Mills. This activity had students competing in hematology, blood banking and donation, urinalysis and laboratory safety.

Through these exercises, students needed to demonstrate organizational skills, follow instructions, show a knowledge of facts and concepts, and exhibit laboratory skills and creativity.

Each member of the first-place team received $200 and a partial scholarship for either forensic science or genetic modification and biotechnology explorations through Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs.

Members of the second-place team received $100 and members of the third-place team received $50.

Members of the top three teams also received plaques. All students participating in the competition received a certificate of participation and a Bioathlon T-shirt.

Marc Madigan, academic advisor in biological sciences, organized an activity for the teachers. He shared forensic science activities that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms.

To learn more about Bioathlon click here.

Bioathlon 2017 Logo


Houghton High School Students Visit Campus

Michigan Tech students demonstrate arterial stiffness measurements to high school students.
Ian (M.S. student) and Hannah (undergraduate) explain how to measure arterial stiffness to Houghton High School students.

Houghton High School’s Anatomy & Physiology class visited the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology last week. The day began with with Alex Geborkoff (HHS teacher) and his 36 students learning how a Michigan Tech education prepares students to enter a variety of health-related fields from Dr. Shekhar Joshi and Dr. Jason Carter. Afterwards, students attended our Human Pathophysiology course taught by Dr. John Durocher. During the class they participated in a case-study related to gastritis and peptic ulcers with current Michigan Tech students. Students also got a taste a college-life by eating lunch at Wadsworth Dining Hall.

The majority of the visit was spent engaging students in hands-on lab activities that included:

  • Assessing arterial stiffness responses to a Wingate Anaerobic Test in Dr. John Durocher’s Clinical & Applied Physiology Laboratory witht the assitance of Ian Greenlund (M.S. student) and Hannah Marti (undergraduate)
  • Examining human skeletal remains from our Anatomy & Physiology Teaching Laboratory with Travis Wakeham
  • Conducting a classic experiment comparing concentric and eccentric exercise in Dr. Steve Elmer’s Exercise Physiology Laboratory  with the assistance from Lexi Herrewig (M.S. student), Mackenzie Perttu (undergraduate), and Derek Walli (M.S. student)
  • Measuring beat-to-beat blood pressure responses to stress with Ida Fonkoue (recent Ph.D. graduate) in Dr. Jason Carter’s Integrative Physiology Laboratory

We are excited to have the opportunity to share our experiences with local students and hope to motivate them to attend college and pursue a career related to health sciences!

 


Local Students Win Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarships to Michigan Tech

1491240303Four students who are entering Michigan Tech this fall to pursue health-related careers have received $8,000 Making a Difference scholarships from the Portage Health Foundation. Another 10 entering first-year students received $1,000 awards.

 

The $8,000 scholarships went to:

  • Peter Alger, Houghton, computer engineering
  • Alexa Destrampe, Lake Linden, exercise science
  • Hannah Kariniemi, Calumet, biological sciences
  • Karmyn Polakowski, Houghton, biological sciences

Receiving $1,000 scholarships were:

  • Blake Dupuis, Lake Linden, exercise science
  • Lauren Gabe, L’Anse, biological sciences
  • Austin Goudge, Houghton, medical laboratory science
  • Bella Nutini, Hancock, exercise science
  • Celia Peterson, Calumet, biomedical engineering
  • Anna Pietila, L’Anse, biological sciences
  • Lindsay Sandell, Houghton, biomedical engineering
  • Brooke Tienhaara, Calumet, biological sciences
  • Nicholas Walli, Finlandia University, biological sciences
  • Sloane Zenner, Houghton, mechanical engineering

The students are from Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga or Ontonagon counties.

The 14 recipients of the 2017 awards have an average GPA of 3.81. Their interests reflect a broad spectrum of majors including biological sciences, exercise science, biomedical engineering, computer engineering, medical laboratory science and mechanical engineering. The scholarship winners flip Michigan Tech’s male to female ratio of 3:1, with 10 female and 4 male recipients.

The scholarships are part of a Michigan Tech-Portage Health Foundation partnership established in 2015 to support health-related research and education, jobs and community health. The scholarships were first awarded in 2016.

“The awards reflect the high-caliber student talent we have locally, thanks to exceptional schools, outreach programming and parent support,” says Jodi Lehman, director of foundations at Michigan Tech. “We know that student talent is key in supporting the success of college peers and inspiring K-12 students to pursue health science and engineering pathways.

The Portage Health Foundation and Michigan Tech share the long-term goal of retaining or recruiting back local workforce talent — whether that be orthodontists, doctors, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, biomedical engineers or professionals in the field of medical informatics. Scholarships ultimately play a critical role in helping to grow our local economy while fostering healthy communities.”

At a dinner for finalists, the scholarship recipients heard from current students also supported by the Portage Health Foundation through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program (URIP). Both speakers shared their internship experiences and career goals.

Read the full story.


John DeMay ’84 appointed President of Astellas US Technologies, Inc.

Astellas Pharma Inc logo

Astellas, a global pharmaceutical company, announced that John DeMay ’84 has been appointed as President of Astellas US Technologies, Inc.:

In this role, DeMay will be responsible for promoting collaboration and cooperation across Pharmaceutical Technology divisions functions in the Americas.  He will also serve as the site manager for AUST based in Northbrook and will represent AUST in various Americas management activities. DeMay will also continue in his role as head of Project and Product Management Group reporting to Dr. Katsutoshi Nakamura, head of Project and Product Management within Pharmaceutical Technology.

“John’s background and broad experience in this area will help him meet the challenges of this new role, while continuing to grow the strong partnerships th

at exist within AUST and between AUST and its collaborators,” said Nakamura.  “He is dedicated to assuring stable global supply of clinical and commercial products for patients.”

Previously, DeMay served as executive director, Pharmaceutical Technology Management for AUST.  He joined Astellas in 2002 as an associate director of Technical Services and later served as director and senior director of the CMC Technology group within US Pharmaceutical Technology Management.

Throughout his 15-year career at Astellas, DeMay has played an important role in the chemistry, manufacturing and control (CMC) development and CMC project management.  He has contributed to the development, introduction and stable supply of several new drug products and marketed products.

DeMay holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree with a Chemistry Minor from Michigan Technological University and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from Ferris State University.

Congratulations, John!


Students Present at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Several undergraduate students working in biology research laboratories presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this year. The event highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on our campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students!

Michelle Kelly URS 2017

Michelle Kelly from Amy Marcarelli’s laboratory challenged the assumption that variation of biological nitrogen transformation rates within streams are small. Her findings suggest that these rates can actually significantly vary and may not be estimated by a single study site per reach. Michelle’s research was funded by a Research Experience for Undergraduates through the National Science Foundation.

 

Hannah Marti URS 2017Hannah Marti from John Durocher’s laboratory explored the potential health benefits of acute mindfulness meditation. In her pilot study, she observed a reduction in anxiety, heart rate, and aortic pulse pressure after the one introductory hour of mindfulness mediation. Hannah’s research was funded through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program sponsored by the Portage Health Foundation. Hannah earned an honorable mention for her presentation!

 

Jacob Schoenborn URS 2017

Jacob Schoenborn from Xiaoqing Tang’s laboratory studied mice to understand the influence of blueberries on the function of pancreatic beta cells, which regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. His results suggest that the bioactive substances in blueberries can improve beta cell sensitivity. Jacob’s research was funded through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program sponsored by the Portage Health Foundation. Jacob earned an honorable mention for his presentation!

 

David Trine URS 2017David Trine from Thomas Werner’s laboratory reviewed the abdominal pigment pattern of Drosophila guttifera by through five toolkit genes. His findings will help to understand the evolutionary process of color patterns on animals and also may lead to future cancer research. David’s research was funded through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

 


Thomas Werner: The Butterfly Effect

Thomas Werner 201701120031Thomas Werner knew he wanted to be a butterfly biologist from a very young age when he found chasing butterflies to be a preferable diversion to missing his friends and helping his parents harvest their garden plot.

His Journey from East Berlin to the Keweenaw has been a metamorphosis. His work with fruit flies is giving researchers an avenue to explore for cancer screening, prevention, and treatment.

“I love the precision and detail work of making a clean, crisp image.”

Explore more what Werner has to say about his research in Michigan Tech’s Research Magazine article, “The Butterfly Effect”.