Category Archives: Outreach

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.


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.



Houghton High School takes first place in 27th annual bioathlon competition

Houghton high school 1st placeAfter 21 years of competing, Houghton High School ended a drought and took first place in the Department of Biological Science’s 27th annual Bioathlon competition. Calumet High School took second and L.L. Wright High School (Ironwood, Michigan) rounded out third place. This year 15 western and central Upper Peninsula schools competed to display their biology knowledge. Team members did not have any biology beyond the sophomore level. The four problems the four-student teams tackled:

  • dissecting and identifying a list of muscles and other organs found in a pigeon, designed by graduate student Travis Wakeham.
  • identifying different fly genetic traits and explaining how to prepare and read an electrophoresis gel, designed by graduate student Raja Bollepugu.
  • visiting the ski trails to find and identify organisms involved in a food web and explaining how they interact with each other, designed by graduate student Tony Matthys.
  • using medical laboratory science (MLS) techniques to identify a pathogen described in a written scenario, designed by a team of MLS undergraduates Sam Doyle, Shae Thomson, Josh Bowman and Laura Kirwin.

First, second and third place teams were awarded a plaque to display at school and each student on the team was awarded $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. All bioathlon competitors received a certificate of participation and a t-shirt sporting this year’s competition logo.

While students were busy with challenges their teachers participated in a workshop “Ethnobotany: how people use plants” led by academic advisor and botany instructor, Stacy Cotey.  Feedback indicated that the teachers were excited to learn new activities to incorporate into lesson plans.

The Department is pleased to use this outreach activity to demonstrate the exciting disciplines available at Michigan Technological University and to support the university’s mission to emphasis Health, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (H-STEM) education.  We look forward to next year’s competition scheduled for early May 2017.

Funding was provided by MTU Admissions, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Michigan Tech Fund, MTU Alumni Mark Cowan, MD, Robert C. and Kathryn DellAngelo, MD, Olive Kimball, D.Ed., PhD, Nancy Auer, PhD, and Janice Glime, PhD.

More details about the competition can be found on the Bioathlon web page.

The team winning FIRST PLACE was Houghton High School from Houghton, MI.

Team members: Andra Campbell
                               Kieran Storer                  
                               Won Young Choi
                               Ann Desrochers
Instructor:  Lauri Davis

The team winning SECOND PLACE was Calumet High School from Calumet, MI.
Team members: Chelsea Pittsley
                               Gunnar Lindemann
                               Brandon Fraki
                               Joseph Roy
Instructor:  Jennifer Peters            

The team winning the THIRD PLACE was L.L.Wright High School from Ironwood, MI.
Team members: Zane Ozello
                               Ian Hughes
                               Kinley Lyons
                               Nick Niemi  
Instructor: Cheryl Jacisin          

 


High school visit program a great success

HS visit pictureIt’s the best turnout in recent history for our high school visit program. Biological Sciences is proud to announce seven schools—about 180 students and their teachers—came to our spring semester event to help connect students to Michigan Tech. This year two schools attended for the first time in our program’s 25-plus-year history: Copper Country Christian School and Nah Tah Wahsh PSA (Hannahville Indian School),  joining the returning Superior Central (Eben Junction), Dollar Bay, Hancock, and Ontonagon High Schools. Houghton High School was also here to participate in a cooperative joint program between Biological Sciences and Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. Unfortunately, after several attempts to reschedule, Marquette High School was unable to make it due to winter weather.

In the morning, students were greeted by our chair, Dr. Shekhar Joshi. They heard the story of how Dr. Thomas Werner became a biologist and got career advice from Dr. Amy Marcarelli, Brigitte Morin and the advisor for Pre-health, Stacy Cotey. They also attended their first college-level lecture in anatomy and physiology.  At lunch break they were introduced to the wonderful selection of food at Wadsworth Hall’s cafeteria. In the afternoon, after a quick stop to pose by the Husky Statue, they reinforced that morning’s lecture using the human anatomy and physiology  laboratory equipment to measure various parameters of their respiratory, cardiac, muscle and urinary systems and then learned how to do blood typing in the Medical Laboratory Science lab.

We are excited to participate in Michigan Tech’s mission to attract motivated students, including high school-aged girls, into the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. In a broader sense the day of activities and pep talks by a diverse team of faculty, staff, and college students motivated high schoolers to think more deeply about attending college. And it hopefully encouraged a specific focus on degrees in biological sciences, medical laboratory sciences, or one of our many other life-science-related majors on campus.

 


Biology and KIP host Houghton High School

Houghton VisitFriday 15 April,

The Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology hosted a joint visit for Houghton High School’s Anatomy and Physiology classes.  The teacher, Alex Geborkoff, accompanied 35 students who spent a day on the Michigan Tech campus learning about health careers from Pre-med advisor Stacy Cotey and faculty member Steven Elmer, attending a college lecture in Anatomy and Physiology, experiencing lunch at Wadsworth Hall Dormitory and taking part in many hands-on lab activities.  Some of the lab activities in KIP included learning about the influence of stress on blood pressure in Dr. Jason Carter’s lab and conducting an experiment comparing concentric versus eccentric muscle groups in Dr. Steven Elmer’s lab.  In Biological Sciences students learned how to measure aortic blood pressure in Dr. John Durocher’s lab and being led through a dissection by Travis Wakeham in the anatomy and physiology teaching lab.

News coverage of the visit included TV6 news.

 

 


Biology Week March 28-April 1

Biology Week flyerSponsored by Phi Sigma Biological Honors Society

Biology Week March 28-April 1

Monday – MEDLIFE presents MEDTALK 2016 – Come hear from health professionals and students of MEDLIFE from their mobile clinic to Riobamba, Ecuador over spring break.  7pm in Fisher 101

Tuesday – Research presentations – If you’re interested in biology related research, come hear about what others students have been working on!  You could be next!  6pm in Fisher 131

Wednesday – Jeopardy Night – Join us in a fun-filled night of biology related questions with fellow students to test your knowledge and your competitive nature. 7pm in Dow 642

Thursday – Move Night: Concussion – During an autopsy of a NFL player Mike Webster, a finding similar to Alzheimer’s disease is discovered, published and made aware to others.  6pm in Fisher 101.

Friday – Book/Plant/Bake Sale – Biology books, plant seeds and fresh baked treats!  Need we say more? 10am – 3 pm in Fisher Hall

 


Dr. Kerfoot attends Torch Lake Watershed Project Public Meeting

kerfootDr. Kerfoot was one of many Michigan Technological University faculty and staff to present at the recent Torch Lake Watershed Project Public Meeting

An account of the meeting can be found in the 9 February 2016 blog post from Keweenaw Now

LAKE LINDEN —

What do you know about the Torch Lake Watershed, the Torch Lake Superfund and stamp sand, the Torch Lake Area of Concern, PCBs and fish advisories, ongoing research and remediation of contaminated sites in the area? The Torch Lake Watershed Project public meeting is one way to learn about these issues and to become involved in a community effort to plan the future of this area.

More at Keweenaw Now

http://keweenawnow.blogspot.com/2016/02/torch-lake-watershed-project-public.html