KIP Alum Deedra Irwin Named to US Olympic Biathlon Team

Deedra Irwin has been named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team. She was at Michigan Tech from 2010 to 2015 while earning her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a Coaching minor.

Congratulations to Deedra and wishing her the best of luck when the Biathlon competes February 5-19 at the 2022 Beijing Olympics in the Zhangjiakou Zone!

To read more about Deedra’s accomplishments and career highlights, find the full announcement on the Michigan Tech Athletics website.


KIP Students Find Creative Ways to Move Research and Scholarly Work

KIP’s COVID-19 Graduate Student Team published a letter to the editor online in December 2021. The publication will also appear in print in the March 2022 issue of Advances in Physiology Education. The contributing students include Ashley Hawke (PhD student), Xinqian Chen (PhD student), Isaac Lennox (MS student), Carmen Scarfone (MS student), Isaac Wedig (PhD student), and Jamie Phillips (DPT student). The full publication can be read on the Advances in Physiology Education website.

KIP alum and current Central Michigan University DPT student, Jamie Phillips wrote a blog post on blood flow restriction and the Tokyo Olympics that was posted on the American Physiological Society’s I Spy Physiology Blog.


KIP Graduate Students Prescribe Ways to Stay Healthy and Safe from COVID-19 this Holiday Season

What started out as a simple class project in Professor Steven Elmer’s Advanced Exercise Physiology course, has turned into something much more impactful. Led by doctoral student Ashley Hawke, the team of graduate students (Ashley Hawke, Xinqian Chen, Isaac Lennox, Carmen Scarfone) created the video “Staying Healthy and Safe During Covid-19” to provide: 1) updates on latest COVID-19 trends, 2) recommendations on how to stay safe, 3) travel tips, and 4) strategies to maintain physical and mental health.

The video stresses the importance of relying on credible information from sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health departments, educational institutions, and non-biased news sources. The two-minute YouTube video offers a COVID-19 snapshot and has been circulated on campus and in the community. It has also been featured in the Daily Mining Gazette, Keweenaw Report, and on ABC 10 TV, and posted on the Western UP Health Department, Copper Country Strong, UP COVID-19 Town Hall, and Frontline UPdates Joint Information Center social media pages.

With Michigan COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations recently reaching an all-time high, communication of health information to help keep the campus and community safe and healthy is critical. Rural communities continue to face challenges, as they typically have a limited number of medical providers, hospital services, and public health resources compared to urban communities. “These students leveraged their broad-based training in health science to contribute to the COVID-19 response in their community,” explained Elmer.

Elmer also emphasized that the students’ video was in response to the US Surgeon General’s Advisory Statement to Build a Healthy Information Environment. The Advisory Statement tasks educators, researchers, and professionals to confront misinformation and help improve the quality of health information so that community members can make informed decisions about the health of themselves, their family, and community.

Isaac Lennox, a master’s student who aims to become a physician specializing in family medicine and rural health, explained that in addition to the video, the team created a COVID-19 resource website page along with a bi-monthly COVID-19 infographic for students, staff, and faculty in the department. With the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic and amount of misinformation circulating, it can be difficult to keep up and stay informed. The student team collaborated with Assistant Professor Kelly Kamm, an expert in infectious disease and epidemiology in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, to ensure accuracy of all materials created.

To stay safe during this pandemic, especially with the upcoming holiday season, the students encourage everyone to get vaccinated and get a booster shot if you are already vaccinated. They also recommend following the 4 W’s whenever possible – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance, and Walk to stay physically active. Looking ahead, the team of students will continue to do their part and use their expertise to help both the campus and community. As future health professionals, they want to learn as much as they can from the current pandemic, so they are better prepared to lead during the next pandemic. The COVID-19 video can be accessed here and on the MTU “Unscripted Research Blog.”


KIP December Seminar

Please join us Friday, December 10, at 3:00 pm for this month’s KIP Seminar.

Dr. Chunxiu Yu, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (MTU), will present on “Optogenetic Deep Brain Stimulation: From Neural Mechanism to Improved Therapy.”

All are welcome to attend virtually through Zoom. Please see the flyer for more details about Dr. Yu’s research and for the Zoom meeting information.


Dr. Steven Elmer, PhD Student Isaac Wedig, and UP & Moving Featured in “Unscripted Research Blog”

Isaac Wedig, KIP PhD Student
Dr. Steven Elmer, KIP

Isaac Wedig and Dr. Elmer wrote a guest blog for the series on how physical activity is a vital component to combating COVID-19. They go on to write about their development of UP and Moving, the exercise program created to keep the community healthy, as a response to the pandemic.

With over 200 free virtual workouts and counting, they are furthering their message that “exercise is medicine.”

Read the full blog post on the Unscripted Research Blog.


KIP November Seminar: Walter B. Cannon’s WWI Experience, Treatment of Traumatic Shock, Then and Now

Join us virtually Friday, November 12, from 3 to 4 pm for this month’s KIP Seminar with guest speaker Kathy Ryan (PhD, FAPS), Chief of the Hemorrhage and Edema Control Department in the US Army Institute of Surgical Research .

Dr. Ryan will discuss the research and work of Walter B. Cannon and how his understanding of the nature and causes of traumatic shock during World War I would be “rediscovered” during recent conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan.

More details and the Zoom meeting information can be found on the flyer below.


Ben Cockfield, a KIP Alum, Gives Pre-PT Advice

My name is Ben Cockfield, and I am currently a second-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Central Michigan University.

I received a BS in Exercise Science and an MS in Kinesiology through Michigan Tech. I began my academic journey in the biomedical engineering department with aspirations to design technology that would interface directly with the human body in some way to improve performance or quality of life. I quickly found out that the engineering-based curriculum was not holding my interest – but the anatomy and human applications of the information was. This was hugely important for me and ultimately led to my switching into the department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and is my first piece of advice: explore often, and if you can, early. Change your mind, change your major! You do not need to have a decision made about what you want to do right away but trying to open as many doors as possible early on – and keeping them open – is relevant for anyone, regardless of major or interests.

I didn’t know I was going to apply to a DPT program until I was starting my MS – although PT school had been on my radar, this felt like a bit of a late decision. Looking back, I am glad I took my time, and in the end, it cemented my certainty to pursue my DPT. This would not have been possible had it not been for the support and connections I made at Tech, specifically, my thesis advisor Dr. Steve Elmer, and the other graduate students in the department. Having a mentor that guided and pushed me was essential during my time at Tech and finding someone like this is critical for growth as both a person and as a professional. Moreover, interacting and networking with graduate students across departments was invaluable to me and highlights another important lesson – surround yourself with people who genuinely care about what they are doing. Passion is contagious, and when you are surrounded by people who are invested and willing to work hard because they care more about just getting a good grade, it encourages you to do the same.

One important note was that I didn’t wait until I was a grad student myself to initiate these interactions, and I would encourage other undecided students anywhere to do the same. The easiest way is to volunteer to be a research participant (affectionally referred to as a lab rat), this allows you to observe the type of research that gets done across a variety of departments while simultaneously learning more about the topic from the students and faculty directly – no one loves to talk more about the most up-to-date research, techniques, and projects than those directly involved with the process, so be careful how many questions you ask, you may end up being there all day!

The last bit of advice I would give anyone interested in pursuing PT is to involve yourself with your local community to some capacity – whether that is through a volunteer organization, church, job, etc. I have been a member of the Mont Ripley Ski Patrol for 5 years and believe that extending yourself outside of purely the academic community/college “bubble” is incredibly important for personal growth and getting in touch with the world outside of your own niche. Get out and learn about the people who make the community that you are a part of. This will extend to your future as a health care professional as well – you can’t expect to spend your whole life in the clinic or hospital!

To boil it all down, my advice for applying to PT school (or any graduate program for that matter!) would be to keep doors open (but don’t be afraid to change your mind!), surround yourself with passionate people, explore new avenues, and get involved with the community – Good Luck!


Pathway to Occupational Therapy School: Former KIP Student Alexa Destrampe’s Story

My name is Alexa and I am currently an Occupational Therapy student at Concordia University Wisconsin.

As an undergraduate student at Michigan Tech, I studied Exercise Science and also earned a minor in Psychology. As a pre-Occupational Therapy student at MTU, I was able to learn about the human body from many different perspectives. In addition to kinesiology and psychology classes, I also took courses in biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, neuroscience, epidemiology, neurology, mindfulness & meditation, psychopathology, & archaeology. Every course I took at Michigan Tech helped me become the occupational therapy student I am today, as OT is a holistic medical profession that highlights all branches of human health. That said, having a focus on movement science was especially helpful when learning the basics of the human body.

I chose occupational therapy as my future profession because it combines science and creativity effortlessly. For example, if two different clients came to see me for carpal tunnel treatment, their treatment plans would look very different from each other, even with the same diagnoses. Each patient requires treatment based on their unique occupations; things you need, want, and are expected to do in society. I was drawn to the vastness of opportunity that this career holds. I will never be bored and will always be helping others live their life to the fullest as an occupational therapist. Additionally, being an occupational therapist will require action through advocacy. Advocating for the profession as a whole, future clients, populations, as well as myself is something I am passionate about. 

I went into my first semester at MTU nervous to get involved but quickly shed that fear. While I was at Tech I spent a lot of my time in the athletic training room, in the sleep research lab, and out in the campus & local communities promoting healthy habits & lifestyle changes. I invested time into experiences that I was passionate about. Through these experiences, I gained confidence in professional and medical language, developed interpersonal skills, and sharpened my analytical skills. 

None of this would have been possible if I did not network with my professors, academic advisors, and mentors. The people at Michigan Tech are what sets my experience apart from what “could have been”. I truly don’t think I would have had the opportunities I did at MTU had I went elsewhere. The class sizes are small, the librarians and tutors are helpful, and the community that Michigan Tech creates is a safe one. 

I applied to Concordia University – Wisconsin’s program right on time. CUW’s OT program was one of the only post-baccalaureate programs in the country to have a January start. I just so happened to graduate in December and knew if I had the choice, I wanted to head right to OT school. If I hadn’t been accepted, I would have applied to other schools and took the next few months to take a breather. But, it was fate, so I packed my bags and headed South to Milwaukee! Concordia’s OT program is a great fit and the view of Lake Michigan even reminds me of home. 

My number one piece of advice is to take initiative when planning for your desired successes. When applying to OT school you should stay organized and be intentional about the choices you make starting your very first semester of undergrad. Talk to your pre-health advisor to plan both your academics and extracurriculars. I would also highly suggest shadowing practicing occupational therapists throughout your undergraduate career. This helped me directly learn about OT and stay excited about my future even when I was overwhelmed with the common stresses of school. 


Steve Elmer Named AKA Leadership Institute Fellow

Steve Elmer has been named an American Kinesiology Association (AKA) Leadership Institute Fellow for the 2023 cohort.

The AKA Leadership Institute utilizes a mentoring model to provide exceptional training and networking for emerging faculty leaders. Fellows are limited to around 10 per year, and the AKA maintains a fellows-to-mentors ratio of no more than 2:1.

Elmer will begin the 12-month leadership program in January 2022.