Category: Alumni of Kinesiology

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.


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. 


UP Health Science and Medicine Lecture Series featured in the News

The June edition of the UP Health Science and Medicine Lecture Series was highlighted by the Daily Mining Gazette and the Mining Journal.

Supported by Michigan Tech’s Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and Health Research Institute, the summer lecture featured Dr. Robert Sallis and his study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

To watch the lecture series, find it on the Health Research Institute’s YouTube channel. Or read about the highlights on the Daily Mining Gazette’s or the Mining Journal’s website.


Students and Faculty Participate in the Michigan Physiological Society Meeting

Students and faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and Department of Biological Sciences recently participated in the 8th annual Michigan Physiological Society (MPS) Meeting held virtually on June 24-25, 2021. Graduate students Jessica Bruning (KIP), Xingqian Chen (KIP), Carmen Scarfone (KIP), Aditi Vyas (BIO), Manas Warke (BIO), and Isaac Wedig (KIP) presented their research, teaching, and outreach focused projects. 

Dr. Steven Elmer (KIP) co-organized the featured symposium titled “Research and Teaching during COVID-19: Challenges, Opportunities, and Lessons Learned” and received help from Greg Miodonski (KIP) and Carmen Scarfone (KIP) who served as moderators for two oral presentations. Anatomy and Physiology Instructor, Travis Wakeham (BIO), also presented during this session and the Michigan Tech “UP and Moving” Team helped to break up the sitting time by leading the audience through a movement activity.  

All students did a great job with their presentations including Isaac Wedig who earned a student award for one of the top oral presentations. Finally, Dr. Elmer was elected as the next MPS President-Elect and will serve on the executive leadership committee for the next three years. 


Graduate Student Ben Cockfield Defends his Master’s Thesis

This past week Benjamin Cockfield (Traverse City, MI) successfully defended his master’s thesis: “Acute Physiological Responses to Arm Cranking with Blood Flow Restriction”. Over 45 people attended the Zoom video conference presentation. Ben earned his Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Michigan Tech University in 2018 and has since been working on his Master’s in Kinesiology. Specifically, Ben conducted his research in the Exercise Physiology Laboratory under the supervision of Associate Professor Steven Elmer.

For his research, Ben evaluated the cardiorespiratory, metabolic, and perceptual responses to arm cranking with blood flow restriction. Specifically, with blood flow restriction a pressurized cuff is placed over the arm to partially limit blood from leaving the working muscles. This creates a high-intensity workout for the exercising muscles but without overtaxing the heart, lungs, and joints.

In his research, Ben found that arm cranking with blood flow restriction resulted in a small increase in cardiorespiratory strain and effort, but a large increase in metabolic stress. Increased metabolic stress is thought to be an important mechanism for improving muscle size and strength. Long term, results from Ben’s research could have possible implications for upper-body trained endurance athletes (e.g., cross country skiers, rowers, America’s cup sailors), adults recovering from shoulder injuries, wheelchair users, and older adults. Ben was partially supported by a graduate student fellowship from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.


Q&A: Matt Roy

Former Michigan Tech hockey player Matt Roy is in his third year of professional hockey and first full season in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings. In 61 games this season, Roy has four goals and 13 assists. He earned his first NHL call up in February 2019 and played 25 games at the end of the 2018-19 season, tallying six points with two goals and four assists. Roy left Michigan Tech after his junior season in the spring of 2017 and continued his education through the University. In December, he completed his bachelor’s of science in exercise science and received his diploma.

Who did you promise that you would finish your degree?
The first person I promised that I would finish my degree was my mom. She wasn’t going to let me leave school early if I wasn’t going to finish. Talking with Suzanne [Sanregret] and Craig Pellizzaro, who was my advisor, we discussed a plan. I was able to take classes online, and I told Suzanne that I wasn’t going to take anything for granted and pass my classes. I’m very grateful to Suzanne and Craig who helped me get my diploma.

How does it feel to be done with your bachelor’s and what are your plans after hockey?
Receiving my diploma was a great feeling. It was tough doing all the classes online and staying consistent. It was a mental battle. I’m happy to have it done and to have it through Tech is awesome. I’m not sure about plans after hockey. Personal training or owning a gym would be fun, but I have a lot of ideas floating around right now.

Read the full feature.