Category Archives: News

Frost Named 2020 American Kinesiology Association Leadership Fellow

Megan FrostDepartment Chair, Megan Frost, (KIP) was named a 2020 American Kinesiology Association (AKA) Leadership Institute Fellow. Jason Carter, Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education at Montana State University, who serves as AKA past-President and is one of the co-directors for the Leadership Institute, said, “This year’s cohort for the AKA Leadership Institute is simply outstanding. It contains eleven new or aspiring department chairs from programs across the entire United States. It is a well-respected and impactful professional development program for emerging kinesiology leaders in the field.”

The AKA defines kinesiology as the academic discipline that involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society and quality of life. This includes, but is not limited to, areas of study such as exercise science, sports management, athletic training and sports medicine, socio-cultural analyses of sports, sport and exercise psychology, fitness leadership and more. The AKA is committed to cross-disciplinary study in kinesiology as well as cross-disciplinary application of knowledge to problems in the physical activity field.

More information about the AKA Leadership Institute can be found here.


Tessa Sprague, Pre-Physician Assistant Program

Tessa Sprague

Michigan Tech offered so many resources that greatly improved my success. Grades are very important when applying to Physician Assistant (PA) schools, so the learning centers and tutoring kept me on track with my goal GPA. There was also a wide range of volunteer opportunities in health-related areas that helped me become more comfortable as a healthcare provider.

Bachelor of Exercise Science major helped me prepare for PA school by requiring a summer internship which opened doors for me getting more direct patient care hours which is a big focus for many PA schools. I also really enjoyed the tests and research I was able to do throughout my courses in this major.

I applied to CMU’s program initially due to the success rate of their students in passing their PANCE exam first round and how driven they were in helping the underserved which is a large part of medicine. After interviewing at CMU for a spot in their program I felt the most comfortable with the faculty and students’ view on community. Coming from Michigan Tech and a good program, community was very important to me in my decision. In summer 2019, I was accepted into Central Michigan’s Physician Assistant Program!

The biggest advice I have for future students is to do extracurricular activities that will make you stand out through the application process. I was involved in Michigan Tech EMS which helped me become certified as an EMT. I then used my certification to build up experience and direct patient care hours for my application. I would also suggest taking a gap year between undergrad and PA school to get some job experience that will make certain aspects of PA school much easier.

I did a variety of extracurricular activities while at Michigan Tech. I worked for Student Health and Wellness as a Peer Health Advocate which strengthened my communication skills and was the best job I could’ve had throughout school. I volunteered with Michigan Tech EMS as a first responder giving me valuable patient experience. I was involved in research and was part of the Spartners program helping educate children about nutrition and fitness.

Michigan Tech helped me in my success in getting into PA school as well as giving me a good base of knowledge to help make connections with the new material. The application process isn’t always easy but just remember to be yourself and show them what makes you stand out!


Students Present at Annual Michigan Space Grant Consortium Fall Conference

KIP students from Dr. Steven Elmer’s Advanced Exercise Physiology class. From left to right, back row; Sarah LewAllen (MS), Benjamin Cockfield (MS), Andrea Serrano (Ph.D.), Isaac Wedig (Ph.D.), Nehemiah McIntyre (MS). Front row; Josh Gonzalez (Ph.D.), Jessica Pitts (MS), Jessica Bruning (Ph.D.).

On Saturday, October 12th, eight students in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (1 undergraduate, 3 Masters, 4 Ph.D.) had the opportunity to travel to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to attend the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) Fall Conference. This annual conference focuses on research, education, and outreach, providing both academia and industry the opportunity to share ideas in fields related to space and NASA’s strategic interests. At this year’s conference, Michigan Tech’s unique group of KIP students were able to highlight some of the important concerns facing human systems when conducting space exploration.

“NASA’s strategic plan emphasizes the complexity of systems involved in human spaceflight, but perhaps the most complex and limiting is the human body”—PhD student Jessica Bruning during their group’s oral presentation on Saturday

Led by Dr. Steven Elmer as part of his Advanced Exercise Physiology class (KIP 5000), this multidisciplinary group of students possessing backgrounds in physiology, biomechanics, biology, and biomedical engineering, were able to present preliminary data and future directions for a class project looking into human locomotion under reduced gravity conditions.

KIP students with MSGC Fall Conference keynote speaker and NASA astronaut, Tony England (middle). From left to right, back row; Benjamin Cockfield (MS), Andrea Serrano (Ph.D.), Isaac Wedig (Ph.D.), Nehemiah McIntyre (MS). Front row; Josh Gonzalez (Ph.D.), Jana Hendrickson (undergrad), Jessica Pitts (MS), Jessica Bruning (Ph.D.).

All eight students were involved in a group oral presentation, led by Ph.D. student and MSGC fellowship recipient, Josh Gonzalez, titled “Setting foot on Mars: A Big Step and Even Greater Leap for Undergraduate and Graduate Students”. The presentation highlighted the class’s work to determine the most energetically efficient form of locomotion on Mars and its implications for successfully carrying out a human Mars mission.

The presentation emphasized the team’s diversity of educational backgrounds and how their multidisciplinary approach serves a major benefit in answering these and many other important questions when sending humans to space.

The students had the honor of meeting the keynote speaker, Dr. Tony England, a NASA astronaut who spoke about his experiences and insights during his involvement with the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. If you’ve ever seen the classic 1995 film Apollo 13, then you’ve seen England in action. He is the real-life astronaut stationed at mission control who was tasked with engineering a make-shift carbon dioxide scrubber for the Apollo space crew, ultimately saving their lives and allowing them to return safely to Earth.

Two students, Benjamin Cockfield and Jana Hendrickson, gave individual presentations in addition to the group presentation.  Benjamin Cockfield, an MS student and MSGC fellowship recipient, gave an oral presentation discussing his research on upper body aerobic exercise with blood flow restriction and its applications to human space travel, mission success, and astronaut health.

“The purpose of my research is to discover novel modes of exercise that could be used by astronauts to help mitigate the muscle and bone loss from long term space-flight and microgravity exposure.” —Benjamin Cockfield

KIP undergraduate student, Jana Hendrickson, presenting her poster about a 3D elbow model used for K-12 outreach showing how levers work in the human body.

Undergraduate student Jana Hendrickson presented a poster on K-12 student outreach that utilized a 3D elbow model to help visualize how levers work in the human body.  “It was exciting to present my educational outreach poster to a diverse audience and share the importance of inspiring the next generations of researchers, scientists, and health professionals,” Jana shares.

Invigorated by their experience, the group of students plan to continue their investigation into human locomotion and will be designing a harness system to simulate and test human movement in reduced gravity conditions. In addition to their MSGC presentation, the group has also applied for the Hands-On NASA-Oriented Experience for Students (HONES) grant, which could fund further research and a trip to the Johnson Space Center located in Houston, Texas.

“We have a strong group and I believe we submitted a competitive HONES application. Presenting at the Johnson Space Center would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”—PhD student Josh Gonzalez

The students who attended the MSGC Conference would like to thank Dr. Elmer for his guidance and research laboratory access, as well as Dr. Frost, the KIP department chair, and the MSGC for supporting this hands-on educational experience.

“The conference provided a great opportunity to meet and interact with professionals of many different fields, from astrophysics to geology, and gave us practice communicating our expertise across varying domains,” —Isaac Wedig


New Funding

 

Qing-Hui Chen (KIP/HRI) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $459,000 research and development grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services and National Institutes of Health. The project is titled “Neural Mechanism of Sympathetic Activation in Heart Failure.” Zhiying Shan (KIP) is Co-PI of this potential three-year project.



6th Annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting

Ten graduate students, seven undergraduate students, four faculty members, and two recent alumni from Michigan Tech recently participated in the 6th annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting held on the campus of Central Michigan University on June 27-28.

John Durocher (BIO) served as the president of the society and Ian Greenlund (KIP) served as the trainee committee chair. Four MTU graduate students completed oral presentations, with Jeremy Bigalke (KIP) winning one of the top oral presentation awards.

Another thirteen MTU students were active in poster presentations, with Sarah LewAllen (BIO) winning one of the top poster presentation awards. Finally, two graduate students served as moderators for oral presentations.
In conjunction with the annual meeting, the 3rd annual Michigan Physiology Quiz competition was held. Michigan Tech competed against six other teams from around the state. Team members included Jana Hendrickson (KIP), Sarah LewAllen (BIO), Jill Poliskey (BIO), and Colleen Toorongian (KIP).

The Michigan Tech team was very competitive through four rounds but missed making the final round between the top three teams by a single question. All team members did a great job with the intense questions.

Michigan Tech was one of only three universities from around the state to achieve Diamond-Level Sponsorship! This was possible thanks to the College of Sciences and Arts, Michigan Tech Graduate School, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Department of Biological Sciences. Additional faculty and staff members from Michigan Tech also made individual awards that contributed to the cash prizes for the quiz competition, oral presentations, and poster presentations.


National Biomechanics Day Outreach with Local Schools

Student presenter stands in front of monitor inside SDC multipurpose room talking to high school studentsOn April 10, 2019, the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) took part in the international celebration of National Biomechanics Day by inviting local high school teachers and students to engage in fun, hands-on activities focused on biomechanics.

Ben Cockfield, Kinesiology graduate student, coordinated the event and helped organize the lab activities to coincide with this year’s theme of, “Science Meets Fun on National Biomechanics Day.” Students visited three separate biomechanics labs on campus and activities were presented by teams of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students.

Carolyn Duncan‘s biomechanics laboratory captured students’ attention with their motion analysis system by analyzing Michigan Tech basketball player, Abbie Botz’s, motion while shooting a basketball. Nehemiah McIntyre, a senior Biomedical Engineering Student, helped students measure the electrical activity of their muscles with electromyography (EMG) technology and explore how varying exercises engage different muscles.Alex Gabe, kinesiology graduate student, and undergraduate students Jana Hendrickson and Lily Hart, walked students through a real-world research study in Steven Elmer’s exercise physiology laboratory. This experiment helped students observe the efficiency of arm swinging during various gait patterns and put them to the test by rating their exertion during each type of gait.

Students also had the opportunity to visit the Central Michigan Doctor of Physical Therapy School on campus. Cam Williams, Site Coordinator for CMU DPT Program MTU Satellite, and Physical Therapy students Alicia Denherder and Colin Seidowski, demonstrated the importance of balance by engaging students to experiment with the various senses that affect balance while capturing their movement on force plates.

This year, graduate students Stephen Hook, Alex Gabe, and Thomas Bye, along with undergraduate students Jana Hendrickson and Lily Hart, visited physics, biology, and anatomy and physiology classrooms in Hancock as well as Chassell to bring National Biomechanics day to students. This team of students presented an interactive lever-arm model of the human elbow for the students to construct, providing a hands-on way to gain a better understanding of the mechanical systems that exist in the human body.

It is so rewarding when you observe them get that “ahh-ha!” light-bulb moment. It is outreach like this that is helping inspire the future generations of health professionals — Jana Hendrickson

Elmer’s outreach team also led biomechanics activities at the high schools in Marquette, Ironwood, Iron River, Crystal Falls, Florence, Wisconsin, and Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Altogether, the outreach team reached over 300 high school students across 10 schools in the Western Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin. These opportunities have been a positive experience for local schools and teachers as well as faculty and students. This outreach work is supported by grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium and The Physiological Society.


Kevin Phillips Graduates with a PhD in Integrative Physiology

Kevin Phillips PhD Defense
KIP PhD candidate Kevin Phillips defends his dissertation before his committee on Monday, April 1 2019

Kevin Phillips is the second student to graduate from Michigan Tech with a PhD in Integrative Physiology.

On April 1, 2019 Kevin successfully defended his dissertation: “The Influence of Temperature on Neuromuscular Fatigue and Prefrontal Cortex Activation During Upper Extremity Exercise” under the advisory of Dr. Steven Elmer.

Kevin Phillips was one of two students who transferred into the Integrative Physiology PhD program in its inaugural year (2017/18). The other student, Matthew Kilgas, defended his dissertation and graduated this past December.

“I’d like to thank Michigan Tech, the KIP Department, my dissertation committee, faculty and students for their support over the past four years,” says Phillips. “I have had a lot of fun and have grown significantly as a teacher and researcher throughout my time at Michigan Tech.”

Phillips completed his MS in Exercise Science at Northern Michigan University in 2015 and his BS in Athletic Training at Marywood University in Pennsylvania in 2012. Kevin is currently pursuing an Assistant Professor position in Exercise Science; he hopes to continue his research on the influence of temperature alterations on brain perception and regulation of fatiguing exercise.


Breathing Life into the Classroom! A Story About Respiratory Function by KIP Undergrad Lily Hart

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
Students in Dr. Elmer’s KIP 1500 class build a mechanical quadruped to demonstrate the relationship between locomotion and respiration.

Freshman students in Dr. Steven Elmer‘s KIP 1500 course, Foundations of Kinesiology, recently completed a unique assignment to learn how the lungs and respiratory systems of animals work. Students worked in small groups to build three-dimensional animal models to demonstrate how the lungs function during movement. Groups built models of either a kangaroo (bipedal mobility model) or a horse (quadrupedal mobility model). Students were able to find most of the parts they needed to construct their animal models in local hardware stores.

“Collecting all the parts was hard, because it was not entirely clear as to what exact size and dimensions we needed,” explains Erin Seppala, a student in Dr. Elmer’s Foundations of Kinesiology class.

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
One group’s mechanical model of a bipedal kangaroo

All students used the same model to construct their animal’s “lung.” A syringe served as the thoracic cavity, and a balloon was tied inside the syringe to serve as the lung. A plastic tube was then connected to serve as the trachea. The rubber end of the syringe’s plunger worked as the diaphragm muscle (the major muscle for inspiration, or drawing air into the lungs).

Once the animals were complete, students manipulated their models to observe how hopping and running affects breathing. “I learned that animals can have different and unique ways of breathing,” explained Robert Dwyer, a student in the class.

“I learned that animals can have different and unique ways of breathing.” Robert Dwyer, student in KIP 1500

By using the three-dimensional models they built in the classroom, students found that kangaroos exert less energy to breathe when hopping than when standing still. Rather than relying on contraction of the diaphragm muscle to move air into and out of the lungs (also called “inspiration” and “expiration”), air is pulled into the lungs and pushed back out of the lungs as the internal organs “flop” within the kangaroo’s body during the hopping movement.

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
One group’s completed quadruped model of a horse

By manipulating the legs of the horse model, students observed how this moved air into and out of the lungs. For example, when the forelimbs were stretched forward this helped to increase the volume of the thoracic cavity, decrease thoracic pressure, and aid in inspiration. When the forelimbs struck the ground and the hind limbs moved forward this facilitated a decrease in the volume of the thoracic cavity and a decrease in thoracic pressure, aiding expiration.

Students not only investigated how the lungs and respiratory system work but they also learned the importance of good group communication and problem solving. Students were reminded that when things get hard, it’s important to remember to just have fun with the project. Several groups emphasized that the activity had helped them to learn how to problem solve and improvise as a team when something didn’t go the way they had planned.

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
Students with another completed quadruped model

“Building a model using parts helped us to visualize and understand the unique way horses and kangaroos breathe in accordance with their athletic ability,” group members Sarah Dix and Sarah Miller explained.

This hands-on activity was inspired by two papers published in the journal Advances in Physiology Education (Giuliodori et al., 2009, 2010). Dr. Stephen DiCarlo of Michigan State University, a coauthor of both papers, was able to mentor Dr. Elmer on the use of these physical models in the classroom to promote active student learning.

Here are links to the articles describing the horse respiration model and the kangaroo respiration model that the students built in their class.

 

This is an edited version of an original story by KIP undergraduate student Lily Hart. 

References:

Giuliodori, M. J., Lujan, H. L., Briggs, W. S., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2009). A model of locomotor-respiratory coupling in quadrupeds. 33(4), 315-318. doi:10.1152/advan.00057.2009

Giuliodori, M. J., Lujan, H. L., Janbaih, H., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2010). How does a hopping kangaroo breathe? , 34(4), 228-232. doi:10.1152/advan.00050.2010


APS Blog “I Spy Physiology” Publishes Post by KIP Student Kelvyn Van Laarhoven

KIP MS Student Kelvyn Van Laarhoven

The American Physiological Society recently published a blog story by KIP Masters student Kelvyn Van Laarhoven. Kelvyn’s story, “The Iceman: Wim Hof is a Real-life Superhero” was published in the “I Spy Physiology” blog by APS on March 13th.

The blog post explores the physiological effects of certain controlled breathing techniques used by a Dutch adventurer that allow him to survive conditions of extreme and prolonged cold. You can read the full blog post here.

Kelvyn graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Michigan Tech last Spring. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree from the department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Michigan Tech. His academic interests include sports medicine, physical therapy and human performance.