Category Archives: News

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.


Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

2018-19 Songer Award Recipients. Pictured Left to Right: Abby Sutherland, Billiane Kenyon, Jeremy Bigalke, Rupsa Basu, Matthew Songer, and Laura Songer.

Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) have generously donated funds to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) to support a research project competition for undergraduate and graduate students. Remembering their own eagerness to engage in research during their undergraduate years, the Songers established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students. The College is extremely grateful for the Songers’ continuing interest in, and support of, Michigan Tech’s programs in human health and medicine. This is the second year of the competition.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. In the Spring of 2019, the Songer’s gift will support one award for undergraduate research ($4,000) and a second award for graduate research ($6,000). Matching funds from the College may allow two additional awards.

Any Michigan Tech student interested in exploring a medically related question under the guidance of faculty in the College of Sciences and Arts may apply. Students majoring in any degree program in the college, including both traditional (i.e., biological sciences, kinesiology, chemistry) and nontraditional (i.e., physics, psychology, social science, bioethics, computer science, mathematics) programs related to human health may propose research projects connected to human health. Students are encouraged to propose original, stand-alone projects with expected durations of 6 – 12 months. The committee also encourages applications from CSA students who seek to continue research projects initiated through other campus mechanisms, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Pavlis Honors College activities or the Graduate Research Forum (GRF).

Funds from a Songer Award may be used to purchase or acquire research materials and equipment needed to perform the proposed research project. Access to and research time utilizing University core research facilities, including computing, may be supported. Requests to acquire a personal computer will be scrutinized and must be fully justified. Page charges for publications also may be covered with award funds, as will travel to appropriate academic meetings. This award may not be used for salary or compensation for the student or consulting faculty.

To apply:

  • Students should prepare a research project statement (up to five pages in length) that describes the background, methods to be used, and research objectives. The statement also should provide a detailed description of the experiments planned and expected outcomes. Students must indicate where they will carry out their project and attach a separate list of references/citations to relevant scientific literature.
  • The application package also should provide a concise title and brief summary (1 page) written for lay audiences.
  • A separate budget page should indicate how funds will be used.
  • A short letter from a consulting faculty member must verify that the student defined an original project and was the primary author of the proposal. The faculty member should also confirm her/his willingness to oversee the project. This faculty letter is not intended to serve as a recommendation on behalf of the student’s project.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 22. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.

The selection committee will consist of Matthew Songer, Laura Songer, Shekhar Joshi (BioSci) and Megan Frost (KIP). The committee will review undergraduate and graduate proposals separately and will seek additional comments about the proposed research on an ad-hoc basis from reviewers familiar with the topic of the research proposal. Primary review criteria will be the originality and potential impact of the proposed study, as well as its feasibility and appropriateness for Michigan Tech’s facilities.

The committee expects to announce the recipients by early May of 2019. This one-time research award will be administered by the faculty advisor of the successful student investigator. Students will be expected to secure any necessary IRB approval before funds will be released. Funds must be expended by the end of spring semester 2020; extensions will not be granted. Recipients must submit a detailed report to the selection committee, including a description of results and an accounting of finds utilized, no later than June 30, 2020.

Any questions may be directed to Megan Frost (mcfrost@mtu.edu), David Hemmer (djhemmer@mtu.edu) or Shekhar Joshi (cpjoshi@mtu.edu).


Dr. Jason Carter Elected as Councillor of the American Physiological Society

Jason Carter
Jason Carter, Associate VP for Research Development and Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

The American Physiological Society, a society dedicated to supporting research and education in the physiological sciences, recently elected Dr. Jason Carter (VPR, KIP) as one of three new governing Councillors of the organization.

The Society was founded in 1887 with 28 original members. It has grown to an organization of over 10,000 members, most holding doctorate degrees in physiology, medicine and other health professions. The Society’s governing body consists of a President, President-Elect, Past President, and nine Councillors.

“It is a real honor to be elected to Council by APS membership,” says Dr. Carter. “APS is the premiere international professional society for physiology research and education, and the organization is going through a number of transitions with a new Executive Director and leadership team.  It will be an exciting time to be engaged and represent the 10,000+ members.”

“APS is the premiere international professional society for physiology research and education.” – Jason Carter (VPR, KIP)

Other newly elected Councillors include Sue Bodine of the University of Iowa and Carmen Hinojosa-Laborde of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. Linda Samuelson of the University of Michigan is the new President-Elect. They will each take office on April 10th and serve a three-year term.

Dr. Carter is also Past-President of the American Kinesiology Association.


Dr. Matthew Kilgas Graduates with KIP’s First Ever PhD in Integrative Physiology

Matthew Kilgas will become the first recipient of a PhD in Integrative Physiology from Michigan Tech.

KIP graduate student Matthew Kilgas successfully defended his PhD in Integrative Physiology on November 26th, 2018. At Commencement on Saturday, December 15th the Graduate School will confer to Matthew Kilgas the first Doctor of Philosophy degree in Integrative Physiology from Michigan Tech.

The department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) began offering a PhD in Integrative Physiology in the 2017-18 academic year. Dr. Kilgas was one of two PhD students at Michigan Tech who transferred into the program in its inaugural year (the other student, Kevin Phillips, is scheduled to defend this Spring).

“Matt’s graduation marks a major milestone for the KIP department,” Dr. Carter explains.

Integrative physiology can be defined as the study of organisms as functioning systems of molecules, cells, tissues and organs. Application of these concepts and experimental approaches are used to understand human health, disease and performance.

The Integrative Physiology PhD program was started under the leadership of Dr. Jason Carter, founding Chair of the department (Dr. Carter now serves as Associate Vice President for Research Development for Michigan Tech’s Vice President for Research Office), and Dr. Steven Elmer, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director for KIP. Dr. Carter was a founding member of the KIP department in 2006 and still serves as a Professor with active NIH-sponsored research under KIP.

“We envisioned a highly research-active department that would ultimately be capped off with a strong doctorate degree.” -Dr. Jason Carter, Associate Vice President for Research Development and KIP founding Chair

“Matt’s graduation marks a major milestone for the KIP department,” Dr. Carter explains. “When we established the department thirteen years ago, we envisioned a highly research-active department that would ultimately be capped off with a strong doctorate degree. Our faculty and staff, along with a supportive administration over the past decade, deserve the credit for their persistence and steadfast commitment to that goal.”

Dr. Kilgas completed his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering here at Michigan Tech, and then went on to complete his M.S. in Exercise Science at Northern Michigan University. He returned to Tech in 2015 to begin working on his PhD.

“I would really like to thank the department for all their help in getting me this far,” Kilgas says. “Specifically Dr. Elmer for pushing me, I couldn’t have done it without him.”

Dr. Kilgas defended his thesis on “Acute and Chronic Responses to Exercise with Blood Flow Restriction” under the advisory of Dr. Elmer. For his research he used a variety of experimental techniques to investigate how partial restriction of blood flow to exercising muscles can improve health and enhance performance.

Matthew Kilgas defends his PhD thesis “Acute and Chronic Responses to Exercise with Blood Flow Restriction” in front of his Advisory Committee and other audience members on November 26, 2018.

“Matt has already begun a tenure-track faculty position in the School of Health and Human Performance at Northern Michigan University earlier this Fall,” explains Dr. Elmer. “We wish him the very best with his career in academia.”


KIP Students Travel to Present at Annual ACSM and MSGC Conferences

KIP students and Assistant Professor Dr. Steven Elmer at the MSGC Conference in Ann Arbor, MI.
From left to right, top row: Jeremy Bigalke (MS), Dr. Steven Elmer, Alex Gabe (MS), Derek Verbrigghe (MS), Hannah Cunningham (MS), Thomas Bye (MS), Benjamin Cockfield (Undergrad), Kevin Phillips (PhD); bottom row: Abby Sutherland (Undergrad), Jana Hendrickson (Undergrad), Stephen Hook (MS), Kelvyn Van Laarhoven (MS).

Twelve KIP students, including undergraduate, Masters, PhD and DPT students, recently had the opportunity to travel downstate with Assistant Professor Dr. Steven Elmer to attend and present their research at two regional academic conferences.

On Friday November 9, students attended the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conference in Grand Rapids, MI. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student Alicia Denherder from Central Michigan University’s MTU satellite DPT program gave a presentation of her research on exercise with blood flow restriction after total knee replacement or reconstruction.

Three KIP undergraduate students, Abby Sutherland, Jana Hendrickson and Benjamin Cockfield represented Michigan Tech in the annual ACSM Jeopardy competition against students from twenty other universities. They finished the competition as one of the top ten competitors.

Aerial view of MSGC poster presentation session at the University of Michigan on Saturday, November 10, 2018. KIP students shared their research with fellow students and colleagues at the 2018 MSGC annual conference.

On Saturday, students continued their journey to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to attend the 2018 annual Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) conference. This conference highlights research by aspiring students, academics, industry leaders and community members related to space and NASA strategic interests.

In addition to their annual conference, the MSGC awards annual undergraduate and graduate fellowships for research aimed at advancing our knowledge and understanding of space. KIP PhD student Kevin Phillips and Masters student Thomas Bye were among a total of fifty MSGC award recipients who presented at the conference last weekend.

“We are unsure of how [liquid cooling garments worn by astronauts in space] influence the mental workload of human brain activation, or the perception of fatigue during physical activity.” -Kevin Phillips, PhD candidate, KIP

Integrative Physiology PhD candidate Kevin Phillips presented research funded through an MSGC Graduate Fellowship where he investigated the effects of water immersion on pre-frontal cortex activation in humans.

KIP PhD student Kevin Phillips presents his research on the effects of thermal alteration on human brain activation.

“Astronauts wear liquid cooling garments in space to help with their body’s thermoregulation,” explains Phillips. “However, we are unsure of how this influences the mental workload of human brain activation, or the perception of fatigue during physical activity. I use a variety of techniques in my research to develop a better understanding of the effects of thermal alterations on the human brain.”

“It was wonderful to get both my first and second oral presentations under my belt.” -Thomas Bye, MS Student, KIP

Kinesiology MS student Thomas Bye also presented MSGC Graduate Fellowship-funded research at the conference on Saturday. He has been examining the impact of respiratory muscle fatigue during space flight.

“Astronauts are always moving in space, primarily with their arms,” Bye explains. “In order to stabilize themselves in micro-gravity they must use their upper-body muscles. This causes muscles such as the diaphragm to become tired and their breathing and performance to become compromised during space walks.”

MS student Thomas Bye presents his MSGC Fellowship-funded research on the impact of respiratory muscle fatigue on human performance during space flight.

All twelve KIP students either presented posters or gave oral presentations at the MSGC conference. Some, like Phillips and Bye, gave presentations on their independent research projects.

“In order to stabilize themselves in micro-gravity [astronauts] must use their upper-body muscles. This causes muscles such as the diaphragm to become tired and their breathing and performance to become compromised during space walks.” – Thomas Bye, MS student, KIP

Masters students gave presentations based on projects they had completed for their Advanced Exercise Physiology (KIP 5000) class this Fall. MS students Hannah Cunningham and Jeremy Bigalke presented their analysis of the new Mars extra-vehicular suit, and its implications for affecting human metabolism, the walk-to-run transition, and its theorized cost of transport.

MS students Hannah Cunningham (center) and Jeremy Bigalke (right) present a poster detailing their analysis of the new Mars extra-vehicular suit and it’s implications on human performance.

Undergraduate students Abby Sutherland and Jana Hendrickson gave presentations regarding their experiences in kinesiology-based K-12 outreach projects. One undergraduate student, Benjamin Cockfield, presented results obtained from exploring effective techniques of teaching physiology – specifically, skeletal muscle contraction.

“I began by improving the current muscle contraction model used in the undergraduate anatomy and physiology lab course to include several key molecular structures that were omitted in previous models,” Cockfield explains. “We also wanted to determine if adding a stair climbing activity would help improve real-world understanding of muscle contraction – specifically eccentric, or lengthening, muscle contraction.”

Undergraduate students Abby Sutherland (left) and Jana Hendrickson present their poster on kinesiology-based K-12 Outreach in local schools.

Cockfield and his team implemented the stair climbing activity in half of the anatomy and physiology lab sessions, and had students in all lab sessions complete surveys to determine the students’ perception of the effectiveness of the activity in helping to improve their understanding of muscle contraction. Results showed an improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction with Cockfield’s improved teaching model.

KIP Masters students pose in front of Michigan State University’s Spartan statue. From left to right: Derek Verbrigghe, Alex Gabe, Stephen Hook, Kelvyn Van Laarhoven, Thomas Bye, Hannah Cunningham, Jeremy Bigalke.

In addition to the two academic conferences attended, masters students from the KIP 5000 class had an opportunity to visit with faculty at Michigan State University during their trip. Specifically, students met with Dr. Erica Wehrwein and Dr. Stephen DiCarlo in MSU’s Department of Physiology and Dr. Christopher Kuenze in the Department of Kinesiology. Students were able to tour research labs, ask questions, and meet students and research staff in each department; an invaluable networking opportunity for these young students.

“The trip was a blast,” says KIP Masters student Thomas Bye. “It was wonderful to get both my first and second oral presentations under my belt. I got lots of great feedback, had good discussions, and even got to have pizza with the legendary Dr. DiCarlo.”

Our students would like to thank the Graduate Student Government, Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, Dr. Elmer’s research laboratory, and the MSGC for supporting their travel and helping to make this experience possible.

KIP Students at Midwest ACSM conference in Grand Rapids, MI. From top left: Dr. Steven Elmer, Stephen Hook (MS), Ben Cockfield (undergrad), Thomas Bye (MS), Kevin Phillips (PhD), Jeremy Bigalke (MS), Kelvyn Van Laarhoven (undergrad), Derek Verbrigghe (MS), Alex Gabe (MS), Alicia Denherder (DPT), Jana Hendrickson (undergrad), Abby Sutherland (undergrad) and Hannah Cunningham (MS).

Welcome to Dreamland: Michigan Tech Sleep Research Laboratory Opens

Sleep monitor

The recently opened Michigan Tech Sleep Research Laboratory combines sleep analysis technologies to provide a window into the effects of sleep on cardiovascular health.

The two-bed sleep study facility is located in the Student Development Complex and has a core staff of two faculty researchers, a sleep physician, a registered nurse who is also a certified sleep technician, a lead doctoral student researcher, as well as other graduate students and undergraduate students.

Studies at the facility hinge on research into the effects of sleep on cardiovascular health, contributing to the broader field of sleep research—a field that is growing rapidly.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.


Stephanie Dietrich’s Physical Therapy Experience

Stephanie DietrichWhen I first decided to pursue a career in physical therapy (PT) I had no clue how to go about the application process or what steps were involved. Being clueless is OK. There’s a lot of people in the same boat. Start by talking to your advisor and developing a plan. Current PT students are also an excellent resource because they’ve “been there”.  In addition, Michigan Technological University provides many other resources to support students on this path (the writing center was one I highly recommend using for essays).