Category: News

Time to Step UP and Move More

Dr. Steve Elmer wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Mining Journal on April 15, 2024 about the importance of physical activity and urging Senator Gary Peters and Senator Debbie Stabenow to support “Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act” so that physical activity becomes a national priority. This bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to continue issuing physical-activity guidelines at least every 10 years based on the most current scientific and medical knowledge.

To read the full letter, please visit the Mining Journal’s webpage.

KIP Moves Into H-STEM Complex

KIP’s move into the Michigan Technological University’s H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex (H-STEM Complex) is complete. An informal open house and a ribbon-cutting ceremony are scheduled for April 26.

The H-STEM Complex: Transparent, Open, Shared and Flexible Laboratory Spaces

The H-STEM Complex includes newly constructed shared and flexible laboratory spaces co-located with renovated classrooms and learning spaces within an existing building (Chemical Sciences and Engineering). The Complex will permit teams of researchers and students to work together in collaborative spaces with shared equipment.

man pedaling a bicycle with a mask measuring his oxygen level while two researchers monitor his vital signs
Monitoring oxygen and acetate levels in Steve Elmer’s lab
man hooked up to sensors with his movements displayed on a monitor
Reviewing movements in the X lab

The H-STEM Complex is transparent. From the exterior, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, you can see into the labs. Similar interior design ensures those within and outside can see teams working together in shared, collaborative lab spaces. You can see the exciting work, including health research, teaching, and outreach strategy happening inside.

Two tables with comfy booth seating up against a tall floor to ceiling window
There’s plenty of room and sunny spots for students to collaborate in the H-STEM Complex
Biomechanics room with tall floor to ceiling windows and lots of space for movement experiments
See the research happening on the inside thanks to wall-to-ceiling windows

KIP interim department chair Steven Elmer is looking forward to increased visibility for the discoveries and developments happening there. “Faculty and students are thrilled to move into the H-STEM Complex,” said Elmer. “We’re excited to showcase the human health research  technologies and innovations happening at Michigan Tech. Having a central location on campus highlights the importance of our department’s  research in the Michigan Tech portfolio. The H-STEM Complex is a cornerstone of Tech’s efforts to continue attracting high-caliber faculty and research funding, graduate and undergraduate students. It will help us as we move toward our goal of being a leading kinesiology program.”

H-STEM Complex - Steve Elmer
Interim Department Chair
Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

Steve Elmer Shares Thoughts on the H-STEM Complex

We had a chance to catch up with Steve Elmer to learn more about the H-STEM Complex and it’s impact on the Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Department.

What are you looking forward to most with the move to H-STEM?

Steve Elmer: We are most excited about having 1) our students, staff, and faculty all located in close proximity to one another on the first floor and 2) state-of-the-art laboratory space for conducting research and teaching.

Please describe some of the new features and amenities in H-STEM that make it conducive to research?

Steve Elmer: The new H-STEM building provides ample space for both research and teaching. For example, some of the research laboratories have larger open floor plans which allow for evaluation of human movement to understand changes that occur due to age, injury, disease, or exercise. Our exercise physiology and biomechanics teaching laboratories have adequate space for hands-on discovery-based learning along with a classroom for pre-laboratory instruction and student project work.

The research and teaching laboratories are located adjacent to each other, and many are connected which allows for collaboration among faculty and students. The building also has parking and easy access for community members who volunteer to participate in research studies. Meeting and conference room space for discussion and presentation is located in between the laboratories and offices for graduate students, staff, and faculty. In short, this state-of-the-art facility will support our research and teaching needs and long-term goal of becoming a nationally ranked kinesiology department.

What obstacles have you had to overcome with the transition into the H-STEM Complex?

Steve Elmer: One of the biggest challenges has simply been time. Many of our faculty and staff were hired with the new H-STEM building on the horizon and they have been patiently waiting for the transition to a new building with more space and greater capacity for research and teaching.  

What exciting new opportunities or initiatives planned for KIP in the new H-STEM Complex?

Steve Elmer: In early April we hosted 200+ K-12 students from several local schools in celebration of National Biomechanics Day. This was our first outreach event in the new H-STEM building and the largest one to date for our department. It was a big hit! The University is planning a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 25 and we are planning an informal  department open house that same day. It’d be great to see some of the alums come out for those events.

How does H-STEM align with KIPs vision for the future of research?

Steve Elmer: The new H-STEM Complex offers the robust infrastructure needed to position the Department to become a nationally ranked kinesiology program. Specifically, it will help the Department to increase research expenditures and number of doctorate degrees awarded, both of which are critical as Michigan Tech transitions to an R1 University for 2025.

What is a memorable moment from the planning process?

Steve Elmer: One of the most memorable moments was seeing the excitement from graduate students as they did a walk-through tour of the building while it was still under construction. Students were literally high fiving and jumping up and down and ready to move in that day!

How will the move to H-STEM benefit your undergraduates?

Steve Elmer: Undergraduate instructional lab sections will be delivered in our new exercise physiology and biomechanics teaching laboratories. These laboratories will now have adequate space for pre-laboratory instruction, large instructional equipment, team-based experiments, and student project work. Collectively, this will provide students with hands-on discovery-based learning experiences.

How will the move to H-STEM benefit your graduates?

Steve Elmer: The new H-STEM building will provide a supportive and welcoming environment for our graduate student cohort. Being together as a group in one building on the same floor will accelerate their research, facilitate more collaboration, and aid in their professional development.

About the Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Department at Michigan Technological University

Tomorrow needs healthy communities. The Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) at Michigan Technological University helps to build them. The KIP Department offers undergraduate degrees in exercise science and sports and fitness management. Graduate degree offerings include a PhD in Integrative Physiology as well as a master’s and accelerated master’s degree in Kinesiology. Housed in the new H-STEM Complex, KIP leads several important health and wellness collaborative research projects across eight different labs. Supercharge your human health skills to meet the demands of an increasingly active and aging society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math.

Questions? Contact us at Follow all the latest happenings on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and the KIP Blog.

Gracie VanLangevelde Awarded GLIAC Pat Riepma Postgraduate Scholarship

Gracie VanLangevelde, a KIP graduate student and senior goalkeeper on Michigan Tech’s soccer team, has been named a 2023-24 Pat Riepma Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.

Gracie appeared in 57 games over the past five seasons for Michigan Tech. She was the 2023 GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year and was a two-time All-GLIAC First Team selection. She was also honored by the United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region First Team and the CSC Academic All-District Team, and was a four-time member of the GLIAC Academic Excellence Team.

Gracie graduated in spring of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and received the 2023 American Kinesiology Association’s Undergraduate Scholar Award. She will complete her master’s degree in Kinesiology at Tech in spring of 2024 and plans to attend the University of Buffalo’s Department of Rehabilitation Science to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Read more about Gracie’s scholarly and athletic achievements at Michigan Tech Athletics.

KIP Department Hosts National Biomechanics Day

After a hiatus due the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Tech’s Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology is gearing up for 2024 National Biomechanics Day. National Biomechanics Day is part of a worldwide initiative to increase the influence and impact of biomechanics in our society with a focus on outreach and education in schools.  

Nathan, Kate, Logan, Blake, Wil (students in Dr. Duncan’s Advanced Biomechanics class)

This year’s theme for NBD is celebrating the 21st century’s breakthroughs in science. Our department, led by Dr. Carolyn Duncan’s Advanced Biomechanics class, will be taking students through a series of fun activities related to biomechanics technologies, including motion capture, surface electromyography, and force platforms. These activities will show how we can explore real-life situations (e.g. fall prevention, the NFL combine, and strength training). They will also demonstrate to students how the concepts that they are currently learning in their high school STEM classes, such as biology and physics, applies to the world around them since biomechanics is the study of physics acting on the living organisms. 

KIP Doctoral Student Elected as GSG Research Chair

Oluwatosin Oyeniran, a doctoral student in Integrative Physiology, was elected to serve as the Research Chair for the Michigan Tech Graduate Student Government (GSG).

Oluwatosin Oyeniran (PhD student) was elected to the serve as the Research Chair of GSG.

The GSG research chair is responsible for organizing the major GSG research events and activities on campus, which include the Graduate Research Colloquium, 3 Minute Thesis Competition, Merit Awards Program, and Alumni Reunion Poster Session. Oluwatosin’s one-year term as a research chair will start May 1st with the possibility of re-election for an additional one-year term.

KIP Student-Athlete Selected as CSC Academic All-District Honoree

Kate Meister, a guard on Michigan Tech’s women’s basketball team, has been named to the College Sports Communicators Academic All-District team for 2023-24. Kate holds a 3.89 GPA currently as a KIP master’s student and has already earned her BS in Human Biology with a minor in Pre-Health Professions. This season she became the 30th player in the women’s basketball program to score 1,000 career points.

The Academic All-District® Women’s Basketball teams that are selected by CSC aim to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances on the court and in the classroom.

To read more about the honor that Kate has received and her accomplishments, go to Michigan Tech Athletics’ press release.

Michigan Tech University Recognized as a Silver Level Campus by Exercise is Medicine® On Campus Program

Michigan Tech is among 145 campuses honored worldwide

Houghton, MI – Michigan Tech University is one of only 145 universities and colleges around the world to be honored by Exercise is Medicine® for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on campus. Students and faculty that deliver the “UP and Moving” Program housed in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology helped the university to earn a silver level designation for the fourth consecutive year from the Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) program.

“We are thrilled to recognize these campuses’ commitment to make movement a part of daily campus culture and give students the tools to cultivate physical activity habits that will benefit them throughout their lives,”said interim CEO Katie Feltman.“ These campus programs are nurturing future leaders who will advance a key tenet of Exercise is Medicine®: making physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in health care.” 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults engage in at least 150 min of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each week along with two days of muscle strengthen activities. To facilitate physical activity, the UP and Moving program offers free virtual home-based workouts to keep students, staff, faculty, and community members active. The home-based workouts include both aerobic exercise (i.e., walking) and muscle strengthening exercise (i.e., weightlifting), do not require any specialized equipment, and are easily adapted to fit a wide range of ages and ability levels. The live workouts are also recorded and available to watch anytime on the program’s website.

The UP and Moving Program was created in 2020 by a team of students supervised by Steven Elmer, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. During the past year, workouts were led by a diverse group of Michigan Tech students from several countries around the world including the United States, Canada, France, and Nigeria.

Students of UP & Moving, from left to right: Oluwatosin Oyeniran, Kyle Wehmanen, Noelle St. Pierre, Abby Brooks, Nathan Balok

EIM-OC calls upon universities and colleges to promote physical activity as a vital sign of health and encourages students, staff, and faculty to work together to improve the health and well-being of the campus community. EIM-OC launched its recognition program in 2014 to honor campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness. Schools earn gold, silver, or bronze status based on their activities. Of the 145 campuses recognized, 83 received Gold, 44 received Silver and 18 received Bronze. All Gold, Silver and Bronze universities and colleges will be highlighted on May 29 at the Exercise is Medicine® recognition ceremony at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting.

As a silver level campus, the UP and Moving program has helped engage students, staff, and faculty in educational and wellness initiatives and make movement part of the daily campus and community culture. “Our program aims to achieve gold level status by working with local health care providers to establish physical activity as a health vital sign,” explained Elmer. “We are also working to raise awareness and support for U.S. Senate Bill 397 – “Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act” which would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue physical-activity guidelines for all Americans every 10 years based on the most current scientific and medical knowledge.”

The American College of Sports Medicine co-launched Exercise is Medicine® in 2007 with the American Medical Association. Exercise is Medicine® is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health, is integral in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions and should be regularly assessed and included as part of health care. To learn more about Exercise is Medicine® and the UP and Moving program, visit their websites.

KIP Graduate Students Earn Awards

Congratulations to three of KIP’s graduate students on their recent research, teaching, and scholarly achievements! Compliments to these students, as well as the faculty that provide the training and mentorship for their success. 

  • Lily Hart (MS student) received the Harry R. Cohodas U.P. Graduate Student Fellowship for Summer 2024.
  • Felix Cottet-Puinel (MS student) is the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship from the Graduate School.
  • Kyle Wehmanen (PhD student) is the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Graduate School.
  • Kyle Wehmanen received a second year of funding for his Michigan Space Grant Consortium Fellowship.
Lily Hart
Felix Cottet-Puinel
Kyle Wehmanen

KIP Hosts Student Research Forum

Presenters from left to right: Lily Hart, Lexi Little, Nathan Balok, Kyle Wehmanen, Xinqian (Sherry) Chen, Derrick Simet, Oluwatosin Oyeniran

The MTU KIP department hosted its annual Student Research Forum on February 16, 2024 as part of its February department seminar series. Students and faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, as well as the Central Michigan University Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program attended. Several undergraduate and graduate students presented their research, educational, and outreach related projects.

As part of the thematic style poster session, students first delivered short, 3-minute oral presentations to the audience and then gave more in-depth explanations of their projects to attendees that circulated through the posters. The student presentations were excellent, and students were commended for their work and level of professionalism. Importantly, the questions and feedback that students received will help them move their projects forward and prepare to present their work at regional and national conferences later this Spring.

To help support student travel to conferences, please consider contributing to our student travel fund through our giving opportunities page

Audience listening to the students’ 3-minute presentations
Small groups interacting with presenters and their posters
Left to right: Xinqian (Sherry) Chen (KIP PhD candidate) with Dr. Zhiying Shan
“Brain-Derived Extracellular Vesicles from Dahl Salt-Sensitive Rats with High Salt Diet Increase PVN and SON Vasopressin Levels in Sprague Dawley Rats”
Left to right: Derrick Simet (member of Dr. Chen’s lab) with Dr. Qing-Hui Chen
“Inhibiting Local Brain Metabolism of Ethanol in the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala Blunts Sympathoexcitatory Responses Induced by Ethanol in Sprague Dawley Rats”
Left to right: Dr. Steven Elmer with Oluwatosin Oyeniran (KIP PhD student)
“Classroom Techniques for Teaching Skeletal Muscle Contraction”
Left to right: Nathan Balok (KIP MS student)
“Physiology Outreach in the Upper Peninsula,” Dr. Steven Elmer, Kyle Wehmanen (KIP PhD student)
“Metabolic Cost of Human Locomotion on Soft Terrain”
Left to right: Dr. Carolyn Duncan, Alexandra Little (BioSci undergraduate student), Lily Hart (KIP MS student)
“Surface Electromyography to Quantify Deep Tendon Reflexes”

KIP and CMU-DPT Alum Brett Gervais Nominated as a Copper Shores Superior Educator

Brett Gervais is an alum of both the MTU KIP department in Exercise Science and the CMU Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) program. He was nominated as a Copper Shores Superior Educator for his role as a football and track and field coach in the Lake Linden-Hubbell school district. He is currently a physical therapist at Aspirus in Calumet. Congratulations to Brett for earning such a great honor and being a positive role model for so many student athletes in our local area.