Category Archives: Outreach

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.


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).

Students Participate in Cancer Rehabilitation Workshop

A total of 14 stCancer Rehab Workshop. croppedudents (seven exercise science, one biomedical, six physical therapy) and 15 clinicians from across the Upper Peninsula recently participated in a weekend-long cancer rehabilitation workshop.  UP Health System-Portage and the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology hosted the event in an effort to inspire future cancer rehabilitation research.

Lead by Nicole Stout DPT, CLT-LANA, FAPTA, a renowned healthcare researcher, consultant, educator, and advocate, the workshop created an excellent opportunity for students to work side-by-side with physical therapists.

Joel Kangas, a third-year graduate physical therapy student, describes the event in detail below.

UP Health System-Portage (Physical Therapy) and Michigan Tech’s Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology hosted a two-day Cancer Rehabilitation Continuing Education Course. The course was led by Dr. Nicole Stout.  Stout is nationally recognized as an expert and leader in cancer rehabilitation, has given over 200 lectures, and published more than 20 peer-reviewed publications. There were over 30 individuals that participated including experienced physical therapists, graduate physical therapy students from Central Michigan University’s satellite physical therapy program, and undergraduate exercise science and biomedical engineering students from Michigan Tech. The course primarily consisted of lectures and case study breakout sessions. Additionally, student participants had the opportunity to network with physical therapists and talk with Dr. Stout. 

Dr. Stout did an incredible job of offering an exciting and interactive experience for everyone. The course has made it quite clear that physical therapy plays a crucial role in cancer rehabilitation for many forms and stages of cancer. Regardless of whether you are a physical therapist with 15+ years of experience, a graduate physical therapy student, or an undergraduate pre-physical therapy student there was much to learn from this experience.

Following the conclusion of the course, several individuals were asked to reflect on how they felt about the experience.

Colleen Toorongian, an exercise science undergraduate student commented that the course opened up her thoughts on cancer rehabilitation and “The need for rehab providers and doctors to come together and approach treatment options differently”.

Alyssa Vinckier, a second year graduate physical therapy student stated, “The course allowed me to expand on my knowledge from school and helped me realize how beneficial physical therapy can be for individuals who have cancer or have a history of cancer”.

From a patient care standpoint, Katie Temple, a physical therapist with UP Health System-Portage, had a few words to say. She emphasized how highly regarded Dr. Stout is in the physical therapy profession, “We are so lucky to have someone of her expertise and experience come up here. Dr. Stout has made some great accomplishments having received service awards from the National Institute of Health Clinical Center, the Navy Surgeon General, and the Oncology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association”. Katie expanded on the course saying “there is much more we should be doing as a physical therapy profession in cancer rehabilitation beyond addressing just lymphedema, fatigue, and soft tissue stretching”. Katie also adds, “Dr. Stout talks about the much greater risk of falls in patients who have undergone cancer treatment, and the role that we as physical therapists have in appropriate screening and prehabilitation options to reduce that risk”. 

A special thanks goes out to Dr. Stout for her time, to Physical Therapist Mark Randell from UP Health Systems-Portage, and Professor Steve Elmer from the Department of Kinsiology and Integrative Physiology for sponsoring the event. The two institutions hope this course sparks an initiative to perform future research pertaining to cancer rehabilitation.


Celebrating Physiology Friday

With tPhysiology Friday logohe assistance of exercise science student, Thomas Bye, KIP Assistant Professor Steve Elmer, and Advisor/Outreach Coordinator Kathy Carter were recently awarded a $500 Physiological Society Outreach grant for funding activities that promote Physiology Friday. As part of Biology Week during October 9-13, Physiology Friday was an international event with students all over the world participating in events and celebrating Physiology,  the function of the human body.

Lead by Elmer and Carter, students from Kinesiology and Biomedical visited 6 area schools. Over 135 area high school students took part in numerous engaging activities that demonstrated how basic knowledge of physiology is important for understanding how we move.

In addition to bringing the awareness of Physiology to area high school students, this event creates learning opportunities for our students as well.  Here are a few quotes from the MTU students that participated:

“I learned a lot about myself in doing this project. It was really fun, I found that I wasn’t as nervous about presenting as I thought I would be and I sort of just let my enthusiasm and passion take over.  It’s really easy to present on a topic you’re already excited and possionate about!” 

– Abby Sutherland, Second Year Exercise Science 

“This experience actually alowed me to learn more about physiology, because when you educate others about a topic it helps you to better understand it as well.  I was also able to learn how to be a more effective speaker from my fellow outreach participants in our preparation meetings.”

– Jana Hendrickson, Second Year Exercise Science 

“I learned that I love teaching and I may want to try and pursue more things related to the area.  It was nice to step out of my departments and experience more of the physiology and athletic sciences research opportunities.”

– Levi Oxner, Fourth Year Biomedical and Electrical Engineering

“From this experience I learned how to problem solve, we had two mess ups during our activity but easily solved them.”

– Thomas Bye, Fourth Year Exercise Science

“I helped with this event because I enjoy teaching.  Also, when I was in high school I was unaware of what kinesiology was and all the cool job opportunities that came with a degree in this field.  It feels great to introduce students to this and help them realize what they may want to do in the future.”

– Kevin Phillips, PhD Student Integrative Physiology

 

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Houghton High School Visits Anatomy & Physiology Classes

Houghton School LogoThe Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology hosted  students from Houghton High School’s Anatomy and Physiology class last week. Department chairs Dr. Shekhar Joshi (BIO) and Dr. Jason Carter (KIP) kicked off the visit with an informational session about the many ways each department prepares students for health-related careers.  Students then toured labs in both departments engaging in lab activities.

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Ida Fonkoue engaging students in an experiment about the influence of stress on blood pressure. Ida recently earned her PhD studying under Jason Carter.
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Derek Walli demonstrating a concentric and eccentric exercise experiment with a Houghton High School student. Derek is a master’s degree student studying under Steve Elmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Mining Gazette also covered this visit.