Category Archives: Research

In Print

Business woman working on laptop computer at ergonomic standing desk. Female professional working at her desk with male colleague working at the back.John Durocher (BioSci), Steve Elmer (KIP) PhD student Ian Greenlund, recent graduate Piersan Suriano and Jason Carter published The paper titled “Chronic Standing Desk Use and Arterial Stiffness” in this month’s issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

The results of the study indicate that using a standing desk for more than 50% of the workday did not effectively reduce arterial stiffness. The study confirms that aerobic fitness reduces arterial stiffness, and that aging increases arterial stiffness. The authors wish to thank faculty and staff members from around campus who participated in this study.

The article can be viewed free.


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.



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).


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.


Kamm’s Research Highlighted in Unscripted

Kelly Kamm 1

Small populations in rural areas of the Upper Peninsula mean big gaps in state health care data. Kelly Kamm’s research on infant feeding seeks to bridge those gaps.

What do Beyonce, Gisele Bündchen, Mila Kunis and Blake Lively have in common? Fame and fortune, check. Breastfeeding their babies, check.

Considering these celebrities’ public endorsement of breastfeeding, it might seem like breastfeeding is popular in the United States. But that’s not the case. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that has been trying to raise the national rate of women breastfeeding, race and socioeconomics heavily influence if a woman ever breastfeeds. The numbers are even lower for women who breastfeed for six months and longer.

Kelly Kamm, research assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology is unsatisfied by the CDC’s statistics. She hopes to better understand how families feed infants in the UP.

“The question ‘have you ever breastfed’ means, to some extent, did somebody try in the hospital, but it’s not really a good metric of what’s going on in the UP. We’re such a small percentage of the population, any state or national data doesn’t actually survey anybody up here, so there’s really not much known about what’s going on.”

Kelly Kamm

The full article, “How Do Upper Michigan Mothers Get Breastfeeding Support?” was featured on the Unscripted blog and written by Mariana Grohowski.


KIP Lab Featured in 2018 Michigan Tech Research Magazine

Steve Elmer Research Magazine 201712200128In Steve Elmer’s lab, researchers explore the limits of the human body in a quest to make people move—and feel—better. Elmer’s team designs cutting edge equipment and training regimes to help every body reach its highest potential, regardless of age, profession, or ability.

The benefits of strength training are many and well known: Strength training helps you maintain a healthy weight. It protects your bones and preserves your muscle mass. It helps develop better body mechanics, boosts your energy, and improves your mood. It even plays a role in disease prevention and pain management.

In fact, strength training is so beneficial that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends adults engage in a strength-training program a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week. And their recommendations don’t stop there—ACSM outlines specific types of strength-building exercises and target numbers for repetition.

So everyone should be strength training, right?

While it’s easy to say everyone should, not everyone can, at least not in a “traditional” manner.

Take, for instance, someone who uses a wheelchair or someone who has recently undergone knee surgery. Finding effective lower-body strength-training exercises that don’t overtax the heart, lungs, and joints can be a challenge. And many with old injuries run into the same problem.

Michigan Tech researchers have found a solution. Steve Elmer is an assistant professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology, an affiliated assistant professor of biological sciences, and an affiliated assistant professor of mechanical engineering. His lab is interdisciplinary, where students, participants, and researchers explore the edges of physiology.

For more on Elmer’s research, read the full story “Exercise for Every Body” published in the 2018 Michigan Tech Research Magazine.

 


Bye Receives the Horwitz/Horowitz Abstract Award

aps_masthead_logoCongrats to exercise science major, Thomas Bye, on his recent award from the American Physiological Society (APS).  Bye was one of 30 recipients of the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Undergraduate Research Abstract Award for his abstract entitled “Effects of Respiratory Muscle Fatigue on Upper-Body Exercise Tolerance.”

Recipients receive $100, a 2-year membership to APS, and will present their research at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in April with an opportunity to compete for the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award.


Jason Carter Selected for CoR Research Leader Fellowship Program

Jason Carter2017The inaugural fellowship, a highly competitive program through the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), builds up researchers in academic leadership.

APLU’s Council on Research (CoR) brings together senior research officers working at public research universities from across the country and they have named eight individuals to its inaugural class of CoR Research Leader Fellows. One of them is Jason Carter, the chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.

As CoR puts it, the fellowship enables individuals who aspire to become vice presidents, vice provosts or vice chancellors of research to develop critical new knowledge and skills essential to research support and competitiveness.

“Shifting from thinking as an individual researcher to thinking about groups of researchers, and thinking about the institution as a whole, forces you to have a broader perspective,” Carter says. “It’s a shift to how can I help others as opposed to how can I help myself.”

Likewise, as a researcher learns to step back from the bench and see the university as a whole, they need to have a practical understanding of the processes that run research administration, development, compliance, communication and more.  Few researchers have the chance to learn about these processes within their own institution.

Carter says serving as a department chair has set him up well for the fellowship, and so far, has found the CoR program a great way to integrate that knowledge. In particular, he thinks it builds on the decision-making skills researchers develop to clarify research objectives and prioritize projects.

“As scientists, we do that all the time in our grants,” he says. “As a research administrator, you have to make those same kinds of decisions at a higher level, which requires more patience and the resolve to work with other people.”

Read the full article, published in Michigan Tech News and written by Allison Mills.