Category: Seminars-Presentations

KIP Students Help the Michigan Physiological Society Celebrate at 10th Annual Meeting

Michigan Tech’s attendees gathered at the 10th Annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting. From left to right: Derrick Simet, Haley Marchese, Abigail Brooks, Isaac Lennox, Greg Miodonski, Kyle Wehmanen, and Dr. Steve Elmer.

A group of Michigan Tech students and faculty attended the 10th Annual Meeting of the Michigan Physiological Society (MPS) on June 26 – 27th at Alma College. The presence of Michigan Tech was prominent as students and faculty from two departments gathered for this notable 10th anniversary of the meeting. Several graduate students from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP), including Isaac Lennox and Abby Brooks, both master’s students, as well as Greg Miodonski and Kyle Wehmanen, both doctoral students, showcased their physiology-related research and outreach projects through captivating presentations. Joining them were undergraduate students Derrick Simet and Haley Marchese, and Dr. Robert Larson from the Department of Biological Sciences (BioSci), who also shared their research. Even more noteworthy, four of these students – Isaac, Greg, Haley, and Kyle – received recognition and awards for their outstanding presentations.

The first day of the meeting was marked by a keynote presentation by Dr. Pablo Ortiz from Henry Ford Hospital. He discussed the role of emerging research technologies that will lead to exciting discoveries in the field using fantastic examples from his own research involving kidney function. In the evening, there was a special presentation featuring the current and former presidents of the MPS. Among them was Dr. Steve Elmer, the current MPS president and faculty member from the KIP department at Michigan Tech, as well as former KIP faculty members and MPS presidents Dr. John Durocher and Dr. Jason Carter. The first day festivities concluded with an exhilarating physiology trivia quiz competition, where eight teams of students from universities around the state competed against each other, facing challenging physiology questions. The Michigan Tech trivia team (Abby, Derrick, Haley) represented the university well and certainly had a lot of fun!

The second day of the meeting brought another highlight, the captivating ‘Living History’ lecture delivered by Dr. Sue Barman, a respected colleague from Michigan State University and past president of the American Physiological Society. Dr. Barman shared her inspiring journey to success, recounting her experiences from a young girl to a distinguished professor. She also imparted valuable advice to aspiring students and professionals, emphasizing the importance of staying true to oneself and persevering in the face of adversity. There was also a great breakout session encouraging professional development with collaborative presentations on physiology careers in industry, teaching pedagogy with emerging artificial intelligence tools, and science policy in our governments. Finally, the students from Michigan Tech conducted a special edition of their UP & Moving workouts early in the morning, showcasing their ongoing initiative to promote physical activity on campus and within their community.

In summary, the 10th Annual Michigan Physiological Society meeting proved to be a resounding success for both Michigan Tech students and faculty members. The meeting provided a perfect blend of learning, networking, and fun for all attendees, leaving lasting memories. One of the students even had the unforgettable experience of crossing the Mackinaw Bridge for the first time and again a second time on the way home. Congratulations to all the student presenters who are already eagerly looking forward to the 11th annual meeting next year!

Finally, a special thank you to Dr. William Cooke and the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology for supporting the students with their trip, as well as serving as one of the major sponsors for the meeting. — Written by Kyle Wehmanen, PhD Student

The poster presented by Abby Brooks outlining the importance of physical activity promotion in rural areas, such as Houghton, Michigan. One of the strategies implemented by the KIP department to combat physical inactivity is free, live guided workouts available weekly on

KIP Students Stay Active During Summer Break Presenting at National ACSM Annual Meeting

Isaac Lennox presents his research on the impact of “Exercise is Medicine-On Campus” at ACSM.
Kyle Wehmanen talks during a group session about his analysis of long-distance winter ultra-endurance racing.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting took place May 30-June 2, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

In attendance were two KIP graduate students, Isaac Lennox (MS) and Kyle Wehmanen (PhD), along with recent PhD graduate Isaac Wedig. All three attendees were proud to present their recent research at the ACSM conference.

Isaac Lennox presented a poster from his master’s research focusing on the nationwide impact of the “Exercise is Medicine-On Campus” (EIM-OC) initiative. EIM-OC is a program run by the ACSM that promotes physical activity on college campuses and is a pillar of their continuing community outreach. Isaac L.’s work was very well received and garnered excitement and interest from other EIM-OC colleagues across the country.

Isaac Wedig gave a short, rapid-fire oral presentation on a portion of his doctoral research. He outlined his work with blood flow restriction (BFR) and exercise. Specifically, Isaac W. has built tools designed to help bridge the gap with BFR between research and practical usage in a clinical setting.

Finally, Kyle Wehmanen delivered a 10-minute talk as part of a group session on endurance athletes and events. He spoke about his ongoing analysis of long-distance winter ultra-endurance racing, including the 1000-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational which traverses the same course as the legendary dog-sled race.

Overall, the Michigan Tech crew had a fantastic showing at the 2023 ACSM Annual Meeting and are already looking forward to next year! — Written by Kyle Wehmanen, PhD student

KIP Students Present at 2023 American Physiology Summit

Students and faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) recently attended the 2023 American Physiology Summit in Long Beach, CA on April 20–23, 2023. PhD students Greg Miodonski, Sherry Chen, Kyle Wehmanen, and Isaac Wedig presented posters to their colleagues at the annual event.

Greg, a member of Dr. Qinghui Chen’s lab, did a poster presentation of his research project entitled “Exercise Augments Small Conductance Ca2+ -Activated Potassium Channel (SK) Function in the PVN of Sprague Dawley Rats to Reduce Sympathetic Outflow.” His poster was selected as “top 10% scoring abstracts” sponsored by APS Central Nervous Session (CNS). Read more about his research in his abstract below.

Congratulations to these students for a wonderful showing at the summit!

Greg Miodonski, Qinghui Chen, and Mingjun Gu at APS
Top row from left to right: Qinghui Chen (KIP faculty), Gregory Miodonski (KIP student); Ian Greenlund (KIP alum); Jeremy Bigalke (KIP alum), Robert Larson (BioSci faculty); John Durocher (former KIP faculty)
Bottom row from left to right: Mingjun Gu (KIP researcher), Sherry Chen (KIP student), Jennifer Nicevski (KIP alum), Jenny Shan (KIP faculty)

Greg’s Abstract:

“Exercise Augments Small Conductance Ca2+ -Activated Potassium Channel (SK) Function in the PVN of Sprague Dawley Rats to Reduce Sympathetic Outflow”

Gregory Miodonski, Jessica Bruning, Derrick Simet, Haley Ruiter, Christian Johnson, Mingjun Gu, Zhiying Shan, Qing-Hui Chen

Elevated sympathetic outflow is a key feature of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that worsens disease progression. Our lab has shown that SK channels expressed in the PVN play a crucial role in regulating neuronal activity and sympathetic outflow, and that SK channels become dysfunctional in rats fed a high salt diet. Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing sympathoexcitation in CVD including hypertension and heart failure, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We hypothesized that aerobic exercise would upregulate SK channel function in the PVN to reduce sympathetic nerve activity (SNA). To test this, 5–6 week old Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into sedentary (SED) and exercise (EXT) two groups and fed a 0.4% NaCl normal salt diet. Following acclimation, EXT groups ran on a motorized treadmill 5 days/week for 8-10 weeks. Conscious blood pressure was measured weekly via tail plethysmography. After 8-10 weeks, animals were anesthetized and underwent in vivo surgery to record the renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) following PVN microinjection of the SK blocker, apamin (0.25mM, 60nL/side). The data showed that the RSNA response to PVN apamin was significantly enhanced in EXT rats compared with SED rats (320.8 ± 174.6 % baseline, n=9 vs 184.8 ± 143.1 % baseline, n=9; p = 0.02).  The corresponding ABP response to apamin was not significantly different in EXT rats compared with SED rats (20.40 ± 9.98 mmHg, n=9 vs 25.27 ± 9.97 mmHg, n=8; p = 0.1658). Our data indicates exercise enhances PVN SK channel function to reduce sympathetic outflow. This improvement of SK channel function may be one mechanism by which exercise reduces SNA in CVD including hypertension and heart failure. Support: 1R15HL145655 (Chen); 1R15 HL150703 (Shan); MTU Health Research Institute (HRI).

Greg Miodonski, PhD student
Kyle Wehmanen, PhD student, presented his project entitled “Teaching K-12 Students Using Jenga: The Impact of Health Behaviors on Community Health, Wellbeing, and Resilience.”
Not pictured, PhD student Isaac Wedig presented his research project entitled “”Predictors of Arterial Occlusion Pressure in the Lower-Body Across Commonly Used Cuff Widths.”
PhD student Sherry Chen’s research project is entitled “Brain-Derived Small Extracellular Vesicles from Dahl Salt-Sensitive Rats with High Salt Diet Induce Inflammation and Oxidative Stress.”
Sherry Chen with Dr. Jenny Shan

Isaac Wedig: PhD Defense, Integrative Physiology

Isaac Wedig will defend his dissertation on Friday, April 14, at 12 pm in ATDC 101. He is advised by Dr. Steve Elmer.

The title of Isaac’s dissertation is “Physical Activity as Medicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond.” More information about Isaac’s dissertation can be found in the accompanying flyer.

From the Abstract:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, physical activity levels have decreased and sitting time has increased. This is a major concern as physical inactivity increases the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes. Evidence also indicates that COVID-19 survivors can experience reduced physical function (i.e., ability to complete daily living activities) long after acute illness. Currently, there are no evidence-based guidelines for recovering physical function following COVID-19 infection. Exercise with blood flow restriction (BFR) presents a promising rehabilitation strategy as the benefits of traditional exercise can be achieved using lower intensities. However, several barriers such as cost, access to equipment, and lack of standardized methods limit its use.

“Engineering the Future of Human Health”: KIP featured at MSU-MTU Symposium

Dr. William Cooke (KIP), Dr. Carolyn Duncan (KIP), and Dr. Kevin Trewartha (CLS/KIP) were among 12 researchers from Michigan Tech who met with colleagues representing the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University on March 13, 2023. Hosted by MSU in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this was the inaugural event of the collaborative research symposium between the universities.

Dr. Duncan and Dr. Trewartha presented during the “Neurological Disease and Aging Research” session, while Dr. Cooke presented at the “Cardiovascular Research” session.

In the fall, Michigan Tech will host the second symposium with Dr. Cooke as a co-sponsor. “This is an important collaborative opportunity, and I look forward to being among those who will be organizing the next collaborative meeting on October 27th–beautiful time to be in the UP,” he remarked when asked about the future event.

The full story and complete list of MTU and MSU researchers who gave presentations can be found in Tech Today.

Dr. Carolyn Duncan presented on “Balance and Functional Mobility” at the MSU-MTU symposium.
Dr. Kevin Trewartha’s presentation was titled “Aging and Cognition: Implications for Motor Learning and Sensorimotor Motor Control in Older Populations.”

KIP Graduate Students Earn Top Honors at HRI Student Forum

PhD student Greg Miodonski was awarded First Place for the poster session at the Health Research Institute’s (HRI) Student Forum on February 24th. Greg, a student in Dr. Qinghui Chen’s (KIP) lab, presented his research project entitled “Exercise Training Upregulates SK Channel Function in the Hypothalamic Paraventricular Nucleus (PVN) of Sprague Dawley Rats.”

Greg Miodonski with his advisor Dr. Qinghui Chen.
Greg presenting his poster to judges at the HRI Student Forum.

PhD candidate Sherry Chen earned Third Place for her research project’s poster presentation entitled “The Role of Peripheral Orexin Systems and Brain-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Salt Sensitive Hypertension.” Sherry’s advisor is Dr. Zhiying (Jenny) Shan.

“As a graduate student, it is a valuable experience to present my work in the HRI student forum as it facilitates networking with faculty and students outside of my department. During my poster presentation, I had the chance to meet with three judges, including Dr. Caryn Heldt, who is also working on extracellular vesicles. Dr. Heldt asked me questions about the characterizations of nanoparticles in hypertension and showed interest in collaborating in the future. Although our research interests differ – my project focuses on the biological function of the vesicles while Dr. Heldt’s team analyzes their features – we can still explore potential areas of overlap and collaborate based on what we study in common, the vesicles. Thanks for this great opportunity provided by HRI as it provides a platform for networking, exchanging ideas, and potentially new opportunities for research. I am happy to present my work and share new data in HRI next year.” —Sherry Chen on presenting at the HRI Student Forum.

Sherry’s Abstract:

Introduction- It has been reported that small extracellular vesicles (sEVs ≤ 200 nm) are implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple diseases including hypertension. However, the role of brain-derived sEVs in the development of salt sensitive hypertension (SSHTN) remains unclear.

Hypothesis- We hypothesized that brain-derived sEVs from high salt diet-treated rats can induce inflammation and oxidative stress in the central nervous system (CNS). To test this hypothesis, brain-derived sEVs of Dahl salt-sensitive rats with high salt (HS) diet (Dahl-HS-sEV) were used to treat primary brain neuronal cultures and microinjected into brain lateral ventricles, respectively, proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and oxidative stress markers were measured through real-time PCR or fluorescent probes. sEVs isolated from Sprague Dawley (SD) rats with normal salt (NS) diet (SD-NS-sEV) were used as a control.

Results– Data showed that Dahl-HS-sEV increased mRNA levels of inflammatory cytokines including TNFα (2.3-fold) and IL1β (3.7-fold), and chemokines including CCL2 (2.4-fold), CCL5 (2.1-fold), and CCL12 (4.2-fold), with significant difference (P<0.05). In addition, Dahl-HS-sEV treatment increased mRNA levels of transcription regulator, NF-κB (1.4-fold), and neuronal activation marker, c-FOS (1.3-fold), as well as CYBA (1.7-fold), in primary neurons, compared to SD-NS-sEV-treated cells (P<0.05). Confocal images showed that Dahl-HS-sEV significantly increased mitochondrial ROS levels, with total fluorescence intensity increased 1.6-fold relative to SD-NS-sEV treatment (P<0.01). SD-NS rats receiving intracerebroventricular injection of Dahl-HS-sEV had increased (P<0.05) PVN mRNA levels of IL1β (4.3-fold), CCL5 (2.6-fold), IL-6 (3.4-fold) and NOS2 (5.2-fold), compared to rats receiving SD-NS-sEV (5.5 μg/rat, n=4), 6h after injection.

Conclusion- These results suggested that in SSHTN, brain-derived sEVs may induce central inflammation and oxidative stress, which in turn results in an elevation of arterial blood pressure.

For the complete list of winners and departments that were represented, please read the Tech Today story that was published on March 7, 2023.

December KIP Seminar

Join us for the last seminar of the semester to close out the “Women in Health Science, Medicine, and Physiology” series.

Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez and Dr. Erica Twardzik will be presenting their research and work. To learn more about the speakers, find their abstracts and biographies below.

Dr. Karvonen-Gutierrez’s Abstract: Among older adults (age 65+ years), declines in physical functioning, increases in disability and the relationship of falls with adverse outcomes including hospitalizations and death are well documented. However, evidence suggests that the mid-life period (40-64 years of age) is a critical window for the onset of poor physical functioning and falls, particularly in women. Women experience greater disability, more rapid declines in physical functioning, and more falls than do age-matched men. This presentation will overview the burden of physical functioning limitations, disability and falls among mid-life women and identify important correlates of these health outcomes. Key findings from the ongoing Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, a prospective, multi-ethnic study of midlife women will be included to demonstrate important differences in the burden of physical functioning by key demographic measures.

Dr. Twardzik’s Abstract: Older adults with disabilities are a growing demographic group. People with disabilities represent 26.8% of the general population, and the prevalence of disability increases with age. People with disabilities, compared to non-disabled peers, are less likely to engage in physical activity and social participation, key components of healthy aging. Observed disparities are driven by a multifactorial set of environmental barriers and facilitators. This presentation will describe socio-environmental drivers of mobility among older adults and people with disabilities. Examples from recent work empirically testing relationships between built environment and mobility will be used to illustrate how environments shape mobility among people with disabilities. Environmental modification is needed to achieve societal inclusion and optimize individual participation among those aging with and into disability.

Free Falling: Dr. Carolyn Duncan to be featured on “Husky Bites”

Dr. Carolyn Duncan
Assistant Professor, KIP
Sarah Aslani
PhD Student, CLS

On Monday, November 14th, at 6:00 pm KIP’s Dr. Carolyn Duncan will be the latest guest on Husky Bites, a free and interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan of the College of Engineering. Also joining in will be Cognitive and Learning Sciences PhD student Sarah Aslani, who is a member of Dr. Duncan’s Balance and Functional Mobility Lab.

During the 30-minute webinar, they will explore balance and fall prevention and discuss Dr. Duncan’s ongoing research on both topics. “We need greater understanding of exactly what affects our ability to regain our balance when we lose it. Not all risk factors affect balance in the same way. There are many unanswered questions, and that’s where our research comes in,” she explains in an interview she did for the College of Engineering Blog that highlights its Husky Bites guests.

To read the complete interview with Dr. Duncan and Sarah, go to the COE Blog. To tune in for their Husky Bites event, registration is required but free. All of the details can be found on the Husky Bites website.

Students conducting research in Dr. Duncan’s Balance and Functional Mobility Lab

From the Scientific Literature to the Field: KIP Graduate Students Present their Work at Two Recent Conferences

Graduate students in the Advanced Exercise Physiology Course (KIP 5000) recently attended several conferences and presented class projects collaboratively built through the first part of the semester. The course taught by Dr. Steven Elmer in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP), tasked students with conducting a literature search to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on human health and society. In support of Exercise is Medicine on Campus Month, the student projects emphasized the important role that physical activity has in combating both chronic and infectious disease.

Midwest ACSM Conference

Master’s student Felix Cottet-Puinel and doctoral student Kyle Wehmanen attended the annual meeting for the Midwest Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine held in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 20-22, 2022. The mission and purpose of the conference was to promote scientific advancement, disseminate information regarding sports, physical activity, and medicine, and foster collaborative relationships between students, educators, scientists, and physicians across the region. Felix and Kyle presented their class work during the first poster session of the event with great success. Visitors were highly engaged with the poster’s topic spotlighting the problematic synergy between multiple long-standing health pandemics (non-communicable diseases) and the crisis of the emergent COVID-19 pandemic. Their work also laid out evidence based on the HL-PIVOT Model (Healthy Living for Pandemic Protection) for leveraging healthy living behaviors including physical activity to combat these multiple pandemics. They shared ways the KIP students and faculty are working to increase activity and health in our community. Our Michigan Tech attendees also enjoyed learning outside their direct areas of study. Dr. Andrew Jagim from the Mayo Clinic delivered a fantastic keynote on nutrition in athletes and how they are often not meeting their basic needs. Also during the trip, Felix, Kyle, and several other KIP graduate students visited Dr. John Durocher at Purdue University Northwest to foster collaborative relationships across institutions. At the end of the day, it was a fantastic experience. Felix said, “I learned a great deal, and had a ton of fun presenting. The only thing I would change is making the poster session twice as long!”

Felix Cottet-Puinel presenting at Midwest ASM
Felix Cottet-Puinel
master’s student
Kyle Wehmanen
PhD student

Global and Community Engagement Conference

Master’s students Tyler Hampton and Gwyn Hamlin presented at the D80 Conference here at Michigan Tech University on October 29, 2022. The theme of the interdisciplinary conference was “Re-energizing Our Communities Through Service.” These students expanded upon the work described above to deliver an oral presentation to a broad audience consisting of students, staff, faculty, and community members. A key component of the presentation was highlighting the community service that the KIP Department provides delivering live and recorded physical activity workouts through a free program called UP & Moving. Attendees were very interested in how the general public views “physical activity” as a means to go to the gym, while Tyler and Gwyn pointed out that this could be something as simple as walking the dog or shoveling snow during our long winters here in the Upper Peninsula. These students also had the opportunity to listen to the keynote speaker Dr. Kurt Paterson, who presented “Global Engagement, Problem-Solving, or Impact.” Dr. Paterson’s return to Michigan Tech was very welcomed as he participated in the first D80 Conference held here. This is especially true since he really got the audience thinking at the end of his presentation. After the conference Gwyn said, “I enjoyed the setting of the conference and I think it went well. We were able to answer questions at the end and provide additional information on the importance of being physically active during the pandemic and beyond.”

Gwyn Hamlin
master’s student
Tyler Hampton master’s student

Attending these conferences helped KIP graduate students gain valuable experience bridging the gap from classroom learning to a professional setting while sharing their ideas in a supportive environment. Moving forward, we plan to capture this momentum and include more graduate and undergraduate students in similar work. Finally, the graduate students would like to thank the KIP Department for their support, and specifically, Dr. Elmer for his guidance throughout the process.

November KIP Seminar: Women of KIP Symposium

Join us this Friday, November 4, from 3:00-4:30 pm in ATDC 101 for November’s KIP Seminar. 

This month’s seminar will be delivered as a mini-symposium and serve as an opportunity to highlight the great work our speakers are doing in the KIP Department. Our speakers are Carolyn Duncan, Kemmy Taylor, Xinqian (Sherry) Chen, and Tayler Haapapuro