Category: Students of Kinesiology

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

Congratulations KIP Class of 2023 Spring Graduates!

Undergraduate Students

Devin Schmitz, BS, Sports & Fitness Management

Cody Tarnowski, BS, Sports & Fitness Management

Kaitlyn Brady, BS, Exercise Science

Blake Hewitt, BS, Exercise Science

Brendan Kaski, BS, Exercise Science

Jessica Lacy, BS, Exercise Science

Karina Madigan, BS, Exercise Science

Maxwell Marion, BS, Exercise Science

Armando Motz, BS, Exercise Science

Gracie VanLangevelde, BS, Exercise Science

Mariah Willmer, BS, Exercise Science

Graduate Students

Isaac Wedig, PhD, Integrative Physiology

Isaac Lennox, MS, Kinesiology

KIP 2023 Spring Undergraduate Students
KIP 2023 Graduate Students

American Kinesiology Association Honors KIP Students with Scholar Awards

Gracie VanLangevelde, Isaac Wedig, and Isaac Lennox received scholar awards from the American Kinesiology Association. These students were nominated by the KIP department and selected by AKA based on their academic performance, scholarly interests/accomplishments, leadership, and service to the profession.

Gracie received the 2023 AKA Undergraduate Scholar Award.

Isaac Wedig received the 2023 AKA Doctoral Scholar Award.

Isaac Lennox has the distinction of having received the 2023 AKA National Master’s Scholar Award, the highest award for his category.

Congratulations to our students for achieving these accolades from a fantastic professional organization!

Gracie VanLangevelde, BS-Exercise Science
Isaac Wedig, PhD-Integrative Physiology
Isaac Lennox, MS-Kinesiology

PhD Student Receives Award at the 2023 National Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Education Event

Ashley Hawke, PhD student

PhD student Ashley Hawke received the Gallagher Award at the 2023 National Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Education Event that took place in Glendale, AZ from March 20-23, 2023. This national event is hosted by the Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals.

The award Ashley received is for her project proposal entitled “Effectiveness of Patient Handling Interventions on Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorder Risk in Healthcare Workers: A Study Proposal.” Below is her project’s abstract to learn more about Ashley’s work.

Background: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are extremely prevalent among healthcare workers, especially those who perform patient handling tasks. Previous research has found that sustained static and/or awkward working postures, frequent bending, repetitive and/or forceful work, and twisting were commonly associated with MSDs. The use of mechanical assistive devices reduces risks of MSDs during patient handling; however, availability and accessibility of equipment are common barriers to using these devices in clinical settings. Portable passive interventions, such as transfer slings, slider sheets, and exoskeletons have been proposed to assist with patient handling tasks as an alternative to mechanical assistive devices, but the effectiveness of these interventions in reducing MSD risk in healthcare workers is inconclusive. METHODS: In the proposed study, we will evaluate three passive patient handling interventions (transfer sling, slider sheet, and passive back-assist exoskeleton) in their ability to alter biomechanical and physiological responses associated with the development of MSDs when performing two standardized patient handling tasks: 1) turning a patient onto their side and 2) performing a sit to sit transfer. Twenty participants will be recruited to perform the tasks using an 80 kg mannequin in four different interventions: manual, using a transfer sling, using a slider sheet, and wearing a passive exoskeleton. Variables to be measured include muscle activity of the trunk, upper extremity, lower extremity muscles, shoulder/lumbar kinematics, kinetics, oxygen consumption, heart rate, energy expenditure, and rating of perceived exertion. FINDINGS: As this is a study proposal, no results are available at this time. CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Results from the proposed study will allow researchers to evaluate the biomechanical demands and physiological cost of each patient handling intervention and how together these may play a role in potentially reducing MSDs. Importantly, these findings may serve as a first step to developing more cost-effective and portable patient handling interventions.

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.

KIP Master’s Student Wins 2023 American Kinesiology Association National Master’s Scholar Award

Isaac Lennox has been named the winner of the 2023 AKA National Master’s Scholar Award. Isaac was selected from all the local AKA Master’s Scholars nationwide as the master’s student with the most distinguished academic and leadership record. The AKA has recognized the top master’s kinesiology student in the nation with this award since 2014. National award winners will be recognized in an upcoming issue of Kinesiology Today.

Winners receive a cash prize, an AKA memorabilia medal, as well as a national certificate of recognition. The annual scholar awards honor a select number of students from member departments, recommended by department faculty, whose academic and leadership records are distinctive. The awards are intended to recognize and promote academic excellence, to further the professional competence and dedication of academically accomplished students, and to promote kinesiology and its related fields. National award winners will also be noted on the AKA website, Kinesiology Today, and AKA Social media channels.

More information about AKA and its mission can be found on its website. Congratulations to Isaac on this well-deserved recognition!

Isaac Lennox, MS student


  • BS, Kinesiology, Lake Superior State University, 2021

Research Interests

  • Exercise as medicine in rural populations 
  • Physical activity as a vital sign 
  • Blood flow restriction training

KIP PhD Student Awarded Michigan Space Grant Consortium Fellowship

Kyle Wehmanen, PhD Student

Kyle Wehmanen, a PhD student and graduate teaching assistant, has been awarded a $5,000 graduate fellowship by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, which is sponsored by NASA, for its 2023-2024 cycle. His project is entitled “Human Powered Locomotion on Variable Terrain: Implications for how to Move on Mars.”

More details about the MSGC and the complete list of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty recipients can be found in the Tech Today announcement from the Graduate School.

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.

Combating Childhood Obesity

As a part of the Public Health Minor offered through the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, students in the Introduction to Public Health class, taught by Dr. Kelly Kamm, were tasked with putting together a public service announcement. In this blog post, Ambarish Rao, an undergraduate student pursuing a major in Management Information Systems along with a minor in Public Health, describes the problems associated with childhood obesity.

According to the World Health Organization, ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ are described as ”abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” In the United States, obesity affects approximately 15 million children and adolescents. Childhood obesity increases the difficulty of daily living as it is linked to poor sleep, breathing problems, discomfort, low levels of physical activity, and reduced quality of life. There is also a clear link between childhood obesity and anxiety and depression and other mental health issues in children. Compared to children in the general population, children who are obese have a three-times higher chance of dying in their early 20s. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis are other common diseases associated with obesity.

The major risk factors for childhood obesity include a lack of physical activity, high calorie diet with low nutrients, inadequate amounts of high-quality sleep, high amounts of screen time, and adverse amounts of stress. So what guidance is there for a child that is obese and how can they be helped? The first is encourage and help them work towards achieving the recommended amount of 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This can be promoted through activities that are “fun” and enjoyable for the child. Some activities could be walking, biking, or scootering to and from school, playing with a pet, dancing to music, and organized sports activities. Promoting healthy eating behaviors to the child, which include high-nutrient meals with balanced macronutrients is also important. Some other habits that can be adopted are setting consistent family mealtimes, involving the child in meal planning by taking them to the grocery store, educating them about nutrition labels, and setting limits on snacks. Consulting a dietician for the child can be helpful as well. Good quality sleep has also shown to combat obesity. Children 6 to 12 years of age should receive 9-12 hours of sleep and teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should receive 8-10 hours of sleep. Two of the lesser-known causes of obesity are stressful environments and increased screen time.

Obesity in childhood can give rise to several major health issues, some of which can be fatal. Importantly, childhood obesity can be prevented and treated through various methods and resources. With the combined efforts from parents, family members, teachers, and clinicians all working together to provide a supportive environment for children, the obesity epidemic can be better controlled.

Congratulations to all of KIP’s Midyear Graduates!

Congratulations to the class of 2022!
Lily Hart, an Exercise Science graduate and KIP student office assistant, celebrates with a post-graduation ski at Mont Ripley.

Graduate Program Class of 2022

Jessica Bruning, PhD, Integrative Physiology

Gwyn Hamlin, MS, Kinesiology

Greg Miodonski, MS, Kinesiology

Undergraduate Class of 2022

Michael Bates, BS, Exercise Science

Kiley Farrey, BS, Sports & Fitness Management

Lily Hart, BS, Exercise Science

Ryan Jones, BS, Sports & Fitness Management

Meg Keranen, BS, Exercise Science

Jacob Rivard, BS, Exercise Science

Brandon Thompson, BS, Sports & Fitness Management

Matt Winter, BS, Exercise Science