Category: Students of Kinesiology

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

KIP Students Visit Local Schools to Promote Health Science and Public Health

A team of Michigan Tech students visited local elementary, middle, and high school classrooms as part of state and national outreach efforts to increase awareness about health science and public health. Steven Elmer, Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, organized the visits to coincide with the Michigan-Indiana Physiology Understanding Week and National Rural Health Day. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students engaged local students in hands-on activities focused on learning about how the human body works, healthy living behaviors, noninfectious and infectious diseases, and community health.

Kate Meister, a senior pre-health and human biology student, visited 4th grade students at Houghton Elementary School where she taught students about their own heartbeat. Students were led through an activity where they partnered up and crafted a do-it-yourself stethoscope from plastic funnels, balloons, and rubber tubing. The students were able to listen to their partner’s heartbeat through the stethoscope they created and learned more about the impact that exercise has on heart rate.

Kyle Wehmanen and Gwyn Hamlin, graduate students in kinesiology, used a slightly different approach involving the popular game Jenga to engage students at the local middle and high schools. That is, Wehmanen and Hamlin taught students about the importance of healthy living behaviors (physical activity, good nutrition, healthy body weight, not smoking) and impact of both noninfectious (heart disease, obesity, diabetes) and infectious (influenza, COVID-19) diseases on community health. By adding blocks that represented healthy living behaviors, the Jenga towers became stronger and were more resilient when blocks were removed that represented various diseases. Hamlin also talked about her journey from a Houghton High School student to Michigan Tech graduate student who will earn her degree in a few weeks to working in the Cardiac Rehabilitation unit at UP Health System Portage.

Felix Cottet-Puinel, a graduate student in kinesiology from Morzine, France, also assisted with the outreach activities and said that communicating health science and public health related concepts to different age ranges required creativity, presented some challenges, and was very rewarding. Several other students including Tyler Hampton, Isaac Wedig, and Noelle St. Pierre also participated in the outreach activities.

Together, the outreach team visited Houghton, Lake Linden, Dollar Bay, and Chassell schools and connected with over 225 students ranging from 4th to 12th grade. “These outreach events are critical to generating student interest in health science and public health focused careers as there is a major shortage of health professionals in rural areas like the Upper Peninsula”, explained Kelly Kamm, Portage Health Endowed Assistant Professor and Epidemiologist in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.

As society continues to build forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, health focused outreach with local schools is key to generating more interest in health, science, technology, engineering, and math (H-STEM). Looking ahead, Michigan Tech’s new H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in early 2024. The new building will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research labs to advance learning, develop new technologies, and prepare a skilled workforce for tomorrow.

For more information about scheduling a health science and public health outreach visit to your classroom contact Tayler Haapapuro, Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Academic Advisor and Outreach Coordinator via phone (906-487-3169) or email (tmhaapap@mtu.edu).

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

KIP Contributes to American Physiological Society “I Spy Physiology” Blog

Master’s student Isaac Lennox and Dr. Steve Elmer wrote a post for the American Physiological Society’s nationally circulated I Spy Physiology blog. The post, entitled “Why It’s Still Important to Stay Active to Reduce COVID-19 Severity,” was published on October 5, 2022.

KIP graduate students have authored COVID-19 physical activity posts for this blog targeted for the general public in 2020, 2021, and, now, 2022. 

To read the full blog post and to find previous posts from KIP’s graduate students and faculty, go to APS’s website for the I Spy Physiology blog.

Students, Staff, and Faculty Kick Off the Fall Seminar Series in Style with Jeopardy Competition

MTU-KIP and CMU-DPT students and faculty at the Jeopardy game and social.

The first Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Fall Seminar took place on Friday, September 16th. To help kick-off the series, the seminar was organized as a Jeopardy game and social for students, staff, and faculty. Teams of 3 to 4 students worked together to test their knowledge on all things related to anatomy, physiology, exercise prescription and assessment, biomechanics, and more.

Each team had to include students from both the Michigan Tech Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and Central Michigan University Satellite Physical Therapy Program. Isaac Wedig, a doctoral student in Integrative Physiology, served as the Jeopardy host and faculty members helped track responses and keep score. The game was quite engaging and entertaining for all! The department’s Graduate Student Government co-representatives also provided important semester announcements, along with a sign-up for the semester cornhole tournament.

The Jeopardy game and social served as a great way to get everyone fired up for the fall semester Seminar Series theme of promoting women in health science, medicine, and physiology. The first formal monthly September Seminar will take place on Friday, September 30th, from 3:00-4:30 pm in ATDC 101. The topic will focus on “Autonomic Control of Circulation for Health and Disease” and include speakers from the University of Texas-Austin and University of Minnesota. More information to come soon!

KIP Students and Faculty Participate in UP Medical Conference

Sherry Chen, PhD student, Poster Session Winner (tied 3rd place)
Isaac Lennox, MS student, Poster Session Winner (1st place)

Students and faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and recently participated in the first annual Upper Peninsula Medial Conference, hosted by the Michigan Tech Health Research Institute, on August 26-28, 2022.

The focus of the conference was on rural health and health topics impacting rural communities (e.g., mental health, lifestyle medicine, diabetes, public health, orthopedics and sports medicine). Conference attendees included students, faculty, and clinicians from across the Upper Peninsula. The conference also provided continuing medical education credits for clinicians.

Graduate students Xingqian (Sherry) Chen, Isaac Lennox, Greg Miodonski, Isaac Wedig, and Kyle Wehmnanen presented their research and outreach-related projects. For the research category, Isaac Lennox and Sherry Chen earned awards for their poster presentations. For the physician’s choice category, Isaac Wedig and Kyle Wehmanen earned awards for their poster presentations. Isaac Lennox, Isaac Wedig, and Kyle Wehmanen, along with Dr. Elmer, delivered an interactive activity as part of the featured lecture on lifestyle medicine.

Isaac Wedig, PhD candidate, Physician’s Choice Winner (tied)
Greg Miodonski, MS student

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Exercise Physiology Laboratory and visit the Central Michigan University Physical Therapy Program – Satellite Campus. Dr. Chen and Dr. Elmer, served on the conference organizing committee. Dr. Elmer indicated that, based on feedback from attendees, the organizing committee is already discussing plans for improving the conference for next year.

Overall, the first annual Upper Peninsula Medial Conference was an excellent opportunity for students and faculty to showcase their work, learn more about rural health challenges, and network with clinicians. Thank you to the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Faculty for supporting costs for our students to attend this conference.

KIP Students Present at Michigan Physiological Society Meeting

Students and faculty from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and Department of Biomedical Engineering recently participated in the ninth annual Michigan Physiological Society (MPS) Meeting, held virtually June 16-17, 2022.

The virtual meeting included a distinguished lecture, student presentations (oral, thematic poster, traditional poster), professional development session, trivia competition, and a business meeting. The meeting presentations had a “bench to beside” theme and included work focused on basic mechanisms of health and disease, applied human physiology, and public health.

Graduate students Xinqian (Sherry) Chen, Ashley Hawke, Isaac Lennox, Greg Miodonski, and Isaac Wedig, along with undergraduate student Madeline English, presented their research and outreach-related projects. All students did a great job with their presentations. Isaac Wedig and Greg Miodonski earned awards for their featured oral presentations and Sherry Chen earned an award for her thematic poster presentation. Sherry Chen stated “I think the greatest part of presenting at the MPS meeting is that I can receive research advice and be inspired by new ideas from professional scientists who are in the same field as me. The small size MPS meeting also enables me to present my initial research no matter how it progresses.”

A highlight of the meeting was the distinguished lecture given by Karyn Esser, Professor of Physiology and Functional Genomics at the University of Florida, whose presentation was titled “Exercise and Muscle Clocks: Partners in Health and Performance.” Professor Esser highlighted how a muscle circadian clock is necessary for maintaining healthy metabolism and muscle strength. The presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

During the professional development session, Robert Larson (BioSci) shared insight into the job application process and Steven Elmer (KIP) discussed graduate degree options. Graduate students, Isaac Wedig and Isaac Lennox, helped moderate the thematic poster and standing break activities respectively.

Steven Elmer assisted with organizing and delivering the meeting and will now begin his term as MPS President. His MPS responsibilities for the upcoming year include increasing membership, delivering the mid-year symposium and annual meeting, and dissemination of meeting reports.

Finally, thank you to the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology faculty for their efforts supporting and mentoring students with their research.