Category: Students of Kinesiology

Breathing Life into the Classroom! A Story About Respiratory Function by KIP Undergrad Lily Hart

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
Students in Dr. Elmer’s KIP 1500 class build a mechanical quadruped to demonstrate the relationship between locomotion and respiration.

Freshman students in Dr. Steven Elmer‘s KIP 1500 course, Foundations of Kinesiology, recently completed a unique assignment to learn how the lungs and respiratory systems of animals work. Students worked in small groups to build three-dimensional animal models to demonstrate how the lungs function during movement. Groups built models of either a kangaroo (bipedal mobility model) or a horse (quadrupedal mobility model). Students were able to find most of the parts they needed to construct their animal models in local hardware stores.

“Collecting all the parts was hard, because it was not entirely clear as to what exact size and dimensions we needed,” explains Erin Seppala, a student in Dr. Elmer’s Foundations of Kinesiology class.

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
One group’s mechanical model of a bipedal kangaroo

All students used the same model to construct their animal’s “lung.” A syringe served as the thoracic cavity, and a balloon was tied inside the syringe to serve as the lung. A plastic tube was then connected to serve as the trachea. The rubber end of the syringe’s plunger worked as the diaphragm muscle (the major muscle for inspiration, or drawing air into the lungs).

Once the animals were complete, students manipulated their models to observe how hopping and running affects breathing. “I learned that animals can have different and unique ways of breathing,” explained Robert Dwyer, a student in the class.

“I learned that animals can have different and unique ways of breathing.” Robert Dwyer, student in KIP 1500

By using the three-dimensional models they built in the classroom, students found that kangaroos exert less energy to breathe when hopping than when standing still. Rather than relying on contraction of the diaphragm muscle to move air into and out of the lungs (also called “inspiration” and “expiration”), air is pulled into the lungs and pushed back out of the lungs as the internal organs “flop” within the kangaroo’s body during the hopping movement.

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
One group’s completed quadruped model of a horse

By manipulating the legs of the horse model, students observed how this moved air into and out of the lungs. For example, when the forelimbs were stretched forward this helped to increase the volume of the thoracic cavity, decrease thoracic pressure, and aid in inspiration. When the forelimbs struck the ground and the hind limbs moved forward this facilitated a decrease in the volume of the thoracic cavity and a decrease in thoracic pressure, aiding expiration.

Students not only investigated how the lungs and respiratory system work but they also learned the importance of good group communication and problem solving. Students were reminded that when things get hard, it’s important to remember to just have fun with the project. Several groups emphasized that the activity had helped them to learn how to problem solve and improvise as a team when something didn’t go the way they had planned.

KIP 1500 Students Build Mechanical Biped
Students with another completed quadruped model

“Building a model using parts helped us to visualize and understand the unique way horses and kangaroos breathe in accordance with their athletic ability,” group members Sarah Dix and Sarah Miller explained.

This hands-on activity was inspired by two papers published in the journal Advances in Physiology Education (Giuliodori et al., 2009, 2010). Dr. Stephen DiCarlo of Michigan State University, a coauthor of both papers, was able to mentor Dr. Elmer on the use of these physical models in the classroom to promote active student learning.

Here are links to the articles describing the horse respiration model and the kangaroo respiration model that the students built in their class.

This is an edited version of an original story by KIP undergraduate student Lily Hart. 

References:

Giuliodori, M. J., Lujan, H. L., Briggs, W. S., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2009). A model of locomotor-respiratory coupling in quadrupeds. 33(4), 315-318. doi:10.1152/advan.00057.2009

Giuliodori, M. J., Lujan, H. L., Janbaih, H., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2010). How does a hopping kangaroo breathe? , 34(4), 228-232. doi:10.1152/advan.00050.2010

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APS Blog “I Spy Physiology” Publishes Post by KIP Student Kelvyn Van Laarhoven

KIP MS Student Kelvyn Van Laarhoven

The American Physiological Society recently published a blog story by KIP Masters student Kelvyn Van Laarhoven. Kelvyn’s story, “The Iceman: Wim Hof is a Real-life Superhero” was published in the “I Spy Physiology” blog by APS on March 13th.

The blog post explores the physiological effects of certain controlled breathing techniques used by a Dutch adventurer that allow him to survive conditions of extreme and prolonged cold. You can read the full blog post here.

Kelvyn graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Michigan Tech last Spring. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree from the department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Michigan Tech. His academic interests include sports medicine, physical therapy and human performance.

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Dr. Matthew Kilgas Graduates with KIP’s First Ever PhD in Integrative Physiology

Matthew Kilgas will become the first recipient of a PhD in Integrative Physiology from Michigan Tech.

KIP graduate student Matthew Kilgas successfully defended his PhD in Integrative Physiology on November 26th, 2018. At Commencement on Saturday, December 15th the Graduate School will confer to Matthew Kilgas the first Doctor of Philosophy degree in Integrative Physiology from Michigan Tech.

The department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) began offering a PhD in Integrative Physiology in the 2017-18 academic year. Dr. Kilgas was one of two PhD students at Michigan Tech who transferred into the program in its inaugural year (the other student, Kevin Phillips, is scheduled to defend this Spring).

“Matt’s graduation marks a major milestone for the KIP department,” Dr. Carter explains.

Integrative physiology can be defined as the study of organisms as functioning systems of molecules, cells, tissues and organs. Application of these concepts and experimental approaches are used to understand human health, disease and performance.

The Integrative Physiology PhD program was started under the leadership of Dr. Jason Carter, founding Chair of the department (Dr. Carter now serves as Associate Vice President for Research Development for Michigan Tech’s Vice President for Research Office), and Dr. Steven Elmer, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director for KIP. Dr. Carter was a founding member of the KIP department in 2006 and still serves as a Professor with active NIH-sponsored research under KIP.

“We envisioned a highly research-active department that would ultimately be capped off with a strong doctorate degree.” -Dr. Jason Carter, Associate Vice President for Research Development and KIP founding Chair

“Matt’s graduation marks a major milestone for the KIP department,” Dr. Carter explains. “When we established the department thirteen years ago, we envisioned a highly research-active department that would ultimately be capped off with a strong doctorate degree. Our faculty and staff, along with a supportive administration over the past decade, deserve the credit for their persistence and steadfast commitment to that goal.”

Dr. Kilgas completed his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering here at Michigan Tech, and then went on to complete his M.S. in Exercise Science at Northern Michigan University. He returned to Tech in 2015 to begin working on his PhD.

“I would really like to thank the department for all their help in getting me this far,” Kilgas says. “Specifically Dr. Elmer for pushing me, I couldn’t have done it without him.”

Dr. Kilgas defended his thesis on “Acute and Chronic Responses to Exercise with Blood Flow Restriction” under the advisory of Dr. Elmer. For his research he used a variety of experimental techniques to investigate how partial restriction of blood flow to exercising muscles can improve health and enhance performance.

Matthew Kilgas defends his PhD thesis “Acute and Chronic Responses to Exercise with Blood Flow Restriction” in front of his Advisory Committee and other audience members on November 26, 2018.

“Matt has already begun a tenure-track faculty position in the School of Health and Human Performance at Northern Michigan University earlier this Fall,” explains Dr. Elmer. “We wish him the very best with his career in academia.”

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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).

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Stephanie Dietrich’s Physical Therapy Experience

Stephanie DietrichWhen I first decided to pursue a career in physical therapy (PT) I had no clue how to go about the application process or what steps were involved. Being clueless is OK. There’s a lot of people in the same boat. Start by talking to your advisor and developing a plan. Current PT students are also an excellent resource because they’ve “been there”.  In addition, Michigan Technological University provides many other resources to support students on this path (the writing center was one I highly recommend using for essays).

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Graduate School Announces Fall 2018 Award Recipients

Kevin PhillipsWe are happy to announce grad student Kevin Phillips (Integrative Physiology) is among the winners for the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award. Congratulations!

Finishing Fellowships provide support to PhD candidates who are close to completing their degrees. These fellowships are available through the generosity of alumni and friends of the University. They are intended to recognize outstanding PhD candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees and are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in The Michigan Tech Plan.

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2018 Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarship Recipients

 Twelve students have been awarded the Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarship.  The scholarships are part of a Michigan Tech-Portage Health Foundation partnership established in 2015 to support health education. This year’s recipients have an average GPA of 3.87 and represent the breadth of health-related research happening on Michigan Tech’s campus.

The $8,000 scholarships went to:

  •    Bailey Poyhonen, Dollar Bay, medical laboratory science
  •    Brennah Wasie, Hancock, biochemistry and molecular biology
  •    Laura Lyons, Lake Linden, biomedical engineering
  •    Sarah Dix, L’Anse, exercise science

Receiving $1,000 scholarships were:

  •    Kierstyn Codere, Lake Linden, biological sciences
  •    Grace Liu, Houghton mechanical engineering
  •    Mara Hackman, Houghton, medical laboratory science.
  •    Jaden Janke, Dollar Bay, biological sciences
  •    Ally Fenton, Hancock, biomedical engineering
  •    Jada Markham, Houghton, exercise science
  •    Kellan Heikkila, Chassell, biomedical engineering
  •    Dawson Kero, Hancock, biological sciences

“The merit-based awards reflect the high caliber student talent we have locally, thanks to exceptional teachers, HOSA high school advisers, and Michigan Tech faculty and students who do outreach in the schools,” says Jodi Lehman, director of foundations at Michigan Tech.

At a dinner for finalists, the scholarship recipients had a chance to talk one-on-one with Michigan Tech researchers. Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics faculty Ye Sarah Sun shared with students how she develops new interfaces for heart monitoring that are reliable and won’t disturb a patient’s life at home, while driving or at work.

Biomedical engineer and health care entrepreneur, Megan Frost, shared  how she is working to improve wound care with a product designed to prevent infection and reduce the need for some post-acute care.

Scholarship recipients also heard from current students, Adison Cook, a 2016 Making a Difference scholar; Stephanie Bean and Maddie Morley, both PHF Undergraduate Research Interns; and Kelsey Saladin, a Portage Health Foundation and Randy Owsley Memorial Athletic trainer scholar.

“The Portage Health Foundation has also been very generous in granting need-based scholarships to students enrolling at Michigan Tech, Finlandia University, Gogebic College, Northern Michigan University, and Michigan State University in health-related degree programs,” says Joe Cooper, Director of Financial Aid at Michigan Tech, “These scholarships make a significant financial impact for students in our own local communities.  Thanks to the Portage Health Foundation, students from Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties have extra support so they can attend college and focus on health related careers.”

Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarship applications will open in the fall for incoming high school seniors and transfer students applying to Michigan Tech for fall 2019.  Questions about the scholarshipcan be directed to Rachel Connors, assistant director of admissions, 7-1880.

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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.

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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.

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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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