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Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

2018-19 Songer Award Recipients. Pictured Left to Right: Abby Sutherland, Billiane Kenyon, Jeremy Bigalke, Rupsa Basu, Matthew Songer, and Laura Songer.

Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) have generously donated funds to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) to support a research project competition for undergraduate and graduate students. Remembering their own eagerness to engage in research during their undergraduate years, the Songers established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students. The College is extremely grateful for the Songers’ continuing interest in, and support of, Michigan Tech’s programs in human health and medicine. This is the second year of the competition.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. In the Spring of 2019, the Songer’s gift will support one award for undergraduate research ($4,000) and a second award for graduate research ($6,000). Matching funds from the College may allow two additional awards.

Any Michigan Tech student interested in exploring a medically related question under the guidance of faculty in the College of Sciences and Arts may apply. Students majoring in any degree program in the college, including both traditional (i.e., biological sciences, kinesiology, chemistry) and nontraditional (i.e., physics, psychology, social science, bioethics, computer science, mathematics) programs related to human health may propose research projects connected to human health. Students are encouraged to propose original, stand-alone projects with expected durations of 6 – 12 months. The committee also encourages applications from CSA students who seek to continue research projects initiated through other campus mechanisms, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Pavlis Honors College activities or the Graduate Research Forum (GRF).

Funds from a Songer Award may be used to purchase or acquire research materials and equipment needed to perform the proposed research project. Access to and research time utilizing University core research facilities, including computing, may be supported. Requests to acquire a personal computer will be scrutinized and must be fully justified. Page charges for publications also may be covered with award funds, as will travel to appropriate academic meetings. This award may not be used for salary or compensation for the student or consulting faculty.

To apply:

  • Students should prepare a research project statement (up to five pages in length) that describes the background, methods to be used, and research objectives. The statement also should provide a detailed description of the experiments planned and expected outcomes. Students must indicate where they will carry out their project and attach a separate list of references/citations to relevant scientific literature.
  • The application package also should provide a concise title and brief summary (1 page) written for lay audiences.
  • A separate budget page should indicate how funds will be used.
  • A short letter from a consulting faculty member must verify that the student defined an original project and was the primary author of the proposal. The faculty member should also confirm her/his willingness to oversee the project. This faculty letter is not intended to serve as a recommendation on behalf of the student’s project.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 22. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.

The selection committee will consist of Matthew Songer, Laura Songer, Shekhar Joshi (BioSci) and Megan Frost (KIP). The committee will review undergraduate and graduate proposals separately and will seek additional comments about the proposed research on an ad-hoc basis from reviewers familiar with the topic of the research proposal. Primary review criteria will be the originality and potential impact of the proposed study, as well as its feasibility and appropriateness for Michigan Tech’s facilities.

The committee expects to announce the recipients by early May of 2019. This one-time research award will be administered by the faculty advisor of the successful student investigator. Students will be expected to secure any necessary IRB approval before funds will be released. Funds must be expended by the end of spring semester 2020; extensions will not be granted. Recipients must submit a detailed report to the selection committee, including a description of results and an accounting of finds utilized, no later than June 30, 2020.

Any questions may be directed to Megan Frost (mcfrost@mtu.edu), David Hemmer (djhemmer@mtu.edu) or Shekhar Joshi (cpjoshi@mtu.edu).


Kirsen Hudak, Pre-Occupational Therapy Experience

Kirsen HudakI think Michigan Tech gave me the opportunity to be involved with a lot of different things and become a well-rounded student. The small class sizes gave me the confidence to take charge and lead, in group and classroom settings. The research-based classes and labs gave me a good background in reading and interpreting research. The kinesiology department faculty have helped me so much with the application process itself. They took the time to write recommendations, proofread essays, and do mock interviews. The undergraduate internship that I completed at UP Health System gave me a very diverse shadowing experience. Due to the rural nature of the Houghton-Hancock area, I was able to observe many practice settings. I think being able to talk about these diverse experiences strengthened my understanding of Occupational Therapy (OT) in practice.

I graduated in May of 2017 with my undergraduate degree in exercise science and a minor in psychology. I decided to complete an Accelerated Master’s degree in Kinesiology the following year at Tech. Knowledge in kinesiology and psychology are both incredibly important to the OT profession. Professors expect you to have a certain level of understanding of both of these fields. I think my Master’s coursework prepared me for the rigor of OT school and gave me the critical thinking skills important for success in my program.

I ultimately decided on Grand Valley State University. I chose this program for several reasons. When visited campus for the interview portion of the application process, I was very impressed with the faculty and facilities. I could tell right away that the instructors and staff really cared about each and every one of their students. Meeting with current students in the program really reinforced it. The brand new facilities and location being right downtown in Grand Rapids were also a selling point to me. GVSU’s program was more condensed than other programs I applied to. Their program requires taking a heavier credit load each semester, resulting in an earlier graduation. With already being in college for five years, this sealed the deal for me!

I would say, first and foremost for those students applying to OT school to get good grades! Schools weight GPA differently, but many have a certain GPA requirement. Secondly, I think it is important to get healthcare experience. There are many capacities in which you can do this, whether it be shadowing, working as a rehab technician, or completing an internship in the healthcare system. School’s want to see that you know what you are getting into. Finally, diversify your experiences! Occupational therapists teach their patients about life balance. Make sure you balance your schoolwork, service experiences, work, and, of course, leisure activities. Above all, have fun and be genuine in with your application.

I was involved in many experiences and extracurricular activities at Michigan Tech that helped with my application process. I had the privilege of competing on the women’s varsity soccer team for my five years at Tech (Go Huskies!). I was also involved in student leadership and community service through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where I served as president for two years. I worked several jobs during my time on campus including working as a camp counselor for Summer Youth Programs and Michigan Tech Hockey School, a student assistant for Husky Motors, and a Peer Health Advocate and NCAA Choices Student Advisor for Student Health and Wellness. I completed an undergraduate occupational therapy internship at UP Health system in several different settings. During my fifth year, I taught PE classes and completed a graduate internship with MTU Athletics strength and conditioning department. I also tried to help out at as many outreach events as I could through the Kinesiology Department.


Elle Heinonen, Pre-Physical Therapy and Exercise Science

Elle Heinonen

I graduated with a degree in exercise science from Michigan Tech and I prepared for applying to Physical Therapy (PT) school by making sure I had all of the pre-physical therapy requirements and getting involved in as many groups on campus that I believed would strengthen my skills both professionally and personally. I was a part of the Michigan Tech varsity volleyball team, the Pavlis Honors College and Blue Key National Honor Society. Through all of these groups, I was given many opportunities to volunteer in the community and become a more well-rounded student

My advisor Kathy Carter was a huge help all through my undergrad and assisting me in preparing to apply for PT school.

I am currently attending Central Michigan University through a partnership with Central Michigan and Michigan Tech. This program felt like a good fit for me because I was able to go to PT school while staying close to family and friends in Houghton. I also already have so many connections at Michigan Tech and in surrounding areas, I thought it would be helpful to build on those connections these next three years.

I would advise future PT students to look ahead and get working on the requirements for PT school early on. You want to be certain you have everything completed so the application process can go smooth. I also would tell students to get started on the application as soon as it is released to allow you time to fill out the application and get any questions answered because the application can be confusing.

 


Nick Carlson’s Advice To Get To Chiropractic School

Nick Carlson
Nowadays, most aspects of the medical field are moving from treating the disease/problem/injury/etc. after it happens to prevent the disease/problem/injury/etc. from happening in the first place through the use of things like exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle choices in general. The chiropractic field isn’t really any different, rather than just adjusting joints every time they go out of alignment, many chiropractors look to prevent this from happening in the first place. The field of chiropractic medicine is also gaining ground every year, allowing chiropractors to do more with each passing year. It’s not just about adjusting and manipulating the spine anymore, it’s about nutrition and disease and muscle function and looking at disease, injury, and the entire human body holistically.
The Exercise Science program, in which I’m pursuing an undergrad, and curriculum at Michigan Tech embodies the transition both in the medical field as a whole and in the field of chiropractic medicine. It teaches you about the anatomy and physiology of the human body while also teaching you about nutrition and exercise and other aspects of preventative medicine. Also the “capstone” of the Exercise Science Program is the internship. It’s a three-credit class, where you spend 126 (or more) hours working with a professional in a field of your choosing (whatever you’re planning on going into). Honestly, my experience was by far more rewarding than pretty much any other experience I had at Tech.  I did my internship with a local chiropractor, and my patient interaction skills and my knowledge of treatments and holistic medicine grew so much, I can’t even begin to explain it.
I had almost limitless resources to use at Michigan Tech. The ones that I feel helped the most were Career Services and the Pavlis Honors College (PHC). I first went to career services during like my second week at Michigan Tech to revamp my resume from my “high school/college application” to my “college/real life” version. Not only did it give me a good outline for what my resume should look like, but it also opened up my eyes to what opportunities and experiences I was lacking in and what I should be looking for. The PHC was also huge for my development from a high school student to a graduate-school ready adult. It helped me to learn how to talk about myself and reflect on the experiences that I’ve had and the things that I’ve done (one of their big things is reflections). It also pushed me to do more and get more out of my time at Michigan Tech.
Michigan Tech, whether you’re in an engineering program or not, develops your analytical thinking skills and teaches you to ask questions and solve problems.
I will be attending the College of Chiropractic at Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU) beginning in January of 2019. The Chiropractic program at NWHSU is based on scientific evidence rather than tradition and is designed to integrate basic knowledge and chiropractic technique throughout the program. These two programs meshed well for someone like me, who approaches problems from an analytical perspective. NWHSU also has programs for Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Nutrition, and Chinese Medicine, allowing for tons of opportunity to learn about other aspects of holistic medicine. NWHSU was also the closest chiropractic school to my home (Mohawk, Michigan), so that was an added bonus.
My best advice is to not worry about it too much. I spent months worrying about doing the application before I actually submitted it. In reality, the thought of doing it is worse than actually doing it. I don’t know what the official stance is, but from my perspective application to chiropractic school is not very similar to applying to other graduate schools. While it is more competitive than most undergraduate programs, it’s not like trying to get into medical school or physical therapy school. Your GPA doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t have to have a resume full of awards and clubs and achievements and projects.
My feeling was that the process was a lot more personal than what your resume and grades say about you. It’s about who you are as a person, about your commitment and effort and interest.
Don’t get me wrong, any chiropractic program is still intense and takes years of hard work and, to use one of Michigan Tech’s favorite words, tenacity to make it through; it’s not a cakewalk, and it shouldn’t be. Basically, take the process and schooling seriously because it’s not a joke, but remember that you’re going into a field that’s about the person, not about the numbers and definitions.
I was pretty heavily involved in the Student Athletic Training Internship program. Basically, it’s just an option for students with an interest in athletic training and sports medicine to get hands-on experience assisting the athletic trainers during practices and games. I learned a lot from this program, including how to tape and how to perform treatments like ultrasound. It allowed me to get more experience with handling people in a more professional setting. It’s also something that looks great on a resume. Also they’ve recently restructured the program so that it’s a series of classes, each with different goals and milestones, like how to fit crutches or do ultrasounds. It sounds like it’s going to be a great program. The goal by the end of the program is for the students to basically be able to handle the basic needs of an athletic team on their own, at least that’s what I gathered.

Stephanie Dietrich’s Physical Therapy Experience

Stephanie Dietrich 201703010012When 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).

Many of the courses required for my major overlapped the requirements for PT school which made the application process much smoother. In addition to that, additional requirements for my major, such as biomechanics, exercise physiology, and sports nutrition, have given me a stronger background to tackle my current PT courses. The knowledge base I gained in my undergraduate studies at Michigan Tech has made the shift to graduate school much easier due to exposure to many of the concepts I am currently studying.

I am currently attending PT school at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. This PT program really appealed to me due to the focus on research here, which was the highlight of my undergraduate studies. In addition to that, La Crosse has this amazing opportunity to participate in EXPAND (Exercise Program for Adults with Neurologic Disorders) where PT students get the chance to apply classroom knowledge while giving back to the community. The number of clinical rotations was also instrumental in my decision; in total, I will be exposed to five unique settings.

I owe much of my success to my strong support group at Michigan Tech which consisted of my advisors, professors, a research team, volleyball team, and coaching staff. My advisor, Kathy Carter, was instrumental in my dream to pursue PT from day one. She directed me to all the resources I needed and more. I also had engaging professors that kept me excited to continue down this path. My involvement with undergraduate research, examining the differences in subjective and objective measurements of sleep in collegiate athletes with Dr. Jason Carter, was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate studies and influenced my decision in PT school seeing as La Crosse stresses research involvement. Ultimately, my experiences at Tech prepared me well for PT school not only through coursework, but through developing lasting skills in communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Below are some of the wonderful experiences and extracurricular activities I was involved in during my time at Tech:

Michigan Tech volleyball

  • Student-athlete
  •  Assistant coach for youth camps

Undergraduate Research Assistant

  • Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology Lab (Advisor: Dr. Jason Carter) Determine differences in subjective and objective assessments of sleep in collegiate athletes
  • Clinical Observation – Inpatient and outpatient settings in Michigan and Minnesota

Community service

  • Bounce-O-Rama Event Volunteer
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation Sales Attendant
  • Athletic Event Parking Attendant
  • Chuck-A-Puck Sales Attendant

Pony Power and Performance Instructor – Summer strength and conditioning program for middle and high school athletes


Huskies Heal

Two researchers in masks, safety glasses, and hair coveringMichigan Tech’s human-centered research improves lives. Here’s how.

From enhanced cancer detection to the power sources that supply surgical room equipment, Michigan Technological University is a health-care innovator that prepares people and creates technologies to improve lives and strengthen communities.

Read more at Michigan Tech News.

 


Students Explore Possibilities in Medical Careers

Students work in a lab looking in microscope, and at chemicals taking measurements in lab garbAs healthcare’s place in the economy expands and Michigan Tech’s involvement in the health sciences increases, the University’s Career Services office partners with Tech’s Departments of Biological Sciences, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Biomedical Engineering to bring Medical Careers Week to students.

“We want to give students the chance to explore the wide range of opportunities in healthcare,” explains Shelley Farrey, coordinator of career development and corporate event promotions in Career Services.

Read more at Michigan Tech News


Twists and Turns with Carly Joseph

Carly JosephI was speechless as I read the acceptance email from the Central Michigan University (CMU) College of Medicine in October 2017. Starting in fall 2018, I get to dive into the first year of my medical training in a program that could not be a better fit for me.

CMU College of Medicine’s commitment to rural and underserved populations in Michigan, research opportunities in neuroscience, and smaller class size immediately piqued my interest when I was deciding where to apply. I felt very at home with the school’s mission and curriculum structure that includes a longitudinal patient care experience. I was glowing with excitement after my interview experience at CMU.

While being accepted to medical school has been awesome, my journey to this point has been full of twists and turns. Some students know medical school is their goal when they start college. I was not one of those people. I’m majoring in biomedical engineering, and was initially interested in graduate school or working in the industry. I even spent a year double majoring in materials science and engineering. Three years in, the sum of my undergraduate experiences showed me that medical school was what I really wanted to do, since it would allow me to combine my passion for science with helping others in a very direct way.

I was able to accomplish more during undergrad than I had ever imagined.

During my fourth year, I had to take many of the medical school prerequisite classes that were not part of my engineering curriculum and build a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) study plan into my schedule. It’s OK if you’re not on the pre-med track right away when you start college; pursue experiences that genuinely interest you and rely on guidance from your faculty mentors to navigate your path.

There’s a lot of pressure to have as many leadership roles as possible and be involved in tons of student organizations. For me though, having a few deep and lasting experiences was the way to go. I chose to invest my time in research, improving my Spanish, and volunteering.

Starting in the Engineered Biomaterials Lab during my first year and sticking with it through my fifth year gave me the time to learn how to think critically and ignited my passion for science. I started off simply learning about biomaterials from older students in the lab, then gradually worked up to doing my own experiments and eventually presenting at conferences. It definitely didn’t happen overnight, but by choosing to make research a main priority each semester, I was able to accomplish more during undergrad than I had ever imagined. Consistently spending time in the lab over four years helped me form close relationships with my faculty mentors, which has been invaluable on my journey to medical school.

Pursue experiences that genuinely interest you.

It may be counterintuitive to take time away from the rigorous curriculum while at Tech, but spending a semester in Chile focusing on language, culture, and people challenged me in ways that technical classes couldn’t, and was critical in my preparation for medical school. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, do it. Communication and understanding different cultures are crucial skills for anyone entering the medical field, and medical schools look for applicants who make the effort to broaden their horizons culturally.

Another great way to prepare for being a doctor is to spend time volunteering in the community. The options can be limited here in Houghton, but I have really enjoyed working with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. They have many different programs and services. As part of the Forever Friends program, I am matched with an elderly woman who I visit a few times a month. I’ve formed a great friendship with her, and hopefully, help alleviate some loneliness. It’s a win-win!

Dedicate your time to quality experiences that allow you to serve others, grow as a person, and grow as a scientist. Stick it out through the difficult classes and demanding schedules. The future doctor in you knows it’s worth it.


Erin McKenzie Tells Her Pre-Health Story

erin-mckenzieMy name is Erin McKenzie and I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in biological sciences, with a pre-professional concentration.

Preparing for medical school doesn’t just include studying for the MCAT and acing your interviews. The nice thing about Tech is that much of the learning experiences are designed to provide knowledge that is applicable to future education and careers. Tech isn’t an easy school, and many of the classes my peers and I took were also taken by chemical engineers, biochemists, and biomedical engineers. Having to network with peers to master material, to hone study skills, and to effectively manage time are all things required by Tech. Many of the teachers at Tech invest in their students’ learning and are open to going beyond what is expected to help a student in need.

“It’s understandable that medical schools like Tech students, since we have already mastered these personal skills in our undergraduate experiences that they expect in medical students.”

I applied to the Michigan State University Early Assurance Program (EAP) because a few local students I knew had, and from their experiences, I knew that Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine (MSU CHM) was where I wanted to complete my schooling. MSU CHM’s mission statement was what really drew me to them; their dedication to serving the underserved and excelling in primary care. The EAP gives students from colleges with fewer pre-medical resources a chance to apply before others who have more resources, to bring in students who are more apt to practice rural or inter-city.

I have always wanted to return to the Houghton-Hancock area, where I grew up, and to serve my rural community. MSU CHM has two certificate programs, Leadership in Rural Medicine (LRM) and Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved (LMU). Through LRM, I hope to participate in their Rural Physicians Program (RPP), which would allow me to complete my third and fourth years in Marquette, Michigan. Since I hope to practice primary care in a rural area, the RPP would allow me to be closer to the area I want to return to and to prepare for being a physician in an underserved area.

When applying for the EAP program, it is important to know that they prefer Michigan students from rural or underserved areas that want to return to the same type of area. If that’s not you, I would suggest still considering MSU and EAP. The application is free, since it’s an EAP, and it provides an opportunity to practice applying, writing essays and personal statements, and gathering letters of recommendation. Considering different schools gives you an idea of where you want to attend, and helps you choose the best school for you. Talking to students who have been accepted into medical school gives insights into interviews and medical curriculum, and reaching out to admission committees with specific questions are always options and very helpful. If you don’t get accepted into the school of your dreams, it’s OK! Schools have many applicants and can’t take everyone.

My dad, who has been a family physician for 29 years, often tells me, “An MD is an MD, it doesn’t matter where you go to school.”

A tip for interviews: be yourself. Practice and research what schools are looking for, and look into mission statements. Through interviews, schools are interested in learning who you are and what kind of student and person you are. Schools invest in students and their education and try to promote a good fit. A tip for the MCAT: study early. Everyone says to find a course/book that works for you. I used the Kaplan book series, and studied by reading, highlighting, and taking notes.

The Kaplan books went well with what I had learned at Tech and was outlined in a way that was very understandable and memorable. When you take practice tests, which I suggest doing many times, don’t let your score spook you. The real MCAT was not as hard as the Kaplan test, in my opinion. Also, your advisors can help you with your application processes and can help keep you on track.

Medical schools like to see commitment in their applicants, be it to sports, work, or extracurricular activities. In college I continued many activities I started in my youth. I worked, and joined several organizations at Tech including the Pre-Health Association (PHAT, of which I am the public and community service chair) and Blue Key National Honor Society (I am secretary). I’m also on the founding e-board and vice president of a new honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta. It’s always easier to not join clubs and just do homework and relax, but devoting time now to extracurricular commitments is worth it in the long run. These experiences also give you good opportunities to get to know people who can write the letters of recommendation medical schools require.

All this hard work paid off. I was accepted to Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in June 2017.

 


In the News

Travel Road Map Of Flint And Detroit MichiganMichigan Tech was mentioned in an interview with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician from Flint, Michigan who proved children in that city were exposed to lead in tap water. Hanna-Attisha describes an automobile accident she survived as a small child while her father was a postdoc at Michigan Tech.

She was interviewed on Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A transcript of the show is available at Tri States RadioWYPR, wesa.fm and several other public radio stations and websites.