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PNW Pridecast: Anatomage tables benefit education and research

February 15, 2023

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Episode script

Greetings, colleagues at Purdue Northwest. The PNW Pridecast is back to share more faculty and staff news with you all.

I’m Kale Wilk, Communications Specialist in Marketing and Communications, and I’m ready to dive right in!

PNW welcomes Science Olympiad contestants

The PNW hosted its annual Regional Science Olympiad on February 11, welcoming 37 middle and high school teams from Northwest Indiana as well as the South Bend and Lafayette areas. The university has hosted a regional competition for more than 20 years.

The top seven middle school and six high school teams qualified from the regional and will return to campus when the PNW hosts the Science Olympiad state finals for the first time ever on March 11. The university will welcome 48 teams from across the state for up to 25 different STEM academic competitions, ranging from forensic troubleshooting to bridge structure and durability. Only one middle school and high school winner of the state finals will qualify for the national competition in Wichita, KS.

As a longtime host of the Science Olympiad competitions, the events offer students the chance to experience the PNW’s state-of-the-art facilities and spaces. Not only that, it gives these young students a preview of where their STEM interests may take them, the types of environments they could potentially do research in, and the scholars they could learn from.

Vanessa Quinn, an associate dean at the College of Engineering and Sciences and a biology professor, served as the PNW’s regional tournament director for seven years and looks forward to the significant responsibility of hosting academic competitors from across the state.

“I remember when competing students come to campus, especially middle school kids, I hear them say ‘this is the best day of my life and I have to go to college,'” said Quinn. “Competitors see that when you go to college you can continue to do these big events or lab projects because we have the facilities that they compete in. They also see that college professors aren’t scary — they’re really approachable and excited to have them here.

“I know some high school students are worried that they’re going to go to college, they’re going to be taught eight hours a day and they’re just going to have all kinds of homework and that no one is going to worry about them. Our (college) students are good at communicating that this is not the case. We have students who really understand that the college experience is fundamentally different from the high school experience. Sure, there will always be classes, but I see them talking to high school students and showing them that the things you’re doing in a club are the things you can do in a college classroom.

For more information about Science Olympiad or to register as a volunteer, you can visit pnw.edu/science-olympiad.

IPHS Center researchers engaged in multidisciplinary fellowships

Can routine meditation or mindfulness lower blood pressure? Can two cups a day of herbal tea help improve cardiovascular health in the long term? These are just a few of the many questions that PNW faculty members of the Integrative Physiology and Health Science (IPHS) Center are researching through multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches.

The IPHS Center opened its space in the lower level of the Gyte Building on the Hammond campus during the fall semester, and the research team has grown to include eight members representing the College of Engineering and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Nursing.

A range of technological instruments in the laboratory can measure blood pressure, heart rate, sympathetic nerve activity and other variables to study the complex intersections where body composition, activity, exercise, sleep and much more still more can impact overall health.

The center is also invested in community outreach and impact. During the fall, the center received $133,000 from the Indiana Department of Health for its Health Issues and Challenges program. The research team used the grant to conduct workshops in Lake and LaPorte counties and offer free education and screening for populations deemed socially vulnerable based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index. The seminars specifically aim to improve cardiovascular health using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 guide.

Here’s John Durocher, Nils K. Nelson Associate Professor of Integrative Human Health, with more.

Durocher said. “We had a pretty strong turnout. We said we would directly impact at least 60 people in the area, and we managed to exceed half of our goal. As part of the study, we had the ability through the Indiana Department of Health to distribute automatic blood pressure cuffs, pedometers, resistance band exercise kits, and portable blood glucose meters free of charge. These are nice gifts for people to use at home.

For more information on the IPHS Center’s research and the faculty members leading the way, visit pnw.edu/iphs.

Anatomage Table technology benefits Anatomy, Physiology and Nursing classes

Anatomy, Physiology and Nursing students are training with a deeper and more interactive view of the human body thanks to two new high-tech Anatomage tables led by faculty from the Department of Biological Sciences and the College of Nursing.

The tables function as interactive 3D visualizations of human anatomy demonstrating the interconnectedness of various bodily functions, but they can also essentially serve as a virtual cadaver for the benefit of pathophysiology lessons.

In fact, the tables come pre-programmed with different cadavers whose families have donated their stories to use with the tables. The tables allow users to go layer by layer with the body to virtually dissect it and determine the contributing factors to a person’s ailments.

Here is Julia Rogers, assistant professor of nursing, with more:

“I love this,” Rogers said. “For (my) undergraduate we had cadavers, but for my master’s program we didn’t have cadavers, so we did a lot of stuff in the lab. We’ve gone to clinics and seen real patients, but the problem is in your head you’re just looking at the 2D pictures in your book that say “this is what the inside of the body looks like when this disease occurs, now you have to understand how it all connects.’

“But now the tables actually give them (the students) that point of view from the inside. So I think they’re going to be much better at not only assessing but also putting a pathway in place — that’s their (the patient’s) complaint, so that’s where it’s at, so I need to look at this, this, and this as well.

“I always use diabetes as an example because it affects so many parts of the body. With diabetes, people may have numbness and tingling in their feet, and this is due to what has happened to the blood vessels. So when you look at the whole body opening up on those tables, you can understand why diabetes affects vessels from one point to another and why the numbness and tingling occurs all the way down to their feet.

Recent news

We have a few items we’d like to close with:

  • Be sure to mark your calendars for March 3 to celebrate Founders Day! The seventh annual celebration is scheduled from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Alumni Hall on the Hammond campus.

All PNW faculty and staff should have received emails from the Rector’s Office with registration information, as well as further instructions on how to participate in the Fight Song video campaign.

For more information, you can visit pnw.edu/founders-day.

  • PNW was recently recognized as a Fulbright Top Producing Institution for US Scholars by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the number of applicants shortlisted for the 2022-23 Fulbright US Scholar program. PNW ranked among other Master’s institutions, as designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

During 2022-23, Maureen Mascha, Associate Professor of Accounting, is conducting research related to sustainability reporting and textual data analysis through June 2023 at Vaasa University in Finland. Meden Isaac-Lam, Associate Professor of Chemistry, will promote and exchange interdisciplinary chemistry research between May and August 2023 at the National University of Singapore, Tan Tao University in Vietnam and the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines.

During a six-week paid summer program, high school and community college instructors will be able to work with researchers and students from CIVS and the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium. The program’s goal is to advance local STEM education and interests through collaboration with local educators.

You can find more information at pnw.edu/civs.

  • There’s still time to attend Black History Month events at the PNW. The annual celebration, led by the Heritage Celebration Committee, recognizes the essential impact of black history, achievements and culture. This year’s theme focuses on Black joy and mental health.

Throughout the rest of February, you can participate in cultural and educational events, including but not limited to a financial literacy event led by PNW alumnus Dakita L. Jones; the Nia Bowl with black culture trivia and good food; and a Toast to Black Excellence party celebrating Black Joy and the contributions of PNW’s black community. Information about these events and more can be found by visiting pnw.edu/black-history.

That’s it for this time! Catch up on past episodes and submit your internal faculty and staff news by visiting pnw.edu/pridecast.

This is the close of Kale Wilk and I will get back to you in a few weeks.

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