Genny Gierke describes her research during our tour of health-related labs recently.
It’s a question we seem to ask more often as we age. Even after something as mundane as raking the yard, those twinges in our backs and legs remind us that we aren’t getting any younger.
You might be surprised to know that there’s a lot of health-related research going on at Tech. And much of it involves undergrads and grad students.
We took a tour of some labs recently, with alumni from the Tech Fund Board of Trustees, and we were enlightened.
Jason Carter, chair of the kinesiology and integrative physiology department, started us out with an overview of research at the SDC. He and the students in his lab have been concentrating on hypertension, hypotension (low blood pressure), and insomnia.
Biology PhD student Huan Yang described her work on sleep deprivation—twenty-four hours with no sleep for thirty men and women to compare with their normal sleep patterns. Afterwards, testing for blood pressure revealed "a new insight into understanding the link between sleep deprivation and hypertension in women."
In Assistant Professor Karen Roemer’s biomechanics lab, biomed PhD student Stephanie Hamilton ran through routines to record movement, before they upload the data and work on projects like balance analysis for seniors and rowing machine ergonomics for everyone.
Her interest in physical therapy led Stephanie to the PhD program. At Tech, she said she had “great opportunities for research and knowing she could make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
On the other end of campus, and on the other end of a science to engineering spectrum, Biomedical Engineering Chair Sean Kirkpatrick led us through more labs with impressive research. (Biomed’s got impressive numbers of female enrollment, too: 41 percent of 275 undergrads and 50 percent of grad students.)
In Assistant Professor Megan Frost’s biomaterials lab, graduating senior Genny Gierke discussed her work with nitrous oxide, platelets, and inflammation, and PhD student Sean Hopkins was looking at polymeric materials for implanting.
Another lab focused on stem cell work, and students were heavily involved in the biosensor lab, where they showed us a manufactured piece that would go between a prosthetic and a person’s leg, for example.
Student Brandon Pereles began as an undergrad and liked the work so much he stayed for graduate study. Undergraduate Thad Sansom was also present and submitted a paper to the journal IEEE Sensors, as his paper was proudly displayed in the lab.
“Compared to a calculus class, I really like this experience,” said Thad. “This is more like the real world.”
That was evident as I made my way back to the office, impressed with what I'd seen and heard and rubbing the small of my back.
Dennis '92 '09