Author Archives: chasestanker

Class Presentations- What Can We Learn?

The last two weeks in class I had the opportunity to learn about different types of scientific writing styles through presentations given by my classmates. Since I was part of the “Popular Informative” group, I will not be responding to my own presentation.
The internet writing group proposed the following questions for the class to answer:

1. What tone is conveyed by each article?

2. In which article(s) do graphics play an important role? Why do you suppose this is the case? What do you think the author is attempting to do in each article? (What is his/her purpose?)

Responding to question number one, popular internet articles have a very distinct tone that allows readers from all different backgrounds and levels of education to enjoy the information they are presenting. The authors don’t use overly technical grammar that would confuse a casual reader and usually follow an “hourglass” shape of the essay. And for question number two, the article that talks about Earth Day relied heavily on graphics to intrigue the reader and keep them interested about the information they were trying to convey. Using graphics heavily throughout the article also gives the reader some time away from purely reading text, which can aid in the overall understanding of the article.

Another group presented about popular writing and how popular style writings can appeal to a wide range of readers. They proposed the following question for the class to think about:

How does this online article maintain its audience’s attention?

After reading this article, one of the major things that kept me glued to the article was the use of an attention grabbing title that makes me want to read on. “Electric Stimulation to Spine Gets Paralyzed Patients Moving Again” invokes an emotional response within the reader and naturally we want to know how in the world electric stimulation can get paralyzed patients moving around again.

Finally, I learned about ways of formatting a document in order to inform and inspire the reader to take action towards an issue. This group offered the following question to aid in their presentation:

How does the speaker engage the audience in a way that not only attempts to inform them on a certain topic but as well inspire them to take action?

When you think of a famous speech that has in some way informed or inspired you to take action on a cause, the speaker is usually a well-known person that holds power to influence actions of the public. These figures can include politicians, leaders, and social activists. Speeches should always have an issue that people care about, a thorough background on the subject, and can appeal to many different audiences. These speeches challenge the audience to make a difference and typically offer some sort of movement to join or a project to help with.
-Chase Stanker

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Post #7- Not Your Ordinary Internship Opportunity Presentation

I recently attended a presentation during an Integrative Physiology club meeting in which members had the opportunity to hear from Amanda Wilson, who is executive director of the Spinal Cord Recovery Project located in Denver, Colorado. I initially thought that this would be another run-of-the-mill internship opportunity speech and that I wouldn’t have much interest in what she had to say. Boy was I wrong.

Amanda began her speech by using a PowerPoint presentation while giving us a background of her time as an undergraduate at CU Boulder, and the struggles that she faced while trying to find her niche within the Integrative Physiology world. Since Amanda was giving this presentation to a room full of pre medicine and physiology majors, we all could connect to what she had to say. It turns out that her time at CU was not as straight and narrow as she would have liked it to be—funding her own way through school, potentially facing academic probation, and enjoying the Boulder night life too much. She lectured about how she didn’t know what to do with her degree, and was discouraged with her efforts in school. It was at this point in her presentation that she put the following quote up on the screen:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
-Michael Jordan

It was after the showing of this quote that really lured me into what she had to say. She told us how she discovered the Spinal Cord Recovery Project in its beginning stages of development, and quickly started to make a name for herself within the company. Since the project was in the early stages, she had to drive around with therapists to patients’ houses in a beat up old pickup truck with physical therapy apparatuses in the back. After years of providing treatment for patients at their own homes, they had enough funding to set up their own space in a warehouse and purchase the most high tech equipment available on the market.

Later on, Amanda talked about how undergraduate students like myself could become part of the Spinal Cord Recovery Project, what we needed to do to apply for a position, etc. But my favorite part of her presentation, and the point that stuck out to me the most was how she overcame what seemed like major roadblocks in her life to excel and succeed in the physiology field of study. It does in fact seem at times that there are too big of roadblocks in the path of life that we cannot overcome, but if we listen to Michael Jordan and Amanda Wilson, we know that nothing can stop personal success if you want it enough.

-Chase Stanker

Blog Post 5- Tips From a PA on Getting Into PA School

When I tell friends that I’m an Integrative Physiology major, one of the first questions that usually follows is, “Are you going to medical school?” Well, to be honest, I’m not sure yet. I would absolutely love to go into some sort of post-graduate schooling, whether that is Physician’s Assistant (PA) school, Physical Therapy (PT) school, or Chiropractic school. I think it is essential to have post graduate schooling in addition to an Integrative Physiology degree. With these ambitions I have a lot of questions about the process that need to be answered not by an academic advisor, but by someone who endured the trials and tribulations of post graduate school and came out victorious. I briefly interviewed Bryan Myers, PA at Kaiser Permanente after a regularly scheduled appointment and hoped he could help me answer some of these questions.

I asked Bryan what advice he would have for future PA school applicants regarding cover letters, letters of recommendation, and résumés. The first dish of advice that he issued me was to take the cover letter seriously. Without a meaningful and well directed cover letter, schools will not consider you immediately for an interview. He also mentioned that cover letters are what the reader sees first, and it must have focus and clarity directed to the school that we want to apply.

I was also interested in how he chose people to write letters of recommendation for him when applying to PA school. He advised me to choose friends and colleagues you are confident will write a strong and meaningful letter that will highlight your personal strengths and display your achievements. He also told me that if we don’t get accepted initially into a program to go and meet with a faculty member to discuss your application and how to address the weak points and how to fix them.

I wish that Bryan had more time to answer more of my questions that I had prepared for him, but after hearing the screaming child next door, I couldn’t blame him for having to leave so suddenly. It was very helpful to hear firsthand from a PA school graduate some tips and tricks for applying. As for the question I proposed earlier, “Are you going to medical school?” I’m still not entirely sure, but I hope to incorporate some of the advice that I learned from Bryan into my current resume and cover letter to become more appealing to post-graduate schools.

 

-Chase Stanker

The Public Library of Science

If I were to tell you, as a reader, that you could write a scientific research article about anything you wish, have that article be published online, be seen by millions of internet readers, and even potentially reviewed by The New York Times, would you believe me? If your answer is yes, then you have probably heard of The Public Library of Science, or, PLOS for short. The PLOS is a non-profit organization that hosts independent science and medicine blogs whose mission is to, “…promote greater understanding of breakthrough science for a variety of reader types, including policy makers, the academic science community, researchers, medical and mental health practitioners, journalists and the general public.” The PLOS is unique because everything that gets posted to the database is Open Access. Per the PLOS website, when a website is open access, “… everyone, everywhere can read, redistribute, and reuse your research without cost: colleagues, patients, policy makers, journalists; the next generation of researchers. Your work will have the maximum possible impact.”

PLOS index

The purpose of the PLOS is to set up an independent research network where scientists and bloggers can promote greater understanding of breakthrough science for a variety of reader types that range from policy makers to the general public. I found a journal article on PLOS called, “When Vitamins Backfire” authored by Beth Skwarecki that is found underneath the Public Health Perspectives section of the website. Beth’s target audience on this journal article was the general public, as she uses simple terminology to make the information within the post understandable to the common reader. Beth thoroughly examines 2 studies of athletes taking 1) Vitamin C and 2) Vitamin D2 and how those supplements affected athletic performance. After examining the studies, she makes conclusions about the results and offers her opinion on the matter. Formatting her journal article in this manner really allowed Beth to reach a broad audience of readers by making clear, concise arguments while providing analysis of data that can be understood by all.

In my final project, I hope to write a blog post similar to what Beth Skwarecki published focused on anxiety and stress while being a University of Colorado student. In this final project I want to reach a broad audience of people, where anyone ranging from a doctor to a stay at home mother can understand and appreciate. I hope to inform readers about the triggers of stress, the treatments, and personal experience living with an anxiety disorder. Publishing a journal article on the PLOS will help give me a stronger understanding of the writing style that is necessary to publish articles and be recognized and appreciated in the future.

-Chase Stanker

Human Growth Hormone- What do we really know?

Human growth hormone, also known as HGH, is a highly recognized and debated topic in both professional and Olympic sports. HGH is a naturally occurring hormone released by the pituitary gland found deep within the human brain. At normal secretion levels HGH helps regulate body composition, body fluids, metabolize sugar and fat, along with spurring muscle and bone growth. However, it is the anabolic muscle growth effect of HGH that the public is most familiar with. Watching ESPN on television, the news stories of athletes “doping” with human growth hormone in professional sports like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association litter the headlines. With an increased amount of HGH in athletes’ bodies users can experience an increase in lean muscle mass and a decrease in body fat allowing for greater athletic performance. With current scientific research on the subject, the following question becomes apparent: How does a scientific journal present the issue of HGH compared to popular media?

A popular online article published in May, 2010 by ESPN titled, “Study: HGH boosts athletic performance” gives a brief description of  HGH, what its used for, then abruptly dives into an independent study that shows just how much athletes benefit from hormone doping. The article focuses heavily on results of the experiment, seemingly giving little to no attention to the methods, data, or analysis of the same experiment.  

“”This is the first demonstration that growth hormone improves performance and justifies its ban in sport.” said Dr. Ken Ho, who led the study at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.”

And later…

““The researchers speculated that the boost from growth hormone alone is enough to shave off about half a second in a 10-second sprint over 100 meters. That little time “divides the winner from the last place finisher,” said Ho.”

This ESPN article neglects to fully establish the experiment that all of the conclusions are based upon, and conveniently notes at the end of the article that during the experiment athletes treated with HGH were also given testosterone supplements. The addition of testosterone to HGH undoubtedly aided the athletes’ performance; thus making the claim that HGH is the sole reason why athletes performed better untrue and biased.

When writing an article in the scientific community, contributors describe their experiment in enough detail so that a similar study can be performed and the results will be consistent. A scientific journal article titled, “Systematic Review: The Effects of Growth Hormone on Athletic Performance” published by M. Saugy in 2008 analyzes the effects of human growth hormone in participants aged 13 to 45 years old. This scientific article clearly and diligently describes the methods, data, results, and conclusion of the experiment with an unbiased opinion. The conclusion of the experiment is surprising and factual:

Growth hormone is reported to be extensively used for illicit enhancement of athletic performance, both for its anabolic and endurance effects. However, our review of the limited published literature suggests that although growth hormone may alter body composition, it has minimal effect on key athletic performance outcomes and may, in fact, be associated with worsened exercise capacity.”

The scientific journal article shows an unbiased and fair analysis of the topic, while fully and accurately describing the methods and data obtained. ESPN’s article on HGH focused entirely on a faulty experiment with questionable conclusions. Although the ESPN article builds excitement and extrapolates data for the reader, the scientific journal separates the public opinion and provides merely what was found during the experiment.

 

-Chase Stanker

The Effects of Smoking Marijuana on Dietary Health

Abstract

In this study, information from 1,000 participants between the ages of 18-30 was taken in order to determine whether the amount of marijuana smoked was directly correlated to an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and caloric intake. These 1,000 participants were then divided into six categories based upon the average amount of the drug they used each week. Their average weekly caloric intake as well as BMI was also determined. From the following results, this study demonstrates how increased use of marijuana smoked each week does in fact have an impact on an individual’s weekly caloric intake as well as BMI.

Capture

Introduction 

Marijuana, also referred to as pot, weed, or Mary Jane, is the most commonly used drug in America.  Many people smoke the drug through hand rolled cigarettes or “joints” as well as through water pipes also known as “bongs”.  In Colorado, medical marijuana became legal in 2000 at which time 25% of college students ages 18 to 30 claimed to have used the drug. By 2013, after Amendment 64 was passed year prior legalizing marijuana in Colorado, the number of college students using almost doubled to 46%. While many believe there is no harm in smoking marijuana, it has been observed that using this drug often increases hunger, or “the munchies.” Because marijuana causes a hunger increase, one could assume that these users consume more calories than an individual who does not smoke marijuana. This effect could therefore cause an individual’s BMI, to raise leading to increased weight and ultimately serious  issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Procedure/Methods

In order to measure the effect that marijuana has on eating habits, 1,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 were studied.  All participants in the study were surveyed using a closed-format questionnaire, in a semi-anonymous fashion to encourage honesty.  In this questionnaire, participants in the study were asked to answer two questions:  First, participants were asked how much marijuana they smoked on a weekly basis.  The six options for which a study participant could respond were (a) 0-5 grams/week, (b) 6-10 grams/week, (c) 11-15 grams/week, (d) 16-20 grams/week, (e) 21-25 grams/week, (f) 26-30 grams/week.  Participants then recorded their weekly caloric intake. After gathering all of this data, we took the mean caloric intake of each smoking sub group.  After the survey had been taken, all participants were weighed and had their height measured.  From these measurements the participants’ Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated.  Each survey had a reference number for which the calculated BMI could be matched, ensuring semi-anonymity while still guaranteeing that each participants’ BMI could be compared to their survey to properly collect data.

Data/Results

The following results were observed after comparing the amount of Marijuana smoked on average per week to weekly caloric intake as well as average BMI. Table 1 represents the data that were collected during the experiment, and figure 2 shows a graphical side-by-side comparison of both variables.

Amount smoked (g) /Week Caloric Intake/Week Amount smoked (g) /Week BMI
0-5 14000 0-5 19
6-10 15000 6-10 20
11-15 17000 11-15 21
16-20 20000 16-20 23
21-25 25000 21-25 27
26-30 30000 26-30 28

(Table 1)

The people that smoked 0-5g per week  averaged 14,000 calories consumed per week, which is right on target with the daily recommended amount of 2,000 calories consumed per day. These same people had a very healthy average BMI of 19, which again falls into the healthy range. It should be noted that as the amount of marijuana smoked per week increases, so do calories consumed and BMI. People that smoked 26-30g per week consumed a staggering 30,000 calories per week which is 2.1x the daily amount of calories per day, and fell into the overweight category with an average BMI of 28.

Weed(Figure 2)

Figure 2 shows a graphical representation of the data that were collected. Both calories consumed and BMI had a direct positive correlation with amount of marijuana smoked. As people smoke more marijuana, the average calories consumed increases and so does the average BMI.

Analysis and Conclusions

After gathering the data and  completing the experiment, it can safely be assumed that smoking marijuana has a positive correlation with an average person’s Caloric Intake and Body Mass Index. It has been said that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to overdose on marijuana, but this rumor does not take the indirect effects into account. The more marijuana someone smokes is directly proportional to the amount of unhealthy food they eat. If people proceed to continue eating a large amount of unhealthy food, high cholesterol and other consequences put their lives at risk. Our test subjects’ Body Mass Index shows just how dangerous it is to smoke an increasing amount of marijuana on a typical week.Unfortunately, our test subject who smoked the most marijuana on average ended up passing away due to a rare health defect called “Explosion of the Heart.” Although his loss is tragic, his sacrifice for our experiment won’t be forgotten. This “Explosion of the Heart” defect was a direct result of our rigorous testing, and is proof of how dangerous the process of smoking marijuana and over-eating really is. From our experiment, it can be proven that, although, the act of smoking marijuana may not kill someone, the effects of over-eating can. This study has shed light on the dangers of over-eating while under the influence of marijuana and will hopefully save the lives of millions of people in this world.

(The data in this Blog post is fictitious, but it is still bad to over-eat. Don’t let Explosion of the Heart get you too.)

Finding a Passion Through Artwork (Revised)

Finding a Passion Through Artwork

It was Saturday, December 8th, 2012 and I was with my two best friends Shaun and Tyler attending a concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado. I initially had no desire or intention of going to this show, but they assured me that I would never forget that night because before the show started we would have the pleasure of listening to a presentation from a world famous spiritual/psychedelic artist named Alex Grey. I had no idea who Mr. Grey was or even what his artwork was about. We stood as close as we could to the rail in hopes of catching a good view of the screen. Upon entering the stage, I noted that Mr. Grey had long flowing silver-white hair, spoke with a soft voice that seemed unnaturally peaceful and wore a jacket decorated with bright colors and patterns. This man’s unique appearance was enough to get my attention and intrigue me about what he was saying. Throughout Mr. Grey’s presentation I learned that he worked at Harvard Medical School studying anatomy and preparing cadavers for dissection. This incredible experience of working first hand with the deceased inspired him to follow his passion of artwork and human anatomy to create beautiful, magnificent pieces of art that highlight the human body and spirit. What separates Mr. Grey’s artwork from other spiritual/psychedelic artists are the anatomically perfect human bodies that are the focus of his pieces. Mr. Grey’s artwork seems to “x-ray” the subjects, allowing a look into their anatomy. He includes the skin, muscles, vital organs, blood vessels, nerves and bones of each body in the painting displaying how intricate humans are.

As a reader you may be asking yourself, “How does this experience relate to your life, Chase?” Well, even as a small child I had a strong interest in how our bodies functioned and what made us tick. Advancing through school my favorite subject was always biology because it offered explanations for the questions about our bodies that I longed to understand. During the Fall 2012 semester of school, which coincidentally was the same semester that I was introduced to Alex Grey, I officially declared my major as Integrative Physiology at CU Boulder. Within the Integrative Physiology major, students have the opportunity to study human anatomy by working with actual cadavers, similar to what Alex Grey experienced, in a course called “Intro to Human Anatomy Lab.” Throughout the lab I found myself constantly examining Mr. Grey’s artwork looking for specific blood vessels, nerves and bones that I had learned about, and found them present exactly where they should be on the human body. Finishing Anatomy Lab caused me to appreciate Mr. Grey’s artwork even more, because the body is exceptionally complex and he manages to capture the beauty of it all. I am now a second semester junior at CU Boulder and absolutely love what I study. Without a doubt, working with the human body is what I want to do as a profession and a lot of credit goes to Alex Grey and his magnificent artwork that sparked a passion that will last a lifetime.

Alex_Grey-Reading

Alex Grey- Reading, 2001, Oil on Linen

-Chase Stanker

Finding a Passion Through Artwork

It was Saturday, December 8th, 2012 and I was with my two best friends Shaun and Tyler attending a concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado. I initially had no desire or intention of going to this show, but they assured me that I would never forget that night because before the music started playing we would have the pleasure of listening to a presentation from a world famous spiritual/psychedelic artist named Alex Grey. I had no idea who Alex Grey was or even what his artwork was about. We stood as close as we could to the rail in hopes of catching a good view of the screen. Upon entering the stage, I noted that Mr. Grey had long flowing silver white hair, spoke with a soft voice that seemed naturally peaceful and wore a jacket filled with bright colors and patterns. This man’s unique appearance was enough to get my attention and intrigue me about what he was saying.Throughout Alex’s presentation I learned that he worked at Harvard Medical School studying anatomy and preparing the cadavers for dissection. This incredible experience of working first hand with the deceased inspired Alex to follow his passion of artwork and human anatomy to create beautiful, magnificent pieces of art that highlight the human body and spirit.

As a reader you may be asking yourself, “How does this relate to your life, Chase?” Well, it was during the Fall 2012 semester of school that I had officially declared my major as Integrative Physiology at CU Boulder. I had mixed feelings about this decision, knowing that I could be well in over my head with the amount of material I would need to learn and the amount of schooling I would need to succeed in the field. But it was in becoming more and more familiar with Alex’s artwork that I developed a passion for human anatomy and found everything about it fascinating. It just blows my mind thinking that every single part of the human body serves a specific function, and that it performs that function perfectly. I am now a second semester junior and could not even imagine studying anything else but Integrative Physiology, with a big credit to Alex Grey.

 

Alex_Grey-Reading

“Reading” -Alex Grey, 2001

 

“The evidence that all beings are connected is revealed before us every day. The only life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago was blue-green algae. Now our human consciousness contemplates that fact and marvels at the miraculously diverse biological bloom of creation we share with all beings.” -Alex Grey, Net of Being

 

Chase Stanker