Integrative Physiology and Health Science

Student Opportunities

Unique, Hands-On Experiences


The IPHS Department recently purchased a new piece of equipment that will greatly improve our abilities to study muscle oxygenation. NIRS stand for Near InfraRed Spectroscopy. This machine looks at wavelengths produced by oxy-hemoglobin, and deoxy-hemoglobin, but is a non-invasive technique to measure muscle oxygenation. 


The IPHS Department also recently this Fall of 2013 purchased new highly integrated software system that all students can record data from their own bodies, animals or tissues. This is an easy to use machinery provides and effective way for students to learn, yet advanced enough for advance research topics. To learn more about our new BIOPAC system visit

Human Performance Laboratory

The Human Performance Laboratory has state of the art research and physiology based equipment for our students to utilize. The laboratory provides an environment for students to look at many different concepts. For example, students can study maximal oxygen consumption using our ParvoMedic’s 2400 Metabolic Cart, or to look at forearm blood flow with our DE Hokanson Rapid Cuff Inflation System. In the required course laboratories, students will design their own “mini” research projects to carry out manipulations to normal human physiology being studied. This allows students to explore creative ideas, and get a hands-on, visual stimulus for learning. 


Muscle Physiology Laboratory

The current work ongoing in the Muscle Physiology laboratory is centered around understanding key regulators of muscle mass.  The work utilizes cell culture with study of C2C12 cell behavior being the standard in vitro model of myogenesis (muscle formation). C2C12 cell culture is used by students in the advanced muscle physiology course as well as independent student researchers.  In the required course laboratory, students design their own experiments to establish the effects of important hormones/growth factors on muscle development.

Leadership Opportunities

Many hands-on experiences exist for IPHS students to become involved. By enrolling in IPHS 390—Senior Fitness, students can lead various exercise programs for older adults who live in the community. Opportunities include leading water aerobics exercises, land exercise or strength training.  

Students may also become involved with Spartners, which is a program that targets (S)Partners for Heart Health. This program is designed to help 5th grade students sustain or improve nutrition and physical activity behaviors that support heart-health, and provide “hand’s on” training for public health, and medical students. To learn more about (S)Partners for Heart Health contact Dr. Robyn Anderson.                                                                                   

Independent Research Opportunities

More recently, student researchers have examined the effects of muscle contraction type on muscle tissue oxygenation responses in the arm and leg. This research project was funded through a PRISM grant, which is summer research opportunity for students interested in math and science based research. This purpose of this study was to examine the muscle tissue saturation (TSI%) response during isometric, concentric and eccentric contraction of the flexor carpi ulnaris and the gastrocnemius.

Another study lead research was inspired by this student traveling abroad. The study was designed to compare the sodium chloride content of traditional foods from 13 different countries prepared at Alma College. Each dish served included a form of meat, potato, and vegetable. This study aimed to see if there was a relationship between sodium chloride content and the prevalence of hypertension in each county. 

Furthermore, this student lead research designed a study to look at the effects of cordyceps sinensis supplementation on anaerobic muscle power output. This study was designed to examine the effects of one week of 525mg of pure Cordyceps sinesis taken three times a day on anaerobic muscle power output within college-aged students at Alma College. 

Finally, two students wanted to study the effects of tattoos on active sweat glands and sweat function. This study looked into the possible effects of tattoos on the body’s ability to produce sweat efficiently compared to un-tattooed skin. There is no current research on this topic, and it was expected that the tattooed skin will have a lesser production of sweat, as well as a lesser number of sweat glands, due to damage presented by the tattoo. 

Karen Ball, director of the Integrated Health Studies Institute, offers instruction.

There are numerous student lead research, with aid from faculty advisors, going on at Alma College within our IPHS Department. Topics from aqua aerobics, body composition, meal portions, HESPAN starch, public health risk factors are just a few. Any idea that a student has is an explorable option for research here at Alma College! 

*Check out the student research that is being presented at this years national American College of Sports Medicine Conference, in San Diego, CA! (