I was very impressed by the graduate and undergraduate students who presented their research at the Scholander poster competition sponsored by the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society this afternoon. I am sure the winner of the competition will be very difficult to select.
Some highlights included:
Bridget Martinez, graduate student at the University of California – Merced whose research focused on hormonal changes that occur with fasting in elephant seal pups. In mammals, food deprivation leads to lower thyroid hormone concentrations, which helps to reduce metabolism. Fasted elephant seal pups, on the other hand, respond to fasting with increases in thyroid hormone. Her research is attempting to figure out why the elephant seal pups have such a different response to fasting.
Dillon McCannon, Undergraduate student at Beloit College, Wisconsin whose research is designed to characterize the development of diabetes in horses as they age and gain weight. Resistance to the glucose lowering effects of insulin in horses can results in a condition called laminitis. This condition is caused by inflammation of the connections between the pedal bone and the hoof, called laminae. It can cause the pedal bone to sink or rotate resulting in chronic laminitis.
Mallory Ballinger, University of Minnesota – Duluth presented her work on thirteen-lined ground squirrels which showed, surprisingly, that the brain of the squirrels actually requires more fuel to function properly during hibernation that in other times of the year to deal with the changing demands that occur with hibernation.
While we are on the topic of squirrels, Yvonne Dzal, University of British Columbia presented research describing variations in how mole rats, bats and ground squirrels deal with hypoxia. According to her findings, both mole rats and bats simply lower their metabolic demands whereas ground squirrels use quick ventilatory responses to match their oxygen supply to meet the metabolic demand. Fascinating!