New search

Ashley E. Rhodes
Teaching Associate Professor
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
From Twiggy to Tubby: The Progression of Insulin Resistance and Type II Diabetes

This case study explores the topics of diffusion, osmosis, membrane transport, and the physiological significance of glucose and insulin in the human body. The story begins with a high school athlete, Timmy, who is incredibly efficient at metabolizing carbohydrates for energy; this is where the reader is introduced to normal carbohydrate digestion and metabolism for energy within skeletal muscle cells. As Timmy enters college, he withdraws from sports and physical activity but continues to consume massive amounts of highly soluble carbohydrates, resulting in insulin resistance and ultimately type II diabetes. Throughout the case students are prompted with conceptual questions and interactive figures that require the application and transfer of information they have been introduced to. Originally written for intermediate and advanced physiology courses that cover foundational and complex concepts in science, the case is also appropriate for courses in intermediate biology, nutritional sciences, animal sciences, and exercise sciences.

I Hate Running!: And Lactate Is to Blame, Right?

This interrupted worksheet case study, developed for introductory or intermediate undergraduate physiology courses, aims to eliminate misconceptions that many students have about lactate, lactic acid, and changes in the body during exercise. The case begins with two fictional undergraduate students discussing the causes of muscle soreness; both of these characters have obvious misunderstandings about this issue that are likely to be shared by many students. As the case develops, students are presented with information in a variety of forms including flow charts and work through some of the chemical reactions that take place in actively contracting skeletal muscle cells to better understand the real cause of muscle soreness. By the end of the case, students will have explored this complex issue from multiple angles.

The Dangers of Deicing: The Challenge of Osmoregulation in a Freshwater Environment

Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the impact of road deicing agents on amphibians living near bridges and roads treated heavily with salt during the winter months. Concepts explored in this case include changes to the aquatic environment as a result of road deicing applications, bioaccumulation, osmoregulation in amphibians living in clean freshwater, and the impact of increased aquatic salinity levels on the ability of amphibians to adequately osmoregulate in an environment for which they are not adapted. Three short videos created by the author can be shown in class or assigned for viewing in advance for a "flipped" classroom approach. Originally developed for a general education/introductory biology course, the case could also be used with introductory level animal anatomy and physiology courses as part of a deeper exploration of the renal system.

Too Hot to Trot?: The Role of Exercise in Homeostasis

This interrupted case study looks at heat stress through the eyes of “Nelly,” a chatty, country Holstein. Although focusing on dairy cattle, the case can be used to teach the physiology of body temperature regulation in any number of homeothermic animals and the added challenges posed by larger body sizes and increasing environmental temperatures. Such challenges typically affect livestock, wildlife and even zoo animals. The physiological concepts discussed are thus related to difficulties faced by larger animals in hotter climates and include homeostasis of body temperature and feedback mechanisms that regulate body temperature. The case also explores the potential benefits of exercise as a means to improve thermoregulation, and describes the physiological changes that occur in response to exercise, ultimately tying physiological concepts back to specific mechanisms of homeostasis of body temperature. The case is ideally suited to students in intermediate physiology or biology courses who have completed at least a general biology or similar course in the recent past.