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Susan B. Chaplin
Professor Emerita
Department of Biology
University of St. Thomas
Girl Pulled Alive from Ruins, 15 Days after Earthquake 

This case examines the integrated physiological response to dehydration and starvation from the real-life report of a girl discovered 15 days after an earthquake devastated Port Au-Prince, Haiti, in January 2010. From the meager scientifically relevant facts reported by the newspaper accounts of the girl's condition, students are asked to work through the pathways of water loss from dehydration as they examine the multiple systems involved in homeostatic responses, and then are asked to calculate whether it is possible for a human to withstand 15 days without water. The case also gives the instructor the opportunity to differentiate between the general adaptive response to a stressor and the specialized adaptive responses exhibited by well-acclimated natives. The case was designed for an upper division comparative or human physiology course or possibly a graduate level medical physiology course.

The Case of the Sexually Arrested Orangutans 

This case examines the hormonal control of the development and maturation to adulthood and the role of stress hormones in that developmental process. The case was adapted from results summarized in Maggioncalda and Sapolsky’s (2002) article in Scientific American. It presents evidence for why an unusual adaptation for reproduction in subordinate male primates may have evolved as a means of reducing stress. Students are presented with data from the published studies and asked to analyze and interpret the results to formulate hypotheses. Initially developed for an upper division endocrinology course, the case has been used in an upper division comparative anatomy-physiology course, and could be used in an animal behavior or behavioral ecology course.