Why I Decided to View a Dissection

5 Oct
A message from Erin O'Loughlin, honorary HAPSter since she was 3 years old.

A message from Erin O’Loughlin, honorary HAPSter since she was 3 years old.

My name is Erin O’Loughlin, and despite the fact that I am not a HAPS member, I have been attending its conferences since I was three years old. As the daughter of a former HAPS president, I have been granted many incredible opportunities in the realm of science, including the chance to view and assist in the dissection of a cadaver. I hope to interest and enlighten readers by presenting information about the experience through the eyes of a student.

When daydreaming about their summers, most high school students envision themselves lying on the beach, dancing at a concert, or sleeping under the stars; not so much standing over a cadaver. But instead of swimming at the pool or barbecuing, I spent more than 30 hours observing and assisting in a dissection during my vacation. The cold, pungent environment of a lab is no substitute for a warm summer day; however, the experience was well worth my time.

Erin with her mama, HAPS President Emeritus Valerie Dean-O'Loughlin, at her first HAPS Annual Conference in Maui.

Erin with her mama (HAPS President Emeritus Valerie Dean-O’Loughlin) at her first HAPS Annual Conference in Maui.

In a word, my summer break was unusual, and many people were curious as to why I decided to spend it with a cadaver. My reasoning is as follows: Although coming face to face with a deceased human being is an intimidating task, I could not pass up the incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge of anatomy and better understand my own body and its functions at such a young age.

For most of my life, I was unaware of many of the anatomic complexities supporting my existence every second of every day of every year. Being able to visualize and understand the human body is an incredible gift and I encourage any student who is presented with the opportunity to view or partake in a dissection to take full advantage of it.

And to those who spend a lifetime in the presence of cadavers, offering high school students more opportunities to view a human body is a fantastic way to encourage a respect for anatomy and educate a number of individuals who will undoubtedly benefit from the knowledge.

I would also like to thank two incredible HAPS members, Keely Cassidy and Barbie Klein, for their patience, expertise, and generosity in allowing me to observe and assist in their dissections.

HAPS Eastern Regional Conference: October 3!

27 Sep
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

Don’t forget to register for the HAPS Eastern Regional Meeting! Online registration will be closing on Wednesday, September 30th (registration will be available on-site).  The meeting will be hosted by Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Maryland on October 3rd and will feature presentations from Jeffrey Hollar and Dr. Donna DeCosta.

Wor-Wic Community College is a great place to become a better teacher!

Wor-Wic Community College is a great place to become a better A&P instructor!

HAPS President Elect, Terry Thompson is the Conference Coordinator for the event and she’s excited about what the day will hold. There is one hotel available for those looking to stay after the regional meeting. The Hampton Inn has given HAPS a discounted rate of $80/night for reservations made October 3-5. Reservations can be made HERE.

And check out some of the workshops that you can explore:

  • Using online narrated video clips to improve student learning
  • Maryland’s Body Donor Program: Onsite Clinical Training Labs  to Advance Medical Education, Clinical Practice and Research Study
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Using Cases and Discussions in an Online Physiology Course
  • Arterial blood Gases Made Simple
  • Paper strips and arrow diagrams:  Two simple student activities to
    enhance linear thinking and learning of cause and effect events
  • The Do-Re-Mi’s of A&P: Teaching Interactively with Content-Rich Jingles
  • Generating “Aha!” Moments with Inexpensive, Everyday Props
  • Less Blah, Blah Blah; More Aha – Best HAPSter Demos II
  • And more and more and more….
Come join the fun.

Come join the fun.

So go ahead and get your HAPS fix now.  There’s no need to wait until May in Atlanta to get your HAPS on!

Current registration rates:
HAPS Contingent Faculty Member – $85
HAPS Members – $95
Non-Member Contingent Faculty – $105
Non-Member – $125
Student – $35

HAPS Eastern Regional Conference:  Schedule for Saturday, October 3, 2015

 Time Event Location
 7:30 – 8:30 AM Registration & Breakfast with Exhibitors Hazel Center
 8:30 – 9:00 AM Welcome Guerrieri Hall Auditorium
 9:00 – 10:00 AM Update Speaker 1:
Jeff Hollar
Guerrieri Hall Auditorium
 10:00 – 10:45 AM Workshop Session 1  Henson Hall – 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Floor
 10:45 – 11:15 AM Break with Exhibitors Hazel Center
11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Workshop Session 2 Henson Hall – 1st, 2nd, or 3rd floor
 12:00 – 1:00 PM Lunch Hazel Center
 1:00 – 2:00 PM Update Speaker 2:
Dr. Donna DeCosta
 Guerrieri Hall Auditorium
 2:00 – 2:30 PM Break with Exhibitors Hazel Center
 2:30 – 3:15 PM Workshop Session 3 Henson Hall – 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Floor
 3:20 – 3:45 PM Closing & Door Prizes Hazel Center

Evolutionary Anatomy – Vestigial Structures

20 Sep

Welcome to a new series on Evolutionary Anatomy by Dr. Tony Friscia.  Dr. Friscia’s research program has focused on the evolution of early Tertiary mammals and their diversification into modern families, using extensive anatomical and functional knowledge as a basis for comparison.

A message from UCLA professor, Dr. Tony Friscia.

A message from UCLA professor, Dr. Tony Friscia.

With the constant drive to prepare for allied health careers, one thing both students and even instructors of anatomy often forget is that anatomy is a sub-field of biology. Theodosius Dobzhansky, a founding member of the field of population genetics and one of the architects of the Modern Synthesis of evolutionary biology, famously said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.” So by corollary, nothing in anatomy makes sense except in light of evolution. As recognition of this fact, this is the first in a multi-part blog arc about the evidence for evolution in human anatomy. For me, this connection offers a richer picture of anatomy, and often helps to illustrate points that even our allied health students can appreciate.

There are some well-known, obvious examples of this connection. The appendix is one of these. It’s what’s called a vestigial structure. This means that it although it has no obvious use in humans, it is a holdover from our evolutionary history. Looking at other mammals we can see that the appendix is used by many of them, especially herbivores (plant-eaters) as a key part of their digestive processes. The fact that we retain the appendix speaks to our shared ancestry with these animals. (Having said this, there is some evidence that the appendix in humans acts as a store of the various ‘good’ bacteria that aid in our digestion, but even this function hints at the connection to similar, but more extensive, use in other mammals.)

A comparison of appendices among various mammals

A comparison of appendices among various mammals (from Talk Origins)

One question I often get asked about these sorts of vestigial structures, whether it be appendix or wisdom teeth or something else, is “Will we ever lose this structure?” Student wonder if it will be ‘evolved’ away, and the answer is a bit more complex than it might appear, and we need to go back to the fundamentals of evolutionary theory.

Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection added the necessary mechanism to evolutionary theory. Evolutionary thought was around before Darwin, by some accounts going back to the Greeks, but there was no good mechanism for it. One of the pre-Darwinian contenders for an evolutionary mechanism was Lamarckian evolution via acquired characteristics. Lamarck believed that the usage of morphological adaptations provided the selective mechanism for evolution. We now know this to not be the case. (Just think about it for a minute – if you work out, will your children be born with bigger muscles?) Nevertheless that Lamarckian idea hangs on a bit, because it makes some amount of logical sense. It is from this that the students’ questions about the loss of vestigial characters arises; if we aren’t using the appendix it should go away.

A key part of Darwin’s Natural Selection is the concept of fitness – a combination of the ability to survive to adulthood and to reproduce. When students ask me if the appendix is ‘going away’ I retort with, “Does anyone die of appendicitis anymore?”. In places with access to modern medicine the answer is no. Even if someone has the bad luck to have an infected appendix burst, spewing its biological weapons into the peritoneal cavity, we have a slew of antibiotics that can help most victims. So if the appendix doesn’t affect survival or the ability to reproduce, will it ‘go away’? Not via the mechanism of Natural Selection.

Modern genetics (a piece Darwin was lacking, and was added in the Modern Synthesis of the 20th century) adds a caveat to this answer. We now know about the concept of mutation. Mutations can alter the development of body structures. Obviously a mutation in a critical gene, like one controlling head or heart development, will never last long in a population, because the individuals will probably not survive (or even be born; many of the most horrible malformations will be spontaneously aborted early in pregnancies). So there is strong selection to maintain working forms of these developmental genes.

If a mutation occurred in the gene controlling appendix development, it may not even be noticed. Eventually in a population, these mutations may build up, to the point where the appendix never even forms. With no Natural Selection maintaining the appendix, it may simply be mutated out of existence, although this process may take a long time.

Other evolutionary factors affect our morphology, and in the next installment, we’ll tackle the trade-offs that are often made through the course of evolution, and examples of these trade-offs in humans.

(Here’s a link to a more detailed discussion of the vestigiality of the appendix)

Debating the “Utility and Futility of the Lecture”

14 Sep
Yossi Rathner, Australian HAPSter, trying to work while his children watch YouTube clips around him.

Yossi Rathner, Australian HAPSter, trying to work while his children watch YouTube clips around him.

“The lecturers are so lazy; they don’t teach us and then blame us when we don’t learn anything.”  This is an actual quote from a student in a first-year physiology course designed for nursing and allied health students.

In his essay, provocatively titled “The Utility and Futility of the Lecture,” Murray Jensen suggests that the traditional lecture format is out-dated and less effective than other forms of delivery.   In fact, he describes typical live-lectures as “monologues” that do not engage students or promote active learning.  Murray does find some value in lecturing; however, he advocates that lectures be available in an online format that will free-up lecture time for other more engaging classroom activities.  It seems his comments on lecturing as a mode of delivery seem to be more of a criticism of the lecturer’s delivery style rather than the andragological value of the lecture itself.  Let’s face it…..some lecturers just have more personality and maintain student attention better than others.  Rather than completely eliminating the lecture as a mode of in-class delivery, however, perhaps simply changing presentation style would make the traditional lecture more effective and subsequently more valuable.

Over the last four years, I have seen many critics of the traditional lecture refer to an image of Laurentius de Voltolina’s parchment painting which depicts a typical 14th century lecture at the University of Bologna.  In their attempts to discredit the effectiveness of lecture, these critics consistently focus on the seemingly distracted or bored students such as the two students conversing in the back corner of the room or the student asleep in the third row (which reminds me of myself in every afternoon lecture I attended).   I wonder what the students in the back are discussing.  Are they distracted or might they actually be discussing some controversial issue the lecturer has brought up – suggesting that they truly are engaged in higher levels of thinking?  Interestingly, critics neglect to mention the fact that over two-thirds of the students in the room are paying rapt attention to the lecturer.  Instead, they assert that a teacher who lectures is simply a “sage on a stage” who stands at the podium and reads from a text while students listen, take copious notes, memorize, and then regurgitate information upon request.

I’d like to make three assertions in response to Murray’s essay:   (1) Lectures are not all bad; indeed, many aspects of the lecture cannot be replaced or improved by using online delivery; (2) From an androgogical perspective, bad online content can actually be worse than a bad lecture; and (3) Information on the internet is often incorrect, misleading, and unclear, so expecting students to learn content in this manner might mean that they learn wrong information.

A former Pro-vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning at my institution observed that we, as tertiary educators, need to make learning inevitable.  To encourage student attendance, we must engage them in lecture activities that cannot be adequately reproduced online.  For example, in a recent lecture on cranial nerves, I demonstrated the function of the hypoglossal nerve by sticking my tongue out at the students after saying that the hypoglossal nerves allows me “to do this.”  Not only did this demonstration get quite a few laughs, but it also encouraged peer-to-peer interactions as those students who missed what I’d done asked their peers about what they’d missed.  As their peers mimicked my demonstration, I could immediately provide feedback by saying, “That’s right, that’s exactly what the hypoglossal nerve does.”  Because students were entertained, engaged, and given immediate feedback, they will most certainly be able to correctly answer any test questions related to that particular content!

Here’s another example of a lecture activity that cannot adequately be replicated in the online environment.  When I teach the concept of a refractory period and the orthodromic propagation of action potentials, I have students participate in a Wave – think of a baseball stadium Wave that moves through successive groups of spectators as audience members stand, yell, and raise their arms before returning to the sitting position.  For my demonstration, I ask students to perform a wave in the hall.  These students must stand, raise their arms, and then sit until the wave passes them.  I emphasize that they may only stand up if the person next to them has already stood up, and they cannot stand up again until after they have sat down.  This simple activity explains both concepts and is the launch-pad for how the inactivation gate on the voltage sodium channel determines the absolute refractory period of the axon.  Both the cranial nerve and wave activities provide teaching moments in the classroom that cannot be replicated in the online environment because the online environment prevents this sort of spontaneous interaction between the teacher and the class.

Lectures have additional advantages over online educational resources (OER).  Attending a lecture in a classroom environment is much more conducive to learning than watching an online lecture at home where husbands, wives, children, pets, household chores, or leisure- time activities all vie for (and often win) our attention.  As an example, I’m writing this essay in my home office, a space I share with my entire family.  My kids are currently giggling as they watch Nigahiga clips on YouTube.  Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with their behaviour, the noise alone would be a significant distraction that would interfere with my ability to even hear an online lecture – much less understand it.  Furthermore, watching clips (OERs) online is much more like watching forms of entertainment – we might watch a program for 5-10 minutes, but then we quickly forget about it afterwards.  It seems unrealistic to expect that students will be able to truly learn, engage in, and think deeply about material presented in 10-minute vignettes that can be watched whenever a students has a few minutes to spare.  Does this really promote higher levels of learning?  Rather, the emphasis on short and convenient online activities actually diminishes the authenticity of the learning activity and discourages engagement. Interestingly, I received an e-mail from a student whose thoughts about the first year physiology subject design echoed this idea.  In her message, she made the astute observation that learning is not an entertainment activity.

In-class lectures, on the other hand, provide structure to student learning and minimize distractions.  They place the students in an environment tailored to learning and allow students to plan their day-to-day activities around the face-to-face meeting time.  Though well-organized students naturally do this without any help, less- organized, less-prepared students are typically unable to effectively do this on their own.

Online resources can certainly be useful.  Murray mentions that he uses Internet sites such as Google as resources for investigating topics students find difficult.  I have to admit that when I am rushed, I also Google certain words or topics.  As a matter of fact, this year alone I developed a whole new lecture on the pharmacology of obesity treatments based on images I found on Google.  However, there is a distinct difference between how I or Murray or any other instructor uses online sources and how our students use online sources.  Because I already have foundational knowledge, I’m only trying to clarify minutiae when I look up content or teaching-specific information on the web.  My advanced knowledge allows me to quickly filter chaff and erroneous information from valid material.  Murray indicates that he engages in a similar process while listening to Dr Fink’s lectures online.  He listens to the lectures while distracted, and in double time, and only pauses and pays attention to content on which he feels he needs a refresher.  Imagine the learning (or lack of learning) that would occur if our students followed this approach……

Because physiology focuses on dynamic processes, I like to use dynamic animations rather than static images to teach physiological concepts.  However, I advise using animations and videos with caution.  Why?  Because a lot of these sources are packed with wrong information.  For example, I recently searched for animations that explain the cardiac cycle and found on YouTube what appeared to be a professional-looking, well-produced animation that described the events of this cycle.  A large number of students praised this clip in the comments section and many wondered why their lecturers couldn’t simplify the cardiac cycle as well as this video did.  The problem, however, was that in a 4-minute clip, I counted 11 errors (starting with the AV valve being closed during cardiac diastole).  Sure, students found the explanation easy-to-understand, but their lack of foundational knowledge prevented them from filtering out erroneous information.

Here’s another example of how information on the internet can detrimentally affect student understanding.  In a recent inquiry activity, we asked students whether a 100mOsM or a 1200mOsM solution contained more dissolved particles.  Remarkably, more than 75% of the students said that the 100mOsM solution had a higher solute concentration than the 1200mOsM solution.  Because such a large percentage incorrectly answered this question, we investigated and found that the students defined osmolarity as a measure of water concentration rather than solute concentration.  What caused this confusion?  The internet, where students erroneously learned that osmolarity referred to water concentration.  I realize that many instructors teach osmolarity relative to water concentration (explaining that water moves along its concentration gradient from an area of higher water concentration to an area of lower water concentration), but I emphasize that osmolarity relates to solute concentration and impress upon my students that water always travels towards the higher osmolarity.

Murray began his essay comparing the lecture to a monologue; whereas, I see a live-lecture as an opportunity for the instructor to dynamically and spontaneously interact and respond in real-time with students. To me, the recorded presentation is the epitome of a monologue because it lacks interaction and engagement.  We make several assumptions when we talk about online teaching.  First, we assume that students are eager and engaged learners able to organize and motivate themselves to study in an unstructured learning environment.  Motivated learners will learn despite what teachers do.  The question that needs to be answered is how does the reluctant learner cope with digital learning?  In effect, removing lectures can break down the scaffolding that these students need to organize themselves.  In fact, my experience is that these students won’t even watch content available online.

A second assumption is that because students today entertain themselves with brief YouTube clips they will also learn better this way.  I remain unconvinced that this is true, and I think we make a mistake confusing accessibility with learning.


Laurentius De Voltolina. Wikimedia Commons. (2014)

Reflecting back at the de Voltolina painting……the students who will be most detrimentally affected by discarding lectures as a teaching strategy are the very students who actually show up and engage in the material during lectures.  Students who show up but are distracted and busy updating their social media sites might even glean a small amount of information from simply being present in class.  This scenario is no worse than if they watched an online lecture while reading a morning newspaper at double speed.  The fact remains – engaged students are benefiting from the lecture, and they are voting with their feet.  We can’t possibly engage students who never show up, so getting rid of the lecture will only diminish the university experience for those students with whom instructors might actually connect.

Rational Course Design (F15)

6 Sep
A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

One year ago, I took the HAPS-I course entitled “Rational Human Anatomy & Physiology Course Design: Incorporating the HAPS outcomes into new and existing courses” with HAPS President Emeritus, Margaret Weck. It was such a fantastic class that she’s agreed to do it again…and the good news (for you) is that the course starts up in a week (9/13/15).  That means you still have time to join the fun!

When I signed up for the class, my intention was to rework my Human Physiology course using strategies of “backwards design” to sort of SIFT through the vast quantities of information I felt obligated to include.  It was actually pretty entertaining to engage in the weekly Google Hangouts with Weck and my classmates, and listen to myself (over and over again) FORGET that I was trying to REWORK the class to PRIORITIZE the most important themes and outcomes.  Over and over (and OVER) again, Weck would nudge me back onto the Rational Road with a quiet question, “But what do you want them to be able to KNOW and DO?”  It was amazing to watch myself fall so effortlessly back into a “This would be a fun activity!  Here is an exciting project!  That sounds like a great test question!” approach, and forget again and again to ask myself, “Why should I have my students do this?  What exactly do I want them to get from it?”

Who knew that ferrets could help motivate students?!  Scritches for Margaret's ferrets motivated me!

Who knew that ferrets could help motivate students?! Scritches for Margaret’s ferrets motivated me!

But like any habit, it takes great focus, repetition, and practice to shift the way we think about education and our roles in the teacher-half of the equation.  I could EASILY take this class again…and again…and again.  (Are you sensing a pattern here?!)

So think about signing up and spending some quality time with a professor who has a great deal to offer all of us.  (Plus, she has ferrets.  And that’s just cool.)

Take Rational Course Design with Margaret Weck!

Take Rational Course Design with Margaret Weck!

Rational Human Anatomy & Physiology Course Design: Incorporating the HAPS outcomes into new and existing courses.
(2 credits) September 13 – November 2, 2015
Margaret A. Weck, D.A.
St. Louis College of Pharmacy
View syllabus
Register now:  Graduate Credit or Professional Development

The course is briefly reviews the major concepts associated with the “backwards design” model of rational course development, which stresses the value of thinking through the ultimate outcome goals (both in content mastery and cognitive skill development) for a course as a first step the course design process. Participants will examine the HAPS Course Guidelines for Undergraduate Instruction and A&P Learning Outcome statements and think about the design elements, teaching methodologies, and assessments (both formative and summative) that would best foster student achievement of these outcomes. The course will be conducted entirely on-line. Participants will produce syllabi for new or existing courses that demonstrate the principles of rational course design. As part of this process sample assignments and assessments will also be developed that could be used in any course to demonstrate student achievement of the A&P Learning Outcomes.

The HAPS Geezer Gab!

30 Aug
A message from HAPS President Emeritus, Bill Perrotti.

A message from HAPS President Emeritus, Bill Perrotti.

2015 in San Antonio marks my 25th consecutive annual meeting dating back to Greenville, SC in 1991. It’s amazing to have witnessed the evolution of the organization since that time. Seems that some of my perceptions would be a perfect way to pen my first ever of what I hope will be many blogs in the future.

Back in 1991, HAPS was just a fledgling organization with only a few hundred members total. However, the conference format was already what persists to this day… two days of updates in the hotel followed by two days of workshops on the campus of the sponsoring college. The format worked then and continues to work today. The other (and more important) thing that has persisted is the special character of the organization and its role in developing friendships and networks of colleagues.

Old school HAPSters rockin' the annual conference in 2003.

Old school HAPSters rockin’ the annual conference in 2003.

Back then I had attend a number of different professional meeting (both biological and clinical) but had never experienced the welcoming kind of sharing that has always characterized HAPS. Right from the start, HAPS to me was a professional society “without an ego.” And that’s what has made it so special over these many years.

Back then there was a Core Curriculum Committee trying to develop a common curricular design that educators everywhere could use. There was a Comprehensive Test Committee that was just beginning to create the first paper version of a standardized test for A&P. We argued about how much of it should be anatomy and how much physiology, and whether there should be four or five answer choices for each question. There were no Animal Use or Cadaver Use or Distance Learning/Technology position statements. The topic of animal use in education generated a lot of very vigorous discussion for a couple of years before we finally had a document that could work for members on their campuses. That was followed by a Cadaver Use statement and then by a Distance Education statement (another hot topic). I can also remember lots of discussion about how big HAPS should become and how fast (or slow) it should grow. More discussion centered on whether HAPS should include high school teachers and support A&P at the secondary school level. There was no web page, no paid personnel or executive director, no permanent society office, no scholarships, no Foundation, no HAPS-I, no real interest in educational research, and no real association with other professional societies. In fact, there was real concern for a long time that if we became to closely associated with APS or AAA, we would just be gobbled up and lose our HAPS identity.

Perrotti and peeps in 2006

Perrotti and peeps in 2006

HAPS was simply an organization of educators who valued teaching and who came together to share and to learn. HAPS changed my career and transformed A&P at my college as no other organization could have done. In the process I’ve made wonderful lifelong friends and each year I happily add more to that list.

We’ve really come a long way and that brings to the main perception I took away from this year’s wonderful meeting in San Antonio. HAPS energy!!! HAPS is brimming with new blood. First-timers and second-timers (some young, some older and more experienced) who seek a society that meets them where they live, that is, in the trenches teaching A&P and loving it. I see many of these newer members already looking ahead to stepping into leadership positions of all sorts and that just makes me smile. Far from the point in the past where we worried each year about who could we possibly convince to step up and lead the organization, now we have many enthusiastic younger members who are open about wanting to increase their involvement over time, up to and including as an officer. The HAPS pipeline is very alive and very well indeed.

Makes me almost wish I had not retired last year…almost.

Friendships forged through HAPS last a really long time.

Friendships forged through HAPS last a really long time.

Summer Greetings from the Western Regional Director

23 Aug
A message from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.

A greeting from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.

The family (aka, the “rolling nut-house”) and I recently returned from a 4800 mile Odyssey wherein we headed westward to hang out in the redwood forests of Northern California, visit Crater Lake, and otherwise rendezvous the with the sea otters in our extended family somewhere in the tide-pools south of Coos Bay.  Although there were no Cyclops, nor Scylla & Charybdis to content with, we still saw a great deal of the local wildlife, and were introduced to the taste of some new (to us) microbrews.  And we just missed ya.

I’m somewhat of a committed extrovert — my wife, not so much.  My kids, well, like any smart kids, they take after whoever is giving out the high sucrose treats.  So, although I would have found a great deal of joy in knocking on your classroom (or condo) door to say hi as we were passing through your town, my lovely wife’s normalcy in initiating encounters with people we don’t know super well, over-rode the chance to share a hug, or a beer and a smile as we rolled through your town.  And perhaps that’s all right — as there wouldn’t have been any warning, and there you would have been trying to say hello to a large bald guy with his blond entourage whilst your hands were fresh out of the afternoon’s wet lab demonstrations — or we would have been knocking on the front door just as you cracked your last beer to enjoy at the end of your long summer day getting ready for the fall semester.  

There are some BIG trees in northern California! Or else those kids are tiny...

There are some BIG trees in northern California! Or else those kids are tiny…

“But we’re HAPSters!” I try to explain to The Missus, who looks at me as though I just suffered a minor infarct to Broca’s area and didn’t articulate the worldview she was observing.  “Just ’cause you hide from the people in your national organization doesn’t make that behavior the norm, you know.”   The kids, anticipating from which side of the front seat the next KitKat piece is going to fly, stare off at the street signs distractedly, awaiting resolution of the momentary tension.  

And like Lewis and Clark (and Stanley and Livingston), we moved on, and missed a potential rendezvous.  My bad.  

However, like Stanley and Livingston, (and Lewis and Clark, 99 years ago this past week) — we will get a chance to rendezvous — perhaps near your city at a Western Regional HAPS conference. Or maybe, it will have to wait until the splurge of the spring semester-ending HAPS Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Family road trips--- a great way to refuel before starting a new teaching term.

Family road trips— a great way to refuel before starting a new teaching term.

But if WE missed crossing paths — one thing is still sure —unless you’re one of those folks who is taking or getting a sabbatical break this fall, the students are upon us.  Medical students have already been handed their white coats in white coat ceremonies all over the nation this past week.  Undergrad lab kits will soon be doled out as well, and people will be trying to recall exactly what did José Bowen say about printing and handing out your syllabus?  (Don’t worry– you can look it up because it is all in the HAPS-Ed conference issue that was just released this week. There are lots of good ideas there, even if you haven’t been paying attention to the list serve over the past couple of months.)

As you head back “into the trenches,” remember to smile.  Teaching is tough work, which is why you were picked to do it. The students need what you have to give them; and society desperately needs to the students to “get it.”  So: no pressure — just the fate of the world hanging in the balance in the next couple of weeks.  It’ll help you forget that when we rolled down 101, or I-5 or I-15, or US 2 or Oregon 138, or US 97, we could have, would have, should have stopped in, but we just missed ya.

But I look forward to seeing you again soon.



Jon Jackson is the HAPS Western Regional Director and a fellow in the History & Philosophy of Science at the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life.  You can follow his fellowship project on the Philosophy of Nutritional Biology “Are We What We Eat?” at  http://www.whyradioshow.org/CurrentFellows.aspx.

Musings from your President-Elect

17 Aug
A message from the HAPS President Elect, Terry Thompson.

A message from the HAPS President Elect, Terry Thompson.

Musings on an August summer afternoon from your HAPS president-elect: Rocking on my front porch with a tall glass of ice tea; watching hummingbirds and butterflies also enjoy our medicine wheel herbal garden; knowing I should instead be weeding said garden. While many of us teach in the summer as well, I hope everyone had a chance to fit in some great adventures or at least the opportunity to relax in a hammock and read something totally unrelated to school. We’ll all be sharing our “what I did over summer break” stories soon with colleagues as we try to get back into the rhythm of a new Fall semester.

My thoughts stray to another summer “weeding” task I always try to do – dig through my Round Tuit file. Growing up, I remember my father always seemed to have handy a wooden nickel with “TUIT” engraved in one side. It would promptly come out in response to our typical childhood retort when trying to put off a chore. You can still buy them today.

Need a Round TUIT? They look like this!

Need a Round TUIT? They look like this!

When I started teaching full-time, I got in the habit of keeping a Round Tuit file folder. During the rush of Fall and Spring semesters, I throw any new A&P developments, neat tidbits, and teaching strategies in the file to save it for later and the attention it deserves. Of course, now I also have an electronic Round Tuit folder. It is great for all those emails and web links that seem to come right after I’ve finished teaching a particular topic.

Of course, David Evan’s What’s New on the HAPS-Listserve goes in that file after a quick timely review, so I can dig deeper at leisure and incorporate current ideas into my next term. Two of my other favorites to put in my Round Tuit are the HHMI Biointeractive News and the Nobel Prize Monthly. For teaching ideas independent of content, I also add the Teaching Professor’s Faculty Focus.

If you aren’t familiar with any of these free resources, I’d recommend you subscribe, and don’t worry about having “one-more-thing-to-deal-with” – create your own Round Tuit file for guilt free stashing now and leisurely “weeding” next summer break, after the Atlanta HAPS conference.

What are some of the other great sources of ideas out there that you’d throw in your Round Tuit file? Share your favorites with everyone in the comments.

Here’s bidding farewell to summer break and wishing everyone a fantastic start to your fall semester!

We’re Baaaaack!

14 Aug
A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

Greetings everyone!  Just as you are all gearing up for the fall term, so is the HAPS Communication Committee gearing up to bring you news and updates from the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.

We’re excited to bring HAPS out of summer break and back online with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram. Hunt us down on those social media venues and start following our weekly updates, which will keep you in the know.

This fall, we’re going to play with some new blog-er-ific ideas.  Instead of coordinating a single blog theme for the term, we are recruiting awesome HAPSters to compose various pieces on topics of their choosing.  We will publish these new pieces on MONDAYS (except for when we publish them on FRIDAYS, like today, because the blog-master (that would be ME) is trying to stretch out her summer just a bit more!), so you can look forward to a Monday morning treat from the HAPS Blog.

We’d also love to encourage conversation around the blog posts. Please let us know what you think of the topics we’re choosing and if you’re feeling really ambitious, we’d love to have you contribute a post or two.

Finally, we are excited to begin a “Best of the Blog” column in the peer-reviewed HAPS-EDucator.

Check out the 2015 Conference Edition of the HAPS-EDucator.

Check out the 2015 Annual Conference Edition of the HAPS-EDucator.

This column will run in every issue and will feature the term’s most popular posts.  While there will be several criteria to help us decide which posts “win” the honor of being published in our journal, one of the criteria will be the amount of conversation generated by the post.  So if you really like what someone has to say, please leave a comment indicating your approval.

So check back next Monday (I promise…I will publish the post by MONDAY!) for a game-changing piece from HAPS President-Elect, Terry Thompson.  I can tell you that her post really is game-changing, because when she sent me the draft 2 weeks ago, it immediately changed my game.  What fun!

Interested in composing a blog post or two?  Contact Communication Committee Chair Wendy Riggs (wriggs@hapsconnect.org) for more information.

2015 Summer BLOG BREAK!

15 Jun
A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the HAPS Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

Greetings HAPSters!

It was another awesome Annual Conference at the end of May and the Communications Committee had a great meeting at the conference.  We now have more than 20 fired up members, raring and ready to rock your HAPS bloggin’ world…starting in August.

So be ready, because things are going to get fun when we come back.  And if you’re interested in chiming in on the blog-channel, give me a holler.  My contact info can be found on the HAPS website.  We’re even planning to partner with the HAPS-EDucator to publish a “Best of the Blog” series in each edition.  That means that if you publish a blog post that is picked as a “BEST,” your work will be published in our peer-reviewed journal!  That’s bound to make some people happy!  And we’re always happy to have new members.  The ComCom (as we affectionately call ourselves) is a very active and friendly HAPS committee.

It is an exciting time of year- because it is SUMMER.  Glory days…I hope you are all enjoying some time off.  See you in August!

The skeleton Krewe (Kevin O'Mara- Flickr)

Even though this Skeleton Krewe isn’t a bunch of HAPSters in San Anatonio…it might as well have been!


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