Support HAPS … via Amazon Zygomaticus!

Some HAPSters have undoubtedly heard of Amazon Smile, a charitable-giving program in which eligible purchases initiated from smile.amazon.com (rather than plain old amazon.com) lead to a donation to a nonprofit organization of the buyer’s choice. Some of you even participate already, perhaps in support of your local house of worship, parent-teacher association, or athletic club. But to those who have not yet aligned with a nonprofit in this way — and those who’ve grown tired of boosting the same old 501(c)(3)’s year after year — I say, consider making HAPS your charity of choice! Doing so is easy, as illustrated in the screenshots below…

1. Point your web browser to smile.amazon.com.

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2. Log in (or create a new amazon.com account).

3. Find the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society among the many eligible charitable organizations.  Searching for “Human Anatomy and Physiology” will work, but searching for “HAPS” will lead you astray.  Click Select.

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4. That’s it!  From that point on, 0.5% of your eligible purchases will be donated to HAPS.

 

Publishing with HAPS

You know that old, grim academic saying, “Publish or perish”?  We at HAPS prefer to say “Publish and flourish!” While your home institution may have specific expectations regarding scholarship, we offer several options for “publishing” (in the broad sense of the word) that will make communicating with your fellow A&P professionals fulfilling and fun!  Some of these resources are only available for HAPS members (HAPS Discussion Group and Teaching Tips) while others are publicly available for the benefit of the entire A&P community (HAPS Blog and HAPS Educator). Details of each publication venue are provided below.

HAPS Discussion Group (HAPS-L Listserv): Maybe you don’t really want to write up anything formal — you just want to share a link to a cool news item and comment on it. Or maybe you have a question for your fellow educators.  Great for getting rapid feedback, often from experts like A&P textbook authors.  Why do some texts refer to a “dorsal body cavity” while others do not? How does pelvis shape vary according to geography?  The listserv has you covered.

Teaching Tips: As the name implies, teaching tips are concise pieces of practical teaching advice. Teaching tips can be submitted here; submitters choose appropriate learning outcome tags to assist others in locating their tip for usage in class or lab.  Each submission is reviewed by Curriculum and Instruction Committee members to assure that it is posted in an optimal location.

Blog: Want feedback during the early stages of a research project?  Want to provoke discussion that is more extensive or more timeless than the typical listserv chit-chat? The blog is the place for you. Blog posts are published once a week during the academic year and contain a wide variety of ideas from short teaching tips (see above) to descriptions of unique A&P-related experiences. Each post is edited before publication, so no need to worry about minor errors or incomplete thoughts. Ideas and drafts can be emailed to hapsblog@hapsconnect.org. Please include a headshot or other picture and a short author bio.

HAPS Educator: The most formal of these four options, but run by friendly editors! HAPS Educator aims to foster teaching excellence and pedagogical research in anatomy and physiology education.  This open-access journal publishes peer-reviewed articles under three categories. Educational Research articles discuss pedagogical research projects supported by robust data.  Perspectives on Teaching articles discuss a teaching philosophy or modality but do not require supporting data. Current Topics articles provide a state-of-the-art summary of a trending topic area relevant to A&P educators.  All submitted articles undergo peer review. Educational Research articles will additionally be reviewed for the quality of the supporting data. HAPS Educator is the official publication of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) and is published online three times per year: on March 1, July 1, and November 1.

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Invariant Visual Representation by Single Neurons in the Human Brain

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There are cells in your nose that respond to a rose,

Which, in some ways, is clearly terrific.

There are cells in your skin that sense pricks of a pin,

Which is useful, and fairly specific….

 

But imagine a cell specializing so well,

It detects only one of earth’s denizens!

Yes, imagine a neuron that only will turn on

For pictures of Jennifer Aniston!

 

Too bizarre?  Well, get this: such neurons exist,

Based on research of this new millennium.*

So what else might inspire picky neurons to fire

Deep inside the hard case of the cranium?

 

*R.Q. Quiroga et al. (2005), Nature 435: 1102-1107

Photo Source


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Dr. Greg Crowther teaches anatomy and physiology at Everett Community College (WA).  His peer-reviewed articles on enhancing learning with content-rich music have collectively been cited over 100 times.

The Rule of Threes: Self-care advice for A&P Instructors

For most instructors, the Fall term brings a fresh start with our courses. It also tends to bring a sense of feeling overwhelmed with all the things we could be doing. As much as I enjoy and look forward to the HAPS annual conference every year, I usually leave filled with motivation and self-doubt in equal measure. It is all too easy to forget that every university, college, and department will vary, whether in funding, faculty to student ratio, program focus, or appreciation for quality A&P education. Many of us simply cannot execute a number of the innovations we see at HAPS. Some activities require a great deal of extra work on top of our already full plates, and at the end of the day, we can’t quite motivate ourselves to go those extra miles. Could there be a middle ground?

Over the summer, I was making a long list of new strategies to try in my courses, both in and out of class. Shamefully, I was “multitasking”,  watching “The Crown” on Netflix at the same time. In the episode I was watching, the queen was feeling overwhelmed by criticism, and unsure how to address it to regain public favor. In an unprecedented move, she met with an outspoken critic to hear his thoughts on the public image of the monarchy. To keep things simple, he suggested “three things to start, and three things to stop.” Perhaps it is my obsession with British history, or maybe it was just what I needed to hear at that moment, but for whatever reason, I stopped writing my list. I realized that if I did all of the things I listed, I would never know what actually worked and didn’t work well in my class. I threw out that list, and pulled out two fresh pieces of paper. After some non-distracted reflection I wrote three things to start and three things to stop on each of these papers. Since I’ve always been the “bad news first” type, in this post, I share my three things to stop.

My Three Things to Stop:

It’s in the syllabus” and other associated phrases

I have to admit, I never said these phrases often at all, but I’ve decided that they are all officially on my do not say list. Jokes, sarcasm and a variety of venting sessions abound in academia about this topic. We are easily frustrated when students bombard us with questions that we have already answered (often in obvious places), or questions they could have easily answered for themselves with a little effort. Other tempting phrases include; “as I said earlier”, “per my email”, or anything else referencing the fact that students should already know the answer to the question, or could easily find it. I encourage all teachers to take a moment to ask yourself four questions, before hitting that reply button:

  1. What harm does it really do to just answer their question?
  2. is using one of my phrases just going to embarrass them?
  3. Will it take me just as long to respond that they should have already known the answer, as it will to answer the question
  4. Honestly, how often do carefully read directions?

I think if we are honest with ourselves, this simply stems from annoyance that we wasted our own precious time on something that was either unnoticed or ignored by the students. Or, perhaps this triggers a fear of what other questions are to come and an immediate assumption that the students will struggle in the class if they are this “helpless” already. This is making assumptions we have no business making. Instead, answer their question and simply add, “if you need more information later and I am unavailable….” while referring them to whatever they should have read in the first place. They’ll get the message and won’t be afraid to approach you again.

The candy shop effect

When treating a condition, the best course of action is to add one new medication or make one change at a time, see the effects, and gradually add another. Otherwise, any changes to your well-being cannot be attributed to any one new variable. The challenge I face every fall is wanting to add everything I think will help my students. While this sounds fine at face value, there are pitfalls. First, exhaustion on my part! Second, the risk of overwhelming my students. Third, I cannot attribute any changes in my students’ outcomes directly to one, or a combination of the changes I made. For example, in the 2017 school year, we decided to add weekly quizzes for retrieval practice that were open book, 2 attempts, highest grade kept. This year, we are also adding an adaptive reading assignment to increase metacognition. By waiting a year and doing the quizzes first, we will be able to see if that made a difference and if there is a need for any more retrieval practice. In an effort to remain a reflective teacher I will examine if these changes made any meaningful difference, or if they were just more work in a student’s already very demanding schedule.

“Just being grateful”

Just being grateful to have your job goes by many names. More and more often, it is being called by its true name: Impostor Syndrome. In the past year, I have seen more and more instructors in the A&P field be vocal about this. One of my favorite HAPS moments of 2018 was during the Women in Anatomy panel, when an attendee asked (the one and only) Dee Silverthorn, “How did you deal with impostor syndrome?” and her response was “stay tuned” (or something to that effect). The rest of the panel then chimed in that this is a very real feeling, no matter what stage you are at in your career. In all of my work positions, I spent years not standing up for what I felt was best, or changes that should be made, because I thought I needed to just be agreeable. I was afraid to rock the boat because I was just “so grateful” to have my job. In truth, I am very grateful, but not that someone gave me a job; I am grateful that in all my years of teaching I have never questioned whether or not I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to do with my life. However, my “just so grateful” attitude was conveying that I didn’t believe I deserved or earned every opportunity I had. We all have to be our own biggest advocates. While external validation and recognition feel wonderful, at the end of the day, if we don’t own our accomplishments, who will?

Fellow A&P educators, I urge you to consider this exercise, especially if you are feeling like work-life balance is always out of reach or you’re never quite sure if your actions and outcomes line up. It might help you become a more balanced educator, family member, and friend. Your three things to start and stop will certainly vary, but feel free to steal mine! The most important thing is that the “three things to stop” addresses the behaviors you do or choices you make that most often that lead to undesirable outcomes. Be on the lookout for the next post, “three things to start”!


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Krista Rompolski is an Assistant Professor in the Health Sciences Department at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. She is an active member of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society and the American Academy of Anatomists. Her teaching interests include pathophysiology, gross anatomy, and anatomy and physiology.

An anatomy adventure in Paris

While on a family trip to France in the summer of 2017, I discovered the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy in the Jardins des Plantes of Paris. Part of France’s National Museum of Natural History, it is a hanger-like building, crammed with over 1,000 reconstructed animal skeletons, and lined with cabinets of preserved soft tissue specimens. Jars of brains, stomachs, and other viscera were arranged to allow the ready comparison of anatomical features. Although I’m a clinical anatomist, it was difficult to tear myself away from this comparative anatomy.  Of the seven days we spent in Paris, I devoted two days to the exhibits, and still was able to absorb only a small fraction of them. Not only was the space beautiful and awe-inspiring, but the weight of history was palpable. After all, much of this collection was assembled and studied by Cuvier himself. Needless to say, I was in anatomy heaven!

Georges Cuvier is considered by some to be the “father of paleontology”. His work as a comparative anatomist eventually led to the acceptance of extinction as a phenomenon.  Due to religious doctrine, there was quite a bit of resistance to the idea that some animals were no longer found on Earth, and (the story goes) that Cuvier’s detailed analysis of mammoth and elephant mandibles definitively proved that elephants weren’t simply evolved mammoths.  I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised, and perhaps personally validated by the importance that anatomy knowledge and careful observation played in Cuvier’s success story. As someone who is deeply interested in the study of anatomy, I like to stress to my students that the analysis of form can provide a wealth of knowledge, and Cuvier’s evidence which helped lead to academic acceptance of extinction is an example I have used to illustrate this.

 

 

The Hall of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology is easy to find within the National Museum. It is located in the Fifth Arrondisement with easy access from the Jussieu metro stop.  The building was constructed in preparation for the 1900 world fair, and has lovely architectural details, but insufficient air conditioning! If you plan to visit in the summer like I did, be sure to go as early as possible, as the heat can be stifling. In fact, the Hall of Paleontology on the second floor is often closed for excessive heat!  If you find yourself in Paris, be sure to carve out some time to explore this delightful museum.


Melissa Clouse received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Berea College (Berea, KY) and spent five years as an officer in the United States Air Force, in a career field that had absolutely nothing to do with biology.  She received her Master’s of Science in Clinical Anatomy from Creighton University (Omaha, NE) and spent five years conducting research in the characteristics of intranasal prion infection. She is now an instructor and advisor at Doane University (Crete, NE), where she teaches human anatomy and cadaver dissection and serves as the Director of Pre-Health Programs.

 

Come be inspired at a HAPS Meeting!

My first Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) conference was in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2017. I was excited and nervous to attend because I had no idea what to expect when a group of anatomy and physiology professors came together. Accustomed to scientific meetings where there is cutthroat competition among attendees, I found this meeting refreshing because while there was the usual exchange of data, questions, and ideas, the general atmosphere was one of friendliness, openness, encouragement, and excitement. The most moving component was the love of teaching exuded by each member of HAPS. As I moved through the meeting and listened to my colleagues, I noticed the easy banter among them. Even when they discussed hardships, a general sense of camaraderie and heartfelt encouragement was palpable. The HAPS meeting that year focused on The Evolutionary and Developmental Bases of Human Anatomy and Physiology. As I sat engaged by the update speakers, I was struck by the comparison between the daily struggles we all face as professors and the evolutionary struggles of our ancestors. I realize that sometimes it’s hard to get out of our comfort zones and do all the extra stuff (asking for funding, scrounging for money, figuring out what to present at workshops, etc.) to get ourselves to be at a meeting, but I encourage you to take the time to venture into being a first, second or old timer at HAPS. Come walk among a most special breed of Homo sapiens: The HAPSters.

Hope to see you in Portland!

P.S. It’s not too late to make it to a Fall Regional Meeting near you!

Fall 2018:
Eastern Regional Meeting – Columbia, MD – October 13, 2018
Western Regional Meeting – Kentfield, CA – October 20, 2018

Spring 2019:
Southern Regional Meeting – Louisville, KY – March 30, 2019

Fall 2019:
Central Regional Meeting – Kingston, ON – August 10, 2019
Eastern Regional Meeting – Utica, NY – November 2, 2019

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Bridgit Goldman has been teaching college-level biology since 1998.  She has a Ph.D. in Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology from The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York. Since 2007 she has designed, developed and taught all the lecture and laboratory classes in Human Anatomy and Physiology at Siena College in Loudonville, NY.

 

Dissecting and Drawing the Forearm: Anatomical Illustration for the Classroom

ABSTRACT:

Flexor Compartment of Distal Forearm layer 3
Flexor Compartment of Distal Forearm layer 3

The human hand is challenging to study, due to having many narrow vessels and tendons packed together in a small space. Because of this, it is useful to have clear diagrams showing just a few structures at a time. From February to mid-March 2017, a human distal forearm was dissected and used as a model for six drawings in the style of a traditional anatomical atlas. These images are meant to be teaching tools for helping students identify structures, just like a professionally made atlas. During the dissection process, rough pencil sketches were made in the lab as new structures were exposed. Later, these sketches were redrawn in full color with colored pencil. Anatomical illustration could be an educational activity for students: by trying to draw diagrams clear enough for others to understand, students would retain more information and improve their communication skills.

DISSECTION:

In Dr. Olson’s basic gross anatomy course at NIU, the undergraduates often use atlases to help identify countless tiny structures. These atlases introduce students to the art of anatomical illustration, which has roots as far back as the Renaissance. The hand is an ideal subject for an atlas because it has so many tendons, vessels, and bones that can be difficult to keep track of, so it would be helpful to have clear diagrams of these parts. The hand is also more “relatable” relative to internal organs; hands are frequently used for nonverbal communication. People depend on their hands to do so many tasks everyday but rarely think about what goes on behind the scenes.

To separate the forearm from the cadaver, Dr. Olson steadied the body while I sawed (with an actual hand saw) through the radius and ulna distal to the elbow. I used a scalpel to cut a vertical slit in the skin along the anterior side of the arm, from the wrist to the bottom. Then I cut a horizontal line along the wrist and pulled back two flaps of skin to expose the flexors. With a scalpel and forceps, I removed fascia and fat from each muscle and vessel to see the structures more clearly. I made a pencil sketch of the flexors and used the Thieme Atlas of Anatomy 2nd edition to try to identify the structures myself. Then I checked my answers with Dr. Olson. For the next few weeks, I repeated this process of dissecting more structures, sketching the muscles, and labeling the drawings with help from Dr. Olson and TA Sally Jo Detloff. I was generally able to dissect tissues without damaging them, although I accidentally cut the ulnar nerve and had to tie it together with string. Between dissections, I sprayed the arm with humectant and wrapped it in terry cloth to retain moisture.

CREATING THE ATLAS:

Elle_Baker_Foot_Bones
The first drawing was of foot bones.

When I had finished dissecting most of the arm and hand, I had a set of rough draft sketches to turn into final drafts. I redrew each drawing on larger paper and colored the new drawings with colored pencils. To make digital versions of the diagrams, I scanned the drawings and used the GNU Image Manipulation Program to fix margins and erase blemishes. Finally, I presented my work at NIU, at both the Phi Sigma Research Symposium and at the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day poster shows. I enjoyed teaching the attendees everything I had learned about how the arm works. At URAD, my project won second place out of fourteen exhibits (NIU “URAD and CES Winners Announced.”)

THE DRAWING PROCESS:

Before starting the atlas project, I had never made scientific illustrations and had not taken any illustration courses at NIU. My artistic education was mainly from drawing for fun and taking public school art classes prior to college. Other than confirming the labels with Dr. Olson, I worked on the atlas diagrams independently.

I used photos taken in the lab as references for my color palette, which was meant to be realistic but still simple to understand. Hence, the atlas colors were bolder and more diverse than in the actual arm, where arteries and vessels were the same colors and everything turned more orange over time. The nails were colored to match the cadaver’s nails, which were, in fact, dark magenta. See the final Forearm Atlas diagrams: Flexor Compartment Layers 1-3, Flexors in the Palm, Extensor Compartment Layer 1, and Lateral View: Extensors.

Elle_Baker_Lateral_Extensors
One of the first atlas quality drawings.

 

Other students could benefit from drawing their own diagrams of their dissections. Doing so would help them memorize the names, locations and relationships between structures. While drawing, students might come up with deeper questions about how the body works, like I did during my project. Students could trade drawings and give each other feedback about the clarity of the diagrams. Students would be reminded to focus their critiques on legibility and accuracy rather than on aesthetic appeal. By making their diagrams understandable to others, students would improve at teaching and communicating. Ideally, they would also have fun improving their drawing skills.

Thank you to HAPS for the Student Grant, and thanks to NIU’s Office of Student Engagement for providing me a grant from the Student Engagement Fund. This project was supported by the Body Donation Program at Northern Illinois University, supervised by Dr. Daniel Olson, Director of the Anatomy Laboratory, which ensured the proper and respectful handling and disposal of the tissues used in this project.

Literature Cited

NIU. “URAD and CES Winners Announced.” NIU Today, 26 Apr. 2017, Retrieved from http://www.niutoday.info/2017/04/26/urad-and-ces-winners-announced/.

Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning. “URAD Program 2017.” Northern Illinois University, 2017, Retrieved from http://niu.edu/engagedlearning/_pdfs/urad/urad-program-2017.pdf.

Schuenke, Michael, et al. Atlas of Anatomy. Second ed., New York, New York, Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 2012.


Eliya Baker graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Premed Biology and minors in Psychology and Chemistry. She is not formally trained in art, but enjoys making art as a hobby.  Her teacher and lab instructor is Dr. Daniel R. Olson Ed.D., the Director of the Anatomy Laboratory at NIU.