Category Archives: Healthcare

The hurdles for a college education are not the same for all students

The majority of college students today had the privilege of transitioning from high school to college in a year or less, making the transition to higher education easy. I think it’s safe to say our freshman-selves would’ve argued with the term “easy transition”. But what happens if you needed a gap year to decide what major to pursue, or needed to work and save money so you could even pay for college. Unfortunately, this gap year (often years) for many students leads them to pursue a career without a higher education limiting their potential achievements in the long-run. Furthermore, many in disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds don’t even consider the possibility of obtaining a college degree because it’s fiscally impossible, or they simply don’t know anyone who has a higher degree so they can’t relate to anyone. A college education has become a necessity in the job market, and in order for everyone to have a fair fight towards the American dream we need to level the playing field.

Our guest tonight focuses on how social policy influences the accessibility of higher education to people of lower incomes, non-traditional, and first generation students. Terese Jones, a 4th year Ph.D. student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, explores the institutional and personal hurdles that prevent many people from obtaining a higher education. Imagine trying to pay for college when most scholarships are geared towards the younger demographic, or trying to adjust to a rigorous 10-week quarter system from a “9-5” job. You begin to see a picture of why going back to school after a career, or even a few years away from school, can become difficult to transition back into.

Terese and Quinlan painting together at the 2016 Bring Your Kid to Campus Day. Terese chairs the Student Parent Advisory Board at OSU, and works with the office of Childcare and Family Resources to advocate for affordable and accessible childcare for OSU students. There are many benefits to having children on college campuses, for both kids and college students.

One of the theories Terese is exploring is called the cumulative advantage theory as a potential explanation for why students of lower socioeconomic status do not succeed to the same degree as their more affluent counterparts. Think about moving to an entirely new city where you don’t know anyone and need to find a job. If you have money in the bank you can get an apartment and start looking for a job in your field; however if you’ve moved with no money you’re likely to take the first job coming your way to pay for an apartment before you ever think of looking for a job you will enjoy. 30 years later the person who had money has advanced in their career far quicker compared to the person who arrived empty handed. The benefits of a small advantage at the beginning of ones life, produces a disproportionate benefit through their life-course when compared to someone who did not have the small advantage at the beginning.

Terese also remembers her mother going back to school to finish her GED when she was only 12, but the difficulty her mom had with finishing school while maintaining a full household was extremely challenging. Even though Terese has extensive experience with the social system working in Chicago with the homeless, and Seattle at a women’s shelter, she still found that some applications and processes were just plain confusing and hard to fit into her schedule. This troubling experience led her to realize even though she’s familiar with the paperwork, the process was not trivial which gave her the motivation to pursue a higher degree at Oregon State.

Quinlan and Terese, after completing the Turkey Trot! The family that runs together gets leg cramps together!

Quinlan and Terese, after completing the Turkey Trot! The family that runs together gets leg cramps together!

Tune in tonight to hear this terrific story of how Terese aims to continue helping others as she focuses on some programs at Linn-Benton Community College can increase the chances students attend and finish a college degree. You can listen online here or on 88.7FM at 7PM!

Finding your way to a better brain

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Above: Paul setting up the LiDAR to image Austin Hall. Below: A human field of vision represented as a solid 3D object, as created by LiDAR

If someone dropped you in a new city and took away your smart phone, could you find your way to the nearest coffee shop? What if there was construction on your usual route to work and your phone battery was dead? Could you navigate a detour for yourself? The crop of students now entering college have lived all of their young adult lives constantly connected to the internet and all of the information contained within it. This means they have never had to remember any information, phone numbers, addresses, or directions for themselves. Technology has made our lives easier and more efficient in so many ways and turn-by-turn directions is most definitely near the top of that list of improvements. filledYet, one rarely discussed aspect of these technological advances is the impact our phones and the internet may be having on our brains. Paul Platosh, and other researchers, have taken notice and are working to understand the relationship between technology and our brains.

Working in Seunghae Lee‘s lab in the department of Human Environment and Design, Paul hopes to improve our understanding of how the brain responds to different navigational stimuli, but with a unique twist. Paul’s background is in design, meaning he has a rather unusual perspective on this research compared to most neuroscientists and psychologists. In a previous life, Paul worked to redesign the containers used at a grocery store and was even a Buckminster Fuller award finalist for this work. Now he hopes to bring some scientific rigor to the field of design and potentially improve human health using the world around us. To do this, Paul is combining his expertise in design, mapping technology from GIS, and psychology-based study methods.

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An image of Paul generated by LiDAR

The basic premise of Paul’s research is simple. Give a college student some directions to follow via smart phone versus a head-up display and finally ask the student to re-draw the directions in as much detail as possible. The idea here is the head-up display will lead to more interaction with the real world environment and stimulate parts of the brain that are important to wayfinding. As it turns out, these same parts of the brain tend to accumulate protein aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Building on this link, Paul hopes to use the world around us, and how we interact with it, to improve the outcomes of the many people suffering from diseases of the brain.

To hear more about Paul’s journey from studio art to the hippocampus, tune in Sunday, May 15th at 7pm PST on 88.7 KBVR.

 

The Personal Computer and the Pharmacy Counter: Statistics Helps Clinical Trials Bring New Medicines and Therapies to the Market

A pharmacist counts pills into a tray as she fills a patient's prescription.

A pharmacist counts pills into a tray as she fills a patient’s prescription. Image from Maryland Pharmacy.gov.

In the world of health care things are always changing. When you go to pick up your prescription or visit your doctor for treatment, you are relying on the work of researchers who are constantly determining new and better treatments and drugs, and testing the efficacy of those that already exist. Clinical trials that bring new drugs and therapies to the market usually involve hundreds of people and require many repeated experiments, but one Oregon State graduate student is learning how to use statistical analysis to make this process more efficient.

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Statistical Analysis used in Experimental Design. Image from: http://www.specialty-tc.com/laboratory_eds.html

Joining us tonight on Inspiration Dissemination is Tim Skalland, PhD in Statistics. Tim is advised by Sarah Emerson and Paul Murtaugh in the College of Science, and he studies the design and analysis of experiments; specifically those used in the clinical trials which are required to bring new drugs and treatments to the market. Accurate statistical analysis and efficient experimental design are doubly important. By using statistical analysis during a series of experiments Tim aims to determine whether or not a drug or treatment is effective or promising. If the answer is no, then researchers can end clinical trials early, saving money and reducing costs to the health care system overall. On the other hand, Tim might also discover during the experimental process that the benefit of a drug or treatment is already obvious, and no further clinical trials are required. This allows helpful medicines and therapies to reach the pharmacy counter faster than if the trials proceeded in the traditional way.

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Image from: http://www.sodahead.com/living/would-you-rather-dance-the-night-away-to-a-dj-or-a-live-band/question-3811753/

Tim wasn’t always interested in statistics, or in medicine, but comes from a background in physics at William Jewell College, Missouri. Tim is also a fellow DJ here at KBVR and has produced his own dance music in California as DJ Timid. Join us tonight at 7pm at 88.7 KBVR Corvallis to learn more about Tim’s research, and to listen in as he treats us to a special set in the studio!