Johnathon Oswald attends Research Day at the Capitol

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Johnathon Oswald attends Research Day at the Capitol

March 6, 2009

 Johnathon Oswald at Research Day at the Capitol
Johnathon Oswald (center) senior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, is pictured with state representative Jeff Hickman (left) and Dr. Aaron Place (right), assistant professor of biology, who served as Oswald’s mentor/adviser during the research project. His research project, “Muscle Physiology,” was presented during Research Day at the State Capitol in February.
 Johnathon Oswald
Johnathon Oswald was selected to represent Northwestern Oklahoma State University at Research Day held recently at the State Capitol. Eighteen undergraduate students representing 12 Oklahoma colleges and universities presented competitive research posters to the State Legislature and the public during this annual event sponsored by Oklahoma EPSCoR, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and The National Science Foundation. This event is designed to bring about awareness of the outstanding research taking place in Oklahoma’s colleges and universities.
Johnathon Oswald, Alva senior, represented Northwestern Oklahoma State University during Research Day at the State Capitol and presented his research project titled “Muscle Physiology,” which focused on the muscles that make up the tail shaker of a western diamondback rattlesnake and their effects of prolonged rattling.

Oswald worked with Dr. Aaron Place, assistant professor of biology, on the project. It began as an independent study project, and then turned into an in-depth research project, which resulted in Oswald attending Ranger Research Day at Northwestern last spring. From there, he was selected to attend Research Day at the State Capitol.

Chosen at Ranger Research Day by a committee that reviewed each research abstract on entered projects, Oswald was then able to begin his research in the fall and continued until mid-January 2009. He then began designing the poster and preparing his presentation.

“Independent study is a great opportunity to apply what a student already knows, then extend it,” Place said. “Students are able to go deeper than they would just in class. They are pushed to provide more in-depth information, interpret and understand the research, and then actually communicate the results.”

During his research, Oswald and Place used five snakes to determine a pattern of fatigue over a four-hour time span between the diamondback tail shaker muscle compared to the human cardiac muscle. The tail shaker muscle and human heart muscle share similar physiological and metabolic demands.

Although the snakes showed no signs of fatigue at high frequencies for prolonged durations, the study was still successful in its attempts to observe and record data for a prolonged bout of rattling. Future investigations of these unique muscles may uncover new treatments for human heart disease.

“It was a great experience for me to take my own research project to the capitol and to meet legislators and have them ask questions about my research,” Oswald said.

“I am very excited about Jonathon's participation,” Dr. Mike Knedler, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said. “I am proud to have one of our science students represent us at the capitol. I appreciate his research work and Dr. Place mentoring this research process.”

The event is hosted by the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). EPSCoR helps build research competitiveness of Oklahoma’s colleges and universities through strategic support of research instruments and facilities, research collaborations, integrated education and research programs, and access to high performance computer networks.