The Funnel Mystery

Episode Title: The Funnel Mystery 

Episode number: Season one, episode three

Air Date: July 2, 2013

The third and final episode for season one of The League of the Green Hornet “The Funnel Mystery” has been in production for several weeks and has had many set-backs. It is currently under its third re-shooting under the supervision of Dr. Molly Jacobs and Dr. Brett McMillan. The plot is to explore if soil compaction acts as a barrier for soil invertebrates in a lab setting and to see if different organisms come out of the soil at different times.

The setting of this episode is the Ecology lab where gathered soil from the field was put into different funnels containing varying levels of soil compaction. Each funnel had wire mesh at the bottom to hold the soil inside and the funnels were placed on containers with ethanol. They were left under lights for 5 days to force the organisms to crawl away from the heat and disappearing moisture into the ethanol for preservation and later microscope identification by the patient Detectives. Every jar was collected at intervals to track the movement of the invertebrates through the soil layer.

 In the first attempted 4” PVP pipes were filled with a 1 inch layer of top soil and then compacted or left non-compacted. Then the freshly gathered soil from the field was added and the set up placed under lights.  Very few organisms were found so a new setup had to be found. Detective Xi suggested using metal funnels since the PVP did not seem to get as hot as the metal.

In the second attempt metal funnels were used and this time the experiment was expanded. The different conditions were 1 inch compacted and non-compacted (4 each) and 2 inch compacted and non-compacted (3 each) for a total of 14 samples. Many hours of waiting and looking through empty jars showed once again very few organisms and no clear pattern of invertebrate densities (Detective Mary was looking for more organisms in the control and few if any in the experimental).


The current set up suggested by Supervisor Molly is still partially experimental. First the layers have been reduced to ½ inch for both the compacted and non-compacted layer. As a second modification the layers are made up with either sterile, rehydrated soil from the previous 2 attempts or soil from the freshly gathered soil that will be used as a sample. These modifications are based on the hypothesis that the topsoil is too different for the organisms to want to go through and that even a 1 inch layer may be too tick for the them. Hopefully this set up will meet the standards of the target audience. The audience includes cute fellows like the cute springtails

.Fun Fact: Spring tails can “jump” up to 15 cm which for humans would be like jumping over a skyscraper!


Photo from the North Carolina State University

The End of the Beginning

Nearing the end of research, 141 tests later, we are finally finished with data collection now. Working on posters for both the ACSM Regional Conference and senior seminar projects. Kaylee Hoover is analyzing data to see if there is any difference in blood lactate levels between the max test on the elliptical versus the treadmill. Evan Venters is comparing caloric expenditures with and without the use of arms on both the treadmill and elliptical. Katie Timmons is focusing on the difference of the criteria for VO2max between the elliptical and treadmill. Sarah Mason is comparing cardiovascular variables on the elliptical with and without the use of arms. Matt Peterson and Lindsey Crehan both are assisting in creating these posters for the conference.

Dr. McCole and Dr. McKenzie have been a huge help this summer and we want to thank them for everything they have done for us. There was great food and fun at the McCole household. Yesterday we had the privilege of meeting Lardarius Webb and Ed Dickson (Ravens football players).

photo (1)  photo (2)

We will be back before the start of classes for freshmen fitness testing if you wish to see how fit you are! We also want to thank our participants, if it weren’t for you this study wouldn’t have been accomplished.  It is time to go home and enjoy the remainder of the summer until we are back to finish up our projects! Enjoy your summers!

-Team Research



A Day In The Life of an EPE Researcher

Hello Fellow Researchers! We would like to tell you a bit of how a typical day in our lab is. Along with a very early morning, just after sunrise, the research team arrives at the lab. Much preparation is needed before we start the day. This entails calibrating the VO2 system and the glucose/lactate analyzer. We need to make a 10% bleach solution for which we place the VO2 masks in after an exercise test.

electrode 1

When subjects arrive they fill out health questionnaires and an informed consent paper. They will then be prepped with electrodes that measure cardiac output variables. After a ten minute resting period, and if the systems are up and calibrated, the subject will partake in an exercise test. These tests include a max exercise test on the treadmill and elliptical, a walking test on the treadmill comparing the use of arms to no arms and the use of an elliptical with and without arms.100_4614 We like to treat our subjects well so we offer them a bottle of ice cold water afterwards. Hope all is well.

EPE Research!

Summer Research in Exercise Science

Hello from the Human Performance Lab! Sorry for the late posts, this blog is harder to figure out than the Cardiac Output System, but we are up and running!


We are going to jump right into what we have been researching this summer! We are working in the Human Performance Lab this summer with Dr. McCole and Dr. McKenzie from the Exercise Science Department. This summer we are doing two different studies; one on the treadmill and one on the elliptical, looking at the various physiological (metabolic and cardiovascular) variables associated with using arms during exercise versus not using your arms. We are learning many different lab techniques throughout the research so far.



We are learning things such as: taking blood samples, proper placement of electrodes, data analysis, and learning how to operate and understand the VO2 and Cardiac Output Systems. Each individual researcher is starting to focus on particular topic within the study. The data collected and analyzed will be used in each researchers’ senior seminar project. We have started performing this study on ourselves along with volunteer  participants, and cannot wait to see where this study takes us!

Happy Researching!!!


“Mesh Traps”

Episode number: Season one, episode two

Air date: June 15, 2013

“Mesh Traps” is the second episode of the TV series The League of the Green Hornet and first broadcast on June 15, 2013. The series started its production on June 14, 2013. After week of careful planning and scheduling, it was finally the day to ut in action the soil re-colonization project. List of supplies and specific plans were made in order for filming to happen. On June 14, the team finally started shooting under the supervision of Dr. Brett McMillan.


MEMO0007A total of 48 mesh traps were buried 3 inches in the soil in 6 different sites. There are two locations per site, one near the path and one away from the path.  The near the path and away from the path mesh traps are filled with topsoil. Every sample has its own control mesh trap filled with regular soil. The purpose of the Soil re-colonization experiment is to determine the rate of re-colonization of invertebrates near the path and away from the path in order to verify if the path serves as a barrier for soil invertebrates.  We hypothesize that the samples near the trail will have slower rate of re-colonization due to the disturbance of the path used by humans and horses.  An early harvest will be collected in 5 days (Wed. 19 ) to determine the rate of re-colonization.  A late harvest will be collected in 11 days (Mon. 24).

MEMO0015Detectives Mary Chow, Xi Huang, Shirley Mancia, and Dr. Brett McMillian had a very efficientday placing 48 traps in 5 hours.  Thanks to Mary’s muscle power with the apparatus, Xi’s courage to go through the vegetation, Shirley’s speed filling the traps, and Dr. McMillian’s broad knowledge of vegetation. After completing 4 sites, we took a lunch break and on Shirley’s way to the van she saw an eastern smooth earthsnake.  It was not terrifying but surprising as it slithered back in to the tall grass. After completing the sixth site we felt very satisfied and accomplished after a long morning in the field.