Montana State University

Research Roundup at Montana State University (#252)

August 22, 2005 -- From MSU News Service

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Knee-deep into muscle fatigue
Training for a marathon is different than training to lift weights. Montana State University's Mike Hahn and master's degree candidate Tyler Brown knew that the more a person tries to use a muscle, the stronger or more frequent the brain's electrical signal to that muscle. They look at the signals going to the vastus lateralis thigh muscle that is used in knee extension. They compared the performance of 11 strength-trained individuals to 11 endurance-trained individuals. Their conclusion was that training alone does not completely determine how the vastus lateralis responds to work. The information feeds into Hahn's continuing research on muscle fatigue, which may help athletes and nonathletes avoid injuries.

Good at being bad

Writing skills are valued at MSU, so when a student is a good enough writer to take second place in a national writing contest, it gets noticed -- even if the competition was for "bad opening lines" of an imaginary novel. Kristin Harbuck, a graduate student in MSU's Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, submitted the following to San Jose State University's Annual Bad Writing Contest: "She walked toward him, her dress billowing in the wind -- not a calm and predictable billow like the sea, but more like the billowing of a mildewed shower curtain in a cheap motel where one has to dance around to avoid touching it while trying to rinse off soap." Harbuck said the description was not based on personal experience.

Spanish eggs

Argentina and Spain are on different continents and in different hemispheres, but scientists say they've found Titanosaur eggs in both countries. MSU paleontologist Frankie Jackson plans to compare the eggs for her doctoral thesis. Jackson recently returned from Spain where she spent three weeks on a dig in the Pyrenees mountains. The new egg locality was the most beautiful dinosaur site she's ever seen, said Jackson who returned from Argentina in 2003 and hopes to visit again this winter. She found that the Spanish eggs are smaller and much more porous than the Argentine eggs, but she wants to do more research. The differences could relate to paleontologists' techniques or the way the eggs are buried or not buried in sediments, Jackson said.

Principal emotions

School principals need a unique set of abilities to work with students, teachers, parents, the community and legislation like No Child Left Behind, Jeanie Barent wrote in her doctoral thesis at MSU. Among those skills is emotional intelligence, the ability to manage, understand, use and perceive emotions, whether they be the principal's or someone else's. To see how emotional intelligence affects a school, Barent conducted a study that involved 15 Wyoming principals and some of the teachers they supervise. Further study is needed, Barent said, but she found that a principal's ability to perceive and understand emotions affects a school's climate. She said it would be ideal if a principal had the emotional intelligence to support students and teachers in a way that promoted high achievement.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu