Department of Physiology hosts 2nd annual meeting of the Physiology Majors Interest Group

  • Jul 6, 2018
  • undergraduate curriculum, physiology, conference
  • Homepage News, Faculty & Staff, Research, College of Natural Science, Physiology

Erica Wehrwein, associate professor of physiology and Valerie VanRyn, physiology assistant instructor at Michigan State University, hosted the second annual Physiology Majors Interest Group (P-MIG) Conference held this summer at The University of Arizona in Tucson.  

Image of attendees at 2nd annual M-PIG Conference
The second annual P-MIG Conference saw registrants from six different countries—the United States, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Australia, and included 47 individuals representing 34 institutions. Courtesy photo.

Wehrwein and VanRyn are leaders in the mission to write the first set of national curricular guidelines for physiology undergraduate programs. Over the past several years, they have consolidated a network of previously isolated physiology undergraduate programs and joined into partnership with relevant professional societies to maximize input and buy in for these new curricular guidelines.

“Many other STEM-related disciplines have a version of undergraduate curricular standards ranging from voluntary basic guidelines to full accreditation,” explained Wehrwein, P-MIG co-founder and director. “Curricular guidelines are valuable to ensure that students across the country and the world are getting the best education possible.  A common set of guiding principles defining what physiology undergraduate students should know and be able to do with their B.S degree helps programs structure meaningful learning experiences and helps employers and professional schools know what to expect from our majors.”

The inaugural P-MIG meeting was hosted at MSU in May 2017, and was very successful. As part of that meeting, Wehrwein and VanRyn spearheaded extensive data collection about the current state of physiology undergraduate education worldwide. This data has been instrumental in understanding the demographics of existing programs, student career interests, current curricular models, and in charting the course toward national curricular guidelines. Their work has resulted in numerous presentations and publications and has been recognized internationally.

Image of poster session at the M-PIG conference
In addition to presentations and breakout sessions, the formal part of the conference included a poster session, where participants had the chance to visit and network with others about their research. Courtesy photo.

The second annual conference highlighted the published core concepts of physiology and professional skills development in physiology programs. These two areas are the framework of the forthcoming consensus curricular guidelines. Jenny McFarland of Edmonds Community College and Julia Choate of Monash University Australia were featured speakers. There was a total of 10 oral sessions and a poster session, as well as breakout sessions, networking and ample time for group work.

The event saw registrants from six different countries—the United States, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Australia, and included 47 individuals representing 34 institutions.

“It is inspiring to be in a room filled with individuals from across the globe that share a common passion – undergraduate physiology education,” said VanRyn, who serves as P-MIG secretary. “As the energy and interest we are getting from previous attendees and new members continues to grow, it is clear that we identified a real need. We are excited to see how the data collected thus far through our participating institutions will help shape the field of physiology education. Three subcommittees are working on drafting various aspects of the curricular guidelines. 

The event had generous sponsors, including the MSU Department of Physiology and the College of Natural Science. Other sponsors were the American Physiological Society; the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology; the University of Arizona College of Medicine Department of Physiology; the University of Iowa Department of Health and Human Physiology; the University of Minnesota Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology; and the University of Oregon Department of Human Physiology.

The next P-MIG meeting will be held at the University of Minnesota in June 2019.


Banner image: Erica Wehrwein (left) and Valerie VanRyn (next to left) pose with colleagues from the University of Arizona Department of Physiology. Courtesy photo.

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