Psychology Team Dives In to Study the Benefits of SCUBA

with-the-founders-of-Life-Waters

OU students and faculty with the founders of LifeWaters: Jody Paniagua, John Carton, Charley Wright, Katee Gmitro, and Harry Dodsworth.

Dr. John Carton, psychology professor and chair of the Behavioral Sciences division at Oglethorpe, recently led an a innovative research project to investigate the psychological benefits of SCUBA training for individuals with spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments. He partnered with LifeWaters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping spinal cord injured patients and disabled veterans experience the benefits of SCUBA, and enlisted the help of students in his psychology lab at Oglethorpe.

In conjunction with Veterans Day, LifeWaters brought 12 veteran divers and 6 dive “buddies” specially certified to assist divers with spinal cord injuries and limited mobility to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta to dive in the monstrous tank containing 16-foot whale sharks and hundreds of other species. Dr. Carton and two students from his psychology laboratory, Katee Gmitro ’16 and Harry Dodsworth ’16, observed the dive and spent the entire day immersed in the process of SCUBA therapy.

While on site, Dr. Carton, Katee and Harry were able to meet and interview all the divers, their dive support staff (buddies) and families. They also toured behind the scenes of the entire aquarium and met the director of the aquatic therapy program and the founding directors of LifeWaters. They observed the divers entering and exiting the large tank where they were diving—which included the whale sharks and 12-foot span manta rays.  And, they had the chance to watch the whale sharks’ feeding during a private viewing.

A paralyzed diver with his "buddy" and a diver from the Georgia Aquarium.

A paralyzed diver with his “buddy” and a diver from the Georgia Aquarium.

Prior research has shown that SCUBA training can positively affect the mental well-being of participants and even help reduce psychological symptoms. Working with the students in his psychology laboratory, Dr. Carton designed a longitudinal study that involves measuring participants’ mental health prior to entering SCUBA training with LifeWaters and comparing it to their mental health after their certification, after their first dive, and a year later. A “wait list” control group will provide data for comparison.

“Many veterans with paralyzing injuries suffer from a variety of anxiety and mood disorders, for which there is continued need to identify therapies that produce lasting positive effects,” says Dr. Carton. “Anecdotal observations support the hypothesis that SCUBA may go well beyond teaching dive-related skills, to also positively affect the mental well-being of participants and even help reduce psychological symptoms.”

A small scale study that was sponsored by the Cody Unser First Step Foundation several years ago provided some preliminary data to support the hypothesis. Unfortunately, that study was not formally published, replicated, or expanded upon. That is where Dr. Carton’s laboratory stepped in. He brought in his students from his laboratory to help them “better understand the research and to mentor them in the development of additional hypotheses for this research project.”

While at the aquarium, the students collected qualitative data for future hypothesis development and witnessed firsthand the therapeutic outcomes of the program, both for physical and mental health issues. Both students were invited to collect additional data on future dive visits to this facility and other locations.

Conservation biology class gets hands-on at Sapelo Island

Conservation Biology class trip to Sapelo Island & Okefenokee Swamp
Curated by Debbie Aiken '12 Debbie Aiken '12

Every two years, Oglethorpe biology professor Dr. Roarke Donnelly takes his Conservation Biology class on a 4-day trip to Sapelo Island and the Okefenokee Swamp. The trip provides real-world context for many lessons in his course—not to mention a few bumpy rides in the back of this truck. 

Just after arriving on Sapelo Island, students set up a motion and heat-sensitive camera in a secluded area in hopes of catching a glimpse of the island’s resident bobcats. The camera was retrieved at the end of the trip with shots of deer, raccoons and opossums, but no cats.

The team set up a series of five nets in order to trap, identify, band, and release birds. Here, students use a bird guide to identify the species of the bird Dr. Donnelly untangles. 

Biology major Yidi Amha prepares to release a Carolina Chickadee. 

Students observe Brown Pelicans and Double-Crested Cormorands nesting on a shipwreck in the ocean. They had the opportunity to see some of the rare or endangered bird species they’d learned about in class.

Learning happened everywhere—even on the beach! Dr. Donnelly led students on a hike from the beach inland to learn about sand dune formation and how the vegetation in these areas changes over time. 

With very few vehicles on Sapelo Island, the biology team spent a lot of time walking from the dorms at UGA’s Marine Institute to various parts of the island. 

Students were eager to explore an old lighthouse to look for owl pellets, which can be dissected to learn about the birds’ diet. 

This is an OU classroom! Dr. Donnelly explained the history of Sapelo Island, while students sat “poolside” at a mansion built by R.J. Reynolds. The tobacco mogul eventually sold the estate and other island property to the state of Georgia. 

The group stopped at the Okefenokee Swamp on the way back to Atlanta to learn about the natural cycle of wildfires—one in particular burned for more than 13 months in 2011, changing the landscape for years to come.

What better place to learn about the geographic features that allow for the formation of swamps—than to stand in the middle of one?

The class took a guided boat tour through the swamp where they learned about plant species that thrive in this environment, like Bladderwort and Neverwet.

The swamp tour gave students the chance to see adult and baby alligators, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egrets and Red-Shouldered Hawks.

Dean Easton, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, explained his team’s efforts to monitor, protect and preserve the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. 

The students who travel with Dr. Donnelly on this biennial trip always stop to pose for a photo amid the branches of this spectacular Live Oak, and would likely agree there’s no substitute for out-in-the-field learning. “You can talk about it all you want,” says Dr. Donnelly, “but to actually see and touch is a completely different experience.”

 

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Dr. Danny Glassmann: A Day in the Life

Danny loves his pugs.  He likes to start each day by spending some quality time with them.

Danny loves his pugs. He likes to start each day by spending some quality time with them.

Dr. Danny Glassmann, assistant dean of students and director of residence life, begins his day at 6:30 a.m., waking up to the sounds of his two pugs, Ebony and Cooper. After letting them out and feeding them, he usually hits the gym and then arrives to campus by 9:00 a.m.

On your average day, Dr. Glassmann might be teaching a First Year Seminar class and is likely to have a number of meetings, sometimes with students, staff, vendors, or Student Government Association, among many others.

Danny Glassmann meets with the Oglethorpe Vice President to discuss Greek housing rennovations.

Danny Glassmann meets with Oglethorpe Vice President and CFO Mike Horan to discuss Greek housing renovations.

Danny Glassman meets with Eric Tack and Leanne Miller.

Danny Glassmann meets with Eric Tack, assistant provost and director of the Academic Learning Center, and Leanne Miller, director of counseling services.

Dr. Glassman meets with a student.  Glassman says working with students is what fulfills him most.

Dr. Glassman meets with a student. He says working with students is what fulfills him most.

But his life isn’t all about meetings, and the hard work doesn’t stop there. After grabbing a bite to eat with coworkers in the dining hall, he then moves on to Greek housing walk-throughs, Student Judicial Board hearings, and Orientation Leader interviews.

Dr. Glassman prepares for a Sigma Alpha Epsilon house walk through to note any needed updates.

Dr. Glassman prepares for a Sigma Alpha Epsilon house walk through to note any needed updates.

He usually ends his day by attending on-campus events—this particular day it was the Oglebee, which he helped to judge.

Danny Glassman judges the Oglebee.  The Oglebee is a spelling bee for Oglethorpe students.

Danny Glassmann judges the Oglebee, a spelling bee for Oglethorpe students.

 

Class Project Reflected in German Calendar Design

German Class and Calendar Cover

Christie Pearce ’15 (center) pictured along with Professor Ochmann’s class, holding the calendar’s cover

German Calendar (10)During the fall 2013 semester, Professor Matthaeus Ochmann’s German class was assigned a project to keep a personal vocabulary development journal. As part of the assignment, junior Christie Pearce composed a list of 50 German words that are interchangeable in English and do not have an English equivalent, such as “diesel” and “kindergarten.” Intrigued, the class used her list for a quiz during an on-campus German cultural event.

Ochmann, a visiting instructor from Germany, shared the event’s success with his father. This reminded his father, a graphic designer, of his time working affiliated with Scheufelen, a German printing company that creates an “art calendar” every year. He mentioned the word list to Scheufelen, and coincidentally their 2014 calendar features graphic representations of the German words and explanations of their uses in both English and German.

German Calendar Permanent Location (3)

The calendar in its permanent location in the library.

The calendar, which recently won a design award, was created using various printing methods and different types of thick, high quality paper to showcase the company’s work. With only 3500 copies printed, the calendar is in limited supply and costs approximately $135 to purchase.

Because of the correlation between the calendar idea and Christie’s list, Scheufelen sent the class two of the calendars as gifts. Christie received one, and the other was given to  Oglethorpe’s Weltner Library to display.

Dr. Glenn Sharfman named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oglethorpe University

Glenn Sharfman 2s(ATLANTA, GA) – Following a nationwide search, Oglethorpe University has selected Dr. Glenn Sharfman as its new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Sharfman comes to Oglethorpe from Manchester University (North Manchester, Ind.), where he has been Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of History since 2005.

As the chief academic officer of Oglethorpe University, Dr. Sharfman will oversee all academic affairs, including the academic divisions, the core curriculum, the Academic Success Center, Philip Weltner Library, the Office of the Registrar, and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. He will assume his new position at Oglethorpe on July 8, 2014.

“I am excited to join the community at Oglethorpe and work with a talented and dedicated faculty and staff who help transform students so they are ready for their next step,” said Dr. Sharfman. “Oglethorpe has a rich tradition and distinguished record of producing graduates who make a difference and I am eager to play a role.”

Dr. Sharfman earned a Bachelor of Arts at Miami University (Oxford, OH) and his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in European History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at Manchester University, he successfully led efforts to restructure the core curriculum, expand academic programs, open a new Academic Center, launch a College of Pharmacy, and open a new satellite campus. Prior to Manchester, Dr. Sharfman worked at Hiram College (Hiram, Ohio) for 15 years, as a faculty member in the history department and then as Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Programs.

“Dr. Sharfman is an accomplished scholar and an extraordinary addition to our leadership team,” said Oglethorpe University President Larry Schall. “His expertise, creativity and passion for the liberal arts and sciences will be integral in ensuring Oglethorpe continues building upon its long history of academic excellence.”

Oglethorpe University has entered an era of innovation, reinvigoration, and growth with the opening of the $16M Turner Lynch Campus Center in 2013 and the launch of a $50M comprehensive campaign. Founded in 1835, Oglethorpe is Atlanta’s leading liberal arts and sciences university of 1100 students representing 34 states and 28 countries. In fall 2013, Oglethorpe opened the A_LAB (Atlanta Laboratory for Learning), an incubator for students’ real-world experiential learning through civic engagement, global education, professional development, and undergraduate research. Oglethorpe is the only university in Georgia to be named for seven consecutive years to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for commitment to and achievement in community service. In 2012, Oglethorpe launched two strategic partnerships with study abroad provider Global LEAD and EF (Education First), the world leader in international education. EF’s Atlanta headquarters is located on Oglethorpe’s campus, which is also home to the OU Museum of Art and Georgia Shakespeare, a professional theatre-in-residence. Renowned for its groundbreaking core program, Oglethorpe is a member of the Annapolis Group, comprised of America’s most selective liberal arts institutions, and has been named among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges, Forbes’ America’s Best Colleges, and Princeton Review’s Best Southeastern Colleges. The Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels compete in the NCAA Division III Southern Athletic Association.

For more information, contact: Renee Vary, 404-364-8868 or rvary@oglethorpe.edu