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Beloit College joins local high school in making science fun

August 30, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at or 608-363-2849 

Conducting research on the physiological effects of high heels versus flats is one of the ways Kathryn Johnson, assistant professor of biology at Beloit College, has engaged her own students, but this summer she worked on ways to make science more of an involved learning process for future college students as well.

With Johnson’s help, Beloit College was one of 17 colleges nationwide – and the only liberal arts college – this year to be awarded a “Frontiers in Physiology” fellowship sponsored by the American Physiological Society. As part of the teacher-research host team, Johnson and Clinton High School science teacher Pauline Schork spent eight weeks creating innovative and engaging activities for Schork’s students this fall in what Johnson calls “active science teaching.”

In addition to incorporating what she learned from working in Johnson’s laboratory into her lesson plans, Schork also collaborated with Johnson on plans for APS PhUN (Physiology Understanding) Week to be held in November when high school students will host second- and fifth-graders in interactive and engaging physiology activities. Meanwhile, Johnson hopes students will learn more about scientists themselves.

“Everyone thinks they’re crabby, nerdy, old men with crazy hair who walk around in lab coats,” Johnson said. “There’s so many misconceptions.”

Source: Dr. Johnson is a physiologist with expertise in animal and human physiology and particular interest in diabetes, obesity, and metabolism. Her research investigates the physiological mechanisms of novel diabetes therapies and alterations in cortisol levels in humans. Johnson, who is a member of the American Physiological Society, teaches classes in human biology, zoology, scientists in society, neurobiology, human anatomy & physiology; and human pathophysiology. She can serve as a media resource on topics related to her research and teaching interests. A full bio and vitae are available at