Success in the Sciences

Saint Mary is an anomaly to right- or left- brain dominance theory—we’re strong in every subject, from history to accounting, art to biology. And though the strength of the humanities will always be important (as our commitment to the liberal arts is very much alive), our strength in the sciences continues on its path to greatness.   

Miege Hall serves as the hub for all things science and Saint Mary. It’s home to some of our brightest students on campus and incredibly dedicated faculty, and its list of hall of famers is long, diverse, and remarkable. Dentists, doctors, veterinarians, researchers, teachers—carrying on the Saint Mary mission, boldly going forth to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Miege’s interior may scream retro, but the wisdom within is anything but dated. Within the walls of this 50-year-old building, big things have happened—and continue to happen semester after semester.

Human anatomy and physiology—one of the most challenging courses of study, yet one of the most critical topics for any career in the ever-growing health care industry. It’s one thing to memorize the 118 elements on the periodic table, but what about the human body’s 206 bones and its every bump, notch, and groove; the 320 muscle pairs, the structures and associated tissues of all of the body’s other organ systems—and to top it off, finding a way to articulate how all these parts and systems miraculously work together … overwhelming!

To help achieve the task, Saint Mary recently integrated an innovative visualization tool into the anatomy and physiology learning experience—the Anatomage Table.

A Hands on Look at the Human Body

The table is the only fully-segmented real human 3D anatomy system in the world; one that showcases the human body just like a fresh cadaver … but better.

Individual structures, like the respiratory system and the digestive system, are constructed with an unprecedented level of accuracy in a fully interactive, life-sized touch screen experience. Students can rotate the body from any angle and see all perspectives, highlighting the interconnectedness of systems and why an organ’s shape and form is critical to its functionality.

Dr. Dan Williams, assistant professor of biology and an Anatomage Table guru, explained, “I can zoom in to show each and every component of the lung, showing how lung tissue enlarges the surface area, which directly impact the whole digestive system and the structure of the human body.”

Advantages of an Anatomage

Though human cadavers have distinct benefits (like seeing the consequences of disease firsthand), the table’s possibilities are endless. It can be sliced a gazillion times—and without smells, a special climate, or daunting annual costs. It has renowned radiology software and clinical content, allowing the perfect human specimen to take on an entirely new personality for examining. And deterioration never happens with the table. Age impacts how easily and well some anatomical features can be seen on a cadaver, but with the table, the only challenge is finding a spot around the table (though our room has a high-definition television mounted). Also, barriers (like fat) that can form over muscles and hide organs in a cadaver can be controlled, along with veins, arteries, and the lymphatic system not being flattened.

“The images are amazingly detailed, like a textbook but completely 3D,” Claire Wilhoite, a senior biology major. “You have complete control of how you move the image; you can click through the layers of the body, removing one system at a time; or you can look at an entire system at once.”

The Anatomage Table is very intuitive for students, who have grown up with touchscreens, allowing them to resize images or go deeper into content. The table gives a full-range of variation, anomalies, and pathology, along with radiology assets, like CT scans and MRIs.

A Variety of Programs

More than 375 students will have the opportunity to touch the USM’s Anatomage Table—most of them headed for a career in a health care field. Currently, 100 students are studying in a pre-health care field in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, while an additional 47 have declared exercise science as their major. The Nursing Program has 89 students enrolled—while the Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practioner track matriculated 10 this fall in its inaugural on-campus class. Saint Mary also has 120 Doctor of Physical Therapy students, along with nine Master of Science in Athletic Training students, both diving into graduate-level anatomy and physiology coursework in their respective program’s first-semester teachings.

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