Monday, July 11 2016
Meeting at the Library: Dr. Cara Ocobock…”Enduring the Extremes: How to Not Die in the Wild”
7 p.m….610 Woodmere Ave., Traverse City
Ocobock’s research involves the study and modeling of human energy expenditure at extreme climates, altitudes, and physical activities. Her interest in the energetics and physiology of people living in extreme cold climates arose from her work developing a new model, the Allocation and Interaction Model, for predicting human total energy expenditure. The study population for this research, students from the National Outdoor Leadership School, was highly active and lived for extended periods of time in a variety of high altitude climates in the western United States. The Allocation and Interaction Model out-performs current models for predicting total energy expenditure among highly active humans in natural environments.
Ocobock uses this model to dissect human energy budgets, determining how much energy is allocated to basal metabolism, physical activity, thermoregulation, and the digestion of food. She has found that physical activity level plays an important role in determining thermoregulatory costs. She also explores the body composition changes experienced in extreme conditions, and found that individuals with higher body fat percentages could attenuate muscle mass loss during extended periods of rigorous physical activity at high altitudes. This research can inform proper ration nutrition and survival techniques during extreme climate expeditions. Most recently, Ocobock took part in a large collaborative project focused on runners participating in Race Across the USA. These runners ran a daily marathon for six days a week over 150 days as they ran across the United States of America.
About Dr. Ocobock…
Dr. Cara Ocobock earned her Bachelors of Science from the University of Michigan in Anthropology-Zoology and Cellular, Molecular, & Developmental Biology. She earned her PhD in Anthropology from Washington University, St. Louis in 2014. She is currently a professor in the Biomedical Sciences Department at Grand Valley State University. Her research focuses on human energy expenditure and adaptations under extreme conditions of climate and physical activity.
Ocobock is also deeply involved in science education and encouraging women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medical fields. She founded and is currently running Science on Tap Grand Rapids, which is an opportunity for conversation, debate, and interaction between scientists and the public while enjoying libations at the SpeakEZ Lounge. Ocobock is also a core member of the Association for Women in Science West Michigan and a faculty fellow for the Women in Science and Engineering living learning community at Grand Valley State University.