Stillwater News Press

November 2, 2012

Oklahoma State canine exercise research has saved U.S. soldiers lives

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Canine exercise research has saved U.S. soldiers lives in war zones, an Oklahoma State University professor said Thursday at the university’s first-ever TEDx Talks.

Michael Davis, a professor at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and the director of the Comparative Exercise Physiology Lab at OSU, said research is being developed to a point at which dogs trained to detect improvised explosive devices can range far afield, seemingly without tiring.

“The key to a dog’s resistance to fatigue is its adaptability to a point where they are fatigue proof,” said Davis, who said dogs can range as much as 20 miles a day, sniffing out IEDs, without becoming fatigued.

Davis said the ability of the dogs to work long days results in fewer U.S. casualties. He introduced Sampson, a black Labrador retriever, who played onstage before padding up and down the aisles at the Seretean Center Concert Hall.

Davis was one of 20 presenters that included OSU alumni, faculty, staff and students who spoke about a wide range of issues during a five-hour event titled IGNITE.

“The variety of these presentations really appealed to me,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “They limited it in time, and what that does is force the presenter to really think through what they are presenting and do it in a way that is compelling and concise and informative. I don’t get bored watching it.”

Hargis said that it is rare that he watches a TED Talk online without sending a link to at least four or five people.

“I saw a TED Talk recently about breathable skin for buildings and sent it over to our architecture school and our construction management school,” Hargis said.

A capacity crowd of 800 people heard about geothermal heating, suicide rates among Native Americans, efforts to build schools in Third World countries, food health safety, wheat research and numerous other topics.

The audience also got in a little stretching exercise, led by First Cowgirl Ann Hargis, who asked the audience to stand in a “seventh-inning stretch” that included arm wiggles, leg stretches and a shoulder rub from a nearby audience member.

“Often people don’t realize how much the university contributes to the community and the state,” said OSU Provost Robert Sternberg. “And I think the TED Talks help in showing people in Stillwater and elsewhere how much Oklahoma State is helping our state grow and achieve the kind of prominence that we are seeking. And I think TED Talks helps us do that because this is not only being seen at Oklahoma State but all over the world.”

The event was streamed live on OState.TV. Event organizer Jim Berscheidt of the OSU Foundation said more than 15,000 unique visitors in 14 countries watched the program on OSU’s online platform.

“We kind of, frankly, have kept a lot of the activities at OSU among the family, so to speak,” said Hargis. “It’s time to share it with the world, because as a land-grant university, we’re supposed to be doing that.”

Hargis said that having events like the TEDx Talk, and making it available to a worldwide online audience, attracts talented faculty, staff and students to the university.