Mentored Research in Exercise Science


Typically an ESS 499 is a minimum of a 2 semester mentored undergraduate research experience. The goal of this experience is for you to embark on a deep research experience in a topic area in exercise science with a faculty mentor in the Department of Exercise Science. To be eligible you must have a 3.0 GPA. This experience takes motivated students who are willing to take initiative and be self-driven with the guidance of their mentor. It is important at all phases to have conversations with your mentor about your expectations and their expectations. Keep them updated on progress and be honest if the experience is not right for you. Undergraduate research is not required; it is an opportunity that should be meaningful in your education if you take responsibility for it.

Undergraduate research in exercise science, ESS 499, is typically a minimum of two semesters of mentored research (1 – 2 credit hours per semester). Undergraduate research is not required in Exercise Science, but the credits earned (up to a maximum of 4) can be used for the ESS elective requirement. If you are interested in pursuing undergraduate research you must possess a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and have completed ESS 101, Introduction to Exercise Science.
The purpose of the undergraduate research experience in exercise science is for you to engage with a faculty mentor in a focused research experience in a specific area of interest. This experience is ideally suited to students who are able to take initiative and be self-driven to accomplish the goals set with their research mentor. At all phases of the process it is important to discuss both the students and mentors expectations. This includes keeping your mentor updated about progress, difficulties, and if the process turns out to be not for you. This should be a meaningful experience in your education, but it is up to you to take responsibility for the process.

Exploratory Phase (you are interested in exploring research opportunities in ES, typically second and third year students):
• Talk with your advisor
• Look at the ES website and what types of research faculty are doing.
• Identify at least 3 faculty members to have a conversation about your interests. There are links on the website of papers to read/or ideas to explore before you meet with a faculty member
• Either identify a mentor and discuss availability and/or ask to explore/shadow several students in different labs to get a sense of what would work

Project Development Phase (you have identified a mentor, time to get your hands wet, typically third and fourth year students, occasionally second year students). The length of time(and credits) for this phase varies but work with your mentor to:
• Explore the literature/write a literature review
• Identify a research design
• Create a timeline so you can update progress
• Submit IRB / pilot test
• Write introduction, methods, hypotheses
• Explore/Submit URP grant, scholarship etc. if appropriate

Project Execution Phase (you are ready to address your research questions, typically third and fourth year students).
The length of time(and credits) for this phase varies but work with your mentor to:
• Recruit subjects
• Collect data
• Analyze data
• Write results and discussion
• Present at conference(s) (SURF is a minimum)
• If appropriate submit paper for publication


Each faculty member has some general research interest areas. This is a place to start and set-up meetings to discuss your research interests and opportunities they may have. Each member has a paper below their entry or an 'assignment'. Please do this before you meet with them to start the conversation with some background knowledge. This is meant to be an introduction to the kinds of work they do or to help you explore interests in their area.

Dr. Barry Beedle

Dr. Wally Bixby: My primary research interest focuses on how people feel during and following exercise and how we can use this information to better prescribe exercise. An example of this is using affect to prescribe exercise intensity. Additionally, I have conducted research examining the impacts of exercise on cognition, the impact of concussion on brain activity and cognition, the impact of cooling on performance in the heat, and the use of training aids on performance. If you are interested in these topics and working with me on undergraduate research, please identify three research articles, write a brief summary of each, send them to me so I can read them and then setup a time that we can meet.

Dr. Joyce Davis: Current research projects focus on the biomechanics of dance. We use motion analysis, electromyography, and ground reaction force plates to study kinematics and kinetics. Examples include studying the effect of ballet shoes on hip and knee movements and the relationship between history of injury and impact forces on landing. Reading the following article will provide you with a comprehensive overview of research in dance biomechanics and inform our conversation. article

Dr. Eric Hall: My research interests are in the psychological aspects of physical activity, exercise and sport. I have two major areas of research. The first line of research focuses on physical activity and mental health with a specific interest on exercise and its ability to change affect/mood and cognitive function. I am interested in the physiological/neuroscientific basis for why people feel better or have better cognitive function with exercise. My second line of research comes from my work on a project called Elon BrainCARE (Concussion Assessment, Research and Education) which I am co-director. This is a collaborative research project examining the impact of concussions on a wide array of variables (e.g., cognitive function, balance, gait, somatosensory processing, academics and quality of life) in collegiate student-athletes.  If you are interested in topics in this area, please set-up a meeting with me to discuss your interests. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Caroline Ketcham: My research interests include movement control and coordination, seeking to better understand how the central nervous system controls and regulates coordinated movement in healthy individuals and those with neurological disease and/or brain injury. Current projects surround topics related to concussion (Elon BrainCARE), and the motor and speech systems using tDCS in kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders. If you are interested in topics in this area, please set-up a meeting with me to discuss your interests. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Svetlana Nepocatych: My research interests are in the areas of: sports nutrition, public health (physical activity, nutrition knowledge and dietary behaviors), yoga, exercise performance and recovery. I have several active research projects including: effects of rinsing vs. drinking water on physiological and psychological response during running and effects of yoga on psychosocial well-being and salivary cortisol. My future projects will include evaluating the effects of protein intake and supplementation on appetite, energy consumption and body composition. If you are interested in topics in these areas, please set-up a meeting to discuss your interests. Please identify and bring three journal articles that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Paul Miller: My primary research interests involve the examination of muscle function, adaptation, and recovery.  This includes issues pertaining to healing, attenuation of delayed onset muscle soreness, and supplementation strategies.  I am also interested in the impact of various nutritional supplements have on exercise performance, physical function, and cognitive function.  If you would like to talk about opportunities pertaining to undergraduate research in this area, let’s setup a meeting.  Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Takudzwa Madzima: My primary research interests involves investigating the efficacy of exercise and dietary interventions to counteract the physical and psychosocial side effects of both cancer and cancer therapies in breast and prostate cancer survivors. Specifically, my goal is to identify non-pharmacological interventions such as aerobic and resistance exercise, protein and anti-inflammatory supplements can attenuate, and possibly reverse the loss of muscular mass and strength as well as the physical function and quality of life of these populations. In addition, I am interested in the effect of nighttime eating (food consumed at night prior to sleep) on metabolism, body composition, appetite and cardiometabolic risk in both active and sedentary adults. If you are interested in these topics and working with me on undergraduate research, let’s setup a meeting to have a conversation about it. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Matthew Wittstein: The goal of my research is to understand how physiological rhythms change and relate to each other as a function of health, aging, and pathology. By studying heart, lung, and movement rhythms, I believe we will be able to understand aging and illness more holistically – specifically, how these systems interact with each other. Using a combination of biomechanics, exercise physiology, and motor behavior it may be possible to better diagnose and treat complex pathologies. My research is currently applied to aging populations, but I also am interested in applying this principle to patients of cardiac dysfunction, respiratory dysfunction, or concussion. If you have interest in potentially conducting research in these areas please read this article and prepare one or two questions to guide our conversation.


Molly Burgoyne '15 "Rocking Chairs, Yoga Balls, and Fidget Toys: Role of Heightened Sensory Tools on Classroom Performance for Students with Learning Differences"

Kathleen Hupfeld '16  'Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Behavioral and Neurophysiological Effects on Motor Planning and Motor Learning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder"

Nicole Doolen '18 “Examining the third pillar of exercise prescription: ratings of pleasure-displeasure”

Ashley King 18' “The Effect of Chronic Knee Injury on Kinematic Knee Performance for the Saut de Chat in Collegiate Female Dancers”

2015 SURF (Many of these presented at professional conferences throughout the year)

Kara G. Soler-Sala  Neurocognitive Function In Club Sport Student-Athletes With Attention Deficit Disorder And History Of Concussions

Ashley M. Brown Cultural Competency And Relationship Effects Between Athletes And Coaches

Kayla Harvey Potential Factors Influencing Recovery From Concussion In Collegiate Student-Athletes

Chelsea T. Gemme The Effect Of Foot Strike On Leg Muscle Activity When Running Barefoot

Anna E. Stapleton and Jennifer N. Gehrin The Effects Of Citrulline Malate Supplementation On Muscle Soreness And Contractile Function

Emily L. Messerschmidt Changes In Gait Are More Sensitive To Current Symptoms Than History Of Concussion Among Student-Athletes

Sam Hershberger The Effects Of Fish Oil Supplementation On Cognitive Function

Jordan Cottle Neurocognitive Performance and Concussions: Influence of Headaches, Migraines, Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorders and Exercise

Ann Marie Nunnelee, Katie Umbdenstock Effects of Pre-Exercise Energy Bar on 10K Running Performance

Christine Treseler The Effect of Compression Socks on Running Performance in Recreational Female Runners

Megan T. Flynn All Work and No Play? How the Psychology Behind Workplace Pedometer-Based Programs Can Predict Adherence

Lauren E. Packard Mirror Neuron System Activation in Dancers: Implications for Observational Learning


Molly Burgoyne 'The role of therapy ball seating on classroom performance: Understanding the physiological mechanisms

Graham Cochrane 'Effects of catechol-O-methyl transferase and dopamine receptor D2 genotypes on performance on computerized neurocognitive task performance in colegiate student athletes'

Jordan Cottle 'Neurocognitive performance and concussions: Influence of headaches, migraines, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorders and exercise'

Emily Messerschmidt 'Changes in gait are more sensitive to current symptoms than history of concussion among varsity athletes'

Lauren Packard  'An investigation of the mirror neuron system activation in expert dances and their performance on a novel task'

Practicum Information/Forms

Fall  2016 Term Practicum Coordinator


  • Syllabus
  • Student Forms
  • Agency Formas

Winter 2017 Term Practicum Coordinator


  • Syllabus
  • Student Forms
  • Agency Forms

Spring 2016 Term Practicum Coordinator  

Prof. Matt Wittstein

  • Syllabus
  • Student Forms
  • Agency Forms

Summer 2016 Practicum Coordinator

Dr. Caroline Ketcham

Useful information before starting practicum:

    AAFP Association

    AAMC (for aspiring docs, but tricks can be used for any health profession)

Professional Organizations

  • ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)
  • SEACSM (SouthEast American College of Sports Medicine)
  • SFN (Society for Neuroscience)