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.

Professor Elizabeth Bailey,  a certified Exercise Specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine and a certified Wellness Coach through Wellcoaches Corporation. She has a strong background in clinical exercise programming and health education. She coordinates three programs offered on campus for children in 4th -7th grade which provide physical activity programming, health education and mentoring relationships with Elon student volunteers, and teaches exercise classes in the Faculty/Staff Wellness program. Her research interests include investigating the impact of various programming techniques to promote exercise behavior for health in children and older adults, and the nutritional and exercise patterns of college students. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Daniel Baur, My primary research goal is to better understand the limits of human endurance and performance. Specifically, I am interested in acute and chronic nutritional interventions to augment carbohydrate availability and the real-world application of these strategies during training and competition. In addition, I am interested in optimizing long-term athlete development and the best uses of novel monitoring technologies to improve training outcomes. Finally, I conduct research examining the physiological and health impact of competing in ultraendurance events. Future projects will be aimed at optimizing exercise performance measurement, the impact of pre-exercise meal timing on performance, and the interplay between nutrition and hydration during running. If you are interested in topics in this area, please contact me to set up a meeting. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

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. Simon Higgins’ research interests focus on the interplay among human movement (physical activity, sedentary behavior, and exercise), body composition, and musculoskeletal health. Recent projects have examined: 1) the mediating role of muscle force capacity in the relationship between physical activity and skeletal health, 2) novel predictors of skeletal health in clinical and research settings, and 3) the effects of sedentary behavior on bone mineral and structural accrual. In addition, previous research has explored nutritional factors and exercise interventions aimed at improving both athletic performance and metabolic health. Dr. Higgins has a passion for health-focused and performance-enhancing research with a strong belief that Exercise is Medicine® in both preventative and therapeutic settings. Future projects will expand on these themes in the context of the muscle-bone unit, examining the effects of moment (or lack thereof) on skeletal micro- and macro-architecture. 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 and performance. The coupling of physiological systems could be an indication of increased demands on a person either due to their health (or lack of health) or the task they are performing. Using a combination of biomechanics, exercise physiology, and motor behavior it may be possible to better diagnose and treat complex pathologies or improve performance in sport and activities of daily living. My recent research has examined aging populations, but future projects aim to explore this principle to sport performance and patients of cardiac dysfunction, respiratory dysfunction, or concussion. If you have interest in potentially conducting research in these areas please read the abstracts for these two articles (Aging and Performance) and prepare one or two questions to start our conversation.

LUMEN SCHOLARS (Mentors italicized):

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

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

Nicole Doolen '17 (Dr. Bixby) “Examining the third pillar of exercise prescription: ratings of pleasure-displeasure”

Ashley King '17 (Dr. Davis) “The Effect of Chronic Knee Injury on Kinematic Knee Performance for the Saut de Chat in Collegiate Female Dancers”

Sara Corning '18(Drs. Ketcham and Hall) “Striking down barriers, striking out the 'fix' mentality: Impact of sport on children with special needs and their support team”

Daniel Cavarretta '19 (Dr. Hall) "We Can Do Better: Increasing Rates of Physical Activity Through an In-Depth Exploration of ‘The Pump’"

SURF 2017 PRESENTATIONS (Mentors italicized):

David F. Bement(Dr. Hall), Influence of Self-Perceptions on Aggression in Sport in Collegiate Club Athletes

Lauren A. Brown (Drs. Ketcham, Hall Vallabhajosula) Effect of Dual-Task and Neurocognitive Function on Turning Characteristics Among Collegiate Athletes

Lindsey M. Bauer & Kendall M. Soracin(Dr. Bixby) Effect of Meditation on Endurance Performance

Jonas R. Black, Jared T. Melanson, & Simon C. Locke(Drs. Madzima,  Hall, & Nepocatych) Affect Responses to an Acute Bout of Resistance Exercise the Morning after Consuming a Nighttime Protein Supplement

John B. Gallagher & Daniel J. Lynch (Drs. Ketcham & Hall) Sport-Related Strobe Glasses Training for Visual Speed and Processing Enhancement

Emily H. Harrison & Caroline D. Deaterly(Drs. Madzima & Vallabhajosula) Comparison Of Absolute Gait Parameters Between Breast Cancer Survivors And Healthy Controls During Forward And Backward Walking

Jared T. Melanson, Jonas R. Black, & Simon C. Locke(Drs. Nepocatych & Madzima) The Effect of Nighttime Eating on Morning Resting Energy Expenditure, Satiety, and Resistance Exercise Volume

Jeanine J. Grabowski & Briana N. O'Grady (Drs. Hall, Ketcham, & Vallabhajosula) Gait Characteristics in Collegiate Student-Athletes after Sustaining a Concussion

Nicholas A. Hadgis(Dr. Wittstein) Impact of Low Stride Time Variability on Running Performance

Daniel J. Lynch & John B. Gallagher(Drs. Ketcham & Hall) Association of ACL Injury In Student-Athletes With Concussion History

Caroline D. Deaterly & Emily H. Harrison(Dr. Madzima) Resting Energy Expenditure, Body Composition, Phase Angle, Muscular Strength, Dietary Intake and Physical Activity in Breast Cancer Survivors and Healthy Aged Matched Controls

Brighton E. Summers(Drs. Ketcham & Hall) Influence of Sleep, Symptoms and Neurocognition on Visual Performance and Number of Concussions in Collegiate Student-Athletes

Patricia J. Sorrentino & Meagan H. Richardson(Drs.Madzima & Nepocatych) Weight Control and Dieting Practices among College Women

Alex R. Brownlow & Katherine E. Pennington(Dr. Davis) Effect of Foot Placement on Vertical Jump Ground Reaction Force

Allison S. Russo & Emily C. Guy(Dr. Davis) Difference in Single Leg Balance Comparing Flat Foot and Relevé (Plantarflexed) Positions in Collegiate Ballet Dancers

Jennifer N. Gehrin(Drs. Miller & Ketcham) The Effects of Balance Training and Resveratrol Supplementation on Stability

Bryce A. Krzenski (Dr. Ketcham & Hall) Vestibular Deficits in Concussions: Relationships between Concussion Mechanism and Neurocognitive Performance

Nicole B. Doolen(Dr. Bixby) Regulating Pleasure during Exercise: Impact on Exercise Adherence

Kristen A. Fontela(Dr. Bixby) Comparison of the Effects of Self-Selected and Prescribed Intensity Exercise on Exertion and Feeling

Ashley King(Dr. Davis) Relationship Among Chronic Knee Injury, Leg Dominance, and Lower Body Kinematics of the Saut de Chat

Caroline E. Kruse(Dr. Bixby) Exercise and Resilience: Does Exercise Influence How We Handle, Bounce Back From, and Adapt to Stress?

Carrie Melson(Drs. Nepocatych & Madzima) The Effects of Whey vs. Soy Protein at Breakfast on Appetite Profile, Energy Metabolism and Subsequent Energy Intake

Briana N. O'Grady & Jeanine J. Grabowski(Drs. Ketcham, Hall, &  Vallabhajosula) Concussion Recovery: Gait Characteristics in Collegiate Student-Athletes