Mentored Research in Exercise Science

ESS 499 – Exercise Science Independent Research Guidelines

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

Faculty Research Areas

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. Click the name of the faculty member to see more:

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.

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. Joyce Davis

Current research projects focus on the biomechanics of dance. They 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 a 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.

Dr. Eric Hall

Dr. Hall’s 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. He is interested in the physiological/neuroscientific basis for why people feel better or have a better cognitive function with exercise. His second line of research comes from my work on a project called Elon BrainCARE 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. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Simon Higgins

Dr. 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 movement (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

Dr. Ketcham’s 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. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Svetlana Nepocatych

research interests are in the areas of sports nutrition, public health (physical activity, nutrition knowledge, and dietary behaviors), yoga, and exercise performance and recovery. She has several active research projects including: the effects of rinsing vs. drinking water on physiological and psychological response during running and effects of yoga on psychosocial well-being and salivary cortisol. Future projects will include evaluating the effects of protein intake and supplementation on appetite, energy consumption, and body composition. Please identify and bring three journal articles that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Paul Miller

Dr. Miller’s 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.  He is also interested in the impact of various nutritional supplements have on exercise performance, physical function, and cognitive function. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Takudzwa Madzima

Dr. Madzima’s primary research interests involve 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, his 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 muscle mass and strength as well as the physical function and quality of life of these populations. In addition, he is 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. Please identify and bring three journal article abstracts that you find interesting to our meeting.

Dr. Matthew Wittstein

The goal of his 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. His recent research has examined aging populations, but future projects aim to explore this principle to sports performance and patients with 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’”

Jonathan Martinez ’20 (Dr. Wittstein) “Implications of the Cross Education Phenomenon on Rehabilitation and Training”

SURF 2018 Presentations (Mentors italicized)

Ian R. Heaton (Dr. Eric Hall & Dr. Caroline Ketcham), Examination of the Availability and Effectiveness of Social Support Systems Following a Concussion in Collegiate Student-Athletes and Dancers

Rachel A. DiCioccio (Dr. Matthew Wittstein), An Assessment of Clinical Measures of Postural Control in Pre-Professional Dancers

Brigid M. Brennan (Dr. Caroline Ketcham and Dr. Eric Hall), Academic Confidence and Grit Predict Mindfulness in Collegiate Student-Athletes

Sydney N. Brown (Dr. Eric Hall), Evaluating the Effectiveness of Applying Grief-Response Models to Sport Injury in
Collegiate Student-Athletes

Daniel J. Cavarretta (Dr. Walter Bixby & Dr. Eric Hall), Machines versus Free Weights: Does Exercise Mode Influence the Psychological Responses?

Keely M. Collins (Dr. Svetlana Nepocatych & Dr. Takudzwa Madzima), The Effects of Caffeine on Sugar Intake, Taste Perception and Metabolism

Sara E. Corning (Dr. Caroline Ketcham & Dr. Eric Hall), Perspectives of Parents and Volunteers of Special Needs Children in Youth Sport Programs: Striking Down Barriers

Nicholas A. Hadgis (Dr. Matthew Wittstein), Unilateral Fatigue Has No Effect on Leg Stiffness

Emily P. Keller (Dr. Caroline Ketcham), The Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Age and Race Implicit
Association Tests During Complex Motor Tasks

Caroline A. Kelly (Dr. Caroline Ketcham and Dr. Eric Hall), Test Setting and ADHD Influence Baseline Concussion Testing Neurocognitive Performance in Collegiate Student-Athletes

Corinne M. Kenny (Professor Lauren Kearns, Dr. Caroline Ketcham, and Dr. Eric Hall), A Complex Balance Task Integrated into a Concussion Management Protocol Specific to Dancers

Bridget C. Krol, Sarah J. McCain, Ashley M. Moats & Francesca A. Music (Dr. Cynthia Fair & Dr. Caroline Ketcham), Availability and Accessibility of Psychosocial Service Information on Websites of Top-Rated Children’s Cancer Hospitals, Translating Psychosocial Standards of Care into Assessment: A Tool for Advocacy

Lyndsay J. Lee (Dr. Paul Miller & Dr. Takudzwa Madzima), The Effects of Blueberry Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Inflammation

Anna M. Linsz (Professor Elizabeth Bailey), The Impact of a Mentor Based Program on Self Esteem and Perceived Body Image in Older Elementary School Girls

Kira G. Oberle (Dr. Caroline Ketcham), Dual-Task Performance after Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current
Stimulation (tDCS)

Emma E. Pippert (Professor Elizabeth Bailey), The Impact of Promoting Positive Body Image on Academic Performance in Adolescent Girls

Meagan H. Richardson (Dr. Svetlana Nepocatych and Dr. Takudzwa Madzima), Weight Perception, Body Composition, and Dietary Practices in College Age Students

Isabel L. Smith (Dr. Takudzwa Madzima, Professor Elizabeth Bailey, and Professor Theresa Ramos), Effects of a Ketogenic Supplement or a Whey Protein Breakfast Meal on Metabolism, Appetite and Subsequent Energy Intake

Melanie N. Vacchiano (Dr. Matthew Wittstein), Using a Design Thinking Approach to Target Geriatric Mobility at Twin Lakes Community