Research in lab educates students
Exercise sport science majors have the opportunity to get practical experience with advanced testing equipment in the Human Performance Lab located in the Mayborn Campus Center.
The lab is full of high-tech instruments, hardworking research assistants and the occasional research test subject.
Dr. Colin Wilborn, director of the HPL, said, “The purpose of the lab is threefold. First and foremost, we serve our students, so for us it is a teaching tool for our undergraduate and graduate students. The second role is to serve our faculty and our staff in regard to health and wellness. The third thing we do is externally funded research.”
While the lab’s primary purpose is for teaching, it has been used for all kinds of studies ranging from nutritional supplement studies for companies like MET-Rx and Indus Biotech to a study on the P90X workout routine.
Dr. Lem Taylor, the director of the Exercise Biochemistry Lab was involved in the P90X study.
He said, “From a one-time acute response, it was interesting that it (P90X) performed just as good as the one we used to think was ideal. That was one interesting finding because everyone has heard on the radio or the TV about P90X.”
The Human Performance Lab was opened in 2004 and has had $60,000 worth of renovations. Since then it has participated in 10 funded research studies.
Most of the grants are for testing the effectiveness of nutritional supplements.
During the studies, participants take the supplement every day and resistance train four days a week. Then any change in strength, power or body composition will be assessed by those in the lab.
Sophomore business major Lou Cardenas, currently participates in one of the studies.
He said, “My minor is exercise science, so I love doing this stuff and getting to be able to be a part of it and seeing how they do it. Working out and exercise is always something that has interested me.”
Though the lab deals with research, its main purpose is to educate UMHB students.
“With our externally funded research, our primary goal is to give the students opportunity to conduct research, to present research and to publish research,” Wilborn said.
The lab has given UMHB exercise science students opportunities to advance their academic career.
It holds advanced testing equipment like the DEXA, which measures bone density and body composition. Also in the HPL is the VO2 max metabolic cart, which is used to calculate the maximal oxygen output.
Another piece of equipment is the Wingate anaerobic exercise bike.
Exercise sports and science majors get to have hands-on experience with this cutting edge exercise equipment.
Alumna Kristin Dugan is on staff in the HPL as a master’s level research assistant, and she values the hands on education she receives.
She said, “It was a different experience. It is just like whenever you are trying to learn A&P. You can learn about stuff in the book but until you actually see, it is hard to understand.”
Many of the students who have been a part of research in the lab have gone on to doctoral programs or physical therapy programs.
The students in charge of research have presented the research at national and international conferences like the Annual International Society of Sports Nutrition meeting and the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Wilborn said, “The greatest success is the number of students we have been able to get involved with research and given them the opportunity to present and publish research.”