James Madison University

Focus on Undergraduate Student Research

Kinesiology Exercise Science undergraduate students Andrew D’Lugos and Caitlin Vining have chosen to be submerged in research during their final semester of college. Here is some insight Andrew and Caiti provided to share some details about their experience as well as advice for students who are interested in also being involved in research.

A brief explanation of the project:

The research currently underway is part of study entitled, “The Ergogenic impact of Late-Exercise Mouth Rinsing”.  We are researching the performance enhancing effects of both a protein and a carbohydrate mouth rinse taken late into an endurance exercise bout, in this case cyclists.  Originally the protocol selected was going to be part of a reliability test which would affirm its validity for a later study.  After working with Dr. Michael Saunders and Dr. Nick Luden, we were able to add on our own portion which is the mouth rinse intervention.

How we became interested in research:

Andrew - I became interested in this type of research after taking the course, KIN 302 “Exercise Physiology”.  I had always been a visual, hands-on learner and this course revealed all of the research that is involved in performance enhancement for many sports.  Eventually, I approached Dr. Saunders and Dr. Luden to inquire about any research opportunities in the Human Performance Lab.  I first got started by helping a graduate student on his master’s thesis researching the effects of different exercise modes on satellite cell response in muscle.

Caiti - When I first began my coursework in Kinesiology, I thought I wanted to pursuer a career in physical therapy. However, after taking exercise physiology last spring, my interests changed. Physiology was very interesting to me and I wanted to learn more about the opportunities available in the field. I spoke to Dr. Luden about possible career paths I could take with physiology as well as how to get involved in research in the Human Performance Lab. This past fall I participated in a study researching the effects of a supplementation on lactate clearance.

Getting the project started:

Before beginning the current study, a lot of time was spent reviewing the existing literature and developing a strong question to research.  Researching past studies which relate to your research topic is important in developing a relevant and reproducible protocol when it comes to data collection.  After gaining a thorough knowledge of the topic, comes drafting IRB submissions, informed consent forms, data collection sheets, as well as becoming acquainted with the laboratory equipment used to collect data.  For a student to be successful at such an opportunity, they must have self discipline to stay focused as these research studies are usually taking place in addition to a class load.  One must also have a true passion to keep learning, as this is the point of research, to continue learning more about your preferred topic. Lastly, as many exercise science studies involve human subjects, a student must act professionally and courteous to the subjects dedicating their time and effort for the sake of research.  To become involved in such a research project, one should first identify what their interest is in the field of kinesiology and then contact either Dr. Saunders or Dr. Luden about any current research projects.  What makes JMU great is that opposed to most other universities, we utilize a large amount of undergraduate students in the research process which gives invaluable experience to its students and in turn receives quality research assistance.

Professional aspirations:

Andrew - My professional aspirations are to continue my education into graduate school for my Master’s and Doctorate degrees in exercise physiology.  I am still undecided for what comes afterwards, but I could see myself working in a university setting.  My ultimate goal would be to work with a professional soccer team on the medical staff.

Caiti - My professional aspirations are to continue my educational career and earn Master’s and Doctorate degrees in exercise physiology. I am very interested in improving exercise performance as well as the how exercise and light exposure affects sleep and circadian rhythms. I hope to continue to do research and eventually teach at a university.