This past October, four students in the College of Health Sciences received $5,000 from the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center Student Research Initiative to pursue undergraduate research.
Supporting AHPRC’s global goal to facilitate interdisciplinary, collaborative and innovative research to understand and improve the performance of athletic, health and clinical populations, each student will use the money to pursue their projects and initiate their interests in research.
One of the students is exercise physiology major Grace Tostrud — who conducted her research with Physical Therapy Assistant Professor Dr. Jacob Capin’s Life After Sports Trajectories (LAST) Lab. Grace is research titled “Bone density in athletes participating in jumping, cutting and pivoting sports: an underserved population.”
Grace sat down for a Q&A with Marquette Today to talk about his studies and his research aspirations.
What inspired your research? How did you become interested in the subject?
Studying bone density seems like an obvious way to link nutrition to the athletes we observe. As I did more preliminary research on the topic, it strengthened my desire because most of the research involving bone density in athletes revolves around runners. The athletes we study at LAST Lab engage in jumping, cutting and pivoting in sports such as football, volleyball and basketball. With the popularity of climbing sports across the country, this research is much needed. It’s of special interest to me because these are games I grew up playing – so it adds a personal factor.
I took a nutrition class last fall with Ken Knetzger, clinical assistant professor of exercise science, which sparked my interest in nutrition and how it affects many aspects of life. As part of the research study in the lab of Dr. Capin, we were already collecting food information from participants, so I knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate this wealth of information into my project.
What are your post-graduate aspirations and how does your research inform your plans for your career?
After graduation, I would love to work as a physical therapist in a sports team – at the college or professional level – to have the opportunity to work with elite athletes. Our research was done on college athletes, so it will be directly applicable to the many athletes I will encounter in my future career. My hope is the knowledge and experience I gain from the research process will help inform how I rehab and counsel not only athletes but all my patients in the future.
What is something interesting you have encountered while conducting your research so far? Or something interesting you saw while planning that made you rethink your approach?
One thing I find interesting is the amount of research available on bone density in runners – especially female runners – but the general lack of data on the athletes we study in the lab. . I thought it was very interesting because sports like football, basketball and volleyball are very popular throughout the country, so I believe this is an area that is more studied.
How can Dr. help you? Part of your research?
Dr. Capin has been an invaluable resource throughout the process. He believed in my idea and encouraged me to make this project my own while also helping to refine my ideas so that I could maximize this research opportunity. In addition, the entire LAST Lab team was very supportive of my project and gave me a lot of useful feedback. Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Student Research Initiative and the support provided by Dr. Capin and the rest of the LAST Lab team with me.
How can doing research as an undergraduate help you in your pursuit of a degree? Has it empowered your work in the classroom?
Participating in research as an undergraduate was a wonderful experience because it gave me a lot of hands-on experience. Through my participation in the LAST Lab, I have gained confidence in my interactions with research participants that will transfer to interactions with future patients. I was also exposed to many different opportunities to improve my knowledge either through seminars, by interacting with visiting teachers and researchers, or by tapping into the vast knowledge that members bring. in the lab team.
Last year, I saw the confidence I gained in the lab transfer to my classroom work. I’m more sure of myself and my skills, and I’m also empowered to ask questions instead of feeling like I need all the answers. Joining the LAST Lab opened many doors – SRI being one of them – and it was one of the best decisions of my college career!