Volunteer Opportunities


The Muscle Biology and Imaging Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst regularly seeks individuals to participate in research studies. View current volunteer opportunities.

Awards and Honors


View awards and honors received by MBIL graduate students.

MBIL Alumni


Doctoral students from the Muscle Biology and Imaging lab have gone onto prestigious positions at top research institutions across the country. View our alumni.

Department and College


Karen Riska, M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant
(413) 545-6072
kriska@kin.umass.edu

I am a doctoral candidate in my fifth year at the University of Massachusetts. During my time here at UMass, I have had the privilege of participating as a researcher on projects with topics that focused on skeletal muscle response to exercise stress: efficacy of a topical analgesic on the treatment of muscle soreness, the effects cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), and the effects of a nutritional supplement (glucosamine) on muscle soreness after strenuous exercise. Of particular interest was a research project of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and body composition, which resulted from having worked on a large-scale multi-site study investigating the effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on muscle size and strength following a 12-week training program. The focus of my dissertation research is the extracellular matrix of skeletal muscle—specifically examining how the extracellular matrix adapts after a single and repeated bout of muscle damaging exercise.

In addition to conducting research, I have been a teaching assistant in the kinesiology department for Human Performance and Nutrition, Junior Year Writing, and Measurement and Evaluation. 

I received a Masters degree in Exercise Science from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud Minnesota where the topic of my thesis was The Effects of Cold Air Exposure on Enothelin Levels. 

Prior to returning to school in the field of kinesiology, I was a research scientist in the biomedical field. In addition, I also coached cross-country and track and field at my high school alma mater. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. I left my career in the biomedical field in 2001 to pursue my passion for understanding how skeletal muscle adapts to strenuous exercise. In particular, I wanted to understand the molecular underpinnings of skeletal muscle adaptation. I have been fortunate to combine my biochemistry and molecular biology background with kinesiology. My hobbies include running, cooking, and hiking in New England with my husband Kurt.

Publications

1. K.L. Riska, J.Zachwieja, P.M. Clarkson. Effects of Glucosamine Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Adaptation. January 2010 [Submitted]

Abstracts

1. K.L. Riska, S. Ramakrishnan, L.Xin, R.D.Hyldahl, S. Chipkin,  B.Rahmberg, M.J. Hubal,  M.A. Murray, V.Greger, P.Prabhakar, K.Shaver, P.M. Clarkson, Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 42(5) Supplement, May 2010 [Abstract]

2. L. Xin,  S. Ramakrishnan, R.D. Hyldahl, K.L. Riska, S. Chipkin,  M.J. Hubal,  M. A. Murray, V. Greger, P. Prabhakar, K. Shaver, P.M. Clarkson, The effects of two botanical supplements on gene expression following eccentric exercise. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 42(5) Supplement, May 2010 [Abstract]

3. R.D. Hyldahl, S. Ramakrishnan, L. Xin, K.L. Riska, S. Chipkin, M.A. Murray, V. Greger, P.Prabhakar, K. Shaver P.M. Clarkson,Two Botanical Supplements with Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties Protect Against Eccentric Exercise-Induced Strength Loss. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 42(5) Supplement, May 2010 [Abstract]

4. K.L. Riska, T.C. Chen, J.M. Devaney, E.P. Hoffman, L.L. Tosi, M.B. Rogers, H. Gordish-Dressman, P.M. Clarkson. BMP2 and IL-10 genotype associations with total body composition. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 40(5) Supplement:S185, May 2008 [Abstract]

5. K.L. Riska, T.C. Chen, J.M. Devaney, H. Gordish-Dressman, E.P. Hoffman, P.M. Clarkson. AKT1 Association with total body composition. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 39(5) Supplement:S14, May 2007[Abstract]

6. K.L. Riska, Y-W. Chen, P. Lee, K.F. Lee, M. Urso, M.J. Hubal, P.M. Clarkson. Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscle after spinal cord injury. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 37(5) Supplement:S185,May 2005 [Abstract]

Presentations

1. K.L. Riska Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, June 2010 – Baltimore, MD (Slide presentation)

2. K.L. Riska Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise. NEACSM Annual Meeting, 2009 – Providence, RI (Slide presentation)

3. Guest Speaker, Molecular Biology and Exercise Science. Western New England College, April 2009   

4. Effects of eccentric exercise on the extracellular matrix. Graduate Seminar. Amherst, MA. December 2008

5. P.M. Clarkson, K.L. Riska, R.D. Hyldahl, K.O’Fallon, C.A. Moore, S. Moeckel-Cole. NEACSM Symposium: SNPS (K.L. Riska): The alterations that make us common and unique. NEACSM Annual Meeting, Fall 2008 – Providence, RI (Slide presentation

6. K.L. Riska, J.M. Devaney, E.P. Hoffman, L.L. Tosi, T.C. Chen, M.B. Rogers, H. Gordish-Dressman, P.M. Clarkson. BMP2 and IL-10 Genotype Associations with total body composition. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, May 2008 – Indianapolis, IN (Poster presentation)

7. K.L. Riska, J.M. Devaney, E.P. Hoffman, T.C. Chen, H. Gordish-Dressman, P.M. Clarkson. BMP2 Genotype Associations with total body composition. NEACSM Annual Meeting, Fall 2007 – Providence, RI (Slide presentation

8. K.L. Riska, J.M. Devaney, T.C. Chen, M. Matos, E.P. Hoffman, P.M. Clarkson. AKT1 Association with total body composition. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, May 2007-New Orleans, LA (Poster Presentation)

9. K.L. Riska, J.M. Devaney, T.C. Chen, M. Matos, E.P. Hoffman, P.M. Clarkson. AKT1 Association with total body composition. NEACSM Annual Meeting, Fall 2006 – Providence, RI (Slide presentation)  

10. K.L. Riska, M.L. Urso, Y-W. Chen, P. Lee, T. Chen, P.M. Clarkson. Gene and protein expression profiling of skeletal muscle after spinal cord injury. NEACSM Annual Meeting, Fall 2005 – Providence, RI (Slide presentation)

11. K.L. Riska, Y-W. Chen, P. Lee, K.F. Lee, M. Urso, M.J. Hubal, P.M. Clarkson. Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscle after spinal cord injury. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, May 2005-Nashville, TN (Poster presentation)

12. K.L. Riska, Y-W. Chen, P. Lee, K.F. Lee, M. Urso, M.J. Hubal, P.M. Clarkson. Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscle after spinal cord injury. NEACSM Annual Meeting, Fall 2004 – Providence, RI (Slide presentation) 

13. Effects of AKT1 genotype on body composition. Graduate Seminar, Amherst MA. Fall 2004

Awards

ACSM Foundation Research Grant, $5000

Doctoral Student Investigator Award-NEACSM Annual Meeting 2004

Doctoral Student Investigator Award-NEACSM Annual Meeting 2009

Muscle Response Research

Activation of NF-kb in cells outside the myofiber boundary, 3h following eccentric exercise (ECC). A. Confocal images of triple stained 10µm sections from a representative ECC sample for dystrophin (dys=blue), the p-65 subunit of NF-kb (p65=green) and nuclei (topro3=red). White square in merged image denotes the boundaries of the inset image. Scale bar in top 3 images and merged image = 20µm; scale bar in inset image = 10µm. Read the abstract.

Resistance Exercise and Cancer

Dr. Clarkson's research on resistance exercise during breast cancer treatment is featured in Medical Hypothesis, a journal of theoretical papers in the biomedical sciences. Read the abstract.

Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that can develop unexpectedly under supervised conditions. Dr. Clarkson's 2009 paper in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examines a case of rhabdomyolysis in a healthy, fit 18-year-old placekicker following a supervised practice session led by the team's strength and conditioning coach. Following eight days of hospitalization with intravenous fluids, the patient recovered without complications. View the full abstract.