Kinesiology Faculty Member, Doctoral Student Awarded Grants by ACSM

Liam Fitzgerald and Katie Becofsky at the ACSM Annual Meeting
Liam Fitzgerald, left, and Katie Becofsky at the 2017 ACSM Annual Meeting.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently honored two members of the kinesiology department with grants to help them complete research. Assistant professor Katie Becofsky was awarded the Paffenbarger-Blair Fund for Epidemiological Research on Physical Activity Award, and doctoral candidate Liam Fitzgerald received the Doctoral Student Research Grant.

The awards will be used for experimental subjects, supplies and small equipment needs.

“I am especially honored since I got my Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, where Dr. Blair (one of the namesakes of the award) worked for decades. He is a living legend in the field of physical activity and health,” Becofsky said.

The $10,000 award is meant to support research by scientists in the beginning of their career. Becofsky has just finished her first year as a faculty member.

She will use the award to complete a study over the summer and fall titled “Strengthening the bond between owners and their dogs to increase physical activity.” Becofsky’s research examines how leveraging the human-animal bond might promote physical health, mental health and social well-being.

“I will use these funds to conduct a small project testing whether basic obedience training can increase physical activity levels among owners that do not walk their dogs regularly,” she says. Becofsky will partner with Caryl-Rose Pofcher of My Dog Training in Amherst for the study, and utilize Pofcher’s knowledge as a certified behavior adjustment trainer.

Fitzgerald said, “I was very excited to have been selected as a grant recipient. This grant is a prestigious award in our field and has been on my radar since beginning my doctoral studies.”

Fitzgerald, who works closely with faculty mentor Jane Kent, will use his $5,000 grant for his dissertation research titled “Can Bioenergetics Explain Age-Related Differences in Muscle Fatigue.” The study examines whether there is a biochemical basis for the greater muscle fatigue older women experience compared to younger women during high-speed muscular work. During Fitzgerald’s research, eight younger and eight older women will complete a series of high-speed muscle contractions while lying inside a Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner.

“The findings from this study will help clarify our understanding of the causes of age-related differences in muscle fatigue, which will be necessary to inform future studies aimed at improving physical function in older adults,” he says.

“The new Human Magnetic Resonance Center located in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) is an exceptional facility and I cannot wait to begin my dissertation studies,” Fitzgerald adds.