Kinesiology students Borges and McCormick awarded CYBEX undergraduate research grants

Dec 12 2013
Alexander Borges (left) and Kara McCormick (right)

Kinesiology majors Alexander Borges and Kara McCormick have been selected to receive CYBEX undergraduate research grants to help fund the completion of their honors thesis projects. The grants are the first awarded under a new agreement between the Department of Kinesiology and CYBEX International, a Massachusetts-based exercise equipment manufacturer, and include both financial remuneration for research costs and a small stipend.

Borges will conduct the study “Arc Trainer Accuracy and Consumer Monitor Validation Study” in the Physical Activity and Health Laboratory under the supervision of faculty advisor Dr. Patty Freedson. His project will evaluate the accuracy of the Arc Trainer in estimating energy expenditure, which has been difficult to achieve due to the cross trainer’s unique “Reverse Arc” motion. Borges will compare the Arc Trainer's energy expenditure output with that of a criterion measure called indirect calorimetry to gauge its accuracy and, if proven inaccurate, to generate equations that will provide a more accurate estimate of Arc Trainer energy expenditure.

“I was very excited to receive this award,” says Borges. “This grant will allow us to purchase more heart rate monitoring equipment and activity monitors, as well as to provide compensation to subjects. Subject compensation is important as it makes scheduling a large number of subjects during the semester easier.”

McCormick’s study, “Effects of a 12-week exercise intervention on self-efficacy, fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer survivors”, will be conducted in Dr. Barry Braun’s Energy Metabolism Laboratory.

“Kara is unique in melding a strong curiosity about human physiology with a firm commitment to solving key public health issues,” states Dr. Braun. “Her honors thesis is emblematic of that dual interest in underlying mechanism and real-world application.”

McCormick will work with doctoral student Richard Viskochil in examining the effects of exercise to ameliorate cancer-related fatigue, which is a common side-effect among cancer survivors and can persist for months to years after treatment. The effects of this fatigue can be very debilitating both physically and mentally, preventing many survivors from returning to active everyday living. McCormick expects that with exercise training their self-efficacy, or confidence in ability to achieve goals, will increase and as a result their fatigue will begin to diminish.

“I am delighted to have been chosen for the award, and am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to expand my research with the grant,” says McCormick. “The grant will help with necessary research tools to discover more about cancer related fatigue. The symptoms make it very different from fatigue; therefore it must be treated with alternative methods. I also plan to attend a conference in hopes of gaining more knowledge about current research on breast cancer and survivorship.”

The department will award another set of CYBEX research grants next fall.