November 17, 2016
The University of Massachusetts Amherst recently named Kinesiology major Greg Petrucci '17 a Rising Researcher for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Rising Researcher program celebrates undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, or creative activity.
As a member of the Physical Activity and Health Laboratory since his sophomore year, Petrucci has demonstrated research capabilities and experiences that according to his advisors, Patty Freedson and John Sirard, are “unmatched at the undergraduate level.” Petrucci is interested in developing more accurate measurement techniques to better understand the dose-response relationship between physical activity and health.
Petrucci has shown an extremely high aptitude for working on studies that validate and assess wearable computers and mobile sensors for health, a movement termed “The Quantified Self.”
One of his projects examines the ability of a consumer activity tracker, the Misfit Shine, to detect changes in habitual physical activity. The project is novel, says Sirard, in that it is the first study to provide empirical evidence suggesting the sensitivity of a consumer activity tracker to detect change.
Petrucci is interested in the utility of wearable devices in medicine and behavioral interventions as well. To this end, he was selected as the one undergraduate researcher to present his work at the October 2016 grand opening of the campus’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS). He will also present new data from his studies at the 2017 American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.
“Greg is one of the best undergraduate students I have supervised in my 35 years at UMass,” says Freedson, professor and former chair of the kinesiology department. “I anticipate that he will embark on a successful research career in physical activity health, becoming a leader in the art and science of discovery to advance our field in the coming years.”