Exercise Science Research Center Hosts Open House to Highlight New and Expanded Labs


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Karyn Esser and Brian Umberger will present dedication seminars at the Center for Exercise Science Research Open House on October 21.

The Center for Exercise Science at the University of Alberta will host a open day on October 21 to celebrate new and expanded lab spaces.

The event will include tours, a reception and dedication seminars featuring two distinguished speakers in the field, Karyn Esser and Brian Umberger.

The center, in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, recently added gait biomechanics and expanded its wet lab capabilities for muscle biology work. Tours will begin at noon on October 21 in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) building. At 1 p.m., the event will move to the Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center for a reception and symposium.

The symposium will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a Zoom options.

Esser, Ph.D., is the associate director of basic studies at the University of Florida’s Institute of Myology. His laboratory pioneered research on the role of circadian rhythms and the molecular clock mechanism in skeletal muscle homeostasis and health. Esser is currently the principal investigator of several NIH-funded grants. She was appointed chair of the Department of Physiology and Aging at the recently integrated University of Florida College of Medicine.

Umberger, Ph.D., is Program Director in Movement Science and Director of the Locomotion Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology. He is a recent president of the American Society of Biomechanics, whose research focuses on bipedal locomotion, including gait disorders and the evolutionary basis of human bipedalism. He is also affiliated with the UM Robotics Institute and the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering.

“The Exercise Science Research Center is a source of great pride for our college. Faculty affiliated with the center have been at the forefront of research in exercise and performance, environmental physiology, muscle biology, aging and biomechanics,” said Kate Mamiseishvili, acting dean of the College of Education and Health Professions. “We are thrilled to celebrate the center’s most recent growth and renovations that will enable faculty to continue to produce cutting-edge research and train the next generation of leading exercise scientists.”

Several former directors of the Center for Exercise Science Research are expected to attend the event, including Barry Brown, Ro DiBrezzo, Inza Fort, Matthew Ganio and Michelle Gray. Nicholas Greene is currently acting director.

“Our Faculty of Exercise Science has a strong reputation for high-impact research, and I am thrilled to have the benchtop and biomechanics labs at the newly renovated Exercise Science Research Center,” said Michelle Gray, Ph.D., acting chair of the department. health, human performance and leisure. “This increase in research infrastructure is necessary to keep pace with the exceptional and transformative research conducted by our current faculty.”

Renovations to the center have been completed following the addition of two new faculties. Abigail Schmitt, Ph.D., directs the Neuromechanics of Human Movement Laboratory – or the “MOVE Lab”. His research aims to help people get around more efficiently or safely.

Kevin Murach, Ph.D., created the Molecular Muscle Mass Regulation Lab (M3R Lab), which helps people prevent loss of muscle mass with age and improve healthy and diseased muscle performance through ‘exercise.

The MOVE Lab is a new 3D motion capture laboratory designed for human locomotion research. It is equipped with 16 infrared cameras and three integrated force platforms to track human movements with sub-millimeter precision. The new space complements a second lab with an eight-camera motion capture system that measures postural control and human ergonomics.

The Exercise Science Research Center’s wet lab space houses the major research efforts of faculty-led groups including Tyrone Washington, Murach, and Greene. The space was updated in 2014 with funding from the College of Education and Health Professions. With the addition of Murach, the new renovation expands the main lab space to approximately 1,700 square feet and nearly 300 square feet of freezer space. This space now houses equipment and a room for cutting-edge approaches in molecular biology.

The center currently includes the research efforts of nine professors and their teams. Research focuses on concussions; physical activity; thermoregulation and hydration; aging, sarcopenia and Alzheimer’s disease; muscle biology; and biomechanics. The faculty of exercise science in 2021 was among 67 peer-reviewed publications funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Federation for Research in Aging, and the Arkansas Bioscience Institute, among others.

The open house event is funded in part by the College of Education and Health Professions WE CARE initiative; the Ministry of Health, Human Performance and Recreation; and the Arkansas Center for Integrative Metabolic Research.


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