Justin Kilian & Abigail McCarty
Professor Justin Kilian
School: Health Sciences
Department: Allied Health Professions
Field: Exercise Science/Strength and Conditioning
Technology is commonplace in our world today, but not all technology is equally accurate. In accordance with the current trend in the fitness culture of wearable activity monitors, a device called the Beast Sensor was released. This sensor was designed to track bar speed during standard resistance training exercises and use this metric to make more advanced calculations such as power. Historically, tendo units have been considered the gold standard, but have a distinct disadvantage of being expensive and requiring a string tethered to the bar in contrast to the wireless format of the Beast Sensor. Therefore, the purpose of our research was to compare the validity of the newer Beast Sensor to the criterion measure of a tendo unit.
What impact will this research have on your field?
Validation studies are important to add to the available research to provide other researchers and practitioners with the practical trustworthiness and accuracy of the devices that are on the market. Just because a product is commercially available does not mean it provides accurate information to its users. Furthermore, a strength of our study was the differences in load we used to make better recommendations for the exact nature of application for the device we tested.
What is the most exciting/rewarding aspect of collaborating with students in a research experience?
Collaborating with students provides the opportunity to teach skills outside of the structured environment of the classroom curriculum. Research is the integration of a variety of skills that can be pulled from ostensibly disparate coursework to integrate these skills into a relatively practical scenario.
Especially applied research helps to bridge the gap between theory and practice to translate the textbook answers into real-world examples. The direct mentorship role also facilitates a greater degree of depth in the working relationship, which enhances the meaningfulness of things like feedback or even future recommendations. When I am able to get to know a student better outside the classroom, I am far more equipped to comment on their competence as a student and person when it comes time to write recommendations for things like graduate school.
Major: Exercise Science
How did you get involved in research with a faculty mentor?
I had been shadowing the graduate students as they performed research in the Human Performance and Motion Analysis labs. After helping them collect data and discussing the research process with them, I wanted to lead my own study. Around that time, Professor Kilian mentioned that he was getting a grant for new technology and expressed that he would like to perform research with it. He offered to let me use it for a research project for a class in exercise physiology testing.
What impact will this research have on your academic and professional opportunities?
I am now a first-year graduate assistant for the Department of Allied Health!
Part of my job is to assist with graduate level research and perform a first-year research study. The experience of working with a faculty mentor allowed me to complete my project in a similar manner to my graduate level project. I was able to decide that I truly enjoyed the data collection and analysis process.
What is the most exciting and/or rewarding part of your research experience?
Knowing that our research could potentially influence the way that athletes performance train was most exciting aspect of my project. The most rewarding aspect was that our conclusions would assist strength coaches determine the best equipment to use in their training room given their athlete’s training experience.
What advice would you give to an undergraduate student who is considering getting involved in research?
Observation is one of the best ways to fine tune your interests. Connecting with professors, lab assistants, and graduate assistants provided those opportunities for me to get involved. The absolute best advice for getting involved is praying that God will connect you with individuals who will guide you into your God-given passions. The entire year that this research project occurred, I kept asking God to focus my heart on the passion He wanted me to pursue. The opportunities I had arose because God was investing His grace into my life by allowing me to channel my passion for improving wellness and sport training into human performance research.