EPE Research: Keep Breathing!

“Keep breathing!”

Dr. McCole rolls his eyes, convinced that telling someone to breathe won’t help them run any further. Emma defends her statement, arguing that it encourages deeper breathing and increased oxygen supply. Kerrin wavers between stances, seeing the redundancy of an obvious statement but unable to disprove Emma’s theory. Matt starts using scientific terms that no one is prepared to comprehend at this early hour. Kaitlyn and Allison continue to encourage the participant. Alicia laughs…. And Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Laird ignore us all, discussing the training protocol we will start on June 2nd.

Sydney Flores -VO2This is what EPE summer research has revolved around this first week. Six students and three professors collaborating to explore the differences between high-intensity interval training and traditional aerobic training over a three-week training program.

These first two weeks make up our pre-testing phase of research in which we recruit participants and create a performance baseline comprised of a questionnaire/health history, underwater weighing for body composition, VO2max testing on a treadmill, and an endurance run at the established VO2max.

This week has taught us a few key things:

  • We love working as a team! It didn’t take long to discover that this self-proclaimed “HIIT team” has great cohesiveness, camaraderie, and chemistry. This wouldn’t be nearly as fun without each other.
  • On the first day, “crash course” is a real thing. You feel as if you just learned an entire semester’s worth of information. From compiling literature reviews to learning each test procedure, our brains were thoroughly saturated at the end of the first day.
  • Our learning curves are huge! We’ve gotten very good at things we do not usually do very quickly, including: taking blood pressure at rest and directly following exercise, taking small blood samples for lactate measures, running various programs on the computers for the different tests, and speaking professionally to participants in the study.
  • Dr. McKenzie loves running multiple VO2max tests… Just kidding!

Breathing is an essential part of HIIT Team’s first week of research. Whether it’s making sure enough air is blown out in underwater weighing, getting your maximal oxygen intake in each of the two run tests, or the research team taking a deep breath over the course of our long days, we just keep breathing!

We’re looking forward to next week, where we will continue pre-testing and begin placing participants into the different training programs! Tune in next week to read about the end of the pre-testing phase!

Thanks for reading! HIIT Team signing off!

Summer 2014!

The 2014 summer science blog is live, and things are already happening!  This year the Jacobs, Parrish, McKenzie/McCole/Laird, Mitschler, Huang, and Staab labs will ALL be blogging, so stay tuned!

The Funnel Mystery

Episode Title: The Funnel Mystery 

Episode number: Season one, episode three

Air Date: July 2, 2013

The third and final episode for season one of The League of the Green Hornet “The Funnel Mystery” has been in production for several weeks and has had many set-backs. It is currently under its third re-shooting under the supervision of Dr. Molly Jacobs and Dr. Brett McMillan. The plot is to explore if soil compaction acts as a barrier for soil invertebrates in a lab setting and to see if different organisms come out of the soil at different times.

The setting of this episode is the Ecology lab where gathered soil from the field was put into different funnels containing varying levels of soil compaction. Each funnel had wire mesh at the bottom to hold the soil inside and the funnels were placed on containers with ethanol. They were left under lights for 5 days to force the organisms to crawl away from the heat and disappearing moisture into the ethanol for preservation and later microscope identification by the patient Detectives. Every jar was collected at intervals to track the movement of the invertebrates through the soil layer.

 In the first attempted 4” PVP pipes were filled with a 1 inch layer of top soil and then compacted or left non-compacted. Then the freshly gathered soil from the field was added and the set up placed under lights.  Very few organisms were found so a new setup had to be found. Detective Xi suggested using metal funnels since the PVP did not seem to get as hot as the metal.

In the second attempt metal funnels were used and this time the experiment was expanded. The different conditions were 1 inch compacted and non-compacted (4 each) and 2 inch compacted and non-compacted (3 each) for a total of 14 samples. Many hours of waiting and looking through empty jars showed once again very few organisms and no clear pattern of invertebrate densities (Detective Mary was looking for more organisms in the control and few if any in the experimental).


The current set up suggested by Supervisor Molly is still partially experimental. First the layers have been reduced to ½ inch for both the compacted and non-compacted layer. As a second modification the layers are made up with either sterile, rehydrated soil from the previous 2 attempts or soil from the freshly gathered soil that will be used as a sample. These modifications are based on the hypothesis that the topsoil is too different for the organisms to want to go through and that even a 1 inch layer may be too tick for the them. Hopefully this set up will meet the standards of the target audience. The audience includes cute fellows like the cute springtails

.Fun Fact: Spring tails can “jump” up to 15 cm which for humans would be like jumping over a skyscraper!


Photo from the North Carolina State University http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent525/soil/soilpix/index.html

The End of the Beginning

Nearing the end of research, 141 tests later, we are finally finished with data collection now. Working on posters for both the ACSM Regional Conference and senior seminar projects. Kaylee Hoover is analyzing data to see if there is any difference in blood lactate levels between the max test on the elliptical versus the treadmill. Evan Venters is comparing caloric expenditures with and without the use of arms on both the treadmill and elliptical. Katie Timmons is focusing on the difference of the criteria for VO2max between the elliptical and treadmill. Sarah Mason is comparing cardiovascular variables on the elliptical with and without the use of arms. Matt Peterson and Lindsey Crehan both are assisting in creating these posters for the conference.

Dr. McCole and Dr. McKenzie have been a huge help this summer and we want to thank them for everything they have done for us. There was great food and fun at the McCole household. Yesterday we had the privilege of meeting Lardarius Webb and Ed Dickson (Ravens football players).

photo (1)  photo (2)

We will be back before the start of classes for freshmen fitness testing if you wish to see how fit you are! We also want to thank our participants, if it weren’t for you this study wouldn’t have been accomplished.  It is time to go home and enjoy the remainder of the summer until we are back to finish up our projects! Enjoy your summers!

-Team Research



A Day In The Life of an EPE Researcher

Hello Fellow Researchers! We would like to tell you a bit of how a typical day in our lab is. Along with a very early morning, just after sunrise, the research team arrives at the lab. Much preparation is needed before we start the day. This entails calibrating the VO2 system and the glucose/lactate analyzer. We need to make a 10% bleach solution for which we place the VO2 masks in after an exercise test.

electrode 1

When subjects arrive they fill out health questionnaires and an informed consent paper. They will then be prepped with electrodes that measure cardiac output variables. After a ten minute resting period, and if the systems are up and calibrated, the subject will partake in an exercise test. These tests include a max exercise test on the treadmill and elliptical, a walking test on the treadmill comparing the use of arms to no arms and the use of an elliptical with and without arms.100_4614 We like to treat our subjects well so we offer them a bottle of ice cold water afterwards. Hope all is well.

EPE Research!