Exercise Science seniors present capstone research May 2

May 01, 2012

From charting reaction times to using music to make exercise seem less grueling, from grip strength in tennis to concussions in football, Exercise Science seniors’ capstone research not only reflects their interests but typically captures the public’s attention.

Among the 27 seniors in professor Jenny McKenzie’s capstone class presenting projects in a poster session 4-6 p.m. May 2 in Gill Center, Daveed Sumpter of Taylorsville, Md., will discuss the study he designed to see if listening to music would lower people’s perception of exertion during exercise. Classmate Marilyn Topper of Catonsville, Md., will talk about changes she found in finger reaction times since decade-old studies that showed index fingers reacted faster than any others.

Reaction times also captured Meagan Pilar’s research interest, but the senior from Conowingo, Md., who also has a major in German, focused her studies on senior citizens with some form of cognitive impairment such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.

Capstone presentations are an annual ritual at McDaniel – and for good reason, says McKenzie, a 2001 alumna herself.

“We expect students to synthesize learning from earlier course work and experiences in order to develop a research question, select appropriate methods to collect and analyze data, and critically evaluate the research findings,” she says. “We also expect students to present their research findings in a formal setting of colleagues and peers, demonstrating their ability to communicate their thoughts effectively in both oral and written form.”

After weeks of conducting their studies, these soon-to-be graduates are ready for the challenge of presenting their findings – which in some cases surprised even the researcher.

Marilyn Topper

Topper, who hopes to one day go back to school to become a physical therapist, found no significant difference in reaction times of all fingers on both hands – results different than that reported in the literature a decade ago that notes index finger reaction times as faster than any other. Her professor calls the results intriguing.

“Perhaps with new advancements in technology the reaction times evened out because of the use that every finger gets whether through typing, texting, or video games,” Topper says, adding that more studies replicating the results would be necessary before a conclusion could be drawn.

Sumpter’s research on whether music makes exercise seem easier also has a practical application. His results showed no significant difference in rating of perceived exertion among the 17 males in his study, while music did change the perception of the six females in his study.

“With a majority of Americans overweight or obese, any way to make exercise more tolerable could help people live longer, healthier lives,” says Sumpter, who is pursuing an internship opportunity at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and is considering a career in occupational therapy. “Maybe music can be that special ingredient that helps individuals stick with an exercise program.”

Meagan Pilar

While Pilar, who has her eye on teaching, never tired of sitting with and talking with the senior citizens in her study from Cross Keys Village in Oxford, Pa., her results were expected. Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive impairments slow reaction times, which in turn can affect everything from driving a car to walking across a room.

Here is the list of projects in the Exercise Science capstone class:

Sean McGarry of Ocean City, Md. – Muscle imbalance in athletes

Bradley Motley of Fallston, Md. – Effects of the Power Balance band on flexibility and power

Liz Mirizio of Hanover, Pa. – Why do we exercise?

Kelsey Franklin of Woodbine, Md. – Effects of a 5-week weight lifting class on muscle endurance in students

Mike Freeman of Lititz, Pa. – Differences in static balance between McDaniel College softball and baseball players

Stephanie Thomson of Glen Burnie, Md. – Are there changes made in gait as a result of physical rehabilitation for lower extremity injuries?

Daniel French of Williamstown, N.J – Does the McDaniel College community know and follow the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans?

Jason Dubs of Hanover, Pa. – Is there a relationship between abnormal foot arch and lower limb injuries?

Steve French of New Windsor, Md. – Does grip strength affect tennis ability?

Kerri Wallis of Derwood, Md. – Is there a difference between dominant and non-dominant hand reaction times?

Marilyn Topper of Catonsville, Md. – Is there a difference in reaction time between fingers?

Rachel Walega of Ambler, Pa. – Do hemoglobin and hematocrit levels change in collegiate swimmers pre and post taper?

Matthew Pace of Brooklyn Park, Md. – Does the Power Balance band affect strength, flexibility, balance, and muscle endurance?

Becky Newman of Lexington, Mass. – When do students prefer to work out?  What time of day is best to work out?

Rachael Hurst of Dillsburg, Pa. – Is there a relationship between sport played and types of injuries in males from high school to college?

Samantha Staub of Mt. Airy, Md. – Is there a relationship between sport played and types of injuries in females from high school to college?

Sean Ensign of Westminster, Md. – Comparison of male and female hamstring and quadriceps strengths in non-injured and ACL-injured limbs

Ronald Shriver of Westminster, Md. – Kinematic adaptations and differences in shod versus  barefoot running

Nell Boley of Kittery Point, Maine – Can one bout of yoga reduce stress and heart rate levels?

Daveed Sumpter of Taylorsville, Md. – The effect of music on the rate of perceived exertion during a moderate intensity treadmill run

Ricky LaSota of Columbia, Md. – Do aerobic and resistance exercises affect short-term cognitive recall?

Meagan Pilar of Conowingo, Md. – The independent and combined effects of age, gender, cognitive impairment, and medication usage  on reaction time in older adults

Jared Siravo of Berwyn, Pa. – Time differences between running the 40-yard dash shod versus barefoot

Torin Lehmann of Sitka, Alaska – Comparison of temperature variations in the lower extremities on bioelectrical impedance measures of body composition

David Brown of Salisbury, Md. – Concussions in football: does position matter?

Mike Young of Pylesville, Md.– Effects of a 5 week weight lifting class on body composition in students

JS Duke of Fort Washington, Pa. – Gender differences in McDaniel Merritt Fitness Center equipment usage