EXERCISE SCIENCE EXAMINES HEALTH AND FITNESS WITH A REFINED SCIENTIFIC APPROACH
While physical education departments across the country motivate students to excel in the gym and the classroom, the School of Education takes exercise to the next level with the revamped Department of Exercise Science. Once known as the Department of Health and Physical Education, the department features not only a new name, but a revised curriculum and new additions to the faculty to reflect changes in the evolving profession.
Professor James Graves, who became chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education in 1993, is the man behind the changes. With seven faculty members and a variety of adjunct instructors, Graves views the program as innovative and flexible. "The current name and revisions to the curriculum were needed to meet the existing demands of the field," Graves says. "Certain trends in society began to blend physical activity with mental and biological aspects of exercise."
The department requires students to look further into the biology and psychology of physical education with such sub-disciplines as exercise physiology, exercise biochemistry, sports and exercise psychology, and biomechanics. "We had to incorporate more of the scientific aspects of physical education," says Graves, who specializes in skeletal muscle research.
The underwater weighing tank allows researchers to determine body fat by comparing a person's underwater weight to regular weight.
To reach that goal, Graves recruited three "outstanding exercise scientists who are incredibly specialized," he says. They are Jack Azevedo, an exercise biochemist and director of the Exercise Biochemistry Laboratory; Jill Kanaley, an exercise physiologist who heads the Human Performance Laboratory; and Lori Ploutz-Snyder, a skeletal muscle physiologist and director of the Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory. All three labs, located in Bowne Hall and the Women's Building, are engaged in research efforts that include the study of insulin, exercise and aging, and changes in skeletal muscle following exercise training.
Graduate student Bridgette Bradley, who worked as a teaching assistant for Graves, sees assisting in such research as a great benefit of the program. "The opportunities Dr. Graves and other faculty members give us are incredible," says Bradley, who is studying people's exercise habits. "They are all at the top of their fields."
The department has also grown substantially. The undergraduate program, implemented in 1994, enrolls more than 120 students. The graduate program has gone from 30 students in 1993 to more than 70 in 1998. "Everything has become so specialized," Graves says, "and I'm proud to be a part of it."
SUMMERSTART GIVES FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS A JUMP ON THEIR COLLEGE CAREERS
Junior bioengineering major Dyanne Baptiste had some worries about making the transition from high school to college. There were questions about how to manage time, organize priorities, and balance academics and extracurricular activities. But Baptiste found the answers through SummerStart, a University-wide program that the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science custom-tailors to help first-year and transfer students adjust to campus life. "I had so many misconceptions," Baptiste says. "SummerStart cleared up many of the cobwebs in my mind. I got used to campus, and seeing what it was all about took away much of my freshman anxiety."
Joe Kummer, a junior majoring in engineering physics, says SummerStart allowed him to meet faculty and staff, make friends, and get advice on course offerings. "I went to community college for two years and needed to get on track," he says. "It was also a nice opportunity to talk to professors doing research that might interest me."
Last summer 37 students participated in SummerStart, which began in 1994 with a dozen students. The initiative has not only provided students with a chance to acclimate to SU before the fall semester, but has also improved the college's retention rate. "It gives students a jump-start on their college careers and their personal and professional development," says recruitment coordinator Kathleen Joyce Johnson '90.
Associate Dean Lori Hunter, who directs the program, sees the six-week session as an opportunity for students to focus on academic excellence in classes, interact with each other and get to know people in the college, receive advice from upper-class students, and learn about college life. "We pack a lot into six weeks," she says. "They receive a good sense of what is expected of them, and we hope they learn by experience sooner rather than later."|
The students take two courses for credit, including a mandatory calculus class; attend seminars covering study and communication skills, the registration process, co-op opportunities, time management, and student responsibilities; and participate in activities like tours of Eastman Kodak and Carrier Corp. The program also brings together a diverse group of students who learn to work together and connect for support. "Students make connections they may not have made as easily in a larger environment," Hunter says. "The experience will pay dividends beyond what they can imagine."
Evidence of the camaraderie and support was apparent during the Powerpoint presentations the students gave to close SummerStart '98. Along with compliments and laughs, there was a clear understanding of the program's importance. "To me it's the spark that starts it all," participant Brian Edwin told his classmates. "It's a very good learning experience."
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