Roanoke College student conducts research on walking patterns

by roanokecollege on November 4, 2015


The Undergraduate Research Assistants Program (URAP) is a program where students work one on one with a faculty member on a research project together. Students apply their senior year of high school and can work on their research program for four years. Annaliese LaDuke, a sophomore at Roanoke College, is one of the students in the URAP program. She works in the Health and Human Performance Department with Dr. Rearick on the project: “Understanding the Choices We Make: A Psychological, Physiological, and Kinematic Examination of Human Motion”. Annaliese first became interested in doing research when she was applying to URAP before her freshman year.

“Dr. Rearick’s really stuck out to me. I have always been really interested in and curious about knowing why things work the way they do, especially the human body, so this project seemed like a great way to explore that interest further.”

Annaliese and Dr. Rearick’s project seeks to determine how people select their preferred walking pace. Annaliese tests the subjects walking on a treadmill at different paces and has the subjects rate their perceived level of exertion, energy, and comfort; she then records the data.

“Last semester I was working alongside Annie Shreckhise, another URAP student of Dr. Rearick’s, and assisting her in her study that concentrated on measuring patients’ respiratory gases and the paces at which they are most efficient. This semester, I am doing a continuation of that to determine if there are any statistical differences between selecting a preferred pace with or without a loaded backpack, and also between the pace at which one is most efficient and one’s preferred pace.”

Annaliese has really enjoyed her time working with Dr. Rearick:

“I love getting to work with Dr. Rearick one-on-one because I feel like I learn so much from talking to him about his experiences and when we are covering new material, we can go at a pace at which I learn best. Dr. Rearick is the best professor to work with because he acknowledges all of the other things I have going on outside of research, and he plans our research accordingly. He is very caring and has his students’ best interest at heart. I am never just left to figure things out on my own, but Dr. Rearick also challenges me and helps me grow academically in this way.”

Annaliese strongly encourages current and incoming students to get involved in research.

“If [you] don’t know what [your] interests are, I would tell them to pick anything that peaks [your] interest. [You] can always spend some time in a lab and figure out whether or not [you] want to continue that kind of work. If not, there are so many other labs and opportunities at Roanoke where students can get involved in research. But I think everyone should consider trying it, because it gets you thinking and learning in a way that is so different from what is done in a classroom setting.”

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