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Mount Union Exercise Science Students Conduct Research Alongside Faculty

June 23, 2021

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Nick Dye ’22, of Massillon, Ohio, Rachel Hawk ‘22, of Medina, Ohio, and Hayley Maher ‘22, of Greenville, Ohio are undergraduate students at the University of Mount Union who study in the Department of Exercise, Sport and Nutrition Sciences. They serve as Dr. Lonnie Lowery’s faculty research assistants and are involved in multiple research projects related to coffee consumption and health, one of which they are hoping to present at the International Society of Sports Nutrition conference this summer.

In this specific hands-on investigation, the students have researched the commonality between heart rate variability after the consumption of coffee and how it affects university students. They used several participants for their studies, with each participant eating a standard meal and then consuming a caffeinated coffee beverage. Then, their heart rate was monitored.

“I think my biggest learning experience through this opportunity has been the ability to adapt,” Mahler said. “Working with human subjects is different than working in a biology or chemistry lab with tight controls. Sometimes there are setbacks during the research process, we have to learn how to troubleshoot these setbacks and adapt to the circumstances before us.”

Not only were these student able to present their research at Mount Union's annual SCHOLAR Day on April 20, but also have the opportunity to potentially go to St. Petersburg, Florida to speak at the International Society of Sports Nutrition conference this June, pending travel approval.


Editor's Update: June 23, 2021 — The group presented its research at the conference and was awarded first place in the undergraduate presentation category. The study was titled, "Does Coffee Consumption Acutely Hamper Heart Rate Variability in Habituated University Students?" 

"It was so exciting to be able to finally present this study that started with 6 a.m. data collection in the lab in the fall of our sophomore year," Maher said. "It was so rewarding to see the study through from start to finish and to share what we found and what we hope to analyze next. I was the only undergrad student presenting at the podium during the conference, so I was a little nervous, but it was such an amazing professional development opportunity and I'm so glad we were able to participate."

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