For people as well as programs

When talking with Anne Crecelius, Ph.D. about her research in the Department of Health and Sport Science, you can sense a passion. Her speech heightens and quickens, and her gestures grow more animated. It is obvious that she loves her work — and is eager to share this passion with students.

Crecelius studies the cardiovascular system, specifically how blood vessels respond to stress and affect blood flow to muscles.

“We’re working to understand how this system is regulated, how it changes, how exercise can benefit it and how aging, unfortunately, causes decline in function,” she explained.

Such research has real-world implications for people from all walks of life — from young athletes to nursing home residents — and the impact recently grew exponentially thanks to a generous gift from Dave and Norma McCarthy, both 1971 graduates.

The McCarthys’ donation has funded new, state-of-the-art equipment in the recently named Dave and Norma McCarthy Integrative Human Physiology Laboratory, where Crecelius furthers her expertise alongside students.

The new equipment allows Crecelius and her team of student researchers to collect more data simultaneously and in a more dynamic manner. For example, rather than capturing a snapshot of blood pressure, they can now collect it beat by beat — the difference between viewing a photograph versus watching a film. To call the gift a boost for her work at the University — and the students involved — is an understatement.

“Adding all of this new technology and equipment gives us the freedom to really explore our ideas in the lab.”

“The new equipment allows us to do things in a much more in-depth, scientific way, which is not just good for the sake of more thorough, accurate research — it also helps us be more competitive for grants, helps us publish in better journals, attracts better students, and gives our undergraduate students experiences that set them up to attend better graduate programs and things of that nature,” Crecelius explained.

Graduate student Cameron Dickens ’18, who works with Crecelius in the lab, speaks to the impact of the McCarthys’ gift on student researchers: “It fosters our creativity because the number one limiting factor to somebody’s ideas in research is whether they have the capacity to measure what they want to measure. Adding all of this new technology and equipment gives us the freedom to really explore our ideas in the lab.”

The gift’s effect goes far beyond Crecelius’ work, reaching into other research fields, such as dietetics, where faculty and students can, for example, collect data to evaluate the effect of different types of nutrition on the body. In addition, the equipment enhances students’ classroom experiences.

“While obviously research is important to us, we can also use the equipment to improve instruction,” Crecelius said. “If I’m trying to teach students about how the body is responding when you go from a seated to standing position, rather than pulling up a YouTube video or pointing to a picture in a book, I can use the equipment to show students.”

The department’s community outreach efforts have also been dramatically bolstered by the gift, thanks to the portability of much of the equipment. For example, faculty and students will be able to transport the metabolic analyzer and the body composition scale to assist with nutritional counseling at the fresh food market at the bus hub in downtown Dayton.

Since the arrival of the equipment, the new possibilities that have evolved throughout the department have created a palpable feeling of enthusiasm.

“Getting new, top-of-the-line equipment and being able to just run wild with it is really exciting,” Dickens explained. “It’s a great thing … we couldn’t be happier.”

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