Kinesiology

Research

Kinesiology conducts research focused on fitness interventions, community-based efforts to enhance physical activity, and laboratory and applied studies related to human movement and body composition. On this page you will find information and links to our Labs, Projects, and how you can get involved in research.

Labs

There are nine labs dedicated to specific research in exercise science Kinesiology.

Clinical Neurotrauma Lab Biomechanics Lab
Athletic Training Lab Sensorimotor Neurophysiology Lab
Exercise Physiology Lab Physical Activity Lab
Exercise and Sport Psychology Lab Neuromuscular Control Lab
Cognitive Neuromotor Control Lab
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Clinical Neurotrauma Lab

Dr. Keisuke Kawata | kkawata@indiana.edu
Contact sports athletes and military service members experience several hundred to 1000 head impacts per season and deployment. Long term, repetitive exposure to these subconcussive impacts is one of the strongest predictors for early onset of neurodegeneration, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy “CTE”. The goal of our research is to identify blood biomarkers and behavioral assessments that can aid in CTE diagnosis in living patients. We employ a sensor-installed mouth guard that is useful in detecting magnitude and frequency of hits in various sports athletes, and sleep/activity monitors to determine the effect of sleep in brain function.

Biomechanics Lab

Dr. Allison Gruber | ahgruber@indiana.edu
Chronic, overuse running injuries are the leading cause of exercise related injuries in the general population, active service members, and Boot Camp trainees. Running injuries are multifactorial; they are caused by a combination of training factors, gait mechanics, and anatomical predispositions. Our research has demonstrated that non-running related physical activity will interact with these factors to ultimately protect against – or enhance the risk of – running related injury. We monitor the changes in gait that occur over long training periods with the goal of developing gait monitoring algorithms to prevent injury before it occurs. Read more about the lab and research here.

Athletic Training Lab

Dr. Carrie Docherty | cdochert@indiana.edu
Have you ever sprained your ankle?  In our research we “mimic” a lateral ankle sprain using the Perturbation Walkway.  We capture valuable data during the milliseconds after an ankle inverts, or “twists”.  The walkway contains several trap doors that, when activated at random, can safely replicate an injury mechanism linked to acute ankle sprains. Our research uses data from surface electrodes and electro-goniometers to better understand how such ankle injuries may contribute to long-term functional deficits.

Sensorimotor Neurophysiology Lab

Dr. Hannah Block | blocklab@indiana.edu
Your brain uses different kinds of sensory information, including vision and body position sense (proprioception), to plan and coordinate movement. We study this process in humans using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to measure and alter activity in the brain. For example, we might use TMS to measure changes in the brain after a subject learns to move a cursor to a target using a robotically-controlled handle. This research has important implications not only for our understanding of the brain, but also for how we rehabilitate patients who experience sensorimotor deficits after stroke and other conditions. Read more about the lab and research here.

Exercise Physiology Lab

Dr. Tim Mickleborough | tmickleb@indiana.edu
Dr. Rob Chapman | rfchapma@indiana.edu
Physiology is the scientific study of organ systems, cells, and biomolecules which work integratively to carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system.  Exercise physiology is a specialized discipline that examines the physiological response of these various organ and cellular systems under the specific stress of exercise.  Broadly, the study of exercise physiology has implications for athletic performance, the ability to complete work tasks (like in firefighting or military careers), physical fitness, and health and disease.  Our laboratory focuses on exercise performance and the influence and identification of factors which limit performance.

Physical Activity Lab

Dr. Georgia Frey | gfrey@indiana.edu
There is a need to develop effective, evidence-based ways to get people with disabilities more active, reduce disease burden and improve quality of life. Our lab uses a multidisciplinary approach to address this need. For example, we are currently developing a gamified mobile app to motivate adults with autism spectrum diagnoses to engage in more physical activity. The lab also houses the Indiana University Adapted Physical Activity program that allows IU students to work with children with disabilities in an activity setting.

Exercise and Sport Psychology

Dr. Jack Raglin | raglinj@indiana.edu
In recent years, classic topics in sport science have been studied under the lens of psychology.  Such a topic is how athletes pace themselves in order to optimize their performance.  To study pacing in the laboratory setting, we have cyclists complete maximal exercise bouts with or against an avatar displayed on a computer screen. This research has revealed that many athletes can perform up to 2% better than previously established maximal efforts, a phenomena referred to as the performance reserve. Avatar research can also be used to manipulate performance expectations in a manner akin to the placebo effect.

Neuromuscular Control Lab

Dr. David Koceja | koceja@indiana.edu
Our lab records electrical activity of muscles and electrically stimulates nerves to measure neural circuits in the spinal cord. Using this methodology, we attempt to better understand how the neuromuscular system changes as we age, and how disease (e.g., stroke) impacts our ability to move. We also study the role of exercise and other intervention programs in maintaining neural health throughout the lifespan. Our main goal is to understand human aging and to develop programs to assist in the control of posture and balance in older adults.

Cognitive Neuromotor Control Lab

Dr. John Shea | jbshea@indiana.edu
Historically, walking was thought to be automatic, with no attention needed for planning and monitoring purposes. It is now known that this is not the case. Our research has been directed at the discovery of the central processing mechanisms used in the control of gait. We use various experimental protocols to study this. For example, we might request an individual to begin, stop, or modify their gait in response to an expected or unexpected signal. This approach has allowed us to discover central control mechanisms for gait and to identify their limitations. This research will assist in the development of interventions for gait-related disorders, such as those experienced by individuals with Parkinson's disease, stroke, or peripheral neuropathy.

You can find the labs in the bground floor of Public Health. Use the below graphic as a map. Floorplan of Public Health ground floor with research labs highlighted.
Get Involved in Research

There are many ways to get involved in research.

  1. Participate in a research study. Contact any of the labs to find out if you are eligible. Most experiments offer payment and/or extra credit.
  2. Sometimes labs have openings for undergraduate research assistants. Contact the lab director to ask. Research experience can be a fun way to learn outside the classroom, and it looks great on a grad school application.
  3. Major in Exercise Science.
  4. Consider a Masters or PhD program to get a degree in research. The Department of Kinesiology offers a number of graduate degrees in areas of exercise science. Make sure to contact the professor you’re interested in working with before you apply.
Projects

Lists of faculty projects can be found by following the Projects link.