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Part of a special feature coinciding with the beginning of a new academic year at Memorial University.

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

Nehara Herat made her mark in the world of academic publishing before she was a high school graduate.

Last year, while still a Grade 12 student at Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s, she worked alongside others conducting research in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR). She’s now a first-year kinesiology student at Memorial.

“Participating with the team was initially nerve-wracking,” said Ms. Herat. “I was like a fish out of water not really used to how things operated. However, everyone was helpful and made sure I understood the procedures. They ensured that I felt like part of the team.”

The query

The team was investigating the question: Is there an age-related difference in the fatigue strategies when resistance training?

In past studies of adult men and women, research found participants utilized pacing strategies resulting in a u-shape exertion curve with participants exercising hard at the beginning, easier in the middle and finishing hard.

“This indicates this ability to pace may develop with age, experience, or a mixture of both.” –Israel Halperin

“Interestingly in this study, no such pacing strategies were found with the adolescent girls,” explained Israel Halperin, a master of science (kinesiology) alumnus currently in Australia working on his PhD who is also co-author of the paper. “This indicates this ability to pace may develop with age, experience, or a mixture of both.”

Their paper, titled Knowledge of Repetition Range Does Not Affect the Maximal Force Production Strategies of Adolescent Females, was published in July’s issue of Pediatric Exercise Science.

“I learned a number of things during this experiment, from the operation of the equipment to what a maximum voluntary contraction actually is,” said Ms. Herat. “I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse into the world of research. I look forward to doing more projects like this in the future as a student in HKR.”

Team-advancing research

The team benefitted from a diverse group of researchers at various stages of their research career.

In HKR, the team was affectionately coined a “five-generation project” in reference to the participating researchers. In addition to Ms. Herat and Mr. Halperin, the other researchers were Rebecca Greene, a current bachelor of kinesiology student, Jonathan Reid and Dan Hodgson, both current M.Sc. (Kin.) students, and Dr. David Behm, a professor in HKR.

From left are Dan Hodgson, Jonathan Reid, Dr. David Behm, Rebecca Greene and Nehara Herat.
From left are Dan Hodgson, Jonathan Reid, Dr. David Behm, Rebecca Greene and Nehara Herat on the St. John’s campus. Missing from the photo is Israel Halperin.
Photo: Chris Hammond

Dr. Behm’s laboratory has been studying many different aspects of muscle fatigue since he arrived at Memorial in 1995, including Mr. Halperin’s graduate studies work in the area.

“It struck me that with Nehara as a contact, we could attempt to answer another variation on the fatigue endpoint question: Is there an age-related difference in this area of study?” Dr. Behm said. “Since we were going to recruit adolescent girls, I also thought it was important to ensure these young women were comfortable in our laboratory environment.”

Importance of publishing

Engaging in research and publishing papers strengthens students’ CVs for post-graduate programs and employment opportunities. These kinds of experiences also make the thesis process easier.

“Research is invaluable as the students not only need to read the data from the literature, but they also go on to create the data for the literature,” said Dr. Behm. “Every graduate student supervised from this laboratory over the last 20 years has left with an authored, scientific peer-reviewed publication, including our alumnus from this study, Israel, who graduated with seven papers from his M.Sc. (Kin.).”

“Sometimes the search for answers can raise new questions.” –Rebecca Greene

This is the second publication for Ms. Greene who is an undergraduate student. Mr. Hodgson and Mr. Reid also have their names on a number of articles, even before starting their theses.

“One of the most important things about participating in research is the curiosity it sparks that will drive future research,” said Ms. Greene. “Sometimes the search for answers can raise new questions, like how Israel’s previous studies in this area caused Dr. Behm to wonder about age-related differences.”

For Ms. Herat, the experience contributed to the science project she was required to complete for her international baccalaureate program. It will also give her a solid foundation for her future research endeavours.

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