The Beauty of Research at Skidmore: Catching up with Exercise Science Alumni
“Skidmore faculties are passionate about their teaching and their research. But what the faculty are most passionate about is passing on their passion to their students.- Jacob Deblois ‘10
As we each start a fresh semester, it is nice to take a step back and admire the community that surrounds us. Skidmore is full of engaged students and dedicated professors who inspire and energize our student body. This piece is inspired by one of the stories that emerge when the Skidmore faculty collaborates with undergraduates in their research.
Just last week, Skidmore’s First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory (FRHSL) received a 1.4 million dollar grant from the Department of Homeland Security. This is not the first time that Professor for Health and Exercise Sciences, Dr. Denise Smith’s, research has earned grants from the nation’s fire service. Since its creation, the FRHSLhas received an additional approximately $4.8 million. Using these previous grants, Smith has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, many of which are coauthored by student research assistants.
If there is anything Smith loves as much as her own research, it is the undergraduates who have dedicated countless hours to perfecting their own research. I reached out to three of her former student research assistants, Jacob Deblois ‘10, Wes Lefferts ‘11, and Maggie Morrissey ‘14, to get their take on research at Skidmore.
“From the beginning, the tasks we were given were far more advanced than what would be expected of undergraduate assistants at other institutions (even large R1-level institutions). That is the beauty of research at Skidmore.As undergraduate students, we were trained to a level beyond other institutions I have seen, which allowed us to step into an aggressive research project and thrive. Dr. Smith and Dr. Fehling trusted us to run data collection procedures on the DHS 2010 research project. It was a huge undertaking that was both incredibly challenging and rewarding.Not only were we involved in planning the logistics of the study along with collecting and analyzing the data, but also we were given the opportunity to present the data at regional and national conferences (American College of Sports Medicine, where we were awarded the Undergraduate Research Award).Since leaving Skidmore I have published six articles and received four competitive research grants from Syracuse University, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine.”- Lefferts
These alumni who have pursued professions related to their experience in Exercise Physiology research attribute much of their professional success to their research experiences at Skidmore, and the devoted faculty who introduced them to Exercise Physiology work.
“Skidmore is extremely fortunate to have such wonderful faculty members. I am forever grateful for their unwavering guidance and support as I discovered my passion for research.Skidmore’s supportive faculty continued to challenge me to be the best researcher I could be. I think it’s critical for students to get to know the faculty in their department. Skidmore strongly represents a teaching institution, where faculty members are truly passionate about helping you achieve your career goals (whatever they may be). Never underestimate the difference a professor can make in your life.”–Morrissey
I am eager to see where their expertise takes them. They send a powerful message: that every undergraduate who challenges themselves at Skidmore will leave with a great deal of credentials, potential opportunities, an energetic outlook, and, the confidence to make a difference in the world.