Jennifer Beller

Associate Professor Jennifer Beller‘s passion for undergraduate research has been recognized by the Honors College, which presented her with its Thesis Advisor Award for her above-and-beyond efforts to assist Emily Cox.

Emily, a senior from Seabeck, Washington, is studying exercise physiology and metabolism at WSU Spokane. Her thesis, “An analysis of running gait in elementary aged students 5-12,” is one of the first studies ever conducted on children with normal motor development.

“Dr. Beller once told me to `Think of this as a team project. Think of us as partners,’ ” Emily recalled. And that’s just the way things turned out.

Offered congratulations on the award, Jennifer deflected the attention to Emily.

“Working with Emily has been a great joy,” Jennifer said, noting that the two of them presented the study at WSU’s Academic Showcase in Pullman and at the Northwest Health Symposium in Spokane.  “Now we are working on a manuscript for Research Quarterly and have plans to conduct a follow-up study to several different elementary schools this fall.”

The researchers have already collected data on more than 300 elementary students. Their eventual goal is to establish normal ranges for children’s running stride characteristics.

It’s an enormous project, said Emily, with implications for athletic training and clinical practice in exercise physiology and orthopedics.  It all started when Jennifer agreed to be her advisor, then suggested she narrow her research focus, then agreed to be principal investigator, then helped her secure approval for working with minors, then secured equipment, then help build relationships with schools … and much more.

In her letter of nomination for the Outstanding Advisor Award, Emily wrote:  “Thanks to her commitment, professional integrity, academic guidance, and multidisciplinary proficiency in research, this project has inspired me to continue graduate education in anticipation of a career in medical research.”