Western Student Wins Grant to Study Exercise

Western Student wins grant to study exercise in Hap Lab
A Western undergraduate student has written and received a grant to study how exercise can help combat chronic disease.

Ali Wolpern, a senior studying exercise and sports science, will work with Dr. Lance Dalleck in Western’s High Altitude Performance Laboratory to study whether measuring an individual’s ventilatory threshold is more effective than measuring heart rate to determine how hard someone is exercising.

“I had just taken a grant-writing class, and Dr. Dalleck encouraged me to write this grant, so I could do some really interesting research that will break new ground and hopefully help me get into graduate school,” Wolpern says. “It’s really exciting, because this is the type of research that most universities reserve for graduate students.”

Dalleck, a professor in Western’s Exercise and Sports Science program, says the research Wolpern conducts will benefit the Exercise is Medicine project; an initiative launched in 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine and American Medical Association. 

“The highest form of learning is creating new knowledge,” Dalleck says. “It’s such a pleasure to work at a university like Western, where undergraduates have access to a facility like the HAPLab, along with the opportunity to write grants and conduct research that really makes a difference and moves science forward.”

Western’s state-of-the art HAPLab in the university’s new Mountaineer Field House is equipped to study muscular endurance, strength, cardiopulmonary capacity, flexibility and body composition. Western students use the HAPLab for hands-on research, and it doubles as a resource for Western’s student athletes.

The grant from the American Council on Exercise will help health and fitness professionals better understand how to prescribe exercise for preventing and managing chronic disease.

“Exercise really is good medicine for many people. But we need to be able to define what kind and how much exercise is right for each person,” Dalleck says. “This research will help the American Council on Exercise (and other health organizations) better understand how to prescribe exercise intensity.”

During summer and fall 2014, Wolpern and Dalleck will study 24 test subjects as they exercise on a treadmill. They hope to publish the results of their study in the American Council on Exercise’s Pro Source journal and present them at the 2015 Rocky Mountain American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Denver.

Wolpern grew up in Montgomery, Minn., and transferred to Western from Colorado State University Pueblo to take advantage of Western’s athletic programs, academic opportunities and mountain location. She runs on Western’s Cross Country and Track teams and graduated from high school at 16. She says she hopes to attend graduate school after Western and eventually become a professor.

Wolpern wrote the grant with help from Janice Welborn, Western’s Sponsored Programs director. She teaches a grant-writing class and encourages students to draft real grants that help bring educational opportunities to Western students.

“Janice and Dr. Dalleck really opened my eyes to new opportunities here at Western and beyond,” Wolpern says. “Western is preparing me for an exciting future after I graduate.”

Dalleck adds, “This is great experience that undergraduate students are getting. At most universities, undergraduate classes are just lecture-based. Students coming out of Western have meaningful, collaborative research experiences, working alongside professors to create new knowledge. That’s truly learning, elevated.”

By Brian Barker, Director of Marketing & Media Relations.

Friday, February 28, 2014 - 4:00pm