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April 25, 2002 Best foot forward for Exercise Science in new complex



by Robert Scalia

Picture walking into the new Science Complex, through a changing room and into a huge open area lined with treadmills, bicycles and adjustable weight machines. There’s a long running track with force platforms built into it right before you, and a bio-mechanics room with cameras peering out just next door.

Whether you’re an athlete coming back from a knee injury, an elderly lady recovering from a stroke or a student developing exercise programs for either of the two, this training facility is a godsend.

“Our program has been lacking in the actual space and opportunity to practice developing and animating exercise programs,” explained Dr. William Sellers, chair of the Department of Exercise Science. “This facility will allow us to give more practical education to our students.”

Take the track, for example. Students will be able to closely analyze a subject’s movement by coordinating force readings with slow-motion films.

With the department’s present facilities, students are limited to studying very static movements like jumping and simple steps, Sellers said. “Now, they’ll be able to run, jog, sprint — you could do handsprings if you wanted to — and measure the forces. They can film, and see what muscles come into play at what time.”

Since the department has never had a comprehensive training facility in its 28 years at Loyola, most equipment will have to be purchased, and the budget to do so is currently under discussion.

The complex’s seven teaching and six research labs, meanwhile, have already been designed under their occupants’ supervision. The anatomy laboratory, for example, will have refrigerated storage areas and special fume hoods so students working with cadaver specimens do so in a safe and healthy environment.

Researchers in Exercise Science study everything from the benefits of physical activity for stroke victims to identifying the mechanisms that control blood flow into muscles during exercise, to the best way to brace injured knees and ankles.

Sellers believes the Science Complex has created the “perfect scenario” for research. He points out that Psychology faculty studying cognitive aspects of aging and exercise have already expressed interest in the training centre. He expects further collaborations — maybe even joint research grants — with Departments of Psychology, Biology and Chemistry/Biochemistry.

“We’ve kind of felt divorced from the other sciences,” he said, pointing out that his is the only science department at Loyola besides the component of the Psychology Department. “I think it’s going to be a big plus: a chance to collaborate and to share ideas. That’s much better than being in an isolated situation.”

“I’ve been here for almost 30 years and I’ve heard many times before that they were going to build a new science complex. Those thoughts came and went, and no building.”

But for roughly 350 students in Exercise Science, most studying athletic therapy and clinical exercise physiology in the Drummond Science Building, things are moving forward. The department is in the process of hiring new professors and researchers. As we speak, Sellers is working on creating the department’s first master’s program.

While the long-time professor and academic administrator is overjoyed at the prospect of this fresh start, he’s also slated to retire on June 1, 2003 — the same day the complex will become operational.

“So I’m working to get things in place, but unfortunately I’m not going to be the one that’s going to benefit from all of this. It’s been 30 years and I just missed it by a little bit.”