In April, for students to say their senior projects are “really fun” may mean they were feeling a bit sarcastic. But for exercise science major Kate Mitchell, the phrase stays true. Mitchell said the opportunity to develop a senior project has completely changed her perception of research and opened her eyes to the possibilities of her major.

When she was a junior, Mitchell began developing a plan for her senior project titled, “Effects of Phonation (Talking) on Cardiopulmonary Variables.” The study researched the effects of talking while biking.

When exercise science professor Shawn Henry said he was willing to work with Mitchell on such a project, she jumped at the opportunity to research the topic.

Mitchell conducted her research on 13 male and three female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45 who had an active lifestyle. The volunteers were attached to a metabolic cart while on a stationary bicycle. The cart measured the person’s intake of oxygen and outtake of carbon dioxide.

The volunteers were asked to read from a screen while riding the bike. They were tested in two sessions with the bike’s intensity increasing by 20 watts per minute. For the first session, they read silently to themselves. In the second session the volunteers read aloud.

When reading aloud, the volunteers had to continuously read while biking until they could no longer do both simultaneously.

In Mitchell’s experiment, she found that when people exercise and talk, their body gets to a point where it has to pick between the two actions to continue functioning efficiently.

Variables like minute ventilation, the volume of gas inhaled and exhaled from a person’s lungs in one minute, tidal volume, the capacity of a person’s lungs and respiratory rate were measured.

This school year, Mitchell has presented her project at two conferences. In October, she presented at the Oregon Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Conference in Salem, Ore. In March, she presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Currently, Mitchell is working on publishing a manuscript of her study. She plans to continue her research after graduation.

Mitchell’s senior project presentation will take place at 4:30 p.m. on April 25 in Price Hall, room 202.


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