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Robert Chapman
Department of Kinesiology

Donetta Cothran
Department of Kinesiology

Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008

In new life sciences labs, HPER students learn by doing

Laboratories dedicated this week to Harold "Hal" Morris, former chair of the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Oct. 20, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Students in Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation have begun using new undergraduate life sciences teaching laboratories, which provide state-of-the-art technology for courses in exercise science, fitness specialist, athletic training, dance and teacher education.

Life Science Lab

Students collect data in new Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology.

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The newly renovated 3,650-square-foot space includes a structural kinesiology lab, where graduate students will study nerves, muscles and other human tissue through the use of cadavers. The $300,000 facility also includes teaching laboratories equipped with research equipment such as treadmills and cycle ergometers and interactive chalkboards, which transmit data to students' laptop computers.

On Friday, Oct. 24, the IU Human Performance Laboratories and the Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories, both located in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology, will be dedicated to the late Harold "Hal" Morris, former chair of the department. "Kinesiology" represents the evolution of what was previously called the Department of Physical Education when Morris was selected for the position in 1983. The dedication will take place at 4 p.m. in room 046 and will involve comments from HPER Dean Robert M. Goodman, former deans David Gallahue and Tony Mobley, and a member of the Morris family.

Early in his academic career, Morris had an interest in coaching, but was steadily drawn to research, specializing in biostatistics, human performance and motor control. During his 17 years as department chair, student enrollment increased significantly and research intensified. He oversaw the creation of the Human Performance Labs and helped expand course offerings, which resulted in solidifying majors in exercise science, sports management and marketing and sports communication.

"Hal Morris knew we needed labs to be competitive in academia," said David Koceja, associate dean for research in the School of HPER. Morris was Koceja's advisor in graduate school. "He really emphasized the research part of what we do. I think you see that coming to fruition -- the university, with its life sciences initiative, is saying this kind of teaching and research is important."

Hal Morris

Harold "Hal" Morris

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The new teaching labs are expected to give students more immediate access to research. In past years, students were taken to faculty research labs, typically disrupting ongoing studies, for this experience. The new equipment, costing neary $75,000, includes such things as high-speed cameras, computer systems for cutting-edge biomechanical motion analysis, a new force plate to measure balance, postural sway and ground reaction forces, and new physiological equipment to measure pulmonary function, oxygen uptake and the electrical activity of the heart.

"The whole focus of a laboratory exercise is to learn by doing," said Joel Stager, professor of exercise physiology in the Department of Kinesiology. "The work stations, in essence, force students to do just that. The new teaching labs are designed so that groups of three or four students can run experiments and collect data on themselves and each other during each lab session -- this is a great learning environment."

The structural kinesiology lab will enhance students' anatomy courses in a way that models and pictures cannot duplicate.

"Athletic trainers need to understand what's beneath the surface," Stager said. "Students taking biomechanics, the study of human movement, need to understand lever systems and musculo-skeletal fundamentals."

Though student enrollment in the Department of Kinesiology has increased substantially over the years, the renovations mark the first expansion of instructional space for the department in decades. Stager said the number of students majoring in exercise science has increased tenfold since the mid-1980s. Koceja said exercise science majors often pursue advanced degrees in health science fields such as medicine, nursing and physical or occupational therapy.

"The study of human movement and, more specifically, the adaptation of the human body to exercise span a variety of disciplines," he said. "In the future, exercise science will be integrated with other disciplines to more completely understand the complex nature of many of the current health issues confronting America."

The renovations have been in the works for several years.

"They are a physical representation of the commitment the School of HPER and Kinesiology has made towards improving the teaching and learning environment of the undergraduates on the Bloomington campus," Stager said.

For more information, contact Robert Chapman at 812-856-2452 and or Donetta Cothran at 812-855-5523 and