By Aleksandra Sidorova
Lindsay Guzzetta, Kyle Pellerin, Jasmine Piper and Luke Rapaport presented their research in a competition at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Annual Spring Meeting in New York City Saturday, April 9. Guzzetta won first place in the abstract presentation competition with a prize of $500. Rapaport placed second in the graduate student division.
“I felt very confident after [the presentation],” Guzzetta said. “Even if I didn’t, I knew I put my best out there.”
In preparation for their presentations, the students met once a week with Dr. Andreas Stamatis, fitness and wellness leadership coordinator as well as the students’ research mentor. They finalized their projects by sending gift cards to research participants, doing extra readings, writing the abstract and obtaining funding for the trip. They also did mock three-minute presentations. Stamatis said the process was “stressful” as he and Guzzetta had only two weeks to finalize their research and submit it for ACSM’s contest by late March.
Guzzetta is a junior majoring in fitness and wellness leadership, as well as a member of the lacrosse team. She researched whether female student athletes’ mental toughness —the skills needed to overcome obstacles in pursuit of goals — will improve from working on their weaknesses or their strengths. ACSM granted her $1,500 for this project in February.
Guzzetta learned the process of conducting research first-hand.
“Before doing this research, I didn’t even know [how] people did research,” Guzzetta said. “You had the idea, but you didn’t really know the process and the things that go into it, so it was a good learning experience.”
Guzzetta said the conference let her “branch out.” She met many people and learned about their research.
“You’re talking to a person, and you’re actually interested in what they’re saying because this is what you’re learning about,” Guzzetta said. “Anything that’s furthering your education in this type of way helps, honestly. I learned things this past weekend that I never knew about.”
Guzzetta intends to complete another research project with Stamatis before she graduates.
“[The conference] was such a good experience. I want to do more,” Guzzetta said. “I think any student should have that opportunity to do something like this if it’s for their major.”
Like Guzzetta, Pellerin was inspired to do more research with Stamatis after attending his first ACSM conference in 2019. This time, he researched the effect of grit — “perseverance and consistency,” as the paper explained — on moderate-to-high-intensity physical activity during the pandemic.
“Don’t be scared to ask for opportunities or take one you’re presented,” Pellerin said as advice to current students. “I feel a lot of people are nervous to take on the work because research is something that’s more focused toward grad school, so it could be intimidating.”
Pellerin called himself a “super-super-senior,” graduating this semester after six years at SUNY Plattsburgh.
He is double majoring in fitness and wellness leadership and psychology. Pellerin and Stamatis both joined SUNY Plattsburgh in 2016, and have worked together almost the entire time. Pellerin said Stamatis has been a “great mentor” to him. Through his work with Stamatis, Pellerin discovered his interest in psychology.
“[Stamatis] knew I was interested in neuropsychology and stuff in that nature, so he put me on that,” Pellerin said. “And then that’s actually what I ended up pursuing — that’s what I’m going to go to grad school for.”
Pellerin said that after this conference, he feels completely ready to enter graduate school.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to do through SUNY Plattsburgh with the programs they have and the research I was able to do,” Pellerin said.
The opportunity to present at an ACSM conference is not restricted to fitness and wellness leadership students. Stamatis agreed to work with Piper despite her being a student outside of his department.
“Dr. Stamatis is a really great guy, really nice,” Piper said. “He cares for his students, because he could have said no to me, to the opportunity of doing research with him. A lot of people would have, and he didn’t.”
Piper is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences set to graduate early in spring 2023. She is also a track and field athlete. Piper’s research focused on basketball, an interest she thought she could no longer pursue due to an injury. The study aimed to predict how power training affects basketball players’ power output when they jump.
Piper said she did little research herself in this project. She credited the idea and research to Stamatis and the other collaborators, professors from Baylor University and Clarkson University. However, it was Piper’s responsibility to gain thorough understanding of the study, present it at the conference and be the “face of the presentation.”
Piper’s experience has sparked her interest in the psychological aspect of sports.
“I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I feel a lot of us don’t know what we are going to do with our lives,” Piper said. “I’m just trying to take all the opportunities I can get. [Stamatis] has offered me that opportunity, and I took it, and it opened my eyes.”
Like Guzzetta and Pellerin, Piper recommends students take research opportunities, as it can make beneficial connections.
“You can say you have a certain degree or a couple degrees, but at the end of the day, you know, the people you know — that’s how you get into a lot of places,” Piper said. “Networking, all that stuff.”
Pellerin and Piper highlighted the role research opportunities can play in preparing undergraduate students for graduate school, but they invite graduate students, too. Rapaport, a graduate student studying fitness and wellness leadership, presented a case study in men’s soccer. He used wearable GPS technology to track the positions and activity of soccer players and compared it with the results of their games. Soccer coaches will use Rapaport’s findings to train athletes more effectively.
Stamatis said he is satisfied with the students’ performance.
“For us, it’s a lot to go to New York,” Stamatis said. “For small Plattsburgh, it’s a lot. We did a lot, and I’m glad we won and [the students] represented us so well. Everybody was talking so highly of us there, and that makes me happy.”