Kinesiology senior Nicolette Peterson, UROP recipient, conducting project with APAL

Each year, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) funds hundreds of students at the U of M who produce new knowledge and creative work in partnership with faculty. School of Kinesiology faculty have hosted a number of UROP students over the years, and many have entered our graduate programs and continued their studies and innovative research projects with faculty mentors.

Meet Nicolette Peterson, a Kinesiology B.S. senior and UROP grant recipient who is working with Prof. Tom Stoffregen in the Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory (APAL).

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Please tell a little about yourself: Year in school, major, where you are from.

My name is Nicolette Peterson and I am a 4th-year undergrad here at the University of Minnesota. I will be graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. I grew up in Chaska, Minnesota and attended Chaska High School. In high school, I was always heavily involved as I participated in three sports, soccer, basketball and golf, as well as participating in DECA (Business and Marketing Club) where I served as my high school chapter’s President.

Here at the University of Minnesota, I have continued to stay involved in sports as I am now in my third year working with the Women’s Basketball team. I am currently the Head Manager where I am responsible for all practice and game needs, including travel and away games. I have enjoyed everything I have been able to participate in through my education and am very excited to be getting involved with the APAL and all the possibilities in research in front of me.

What are your goals after graduation?

My goals for after graduation have recently been made a reality. I was very recently accepted to the Kinesiology Ph.D. program, here at the University of Minnesota! I will be working under the advisement of Dr. Stoffregen and continuing to further my education and research involvement.

How did you find out about the UROP opportunity?

I originally was pointed in the direction of the UROP by my professor, Dr. Stoffregen. He suggested that I would be a good candidate for APAL.

What is your research project?

For my project I will be working hand and hand with a graduate student and we will be measuring the response to feedback given in a moving room stimulus situation. For those not familiar with the moving room, it is a metal framed cubical measuring in 2.4 meters in length, width, and depth. Participants will stand inside the room and a computer controlled motor will move the room consistently at a frequency that is only noticeable to some. Last semester APAL ran a study looking at the coupling of postural sway to the stimulus of the moving room and how the differences in coupling patterns among participants corresponded to the presence of motion sickness and similar side effects. I was lucky to be able to help with this study and learned a lot. Now, for this new study, we are looking to take the study from last semester and build off it. We will add the presence of feedback within the moving room by use of a force plate and a visual display located within the moving room. By adding the feedback into the moving room we are looking to evaluate the alterations made to postural sway by the subject, as well as the possible resulting presence of motion sickness symptoms. I am planning to present the preliminary results later this spring.

What is your time frame for completing?

I will be looking to complete my work by the end of this Spring 2017 semester. The plan, as of now, is to possibly present preliminary results at the 2017 Kinesiology Research Day.

How did you decide to work with Dr. Stoffregen as your faculty mentor?

I have taken many courses with Dr. Stoffregen and he has acted as a great source of guidance in my decision of furthering my education. I have enjoyed taking his courses, working with him in his lab, and have really entrusted in his advice. In addition I have been really interested in the research he is doing and am honored to learn from someone so very influential in the field.

How has/will the UROP grant benefit you?

The grant has given me a great opportunity to further my research ability. As I plan to enter the Ph.D. program it will be very important that I understand what research protocol really is and know how to develop a clear research question and study. In addition, being able to dive deeper into our motion sickness study is a great opportunity. I am motivated to find more answers and being awarded the UROP grant has helped make my involvement a reality.

How does this grant affect your overall University experience? How do you think it will it help you in the future?

I know being awarded the UROP grant will help me moving forward in my education and research path. In addition it has really shown me more ways to make the most of this tremendous university. While I have enjoyed all the University of Minnesota has shown me in my first three years as an undergrad, I am excited to see what it has to offer me in my last year of undergrad.

I would encourage more students to get involved in research and apply for a UROP grant themselves. The opportunity this university presents in the way of research is outstanding and it is highly important that students are not only taking advantage of the opportunity, but also doing so in a way that helps discovery.

 

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