Inspiration and insight into research

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Student volunteer Alex Richerand performs arm curls with weights under adjunct instructor Gregory Reeves’ guidance. Student Craig Thomas, a kinesiology-exercise science major from Jamaica, records results under the supervision of Southeastern Professor Robert Kraemer.


Craig Thomas, Kinesiology-Exercise Science major

Gregory Reeves, Adjunct Instructor, Dept of Kinesiology & Health Studies

Robert Kraemer, Professor, Dept of Kinesiology & Health Studies


Craig Thomas came to Southeastern from Jamaica on a track and field scholarship. He wanted the chance to see a country different from his own and to experience the American culture.


At Southeastern, he saw valuable opportunities to expand his educational experience beyond the classroom and became a student worker in the Kinesiology and Exercise Science program. Thomas was assigned to work with Gregory Reeves, a graduate student who was working on his master’s thesis in exercise physiology under the direction of Southeastern’s internationally known researcher Robert Kraemer.


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Junior Craig Thomas, right, a kinesiology-exercise science major from Jamaica, prepares blood samples under the guidance of adjunct instructor and researcher Gregory Reeves as part of a study to determine hormone secretions during exercise.

“I assisted in the research by collecting data, preparing samples for testing, andprocessing the blood that was drawn during the exercises,”Thomas said. “It gave me a lot of insight into the research process.”


The old saying in weight training, “No pain, no gain,” may not be quite true, according to the Southeastern research.


In the project, which has culminated in an article soon to be published in the prestigious Journal of Applied Physiology, student volunteers performed trials of arm curls and calf presses, some of which involved the application of a pressure cuff on the limbs to create a partial vascular occlusion or slowing of the blood flow to the muscle being exercised. The results indicate that with partial vascular occlusion, much lighter weights can be used to help build muscle mass.


“The partial occlusion obtained through the pressure cuff increased the amount of growth hormone that was secreted, and this is an important factor in stimulating muscle hypertrophy or growth in muscle mass,” said Reeves, who received his master’s degree in December and is currently teaching part time at Southeastern.


“This has some good clinical applications,” Reeves explained. “Patients who may have orthopedic impairments or reduced physical capacities may be able to use light weight training to increase the strength of their muscles or at least reduce muscle atrophy without running the risk of injuries. The research showed that you don’t need to have an extreme weight load to gain positive effects.”


“This was my first research project and it has inspired my interest in research,” added Thomas, who is majoring in kinesiology-exercise science and pre-med with the intent of advancing into medical school.


That experience at Southeastern opened other doors for Thomas, including participating in the Louisiana Biomedical Network last summer where he was involved in genetic engineering research projects. He also had the opportunity to go to Australia for 10 days as part of the International Scholar Laureate Program, which was funded in part by a travel grant from Southeastern’s Student Government Program.


“This was groundbreaking research, as evidenced by the fact that it was accepted for publication in a major scholarly journal,” said Professor Kraemer, who has received Southeastern’s President’s Award for Excellence in Research and is known for involving his undergraduate and graduate students in his projects.


“One of the joys of my work is being able to see results first hand,” he said, “ and the satisfaction in seeing my students conduct high-level research and publish their theses in quality journals.”

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