UK SEC Scholar-Athlete Looks for Answers to Unanswered Questions

From: Feb 4, 2014 | kbowman

Chelsea Oswald, the University of Kentucky's 2013 SEC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, discovered a love for running during her freshman year of high school. Little did she know that the stress fractures and various other injuries she sustained throughout her running career would lead her to an exciting area of research. 

Oswald came to UK on a running scholarship in 2009 where she has excelled both as an athlete and a Dean's List student with a perfect 4.0 GPA every semester of her college career. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from UK last May and is currently taking psychology classes while conducting research with Brian Noehren, assistant professor in the Division of Physical Therapy at the College of Health Sciences. Oswald plans to enter a physical therapy program this fall, so when she heard about a research opportunity on running related injuries, she thought it would be a perfect fit for her.  Drawing from her personal experience and the experiences of her teammates on UK's running team, Oswald has been working in Noehren's lab since January 2013. 

Along with Noehren, who is the principal investigator on the study, they test pulse sequences to study muscle injuries, making UK one of only a few institutions in the United States to use magnetic resonance imaging in this new area of research. The research is ongoing and at some point, UK athletic trainers will become involved. 

Oswald said the most important thing she is learning from the research so far is why injuries happen and how to prevent them. 

"The most fun thing about conducting the research is finding answers to unanswered questions and how we can research them," she said. "It is interesting to me to question why something is happening and discover the answers that will contribute to future learning." Her research could one day contribute to the body of knowledge on running injuries and perhaps prevent injuries in other runners like her.

Oswald and Noehren will present their research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research that will be held in Lexington and hosted by UK in April.

Produced by Alicia P. Gregory, videography/direction by Chad Rumford (Research Communications)

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