Education Graduate Student to Present at National Meeting

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Fairmont State University’s graduate student has earned the honor of presenting a research project of her creation at the national level.

Shinnston native Virginia Delawder plans to graduate in May with a Master of Education degree with a concentration in Exercise Science, Fitness and Wellness. She will present her project at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Annual Meeting alongside projects from across the United States and other countries on May 27-31 in Orlando, Fla., at the Orange County Convention Center.

The ACSM Annual Meeting is called one of the world’s most comprehensive conferences in the field and will be attended by more than 5,000 professionals in science and medicine. The ACSM is considered one of the world’s largest organizations dealing with the study of sports and exercise and one of the world leaders in the field. ACSM consists of more than 45,000 members and certified professionals from all around the world, representing 70 occupations in the field of sports medicine. Presenting at the Annual Meeting is considered a high honor.

“It’s a privilege to be selected to go to the conference. There are not ribbons, it’s the privilege of attending that’s the prize,” Delawder said.

She earned the right to present at the Annual Meeting after first being selected to present at the regional conference in Pennsylvania in February 2011. All projects required a 450-word summary and were to be in the fields of Human Health and Performance or Fitness and Wellness and the presenter had to be a member of the department or field. Out of all the applicants at FSU, only Delawder will be presenting at the Annual Meeting.

“I was very honored to be selected,” Delawder said. “There are a lot of students in the department, so to be able to be selected and have the opportunity to go to Orlando was an honor.”

The focus of Delawder’s project was the effect of different bicycle gears on athletic performance. Delawder tested fourth, eighth and 12th gears to see which one did the best during a 20-minute exercise bicycle run. These specific gears were chosen because they represented low, moderate and heavy resistance respectively, giving a comprehensive scale to work with.

Delawder spent up to 40 hours a week in a lab for three weeks working on her project. Her 14 test subjects were primarily undergrad students in the Health program at FSU, but also included her husband. Both male and female test subjects took part in the project. They rode bicycles attached to a device called a wind trainer that allowed the bicycles to remain stationary while still allowing the wheels to turn. After each test, Delawder collected the data.

The results of Delawder’s tests may seem surprising. Her findings show higher resistance gears such as eighth and 12th gears performed better than the lower resistance gears. The reason for this was the higher gears, while requiring more effort at the beginning, ultimately require less effort in the long run than the lower gear because the movement gradually becomes steady as time continues.

“At lower resistance levels, you’re constantly spinning and constantly doing work,” Delawder explained.

Also assisting Delawder were Dr. Paul Reneau, Associate Dean for the School of Education, Health and Human Performance, and Dr. Mike Ryan, Assistant Professor of Health and Human Performance, both of whom have been big influences on Delawder during her time at FSU.

“They were huge in this whole thing. They were the ones who kept me in the program and supported me,” Delawder said. “They made the master’s program something I wanted to be a part of. And they got me into this conference. They’ve been a huge part of my grad, undergrad, and future. I owe everything to them.”

As part of the graduate program and because she holds a graduate assistantship, Delawder teaches an undergraduate level fitness and wellness class at FSU and substitutes for professors in the Health and Human Performance Department. She has also conducted multiple research projects over the course of her studies, including the project she will present in May.

“Most of the time, they make you do research projects in undergrad because it prepares you for the next part of your studies,” Delawder said. “Most people who are undergrads in the Health and Human Performance Department normally move on to new schools and this hands-on performance helps them prepare for these fields.”

For more information about Graduate Studies at Fairmont State, click here, e-mail or call (304) 367-4098. To learn more about the Master of Education program, click here.