Students in professor Justus Ortega's classes are getting real-life experience measuring the fitness of athletes in HSU's Human Performance Lab. "It's not a traditional lab," Ortega says. "It's kind of like the icing on the cake. People get a small taste of how cool Biomechanics is in class, but when it really hits their palate–when their eyes light up–is when they're in the lab."
Beyond that, Justus finds ways to include his students in research projects, like the one he's currently collaborating on with scientists from the University of Washington. Justus and his colleagues want to know why the elderly use their bodies differently than their younger counterparts.
His hope is to see the research put into practical applications like exercise programs that help keep the elderly mobile for longer. This work has caught the attention of NASA, who will need to study how the body uses kinetic energy if we hope to send astronauts to the Mars where the gravity feels about half as strong as on Earth.
Not a bad project to collaborate on, especially if you're an undergraduate in one of Justus's courses. "I have right now, a team of graduate students and undergraduate students conducting a project to look at how much energy the elderly adults use to support their body weight'" he says. "Although it's my research program, they're really driving those projects."
Justus got the initial spark for his passion of kinesiology and understanding how the body works right here at Humboldt State where he earned his bachelors in Kinesiology.
In fact, Justus and his wife are both graduates of HSU. "I hope to inspire my students the way my professors turned me on to kinesiology," says Justus.