Student Profile: Dylan Sampson

Undergraduate researcher Dylan Sampson is figuring out new training techniques to help athletes.

Mentor: Patrick Rider

Department: Exercise Physiology

Project Title: “Effects of distracted jump training on mechanical differences in a jump-landing task”

My research project is investigating ways to reduce the risk of injury for athletes. Specifically, we focus on athletes landing while distracted. These distractions could be getting a rebound or catching a pass. When you are distracted while landing your risk of knee injury is increased, and knee injuries can keep an athlete out of their sport for an extended period of time.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

After taking biomechanics with my research mentor, Patrick Rider, I wanted to get involved in the field. Rider has been very influential in encouraging me to pursue research further. I have always been very inquisitive and research allows me to take the next step and attempt to answer questions that no one has the answers to yet.

Why did you choose your research topic?

I chose my research topic to help prevent injuries in athletes. I one day hope to be a physical therapist, and in my time shadowing, I have seen firsthand the work that goes into rehabilitating an injury. If an athlete is able to avoid the injury in the first place, they will be better off in the long run.

What’s been your favorite part of conducting undergraduate research?

My favorite part of conducting research is the ability to apply what I have learned in my classes in a real world setting. It is one thing to read a textbook, It is one thing to read a textbook, but actually seeing how my course work helped me change my perspective on so many of my classes.

What challenges have you faced while conducting undergraduate research?

The toughest challenge I have faced is how overwhelming it all feels when you first begin. I was lucky enough to have a great mentor and even guidance from current students in the master’s program that helped me learn the ropes.

Why is your research important for the average, everyday person?

The average active individual will benefit from this research because reducing injury risk will keep them active and healthy. Injuries can be expensive and affect activity levels.

What’s your ultimate goal or accomplishment that you hope your research will help you achieve?

The ultimate goal of the research I participate in is to design a training program that will reduce the risk of injury an athlete faces when landing while distracted.

How do you feel that participating in undergraduate research has helped prepare you for life after college?

I do believe that undergraduate research has helped prepare me for life after college. I am learning to seek out answers on my own and to think in terms that are not limited by what is in a textbook. These skill help me work through problems in a unique way to accomplish my goals.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research?

The best advice I could give is to just talk to your professors. Many of the great professors here at ECU are participating in research and are doing amazing things. If you enjoy a class or a concept, odds are your professor is either currently doing research in that field or knows someone who is. I know it can be intimidating to start but the first step is expressing interest to your professor.