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April 21, 2017

Brother's disease led to SVSU student's research project set for display during Friday showcase

Saginaw Valley State University exercise science major Geena Militello gained a unique perspective on life by growing up with a brother living with muscular dystrophy, a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. 

The Essexville native's experience with the sibling inspired her academic passion: researching health and the human body

Using a $5,000 grant awarded to her from SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program (UGRP), Militello purchased 10 Hexoskins, which are shirts able to record the wearer’s physiological data such as heart rate, lung expansion and G-force exerted on the body. Now she plans to use the technology to measure the physiological responses of student-athletes on the SVSU women's volleyball team during off-season workouts.

Militello is one of more than 100 students whose UGRP-supported research will be featured during the University-Wide SVSU Student Showcase Friday, April 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ott Auditorium inside SVSU's Gilbertson Hall. The event-free and open to the public — will spotlight projects from all five SVSU academic colleges. 

The students are advised in their research by faculty mentors. Working alongside Adam Coughlin, associate professor of kinesiology at SVSU, Militello's goal involves recording trends showing the different physiological responses experienced by the volleyball players during practices. She plans to compare and contrast the data from each athlete at different points in time. 
SVSU's men's basketball team already sports Hexoskins to measure their physiological responses as a way to measure athletic performance. Militello said she wanted to use the technology to perform academic research featuring one of the women's athletics teams.
“I started helping with the men’s basketball team, doing tests in the lab in the SVSU Health & Human Services building,” she said. Adam knew I was interested, so he suggested this project. We thought since the volleyball season was coming up, that would be a good sport to work with."

She plans to present some of her findings at an American College of Sports Medicine conference in the fall. 
With hopes of one day working in a hospital alongside patients with skeletal-muscular disease, Militello hopes to gain insight into the health field through this hands-on research opportunity. 

Militello, who plans to attend graduate school, said participating in the UGRP-funded research project offers valuable experiential learning and an impressive résumé item. 

"I think it’s important to realize that employers really do recognize these projects," Militello said.
For more information regarding the UGRP projects, please visit