MiNER Lab Celebrates Top Rankings at TACSM
The Metabolic, Nutrition and Exercise Research (MiNER) Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology is celebrating good news this week. Despite the restrictions associated with the ongoing pandemic, lab members have remained active and are now reaping the benefits of their hard work.
The lab, directed by Dr. Sudip Bajpeyi, associate professor of Kinesiology, was well represented at the virtual conference hosted by the Texas Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (TACSM) last week. Michelle Galvan, a recent graduate of the MS in Kinesiology program and former lab member, and Ali Mossayebi, who joined the lab in fall 2020, were among the finalists, with each receiving second place within their respective awards categories, Student Manuscript and Masters Research presentation.
Galvan, who has been accepted into the upcoming cohort of the UTEP Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, recalled how she first became involved in the lab.
“I have always taken an interest in exercise physiology research and wanted to do a thesis in this area,” she said. “I talked with students in the MiNER lab and asked about their experiences as well as their ongoing research. I decided to be part of the team because I was extremely interested in learning both the clinical and laboratory side of exercise physiology research.”
Galvan’s winning manuscript submission was her thesis, which focused on investigating the effects of electrical stimulation to improve insulin sensitivity. She offered advice for students interested in submitting abstracts or manuscripts for consideration at professional conferences such as TACSM: “A lot of time and effort was put into this submission, and being first author brings a lot of responsibility. I would tell students that are interested in writing a manuscript that it takes time and many edits. I would advise them to prioritize; if they are truly interested in submitting their work, they must be dedicated, but their hard work will pay off.”
Galvan believes that this experience and similar opportunities she had while a member of the MiNER lab have inspired her to become a life-long learner and helped her prepare for her future career, a trajectory that will take her from DPT student to practicing clinician and, potentially in the future, back to the classroom as a professor.
“I am currently working on submitting my research to a peer-reviewed scientific journal,” she said. “However, this would not have been possible without all my hard work, help from my fellow lab members and support from my mentor, Dr. Bajpeyi.”
Bajpeyi lauded the accomplishments of his past protégé, saying he felt “very fortunate” to have had the opportunity to work with an individual he deems to be an independent and confident graduate student. Looking to the future of the laboratory, Bajpeyi also mentioned that the accomplishments of his most recently added lab member, Mossayebi, are noteworthy, considering the short timeframe in which he’s worked in the lab.
To accommodate COVID-19 restrictions on working with human subjects, Bajpeyi suggested Mossayebi work on a project focused on determining the role of acute and chronic glycemic control on COVID-19 severity and recovery in hospitalized patients.
“When I invited Ali to work on this project, he showed great enthusiasm to learn about this new area of research and has worked diligently to deserve this recognition,” he said. “Given Ali just joined the lab last semester, this is a significant achievement, and I look forward to seeing him grow.”
Despite the shift in project focus, Mossayebi has enjoyed his work and feels that this study is making a difference in the effort to better understand the virus. “The opportunity to work on the COVID-19 project has been very fulfilling as we are making a real impact on health and a better understanding of COVID-19 infections in populations with diabetes,” he said. “This project came as a surprise, and I am glad I jumped on this opportunity and worked hard, which resulted in this prestigious award and possible future publications.
Mossayebi looks forward to future opportunities to attend conferences and develop his research agenda, which he hopes will eventually lead to a career in academia and publishing in top-ranked journals such as JAMA and Nature.
“These opportunities lead us to be good researchers,” he said. “In attending conferences, you receive feedback on your work from experts in your area, hear about the latest research, improve your presentation and communication skills, and engage in scientific discussions, all of which help to refine your research ideas.”