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Environmental chamber advances student research and enhances training for student-athletes

The Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory is home to some of the most technologically advanced equipment on the market, and their list continues to grow.

New this fall is a state-of-the-art environmental chamber. It's able to modify the conditions in the room in order to understand how the human body functions in different environments.

"There are all kinds of things we can do with this technology," said Director of the Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory Michael Reeder.

From physiology classes and research to training student-athletes, the chamber will be used for a number of things. Oxygen levels can be adjusted to mimic environments ranging from sea level up to 14,000 feet and temperatures inside the room can span from 10 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We can adjust the room to different altitudes to see what physiology changes are happening, like heart rate and oxygen levels. We can also look at the heat response in athletes to understand heat exhaustion by taking it up to say, 100 degrees and 8 percent humidity," said Reeder.

CMU runners and cyclists are able to assess their physical performance under different conditions inside the chamber, which can then help them compete in their sport. One of the advantages is they can train harder when they're at sea level because there's more oxygen in in the air.  

The environmental chamber is another tool in the toolbox for the Department of Kinesiology and elevates the experiential learning opportunities available to CMU students.

"I'm biased, but I don't think there's a better place for undergraduates to get a hands-on education. CMU is different than lots of other places I've been where this kind of stuff is siloed off to different areas of the school. It's really a neat opportunity for our students," said Reeder.

Future student research projects will focus on performance and safety.

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Written by Kelsey Coleman