Skip to main content
The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
Zero to 14,000 Feet in One Room

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 giving undergraduates the perfect place to conduct research and student-athletes the opportunity to improve their performance.

Last fall, an environmental chamber was added to the lab.

Gannon White, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology and Michael Reeder, MD, Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory director, test equipment for the environmental chamber.

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

The chamber modifies the conditions in the room in order to understand how the human body functions in different environments. From physiology classes and research projects to training student-athletes, the new equipment will be used for a multitude of purposes. 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% humidity,” said Reeder.

CMU runners and cyclists can 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 the air.

“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.

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


Getting research published is no easy feat. One Colorado Mesa University alumnus said, in some ways, it feels like the closing of a chapter. After studying and researching for five years, Quint Berkemeier had his first author research published in the International Journal of Exercise Science and it all started with a hill.

“While I attended CMU, I raced for the CMU Cycling Team and we would have weekly workouts riding up the Colorado National Monument. I was never the fastest climber, and so while struggling to keep up with several of my teammates I realized that a lot of us had very different climbing techniques,” said Berkemeier.

Berkemeier’s preference was to push a big gear in a standing position, whereas other teammates would spin an easier gear while riding in a seated position. The exercise science major took advantage of CMU’s Monfort Family Human Performance Lab’s oversized treadmill and got to work.

Alumnus Quint Berkemeier

“Interestingly, riding on the oversized treadmill was a dynamic experience and very similar to riding out on the road, and so it was evident that we had the perfect set up for a cycling economy study at our lab,” said Berkemeier.

He mimicked real-world uphill cycling conditions and looked at VO2, heart rate, muscle activation of the quadriceps, and peak inspiratory and expiratory flow rates. His findings suggested, “that uphill cycling while standing results in decreased cycling economy due to physiological and biomechanical variations compared to riding seated.”

Berkemeier credits his love for exercise science to the education he received at CMU and gives kudos to the department’s mission, which inspires undergraduates to pursue their passions.

Berkemeier is currently a second year PhD student at the University of New Mexico studying exercise science.


Written by Kelsey Coleman