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UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

UMass researchers receive grant to study effects of exercise

n.exerciseUniversity of Massachusetts researchers have been awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study physical activity.

The two-year, $985,000 grant was awarded to a team led by Professor Patty Freedson of the Kinesiology Department and John Staudenmeyer, an associate professor with the mathematics and statistics department. The group is developing new techniques to study why sometimes people on the same exercise regimen lose weight at different rates.

Having previously developed a wearable sensor called an accelerometer to measure activity levels, Freedson said that they are going to use this sensor to predict the amount of energy a person uses during an activity.

“When a person walks or runs, the accelerometer is going to measure the acceleration of the center of mass,” she said. “It’s going to look different depending on the type of activity.”

“The data collection is just starting,” Staudenmeyer said in an e-mail, “and all the data collection won’t be in for two years. We won’t have results or conclusions for a while.”

The information from the sensor is analyzed by a neural network – a kind of software that can learn.

“We train the neural network on a set of known data and apply it on a set of unknown data,” Freedson said. “Taking the accelerometer signal, we extract features to develop a pattern, and based on that, it predicts the amount of energy expenditure and identifies activity type.”

According to Freedson, the purpose of the grant is to see how well the neural network can differentiate between activity levels using data collected by two studies. In the first, 15 volunteers will wear both an accelerometer and a pedometer for three weeks. Each person will be assigned different levels of activity for each week, with one week of limited activity and two weeks of more strenuous activity.

“The biggest surprise is that it got funded,” Staudenmeyer said in an e-mail. “We thought it was a strong proposal, but we knew that NIH was only going to fund about 200 out of twenty-one thousand proposals.”

In the second study, 45 volunteers in three groups of 15 will also have different daily activity levels assigned. The groups will also maintain a weekly exercise regimen. One group will be assigned a moderate activity level, another a higher level, while the third will be the control group and be assigned a sedentary level. The study will last 12 weeks. 

The conventional explanation for the different weight loss patterns is that they are caused by genetics, but the research group believes that there could be an alternate explanation.

“We predict that a person who sat around a lot will respond more poorly to training than a person who moves around a lot,” said Freedson.

The NIH grant money is part of the stimulus package provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Along with Freedson and Staudenmayer, the group contains Associate Professor Barry Braun and two Kinesiology graduate students, Kate Lyden and Sarah Kozey.

“We’re also hiring some people to work on this project,” Freedson said. “We’re creating jobs.”

Matthew M. Robare can be reached at mrobare@student.umass.edu

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