Kinesiology undergraduate student Odom receives LSU Discover Scholar Award for cutting-edge undergraduate research


LSU College of Human Sciences & Education School of Kinesiology undergraduate student Sarah Odom was chosen as one of 12 LSU Discover Scholar Awardees for her cutting-edge undergraduate research. On Saturday, October 18, 2014, during halftime of the LSU versus University of Kentucky football game, Sarah received her LSU Discover Scholar certificate from Provost Stuart Bell.

Odom’s research is about the effects of stressors (such as noise or an increase in mental load) and how these affect performance and learning of a fine motor task (such as typing or handwriting).

“Research is valuable as an undergraduate because it gives you the opportunity to work closely with a mentor enabling you to learn and understand topics more clearly,” said Odom. “Working in the kinesiology lab has also helped me to learn what I am most interested in and has allowed me to better prepare myself for what I would like to do in the future.”

“Undergraduate research is important because it teaches students to think critically, to be creative when solving problems, to understand methodology, and to understand limitations of findings when trying to generalize conclusions,” said Dr. Arend Van Gemmert, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Odom’s faculty mentor.

The main focus of Odom’s study was to gain a better understanding of how stressors affect performance and learning of a fine motor task. The study determined if adding a stressor such as auditory noise or a cognitive challenging arithmetic task, while learning a fine motor task would affect the performance of that task when tested later. The hypothesis was that the increase of effort due to a stressor would result in better learning, depending on the effort needed for the task. Odom’s project is part of a larger project headed by Van Gemmert’s graduate student Christopher Aiken. Aiken has taught Odom how to use the equipment used in the experiments and how to process data.

Odom presented preliminary data at LSU Discover 2014, the first annual undergraduate symposium dedicated to promoting undergraduate research on March 10, 2014. She will also present her current project at LSU Discover 2015 on March 19, 2015. LSU Discover Day provides an opportunity to interact with peers and faculty across campus working in similar research fields, learn about how research and scholarship is conducted in different fields, to prepare for graduate school and employment opportunities, and to develop presentation skills.

“I am really interested in this field of research because it is tied to so many things I am excited about,” said Odom. “I have played and watched sports all of my life and this research is tied closely to the performance of sports in stressful situations.”

Odom’s research interests are about motor learning and how it is affected by stress. She is also a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and the Physician Assistant Collegiate Society (PACS). She plans to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant after graduation.

About SOK

The LSU School of Kinesiology advances the understanding of physical activity, sport, and health to optimize the quality of life for diverse populations through excellence in teaching, learning, discovery, and engagement.

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About CHSE

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. Formed in 2012, CHSE brings together programs and capitalizes on individual strengths to create a dynamic new college that addresses the socially significant issues we face as a state and nation. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.

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