Undergrad research yields great rewards

jess-unick-4Jess Unick ′04
Exercise Science major
Rockaway, NJ

Research design and development, presenting at conventions, and publishing in national journals, gave Jessica Unick, a 2004 exercise science alumna, a distinct advantage when applying for graduate school and beyond.

While at Messiah, Unick’s talent was unmistakable to associate professor of health and exercise physiology professor Scott Kieffer. As with many faculty/student relationships at Messiah College, Kieffer became Unick’s mentor, encouraging her to dig deeper by participating in a host of research studies, presenting her work at state conventions, and submitting her studies for publication. The Acute Effects of Static and Ballistic Stretching on Vertical Jump Performance in Trained Women, by Unick, Kieffer, and Wendy Cheesman, senior lecturer of health and human performance, was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, February 2005.

Unick’s work caught the eye of a professor at Appalachian State University who helped her to secure a graduate assistantship to do research and teach a few classes. While at ASU, Unick realized the value her undergraduate research. “I felt prepared in every aspect of the research process and seemed to be ahead of the game as compared to other students who did not have prior research experience,” says Unick. “That turned out to be another great learning experience and gave me more confidence as I continued to pursue my degree.” Currently, Unick is finishing a Ph.D. in exercise physiology at the University of Pittsburgh, and plans to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University in the fall, 2009-one of the leading centers on obesity research in the country, if not the world. 

While at Brown University, Unick will research behavioral treatment of obesity and the prevention of weight regain following weight loss. With her, she takes a love for learning and a commitment to continuing the mentoring relationships that inspired her at Messiah College.

“Without Dr. Kieffer’s support, I probably would have never gotten into the field that I am in today,” says Unick. “When a student has a passion for something and a professor takes the time to invest in you, it can be a great learning experience and it can significantly impact your life.”

Posted in 2004, Grad School Bound, Majors & Minors, Sports & Exercise Science | Comments Off

Posted on May 6th, 2009

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