Students jump into CSRI kinesiology research

Three Cornell College students are exploring the relationship between an athlete’s jump height and risk factors for ACL injuries during the Cornell Summer Research Institute (CSRI). 

Sydney Hancox, Quinten Howe, and Rory Light are teaming up to study the biomechanics of a jump from all angles, and they’re using the new Movement Analysis Lab in Law Hall to collect their data.

Watch their video:

“We hook the subjects up to reflectors and this creates an avatar on the computer and we can see how subjects jump, with the reflectors,” said Hancox, a junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology from Cedar Rapids. “The EMGs (electromyography) we hook onto each of their muscles allow us to see which muscles are firing and when they are most active. On the computer, we’ll also get information from the force plates about how much power they are pushing off with and how much they are landing with.”

All of their research subjects are between the ages of 18–24 and are college athletes. 

After the team has finished recording all of the jumps they need, they’ll begin to analyze the data they’ve collected. As part of that process, they’re looking for any abnormalities in jump form.

“We plan on looking at various factors like valgus motion of the knee, which is when the knee goes towards the midline of the body on jumping or landing, plus a couple of other factors we are looking for,” said Howe, a senior kinesiology major from Washington D.C. “We will take those out and put them into a bigger spreadsheet and analyze them from there.”

Associate Professor of Kinesiology Krisi Meyer (center) works with (from left) Quinten Howe, Rory Light, and Sydney Hancox.
Associate Professor of Kinesiology Kristi Meyer (center) works with (from left) Quinten Howe, Rory Light, and Sydney Hancox.

Associate Professor of Kinesiology Kristi Meyer is advising the team of students. She says the team has been very independent this summer by choosing their own topic of research, developing the project, and collecting the data. It’s a unique project because of the variety of data points this team is considering.

“There’s been lots of research on jumping mechanics and lots of research on ACL injury prevention, but trying to combine those together and see–what are some other things we can see with that? They’re looking at the forces, the joint angles, the EMG, and the timing of when those muscles are activated. There’s not much research looking at all of that together,” Meyer said.

Plus, the group plans to provide feedback to the athletes who participated in the study and suggest ways they could improve their jumping techniques through training. 

Light says the whole project has really been about teamwork.

“It’s really great to have faculty and other research partners to talk with every day,” said Light, a junior kinesiology major from Mount Vernon. “We really bond together and I feel like, since we are on week five already, we already know what everybody is thinking. We have our roles, and it’s really nice to have other people to work with.”

As the students continue with their kinesiology research they are grateful not only for the collaboration but for the new Movement Analysis Lab where they’re spending most of their time.

“All of the new equipment we have is very high-end,” Howe said. “It’s really cool being able to utilize all of this new technology.” 

computer screen with jumping motion shown
Digital representation of a research subject’s jump on the computer in the Movement Analysis Lab.

From infrared cameras to reflectors and force plates, students can not only conduct analysis on jumping but on other activities like pitching, cycling, and running.

“It’s not very common to have a lab like this at a small school like Cornell,” Meyer said. “So we feel very fortunate to have this kind of technology on our campus. I have really enjoyed working on this CSRI project with my students–they have done a fabulous job!”

This is just one of many projects happening on campus for CSRI. In all, 46 students are working side-by-side with 18 faculty members on a variety of intensive research projects. The eight-week institute takes place May 24–July 16, 2021.