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Graduate Studies - Colleen Doyle

California State University, Fullerton

Graduate Students Writing About Their Research

Colleen Doyle, Graduate Student in Kinesiology


Colleen Doyle is a student in the Master of Science in Kinesiology Program and is graduating in Spring 2010, after which she will begin the PhD program at University of Connecticut. She is also a member of the CSUF part time faculty, teaching volleyball and the lab for physiology of exercise. Her advisor is Dr. Jan Judelson.

I have always loved sports, even from a young age. It has allowed me to develop confidence, friendships, and a sense of identity. During high school, I considered pursuing a career related to athletics but was only aware of sports medicine (a discipline requiring medical school). For a multitude of reasons, this route was not in my best interest, and I quickly resorted to another career choice. After bouncing around from one field to another, I was informed of other possible careers related to sport. I was directed from the University of Nevada, Reno to California State University, Fullerton to enroll in its reputable Kinesiology program. If there’s one excellent choice I’ve made in my life this was it. From this move, I was introduced to research related to exercise performance and fell in love.

My newly discovered passion led me to assist in the conduction of approximately ten research studies. The most prominent is my thesis, which examines the effects of drinking water vs. pouring water over the body and its ability to regulate core temperature, perception, and performance. This is an important issue for endurance athletes because as core temperature rises at an uncontrolled rate, performance will decline. Although strong anecdotal evidence supports the use of pouring water over the body in addition to drinking water, no research supports this practice.

For this study, I was required to construct a heat chamber to control hot (~92F) and dry environments, both of which are common competition conditions. With the use of PVC pipe, 4mm painters plastic, and the help of my fiancé Andy and advisor / mentor Dr. Dan Judelson (two people I couldn’t live without!), the chamber became a reality allowing my investigation to commence.

I composed a literature review of my topic, developed the methods for testing, and proposed my topic to my committee (a 20-minute power point presentation in front of faculty and peers). After receiving approval by the Institutional Review Board to use human subjects, I could finally collect data. Although this was a long and tiring process, it allowed me to feel comfortable and competent with regards to my study.

The data collection began once I found volunteers. A typical testing day began by greeting the subject, measuring hydration state via a small urine sample, measuring body weight, and placing several apparatuses on the subject (i.e. devices that measure heart rate, skin temperature, and core temperature). The testing protocol began with a 90-minute walk followed by a 5-kilometer time trial. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my subjects, especially during the 90-minute walk. With my busy schedule I might have never met these individuals and learned of their life experiences. Another aspect of the testing I appreciated was observing what the human body is capable of. A 5km race is the shortest distance event requiring participants to run 3.1 miles at a very quick pace. The event itself is impressive, and even more so when competing in the heat! With all aspects of data collection combined, the experience is one I would not relinquish.

As of now I’m not quite finished with collecting data, but the estimated completion will make the duration of my data collection around 6 ½ months. Due to the quality of the topic, some doctoral programs would accept my thesis as a dissertation. Despite the time commitment involved with my thesis, the overall experience was overwhelmingly definitely worthwhile. I will soon be able to make a name for myself in the field through the publication of my data in a peer-reviewed journal and through the presentation of my results at conferences. My thesis also aided with my acceptance into a Ph.D. program. In addition to my experience in this graduate program, this process introduced me to faculty and peers whom I cherish as dear friends. From my research and higher educational experiences, I finally found the feeling I’ve been looking for since high school, and am passionate about my work.