Students pursuing a Doctorate in Bioenergetics and Exercise Science

Admitted 2012

Jamie Hibbert

Jamie Hibbert

I grew up in Fort Worth, TX. I earned my B.S. in Athletic Training from Boston University and my M.S. in Exercise Science from California University of Pennsylvania. I spent several years working as an athletic trainer with all levels of sports. I also spent some time working as an athletic trainer focused on injury prevention for a large aerospace manufacturing company. I decided that I wanted to move from a clinical role into research, especially research that is generalizable to the aging population. The interdisciplinary nature of the Ph.D. program at ECU was exactly what I was hoping to find as I returned to school. I am currently working in Dr. Zac Domire’s lab examining mechanical changes in the material properties of muscle with age. Outside of the lab I enjoy spending time with my husband, running, reading, and culinary experimentation.

Sanghee Park

Sanghee Park

I graduated from University of Texas-Austin with a M.S. in Exercise Physiology in 2011. During the Master's program, I worked in Dr. Coyle's lab, and my major work was on investigating effects of prolonged sitting and walking for two days on postprandial triglycerides: interaction with energy intake. After I received my Master's degree, I worked with Dr. Horowitz in University of Michigan in order to conduct projects and teach classes. During that time, I examined alterations in insulin signaling in myotubes derived from muscle of obese and learn adults in response to 12h incubations in lipid mixtures containing the most abundant fatty acids in human plasma. After working in University of Michigan, I came to ECU to work with Dr. Houmard, and I am currently investigating exercise effects on myotubes obtained from human muscle in response to fatty acids incubation. When I am not at work, I enjoy doing weight training, playing soccer, and reading a good novel.

Tai-Yu Huang

Tai-Yu Huang

I received my Masters in Exercise Science from National Taiwan Normal University. My research projects focused on exercise training in an aging population, studying the effects of Tai Chi training on lower-extremity isokinetic strength and balance performance in elderly women. In addition, I have focused on the cellular and molecular responses of skeletal muscle to resistance training, focusing on the effects of different protocols (intensity and frequency) of resistance training on the metabolic syndrome in obese college males. After graduating, I came to ECU because my research interests are in areas of bioenergetics, especially mitochondrial bioenergetics, skeletal muscle aging, and metabolic signaling pathways. I am currently working with Dr. Ronald N. Cortright studying impaired mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle of African-American vs. Caucasian women.

Maria Torres

I am 24 years old and I'm from Montevideo, Uruguay, where I got my Bsc. in Biochemistry in the Universidad de la República, and also got my Fitness Instructor Diploma at the YMCA.U. I worked in the Laboratory of Enzymology for three years, where I researched the modulation of fatty acid-binding properties of the single thiol of human serum albumin and its sulfenic derivative. I also worked as an intern at the Unit of Protein Crystallography, Institut Pasteur of Montevideo, addressing genetic molecular biology and protein crystallizing essays. In parallel, I have been working as a fitness instructor since 2008. In my free time I like hanging out with my friends and being outdoors. I absolutely love training; I guess the weight room is my second home. I competed in figure and choreographic fitness, and was the champion at the Uruguayan Open National's in 2012. I joined the Bioenergetics PhD program at ECU because I was looking for a way to combine my two passions; biochemistry research and exercise. I am currently working under the supervision of Dr. J. Houmard, investigating skeletal muscle metabolism in lean and obese subjects. I am so proud to be here, sharing daily with such an amazing, talented group of people.

Jeremie Ferey

I graduated from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, in 2012 with a B.S. double major in Biology and HNFE (Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise). I have a passion for almost all branches of Biology, except for Botany, which I find quite uninteresting. Over the years, my interest in the field of science has narrowed to doing research that will help as many people as possible. At Virginia Tech, I worked under Dr. Kevin Davy and with Tim Werner, one of his PhD students, on potential means to decrease arterial stiffness and ameliorate cardiovascular disease. Now, at ECU, I am working with Dr. Carol A. Witczak on finding novel signaling pathways in the glucose uptake process. Working with mice, we hope to pave the path for future human based research to help in the fight against diabetes.

Admitted 2011

Patrick Davis

Patrick Davis

I grew up in northern California in the town of Santa Rosa. I graduated with a B.S. in exercise science from Brigham Young University in 2008. I remained at BYU for a couple of years as a graduate student where I conducted some research on muscle activation patterns and resultant fatigue in a 40-km time trial while comparing traditional road bicycles to triathlon bicycles. While sport performance was the catalyst that led me to study exercise science my interests became more focused on metabolism in skeletal muscle. Those interests led me to the Bioenergetics program at East Carolina University. I'm now working with Dr. Jeffery Brault studying how energetics influence atrophy in skeletal muscle. Away from the lab I enjoy spending time with my wife and newborn (July 2012) son. I love cycling and being outside.

Matt Hinkley

I grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and earned my B.S. in Kinesiology at Penn State University. During my undergraduate years, I became fascinated with research, specifically on the plasticity of skeletal muscle. To further pursue this interest, I went on to complete my M.S. degree in Exercise Physiology at Ball State University where I examined the molecular adaptations in skeletal muscle following short-term exercise training. Currently, I am working with Dr. Carol Witczak to examine how activation of calcium signaling in skeletal muscle alters the cellular environment to help increase glucose uptake.

Admitted 2010

Dan Lark

I was raised in Gurnee, a far northern suburb of Chicago. Most of my undergraduate work was done at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee where I earned a B.S. degree in Kinesiology while working as a personal trainer. After meeting some of the Bioenergetics faculty and students at a conference, I was happy to come to ECU and earn my M.S. degree in the lab of Dr. Neufer studying how the anti-diabetic drug metformin reverses insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes by altering mitochondrial free radical production. Dr. Neufer was kind enough to keep me around for my doctoral work, which is focused on whether a novel pharmaceutical peptide that decreases mitochondrial free radical production can be used as an intervention for reversing metabolic disease. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exercising, watching any sport televised and spending time with my wife and daughter.

Lance Bollinger

I attended Southeast Missouri State University where I majored in Health Management with an emphasis in Exercise Science. Following my undergraduate degree, I attended the University of Missouri where I completed my M.A. in Exercise Physiology and wrote my thesis on quantification of metabolic syndrome severity. After completing my master's degree, I worked as a clinical exercise physiologist for two years in a cardiac rehabilitation setting, consulted for exercise testing and prescription for bariatric surgery patients, and authored columns for the NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal. I started the Bioenergetics and Exercise Science program in the fall of 2010. I currently work in Dr. Brault's lab where I am studying the effects of obesity on skeletal muscle atrophy as well as the synergistic effects of FoxO and SMAD transcription factors on atrophy-related gene expression.

Admitted 2009

Joe Pierce

Joe Pierce

I grew up in the Philly area. After earning my B.S. in Exercise Science from The University of Scranton, I continued on for my M.S. in Exercise Science at Syracuse University where I did my Masters thesis on growth hormone and muscle function responses to skeletal muscle ischemia coupled with resistance exercise. Then for 3.5 yrs I was a research assistant/study coordinator at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) outside of Boston, where I worked on the GH/IGF-I axis in military training paradigms and performance physiology. In 2009, I decided to get my Ph.D. in the Bioenergetics and Exercise Science program at ECU. I am currently in Dr. Bob Hickner's lab using microdialysis to examine communication between skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Outside of the lab, I enjoy watching and quoting movies, experimenting in the kitchen, following anything Philly sports related, and 'Cuse hoops.

Jill Maples

I graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, I was a research assistant on a USDA funded project investigating novel community based childhood obesity interventions, which helped me realize how much I enjoyed doing research. I also became more interested in how exercise and metabolism impacts health and disease, which led me to East Carolina University. I currently work in Dr. Joseph Houmard's lab studying regulatory mechanisms in skeletal muscle physiology/metabolism and how this relates to obesity.

Admitted 2008

Justin La Favor

Justin La Favor

I grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota. While earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, I realized that I wanted a career in biomedical research. I went on to obtain a M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Louisville prior to arriving in Greenville. At ECU, I have developed two lines of research. One project investigates the influence of oxidative stress on microvascular endothelial (dys)function. The other involves investigation of associations between erectile dysfunction and development of coronary artery disease in obesogenic conditions. Outside of research, I am a big fan of baseball and college basketball. I enjoy staying active and taking out my kayak on sunny days.

Todd Weber

I was born and raised in the small western Wisconsin town of Mondovi. I completed my undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout before completing my field experience through the University of Houston on my way to becoming a registered dietitian. I then continued my education at Iowa State University under the direction of Dr. Rick Sharp, where I completed a Masters in Exercise Physiology. My work there focused on the electrolyte composition of beverages and their ability to rehydrate in hot and humid conditions. My interests in the interaction between diet and exercise lead me to ECU. I am currently finishing up some work with Dr. Joseph Houmard on the ability of oxidizable substrates to increase mitochondrial protein and respiration in human skeletal muscle cells isolated from lean and obese individuals.

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National Academy of Kinesiology Top Ten

The Ph.D. program in Bioenergetics and Exercise Science has been ranked as a Top 10 program in the country by an independent company (Academic Analytics) and by the National Academy of Kinesiology that benchmark academic and research excellence.