Welcome to the Human Performance Laboratory at East Carolina University

The Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) is an interdisciplinary research and service unit administratively housed within the College of Health and Human Performance. We hope that our website provides you a glimpse into our programs which span undergraduate to post-doctoral education, translational research, as well as service to the university and local communities.


Congratulations Edward Wentzler and Stephanie Strong

Edward Wentzler and Stephanie Strong

Edward Wentzler, an undergraduate senior working with Dr. Katsu Funai, has been selected for the Brody Summer Biomedical Research Program Award for studying skeletal muscle lipid metabolism in cell culture and in mice. Eddie conducted his EXSS 4991 and 4992 internship in the Funai lab and will continue to work in his lab this summer. Stephanie Strong, an undergraduate sophomore also working in the Funai lab, has been selected for two American Physiological Society’s summer research fellowships: NHLBI's STRIDE award and NIDDK STEP-UP award. Only twenty-four students are selected from a nation-wide pool of applicants, and she was selected for both. Stephanie accepted the NHLBI STRIDE award and will be studying adipose tissue's lipid metabolism in genetically-modified mice.


Congratulations Maria Torres

Maria Torres

Maria Torres (3rd year PhD student in Bioenergetics and Exercise Science) won the APS Campbell Award in Endocrinology & Metabolism, given by the American Physiological Society. The award recognized the graduate student, resident or postdoctoral fellow who presented the best poster for research in the area of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Experimental Biology Meeting (Boston 2015). She also won 1st place for Doctoral Poster Presentations at the Biomedical Sciences section of RCAW [Research and Creative Achievement Week]. Working at the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute (ECDOI) under the supervision of Dr. Neufer, her doctoral project is focused on elucidating the mechanisms of menopause-induced insulin resistance by studying the effects of female sex hormones (estrogen) in skeletal muscle mitochondrial function and redox homeostasis. Understanding such molecular mechanisms is of paramount importance for the development of pharmaceutical interventions that are safer than hormone-replacement-therapy to treat and prevent insulin resistance in post-menopausal women. Maria stated she is aware of the efforts made by the NIH these past years to improve the health of women through biomedical research, and feel proud to be a contributor of the cause through her pre-doctoral research. She feels grateful and honoured by the recognitions from the APS and ECU to her research.


Keystone Symposia Scholarship

Tony Verkerke

Tony Verkerke, a Bioenergetics Ph.D. student, was awarded a Keystone Symposia scholarship for Systems Biology of Lipid Metabolism conference in Breckenridge, Colorado. A 1st year PhD student in the Funai lab, Tony presented his research entitled:

"Reduced efficiency of sarcolipin-dependent respiration in myocytes from severely obese humans"

The award provided Tony with $1,700 to attend the Keystone symposia. This award was made possible through funds from NIDDK.


February 2015 - Congratulations Kristen Turner

Kristen Turner

Kristen Turner, an exercise physiology graduate student in the Human Performance Laboratory and department of Kinesiology was awarded The Endocrinology & Metabolism Section Research Recognition Award. She will receive $500 plus reimbursement of the registration fee for the Experimental Biology conference in Boston on March 28th to present her research entitled:

Resveratrol Alleviates Lipid-Induced Insulin Resistance in Lean, But Not Severely Obese Myotubes.

Kristen’s research mentor is Joseph Houmard Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Human Performance Laboratory.


June 2014 - Congratulations Daniel Lark

Daniel Lark

Dan successfully defended his dissertation entitled "NOVEL MECHANISMS GOVERNING SKELETAL MUSCLE MITOCHONDRIAL BIOENERGETICS: OXPHOS EFFICIENCY AND cAMP/PKA SIGNALING".

Dan's primary mentor was Dr. P Darrell Neufer, Ph.D. Professor in the Department of Physiology and Director of the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute.


June 2014 - Congratulations Carmen Moyer

Carmen Moyer

Carmen successfully defended her thesis entitle "INFLUENCE OF EXERCISE MODE ON MATERNAL, FETAL, & NEONATAL HEALTH OUTCOMES".

Carmen's primary mentor was Dr. Linda May, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the School of Dental Medicine.


June 2014 - Congratulations Sara Krajewski

Sara Krajewski

Sara successfully defended her thesis entitle "ENERGY COST OF HEAVY LOAD CARRIAGE AND PROLONGED WALKING IN ROTC COLLEGIATE PARTICIPANTS".

Sara's primary mentor was Dr. Laurel Wentz, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Science.


Several HPL affiliated students presented at the 8th annual ECU Research and Creative Activity Week held from March 31st to April 4th.


November 2013 - Congratulations Lance Bollinger

Lance Bollinger

Lance successfully defended his dissertation entitle "EFFECTS OF OBESITY ON THE TRANSCRIPTIONAL REGULATION OF PROTEIN DEGRADATION IN SKELETAL MUSCLE".

Lance's primary mentor was Dr. Jeffrey Brault, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology.