Human Performance Research Center

Heat images from the HPRC showing temperatures of the soles of the feetHeat images from the HPRC showing the temperatures of the soles of the feet before and during NIR treatment.
At the southwest corner of the Richards Building is a 10,000 square-foot laboratory devoted to researching exercise, rehabilitation, and the performance of the human body. Here, in the Human Performance Research Center (HPRC), faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers assess human function in a variety of ways to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to physical stress. The HPRC is a complex of five laboratories used by faculty and students of the Department of Exercise Sciences. The Biochemistry, Biomechanics, Body Composition, Exercise Physiology, and Therapeutic Modalities laboratories serve as teaching and research areas. The relationship of body composition to various aspects of health and wellness are assessed using dual energy x-ray absorptometry and whole body plethysmography. An environmental chamber in the exercise physiology laboratory enables the researcher to alter the room temperature. High-speed infra-red cameras and computers track joint movements and body motions as many different protocols are taught and studied.

Researchers at the HPRC address a wide range of topics, including the mechanical aspects of human movement, effectiveness of rehabilitation strategies, environmental stress, and blood flow and muscular adaptations to exercise training.

Measuring equipment and and research volunteerStudent researchers in the HPRC assists with a study measuring temperature changes in tissue during near-infrared light (NIR) treatment.
Students working in the HPRC gain experience doing the things they may someday do in graduate school or as working professionals. As Dr. Allen Parcell, director of the Center, stated, “In all likelihood, when the students leave BYU, they will be doing things that they have done in the HPRC.”

As an undergraduate Exercise Science major, Robert Thiebaud participated in a number of HPRC research projects, including a study of television viewing and insulin resistance. He presented his findings at a conference in Washington, DC. Robert is now working on a PhD in exercise science at the University of Oklahoma. “If it were not for my experiences with the HPRC,” he said, “I would not have realized how much I enjoy research.”