Best of the best

John McLester and students operate a DEXA machine

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 9, 2014) - The biomechanics and exercise physiology labs in Prillaman Hall are…

Georgia (Oct 9, 2014)

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 9, 2014) - The biomechanics and exercise physiology labs in Prillaman Hall are the stuff of researchers’ dreams. Labs are so well equipped, professors can focus on their scholarship instead of chasing grants for needed supplies.

“We pretty much have any piece of equipment any professor in our field would want to do research,” said John McLester, lab coordinator and professor of exercise science in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services. “I stopped counting around a year ago, but at that time, we had around $2 million in equipment. It’s very difficult for a faculty member to ask for something we don’t already have.”

From $100,000 DEXA machines used to determine bone density and a “BodPod” for body composition analysis to treadmills, stationary bikes and a giant “rig” for strength exercises, the scholarship happening in the labs is just as diverse as all of its equipment.

“We have faculty doing CrossFit research, diabetes research, behavioral research and blood biomarkers research,” McLester said. “Our faculty are pretty consistently writing grants, but they don’t have to worry about writing grants to get the basic equipment they need. They can focus on their research, which gets their name out there and makes them more competitive for grants that they want to write.”

According to McLester, lab space at some of the largest universities in the country doesn’t rival what’s available in Prillaman Hall. Oftentimes, he said, labs at other universities are fit into available space in older buildings.

“Where we got lucky was we were able to help plan this space before construction of Prillaman Hall began,” he said. “And we received such tremendous support from the college administration, we didn’t have to write grants for equipment.”

With one of the largest majors on campus – close to 1,000 majors – exercise science students are able to have multiple lab experiences as part of the curriculum. Students can also volunteer to help with research studies.

“At other universities, students aren’t even allowed in the lab,” McLester said. “Our students are getting the best education they can get in our field. There is no doubt about that.”

In addition to the scholarship opportunities available for faculty and students, the labs are also proving to be an effective recruiting tool for faculty and graduate assistants, McLester said.

“It’s very easy to recruit faculty when you already have what they need,” he said. “We also have a graduate assistant who came from Clemson University and another one from Connecticut, and that’s never happened before.”

Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Yuri Feito earned his doctorate at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and taught at Barry University in Miami before joining the faculty at Kennesaw State two years ago.

“When I came for my campus visit, I was blown away by the lab,” Feito said. “Nobody that I know of has anything that compares to this. I came here because this job offered me more research opportunities, and this lab is key to that.”

With a footprint of 6,445 square feet and a small expansion for an environmental physiology lab underway, plans call for giving access to the lab’s services to the public in the spring.

“When people find out what we have here, they’ll call and ask if they can come in for a scan or an evaluation,” McLester said. “The tests will run anywhere from $25 to $100, and the revenue stream will be used to support the lab.”

--Jennifer Hafer

--Photo by: David Caselli



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

©