Beginning in the spring of 2015, I began working with Dr. Marc Adams in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion to pursue research on WalkIT-A, or Walking Intervention Through Texting for Adolescents. WalkIT Adolescent (WalkIT-A) was part of a larger series clinical investigation being conducted by Dr. Adams called WalkIT or Walking Intervention through Text Messaging. The WalkIT studies look at intervention methods to increase daily steps and physical activity using adaptive goal setting in comparison to traditional static goal setting.
I spent two years with Dr. Adams conducting research to investigate the effectiveness of a walking intervention in adolescents to shape physical activity behavior. Through exploring the evolution of behavior change as it relates to obesity, my research closely aligned with my passion for health and wellness. Our aim through this study was to discover if incentive systems and goal setting could shape physical health behavior. Using text messaging alongside a wearable activity monitoring device (i.e. FitBit), we sought to increase physical activity in a sedentary adolescent population.
There is an increasing societal shift in medicine towards prevention rather than treatment. Prevention methods are a form of “better medicines” that will work to make our society healthier and work to provide an option to shift away from many unsustainable and costly treatment methods. Showing the effectiveness of a walking intervention to help obese and overweight youth increase their physical activity will help them get healthier and potentially avoid larger health implications down the road that could lead to dangerous and costly treatments. By focusing on behavior change instead of simply treatment, the goal is to introduce methods of thought processing and daily choices that will lead to an overall healthier life.
Conducting research is an integral part to learning how to think as an engineer. I believe that through my time working on WalkIT, I was able to better understand the process of how to look at a problem and think critically about the solution. In terms of my experience as a Grand Challenge Scholar, being involved in research carried over to other aspects of my GCSP journey. The background information learned from working in the space of physical activity directly applied to my entrepreneurship endeavors and other courses. Research in general is absolutely vital for any future ambitions I pursue, because it teaches how to seek answers to problems in critical, organized, and structured methods and to then reflect on the found results.
I was a recipient of the GCSP Research Stipend during the Fall 2015 semester. As a result, I received funding to further my research efforts, along with the opportunity to present my research at the FURI Symposium.
Here, you can view my Symposium Poster.