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Three BYU student finalists at sports medicine conference

Three undergraduate students from BYU's exercise science program were selected as finalists in the Undergraduate Student Research Competition at the annual meeting of the Southwest Region of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Katelynn Hales stands on the far left, wearing a white v-neck short-sleeve t-shirt and a black skirt. Hayden Dennis stands third from the left wearing khaki pants and a red and white checked shirt. Brandon Pfeifer stands on the far right wearing a blue suit with a white button-down shirt underneath.
Katelynn Hales (far left), Hayden Dennis (third in from the left), and Brandon Pfeifer (far right) presented their research at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. They were three of the six finalists in the competition.
Photo by Matt Seeley

Hayden Dennis (‘24), Katelynn Hales (‘23), and Brandon Pfeifer (‘22) presented their individual research projects in oral podium presentations at the meeting. Each was awarded a $200 prize as a finalist.

Pfeifer is studying how the menstrual cycle and hormone levels affect muscle, especially in regards to muscle damage and recovery. Pfeifer expressed his excitement to present his research to the region as his lab team has worked hundreds of hours on the project.

Dennis presented his findings on the muscle strength capabilities of people with chronic ankle instability (CAI)—when the patient suffers from feelings of "giving way" and instability resulting from repeated lateral ankle sprains.

“In my study, we found that the ankle muscles in those with CAI fire at a much slower rate than the ankle muscles in healthy people,” Dennis explains. “This is an important finding because it helps us understand more about CAI and can possibly be used to create an exercise training program especially designed to improve CAI pathology.”

Presenting his research in front of panelists at the competition pushed Dennis to know all the facts inside and out. He found the experience to be as humbling as it was exciting.

Hales is researching blood work and fasting. “We were looking to see if [one] could ‘cheat’ during a fast with a small snack, hurry and burn those calories off with some exercise and still have your blood work look like you’re fasting,” Hales says. “The competition was a good way for me to get my feet wet in the research world and get some experience presenting.”