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Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Dr. Julia dos Santos / Photo courtesy FSU

Fairmont State Health & Human Performance professor, student awarded NASA grants

FAIRMONT — Since she arrived at Fairmont State University in 2018, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Dr. Julia dos Santos has committed herself to conducting and advancing research that will impact both the community at large as well as those students studying under her tutelage.

To date, Dr. dos Santos’ work has been published in a number of scientific journals and has been supported through successful applications for grant funding. Most recently, she became the recipient of a 2020-21 NASA Grant Faculty Research Award which will contribute to her research on the effect of endocrine disruptive components on skeletal muscle and mitochondrial DNA damage and muscle strength. 

“This grant is key to being able to purchase equipment and products that can advance my project through securing preliminary data and seeking publication in other journals,” said dos Santos. “My research focuses on how exercise can help impede the development of diabetes and obesity, both of which we see high rates of here in West Virginia.”

Under the mentorship of dos Santos, junior Exercise Science student Taylor Kennedy has also received financial support in the form of a 2021-22 NASA Space Grant Student Fellowship Award to advance her project on the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) on fat distribution, blood pressure and 14, 15-DHET in college age students.

“Dr. dos Santos is a perfect example of the kind of faculty we attract,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Not only is she an expert in her field, but she is also a caring teacher-mentor, dedicated to sharing her expertise with her students, as well as enabling and nurturing their research skills and passions. The type of hands-on learning Kennedy is experiencing under Dr. dos Santos’ guidance will be invaluable to her growth as a student and future goals.”

Kennedy said she will begin work on her project in January. She will be studying the effects of BPA, a chemical compound found in everyday items like water bottles and plastic food packaging, on muscular strength. Kennedy will collect data from the subjects in her study through urine sample analysis to determine the levels of BPA present as well as max repetition strength tests to gauge muscular strength.

“Dr. dos Santos has really taken me under her wing,” said Kennedy. “It’s exciting to receive this grant and see where this research takes me.”

Following the completion of her undergraduate degree in the spring of 2022, Kennedy will pursue graduate studies at Fairmont State as a student in the University’s Exercise Science master’s program.

Dr. dos Santos said she is looking forward to continuing to work with Kennedy as well as other students who are looking to turn their intellectual interests into research.

“There are some truly great minds here at Fairmont State,” she said.

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