Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Oregon researchers are connecting and collaborating with scientists and trainees around the world
The Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Oregon funds research projects across the University of Oregon campus and collaborations extend to five partner institutions across the country, but the alliance’s influence goes even further. Increasingly, Oregon researchers are connecting and collaborating with scientists and trainees from other countries to apply the fundamentals of peak performance to human health and well-being around the world. Here are a few of the ways Alliance at Oregon members are expanding the alliance into a true global effort.
The Tunisia Connection
The Alliance at Oregon is developing strong ties to Tunisia, including hiring staff and student trainees from the North African country. In 2021, human physiology professor Mike Hahn, director of the Bowerman Sports Science Center and associate director of the Alliance at Oregon, tapped Aida Chebbi to serve as a research engineer at the Center. A native of Tunisia, Chebbi is focused on sports injury prevention and sports performance and brings more than 10 years of experience in the biomechanical research field to the UO.
In October 2022, Hahn and Chebbi attended the annual French Society of Biomechanics conference in Tunisia, where they presented Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance-funded research and spent a week connecting with faculty from various Tunisian engineering programs. The relationships evolved into twice monthly Zoom meetings and led to the hiring of six student trainees working in Alliance at Oregon-affiliated labs. Two students worked remotely from Tunisia and four traveled to Oregon for two-month in-person appointments and even presented their research in a Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance-wide seminar. In addition to being a cultural exchange opportunity, the appointments have served to bring new research techniques to the Alliance at Oregon, such as finite element modeling which enables the creation of material models that can aid in musculoskeletal research.
“The long-term legacy will be that these students take home principles they are learning, in terms of how to be effective interdisciplinary collaborators. I think the experience will serve them very well in their careers,” Hahn said.
Biomechanics Conferences in Japan
In late July/early August, an Alliance at Oregon-affiliated team traveled to a joint meeting of the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) and the Japanese Society of Biomechanics (JSB) in Fukuoka, Japan. Along with Hahn and Chebbi, who presented her research, the team included Ph.D. students Jarod Forer, Hide Hayashi, Emily Karolidis, Rachel Robinson and visiting scholar Masataka Yamamoto. Karolidis also presented her research examining how soccer cleat stud shape could potentially moderate the risk of torsional injury in female athletes at the Footwear Biomechanics Symposium in Osaka, Japan, where she was named a finalist for the biannual Nike Footwear Research Award.
In October, Bob Guldberg, vice president and the Robert and Leona DeArmond Executive Director of the Knight Campus and director of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Oregon, presented a plenary lecture at the Termis-AP Conference in Hong Kong. In his talk, "Leveraging Immune Biology and Mechanobiology for Musculoskeletal Regenerative Rehabilitation,” he discussed recent work at the intersection of immunology, mechanobiology, and regenerative medicine and introduced attendees to the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance and the regenerative rehabilitation research it is supporting.
Loughborough University Partnership
In September, Guldberg and Hahn traveled to Loughborough University, an internationally recognized hub of sports-related academia in central England, for a kickoff meeting of the Global Sports University Network.
The gathering, which drew attendees from every continent except Antarctica, was an opportunity to discuss the mission and vision of the network and determine the scope and scale of the work moving forward. The UO and Loughborough are the founding members of the network, which includes seven other universities around the world and aims to become a trusted and respected source of higher-education knowledge, research and policy advice in the world of sport. The network will host its first international summit at the UO in September 2024.
In addition to being founding members of the Global Sports University Network, the UO and Loughborough University are aligned through the Wu Tsai Alliance. Loughborough is an official affiliate of the Alliance at Oregon, and the universities are committed to training students through research exchanges and expanding their global reach by attracting additional partner institutions.
Future Global Directions
In January 2024, Hahn plans to host research intern Kai Wang, a master’s student originally from China now attending an international program at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
In late February / early March, Karolidis will be presenting her research at the 7th IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport in Monaco, ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Guldberg and Mark Lewis, a professor of musculoskeletal biology at Loughborough University, are pooling resources to facilitate multiple international exchange trips for student trainees in 2024.