UA Little Rock Student Wins Award to Research Metabolic Pathways in Dancers

When we think about the study of dance, we often associate it strictly with the world of art, music, and rhythm. Because of this artistic emphasis, this type of study rarely incorporates the hard sciences such as biology and chemistry. Lelia Rosenkrans, an undergraduate majoring in Dance and minoring in Chemistry, is passionate about merging these two worlds together. She has been awarded $1,375 from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship for her study of the physiological relationships between metabolites (substances in our bodies that are formed by or required for metabolism) and dance fitness. She will be under the supervision of Professor Samantha Johnson from the UA Little Rock Department of Theatre and Dance. Rosenkrans will study metabolites that are specifically developed in saliva. To conduct the study, ten students enrolled in a dance course at UA Little Rock will give saliva samples on three different dates throughout the semester, both before and after the class. Rosenkrans will analyze the collected saliva for concentrations of glucose, lactate, non-esterified fatty acids, cortisol, and heat shock protein 70. The data collected from these samples will evaluate how each dancer’s metabolic pathways, the series of chemical reactions within a cell, are utilized along with the amount of stress experienced throughout the class. Rosenkrans will also present a survey to the dancers that addresses individual health and stress levels.

In collecting these samples, Rosenkrans wishes to uncover and develop three major conclusions. First, she wishes to highlight the statistical relationships between gender, race, and self-reported fitness level and how they are related to the metabolites found in saliva. Second, she wishes to determine how the effects of acute and chronic conditioning over fourteen weeks will affect the concentrations of metabolites found in saliva. Third, Rosenkrans wishes to determine if the survey answers from the dancers reflect their biomarkers found during testing.

Rosenkrans is dedicated to educating others on how the art of dancing can benefit those seeking an active and healthy lifestyle. She also wants to provide individualized scientific data for professional dancers who look to become better at their craft. Lastly, Rosenkrans and Professor Johnson wish to contribute to the scientific foundation of dance therapy research, which is proven to nurture mental, emotional, and physical healing.

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