Human Physiology: Testing Physical Limits

Molly Geiger
Major: Human physiology

Molly Geiger always had a love of science, but her time playing Premiere 3 competitive soccer turned her into a student of the human body. “The high intensity and amount of physical contact of each game we played pushed our bodies to the max of what they could handle,” she says. 

After working with an athletic trainer to develop her speed and strength, Geiger wanted to know more about how the human body worked. When she arrived at the UO, she registered for an anatomy class, including a small discussion group that went along with Senior Instructor Sierra Dawson’s course. Every week, the class of 20 students was assigned a personal story of someone dealing with disease or injury.
 
Geiger found Dawson’s lectures inspiring, “She loves to teach and her love for it radiates throughout the classroom, creating a great learning environment.” Dawson also helped guide Geiger, who hopes eventually to earn a doctorate in physical therapy, toward a major in human physiology.
 
Not only are Geiger’s classes giving her a jump-start on her future, but she’s also getting plenty of hands-on experience. As a peer tutor for Human Physiology 323 and 324, she helps other students with introductory classes. “I have been able to get teaching experience under my belt before I even graduate,” she says. Geiger attends the lectures and answers questions during class, and she holds weekly office hours that are open to all students in the class.
 
In addition, Geiger’s experience in the Robert Donald Clark Honors College allows her to carry out original research. Her undergraduate thesis explores creating a protocol to measure the critical power of a person’s quadriceps muscle using dynamic knee extension exercise. As part of her research, she is working in Associate Professor John Halliwill’s Exercise and Environmental Physiology Lab, which studies the benefits of exercise that go beyond improvement of traditional risk factors.
 
“Being a part of this lab has been an amazing and fortunate experience for me. It has further exposed me to the field of research as well as what it is like to work with humans as subjects in studies,” she says. “Additionally, Dr. Halliwill is always willing to discuss what my present and future goals are and how I can best achieve them.”
 
Text by Jennifer Snelling MA '01