Ryan Curtis, associate director of athlete performance and safety for UConn’s Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), runs on a treadmill at the MISSION Heat Lab at UConn’s KSI on Sept. 21, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Competing, training and doing physical work in hot or humid conditions trigger complex responses in the body, which diminish performance and put some people at risk for heat-related illness or death.
Now, UConn has a one-of-a kind facility to test individuals in a tightly controlled environment to see how their bodies react to heat. It is the MISSION Heat Lab at UConn’s Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), which was unveiled to key donors, corporate partners and UConn dignitaries on September 22.
“The new heat lab allows KSI to expand the capacity to access athletes, warfighters and laborers in their quest to enhance performance and maximize safety,” said Professor Douglas Casa. Casa is chief executive officer of KSI and on the faculty of the Department of Kinesiology. Luke Belval, manager of the project and a graduate student, said that he is excited that the heat lab has finally come to completion three years after the initial idea was proposed.
Casa likened the heat lab at UConn to the one he visited at Nike, Inc. and said that the facility is “the best heat lab on a college campus in America for human use.”
The structure and equipment cost $700,000 and were funded by UConn, KSI, MISSION and numerous benefactors. KSI is a not-for-profit organization housed in kinesiology and named in honor of Korey Stringer, a professional football player who fell prey to exertional heat stroke. The corporate sponsor, MISSION, sells thermoregulation clothing and accessories that keep athletes cool in summer and warm in winter.
What is in the heat lab?
The 450 square foot heat lab, which is conveniently situated across from KSI in Gampel Pavilion, has space for four to five people to exercise at one time. It is equipped with a restroom, a cooling area, flat screen TVs, and a small door for passing food and drinks into the room without significantly changing the temperature. In addition, it is equipped with two research grade treadmills that are worth about $15,000 each and two exercise cycles. Large graphics of professional athletes who partner with MISSION, such as tennis star Serena Williams and professional basketball player Dwayne Wade, as well as inspirational banners decorate the walls and serve as motivation for the participants. (more…)