Senior Awarded Thesis Grant Senior Awarded Thesis Grant

WHEELING – Wheeling Jesuit University junior psychology major Emily Robinson has received a $4,000 private grant to research her senior thesis project.

The grant supports many forms of research including laboratory/field work, interviews, analyzing special collections, participant observation and so forth for students enrolled at member institutions like Wheeling Jesuit.

Robinson will use her scholarship money to research “The Effects of Soccer Ball ‘Heading’ on Scent Perception: Severity of Effects in Adolescence During High School Competition.” She will start May 15, work through the summer months and will present on the national level this fall.

“The process involved in my thesis is a questionnaire asking soccer players to rate several measures of soccer ball heading, such as frequency of heading, intensity of heading, degree to which heading makes them dizzy and past concussions. Then they will complete a Brief Scent Identification Test (BSIT). I will then collect all the data and analyze it to look for statistically significant results,” said Robinson.

Past research at WJU has shown that collegiate soccer players who ‘head’ the ball with greater intensity and frequency show decreases in both cognitive ability and scent identification ability, and physiological evaluation of their olfactory system shows evidence indicative of damage. One of the questions still to be answered is whether these deficits begin early in a soccer player’s career, such as at the high school level.

WJU Professor of Psychology and Director of Undergraduate Research, Bryan Raudenbush said, “Emily’s grant will allow her to collect data on high school soccer players related to these measures, which has never been done before. The overall goal of her research is to determine when and how this damage begins, and then find ways to better train these athletes on proper heading techniques.”

Robinson currently has a 3.98 G.P.A. She is expected to graduate in May, 2015. She will present her research on the national level Oct. 16-18 in Knoxville, Tenn.