Alissa Zeitelhack '20

Photo of Alissa Zeitelhack ‘20


  • Senior from Overland Park, Kansas

  • Exercise science and sports performance major with a minor in engineering physics

  • Vice President of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

  • Vice President of the Green Team

  • Named to the President’s List and member of the Honors Program

  • Participated in the “Renewing Illinois Summit” in 2019
  • Women’s volleyball team

By Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10

Senior exercise science major Alissa Zeitelhack ‘20 has been preparing for a future in biomechanical research ever since she arrived at McKendree three years ago. This past summer, she experienced firsthand what it’s like to work in a sports performance lab as part of a select student research program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The growing field of biomechanics explores the science behind how the human body moves.

Quotation Graphic"My goal is to perform biomechanical research in the realm of sports optimization.  I hope to work in a sports performance lab conducting research for the betterment of athletes."

For 10 weeks over the summer, she had the opportunity to do just that. Alissa joined more than 100 students from around the world to participate in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Association. After a rigorous application process, she was selected to work directly with the Orthopedic and Neural Engineering Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There she learned how to hone her scientific research skills, present research to an audience, and practice lab techniques like dissection, sterile technique, cell culture, and rheology.

Quotation Graphic"The main project that all Summer Research Scholars completed was the poster presentation."

Photo of Alissa Zeitelhack ‘20 with Exercise Equipment“At the end of the program, we each set up our completed professional research posters at a symposium to share our research with one another, the other mentors and labs, and the general public.” Learning about how to apply for graduate school and going on fun outings with her lab team were another bonus.

Through the program, Alissa discovered more about her chosen career path and is even more confident in her desire to pursue it. “I learned just how demanding a lab-setting could be, but I also learned how motivating a research project is for someone who is passionate about their topic,” she said. “Everyone in the lab I was working in was extremely motivated to make progress, not only for their own academic and professional development, but also because the potential findings have clinical applications. So if my research pursuits are for the benefit of people’s health and well-being, all the hard work and long hours will be worthwhile.”

Alissa says she has been most inspired, however, by the personal support of her McKendree professors, who not only helped her apply for the summer research program, but also shaped her success as a scientific writer and guided her through projects specific to her career interests. She is looking forward to growing as a researcher, enjoying her last season as a Bearcat student-athlete, and having even more unforgettable experiences in her senior year.

Learn more about our Exercise Science and Sports Performance and McKendree University.


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