Oklahoma State University faculty recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy to partner in tactical fitness and nutrition research.
OSU and Italian researchers will work together to support Italian first responders and military personnel, studying ways to optimize human performance as it relates to occupational professions, said Dr. Jay Dawes, OSU assistant professor of applied exercise science and co-director of the OSU Tactical Fitness and Nutrition Lab.
“Representatives of the University of Rome Tor Vergata reached out to us based on our previous relationship and our focus on improving the health, fitness and performance of first responders and tactical personnel.” Dawes said. “We plan to work with the Italian military, as well as fire fighters and police. We expect this to be a very beneficial collaboration between both universities and believe it will help strengthen outreach efforts to both our communities.”
While details are still being finalized, OSU researchers are hopeful to travel to Italy and host Italian researchers annually, and to organize study abroad trips and inter-professional education opportunities between universities. OSU faculty are also establishing a collaborative lab on campus with state-of-the-art biomechanics equipment where both graduate and undergraduate students can conduct research with Italian researchers.
“Our applied exercise science faculty have always worked to involve students at all levels,” Dawes said. “We want to give them opportunities to explore the world and gain a greater understanding of exercise science and human performance from a global perspective.”
The partnership with University of Rome Tor Vergata builds on momentum from the recently launched OSU Tactical Fitness and Nutrition Lab, through which co-founders Dawes and Dr. Jill Joyce take research-proven exercise and eating strategies directly to first responders and military personnel. Launched in January 2020, Dawes and Joyce have already published more than 20 peer-reviewed publications this year, traveled to multiple countries and provided outreach to first-responders and ROTC members in Stillwater. They also launched the Tactical Fitness and Nutrition podcast and maintain three social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to help disseminate education and their research findings directly to these communities.
“Often we expect first responders and military personnel to perform high-level feats of strength and fitness we would ask of someone who’s a professional athlete,” Dawes said. “The question is, ‘How do we provide services a high-level athlete would receive in terms of nutrition education and physical training?’”
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