Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
Marcos A. completed a baccalaureate in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. During his BS he had the opportunity to be Biology and Ecology TA. He supervised test, graded, and clarified concepts to undergraduate students. After graduation, he spent an extra semester completing the course requirements to enter to the Exercise Science program. Then, he applied to the master program in Exercise Science at the same campus. While completing the master’s degree he worked in different investigations. He participated of research assistantship, which allows him to be a head of the physical activity component of the study he worked. In this position he oversaw the coordination of the evaluations of physical activity by questionnaire and accelerometers, initialized, downloaded, and analyzed the accelerometer data. Also, he had the responsibility of interview and train volunteer research assistants, performed evaluations, and recruited participants. He volunteered in the data collection of the physical fitness and nutrition components of the study and volunteered as investigator for a study that evaluated the descriptive characteristics and physical activity levels among patients with sleep apnea. He worked as research coordinator on a study that was evaluating the endurance capacity, cognitive and metabolic characteristics of Hispanic women HIV+. On this study he oversaw the coordination of the patients visits, the testing dates, the exercise calendar, trained the volunteer research assistants and completed data collection. Furthermore, he had a teaching assistantship, where he oversaw teaching the undergraduate lab experience, test supervision, grading, and lectures. At the final year of his master’s degree he completed a year-round clinical exercise physiology internship at the Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System. He also worked as track and field coach at school and college level.
Thanks to the research and teaching background, he gained experience in evaluating physical activity through accelerometers and questionnaires; evaluating physical fitness using the Fitnessgram protocol among children, and supervising high intensity interval training sessions among Hispanic women with and without HIV. Moreover, supervising, evaluating, grading, and teaching undergraduate students. He had ample practical experience on physical fitness evaluation, exercise prescription and training session supervision among healthy population and patients with chronic diseases such as cardiac, pulmonary, orthopedic, and metabolic. He had presented posters, thematic posters, and slide presentations at regional and national American College of Sports Medicine meetings
Currently working in two projects:
Movement Observation in Children and Adolescents (MOCA) Study
Accelerometers have been embraced by the scientific community as valid and reliable physical activity (PA) assessment tools. This is especially true in some sub-populations, such as children, who lack the ability to self-report their behaviors. Tremendous progress has been made in the objective assessment of PA and sedentary behavior (SB). Several measurement challenges remain that limit our ability to identify; dose-response associations with disease and risk factors, prevalence and determinants of these important health behaviors, changes in behavior due to time and intervention efforts.
To overcome these challenges, the Movement Observation in Children and Adolescents (MOCA) Study will use novel direct observation calibration procedures that will leverage the richness of three axes of raw acceleration data during free-living calibration activities, from wrist- and hip-worn accelerometers. Consistent with current PA recommendations for youth, the proposed study will focus on calibrating and validating accelerometer output to quantify intensity and duration of PA and identifying specific predominant modes of activity (e.g., sedentary time, locomotion, and fine/gross motor activity).
Our primary goal is to follow best-practices data collection and analysis procedures to develop a comprehensive set of accelerometer algorithms that will accurately and precisely estimate minutes of various intensities of PA and mode of activity from hip- and wrist-worn accelerometers in children and adolescents (18 months to 21 years old), using video recorded direct observation during free-living activities as the criterion measure.
The MOCA Study is a cross-campus collaboration fostered by the new Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM), one of three centers in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) including; John Sirard and Patty Freedson (Kinesiology), and John Staudenmayer (Mathematics & Statistics). The MOCA Study is funded by a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Additional information can be found on the UMass Physical Activity and Health Lab website.
Food, Activity, Screens, and Teens (FAST) Study
The United States has experienced a two to three fold increase in pediatric obesity since the 1970’s. To date, school-based interventions to prevent and treat overweight and obesity have realized only limited success.
A growing body of research suggests that friends tend to share similar weight status as well as weight-related behaviors such as physical activity, screen time, and diet. However, the mechanisms underlying this clustering of behaviors and outcomes among friends remain unclear. Similar students may become friends, friends may be exposed to similar activities and environments, or friends may affect each other’s behavior directly. A better understanding of these phenomena would facilitate design of more effective health interventions tailored to the social environments of adolescents.
The purpose of this study is to help us understand patterns of weight related behaviors (and health outcomes) across diverse cohorts of students. The research team will collect and analyze friendship and health behavior data among 6th to 8th grade students in four middle schools. Data will be collected several times each academic year allowing researchers to observe the interplay of health behavior and the social environment over time.
Once the data are collected, cutting edge statistical models will be used to rigorously analyze the co-evolution of patterns of friendships and weight-related behaviors. Using findings from those analyses, computer models will be developed to simulate these processes operating over time. Those models will provide a test bed to explore potential intervention scenarios on the weight related behaviors and adolescent health in schools.
The FAST Study is a cross-campus collaboration fostered by the Computational Social Science Institute (CSSI) and includes Co-Principal Investigators John Sirard (Kinesiology) and James Kitts (Sociology), with Co-Investigators Mark Pachucki (Sociology), Lindiwe Sibeko (Nutrition), and Krista Gile (Mathematics & Statistics).
The FAST Study is funded by a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Find resources related to scientific publications
See our funding feeds from the NIH and the NSF
See our jobs feeds from various sources.