The Miami University Undergraduate Research Forum, as the name suggests, highlights research done by Miami students, many of whom are involved in the STEM fields and hard sciences.
But among the posters one might expect to find at such an event, such as “Characterizing the Role of NHE11 in Mammalian Sperm Physiology Using CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Edited Mice” and “Molecular Analysis of Pendulum Mutants Presenting With Defects in Heart Valve and Outflow Tract Development,” was one by a quartet of Farmer School students looking at “Impact of Turf, Weather, and Schedule on the Number of Injuries in an NFL Football Game.”
“There's been an ongoing feud between players represented by the National Football League Players Association and the NFL itself. Many star NFL players have come out and said that they believe that artificial turf is bad for their bodies,” senior Information Systems and Analytics major Brendan Beattie said. “We wanted to look into this with newer data and open source data that is available to the public.”
Beattie, Samantha Erne, Jacob Holroyd, and Peter Walsh worked with Farmer School associate professor of information systems and analytics Fadel Megahed on the study, which looked at player injuries between 2019 and 2021 through the lens of data analytics.
“A lot of what we've done has been building off of the coursework we've had in the past, and we've been able to apply that in really interesting, intellectual, and fun projects that we've now been able to put together and present to other people,” Holroyd said. “It lets us show off all that hard work and all that knowledge that we've accumulated the last couple years.”
It’s the first time that Megahed has had his students’ work showcased at the URF, but it’s not the first time he’s been involved in students’ research or had them involved in his own. “It’s been a lot of fun. I think this is a unique kind of experience for our students and honestly, they get to really extend themselves and in some cases contribute to the scientific literature as well,” he said. “This is the type of project that they can talk about with their parents, they can talk about with friends because it captures a lot of what people know and what we're talking about.”
“It's been super interesting to be involved in the topic and having the opportunity to work with three other students and a professor and really launch ourselves, getting involved, and showing that we can do research outside of the classroom,” Walsh said.
“I think as a business major doing research, it's been such a rewarding experience. I didn't even know that business majors did research when I came to Miami. I just thought that was more for sciences,” Erne said. “It's taken what I've learned in the classroom to a whole other level. It's one thing to sit and have the professor lecture you about coding, to be tested on it, but to actually use those skills in a real world application, in a research project that is as impactful as the one we're doing has been such a great learning experience for me.”
So what did they find in their research? It turned out that in the years they studied, injuries on artificial turf were fewer, while hybrid grass-turf fields had more. But the students also found that the numbers of injuries weren’t statistically significant enough to determine if the field surface was an issue. They did find, however, that games played in domed stadiums had 3.2% more injuries than those in other types of stadiums.
The data analytics study was one of two at the URF from Farmer School programs. Accountancy major Michael Hazel did an examination of ethics in the accounting profession and higher education.
“I heard about this opportunity and it sounded really interesting and like something that would give me a different perspective than a normal internship,” Hazel said. “I feel like my classes I've taken through Farmer, especially the business communication classes, have helped make me more comfortable presenting research and findings in general in business context.”
Erne said she would like to see more of her fellow students take part in the future. “It's definitely something that I would recommend every single person in Farmer to get involved in because it truly has been one of the highlights of my undergrad experience so far.”