College of Health and Human Services PhD student Donal Murray turned his passion for sports into a career in rehabilitation science. “I really love sports, and I was never good enough at [playing] them to make a career out of it,” he says, “so I turned to the science behind them.”
Born and raised in Cork City, Ireland, Murray completed his bachelor of science in sport and exercise science from the University of Limerick and volunteered as a strength and conditioning coach with several Irish sports teams. He completed a master of science in exercise physiology at Central Michigan University before coming to Mason.
Murray is researching muscular performance in people with incomplete spinal cord injuries. He studies how their muscles respond to a 12-week locomotor training by measuring the change in oxygen in their blood and the level of activation of the muscles.
Murray is working with seven participants for this study, which is a typical sample size for this type of injury. “It’s amazing to see the progression they’ve made. Some of them have done two or three cycles, and they continue to improve. They have moved from using a wheelchair as their primary means of movement to using a cane or crutches. You can see it makes a difference in their lives.”
Murray came to Mason because he was interested in a more clinical program. “I was surprised by how big Mason is and how much great research is being done here. In our college alone, the wide variety of studies is fantastic. Even in our own department there is the opportunity to get involved in research on a range of topics from spinal cord injury to Parkinson’s to lupus.”