Campus picture with students.

Become a Scholar!

The School of Health and Human Performance Scholars undergraduate research program welcomes any student who is interested in sport and exercise science research. Our program offers students the opportunity to work through their individual research questions following the scientific method.

Email to find out more information or join today!

Research Projects

Pain Threshold and Tolerance in Female Athletes

There is currently a disparity between performance (e.g. gymnast, cheerleader, dancer) and competition athletes (e.g. basketball, softball, soccer, tennis) when it comes to injury care and prevention. The lack of literature extends to both male and female athletes.

Historically, research has shown that females are more sensitive to pain than males. Performance activities tend to have a higher percentage of female participation, and those activities rarely have access to resources geared toward injury prevention, especially in their first years of training.

Preventative care resources like athletic trainers are built into the competition athletes’ program from an early stage, allowing them the opportunity to express their needs from the start. The culture surrounding performance athletics encourages their athletes to hide and suppress pain in order to continue their training.

This could lead to performance athletes being able to tolerate higher levels of pain when compared to competition athletes. In addition, there seems to be a difference in the role sex hormones play in pain tolerance, with females being less understood due to the complexities of the female menstrual cycle.  We aim to examine the levels of pain threshold and tolerance  within a group of female competition and performance athletes to determine if a difference exists. 

Past Research


Faculty Advisor

Kelly Manning Massey

Kelly Manning Massey

Associate Professor - Exercise Science
328 Health Sciences Building

Ph.D., Sport Science, Georgia State University


Kelly P. Massey, Ph.D. EP-C, CMES, AASDN-NS completed her graduate work at Georgia State University in Exercise Physiology and Sport Science. She is very active in undergraduate research and oversees the Scholars of Health and Human Performance Studies (SHHPS) research program. She is a Health Sciences Division representative for the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a division chair for the Global Undergraduate Awards, and the Editor-in-Chief/Managing Editor for the Undergraduate Research journal. Her research interests include cardiac rehabilitation, metabolism/energy balance studies, and nutrition interventions and ergogenic aids. She has served for the past nine years on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Strategic Health Initiative – Women, Sports, & Physical Activity committee where she promotes cardiac rehabilitation programs and other health initiatives for women. In 2014, she was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Recognition award for the College of Health Sciences and the Excellence in Scholarship of Teaching & Creative Endeavors award in 2017.