COE Graduate Students’ Proposal Accepted for International Conference

February 7, 2017

Left is Sarah Gascon, middle is Jence Rhoads the “fit” model, and right is Dawn Michaelson posing with their prototype
Left is Sarah Gascon, middle is Jence Rhoads the “fit” model, and right is Dawn Michaelson posing with their prototype

The oral proposal of School of Kinesiology Ph.D. candidate Sarah Gascon, and Consumer and Design Sciences Ph.D. candidate Dawn Michaelson, was recently submitted to the Sport & Society Research Network. The proposal has been accepted for the Network’s 8th International Conference.

The proposal title is “Femininity, Athletic Identity, and Satisfaction of Compression Garments.” It will be a “Virtual Lightning Talk” (oral presentation) as part of the conference theme, “Out of Bounds: Gender, Identity, and Participation in Sport.” The 8th International Conference on Sport & Society will be July 10-11, 2017, at Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.

Over the past year, Gascon and Michaelson collected data, and designed and created a women’s athletic compression top that is both biomechanically functional and comfortable. The prototype combines compression, wicking, style, and comfort to enhance performance.

“Being an athlete I have had many opportunities to wear all different types of garments from all different companies,” said Gascon. “Sometimes I find the garments to be really comfortable, but a majority of the time I find the uniforms and practice gear to be misfitting and uncomfortable; and trust me, I’m not the only female athlete that has these issues.”

Gascon is captain of the USA Women’s Team Handball team and has also played for the USA Baseball Women’s National Team. In her collegiate years at Southeastern Louisiana University she lettered in softball, volleyball, and soccer. Now, studying biomechanics as a doctoral student in the Sports Medicine and Movement Lab, directed by Gretchen Oliver, Ph.D., ATC, Gascon analyzes movement and assesses the changes that occur over time.

“What I have decided to do in my academic career is to combine two things I love: sport performance and clothes. And what girl doesn’t love clothes, right?!”

Gascon contacted Carol Warfield, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Consumer and Design Sciences. Dr. Warfield knew right away of the perfect doctoral student to collaborate with Gascon: Dawn Michaelson.

“Now when I say it was a perfect match…it was a perfect match! I have been collaborating with Dawn for about 16 months now and we have developed and designed three different projects in one.”

The two doctoral students had over 30 physically active females participate as subjects in the project in order to collect qualitative and quantitative information to help them design the compression top. One aspect of the project is a questionnaire, which is what Gascon and Michaelson submitted for this particular conference. They felt it was important to better understand what was essential for active females in terms of their apparel.

“Before we could get into designing a garment we felt it was important to get into the minds and hearts of females athletes first,” explained Gascon.

Stage two was a body scan. The students wanted to determine if what has been published previously about the sizes of athletes was truly accurate. Both Gascon and Michaelson suspected it was not. The final stage was to develop and design a garment for active and athletic women based off of their answers to the questionnaire and their true size. This is Gascon’s dissertation to complete her doctoral degree.

“I’m super excited about it and really can’t wait to test it,” Gascon exclaimed. “It has been a privilege and honor to work with Dawn. She’s a true professional and very passionate about her career. I appreciate the support we have had from our School (Drs. Rudisill, Pascoe, Oliver, and Weimar) and from Drs. Warfield and Teel. It has been an awesome adventure and I am looking forward to the future!”

Michaelson echoed these sentiments.

“Collaborative research is a must if you wish to improve performance athletic apparel,” Michaelson said. “Sarah and I are unique in that we both have an interest in performance apparel as doctoral students. We quickly became not only friends but research colleagues, as well. While we approach research differently because of our different disciplines, by combining our knowledge and expertise we are working to improve the fit of women’s performance athletic apparel.”

In the fall of 2016, Gascon and Michaelson had their work featured in the Creative Scholarship Showcase, on display at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art from September 17 through October 2. The event included faculty and student works in the fields of fine art, performing arts, creative writing, applied design, and more.