Andreas Himariotis loves sports.
At Tyngsboro High School, he played soccer every fall, competed in basketball or wrestled in the winter, and played tennis or baseball each spring. And when he wasn’t playing, he was watching.
“I literally watch any sport, but mostly basketball and soccer,” he says.
An anatomy class his senior year opened his eyes to a great way he could stay involved in sports, as a physical therapist or trainer for a team or a college sports program. So he came to UMass Lowell as an exercise science major, with a plan to complete his doctorate in physical therapy here, too. He didn’t apply anywhere else.
“I was just way too confident that I wanted to go to UMass Lowell,” he says. “I was born here and grew up in Greece until I was 15, but we came here every summer, so UMass Lowell was the only school that I knew. I applied early action, and when I got in, I was like, ‘Yes!’”
Once on campus, a research experience opened his eyes to new possibilities. Now, he’s keeping his options open and considering a career as a sports science researcher.
Himariotis received a $4,000 Immersive Scholar Award and admission to the Honors College when he was accepted to the university. The award pays students to do research, study abroad or do an internship after their first year at the university.
At first, Himariotis had no real interest in research, but he applied for a position in the new Health Assessment Laboratory, working with Asst. Prof. David Cornell. As soon as he spoke with Cornell, Himariotis was sold.
“He used to work for the Milwaukee Brewers as a researcher and he’s mostly involved with athletes. It’s really interesting to me,” he says.
Himariotis worked with three other students on a research project to validate a new finger sensor that measures heart rate variability. While not quite as accurate as an electrocardiogram (ECG), it’s portable, costs around $150, comes with a smartphone app and can easily be used by athletes to measure exercise performance and recovery.
The team of four exercise science majors won an award for their presentation at the 2020 Student Research and Community Engagement Symposium. A few months later, in the fall of his junior year, Himariotis won the top undergraduate award from the New England chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine for his write-up and presentation on one aspect of the research.
“I don’t know what put me over the top. I wasn’t expecting this,” Himariotis says. “The collaboration was great; I love working with people who have similar interests to me. I was mostly learning from the other students, because they were all older than I am.”
He’s now excited about future research projects with Cornell, one of which will lead to his Honors College thesis.
“I’ve been learning so many new skills: how to talk about the subject, how to collect data, how to analyze data, how to put that in a presentation and write an abstract – all these things,” he says. “It’s just an experience that keeps going every day.”