When applying for college, Patrick Pang knew he wanted a program that would give him hands-on experience conducting research. So when he received UML’s offer for the Immersive Scholar program, a $4,000 merit scholarship that provides incoming freshmen with research opportunities, he was all in.

“I didn’t want my college experience to be filled with the same mundane lifestyle as high school,” says the sophomore exercise physiology major. “I had always been interested in biomechanics of the human body and the innovative recovery methods that create successful results.”

Pang’s motivation came from a physical therapy experience during his freshman year of high school. While competing as a decathlete on the track and field team, he strained a muscle and was treated by a physical therapist.

“I hate to admit it now, but I was not stretching, warming up or resting properly,” he says. “Physical therapy helped me recover and come back stronger the following year when I ended up qualifying for New Balance Nationals. The experience made me want to work in a field that would help people boost their morale and assist in their recovery process.”

From then on, Pang was hooked, beginning his own research into how to start his career. He shadowed multiple physical therapists as a junior and senior in high school.

As a college freshman in the Immersive Scholar program, he worked side by side with Asst. Prof. Winnie Wu of the Department of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology. In the NERVE-Movement Assessment and Performance Laboratory, he conducted research on protective wear that helps prevent injuries.

“I knew it would be a hands-on experience, but I had no idea that I would be trained to do essentially everything in biometric technologies,” says Pang. “At first, the amount of technology was overwhelming, but the work environment that Dr. Wu created made it easy for me to be comfortable and take in as much knowledge as I possibly could.” 

Pang also had the opportunity to work on a second project to develop fabric undergarments that adjust posture. By collaborating with mechanical engineering and computer science students, he learned the ins and outs of team communication and how different fields of expertise come together to achieve successful outcomes. “My experience in the Immersive Scholar program has unlocked a gateway to a whole new world of research and knowledge previously hidden to me. It has created a sense of unity among my field of health science with other disciplines,” he says. “My short time here has shown me the real professional possibilities that my major has to offer.”