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The southeast chapter (SEACSM) of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) kicked off its 2024 Annual Meeting on February 22. Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is a familiar sight at STEM thought-leadership events throughout the year, and the SEACSM Annual Meeting is no different.

Lori Portzer, PhD, ACSM-EP, is the Associate Professor and Program Lead for Exercise Science at Harrisburg University. During the first day of the 2024 SEACSM Annual Meeting, Dr. Portzer co-presented original research with Lander University’s Diego Ferreira, PhD, entitled, “Comparison of Stepping Protocols to 2-Minute Walk Test to Assess Cardiorespiratory Fitness.”

The presentation was part of SEACSM’s “What’s Up, Doc?” competition series. Drs. Portzer and Ferreira had a chance to present their take on a “three-minute thesis” as they went head-to-head against other teams of professors. “This is SEACSM’s way to get more people excited about research,” said Dr. Portzer.

UPDATE: On the final day of the Annual Meeting, it was announced that Dr. Portzer’s and Dr. Ferreira’s research had placed third in the What’s Up, Doc? competition. The pair was always hopeful their research would perform well, but the goal of inspiring attendees and the community – and pursuing ideas that can improve lives in healthcare – will have been accomplished regardless.

“My research philosophy is constructed around the idea of decreasing time spent being sedentary, especially within underserved populations,” said Dr. Portzer. “This project ties into my overall agenda by meeting clients where their current needs are, to be able to provide meaningful data and build cohesive exercise programs. This research specifically addresses an underserved population of a cardiorespiratory field-based test for those unable to ambulate through space but who can still step in place.”

Currently, anyone who wants an appraisal of their general physical fitness could present themselves for lab-based or field-based cardiorespiratory tests. As Dr. Portzer indicated, the space necessary for these tests isn’t always available and the test subject may not be physically capable of moving their body in the required way for a sufficient amount of time.

Dr. Ferreira’s and Dr. Portzer’s research centers on finding an alternative stepping-in-place protocol that provides a comparable cardiorespiratory response as the two-minute walking assessment. Publication of their paper is currently in progress, which means their presentation on February 22 was the public’s first opportunity to see this research for themselves.

Harrisburg University welcomed Dr. Portzer as the program lead for its Exercise Science Bachelor of Science degree pathway program in June 2023. HU’s Exercise Science program strives to increase the affordability and accessibility of career advancement for Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs). Participants in the program will have the prerequisites they need to continue on to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. At a time when the fields of physical therapy and exercise science are growing far more rapidly than the average career track, and STEM fields are struggling to meet local and regional staffing needs, it’s vital for students to have affordable options to pursue higher education.

It’s also vital for healthcare providers and practitioners to uncover new techniques for treating patients and new ways to maximize available resources. Research like Dr. Portzer’s helps improve the healthcare system by making it better at responding to individual needs and underserved populations, and equips practitioners to provide high-quality care in situations where it would ordinarily be difficult or impossible.


Harrisburg University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private, nonprofit university offering bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. For additional information about the University’s affordable, demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, please call 717-901-5146 or email Stay updated by following Harrisburg University on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.