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Human Performance Lab

Dwight Tosh walks in the hall

The Human Performance Laboratory at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital occupies 900 square feet in the Kmart St. Jude Life Building, located next to the After Completion of Therapy Clinic. It is staffed with five certified clinical exercise physiologists and one physical therapist. Physical function assessments are performed on patients ranging in age from 18 months to 70+ years, and patients range from newly diagnosed to 50+ year survivors of all types of childhood cancer. Approximately 50 patients participate in research testing each week.

The Human Performance Laboratory is a part of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. 

Dr. Kiri Ness talks with a patient
Dwight Tosh measures arm strength
  1. Human Performance Lab group picture

    Principal Investigator


    • Sean T. O'Neal

      Sean T. O'Neil, MA, RCEP


      • Exercise Physiologist

      B.S. Exercise Science, Central Michigan University, 2016
      M.A. Exercise Physiology, Central Michigan University, 2018
      Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine, 2018

    • Robyn Partin, MS, CEP, CCRP

      Robyn E. Partin, MS, CEP, CCRP


      • Manager, Clinical Research Operations

      B.S. Exercise Science, University of Kansas, 2006
      M.S. Exercise, Sport, and Movement Sciences, University of Memphis, 2008
      Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2006
      Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine, 2010
      Certified Clinical Research Professional, The Society of Clinical Research Associates, 2017

    • Amy Sketch, MS, CEP

      Amy Sketch, MS, CEP


      • Exercise Physiologist

      B.S. Exercise Science, University of Louisville, 2017
      M.S. Exercise Physiology, University of Louisville, 2019
      Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine, 2020 

    • Michelle Tollakson, PT, DPT, OCS

      Michelle Tollakson, PT, DPT, OCS


      • Physical Therapist

      B.S. Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2013
      DPT Doctor of Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2016
      Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, 2020

    • Matthew D. Wogksch, MS, CEP

      Matthew D. Wogksch, MS, CEP


      • Senior Exercise Physiologist

      B.S. Exercise Science, Central Connecticut State University, 2010
      M.S. Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, 2012
      Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine, 2012

    • Bruce Wolcott, MS, CEP

      Bruce Wolcott, MS, CEP


      • Exercise Physiologist

      B.S. Sport & Fitness, University of Central Florida, 2013
      M.S. Sport and Exercise Science, University of Central Florida, 2016
      Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2017
      Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine, 2020

  2. Joel Alsup runs a marathon
    A child taking a bike stress test

    The Human Performance Lab evaluates long term survivors of childhood cancer, ranging in age from 6 to 74 years old as a part of the St. Jude Life study. Leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors are the most common diagnoses, but many more survivors treated for other types of cancer are also assessed. 

    Pediatric patients newly diagnosed with brain tumors, leukemia, and lymphoma are evaluated for physical performance at various time points throughout treatment and early remission.

  3. An adult takes a bike stress test

    The Human Performance Lab is equipped with two MGC Diagnostics Ultima CPX metabolic stress test systems, complete with two treadmills, one adult cycle ergometer, one pediatric cycle ergometer, and one arm ergometer. Maximal graded exercise testing is performed to determine fitness levels (maximal oxygen uptake; peak VO2). Resting energy expenditure is also assessed for some research protocols.  

    Dwight Tosh takes a leg strength test

    Muscular strength and endurance are tested with two Biodex System 4 Pro Isokinetic Strength Testing Systems. The Biodex systems can accommodate patients of all ages and sizes, and measure isokinetic, isometric, and isotonic strength. Speeds of movement, resistance, or limb positioning are modified depending on the needs of the research protocol. 

    A child takes an SOT test

    Balance is assessed with two Neurocom Equitest systems with Computerized Dynamic Posturography. The ability of the individual to maintain an upright position while responding to a variety of inputs to the eyes, the inner ear and the sensory organs of the legs and feet are tested. The System utilizes a dynamic 18"x18" dual force plate with rotation and translation capabilities to measure the vertical forces exerted by the patient's feet; and a moveable visual surround.

    Hand held dynamometry, myometry, range of motion, flexibility, and sensory testing equipment are also available. Patients are also assessed for activities of daily living and fine and gross motor tasks.

    Using a sphygmocor
    Patient having a resting ECG
    Testing a child's ankle range of motion
  4. Full time undergraduate and graduate internships are available in the Human Performance Lab in the spring, summer, and fall semesters for Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, or Kinesiology majors (or equivalent). Internship hour requirements are dependent upon the requirements of the student’s university. Internships are full time (40 hours per week) and cannot be part time. You will learn how to perform physical function assessments on childhood cancer survivors and complete research projects.

    In order to apply for an internship in the Human Performance Lab, the following criteria must be submitted to

    • Academic transcript from all collegiate institutions you have attended.
      • Please submit first and ASAP, as we do have academic standards for placement in our internship program. 

                        *Academic Eligibility Requirements: 
                        (Meeting these requirements does not guarantee acceptance into program

    • Completed EXSS 4000 (University of Memphis) or equivalent (Lab Testing/Interpretation Course)
    • Minimum Cumulative GPA of 3.25.
    • No grade below a “C” in any major course.
      • If a course is repeated, the best grade will be considered.
    • If an undergraduate, student must be in the final year of their degree.
    • Two letters of reference: one from a recent professor and one from a supervisor in a job setting.
      • Please have reference letters emailed by professor and supervisor.
    • A writing assignment, preferably from an exercise science related topic to determine your writing abilities.
    • Optional: anything additional such as a resume.

    Of note, if you are from outside the Memphis area, this internship is unpaid and you will be responsible for finding housing for the internship. We do have individuals that can assist in finding housing, but the cost will be covered by the student.   

    If you are accepted as an intern, it is required to carry a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy. The typical cost is $30-40 for coverage for one year.

    Shadowing Opportunities

    One day shadowing opportunities are available for undergraduate or graduate students who otherwise do not meet requirements for an internship. Please submit the following to

    1. Immunization Records
    2. One letter of reference from professor
    3. Written paragraph explaining interest in shadowing opportunity