CMU laboratory now includes environmental chamber

Michael Reeder

Add a state-of-the-art environmental chamber to the equipment used at the Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory at Colorado Mesa University.

The chamber offers the ability to change a variety of conditions to understand how the human body functions in different environments.

“There are all kinds of things we can do with this technology,” said Michael Reeder, director of the Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory.

The chamber will be used for everything from physiology classes to research to training student athletes, Reeder said.

Oxygen levels can be adjusted to mimic environments ranging from sea level up to 14,000 feet in elevation. Temperatures inside the room can span from 10 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We can adjust the room to different altitudes to see what physiology changes are happening, like heart rate and oxygen levels. We can also look at the heat response in athletes to understand heat exhaustion by taking it up to say, 100 degrees and 8 percent humidity,” Reeder said.

Cyclists and runners at CMU can assess their physical performance under different conditions inside the chamber, which in turn can then help them compete in their sports. They can train harder at conditions at sea level because there’s more oxygen in the air.

“High-level cyclists and runners know what their heart rate is at a certain power level, so it’s fun to see how they perform in different environments. It’s exciting for them, too,” Reeder said.

The environmental chamber also expands on the experiential learning opportunities available to CMU students. Student research projects will focus on performance and safety.

“I’m biased, but I don’t think there’s a better place for undergraduates to get a hands-on education,” Reeder said. “CMU is different than lots of other places I’ve been where this kind of stuff is siloed off to different areas of the school. It’s really a neat opportunity for our students.”