Spotlights Entries

Entry DateSeptember 10, 2021
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NameJessica Peterson
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2. Tell us about your current program of research and/or activities and projects that you are currently involved in.

I'm currently a post doctoral associate under the mentorship of Yenisel Cruz-Almeida. I'm hopeful that over the next few years, I will gain more insight on the mechanisms of chronic pain and aging and how exercise and epigenetic markers can influence pain and pain modulation. Right now, I'm looking at data that examines physical activity amount and brain age in individuals with knee osteoarthritis. In addition to that, I'm trying to finish up manuscripts from data that I collected at the University of Oklahoma during my doctoral studies that examined the effects of COVID-19 on pain modulation, the role of body composition on pain sensitivity and pain modulation in healthy populations, how exercise induced muscle damage influences pain sensitivity and pain modulation, and finally, examining nonlinear methods to analyze and address the nociception flexion reflex. I was busy collecting data, and now I have to actually get it out into the world!

4. Where do you see your career going in the future? What are your goals and aspirations?

I want to continue being a consumer and producer of research especially within the field of pain, exercise, and body composition and I'm hopeful being a part of PRICE will assist with that. Eventually, I want to be in a tenure track position as a lab head with the ability to teach. I love teaching and passing on knowledge in the field. My research goals are to develop ideas and the skills needed to begin a career examining the aging process affects on muscle atrophy (caused by disuse and/or aging), brain health, and the development of chronic disease.

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5. Tell us something fun that you do in your spare time or any hobbies that you enjoy.

I want to have experiences and make memories; whether its tasting a city and it's culture, taking a week long backpacking trip in nature, hiking a mountain or skiing down one, chilling at the lake, taking a sip in the ocean or floating a river, going to watch a play or a show, listening to almost any live music, playing and watching sports, or just immersing myself in whatever is happening locally for the weekend. I live to experience what life has to offer and I'm truly grateful for what life has offered me so far! I cannot wait to explore more of Florida!

3. Tell us about how you got involved in pain and/or aging research. Was there a moment that inspired you?

My education and PhD training was as an exercise physiologist where I was interested in muscle mechanics and exercise induced muscle damage initially. One of the main symptoms of exercise induced muscle damage is soreness/pain, so I wanted to learn more about pain in that sense, then I realized exercise can not only induce pain but also modulate pain through nervous system circuitry. After that, I was hooked. I wanted to know the ins and outs of how pain works and here I am now, in one the best places to do just that!