Kolby Brink is a first-year biomechanics graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He previously attended Boise State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and biomechanics.
Kolby is working on a project through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska under NSRI principal investigator Dr. Aaron Likens, assistant professor for the UNO Center for Research in Human Movement Variability. The project aims to create a better soldier through advancement and measurement of readiness and effectiveness of both physical and cognitive performance under operational scenarios.
Briefly describe what you are working on.
We are conducting a systematic review to gain a better understanding of previous literature on the topic of soldier readiness. This will be followed by collaborative efforts to develop code capable of measuring the relevant biomechanical variables indicative of increased injury risk and “unreadiness” before the physically and cognitively demanding tasks soldiers face.
What would your peers find most fascinating?
My grandparents have been the most interested in this project thus far! My grandfather served in the Army and every time I talk with them on the phone, they ask about it. They are most fascinated by the same thing that fascinates me, the fact that I am working on a project that may inform when possible injuries are more likely and protect soldiers from injuring themselves before high intensity training or combat. The goal of science is to advance knowledge with the betterment of humanity as the motivating factor, and this project truly gives a clear picture of how we can do that.
When you think of the grander purpose of this work - decisive deterrence and defense - do you feel a sense of patriotism? Why?
Absolutely. I have always expressed an interest in working with the military. This project gives me the ability to research a better way to protect the soldiers who risk their lives for us regularly. In addition, my grandfather was in the military, and I have many friends who have joined several different branches of the military. I have the utmost respect for our troops and this opportunity given to me. The clear goal of researching and working to protect our soldiers is my driving motivation — this study is more meaningful than any others.
How has this work moved your education forward?
This study has allowed me to "jump in with both feet" as I am learning several things I had little experience with before. The new methods of analyses that will be implemented during this study will provide me with a vast amount opportunity for exploration and discovery as I learn the various new programs.
Modeling, software development and technical reports are all implemented in this study, which will give me an opportunity to learn and develop both technical and writing skills. This study will provide more opportunities for me to branch out into other areas of research because of the gained experience and knowledge I will pick up through the entire process.
Why should other students intern through NSRI?
Other students should intern through NSRI because it is such an impactful organization. If you are looking for something truly meaningful to be a part of, NSRI would provide that. The mission statement of the organization really says it all. If you love your country and want to find a way to make a true difference for our military, I strongly suggest connecting with NSRI.