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Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance

LAB:SYNC Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance

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LAB:SYNC in actionLaboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance (LAB:SYNC) focuses on the analysis of simple and complex models of dance behavior in relation to health outcomes across the lifespan. Directed by Dr. Aston K. McCullough, the lab analyzes dance behavior and related physiological signals within single- and multi-person movement paradigms through the synchronized use of sensors—cameras, wearable sensors, indirect calorimetry systems, EKG monitors, and others. Dually, the lab implements rigorous qualitative frameworks to better understand the experiences of those who participate in dance and their perceived benefits of dance on wellness. The lab aims to uncover personal meaning and quantifiable relationships in the study of dance behavior and wellness. Furthermore, the lab models dance at-scale, ranging from quotidian actions performed in free-living environments to virtuosic dance actions performed by athletes. LAB:SYNC studies dance behaviors in relation to health across the lifespan through the integrated use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.


Ruth J. Totman Building
Ruth J. Totman Building



Based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, LAB:SYNC operates out of a purpose built, state-of-the-art physiological and motion capture testing unit located in the historic Ruth J. Totman building at 30 Eastman Lane. Extending across more than 1,400 square feet, the laboratory has dedicated space for cardiopulmonary and integrative physiological testing, motion capture, algorithm and software development.


Within the cardiopulmonary and integrative physiological testing area, LAB:SYNC has integrated portable indirect calorimetry, blood pressure, and wireless EKG units; treadmill and cycle ergometers; biomarker sampling (including, blood, whole saliva, hair and nails) and storage equipment; a TMG-S2 measurement system; spirometry equipment; and a medical infrared thermography system. An approximately 3,000 cubic foot motion capture volume, with a sprung wood floor for dance, is encircled by multiple high-precision markerless motion capture cameras for kinematic analyses. We have multiple wearable sensors to facilitate both laboratory-based and free-living physical activity assessments, and a high-performance workstation for computer vision and wearable sensor algorithm development and testing. The laboratory and office spaces are outfit with multiple computers for data analyses and developing software.


Unity Cluster


For lab activities requiring computationally intensive machine learning techniques, simulations, algorithm development and testing, LAB:SYNC office and laboratory computers access the Unity Cluster. The Unity Cluster has 1889 CPU cores across 32 compute nodes, 8 NVIDIA V100 GPU’s across 4 GPU nodes, and 850TB of storage, as well as a connection to the Northeast Storage Exchange (Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Cluster).


Center for Human Health & Performance


LAB:SYNC has access to the Center for Human Health & Performance (CH2P), which is located on campus in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS). IALS aims to “translate fundamental research into innovative product candidates, technologies, and services that deliver benefits to human health and well-being.” CH2P houses multiple testing units and equipment including two whole room metabolic chambers (one of 26 such facilities worldwide), living science observation room, iDXA, sleep monitoring chamber, and a marker-based motion capture system for kinematic and kinetic analyses.


UMass AmherstUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst


The University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the major public research universities in America. Nestled in idyllic Amherst, Massachusetts, the campus is consistently ranked among the top public research universities in the nation, and offers a rich cultural environment in a rural setting close to major urban centers.