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UWM faculty member tests ‘Superhuman’

Kristian O’Connor (right), chair of the Department of Human Movement Sciences in the College of Health Sciences, evaluated Wisconsinite and “Human Spring” Aaron Evans for the “Stan Lee’s Superhumans” series.
Kristian O’Connor (right), chair of the Department of Human Movement Sciences in the College of Health Sciences, evaluated Wisconsinite and “Human Spring” Aaron Evans for the “Stan Lee’s Superhumans” series.

“Stan Lee’s Superhumans” series on the History.com and History channel tapped UW-Milwaukee Associate Professor Kristian O’Connor for an episode that airs tonight, Nov. 3, at 9 p.m. Central time.

O’Connor, chair of the Department of Human Movement Sciences in the College of Health Sciences, evaluated Wisconsinite and “Human Spring” Aaron Evans for the series.

In tonight’s episode, “Superhumans” host Daniel Browning Smith meets Evans in a gym, where Evans is performing 7-foot-high jumps. O’Connor measures the Wisconsin man’s muscle performance at UWM’s labs. Evans then proceeds with his attempt to jump over a moving car.

O’Connnor explains that “the host travels the world looking for ‘superhumans,’ then asks local scientists to explain how the person is able to do what they do.”

He continues: “While not my primary area of research, it is something I have a background in, and I teach coursework related to sport performance. I also worked for the U.S. Olympic Committee for a time between my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, so I was actually well-positioned to help them.”

The lab equipment from the Neuromechanics Laboratory used for this project included the forceplate, EMG system and isokinetic dynamometer. “We used the forceplate to assess his jumping ability and how much force he can generate. The isokinetic dynamometer was used to assess his quadriceps’ muscle strength. The EMG was used to examine how quickly he was able to activate his muscles. Good jumpers are not necessarily the strongest, but are very good at ramping up their muscle force quickly.”

O’Connor says while he’s not sure how much of the lab session will make the show’s final cut, he also was surprised to find himself part of the second-day shoot, when the “Human Spring” attempted to jump over a car at a warehouse on the South Side.

“I am curious to see how it is all put together into a 15-minute segment,” says O’Connor.

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