Ephrem Mekonnen

Behavioural Neuroscience Major

Unleashing women’s running potential with Hettas by investigating “The effect of a female-specific running shoe on running performance” and pioneering the lab’s original clinical gait service.


Why did you choose to come to SFU?

SFU offers a dynamic learning environment that fosters intellectual growth and innovation, with a lot of opportunities to get involved in research. It is frequently ranked number 1 in Maclean’s “Comprehensive University” list, and boasts a faculty of accomplished professors and researchers who are at the forefront of their respective fields. SFU has a diverse and inclusive community which makes it easy to get along with everyone.

How would you describe your research or program to a family member?

My research this summer was to help out with a collaborative study between Hettas, a local running shoe company, and SFU’s WearTech Labs. The objective of the study was to investigate how different shoes affect the efficiency of female runners, and whether a female-specific running shoe would be better for the biomechanics of a female runner. Hettas have produced a shoe that is based on the anatomy and physiology of a female runner. This shoe was compared against other running shoes in the market, which were based on male anatomy and physiology.

I collaborated with two PhD students to run the study, in which a female runner ran in each of the four shoes. I helped in various ways such as attaching sensors to the shoes, learning the computer software use and producing lab manuals for analytical techniques. I assisted in various tasks to help establish a clinical gait service to be offered to runners, to improve their efficiency in running.

What are you particularly enjoying about your studies/research at SFU?

SFU has a reputation for being academically challenging. I enjoy this challenge and I believe it makes me a better student. It teaches me to stay disciplined, organized, and positive. I love how accommodating and approachable the professors are, which is also an asset for me because I am a varsity athlete on the cross country and track and field teams. I am blessed to have an amazing supervisor, with whom I will be starting a Masters program in the Fall.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

Start early by exploring your interests and building relationships with professors. Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors - they are there to help you and have been in the same spot as you! Collaborate with peers. Building these connections can introduce you to new idea and opportunities. Don’t be afraid of failure and embrace setbacks as learning opportunities. Be patient - results don’t come overnight. Don’t take it for granted and embrace the opportunity to contribute to knowledge and make a positive impact in your field!