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College of Nursing and Health Innovation | The University of Texas at ArlingtonCollege of Nursing and Health Innovation | The University of Texas at Arlington


Touching Lives. Transforming Health Care.

Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging Laboratory

Michael D. Nelson, PhD

Michael D. Nelson, PhD

Lab Director
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
Adjunct Member, Bioengineering
michael.nelson3 at

About the Lab

Engineering Reserach Building

The Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging (APAI) Laboratory is focused on questions relating to human health and cardiovascular disease, specifically pertaining to: 1) cardiac physiology and ventricular function, and 2) vascular regulation and neurovascular coupling.

The APAI is located in the newly constructed, 234,000 sq ft multidisciplinary Engineering Research Building. The ERB is the largest academic and research facility on the UT Arlington campus.

Interested in being a research volunteer in the APAI Lab?
Click or Tap Here to fill out our interest form.


Imaging is a major unifying theme across the laboratory. For example, to assess cardiac physiology and function, we typically use magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. This powerful approach provides the most comprehensive information about cardiac anatomy and structure, global and regional function, tissue properties and characterization, and metabolism – all within a single imaging session (see Cardiac Physiology and Function section, below).

Cardiac Physiology and Function

Global Morphology and Function

Regional Function


Myocardial Perfusion

MR Angiography
Myocardial Metabolism


MR Angiography
Myocardial Tissue Viability

The power of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy.

Imaging at UT Arlington

The UT Arlington Medical Imaging and Device Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art facility which serves as a catalyst to major collaborative projects involving UT System Universities in North Texas and the nation. The center is located in the Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building at UT Southwestern, which features 18 specially-designed bays for clinical and research imaging. Within this incredible facility is a dedicated research center, called the Advanced Imaging Research Center, which houses three 3 Tesla MRI research dedicated scanners, one of the nation’s first 7-Tesla MRI devices for human research studies, a variety of chemistry labs developed for molecular imaging agents, a Hyperpolarization Core, and an analytical NMR spectroscopy laboratory. Members of the Applied Physiology and Advanced Imaging Laboratory have full access to this facility and all of its resources.

Vascular Regulation

To study vascular regulation and neurovascular coupling, we employ a dual modality approach using both Doppler ultrasound and Near Infrared Spectroscopy to study bulk conduit flow and microvascular perfusion (see Vascular Regulation section, below).

Vascular Regulation

Left: Doppler ultrasound of the brachial artery at rest and immediately after mild-to-moderate handgrip exercise. Note the marked rise in brachial artery blood flow after exercise. Bottom Right: We can use near infrared spectroscopy to study skeletal muscle perfusion and blood flow regulation. In this example, we are using lower body negative pressure (LBNP) to superimpose muscle sympathetic nerve activity (vasoconstriction) on resting and exercising skeletal muscle to evaluate functional sympatholysis (i.e. attenuation of sympathetic vasoconstrictor nerve activity during exercise).

Lab Members

Wesley Tucker PhD RD - Postdoctoral Fellow

Wesley Tucker PhD RD

Wesley was born and raised in South Africa. His natural golf talent earned him a prestigious scholarship to North Carolina State University, where he majored in Nutrition Science. During this time, Wesley caught the "research bug" and went on to pursue an MSc in Human Nutrition at Arizona State University (ASU, 2012), followed by a PhD in Exercise Physiology (2016). Dr. Tucker joined the APAI lab in July 2016, and is currently examining the interaction between ectopic fat deposition in the myocardium and left ventricular dysfunction.

Jake Samuel, MSc - PhD Student

Jake Samuel, MSc

Jake is originally from Wales, UK. He holds a BSc in Exercise Science and recently completed his MSc in Exercise Science, for which he was awarded "top honors" for this thesis examining cardiac mechanics during hypoxic exposure. Jakes PhD thesis focuses on the mechanism and modulation of diastolic dysfunction in women with coronary microvascular dysfunction. Outside of the lab, Jake enjoys participating in a variety of sports and socializing with friends and colleagues.

Ryan Rosenberry, BSc - PhD Student

Ryan Rosenberry, BSc

Ryan is a Southern California native. He received his BSc in Physiological Sciences in 2014 from the University of California Los Angeles. Before joining the APAI lab in September 2016, Ryan worked for two years as a clinical research associate in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, under the direction of Dr. Ronald Victor. His thesis will examine skeletal muscle blood flow regulation in patients with heart failure using novel state-of-the-art technology developed in collaboration with the Department of Bioengineering at UT Arlington.

Susie Chung, BA - MSc Student

Susie Chung, BA

Susie is an alumna of UT Arlington and is passionate about health and education. When not in the lab, Susie enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling. Her thesis will examine skeletal muscle mitochondrial function across the heart failure continuum.

Madison Munson, BS - MSc Student

Madison Munson, BS

Madison is an alumna of UT Arlington and passionate about uncovering knowledge that will help others. She has a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Clinical Health Professions track. She is an avid soccer player and enjoys reading and baking. Madison’s thesis will focuses on the therapeutic potential of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to improve skeletal muscle blood flow regulation.

Lab Publications

Pubmed: Dr. Nelson's Pubmed Bibliography

Lab Press

Dr. Nelson and other Kinesiology researchers were featured in a UTA Health Magazine story, "Stalking a Killer," highlighting the Lab's research efforts.

Dr. Nelson speaks as a content expert for the AJP-Heart and Circulatory Podcast,
"Right Ventricular Metabolic Adaptations to Exercise Training"

Dr. Nelson Receives $308,000 Grant to Fight Coronary Disease in Women:
UTA News Center,

Lab Funding

American Heart Association
through grant number 16SDG27260115
American Heart Association Logo
National Institutes of Health NIH Logo
Harry S. Moss Heart Trust
University of Texas at Arlington
Interdepartmental Research Grant
UT Southwestern Center for Translational Medicine
under NCATS NIH UL1TR00110

Current Projects

  • Diastolic Function in Women with Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction
  • Taking the Heart out of Heart Failure: Are We Targeting the Wrong Organ?
  • Strain Encoded MR Imaging to Detect Coronary Artery Disease
  • Effect of High Fat Meal on Cerebral Blood Flow Regulation
  • Effect of Bariatric Surgery on Cerebral Vascular Function

Click or Tap Here to fill out our interest form if you would like to be a research volunteer.

Key Collaborators at UT Arlington

Key Collaborators Dallas-Fort Worth

Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine:
  • Benjamin Levine, MD
  • Tom Sarma, MD
  • Craig Crandall, PhD
JPS Health Network
  • Paul Bhella, MD
UT Southwestern Medical Center, Advanced Imaging Research Center
  • Vlad Zaha, MD
  • Craig Malloy, MD
  • Binu Thomas, MD
UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Jarett Berry, MD
  • Monika Sanghavi, MD
  • Nancy Puzziferri, MD
  • Jaime Almandoz, MD
  • Ildiko Lingvay, MD