IHMC expanding research into human health and performance – and they need your help – Pensacola News Journal

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, long known for its cutting-edge research into robotics and artificial intelligence, is looking to grow its research into human health and performance that include expanding its downtown Pensacola campus to support that research.
In January, IHMC was awarded a $6 million grant from Triumph Gulf Coast to buy equipment and hire researchers as part of a $31 million project to staff the IHMC Center for Human Healthspan Resilience and Performance.
Marcas Bamman, a senior research scientist at IHMC, joined the organization last year to help lead IHMC’s expansion into human health and performance.
“A lot of people don’t know when they hear the word human performance, what does that mean,” Bamman said. “For us, it means maximizing an individual’s capabilities to perform a task or perform their duties, or their daily activities.”
Bamman said the research can range from looking at how elite military operators can maximize their performance in extreme conditions and stressful situations to how someone with Parkinson’s disease can improve their quality of life by being able to simply make it through normal daily activities.
“One of the things that makes our program unique is that we are recruiting scientists that enable us to study from the smallest molecules in our body all the way up to the whole human,” Bamman said. “And try to model using our artificial intelligence experts, computer science experts, to come up with what is sort of the signature that makes somebody perform at an optimal level.”
IHMC grant given greenlight:Triumph awards $6M to Santa Rosa Industrial Park, moves forward on $6M IHMC grant
Partnerships:IHMC and Andrews Institute foundation collaborate on human-performance research
Renovations are underway to the original IHMC building on Alcaniz Street to create lab space for the research, and Bamman said designs already are being worked on for a new building across the street from the original building.
“We’re hopeful that two and a half years from now we’re walking in the door,” Bamman said.
The expansion will grow IHMC to cover three buildings in downtown Pensacola, which include the Levin Center for IHMC Research that opened in 2016.
Designs are still in the early phases, Bamman said, adding that the team at IHMC just finished the design phase of deciding what will be in the new building.
It will include laboratories that will be able to create almost any condition a person could face from ice-cold water to high-altitude environments.
“It’s going to be a very nice facility that allows us to do, going back to that same phrase, everything from molecule to whole person,” Bamman said. “Whether we’re testing somebody’s endurance, strength, their ability to control body or whether we’re testing their cognitive, behavioral characteristics exposing them to these (extreme) environments or actually analyzing their cells and molecules, we’ll be able to do all that in that building.”
Bamman came to IHMC from the University of Alabama where he was the founder and former director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine where he did research on the biology of human skeletal muscle and medical rehabilitation.
One of the things that made IHMC attractive to Bamman was having a close collaboration with experts in other fields. He said IHMC’s experts on AI can apply their computer modeling to his research that wades through thousands of variables in the human body and find those that have an impact on performance.
“It makes for exciting science,” Bamman said. “We have a lot of fun every day, and we learn a lot every day. And in science, if you’re not learning, you’re not moving it forward.”
Although lab space is currently under construction, research is already occurring and IHMC is looking for participants in the general public.
Bamman said one project, being funded by the Navy, is looking into the stresses on the body while swimming.
“We’re going to be looking at our approach to trying to reduce inflammation and other sources of stress, whether or not it works,” Bamman said. “So that one requires people with swimming experience, it’s actually targeted for younger men 18 to 39. They’ll be exposed to some cold-water conditions, they’ll also be exposed to some pretty intensive swimming, so they have to be good at swimming.”
IHMC is currently advertising four human health resilience and performance research projects calling for participants that range in pay from $100 to $1,000 and require eight hours in one day to 11 hours over a two-week period.
More information can be found at ihmc.us/study-participation.
Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.

source