Tilak Patel

Tilak Patel hopes to become a sports physician or orthopedic surgeon. When Tilak isn't busy, he enjoys weight lifting, meditating, and listening to podcasts.

Tilak Patel dives into health research and fitness as a kinesiology and health major

For the majority of Tilak Patel’s life, he has been fitness oriented. From playing sports to weight lifting, he has maintained his health meticulously. His senior year of high school, Tilak got into a car accident and doctors weren’t able to take a glass shard out of his eye. He became unable to participate in sports the way he used to. His interest in his health slowly stemmed into an interest in the medical field and helping others. 

These interests led him to Iowa State University, but Tilak chose to pursue engineering last minute because he wasn’t certain that he could go through medical school. He was torn, but Tilak knew he belonged in kinesiology and health so he transferred in order to study his true interests: the biological aspects of human movement and bio-mechanics.

“I want to combine helping others with my love of sports and try to be that first step for someone [for rehabilitation] to get them back to what they love to do,” Tilak said. “Even if I’m not a sports physician, I could be an orthopedic surgeon and give a grandfather help with his knee to get him back to playing with his grandchildren.”

Tilak had been an undergraduate researcher in the fall semester of 2019, and put all of his effort into helping out with survey studies and increasing participation. Because of that experience, Tilak got a start in his dream work in the Louise Rosenfeld Undergraduate Research Internship, and is researching under kinesiology associate professor Jason Gillete.

“I think professor [Gillette] felt that I had the drive to get more out of the research that I was doing,” he said. “So, he decided to ask if I want to apply to the Rosenfeld internship to get more responsibility and take more of a deep-dive effort into the bio-mechanics.”

As a Rosenfeld intern, Tilak is helping analyze how people move, specifically dealing with exoskeletons, ACL testing, jump-landing data, and crutch movement. This data is collected by hooking up participants to a body motion tracking system and using the twelve-camera system in his lab. Tilak helps fill in the gaps to make a data set complete for analysis.

“My favorite thing I do is gap-filling for sure. I spent 28 hours last week on a project for it, and it’s hard but rewarding once it’s done,” he said “Because of the challenge, I enjoy it a lot more than doing survey data.”

When Tilak isn’t spending his time on his research or academics, he serves as the president of the Weight Club at Iowa State, planning and coordinating events while maintaining a leadership role with his peers.

“Lifting became the one thing I did all the time and it was a way to get all my energy out,” he said. “We are the largest sports club on campus; it becomes a lot to handle because we have over 200 members. At State and Leid gyms, you don’t have that community aspect. That’s why Weight Club was very important for me in my collegiate career.”