Building a Human
Performance Culture

Insights from the 2024 Athlete Engineering Summit at Mississippi State University

In mid-April, Meridith Cass, Founder and CEO of Nix Biosensors, had the opportunity to serve as a panelist amongst a highly qualified group of individuals in the human performance space at the annual Athlete Engineering Summit at Mississippi State University

The focus of this multi-day event was “Building a Human Performance Culture.” With the recent push by the industrial and military sectors to incorporate a sports team training mindset, human performance practitioners play an evermore critical role in our world today. Furthermore, technology to monitor the human body will help to provide data to aid in the decision making process. However, having the right human performance staff doesn’t always mean this health and safety training approach is built on the right foundation or solving the right problems. 

The Summit focused on multiple verticals including sports, industry, military, medical and academic sectors. Individual panels provided information and actionable takeaways in four key areas:

  • Nutrition, hydration, and fueling
  • Sleep, recovery, and mental health 
  • The building blocks for sustaining a true human performance culture
  • Future Casting: Integrating AI and data for accelerated readiness

Panelists and Speakers

Panelists included Human Performance experts responsible for sports, tactical and industrial athletes. This list included notable names including Dr. Adam Petway (University of Louisville), Dr. Reuben Burch (Mississippi State University), Dr. Meeta Singh (Performance & Sleep Consultant), Allison Dekuiper (Tampa Bay Rays), Spenser Posey (Army), Brett Grelle (UFC), Scott Dembowski (Special Operations Command), and Dr. Chris Shumeyko (Booz | Allen | Hamilton).

A particularly insightful keynote was delivered by NASCAR driver, Justin Haley, who reiterated that being a professional athlete means having a team of experts focused on competition preparation, long-term injury mitigation, and overall quality of life. Just as Haley has a pit crew team tasked with keeping his vehicle in competition, he also has a human performance crew focused on keeping him safe, healthy, and improving his overall performance.

Justin Haley delivering the keynote, "The elements of an effective human performance culture from the perspective of a professional athlete" on Day 1.

Hydration and Global Warming

Hydration was a dominant theme heard across multiple panels. In particular, there was a focus on heat, global warming, and the value of objective data to keep athletes safe. This is particularly important in cultures or settings where individuals can’t risk “looking weak” by saying they don’t feel well due to dehydration or heat illness.

Meridith Cass, CEO and Founder of Nix Biosensors was a panelist for the topic "What can military and industry human performance teams learn from sports culture when creating branding, messaging, and processes around fueling."

Artificial Intelligence and Human Performance

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was also a critical theme around human performance discussions. The merits and pitfalls of AI were discussed at length. Many experts in the field are a bit wary of the technology, particularly as it relates to handing over decision-making and program prescription to AI. Instead, the role of AI at this point in time is more valuable as a decision support tool rather than a decision making tool. This allows the decision making to continue to reside with practitioners with years of relevant experience and the nuanced understanding ascribed to personalized regimens.

Application to Nix

At Nix Biosensors, Cass is a strong believer that AI can be invaluable as a type of diagnostic tool rather than being relied upon to make true, therapeutic recommendations. It can also often help to identify correlations and patterns to promote new discoveries.

Understanding fluid and electrolyte losses are a critical part of performance monitoring, specifically in the field of Human Performance for professional sports, military and armed forces, laborers, and medical industries.