Department Welcomes New Faculty
I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and then went to Wake Forest University in North Carolina, mostly to play soccer, but I also got a degree in health and exercise science. I attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I then completed a postdoctoral fellowship, which included an MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health and research as a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute.
My research focuses on two areas: first, developing and validating methods to assess physical activity and sitting time and second, conducting studies to understand the associations between sedentary behavior, physical activity and health. My favorite course to teach is KINE 319, Introduction to Research Methods. This class is often the first time students are able to ask and answer their own questions through the research process. I love working through that process with students and encouraging them to be inquisitive and incorporate research into their future careers.
I began my career by earning a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and exercise science from Virginia Commonwealth University. I went on to pursue a master’s in exercise physiology at James Madison University, where my work centered on performance in endurance athletes. From there, I went north to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and spent 4 years working towards a doctorate in kinesiology with focuses in physical activity, health and exercise physiology.
Currently I have two active lines of research, one in each of my areas of interest. From a health perspective, I am conducting work on the relationships between physical activity, sleep quality and cognitive function in children and young adults. On the human performance end, I am working with competitive level surfers to identify physiological training parameters that may improve a surfer’s ability to survive when taken under by a big wave.
My favorite things about teaching are the moments that I spend in the laboratory with students. Whether it’s for a course or research, I love the energy I feel when they actually see the physiological concepts in action. To me, that’s the definition of Learn by Doing.
I completed my postdoctoral fellowship at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the Kinesiology and Public Health Department to help implement the new public health degree program. I earned my doctorate from University of Florida, and my research focuses on cancer prevention and health communication. I am currently teaching Introduction to Community and Public Health and Healthy Living.
Teaching feels like a career that I was re-born into: after earning my doctorate in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health, I spent more than ten years doing cancer and nutritional epidemiology research and didn’t start teaching until recently.
Now, I’m happy to be teaching KINE 255, Multicultural Perspective to Personal Health, and KINE 298, Disease Epidemiology. Their objectives and content are so closely tied to my area of research and study: the importance of the environment to our health.
I currently work with Cal Poly students on various projects to explore the concept of ultra-processed foods in our current food environment and how they affect human health. My second area of research considers environment more broadly, namely the social, cultural and economic environment of immigrant neighborhoods and their importance to health trajectories among immigrants. In a research project funded by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), we are examining whether and how stress might contribute to higher risk for diabetes in Chinese immigrants in Philadelphia.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Riverside, a master’s in experimental psychology from California State University, Northridge, a master’s in counseling and a certificate in university teaching from West Virginia University, and am currently working to complete my doctorate in sport and exercise psychology from West Virginia University.
My research interests encompass several areas within sport psychology and sport sociology, but my primary focus is on the psychology of injury and women in sport. My favorite thing about teaching is having the opportunity to challenge my students' preconceived notions about the structure of sport and guide them to think critically about how their own life experiences impact the ways they perceive the world of sports.