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Faculty Research

Division of Kinesiology and Health

College of Health Sciences



Dr. Benham Deal's primary line of research focuses on children's and adolescents' physical activity.  Dr. Benham Deal's second line of research examines standards based physical and health education, including professional development and assessment practices.


Mark Byra, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh), Professor
Dr. Byra's research interests revolve around the Spectrum of Teaching Styles, models of teaching, student interest and engagement in physical education, development of pre-service teacher knowledge, and the development of knowledge and skill in coaches.


Dr. Dai's research interests include injury biomechanics, sports biomechanics, and ergonomics.  Dr. Dai utilizes motion, force, electromyography measurements, and musculoskeletal modeling to understand injury mechanisms and develop injury prevention strategies. He is particularly interested in exercise, sports, and work related lower extremity and spinal injuries. He is also interested in biomechanics analysis of sports techniques such as discus and javelin throwing.


Dr. Jenkins' research interests revolve around curriculum and instruction. Investigations include pre-service teacher development (e.g., pedagogical content knowledge) particularly in terms of observation and peer coaching as well as curriculum design, development, models, and instructional models.  Additional research revolves around university conceptual physical education courses in regard to outcomes, cohesion, and exercise adherence.


Dr. Johnson's research interests center around the examination of the physiological mechanisms and overall health benefits related to optimal hydration, physical activity, and heat exposure.


Dr. Porter researches community food system efforts to prevent obesity and hunger and to build equitable economic development and ecological sustainability. She pursues these interests as project director of Food Dignity, a 5-year action research initiative to engage food in secure communities and universities in building sustainable food systems for food security. She is also interested in public health ethics and community-based participatory research.
She is specifically conducting research in community nutrition, health promotion and education, and community development.


Dr. Readdy has developed a line of research centered on coach and athlete motivation within the collegiate sport context, including how coach-athlete interactions can optimize player performance through enhancing their autonomy, competency, and relatedness to others.  He is particularly interested in phenomenological interpretations of people's experiences, and uses a variety of theoretical backgrounds and research methodologies in his efforts to understand the complex nature of the college sport world.


Dr. Smith's research interests include: Development, translation (implementation/dissemination), and efficacy testing of physical activity and healthy living interventions – interdisciplinary approach. He uses novel and innovative technologies, devices and strategies to facilitate health behavior change (adoption and maintenance).  The focus is directed at primary and secondary prevention of chronic disease(s) via lifestyle modification and behavior change that includes increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time/behaviors.


Dr. Thomas' research interests relate to cardiac structure and function.  More specifically he has been interested in adaptations made by the heart to both physiological and pathological overload.  Exercise, a physiological overload, places tremendous stress on the heart, and his laboratory has been studying acute effects and chronic adaptations that the left ventricle makes to these stresses both in terms of cellular (myocyte) and intracellular adaptations as well as the vasculature, microvasculature, and extracellular space.   In collaboration with Drs. Richard McCormick and Mark Stayton in the Departments of Animal Science and Molecular Biology, respectively, Dr. Thomas has been studying both pre- and post-translational modifications in the heart induced by aging, exercise, and myocardial infarction.


Dr. Wallhead's research interests include (1) examining the efficacy of sport-based curricular models such as Sport Education and Teaching Games for Understanding in facilitating student learning, and the role of physical education curricular models in promoting extra-curricular youth physical activity.


 Dr. Zhu's area of expertise is motor learning and motor control.  His research focuses on the coupling of perceptual and motor learning, especially how learning could occur during the crosstalk between perception and action. He is also interested in the control of motor skill in which the maximum efficiency could be explored with the consideration of physical law and the environmental factors
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