Department of Kinesiology

School of Health and Human Sciences

News and Events

Dogs can do some amazing things, but have you ever heard of a Medical Alert Assistance Dog for a Head Athletic Trainer? Kourtney Sappenfield, a first year sport and exercise psychology master’s student had; and she decided to bring the experience to the classroom.

Meet Remington, a happy Golden Retriever who is making a difference in athlete’s lives. Currently serving UNC-Chapel Hill’s baseball team and his mom, the Head Athletic Trainer, Remington is taking his job to the next level. Check out more information on Remington here: Read more on Kourtney’s experience and how she was able to bring the full experience to the classroom below.

“As a first year sport and exercise psychology (SEP) master’s student here at UNCG, I am extremely eager to learn about all that the field has to offer. I was especially excited when a class I was taking this semester tasked us with an assignment to look into the field of SEP and present about it to the class. I decided to think outside of the box and look into a topic we probably wouldn’t dive into normally. This prompted me to think about things I am interested in the field, like sports, and things I am in interested about in life, like dogs. I remembered seeing a news article last spring about a Medical Alert Assistance dog that worked with the baseball players at UNC-Chapel Hill and thought that this would be an interesting topic to explore. Since this is a brand new area in the field of SEP, I worried that the lack of literature would make it not enough for the assignment however, my advisor thought otherwise, so I became invested in learning more about REMINGTON and the work he does at UNC-Chapel Hill.

REMINGTON’S mom Terri Jo Rucinski is the baseball team’s athletic trainer. I reached out to her to learn more about his impact on the baseball team and other sports on campus. She was very nice and worked to fit my class into her schedule as she thought the best way to learn about REMINGTON would be to meet him in person. After a couple of months of communication, it was decided that both Terri Jo and REMINGTON would come visit my class for my presentation.

I was so excited not only because he is a cute golden retriever but also to hear about his job and the positive effect he has.

During the presentation REMINGTON laid quietly on the ground (because he was working) while Terri Jo told his story, the process of getting him, and parts of his job. REMINGTON is a very smart dog who knows over 100 commands, from being able to whisper to taking off someone’s jacket to turning the lights on and off. He also has the ability to sense anxiety and “anchor” on to a person (i.e., curl up at his/her feet) to help provide some relief by letting them pet him. She explained that this and simply his presence have helped the baseball team feel more positive in a sport of high anxiety and pressure. REMINGTON also helps in the recovery of injured athletes, whether that means being there with them the day of their surgery or helping them work on exercises during rehab. She says since his time there, she has seen fewer reports of injury than ever before. However, she did talk about how she has run into some issues regarding him and the necessity of his job. Nevertheless, she explained that everyone who he has worked with sees how special a dog he is and feels the benefits of his presence.

This was such an incredible opportunity and I was so glad I got to meet them and hear their stories, and I am thankful for this assignment for giving me the chance to learn about something new in SEP. I wish them the best of luck in their upcoming season and as they continue to keep positively impacting the people that they meet.”

Brian at 3MT Competition

On November 9, 2017 ten doctoral students selected as finalists from across the university, ranging from nanoscience to education, were challenged to present their thesis in just three minutes. The 3MT Competition founded by Queensland University has now been adopted by over 600 schools in over 63 countries. With an average PhD thesis consisting of 80,000 words presenting your thesis in three minutes can be a quite a challenge but in order to bridge academic research to practical application this can prove to be an invaluable skill.

As stated on the official 3MT website “Presenting in [this] competition increases [a student’s] capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.” Kinesiology’s own, Brian Cone, 2nd place winner of the university-wide competition, did a great job in succeeding at this mission in his presentation of “Where Fall Prevention Went Wrong.” In just three minutes Brian presented a compelling argument for the importance of assessment that will help identify individuals who are at risk for falling.

With one fall per second of every day occurring in the United States Brian’s research on looking at the feasibility of using mathematical calculations that can be performed on a smartphone app can have a large scale impact; especially in conjunction with research established by Kinesiology’s VEAR Lab which has shown that exposing individuals to being tripped eventually helps the individual to trip less. Brian’s thesis on an easily administered assessment to identify individuals that are at most risk emphasizes the bridge between academic research to practical application. Way to go Brian!

The Three 3MT Winners

For more information about the 3MT Competition check out this link from The Graduate School.

Congratulations (again!) to Ashley Sanchez for being selected for the School of HHS Marjory W. Johnson Pre-Physical Therapy Research Program Award. Winning her second award for the 2017-2018 academic year, Ashley will begin her research in “Examining the Role of Feedback on Virtual Reality Obstacle Crossing” in Spring 2018. The purpose of this award is to support undergraduate research that advances our knowledge of prevention, evaluation and treatment of movement related injury and disease.

So who is Marjory W. Johnson? Marjory W. Johnson received a B.S. in Physical Education from Woman’s College in 1943. She earned a Certificate in Physical Therapy from Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in 1944. She was as Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps between 1944-46; she served as a polio physical therapist at the Moore County NC Hospital in Pinehurst, NC in 1946. She was Chief of Physical Therapy at the Rochester Rehabilitation Center, Rochester, NY, between 1948-1961. She served as a faculty member in the Division of Physical Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1961 until her retirement in 1985.

Good luck in your research, Ashley. Keep up the good work!

Congratulations to Ashley Mustain, selected as a Fall 2017 McNair Scholar!

Photographed: (Left to Right) Dr. Aaron Terranova; Director of Undergraduate Studies. Dr. Celia Hooper (Center); Dean of the School of Health and Human Sciences. Ashley Mustain; McNair Scholar Recipient.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, one of eight federal TRIO programs, will serve promising UNCG students who are first-generation with financial need or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in research and advanced graduate studies. The first cohort of 25 undergraduate students will be selected this fall from each of the university’s colleges and schools.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was established in 1989 as a way to diversify academia by increasing the number of underrepresented students who earn PhDs. UNCG-McNair scholars will receive up to a $5,000 stipend and will participate in the McNair Summer Research Institute. Additionally, Mustain will receive faculty mentoring, GRE test preparation, and a summer course on research and writing. Mustain will have several opportunities to present her research at conferences across the country.

The program is named in honor of Dr. Ronald Ervin McNair, an American physicist and astronaut, and the second African American to go to space. McNair was one of seven crew members who died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Great job, Ashley!

Head shot of Hannah Wofford

On October 26th, 2017, Hannah Wofford, a member of the EdD in Kinesiology (EdD in KIN) program hosted the North Carolina Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Association (NCCRA) Piedmont Meeting. Hannah works as a clinical exercise physiologist and began the EdD in KIN program in Fall of 2017. She was elected as Vice President of the Piedmont Region for NCCRA in March and her first leading role was organizing the annual meeting which was hosted at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. Attendees included exercise physiologists, nurses, dieticians and respiratory therapists working in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Several students and faculty from local universities were also in attendance.

We asked Hannah about the process of planning a successful meeting and she had this to say… ”Hosting a professional meeting has been an educational undertaking for me. I am very proud that I could create an environment that fostered collaboration and professional growth within my field. One of my objectives in enrolling in the EdD in KIN program was to expand my opportunities to advocate for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. The support I receive from my cohort and faculty during this process has been so encouraging.”

The guest lecturers for the day represented different professional disciplines that work in a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation setting from across the state. The first speaker of the day was Dr. Jeff Soukup, an exercise physiologist from New Hanover Regional Medical Center. His presentation was titled “The Challenge of Keeping the Science in the Exercise: A Cardiac Rehab Perspective”.

He focused on exercise testing methodologies and their importance when physiologists prescribe exercise parameters. The second speaker was Ms. Connie Paladenech, a respiratory therapist from Wake Forest Baptist Health. Her talk was “Lung Function: Basics of Diagnosis of Obstructive, Restrictive and Mixed Defects”. Sometimes working in healthcare, it can feel like trying to hit a moving target. Ms. Paladenech’s talk reviewed the recently updated guidelines for lung disease classification and provided personal examples of things she has learned while aiming for the target. Following lunch and networking, the final presentation was given by Michelle Ray, a dietician from Novant Health’s Heart & Vascular Institute. Her presentation was “Nutrition for Rehab Patients”. She geared her instruction to the all professionals in rehab who encourage and support the patient lifestyle modification process. The meeting also included updates from the national American Association for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Association meeting by NCCRA president, Mike Dunlap and local happenings from NCCRA membership committee chair, Taylor Stroud. The lectures are available on the NCCRA webpage (link below).

Link to NCCRA Website:

Posted in EdD

Yuki Sugimoto at her desk

Congratulations to Yuki Sugimoto, who has been selected to receive the Theodore & Loretta Williams Research Fund for Arts Health Award in HHS for 2017-2018!

This award was established 2005 by Charles R. and Kathleen Williams to honor their parents, Theodore and Loretta Williams. This fund supports a graduate student from any department in the School of Health and Human Sciences who plans to conduct a research project focusing on some aspect of arts health.

Yuki’s project focuses on visual disturbances and chronic ankle instability (CAI) particualry in dancers. This project will determine if dancers with CAI are fixating their vision on a point to maintain balance. The hypothesis is that dancers with CAI will upgrade their visual sensory system to focus on a point in order to maintain balance in both single- and double-limb stance. Way to go Yuki!

October 31st, 2017

KIN takes a seat on the iron throne of Halloween fun!  This year KIN’s faculty, staff, and students dressed up as characters from the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.” Complete with a dragon and dire-wolf, they are ready to face the Night King; perfectly executed by our very own Dr. Greg Daniels. Well done, everyone!

What is even more impressive, is the resourcefulness and creativity  of the costumes. Most notably, staff member Jean Rosales created a few of the pieces here by hand!

A photo collage of everyone in their costumes

Casey Pam and Hannah at a basketball game in Charlotte.

One of the newest members of the EdD in Kinesiology (EdD in KIN) online degree program is helping to take the distance out of UNCG’s distance education program. Casey Smith began the EdD in KIN program in the fall of 2017. His job as the head athletic trainer for the Dallas Mavericks requires him to travel from state to state as part of his job. Luckily for Casey as long as he has internet he can “attend” class, work with classmates on projects, and stay connected to UNCG. Casey’s diverse background and training makes him a great candidate for the EdD in KIN program, which focuses on exploring and potentially solving issues related to professional practice in the field of kinesiology.

When asked why he decided to enroll in the program, Casey said … “I had been considering various doctoral programs over the past few years. I was searching for a program that I could complete with my rigorous travel and work schedule, yet have a curriculum that would be beneficial to me in my current role while opening doors to future endeavors. The Ed. D. in Kinesiology Online has checked all these boxes for me. The two biggest surprises for me are (1) how my cohort members have bonded quickly. I honestly expected a distance education program to feel rather non-personal but I have experienced just the opposite. We regularly communicate, support each other and answer each other’s questions. We are getting to know each other much more than I anticipated and this has added tremendous value to the program for me. And surprise (2) is that I have found the coursework extremely relevant to my current role. With the added time commitment and responsibility the program has brought to me, I find it rewarding to be able to apply it to my existing day to day.”

Casey with Jeanne at a basketball game

A benefit of Casey’s travel schedule is that he finds himself relatively close to Greensboro on occasion, and in many other cities close to where his classmates live. Recently the Mavericks played a preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets. It was a great opportunity for Pam Brown, the director of the EdD in KIN program, and Hannah Wofford, another student in the 2017 cohort, to meet up with Casey at the game. According to Pam, “It’s great to get a chance to see the students whenever possible. We really enjoy catching up with students in person whenever we can. This was great because I got to catch up with Casey and Hannah in one night.”

As you can imagine at this time of the year, Casey’s travel never slows down. He was recently in Houston for a game, where he caught up with Jeanne Mullican and her family (another EdD in KIN student). Casey has plans to visit with a few other classmates as he heads into the NBA season.

We will have to see how many other students in the 2017 cohort Casey will see during the year. Let’s challenge him to see if he can get a picture with all 23 members of the 2017 cohort as he travels back-and-forth throughout the country this year.

The Department of Kinesiology is very proud to announce that Ashley Sanchez was one of ten seniors throughout UNCG, given the Spartan of Promise Award from the UNCG Alumni Association.

Ashley, a Senior in the Department of Kinesiology, has shown tremendous academic drive and success; renowned by her peers and faculty as  determined, ambitious, and motivated. She has represented UNCG and the Department well by traveling to conferences, conducting, and presenting research, and going above and beyond to assist with anything she can. Ashley has been serving as a Research Assistant in the Virtual Environment For Assessment And Rehabilitation Laboratory (VEAR) Lab for several years.

The Spartans of Promise are an exceptional group of students who represent the diversity of UNCG. Award recipients will be recognized at the Alumni of Distinction Awards Dinner – a signature Homecoming event – on Thursday, Oct. 19, and will be invited to participate and network at UNCG Alumni Association events throughout the year. The Spartan of Promise is an annual award recognizing UNCG seniors who have demonstrated exceptional academic and service accomplishments.

Here is a short YouTube video of this years awardees.

Congratulations, Ashley!

Myriam Villalobos with her two daughters and Casey Smith

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast where it remained for four days. Houston received more rain in those four days than it does in a single year. Catastrophes like this call into question the responsibility a university to help its students in an online program. Typically catastrophes like this only raise concerns for a student that may have family in the affected areas. However, in the case of the EdD in KIN online program, the concern was whether or not 7 of their students were directly in harms way. Reaching out to everyone to make sure they were safe was top priority. Luckily only one student had to be evacuated by boat, but fortunately she was safe and suffered minimal damage to her home. However, this was just the first of three hurricanes to impact our EdD family.

On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Puerto Rico. With waves reaching 33 feet and wind speeds of 111 mph recorded, Mairym Villalobos and her two young daughters braced themselves. Mairym is a first year student in the EdD in KIN program and had just attended UNCG orientation with 21 other students this past June. Since she is also a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, she had worked with fellow colleagues preparing the Rio Piedras Campus for the impending storm. She had been warned by the government that, due to the precarious and fragile state of the electrical system, it could be weeks or months before power, internet, and water was restored on the island.

The destruction was widespread, but Mairym and her girls were safe. Sadly, the next communication from Mairym advised that another storm was approaching. Hurricane Maria, a category 5, was projected to cross the island on September 24. Without hesitation, she purchased three tickets to New York City, where she could stay with her sister. The plane was scheduled to depart that Saturday, September 23, 2017, but all flights were cancelled before she could leave.

Hurricane Maria devastated the island. As Chandrika Narayan, a CNN reporter, described it, “Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with Irma-level winds, drenched the island with Harvey-level flooding, crippled communications, [and] decimated buildings.” Millions were left without power and unable to communicate. Aid was coming in but not fast enough. Efforts to clean up and rebuild remain slow due to Puerto Rico’s existing financial crisis. “The hardest part was having to wait in line for food, water and gas,” recalls Mairym. While power was slowly returning to some residents, her university was closed until further notice.

On September 27, news was released that Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was using his private jet to send aid down to Puerto Rico. This caught the eye of Dr. Brown who sent a text to student Casey Smith, head athletic trainer for the Dallas Mavericks, joking about whether he could get Mairym onto the plane. Casey, also a first year student in the EdD in KIN program, turned this request into reality. He immediately sent his request to player Jose Barea, who was heading up the relief efforts, and secured a spot for Mairym and her two daughters.

On Friday, September 29, Mairym Villalobos and her two daughters finally touched down in Dallas, Texas thanks to the generosity and the efforts of so many. Once in Dallas, Mairym and her girls were invited to stay a few days with Casey and his family until she was able to purchase tickets to New York.

Mariym and her girls are now out of harm’s way thanks to the efforts and prayers of her classmates. Her unforgettable journey made the impact of these hurricanes so much more meaningful to the students and faculty in the EdD in KIN program. “The efforts of all involved in getting Mairym to safety really just show that the students and faculty in our program are like family. This cohort is very caring and seems to have bonded quickly,” notes Dr. Brown, “This is UNCG – our commitment to our students remains the same.” Online or not this program is a family.

To learn more about this “family,” you can visit the EdD in KIN webpage. Information about applying to earn your interdisciplinary, professional doctorate online in kinesiology is available on the website.