KHPR offers new PhD degree

The Human Performance and Movement Science PhD is a new degree that has two primary tracks. It offers applied exercise physiology and human performance psychology as well as offering a psychological side of kinesiology. Elements of sports psychology, exercise psychology, as well as more advanced topics are infused into courses for providing research on disproportionately affected communities.  As part of their research, professionals such as Dr. Ryan Olson center their work on sports and exercise. 

His lab is called the sport and exercise psychophysiology lab. While conducting labs, Dr. Olson and others perform advanced neuroimaging and brain sensors to measure electrical activity in the brain. Then they relate that back to certain behaviors, especially related to health, obesity, depression, and concussion research.

“[As a] former athlete involved in kinesiology, I do like to kind of reincorporate that or keep that in my research, and so concussion work's been pretty fulfilling.  It's just a cool population to work with,” Olson said. “And not only are we assessing things like what are differences between people with concussions versus people without, but also understanding of sub concussive blows to the head can also affect your brain.”

This degree gives access to experienced professors with an in-depth understanding of this field. One of those being Dr. Vingren, who describes this degree as a two track system, with a common core that specializes electives for each of the two tracks. They use an apprenticeship model where you work closely with an adviser from day one to until you're done. They have students sit in their classes, and then at the end, they figure out who you're going to work with. 

“[There’s a] focus area on addressing health disparities across a variety of populations, but that's really what we do,” Vingren said. “We have people that work across a variety of settings from renal disease to liver disease to alcohol, obesity, nutrition, performance, psychology. There's sports psychology [and] health psychology, looking at brain activity.”  

The degree is growing, providing space for students to flourish in their desired fields. They continue to expand their faculty that’s coming in as they help mentor new students. At the same time, they’re not looking for a lot of students because the degree is very selective as they look for students who have an adviser. 

“It prepares you to be sort of like a faculty member somewhere. It also prepares people that want to go into industry. Depending on what area you're in, it could either be going into the biomedical industry and government too,” Vingren said. “There's a lot of jobs in this government within the broader area of health. The degree has a big focus on health.”