News Archive 2023

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Faculty, staff, students compete in St. Jude Marathon Weekend

Dec. 6, 2023

St. Jude Marathon - Grad studentsSt. Jude Marathon Weekend - Payton GleasonSt. Jude Marathon - Mandy Taylor

Congratulations to the College of Health Sciences faculty, staff and students who recently participated in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) graduate student Payton Gleason finished second overall with a time of 2:31:50!

Full marathon:
Tara Hunter
Payton Gleason
Brenda Schmitt
Rafael Maurmann
Half marathon:
Samantha Davis
Anna Langston
Patricia Newman
Mandy Taylor
Noah Wallace
Santa Hustle half marathon:
Brandt Pence
Allyson Davis

Student Spotlight

November 28, 2023

Victoria BentleyVictoria Bentley

Victoria Bentley is a graduate assistant in our Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) program. She also serves as the physical education teacher and head coach for the women’s soccer team at University High School. Her outstanding efforts have not only benefited her career, but has added value to the PETE program at the UofM as well as to the culture of physical education at University High.

"Victoria has proven to be a dedicated student, teacher and coach, consistently demonstrates an innate ability to apply her learning and research into practice, and is always willing to provide a helping hand to younger and less experienced students and colleagues," said Assistant Professor Dr. Jamie Brunsdon.

As a first-year coach, Victoria’s legacy will impact future PETE students at both the high school, undergraduate and graduate level. Her accomplishments are exemplary and Victoria has gone above and beyond to build relationships with her players, their parents/guardians and success teams.

"I chose to pursue my master's degree in physical education at the University of Memphis due to a recommendation from my undergraduate professor at Austin Peay State University. She told me how high quality and influential the professors were at the UofM. My favorite thing about the PETE program are the professors. Their passion and dedication for creating quality physical educators are undeniable. I truly feel like I would not be the teacher I am today without their constant support of my development," said Bentley.

Victoria graduates in the spring of 2024 and will begin her doctoral program next fall. She plans to continue teaching and coaching at University High.

Well done, Victoria! The College of Health Sciences and University community thanks you!

Dr. van der Merwe awarded Science Educator of the Year

Nov. 6, 2023

Marie van der Merwe - 2023 TN Science Educator of the Year

Dr. Marie van der Merwe was named the 2023 Tennessee's Science Educator of the Year for Higher Education (4-year). Each year, educators across Tennessee are nominated by their peers to be chosen as an outstanding Science Educator. There are five levels of awards recognized by the Tennessee Science Teacher's Association: K-4, 5-8, high school, higher education (4-year and 2-year).

In addition to teaching, Dr. van der Merwe is the program coordinator for the Applied Physiology & Nutrition doctoral program and Nutrition Science master's program, as well as the founder of the Healthy Eating Institute, Food Fusion and MemphisEATS

Becky Bocz serves as president-elect of industry association

Oct. 25, 2023

Becky Bocz

Becky Bocz, PETE Associate Professor of Teaching, was selected president-elect of the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD).

"I became a member of TAHPERD when I was an undergraduate student in 2006 and have been attending this conference every year. I never thought I would be on the board but here I am. I am very honored to have this opportunity," said Bocz.

PETE represents the UofM at state conference

Oct. 20, 2023

PETE award winner 2023PETE students and faculty

Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) students and faculty represented the University of Memphis at the Tennessee Association For Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) conference. Congratulations to senior Bryan Webber who received the prestigious James E Ward Future Professional award for 2023.

Graduate students presented on Tchoukball and Cooperative Learning. Associate Professor Todd Layne presented on the Sport Ed Model. Associate Professor of Teaching Becky Bocz assisted Campus School's Diane Coleman with a tinikling presentation with help from the undergraduate students.

Graduate students/assistants in attendance: Victoria Bentley, Katherine Vassallo, Payton Gleason
Undergraduate students in attendance: Briana Fields, Jaylen Jacox, Brady Carter, Bryan Webber, John Bolan, Aairreona Bailey, Ryleigh Reeves

New Medical Assisting program begins this spring

October 9, 2023

Medical Assisting

Medical assistants work as members of a healthcare team, supporting physicians, nurses and other medical professionals. It’s a great place to start what can become a long and successful career in the medical field.

Not everyone has the time or finances to commit toward the type of education and training required to become a nurse or physician. The College of Health Sciences developed a 6-month online program to provide training to become a medical assistant, allowing students to place their foot in the door to gain career experience that could lead to greater opportunities in healthcare. Upon successful completion of this program, students will be eligible to sit for the National HealthCareer Association’s Certified Clinical Medical Assisting (CCMA) exam. Once certified, they can work anywhere in the United States.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 18% by the year 2030, which is a much faster growth rate than most other occupations. The BLS projects the country will have an average of 104,400 job openings for medical assistants each year between now and 2030.

"As a healthcare professional, I'm thrilled to see the introduction of this innovative online Medical Assisting program," said program coordinator Tara Hunter. "In today's fast-paced world, accessibility to quality education is crucial, and this program is a game-changer, opening doors for countless aspiring medical assistants to embark on a fulfilling and impactful career in healthcare. By launching a community-driven medical assisting program we hope to build up our local area workforce." 

Application deadline for the first cohort is Nov. 17, 2023 with online classes beginning Jan. 21, 2024.


Dr. Brandt Pence appointed Director of Research

Sept. 30, 2023

Brandt Pence

The College of Health Sciences is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Brandt Pence as its inaugural Director of Research, a newly established position aimed at bolstering our research endeavors.

Dr. Pence's ascendancy to this pivotal role is underscored by his impressive research portfolio and an exceptional track record of securing funding for academic initiatives. As the College charts a course for expanding its research portfolio, with a special emphasis on securing external funding sources, Dr. Pence is poised to spearhead the development of innovative programs and initiatives that will drive the achievement of research-specific milestones outlined in our new strategic plan.

Notably, Dr. Pence will continue his teaching commitments and remain dedicated to his ongoing research endeavors. However, a significant portion of his academic year will now be dedicated to his new administrative responsibilities. In his capacity as Director of Research, he will play a crucial role in coordinating the implementation of the strategic plan with regard to research activities. His multifaceted role will encompass mentoring faculty members in their research pursuits, conducting grant-writing workshops and collaborative sessions, and identifying valuable funding opportunities for faculty actively engaged in research efforts, among other responsibilities.

Dr. Pence's appointment marks a significant milestone in the College's ongoing commitment to fostering a vibrant research environment. Under his guidance, the College anticipates significant strides in research excellence and a strengthened foundation for future academic achievements.

Faculty and students explore Costa Rica for Study Abroad trip

Sept. 20, 2023

Study Abroad - Costa Rica

Funded by the UofM IDEAS grant which is designed to increase diversity in study abroad participation, Assistant Professors of Teaching Anna Langston and Mandy Taylor accompanied College of Health Sciences students to San Jose & Limon, Costa Rica this past summer. The group learned about area history and culture, hiked national parks and visited an indigenous reserve. The cohort awarded the trip will serve as ambassadors for Study Abroad programs at the University of Memphis.

Langston will return with Clinical Assistant Professor Tara Hunter in the spring for the study abroad opportunity—Cultural Competence and Health Communications in Costa Rica—for undergraduate students interested in the field of health sciences or other allied health fields. In this program, students will choose one of two different tracks providing opportunity for development in either cultural competence or healthcare communications. Both groups will experience the rich culture of Costa Rica through excursions, service learning, lectures, peer interaction and discussion.


Should You Take Magnesium and Vitamin D Together?

Sept. 1, 2023


Taking magnesium and vitamin D together has become a buzzy trend online in recent weeks, but people don't necessarily need to take both supplements to see health benefits.

On TikTok, users are extolling the benefits of magnesium supplements in particular, claiming they can help with a variety of health issues, including anxiety and trouble sleeping. The caveat, these creators say, is that vitamin D has to be taken in tandem with magnesium supplements if people want to see results.

Dr. Marie van der Merwe speaks with Health magazine on the topic: "The body needs both magnesium—an electrically-charged mineral, or electrolyte—and vitamin D to function properly.

"Vitamin D helps muscles and nerves function, supports the immune system, and protects bone health. Magnesium is similarly necessary: It helps control blood sugar and blood pressure and helps support heart, muscle, and nerve function."


Dr. Pence awarded College MVP

August 28, 2023

Jackie Pence MVP

Dr. Jacquelyn Pence was recognized as the 2022-23 College of Health Sciences Most Valuable Professional. The MVP is awarded to the faculty or staff member who, during the past academic year, excelled in one or more areas of work, including but not limited to research, instruction and/or service. 

Dr. Pence earned her doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the University of Illinois. In 2019, she completed her postdoctoral training in the study of normal bone development in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

Dr. Pence joined our team in 2019 as a research assistant professor. She is responsible for coordination and execution of research studies in the Center for Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Research and the Cardiorespiratory/Metabolic Laboratory. Since joining the College of Health Sciences, she has coordinated and assisted with over a dozen research studies largely focusing on the various health benefits of different dietary supplements.

CHS awarded University School's 2023 Campus Partner of the Year

August 23, 2023

College of Health Sciences Team

University Schools annually selects a Campus Partner as part of its awards program. The College of Health Sciences has been unanimously chosen as the recipient for 2023.

"Your team is truly one of the most collaborative, kind, and student-focused groups among all colleges I've ever worked with on any campus. Your leadership and support for our academic and co-curricular initiatives are invaluable. You always extend a helping hand (or gym space!) whenever it's needed. Your team consistently goes the extra mile in supporting our vision for University High School dual enrollment. The implementation of engagement programs for our students, such as Camp CHEF and Food Fusion, provides opportunities for our students to learn about nutrition, health, and wellness while acquiring essential life skills," said Dr. Sally J. Parish, Associate Vice President for Educational Initiatives.

"Many of your faculty and staff members contribute significantly to our overall success. I would like to give special recognition to these faculty and staff members: Todd Layne, Jamie Brunsdon, Debra Wyatt, Nikki Bray, Max Paquette, Marie van der Merwe, Sara Foley, Mary Catherine Schallert, Hilary DeLuco, Tracy Shipp, Brianne Miller, Mary Tate-Evans, as well as your exceptional Physical Education GA and Teacher Candidates. Thank you for all that you do!"

Dr. Puppa studies the effects of chemotherapy on systemic/skeletal muscle metabolism

August 15, 2023

Melissa Puppa in labMelisaa Puppa FOLOFOX study

Dr. Melissa Puppa, with researchers from University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and University of Florida, studied the effects of FOLFOX chemotherapy on systemic/skeletal muscle metabolism in mice.

FOLFOX (5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, oxaliplatin) chemotherapy is used to treat colorectal cancer and can acutely induce metabolic dysfunction. However, the lasting effects on systemic and skeletal muscle metabolism after treatment cessation are poorly understood.

The present study demonstrates that FOLFOX chemotherapy induces long-lasting deficits in systemic metabolism. Interestingly, FOLFOX modestly suppressed skeletal muscle AMPK and autophagy signaling in vivo and in vitro. The FOLFOX-induced suppression of muscle metabolic signaling recovered after treatment cessation, independent of systemic metabolic dysfunction.


CHS studies new hydration formulas and rehydration in healthy adults

August 2, 2023

Liquid IV

Dr. Richard Bloomer received a $343k award from Liquid IV, for the project “A Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Semi-Blind, Crossover Study to Evaluate the Effects of Two Novel Hydration Beverage Formulas on Rehydration in Healthy Adults.” This is the second project his group will conduct with Liquid IV, a Unilever company.

Maintaining adequate hydration is essential to optimal health, as well as athletic performance. When individuals exercise (in particular in a warm environment), they can lose excessive amounts of fluids through sweat, along with necessary electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride. With dehydration, individuals often feel sluggish, and performance can be impaired.

The use of electrolytes, of varying concentrations and combinations, has been used for decades to aid athlete hydration and has led to the development of various sport drinks. This study will evaluate the hydration effects of two powder-based electrolyte products dissolved in water (Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier and Liquid IV Sugar-Free Hydration Multiplier) compared to water only.

The products will be consumed following a 90-minute bout of cycling exercise performed in a warm environment (86-89°F) by physically trained men and women. Subjects will report to the lab on three separate occasions to consume one of the three drinks in random order. The drinks will be consumed during the post-exercise period, and hydration status will be monitored for four hours post-exercise.

Findings from this study should provide further clarification as to whether sport drinks provide additional hydration benefits beyond water alone, and whether the addition of carbohydrate to the electrolyte mix yields greater benefit than electrolyte alone.

BBRC research shows greater breast support correlates with increased knee joint stiffness

July 18, 2023

Women in sports bras

“We should begin to consider sports bras to be important components of athletic equipment rather than just apparel,” Doug Powell, study co-author and director of the UofM College of Health Sciences Breast Biomechanics Research Center, tells Women’s Running. “Sports bras protect the human body from insult or injury,” Powell adds, comparing sports bras to shin guards for soccer or helmets for American football and lacrosse.

Despite the fact that half of the population will develop breasts, the science behind breast structure and motion is limited. To help fill this research gap, Powell and his colleagues rounded up 13 recreational runners and had them hit the treadmill for three, three-minute running bouts at whatever pace they found comfortable. Participants ran without a bra, with a low-support bra, and in a high-support option. Researchers used a 10-camera motion capture system, Visual 3D and custom software to track the runners’ knee extensions, knee joint stiffness and breast movements during the sessions.


Dr. Brunsdon receives grant for PETE research

July 10, 2023

Jamie Brunsdon

Co-investigator Dr. Jamie Brunsdon and PI Chris Mellor (Adelphi University) were awarded a grant from Spectrum Institute of Teaching and Learning, Spectrum Research Grant Program for the research grant proposal, "Investigating the Role and Use of the Spectrum in Modern PETE Programs."

The mission of the Spectrum Institute is to provide a center for people to work together in the common commitment of improving quality teaching and schooling, and to improve education through an alternative view of teaching, the Spectrum of Teaching Styles.

Dr. Powell's research on sports bras featured on Yahoo News

June 29, 2023

Woman running in a sports bra and shorts

A Yahoo News article features Associate Professor Dr. Douglas Powell's research on how sports bras can improve running performance and reduce injury risk.

“The findings show that breast support not only influences movement of the breasts but that compensations occur across the entire body. These compensations can lead to reduced running performance, increased injury risk, and even the development of chronic pain such as back and chest pain," said Powell.

“Over the past 50 years, limited evolution in bra design has occurred. Our findings, in conjunction with previous research studies, show that sports bras should be considered not only as apparel, but also as sports equipment that can both improve performance and reduce the risk of injury, playing a role in women’s health.”


Dr. Paquette presents at international conference

June 20, 2023

Max Paquette

Dr. Max Paquette will present at the Australian Podiatry Conference this weekend in Brisbane, Australia. 

Paquette will present a 50-minute Keynote lecture, "Optimizing performance and managing injury risks in runners: A wholistic approach from a sport science and coaching perspective," and will lead a Masterclass on the same topic and share case studies of athletes he has worked with, including Olympic middle-distance runners.

MLH employees celebrate completion of Surgical Technology program

June 16, 2023

Surgical Technology graduates

Our second cohort of Methodist Le Bonheur employees completed their 15-month Surgical Technology certification program. In a few weeks, they will all be working in their new positions as surgical technologists in operating rooms across the six-hospital healthcare system.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Associate Advancement Program (MAAP), in partnership with the University of Memphis, offers current Methodist Le Bonheur employees opportunities to affordably pursue higher education degrees and certificate options on their own schedule. Since launching the program, 60 employees have completed specialized certification programs or earned bachelor’s degrees with little or no out-of-pocket expense.

Dr. Zhang awarded grant from National Science Foundation

June 15, 2023

Yufeng Zhang

Assistant Professor Yufeng Zhang was awarded $391,858 (part of a $1.25M grant) from the National Science Foundation for his study which will provide a broad view of the ability of animals to respond to temperature fluctuations expected under future climate change.

Collaborators includes Drs. David Swanson and Bernard Wone from University of South Dakota and Dr. Ana Jimenez from Colgate University.

Brief Synopsis
One of the major fundamental elements of climate change is increased temperature variability. During winter, more frequent cold snaps will require flexible adjustments of the physiology of animals to match environmental conditions. Animals can adjust their physiology to respond to fluctuating temperatures. It is uncertain, however, if animals can respond fast enough to match these fluctuations. This uncertainty makes conservation planning for winter animals difficult.

This project will study how animals respond to fluctuations in winter temperatures. The study will also identify costs of adjusting physiology that might limit how well animals can respond to fluctuating temperatures. Both natural and laboratory studies will be used to answer questions about how animals are able to adjust to temperature fluctuations. These studies will also determine what levels (tissues, cells, sub-cellular) are involved in these adjustments. The project will provide a broad view of the ability of animals to respond to temperature fluctuations expected under future climate change.

The project will involve early-career and established faculty and students at various stages in their careers. The studies will also engage Indigenous and African-American college students. Another goal of the project is to involve a diversity of people to help improve scientific literacy. The project targets activities for elementary and high school students and the general public for this purpose. Data from the project are also expected to assist development of modeling approaches to predict bird responses to climate change to better assess conservation impacts.

Dr. Pence appointed Fellow of ACSM

June 1, 2023

Brandt Pence Lab

Dr. Brandt Pence was appointed a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM). FACSM is an elite status for long-term members who have provided significant service to the ACSM and who have made significant contributions to their academic discipline in the broad area of sports medicine.

Dr. Irwin retires from University

May 18, 2023

Carol IrwinCarol Irwin with students

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of an exceptional educator, Professor Dr. Carol Irwin. After 15 years at the University of Memphis, Dr. Irwin has decided to embark on the next chapter of her life.

Dr. Irwin has been an integral part of our Physical Education Teacher Education program, leaving an indelible impact on countless students throughout her tenure.

Thank you, Dr. Irwin, for your immense dedication, your unwavering commitment and your profound impact on our community. You will be greatly missed, but your legacy will forever inspire us.

Dr. Paquette awarded grant for running shoe research

May 1, 2023

Max Paquette

Dr. Max Paquette obtained research funding from New Balance to study how shoes affect training load and muscle soreness in distance runners. Sam Lyons, student in our Applied Physiology & Neuromechanics doctoral program, will be assisting on the project.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare employees gain certifications through CHS

April 22, 2023

Spring 2023 Surgical Tech

Since launching the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Associate Advancement Program (MAAP), 60 employees have completed specialized certification programs or earned bachelor’s degrees with little or no out-of-pocket expense.

MAAP, in partnership with the University of Memphis, offers current Methodist Le Bonheur employees opportunities to affordably pursue higher education degrees and certificate options on their own schedule. Recently 15 Methodist Le Bonheur employees completed a 15-month certification program through the College of Health Sciences to become surgical technologists in operating rooms across the six-hospital healthcare system.


2023 President's Leadership Awards & Honors Assembly

April 20, 2023

2023 President's Awards

Congratulations to our 2023 President's Leadership Awards & Honors Assembly winners!

  • Katherine Batista - Outstanding Senior in Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences Award
  • Eduardo Martinez - Biomechanics Achievement Award
  • Zereque Powell - Exercise Physiology Achievement Award
  • Brennan Gatlin - Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences
  • Payton Gleason - Ralph Hatley Award
  • Mya R. Jones - Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences
  • Lanyce Williams - Eleanor Mae Ferguson Award

Not Pictured

  • Kathryn Antonopulos - Outstanding Dietetics Student Award
  • Camelta Barnes - Outstanding Nutrition Graduate Student Award
  • Monique Woog - Outstanding Senior in Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences Award
  • Joshua Worth - Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences

Student Leadership and Involvement Awards

  • Madison Edmonson, Healthcare Leadership - 20 Under 30, Distinguished Service, Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life and Outstanding Service Award
  • Sugey Sanchez Angel, Health Sciences - Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life, Outstanding Leadership Award


Each spring, Student Leadership & Involvement in conjunction with Student Academic Success, the Commencement Office, and the Office of the President hosts the President's Leadership Awards & Honors Assembly. This reception honors the University of Memphis' finest and brightest student leaders and organizations for their leadership roles and service.

College faculty recognized as "Most Valuable Professor"

April 7, 2023

Most Valuable Professor awardMVPKatie Dillon

Cheri Kilmurray, Kathy Walker and Katie Dillon have been named "Most Valuable Professor" and were recognized at a Memphis Tigers Softball game for their outstanding efforts and constructive influence on the student-athletes, as nominated by their students.

ESMS student wins Memphis Grizzlies art contest

April 4, 2023

Zoë Simpson

Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences (ESMS) graduate student Zoë Simpson won Slim & Husky's Pizza Beeria's Fan Art Contest for the Memphis Grizzlies.

“As a native Memphian and a ride-or-die Grizzlies fan, I jumped on the opportunity to use my art to show my love for both my city and our team," said Simpson.

"It was especially meaningful to win because as an ESMS master's student at the University of Memphis, my dream is to work in the NBA in biomechanics. So, being able to walk on the Grizzlies court was like a piece of my dream came true! I put on for my city!”

Simpson's winning artwork was featured on the fan appreciation poster given to all fans at the final home game last night at the FedExForum.

Dietetic interns learn about local WIC program

March 16, 2023

WIC tourDietetic intern

Dietetic interns attended a tour and presentation at the Shelby County Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) new Baby Café in honor of National Nutrition Month. Interns learned more about WIC, their team, services provided and how they can be a resource to the public as future dietitians. UofM MS/DI alumnae, Edward Han and Amy Schiller, welcomed and hosted the group by sharing insight to the day in the life as a WIC registered dietitian.

College hosts Mid-South Biomechanics Conference

February 20, 2023

Mid-South Biomechanics ConferenceMid-South Biomechanics ConferenceMid-South Biomechanics ConferenceMid-South Biomechanics Conference winners

The College of Health Sciences hosted almost 100 individuals from 21 institutions at the fifth annual Mid-South Biomechanics Conference at the University of Memphis. This event gave students from across the country an opportunity to network and share their research in biomechanics and movement sciences.

Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences student Eddie Martinez was among the student award winners with his research, "The influence of ‘super shoes’ on running economy and joint mechanics in competitive female runners."

Dr. Bloomer and CNDSR featured in Memphis Business Journal

February 15, 2023

Richard J. Bloomer in lab

"For more than three decades, Richard Bloomer, Ph.D., has focused on nutrition and exercise. He’s done a significant amount of both cardio and weight training over the years, and his interest in wellness has been mixed with an interest in products people often tie to it: dietary supplements."

Read about Dean Richard Bloomer and our Center for Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Research (CNDSR) in the Memphis Business Journal.


Dr. Pence appointed to editorial board

February 9, 2023

Brandt Pence

Dr. Brandt Pence was appointed to the Editorial Board of the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences. The journal is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Gerontological Society of America and is one of the premier journals in gerontology and aging biology.

Dr. Paquette featured on podcast

January 19, 2023

Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences (ESMS) Associate Professor, Dr. Max Paquette, was a featured guest on the Runchatlive Podcast as part of the new GAIT ANALYSIS SERIES. Paquette talks about  —  identifying the goal/objective of a gait analysis, identifying important variables/metrics that have mechanistic ties to the goal/objective, considering the validity & reliability of instruments used to perform gait analysis, planning how to act on/implement the results of the analysis.