Health Sci News 2024

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019


Dr. Todd Layne (PETE) appointed Vice Provost Fellow

May 15, 2024

Todd Layne

Dr. Todd Layne, associate professor and unit coordinator for the Physical Education Teacher Education program, was appointed Vice Provost Fellow in the UofM Graduate School for the 2024-25 academic year. Dr. Layne will focus on graduate program development, graduate curriculum review and graduate academic policy.

Dean Bloomer featured in UofM President's Perspective

May 9, 2024

In this edition of the President's Perspective, UofM President Bill Hardgrave sits down with College of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Richard Bloomer to discuss the educational offerings within the college, an exciting new doctoral program and his own career as an accomplished researcher. 


Track & Field program record SHATTERED by ESMS student athlete

April 28, 2024

Sascha Salecius SchmidtSascha Salecius SchmidtSascha SaleciusSascha Salecius

Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences (ESMS) sophomore Sascha Salesius Schmidt set multiple personal records at this year's Memphis Tiger Invitational and finished with a HUGE one—breaking the program record and taking the win. His throw ranks No. 12 in NCAA Track & Field and leads the American Athletic Conference: Men’s Shot Put | 19.39m / 63’7.5”


Biomechanics student awarded ACSM grant

April 25, 2024

Sam Lyons

Biomechanics doctoral student Sam Lyons, advised by Dr. Max Paquette, has been awarded a Doctoral Student Research grant from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the world's leading exercise science and sports medicine organization.

This grant is specifically funded by the World Athletics Federation, one of the most influential sport governing bodies, having great involvement in the Olympics and the creation of its own global events, such as the century-old World Athletics Championship. This grant funds human research in the area of physical activity, training and human performance relative to athletic events (e.g., track and field, road running, trail running, race walking). Besides increasing knowledge, the proposal should have a practical impact on all those who regularly participate in athletics, both for competition purposes and simply to enhance their health.

The funding from this award will help Sam apply his research findings to a broader population of high-performance runners. Findings from this research will help him conduct more in-depth studies to better understand wholistic risk factors for the development of bone stress injuries in distance runners. This is the second research award that Sam has received for his research project.

2024 President's Leadership Awards & Honors Assembly

April 17, 2024

President's Leadership Awards and Honors Assembly

Each spring, Student Leadership & Involvement (SLI) 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, along with outstanding College of Health Sciences students.

Congratulations to this year's winners!

Andrea Simmons
Outstanding Dietetics Student Award

Bryce Edmondson
Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences

Alexandria Hammons
Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences

Jazz James
Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences

Stephany Umanzor
Outstanding Senior in Health Sciences

Sharice Delaney
Outstanding Healthcare Leadership Award

Jacquelynn Cloutier
Outstanding Senior in Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences

Nicholas Johnson
Outstanding Senior in Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences

Benson Hazelwood
Biomechanics Achievement Award

Noah Cy Wallace
Exercise Physiology Achievement Award

Briana Fields
Eleanor Mae Ferguson Award (PETE)

Brady Carter
Ralph Hatley Award (PETE)

Stephanie Bigham, ESMS
Joseph R. Riley Student Award, Helen Hardin Honors College

Sehrab Bagha, Health Sciences
Provost Office Award (4.0)

Melanee Mills, Health Sciences
Provost Office Award (4.0)

Zoey Huff, Health Sciences
SLI Award

Jacob Dameron, ESMS
SLI Award

Nicholas Donald II, Health Sciences
SLI Award

Morgan Linsy, Health Sciences
SLI Award

Student Spotlight: Stephanie Bigham; Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences

April 15, 2024

Stephanie Bigham

Stephanie Bigham presented her research at the National Council on Undergraduate Research conference last week in Long Beach, Calif., focusing on how different diets affect the development of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. One key aspect is insulin resistance, affecting 7.3% of males and 6.6% of adult females. The purpose of this experiment was to determine how different diets alter the progression of insulin resistance in males compared to females. Results showed that male mice on a high-fat diet for 12 weeks had higher insulin levels and insulin resistance compared to other groups, while females seemed protected from insulin resistance regardless of diet.

Her findings shed light on how diet impacts health, particularly in the development of metabolic syndrome, offering insights into potential gender differences in susceptibility to insulin resistance.

Stephanie, a College of Health Sciences Honors and Helen Hardin Honors student, also presented at the UofM Fall 2023 Works in Progress Symposium, completed a summer research fellowship with Dr. Melissa Puppa in the summer of 2023 and will begin physical therapy school this summer upon graduating (summa cum laude) in May.



Presentation title:
The impact of sex and diet on the development of metabolic syndrome
There are many different diets that may contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. One aspect of metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance, which affects 7.3% of males and 6.6% of adult females. Muscle comprises 40% of the average body mass and helps to control insulin sensitivity. The purpose of this experiment was to determine how different diets alter the progression of insulin resistance in males compared to females. Mice were fed one of three diets control (20% fat, 20% protein, and 60% carbohydrates (18% sucrose)), High Fat (45% fat, 20% protein, and 35% carbohydrates (18% sucrose)), or high sugar (60% carbohydrates (100% sucrose), 20% protein, and 20% fat. Glucose tolerance test was conducted at 0 weeks, 6 weeks, and 11 weeks. Fasting insulin was measured in a subset of animals at weeks 6 and 12, and HOMA-IR was calculated. RNA was isolated from the skeletal muscle and RT-PCR was run for Glut4 and Igf1 genes. The male high fat diet group at 12 weeks had higher insulin, blood glucose, and HOMA-IR compared to all other groups. HOMA-IR was elevated in the HF males at 6wks, while no change was seen in the HS or female groups. There was no difference in gene expression of Glut4 and Igf1. Conclusion: This data suggest that females may be protected from insulin resistance regardless of diet, and it may be regulated independently of muscle Glut4 and Igf1 expression.

Dr. Okwumabua receives mentorship award

April 12, 2024

Dr. Jebose Okwumabua

Dr. Jebose Okwumabua (Health Sciences) was the recipient of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Award for Mentorship,  nominated by students for his continued efforts in teaching and mentoring.

This award recognizes administrative and faculty members who have made significant efforts in mentoring and advising graduate students to become professionals in their field, shape the graduate work of a graduate student, and/or provide exceptional personal support and development to a graduate student. Only eight faculty and staff from across campus were recognized.

"Dr. Okwumabua's hard work, dedication and outstanding contributions have not gone unnoticed, and the recognition is truly well-deserved. This award is a testament to his skills and reflects his unwavering commitment to excellence," said Christopher Harris, GSA President.

Dr. Brunsdon (PETE) receives international award

April 10, 2024

Jamie Brunsdon, PhD

Dr. Jamie Brunsdon received the Early Career Scholar Award from the International Organization for Physical Education in Higher Education (AIESEP), the most prestigious international award for physical education and sport pedagogy faculty members at colleges and universities.

“It’s a true honor for me to have received this award. AIESEP is an incredible institution and I’m grateful my efforts were acknowledged, supported and praised through this space. I’m especially thankful to the committee members for their support and consideration and to my mentors, both old and new, for their council and unwavering support throughout my career.”

The AIESEP Early Career Scholar Award (formally Young Scholar Award) recognizes early career scholars within the field of physical education who have made an outstanding contribution to the field and demonstrate scholarly promise.

Brunsdon will formally accept this award in Finland next month.

Student Spotlight: Jazz James, Health Sciences

April 2, 2024

Jazz JamesJazz James - NEDtalks

Senior Health Sciences student Jazz James represented the College of Health Sciences for the Spring 2024 NEDtalks with her presentation, "Modeling the Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy Using the BXD79 Mouse Strain."

At Hamilton Eye Institute, where James volunteers as a research assistant, researchers recently uncovered a spontaneous mice modelthe BXD79 strainthat mimics some of the key features of Diabetic Retinopathy. Using this model, researchers have been able to further investigate the development and mechanisms involved in Diabetic Retinopathy in order to better understand the disease and to hopefully find more effective treatments.

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a microvascular disease associated with diabetes where constant fluctuation of blood sugar and blood flow damage the vasculature of the retina, this resulting in blindness. Even though this disease is hard to model due to its complexity, this ongoing study aims to investigate the etiology and pathology of a spontaneous model of DR, the BXD79 mouse strain.

"My experience with the researchers at the Hamilton Eye Institute and with my mentor Dr. TJ Hollingsworth has been inspiring and eye-opening. My work with them has motivated and encouraged me to take the PhD route in neuroscience after I graduate from the UofM," said James.

NEDtalks is a bi-annual research forum hosted by Univertsity Libraries where UofM faculty, instructors and students share recent research in engaging and entertaining short-form presentations in the TEDtalks style. The fall event is dedicated to faculty and the second event, NEDxStudents, is dedicated to students. The Libraries partners with the Graduate School and Helen Hardin Honors College for NEDxStudents, and a panel of judges awards the best presentation from each day.


Dr. Bloomer, CHS nutraceutical lab featured in Business Insider

March 28, 2024

Richard Bloomer

Excerpt from Business Insider

Dr. Richard Bloomer has been researching supplements and how safe and effective they are for more than two decades.

He founded the Center for Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Research, a lab that tests whether products deliver the benefits they claim to, partly because of his own personal interest in their health benefits and partly as a means of giving consumers accurate information.

The supplement industry has been growing steadily in recent years, with surveys indicating that more than half of US adults take such products, according to the American Medical Association. By 2028, the market is projected to generate about $308 billion worldwide, according to Statista.

"There are many supplements that probably are not worth our time and money, but I think there are a lot of things that do have value. It's just a matter of finding out which ones have value and why," Bloomer told Business Insider.

He's been using supplements for many years alongside eating a healthy diet, exercising about five times a week, and focusing on getting good quality sleep — and he stressed the importance of all three.

"Those things I think are so valuable, and supplements are never going to, in my mind, replace those," he said.

In his research, however, he has seen evidence to suggest that some ingredients can improve different aspects of health, such as physical performance and cardiometabolic health.

Bloomer shared the four supplements he takes to help his health go from good to great.


New CHES prep course begins this summer

March 26, 2024

Certified Health Education Specialist

HSME 4305: Problems/Health Sports Sciences
Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) Exam Prep Course

  • Offered Summer II
  • Online/asynchronous
  • 3 credit hours
  • Offered S/U (pass/fail)
  • The course will prepare students for the CHES exam offered in Oct. 2024 or April 2025.

CHES certification is a nationally recognized credential that sets you apart from other graduates and job candidates. It verifies that you are a health education professional with the competencies to provide high quality professional services.

These include collecting and analyzing data to identify community needs; planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating programs; and serving as resource to assist individuals, other health professionals, and the community maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Pursuing certification signals to potential employers and clients that an individual is recognized as an effective communicator and health education expert. The CHES certification is "preferred" or "required" for many public health and community health positions.

Make the most of your Health Sciences degree. Become a Certified Health Education Specialist and improve the health status of individuals, families and communities.


Biomechanics faculty, doctoral student awarded AAC grant

March 25, 2024

Max PaquetteSam Lyons

Dr. Max Paquette and second-year PhD student Sam Lyons, in collaboration with Dr. Stacey Meardon of East Carolina University, were awarded a research grant from the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Academic Research Consortium. The grant supports a study which aims to develop practical methods to measure bone forces on the tibia, and to assess how well forces can be measured using wearable devices outside of laboratory settings.

Results from this study will help improve methods to quantify tibial bone forces, allowing coaches and medical support staff to optimize training and bone stress injury rehabilitation programs for runners. Bone stress injuries account for approximately 16-20% of all running-related injuries and occur due to the inability of bone to adapt to repetitive mechanical loads resulting in structural micro-damage, pain and fractures.

Wearable technology may be used to estimate tibial forces to remove technological or computational barriers for coaches and medical support staff. Lyons will apply the findings to better understand risks of bone stress injuries in junior distance runners. The research team will present study findings at the annual American Academic Consortium Symposium in April.

The Consortium funds grants for research in the area of student-athlete well-being, and the brings together student-athletes, scholars and athletics staff from the AAC member institutions to learn about the results of the research. 

CHS alumni, faculty, staff recognized by nutrition association

March 21, 2024

Every year, the Memphis Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes outstanding dietetic students and dietitians. This year, four out of five award recipients are from the College of Health Sciences (CHS).

Lauren Fischer

Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year
Lauren Fischer, MS, RDN, CSO, LDN
CHS Alumna ’20

Kara Wilson

Outstanding Dietetics Student of the Year
Kara Wilson, MS, RDN, LDN
CHS Alumna ’23

Julia Noel

Emerging Dietetic Leader
Julia Noel, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES
CHS Alumna ’17
Director of Nutrition Services, UofM Campus Recreation

Tracy Bruen

Outstanding Dietetic Educator
Tracy Bruen DCN, RDN, LDN
CHS Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, Clinical Nutrition

CHS hosts annual Health Sci Career Fair

March 18, 2024

Career FairCareer Fair - Church HealthHealth Sci Career Fair

Last week, the College of Health Sciences hosted the annual Health Sci Health & Wellness Career Fair. Over 160 students connected and engaged with 18 companies including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Youth Villages, Church Health and more.

Dr. Melissa Puppa cycles 500 miles for to raise money for cancer

March 15, 2024

Melissa Puppa - She to SeaShe to SeaShe to Sea

Dr. Melissa Puppa will cycle 500+ miles over five days for the third annual She to Sea in support of the West Cancer Foundation. The group of 20 women raising money for the fight against cancer leave Memphis on March 16 and will arrive at Seagrove Beach, Fla. on March 20.

"Like many, cancer has affected many people who are dear to me including my sister, grandparents, uncle and many friends. I ride this year in honor and memory of those who have fought the battle against cancer. Some have won, some have lost, and some are continuing to fight. I am grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself amongst the amazing ladies on the She to Sea team while raising awareness and funds for West Cancer Foundation," said Puppa.

CHS biomechanics professor and doctoral student featured in Washington Post article

March 14, 2024

A too-tight bra can affect your breathing and impede running performance, research suggests. (iStock)

Excerpt from the Washington Post

When shopping for a sports bra, many athletes believe that the tighter and more snug, the better. But new research suggests a too-tight bra can affect your breathing and impede running performance. The study, which was funded by athletic apparel brand Lululemon and conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia, tracked the breathing and lung function of nine elite runners as they ran on a treadmill wearing a custom sports bra with a lower band that could be adjusted to tight, loose or a standard size the runner chose.

The study focused on the tightness of the band around the rib cage, not overall breast support. Other studies that included women with different bust sizes have found that greater breast support helped runners and is associated with reduced oxygen consumption and greater running economy.

Douglas Powell, director of the Breast Biomechanics Research Center, said that individuals with larger breasts benefit more from the high-support sports bras. He was the co-author of a 2022 study that found running economy improves as you increase sports bra support. In that study, 14 participants ran on a treadmill in different sports bra conditions. The researchers recruited recreational runners who had bust sizes ranging from B to DD cups. They found that, on average, there was approximately a 7 percent improvement in running economy when participants ran in a high-support sports bra.

Hailey Fong, the lead author in the 2022 study and a doctoral student researching sports bra biomechanics in the College of Health Sciences, said that the participants in the studies are very different, and welcomes more research in the area.

"I think the biggest thing to take from all of these papers and all of this research that we’re doing is that support matters, the sports bra you're wearing matters," she said.


2024 Research Celebration recognizes success

March 7, 2024

2024 PI Millionaires

Faculty researchers from across the University gathered at the FedEx Institute of Technology to celebrate research and principal investigators’ (PIs) accomplishments over the last year. In FY23, the University of Memphis received an institutional record of $86 Million in research awards, reflecting the continued growth of the University as a Carnegie R1 research institution. Honored were the Class of 2024 PI Millionaires, FY23 PIs, first-time PIs, Research Book Publications, Co-Investigators and more.

Dr. Brandt Pence is among the University researchers who secured over $1M in funding for their projects, elevating them to the esteemed category of “PI millionaires.” These individuals add to a distinguished group of 134 colleagues at UofM who have attained this prestigious designation. This milestone not only reflects the University’s commitment to advancing groundbreaking research but also underscores the caliber of talent and innovation present within our academic community.

Honored faculty from the College of Health Sciences

PI Millionaire #145: 
Brandt Pence
First-Time PI: 
Jamie Brunsdon
FY2023 Principal Investigators:
Richard Bloomer
Jamie Brunsdon
Maxime Paquette
Brandt Pence
Marie van der Merwe
Yufeng Zhang
Tara Hunter
Jacquelyn Pence
Chidambaram Ramanathan
Michelle Stockton
Top Faculty by Scopus H-Index:
Richard Bloomer (H-Index = 36, #19 on campus)
Google Scholar Highly Cited Authors:
Brandt Pence (9,989 citations, #20 on campus)
2024 PROGRAM >

College hosts Mid-South Biomechanics Conference

February 23, 2024

Mid-South Biomechanics Conference 2024Mid-South Biomechanics Conference 2024Mid-South Biomechanics Conference 2024

Last week, the College of Health Sciences hosted almost 100 individuals from over 15 institutions at the sixth annual Mid-South Biomechanics Conference at the University of Memphis

The conference featured large student research focus with podiums, invited speakers and discussions and provided great networking opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students who hope to continue their studies or careers in biomechanics and movement sciences.

New Lambuth DPT program director featured on local news

February 21, 2024

The University of Memphis Lambuth campus in Jackson, Tenn. will have one of the largest graduate programs in the University of Memphis system. The program is for students pursuing a doctorate degree in physical therapy.

“We anticipate accepting 40 students per cohort, so it’s 40 students per year for this program,” says program director Jacque Bradford, PhD. "The emphasis or the focus of this program is to develop students to be leaders in providing rural health care to those patient populations who tend to be underserved. The beautiful thing about this campus is it has that small-town ‘homey’ feel.”

Research facilities will be built on campus providing students first-hand practice and the program will offer a solid foundation in physical therapy. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Lambuth will launch in the fall of 2026.

Dr. Marie van der Merwe honored as Science Educator of the Year

February 14, 2024

Marie van der Merwe, PhD

Marie van der Merwe, PhD recently received the 2023 Higher Education (4-year institution) Science Educator of the Year award from the Tennessee Science Teachers Association. This statewide award recognizes leadership roles in promoting science and outstanding contributions to science education that positively impact the community.

“I am so grateful to be part of the UofM family,” said van der Merwe, who recently reached her 10-year career milestone with the UofM. “The support and collaborative culture on campus makes for a great work environment, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”

Dr. van der Merwe earned her doctorate in the field of molecular pharmacology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and went on to receive postdoctoral training in the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where her work focused on identifying regulatory immune populations after an allogeneic transplant.

"Dr. van der Merwe is not only an extremely bright and innovative scientist she is also a fantastic classroom teacher who, despite the rigorous nature of her courses, is extremely well-liked and respected by her students," said Dean Richard Bloomer.

She teaches biochemistry and immunology to scholars pursuing careers in healthcare. Her contributions to science education are extensive and include mentoring graduate students, community outreach through an afterschool food literacy program for middle schoolers and a seminar series in the College of Health Sciences providing students with exposure to cutting-edge research.

Faculty, staff celebrate career milestones

February 12, 2024

Milestone Awards 2024 - MC Schallert
Karen Weddle-West and Mary Catherine Schallert during the Feb. 7 Career Milestone ceremony.

The Career Milestone Awards program is designed to recognize employees for their years of service to the University of Memphis. Staff employees are eligible for recognition during their fifth year of service and faculty during their tenth year of service. Subsequent recognition occurs thereafter in five year increments. Each year, the Department of Human Resources sponsors the Career Milestone Awards Ceremony for all faculty & staff employees where they are presented with a milestone award in appreciation of their years of service to the UofM.

We celebrate the College of Health Sciences faculty and staff members who reached a university career milestone during 2023.

Mary Tate-Evans
Mary Tate-Evans, 30 years


Shirley Brown
Shirley Brown, 10 years

Mary Catherine Schallert
Mary Catherine Schallert, 10 years

William "Pat" Travis
William "Pat" Travis, 10 years

Marie van der Merwe
Marie van der Merwe, 10 years

Dr. Max Paquette weighs in on the functional weirdness of Patrick Mahomes' running style

February 9, 2024

Patrick Mahomes in playoff action against the Miami Dolphins in January, showing off his signature running style. (Ed Zurga/AP)Max Paquette

Excerpt from the Washington Post

Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs QB) runs as if he's in competition for the title of World's Fastest Waddler. He sashays and scurries as much as he sprints. His strut has birthed countless comical comparisons: He runs like he is holding a beer, like somebody is holding the door for him, like he is wearing skinny jeans for the first time, like he needs to use the restroom, like he never finished putting on his shoes.

Mahomes stands astride American sports as he saunters into the Super Bowl for the fourth time, trying to win his third at age 28, the quarterback of the most glamorous team in a league that is the country’s most powerful cultural force. He has reached a rarefied athletic pinnacle with an unusual athletic foundation. There’s no other way to say it: Mahomes runs funny.

“I love that statement [that] he runs like he’s holding a beer,” University of Memphis biomechanics professor Max Paquette said. Observing Mahomes on television, Paquette believes the quarterback's running posture provides a platform for the improvisational magic he creates.

“When he’s running that stable, like he wouldn’t drop an ounce of beer, he’s also keeping his visual system really stable,” Paquette said. “If you’re playing a sport, your head is moving, it’s really hard to visually scan the environment to really understand the environment. When he turns his head, it’s not moving around a ton. Because of that, he’s able to see more more quickly, and it allows him to predict things.”


Dr. Brandt Pence selected for Tigers Ascending to Excellence Award

January 23, 2024

In recognition of extraordinary leadership, commitment and service to our institution, the University of Memphis selected Dr. Brandt Pence for the Tigers Ascending to Excellence Award. Pence served as the honorary coach for Memphis Tigers Men's Basketball during their game against SMU.

Dr. Pence serves as an associate professor and director of research in the College of Health Sciences. He is currently working on projects funded by the National Institute of Health and the American Heart Association, with his research focusing on how metabolism impacts the immune system in aging and age related diseases.

College welcomes program director for new Doctorate in Physical Therapy program

January 4, 2024

Jacque Braford

The College of Health Sciences welcomes Dr. Jacque Bradford to the faculty as program director for the newly approved Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT) program that will begin in the fall of 2026.

“We started the process of developing the DPT program nearly five years ago, and it has been a long and challenging endeavor,” said Dean Bloomer. “We are grateful to have reached this point and for Dr. Bradford to join our faculty as the leader of this new program. The breadth and depth of her knowledge as a clinician, professor and administrator will help to ensure the success of this program.”

The DPT program will be offered on the Lambuth campus in Jackson, Tenn. It adds to the already large portfolio of graduate programs offered at the University and will be the largest graduate cohort program on campus, accepting 40 new students each year.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be appointed program director to develop the long-awaited program at the University of Memphis,” Bradford said. “The University has truly played a pivotal role in shaping my professional career, and I am excited about this opportunity to give back through the DPT program and the college. In the preparation of skilled and compassionate physical therapists, I will strive to create a culture of excellence, innovation and collaboration in service to Jackson and West Tennessee.”