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Wake Forest news for faculty and staff

Health and Exercise Science

Brubaker appointed faculty athletics representative

Photos from the Wake Forest HELPS program, at the Health and Exercise Science clinical research facility, on Monday, March 16, 2015. HES professor Peter Brubaker runs the program.

Peter Brubaker, professor of Health and Exercise Science, has been named Faculty Athletics Representative of Wake Forest University.

President Nathan O. Hatch appointed Brubaker to a three-year term to provide a faculty viewpoint in the administration of intercollegiate athletic programs. He succeeds math professor Richard Carmichael who has held the position since 2003.

“We’ve had very strong Faculty Athletics Representatives in the past and Pete will continue this tradition,” Hatch said. “Pete exemplifies what you want in this position. He’s a great teacher, a great researcher and a strong administrator. He has great understanding of varsity athletes and for all those reasons, he will make a great representative for Wake Forest.”

As the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), Brubaker will act on behalf of the president and report to him, representing athletics to faculty and faculty to athletics to ensure the appropriate balance between academics and intercollegiate athletics. Major areas of responsibility include academic oversight, student-athlete welfare, compliance and representing Wake Forest at meetings of the NCAA and ACC which mandate the position.

Brubaker, who has taught at Wake Forest for 25 years, said the appointment is an honor. “I know it’s an important role, and I’m totally committed to working closely with the administration, faculty and athletics department to help protect the well established integrity and outstanding academic performance of our student athlete,” he said.

Having hundreds of student athletes come through his classrooms over the years, coupled with his personal experience of being the father of a collegiate athlete at Wake Forest, he said, has given him an appreciation and understanding of what college athletes face.

“I know first hand the challenges of maintaining a healthy academic and athletic balance in college. I’m generally impressed with how well Wake Forest athletes are able do this,” he said.

Brubaker also serves as the HES department’s graduate program director. He is well-regarded for his research and clinical experience in the area of exercise physiology and cardiovascular disease prevention/rehabilitation.

Aging Re-Imagined symposium begins March 17

The symposium “Aging Re-Imagined” brings leading scholars, artists, medical professionals and researchers together at Wake Forest who will share insights on four key ideas that inform how we age, and how we think and feel about aging: Mobility, Mind (including memory), Mortality, and Meaning.

The symposium begins March 17 at 4 p.m. with a presentation by and Q&A with Liz Lerman, a famed choreographer known for her work with multi-generational ensembles to dispel the idea that dance is only for youth.

Following the keynote by Jay Olshansky at 6 p.m., the aging symposium resumes on March 18 at Bridger Field House with a full schedule of speakers and presentations. More information can be found here.

“Aging Re-Imagined” came about because of associate professor of dance Christina Soriano and her work teaching dance to people living with Parkinson’s Disease. As a member of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center (TSC), she is one of many faculty from the biochemical, physiological, psychological, behavioral disciplines and the arts whose goal is to improve functional health in aging through research and academic training programs. Continue reading »

HES Department settles into new home at Worrell Center

A Wake Forest student walks past the new Health and Exercise Science addition to Worrell Professional Center on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. The addition has research labs and classrooms.

The Health and Exercise Science (HES) Department has more room to stretch and grow, thanks to a new addition to the Worrell Professional Center.

The 29,000-square-foot addition, which opened this semester, houses state-of-the-art research space, classrooms, and academic and administrative offices. The facility includes a two-story entry into the HES suite at the ground floor alongside Carroll Weathers Drive, making it easily accessible for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

HES department chair Michael Berry said faculty input into the building’s design was integral in developing the collaborative space.

“Functionality was the key,” Berry said. “We didn’t gain that much square footage, but the layout and design is making all the difference which is fantastic for our department in all respects.”

The functional aspects include four dedicated classrooms and modern lab spaces for the 150 HES majors and 18 graduate students. Students also now have a lounge and comfortable living room-style spaces perfect for studying or socializing. The faculty who lead research teams – many of which are nationally renowned – also have dedicated lab space whereas before labs were shared between teaching and scholarship. Though the flow of the building is separate from the law school, the HES wing is connected to the existing Worrell building through an interior hallway. Continue reading »

Application period open for Move More program

Move more Move OftenSpring semester applications are being accepted through Feb. 12 for the wellbeing project called Move More. Move Often.

The project, which is a research program (IRB# IRB00022164), is open to students, faculty and staff.

To apply, visit

It is designed as an eight-week step challenge to encourage individuals to increase their daily physical activity. Using Fitbit activity trackers, participants can monitor their daily steps and activity. Throughout the eight-week challenge, participants can access performance incentives, receive supplemental resources and materials, as well as discounts.

Participants will be required to attend a one-hour orientation session. A Fitbit will be provided to participants. Participants may also use their own Fitbit, instead.

At the conclusion of the challenge, prizes will be awarded on an individual basis for significant improvement in the number of average daily steps. Following each challenge, participants will have the opportunity to re-enroll for additional challenges to keep improving their daily physical activity and potentially win more prizes.

The website offers additional information about Move More. Move Often. The site includes a list of resources and an FAQ section, for instance.

This project is co-sponsored by Office of Wellbeing, Campus Life, Health and Exercise Science, Environmental Health and Safety, Hospitality & Auxiliary Services, Residence Life and Housing, Information Technology, PDC Run, Forest, Run (Walk Forest), Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, Aramark, Campus Recreation.

New wellbeing project launched

A new wellbeing project is open to students, faculty and staff.  It is called Move More. Move Often.  This is a research program (IRB# IRB00022164)

To apply, visit  Application period will continue through Oct. 6.

It is designed as an eight-week step challenge to encourage individuals to increase their daily physical activity.  Using Fitbit activity trackers, participants can monitor their daily steps and activity.  Throughout the eight-week challenge, participants can access performance incentives, receive supplemental resources and materials, as well as discounts.

Participants will be required to attend a one-hour orientation session.   A Fitbit will be provided to participants.  Participants may also use their own Fitbit, instead.

Continue reading »

Messier receives $6 million research grant

A $6 million federal grant, the largest ever awarded to Wake Forest, will enable health and exercise science researchers to further study knee osteoarthritis and successful treatment measures in community-based settings.

Wake Forest Heath and Exercise Science faculty involved in the IDEA study, Steve Messier (in white), Gary Miller, and Shannon Mihalko, in the Biomechanics laboratory in Reynolds Gym on Tuesday, September 24, 2013.

Wake Forest Heath and Exercise Science faculty involved in the IDEA study, Steve Messier (in white), Gary Miller, and Shannon Mihalko, in the Biomechanics laboratory in Reynolds Gym on Tuesday, September 24, 2013.

Health and exercise science professor Steve Messier and colleagues have spent 26 of the last 34 years at Wake Forest studying the effects of exercise and dietary restriction related to knee osteoarthritis (OA) through clinical trials research. This new grant will fund a study known as WE-CAN – Weight Loss and Exercise for Communities with Arthritis in North Carolina – that will put these years of highly-controlled clinical study results to the test in a real-world setting.

“Knee osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in older adults and there are over 250 million people in the world affected,” Messier said. “Our work has looked at effects of walking, strength training and weight loss on function and pain in OA under very controlled settings. We’ve decided to take what we’ve learned before and move it out in the community.”

Armed with the grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), Messier and his team, which includes professor Gary Miller, a nutrition expert, and associate professor and health psychologist Shannon Mihalko, both of the Health and Exercise Science department, are conducting what’s known as a pragmatic clinical trial in which there are very few controls in order to simulate normal clinical conditions.

Continue reading »

Barbee Oakes named University’s first chief diversity officer

Dr. Barbee Oakes, Director, Wake Forest Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Barbee Oakes, chief diversity officer

Barbee Oakes, one of the most recognized leaders in Wake Forest diversity and inclusion initiatives, has been promoted to a new position expanding her opportunities to advance those efforts.

Recently, Oakes was appointed as Wake Forest’s first chief diversity officer. She retains her assistant provost title and responsibilities, developed over her six years in that role.

“As our first chief diversity officer, Barbee is beautifully positioned to advance strategic planning and execution of Wake Forest’s diversity and inclusion initiatives,” said Provost Rogan Kersh. “She will confer regularly with the president’s cabinet, deans, governance boards and the larger campus community on issues involving the University’s progress on inclusive excellence initiatives.”

Oakes has her sights set on several high-priority goals for this year and beyond.

“Continuing to proactively address campus climate issues remains a very high University priority this year,” Oakes said. “With increased diversity, the challenges we face in establishing policies, programs and practices to ensure everyone feels included become more complex and nuanced.”

Continue reading »

Proposals funded: Messier, Mitra, Thonhauser

Stephen Messier


Congratulations to Steve Messier, professor of health and exercise science, whose proposal entitled “Pain Management in Osteoarthritis: Clinical Benefits and Cost Effectiveness” has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by [subaward/subcontract from] Brigham and Women’s Hospital (WFU funding agency).


Ananda Mitra



Congratulations to Ananda Mitra, professor of communication, whose proposal entitled “Hospice needs Assessment” has been funded by the Hospice of the Piedmont.



Timo Thonhauser


Congratulations to Timo Thonhauser, associate professor of physics, whose proposal entitled “Kinetics and Reactivity in Metal Organic Framework Materials” has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by [subaward/subcontract from] University of Texas-Dallas (WFU funding agency).

Leo Ellison, professor emeritus of health & exercise science, dies

5510d3da8e97c.imageWe are saddened to report that Leo Ellison, associate professor emeritus of health and exercise science, died March 21 in Winston-Salem.

Professor Ellison joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1957 and retired in 1999.

We grieve Professor Ellison’s death and extend our condolences to his family and friends, as well as those at Wake Forest who had the opportunity to know him.

A service celebrating his life will be held March 28 at 2 p.m. at Wait Chapel. Additional details are available in an obituary in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Wake Forest offers support and counseling services for all students, faculty and staff.  The Counseling Center may be reached at 758-5273, the Chaplain’s Office at 758-5210. For faculty and staff, there is also the Employee Assistance Program at 716-5493.

BCBSNC seed grants support health, wellness research across campus

Wake Forest University’s associate provost of research has announced the faculty recipients of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) seed grants to support research on health and wellbeing.

“The research being supported with these grants has sustainability potential and will have a great impact on many people’s lives,” said Bruce King, associate provost of research at the university.

Last year, BCBSNC partnered with Wake Forest University to create a model for health and wellbeing that included seed money for faculty research in these areas. Four grants, for $50,000 each, were awarded to Mark Jensen, School of Divinity; Mark Hall, School of Law; Jeff Katula, Health and Exercise Science; and Christine Soriano, Theater and Dance.

Additionally, the initial BCBSNC gift supports the transformation of Reynolds Gym into a comprehensive center for wellbeing, has funded a new director of wellbeing position and will support Wake Forest’s approach to wellbeing across eight dimensions – physical, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, financial, occupational, and environmental – under the Thrive umbrella.

The seed money will support the following research projects:

Continue reading »