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Health Promotion

PREVENT Community-engaged Research Lab Studies

Learn more: PREVENT – Prevention Research to Educate, adVocate & Empower the Next generaTion (

Youth Tobacco Prevention

Evaluation of #iCANendthetrend, a Near-Peer E-Cigarette Prevention and Empowerment Program

This research seeks to evaluate a near-peer led e-cigarette prevention and empowerment program implemented among Kentucky schools (ongoing implementation). Both formative and impact evaluation are being conducted. 

Youth Engagement in Tobacco Prevention and Advocacy

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of statewide tobacco prevention and advocacy programs/workshops/events. Outcomes of interest include changes in empowerment and self-efficacy in performing advocacy actions following engagement in the programs/workshops/events.

Youth Tobacco Use, Risk and Protective Factors

This cross-sectional study evaluates the relationship between numerous risk and protective factors of vaping use and susceptibility for Kentucky youth. Current outcomes of interest include: social influence, mental health symptoms, school connectedness, etc.

Parental Attitudes Toward Vaping and Self-efficacy in Communication with their Children (Scoping Review)

This scoping review seeks to determine the extent of literature published on the topic of parental attitudes toward vaping, self-efficacy in communicating about vaping with their children, and identify gaps in research.

Receptivity to a Tailored E-Cigarette Prevention Comic Book

This study evaluates feedback received from students after viewing a tailored comic book centered around addressing important themes of e-cigarette use like nicotine dependence, cessation strategies, and peer pressure.

Evaluation of the No More Boxes Campaign

The goal of this research is to conduct a formative and impact evaluation on the campaign in partnership with the Kentucky Prevention and Promotion Branch and Kentucky’s Regional Prevention Centers.

Community Engagement & Health Equity

CHOICE Project

The CHOICE project stands for Capacity building for Health Outcomes Inspired by Community Empowerment. The project will help to facilitate conversations around the barriers to vaccine uptake and testing and provide critical on-the-ground and within-community engagement on these issues.


Bingocize is an evidence-based program for health promotion of aging adults. It combines the game of bingo, which residents are familiar with, with low intensity exercise movements. The UK Bingocize project is partnering with 30 Certified Nursing Facilities (CNFs) and 6 - 8 universities/colleges across Kentucky to implement Bingocize and improve health and wellbeing among aging adults across the state. Data are being collected to support staff training, student engagement, and resident receptivity.


Sexual Health Promotion

BeWell Study: A quantitative study that investigates the impact of gendered racism, mental health, and relationship satisfaction on Black women’s sexual functioning. Investigator: Shemeka Thorpe, Ph.D.

Pain & Pleasure Study: A mixed methods study examining Black women’s experiences of pleasure, sexual pain, and sexual anxiety. Investigator: Shemeka Thorpe, Ph.D.

Gen2 Messages Study: A qualitative multigenerational study on heterosexual Black men and women’s genital self-image. Investigator: Shemeka Thorpe, Ph.D.

Sexual Values Study

Examination of the value placed on sex and developmental significance.

Principal  Investigator: Stephanie Bennett, Ph.D.


Exercise Physiology

Healthy Firefighters Project

A study designed to improve the health, fitness, and performance of firefighters.

Investigator: Mark Abel, Ph.D.

Physical Activity Assessment

Research designed to assess the validity of pedometers and accelerometers in measuring physical activity.

Principal Investigator: Mark Abel, Ph.D.

Teaching Emphasis

Physical Activity and Children’s Academic Performance

This study examined the effect of additional physical education on children’s academic achievement (e.g., test scores), behavior, and cognition. Additionally, physical activity as a predictor of cognitive functioning is explored.

Faculty Mentor: Heather Erwin, Ph.D.

Student and Teacher Perceptions of Two Recess Periods

The purpose of this study was to examine both teacher and student perceptions of a school implementing two recess periods per school day. This was a mixed methods study incorporating questionnaires and interviews.

Principal Investigator:  Heather Erwin, Ph.D.

Walking Classroom

This study compared traditional sedentary learning and a Walking Classroom content-based curriculum on elementary students’ learning and mood. This was a mixed methodology study with physical activity, questionnaires, and interviews.

Collaborator:  Heather Erwin, Ph.D.

Student Perceptions and Use of Sensory Spaces during School

In this study, student stress levels and mindfulness will be measured before and after they are offered the opportunity to self-initiate movement breaks in hallway sensory spaces at their school. Students will also participate in interviews to determine their perceptions of the activity breaks and the sensory spaces.

Principal Investigator:  Heather Erwin, Ph.D.


Gait Training in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

This study investigates the effectiveness of anti-gravity treadmill gait training on neuromuscular function, dynamic balance and gait in the population with Multiple Sclerosis.

Principal Investigator: Fan Gao, Ph.D.

Innovative Gait Training in Unilateral Transfemoral Amputees

In this project, an innovative robotic gait training is developed and implemented in individuals with unilateral transfemoral amputees. Its performance is compared with traditional supervised treadmill gait training in enhancing neuromuscular characteristics of the hip abductors, reducing gait deviations and improving functional performance.

Principal Investigator: Fan Gao, Ph.D.

Effects of Femoroacetabular Impingement Syndrome (FAIS) on Hip Joint Mechanics, Cartilage and Bone Health

Patients with FAIS exhibit abnormal hip joint mechanics and severe hip pain yet the effects of FAIS on hip joint bone and cartilage health are not well understood. Our study utilizes advanced musculoskeletal modeling techniques, quantitative MRI and PET-imaging to develop an understanding of the relationship between hip joint mechanical loading, cartilage composition and subchondral bone remodeling. This information will aid in the development of interventions that can optimize hip joint mechanical loads, improve hip joint health and reduce hip pain in the FAIS population.

Principal Investigator: Michael Samaan, Ph.D.

Alterations in Hip Joint Stress Patterns After Aerobic Exercise in Patients with Hip Osteoarthritis

Aerobic exercise is prescribed to patients with hip osteoarthritis (OA) yet the effects of aerobic exercise on hip joint stress patterns, biochemical alterations in cartilage health and hip-related pain are not well documented. We will assess the changes in hip joint stress patterns and serum-based biomarkers of cartilage health after a 30-minute walking task (mechanical stress test) in patients with hip OA. In conjunction with hip muscle strength measures, we will use the results from our mechanical stress test to develop targeted exercise-based interventions that will reduce the effects of hip OA disease.

Principal Investigator: Michael Samaan, Ph.D.