International Board of Advisors
Those on the American Sports Institute’s International Board of Advisors provide expertise, perspective, the latest research, and extension into the world.
Associate Professor Maria Åberg, M.D., is a Senior Lecturer and Specialized Physician in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Maria has initiated clinical and epidemiological projects stemming from previous preclinical research questions. Most recently, she has been investigating the importance of a large set of risk factors during adolescence for the development of chronic disorders later in life. These studies have demonstrated that the risk of depression, anxiety, suicide, epilepsy, early dementia, and stroke increase with poorer physical fitness at 18 years of age. Maria’s research has also shown that mental illness in adolescence associates with risk of early stroke, heart failure, marginalization, and premature mortality. Data from Maria’s research regarding the neuroprotective effects of cardiovascular fitness has resulted in two separate clinical trials targeting anxiety disorders and epilepsy.
Professor Caner Açikada, Ph.D., is Head of the Sport Sciences Program at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, in the School of Sport Sciences and Technology, having served as the School’s Director from 1994-2012. Caner also served as a member of the University’s Senate from 1994-2012. Caner’s current research focuses on the scientific examination of maximizing athletic performance and coaching education, and is a founding member of the International Council of Coaching Education. Caner is also a member of the Turkish National Olympic Committee, and was named “Sport Educator of the Year” by the Turkish National and International Olympic Committees in 1999. Caner has authored and coauthored several books and book chapters, as well as numerous articles in national and international journals, and has made presentations worldwide.
Professor Celia Álvarez-Bueno, Ph.D., is a research scientist at the Health and Social Research Center at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Celia studies how physical activity influences cognitive functions across the lifespan, especially in children and the elderly. She and her team develop after-school and integrated physical-activity programs to improve children’s cardiovascular parameters, fitness, and cognition. Celia is also involved in multiple projects seeking to identify how daily behaviors impact brain function. Celia’s latest project involves the implementation of an app to encourage children’s daily physical activity that also involves parents in a behavior-modification modality.
Professor Nadhim Al-Wattar, Ph.D., serves in the Department of Sport Sciences, College of Physical Education at the University of Mosul in Mosul, Iraq, and directs the College’s continuous learning unit. Nadhim has also served in the University’s College of Physical Education as a Vice Dean, an Acting Dean, and as a member of its Council. Nadhim is a member of the Iraqi Federation for University Sports, the Iraqi Sport Academy, the Scientific Council of the Free Arab-German University, the Iraqi Society for Education and Psychology, and is an advisor for the Al-Rafidain Journal for Sport Sciences. Nadhim has published more than 50 scientific research papers and is renowned throughout the Middle East as someone who can bring together those in higher education from varied cultures.
Al Attles is one of the most respected figures in San Francisco Bay Area sports. Al has been with the Golden State Warriors as a player, coach, executive, and civic leader for over half a century. Al played for the Warriors (Philadelphia and Golden State) from 1960-1971. Al, a close friend of the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, was the second-leading scorer with 17 points on March 2, 1962, when Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors. Al coached the Warriors from 1970-1983, garnering six playoff appearances in 14 seasons, two division titles, and the first Golden State NBA championship in 1975. Al is one of only five players in Warriors history to have his jersey retired (#16), joining Chamberlain (#13), Rick Barry (#24), Nate Thurmond (#42), and Tom Meschery (#14). In 1993, Al was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Al has a masters degree in education from North Carolina A&T State University.
Salomé Aubert, Ph.D., is the Chair of the Publication Committee and the Oceania Representative for the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance. Her research focuses on the surveillance and promotion of healthy active behaviors at the global scale, for which she has received multiple awards. Salomé coordinated the development of the Global Matrix 3.0 on Physical Activity for Children and Youth that involved 500+ physical-activity experts across 49 countries and six continents. She also provided coordination and research support for the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network – terminology consensus project and its translation into 13 languages. Salomé recently led an international team of experts to conduct a massive review of the available international physical-activity data for children and adolescents, highlighting global surveillance and research gaps, formulating recommendations, and a call to action. She is currently leading a review of the available international sedentary-behavior data for children and adolescents.
Dusty Baker is the manager of the Houston Astros, and is one of Major League Baseball’s most recognized figures. Previously, in tenures as manager for the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Washington Nationals, Dusty became only the second manger in National League history to take four teams to the playoffs, with 16 post-season appearances. Dusty has been named Manager of the Year three times. As a player, Dusty spent 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland Athletics. Dusty finished his playing career with a .278 batting average, 242 home runs, 1,014 runs-batted-in, and 25 walk-off home runs. Dusty was selected twice to the National League All-Star team. Dusty is fluent in Spanish and has earned the respect of people everywhere for his genuineness and acceptance of those from all walks of life.
Astrid Bjørnebekk, Ph.D., is the leader of The Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Research Group, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, at the Oslo University Hospital. This project is focused on the study of long-term anabolic steroid use and its effects on brain morphology, cognitive function, and emotional processing, and is designed to provide novel information about the consequences of long-term steroid use on brain and behavior. Astrid has also conducted research that demonstrated how physical activity serves as an antidepressant effect and is a powerful enhancer of brain plasticity, including stimulating the production of new brain cells. Similarly, Astrid’s doctoral dissertation from the Karolinska Institute’s Department of Neuroscience was on the antidepressant effects of running and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
John Brant is a longtime writer-at-large for Runner’s World magazine, and has contributed to Outside, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN Magazine, and many other publications. Five of John’s stories have appeared in the annual Best American Sports Writing anthology, including “Franks’ Story,” in which marathon great Frank Shorter revealed the parental abuse he experienced as a child, and “Close to Home,” an account of elite distance runner Jenny Crain’s recovery from a severe brain injury. John is the author of Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon, and 14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life and Death and Life, a memoir of Alberto Salazar, framed by the 14 minutes in which Salazar was declared clinically dead after his heart attack in 2007. John is also the author of “The Boy Who Runs,” a book about the life of Julius Achon, a humanitarian, former Olympic athlete, and one-time boy soldier in the notorious warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Laura Chaddock-Heyman, Ph.D., is a research scientist at the Beckman Institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A fitness enthusiast, Laura studies how aerobic fitness and physical activity relate to the brain and cognition across the lifespan. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral techniques, Laura has shown that aerobic fitness relates to cognition (e.g., attention, memory, multitasking), the structure of the brain (volume, cortical thickness), brain function (fMRI, arterial spin labeling), and white matter microstructural integrity (diffusion tensor imaging) in children. Laura is currently exploring the effects of a nine-month physical activity program on the cognitive and brain health of preadolescent children, as well as the relationship among aerobic fitness, physical activity, and brain health across the lifespan.
Professor Sulin Cheng, Ph.D., is in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and is also a Zhiyuan endowed Chair Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Sulin’s research spans a wide range of disciplines, including body composition, physical activity, nutrition, public health, endocrinology, physiology, and genetics. Sulin has conducted several multidisciplinary and multi-center projects in Finland, the United States, and China as Principal Investigator (PI) and co-PI in the field of body-composition related health and technology issues spanning childhood to old age. Sulin has over 140 international peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, and has received eight international awards and six national awards.
Professor William Damon, Ph.D., of Stanford University is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and serves as the director of Stanford’s Center on Adolescence. Prior to Stanford, Bill was the director of the Center for the Study of Human Development and Education Department chair at Brown University, and Education Department chair and dean of the Graduate School at Clark University. Bill is one of the world’s leading scholars on human development, especially the positive aspects of growing up. In particular, Bill’s current research explores how young people develop character and a sense of purpose in their school, work, family, and community relationships. Bill is the author of 18 books and numerous book chapters and articles on education and human development. Bill is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and is a recipient of the prestigious Parents’ Choice award.
Andy Dolich brings over five decades of leadership in the sports industry, including executive positions in Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL, and pro soccer and lacrosse. The Ohio University Sports Management graduate was Executive Vice-President of the Oakland A’s during their run of success in the 1980’s and 1990’s, President of Business Operations for the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, and COO of the San Francisco 49ers. Andy now runs a sports business consulting practice in Northern California, including clients The Basketball Tournament on ESPN, 3Ball, a 3X3 basketball league launching this summer, Stadium Links Golf, Virtual Reality company Vhere, and the FCFL-Fan Controlled Football League. Andy also teaches sports business at Stanford’s School of Continuing Studies.
Tal Dotan Ben-Soussan, Ph.D., is the director of the Research Institute for Neuroscience, Education and Didactics (RINED) of the Paoletti Foundation for Development and Communication. As a neuroscientist and bio-psychologist, Tal leads international studies on neuroplasticity from neurophysiological and psychobiological perspectives, focusing on the electrophysiological and molecular mechanisms mediating training-induced well-being and improvement. She also leads pioneering studies on movement meditation, especially the Quadrato Motor Training. Tal has published numerous articles on the connection between voluntary movement and cognition, creativity, and self-awareness. She acts as an editor and reviewer in renowned journals and coordinates international conferences integrating theoretical, methodological, and practical approaches on various topics, such as development, silence, and neuro-education.
Ken Dyar is the Coordinator of Physical Education, Wellness, and Athletic Competition for the Delano Union School District in the small, agricultural, central California community of Delano. Ken has been an educator in the Delano community for 22 years, including 20 years of teaching physical education in grades 3-8, 13 years of which he was a physical educator and department chair at Cecil Avenue Middle School. Ken’s focus is on student fitness and academic achievement. Ken has led more than 200 physical education workshops across the United States, and was a keynote speaker at the 2010 Governor’s Obesity Summit at the California Endowment hosted by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former President Bill Clinton. Among his numerous awards, Ken received the high honor of being named the 2006 California Teacher of the Year for his work with student fitness and academic achievement.
Leland Faust served as chief investment counsel for 33 years for CSI Capital Management, which he founded. Leland provided security selection, asset allocation, and market-related decisions for over $1.5 billion in assets in managing the portfolios for high, net-worth individuals, companies, foundations, athletes, entertainers, family estates, and pension plans. Leland also served as the senior portfolio manager for the publicly-traded CSI Equity Fund, which has been recognized as a top performing global equity fund by The Wall Street Journal, and by Mutual Funds magazine as one of its “Top 100 Funds.” Leland has been named to Barron’s list of “Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors” and to its list of “Top 100 Mutual Fund Managers.” In addition, Leland is one of only two investment advisers to ever be named to The Sporting News “100 Most Powerful People in Sports.”
Pat Gallagher is co-founder and vice chairman of San Francisco’s annual Kraft “Fight Hunger” Bowl, and was the Executive Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships, and Communications for the San Francisco Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Pat also served on the San Francisco America’s Cup Organizing Committee. In his 33-year stint as the top marketing/business and “idea guy” for the San Francisco Giants, Pat served as senior vice president of business operations, and as president of Giants Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of the Giants that produced non-baseball ventures, business opportunities, and events. Pat was a major contributor to the design and development of the Giants acclaimed AT&T Park, creating the original marketing plan and securing naming rights and key corporate partnerships. Pat also served as the chair of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is a board member of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.
Professor Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, is in the Department of Physiological Sciences and the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, the David Geffen School of Medicine, and the Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology interdepartmental program at UCLA. Fernando’s work focuses on the mechanisms by which environmental factors affect neuron health and function. This area of study includes how physical activity, nutritional factors, and learning impact brain function, and how specific types of behavior can be pivotal in the structure and function of the central nervous system. Fernando has authored and co-authored numerous articles for major research-oriented and popular publications, including Nature, Economist, Journal of Neuroscience Research, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal, among others.
Professor Neha Gothe, Ph.D., is in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Director of the Exercise Psychology Lab. Neha’s research training and expertise is in conducting social-cognitive, theory-based interventions of physical activity and yoga for middle-aged and older adults, and her current focus is on promoting physical activity, including nontraditional modes such as yoga, as a means to improve health, cognition, and quality of life. Neha is recognized for her work on yoga for cognition, and developed and led the first randomized trial examining the effects of yoga on cognitive function among older adults. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, and she has published some 50 peer-reviewed papers and presented at national and international conferences. Neha’s work has also been featured in popular media worldwide, including TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph and The Times (UK), Der Tagesspiegel (Germany), and The Times of India, to name a few.
Professor Parichehr Hanachi, Ph.D., is director of the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Sport and Health Science at Alzahra University in Tehran. For the past 20 years, Parichehr has taught clinical biochemistry-related subjects, including the biochemistry of exercise, sport metabolism, sport nutrition, and human physiology. During this time, Parichehr’s research has focused on molecular biology, health promotion, cancer, antioxidants, and the effects of environmental pollution. Included in this research is a current, joint project with the Women’s Research Center and the Reproductive Research Center at Tehran University regarding the effects of soy milk, hormone replacement therapy, and sport on menopausal women. Parichehr has published over 120 papers in national and international journals, and has presented her work at 65 conferences throughout the world. A former university volleyball player, Parichehr remains physically active and is a certified aerobics instructor.
Professor Charles Hillman
, Ph.D., holds appointments in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. He is a member of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is comprised of some of the country’s most accomplished physical activity and health experts, and is charged with providing science-based guidance on how children and adults can improve their health through physical activity.
Prior to this, Chuck was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the departments of Kinesiology and Community Health, Psychology, and Internal Medicine, and was also the director of the University’s Neurocognitive Kinesiology Laboratory. Chuck’s research and professional interests focus on exercise psychology and psychophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, and physical activity and cognition across the lifespan, with a special emphasis on children and youth. Chuck is an internationally-recognized researcher and expert on the connection between physical activity, cognition, and learning.
Professor Julene Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco is a cognitive neuroscientist at the UCSF Institute for Health and Aging, and collaborates with the UCSF Medical Humanities Initiative. Julene’s research focuses on cognitive aging, with a particular emphasis on changes with age in the executive function and frontal cortex of the brain. Julene’s studies seek to better understand the loss of executive function due to mild cognitive impairment. Julene is also interested in how the brain processes music, and how community music programs can be used to promote health and independence. In 2010, Julene was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland where she studied how singing in a community choir influences quality of life and well-being. Julene has authored and co-authored nine book chapters and scores of articles on cognitive aging and executive function.
Psyche Loui, Ph.D., is the Associate Professor of Creativity and Creative Practice in the Department of Music at Northeastern University. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with her doctorate in Psychology, and attended Duke University as an undergraduate with degrees in Psychology and Music. In the MIND (Music, Imaging, and Neural Dynamics) lab, Psyche studies the neuroscience of music perception and cognition, tackling questions such as: What gives people the chills when they are moved by a piece of music? How does connectivity in the brain enable or disrupt music perception? Can music be used to help those with neurological and psychiatric disorders? Psyche’s work has received multiple Grammy awards, a young investigator award from the Positive Neuroscience Institute, and a Career award from the National Science Foundation, and has been featured by the Associated Press, New York Times, Boston Globe, BBC, CNN, the Scientist magazine, and other news outlets.
Professor David Lubans, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Active Living and Learning. He is a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow and current National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow. David has published extensively and secured funding from competitive sources including the ARC, NHMRC, Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada, Health Research Council New Zealand, and Hong Kong General Research Fund. He has been recognized as a ‘Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher’ for three consecutive years. David is internationally recognized as an expert in the design, evaluation, and dissemination of school-based, physical-activity interventions. Much of his research involves inter-sectoral partnerships with government and nongovernment organizations. His secondary area of interest is studying the effects of physical activity and fitness on young people’s mental health and cognition. David is regularly invited to serve on expert committees to guide physical-activity policy and practice.
Robert Lustig, M.D., M.S.L. is Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program, and Member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. Rob is a neuroendocrinologist, with basic and clinical training relative to hypothalamic development, anatomy, and function. Rob is currently investigating the contribution of biochemical, neural, hormonal, and genetic influences in the expression of the current obesity epidemic both in children and adults. Rob is interested in the hypothalamic signal transduction of the hormones insulin and leptin, how these two systems interact, and how they become dysfunctional in obesity. Rob is studying the interplay between the changes in the nutritional environment and defective hormone signaling; in particular, the role of fructose and lack of fiber in the genesis of the metabolic syndrome.
Professor Roxana Marachi, Ph.D., teaches courses in Educational Psychology and supervises Teacher Candidates in the Middle Level Emphasis Program in the Lurie College of Education at San José State University. Roxana received her doctorate in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan in 2003, where she studied the impacts of learning environments on students’ motivation and behavior in school. Roxana’s research interests are focused on school climate and safety and the translation of research-to-practice in violence-prevention efforts. Roxana served as Co-Chair of the Safe Schools and Communities Subcommittee of the American Educational Research Association from 2009-2012. Roxana is currently working in collaboration with the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender on the School Engagement and Suspension Alternatives Project (SESAP).
Laura Middleton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, a Research Scientist at the Schlegel Research Institute for Aging, and an Affiliate Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-KITE Institute. Laura’s research aims to identify strategies to reduce dementia risk and promote well-being and independence among those living with dementia. She involves people living with dementia, health care professionals, and community-service providers as co-researchers to create accessible and effective supports for people living with dementia. Recent projects focus on increasing the inclusion and participation of persons living with dementia in physical activity and other community-wellness programs, and have co-designed programs to promote ‘living well’ with dementia.
Emeritus Professor Heikki Parkatti, Ph.D., of the University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland, has a distinguished record in teacher training, and physical and health education. For over 35 years, Heikki served as an instructor, supervisor, and dean of the prestigious Teacher Training School at the University of Jyväskylä. Heikki has been a member of the University’s Senate and a vice president of its planning and coordinating group for teacher training. Heikki has also been a key member of the Physically Active School as a Learner-Centered Project, which was implemented by Finland’s National Board of Education. Heikki is a specialist in the continuing education of teachers and school leaders through the Ministry of Education and National Board of Education. In 2000, Heikki was a Fulbright Scholar, visiting and lecturing at universities in the United States. In 2009, Heikki received the prestigious Finnish award Counsellor of Education from the president of Finland.
Professor Caterina Pesce, Ph.D., of the University “Foro Italico” of Rome, conducts research focusing on exercise and cognition across the lifespan, the rise and fall of motor coordination, and enhanced physical education. Caterina is the creator of the “Joy of Moving” method for holistic child development through physical activity that is disseminated by the Italian Ministry of Education, and has been honored as a best practice for physical activity by the Italian Ministry of Health. The program is now being scaled up in several other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Caterina has authored over 100 international articles; is the author/co-author of 12 international books on exercise and cognition, and physical activity for educational achievement; and is the editor/co-author of three national books. Caterina is also an associate editor for Mental Health and Physical Activity, and an editorial board member of the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.
Professor Herman Pontzer, Ph.D., is an evolutionary anthropologist in the Global Health Institute at Duke University. Through lab and field research, Herman investigates the physiology of humans and other primates to understand how lifestyle, especially physical activity and diet; ecology; and evolutionary history affect metabolism and health. He is particularly interested in cardiometabolic disease and the lifestyle factors that protect against obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other noncommunicable diseases that are common among industrialized populations but rare or absent in nonindustrialized societies. In this context, Herman’s related field projects seek to understand how physical activity, diet, and other ecological factors influence the physiology and health of people in small-scale societies, including hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers in east Africa and South America.
Professor Russell Rumberger, Ph.D., of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is Vice Provost for Education Partnerships for the University of California Office of the President, and Professor of Education in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara. Russ has served as a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Increasing High School Students’ Engagement and Motivation to Learn; the Committee on the Impact of Mobility and Change on the Lives of Young Children, Schools, and Neighborhoods; and the Committee on Improved Measurement of High School Dropout and Completion Rates. Russ also served as a panel member for the Institute of Education Sciences’ Practice Guide, Dropout Prevention. Currently, Russ directs the California Dropout Research Project at UC, Santa Barbara, which is producing a series of reports and policy briefs about the dropout problem in California.
Arja Sääkslahti, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Sport Pedagogy in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research is focused on young children’s physical activity, motor development, and health and well-being. In 2014, Arja received the Title of Docent, specializing in children’s physical education. Arja has been active in several national working groups, including the National Physical Education Curriculum for Basic Education and the national physical-activity recommendations for preschool-aged and school-aged children. Arja is the chair of the Special Interest Group for Early Years of the International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education (AIESEP), and a member of several international working groups in children’s physical education and physical activity. Arja’s excellence in research and professional experience earned her the Golden Cross of Sport by the Finnish Ministry of Sport and Culture, and an AIESEP fellowship in 2017.
Professor David Shernoff, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education (CMSCE) at Rutgers University. The mission of CMSCE is to improve STEM education in New Jersey and beyond through research and instruction. Dave received his doctorate in education from the University of Chicago, and served a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 2003-2013, Dave taught courses on adolescent development, educational psychology, and motivation to graduate and undergraduate students at Northern Illinois University. Dave has served as Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on over 10 research projects on student engagement or community engagement in classrooms, after-school settings, and educational video games. Dave’s research has yielded five authored or edited books, and over 35 other publications. Dave has been featured in Newsweek, Education Week, UC Berkeley’s The Greater Good, and other print and online magazines.
Professor Carmen Vivar, Ph.D., is with the Laboratory of Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity, in the Department of Physiology, Biophysics, and Neuroscience at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City. Carmen’s two previous positions include her postdoctoral work at the US National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Aging in Baltimore, Maryland, and as a guest researcher at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine’s Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at New York University. Among other topics, Carmen’s research includes studies in how physical activity affects and interrelates with the brain. In particular, her studies have examined how running changes the brain in rodents, how it reorganizes the circuitry of adult-born hippocampal neurons in mice, and how these studies may help to understand the effects of exercise in the human brain.
Professor Zhen Yan, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Center for Exercise Medicine Research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Zhen is dedicated to researching the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the health benefits of regular exercise, with a focus on exercise-induced mitochondrial remodeling and skeletal muscle adaptation. Zhen employs state-of-the-art molecular genetics and imaging technologies to address questions that are fundamentally important for exercise physiology. Zhen believes that creative and quality research in the area of the molecular transducer of exercise will provide invaluable information for combating non-communicable diseases and expanding the healthspan for the general public. Having authored 115 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, Zhen serves as Vice Chairman of the International Research Group of Biochemistry of Exercise, Associate Editor of Sports Medicine and Health Science, and is an editorial board member of the American Journal of Physiology.
Professor Mihaly (Mike) Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., of Claremont Graduate University was the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management in Claremont’s School of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences, and was the founder and co-director of Claremont’s Quality of Life Research Center. Professor Csikszentmihalyi was the former chair of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago, and was the creator of flow theory, which studies optimal performance and experience in everyday life, including education and sports. Professor Csikszentmihalyi was also one of the pioneers in the positive psychology movement that examines human strengths such as optimism, creativity, intrinsic motivation, altruism, and responsibility, among others. He authored and co-authored 120 articles and book chapters, and nine complete books, including his seminal book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. In 2000, Professor Csikszentmihalyi was named Thinker of the Year.
George Leonard was a highly-regarded writer and social theorist who wrote, conducted workshops, and spoke extensively about education, transformation, health, the physical domain, sport, and the human potential. For 17 years, Mr. Leonard was a senior editor at Look Magazine, with major assignments including covering the entire length of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement. Mr. Leonard won 13 national awards for education writing, more than any writer in America. In 1968, his seminal book Education and Ecstasy detailed the faults and presented a blueprint for real change in America’s public-school system. Among numerous other books he authored were The Transformation and The Ultimate Athlete. For most of his adult life, Mr. Leonard engaged in physical activity. At 6′ 4,” and a lean 175 pounds, he jogged regularly. But his passion was the Japanese martial art of Aikido, in which he became a fifth-degree black belt and, along with two others, owned, operated, and taught at an Aikido dojo (studio) in Mill Valley, California. Mr. Leonard’s writings and work inform the vision, perspective, and mission of the American Sports Institute, of which he was a Trustee for five years.
Professor Stephen Miller, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley was professor of Classic Archaeology in the Department of Classics, with a special emphasis on Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology, Ancient Architecture, and Greek Athletics. Prior to UC Berkeley, Professor Miller was a research assistant at The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. While at UC Berkeley, he also served as the director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece; as a director of the Fulbright Foundation in Greece; and as an advisor to the Grecian Minister of Culture for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles in Athens. In 1973, Professor Miller discovered and led the excavation project to uncover the ancient stadium of the Nemean Games in Nemea, Greece, one of the four rotating sites of the original Panhellenic Games, the forerunner to today’s Olympic Games.