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Ellen Evans featured faculty member on UGA homepage

Kristen B. Morales

April 27, 2015

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Ellen Evans, a professor of kinesiology in the UGA College of Education and director of UGA's Center for Physical Activity and Health, empowers students to model healthy movement behaviors and motivate others through education and social support in their families, schools, workplaces and communities. She was recently featured in a story on the UGA.edu homepage.

Below is an excerpt, or you can read the full version.

Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?

I earned my bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University in physical education/fitness, my master's degree from the University of Illinois in exercise physiology, and my Ph.D. from UGA in exercise physiology. I also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in geriatrics and gerontology at Washington University School of Medicine. My primary responsibilities within the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Education are research and teaching; however, I also serve as the coordinator of the Exercise and Sport Science Program and the director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health. Additionally, I am an adjunct professor in the department of foods and nutrition in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and an affiliate with the Institute of Gerontology in the College of Public Health here at UGA.

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?

After serving on the University of Illinois faculty for nine years, I came back to my alma mater, UGA, in 2010, when this unique position became available. In truth, I had been waiting and hoping for the opportunity to return to UGA. Although I was raised and educated in the Midwest, Athens has always felt like home to me.

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?

Most bachelor's and master's students in my classes are striving to become allied health practitioners (e.g. physical therapists, clinical exercise physiologists) or programmers (e.g. fitness directors). Beyond the fundamental basics of the mechanisms of how exercise/physical activity enhances health and the guidelines for safety and exercise prescription, I want to empower my students to go into the world and become change agents with regard to human movement. It is my goal that students will model healthy movement behaviors and motivate others through education and social support in their families, schools, workplaces and communities.

Favorite book/movie (and why)?

I rarely if ever watch TV or movies, except when multi-tasking (e.g. ironing), but I am an avid reader, especially of nonfiction. My favorite movie to date is "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," which is essentially about successful aging from an emotional perspective. Take home point = let the past go. Any movie that makes you both laugh and cry is a serious score in my opinion. My favorite book to date is "Aging Well" by George Vaillant, which is based on the Harvard Study of Adult Development. A great quote is "If I'd known I'd live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Finally, a recent thought-provoking book is "Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It," by James Levine, which focuses on our extremely sedentary lifestyles and how this negatively influences our mental and physical health. I used to dislike my office chair, now I hate it.

Proudest moment at UGA?

The best part of my UGA experience is student development. I am a lucky and grateful woman, as I have many proud moments here at UGA and they are all related to my "lab kids." Any time my Ph.D. student obtains an academic position or postdoctoral research fellowship, or my master's student gets accepted to a Ph.D. program or obtains a great job, or my undergraduates tell me that they are now employed or were accepted into graduate school, typically a physical therapy program, I am one proud Lab Mom! One hundred years from now it will not matter how much grant funding I obtained or the impact factor of the journals in which I publish. What will matter most is that my mentoring made a difference and the world is a better place because of my lab kids.

Read the full article

Related links: Department of Kinesiology