Faculty Research

KNH faculty are involved in a variety of research. This site, which is currently being updated, will highlight a sampling of efforts.

Dr. William Berg

Current Research Interests: Our current research is focused on understanding how the human central nervous system (CNS) functions proactively to preserve postural stability. Specifically, we study what are called anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs). APAs are initiated in advance of self- and/or externally-induced postural or movement perturbations. For example, when reaching for a book on a shelf, muscles in the trunk and legs activate in advance of muscle activity or movement in the shoulder and arm. Or when catching an object, APAs stabilize the limb and body just prior to the catch. Our recent work has revealed that APAs commence earlier when muscles are fatigued, and that this functional adaptation to fatigue is definitely coordinated by the CNS. We've also studied how the CNS copes with uncertainty about load in terms of generating the anticipatory muscle activity necessary to successfully catch an object. Recent work has revealed that when object weight is unknown to a person, the CNS prepares for a much heavier than average object, thereby affording the greatest chance of catching the object regardless of its weight. We are also interested in applying our enhanced understanding of role of the CNS in postural control in order to develop more effective and specific therapeutic exercise. Further research interests include aging and mobility, and attention and human performance.

Current Funding: Research Grant from the College of Education, Health and Society, Miami University.


Dr. Randal Claytor

My research interests have evolved over the years to include the study of physical activity, physical fitness and exercise training, as these conditions relate to or affect a variety of factors, such as: cardiovascular stress reactivity, childhood overweight/obesity, and neurocognitive performance/academic achievement in youth and young adults. Much of this work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI & NICHHD), the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the Ohio Departments of Health and Education.

More recently, I have been studying the use of a unique combination of aerobic and resistance exercise training (from both an acute and chronic perspective) to determine the physiological and perceptual responses and adaptations to this type of exercise and to determine whether this type of exercise (training) is viable for various groups, such as overweight/obese youth, individuals diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and those with a high likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

In addition, for the past 2 years, I have lead a small, interdisciplinary group of faculty (from Miami University) and with funding from the College Education, Health & Society and from the Bob Evan Foundation, we have developed and implemented a multifaceted health & wellness intervention designed specifically for an at-risk population of adolescents to affect the various risk factors/behaviors that can be addressed in a school-based setting, during the school day, and that have theoretical significance related to literature-based health-risk behaviors such as physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, unhealthy eating patterns and socio-psychological patterns of behavior that have been shown to negatively affect both health and academic performance/competence. This is a continuing project that serves several school districts in southwestern Ohio and many Miami University undergraduate students in the context of engagement and experiential learning.

Currently, I have funding to explore, along with several undergraduate and graduate students, the inter-relationships between the biomechanics of an external mechanical load (as it is used in resistance exercise equipment) and the physiological changes that occur in response to acute muscle fatigue during resistance exercise. This work is part of a larger context; to increase our knowledge and understanding of acute dynamic, resistance exercise-induced muscle fatigue. By investigating the interaction between the changes in specific human physiologic variables and changes in external mechanical variables we can use this information to modify a resistance load, in real-time. This is the first step in a line of research designed to enhance the resistance exercise training experience for a wide variety of users who differ in physical capabilities and health status, in an effort to individually optimize the use of resistance exercise to promote health and well-being. 


Dr. Karly S. Geller

My research aims to promote multiple health behaviors (i.e., healthy lifestyle) to prevent and control chronic disease among unique youth and young adult populations. I strongly believe health promotion research has the potential to relieve the public of cancer, obesity, and other chronic disease; however, the approach must holistically target the lifestyle behaviors of youth - the future public.

The multiple health behavior of collegiate athletes versus non-athletes is funded by the Committee on Faculty Research (CFR), Grant to Promote Research ($2, 875). This examination will be among the first to specifically examine the potential clustering of multiple health behaviors among collegiate athletes, as well as indicate the underlying influences that motivate these behaviors. Focus groups to inform fall 2012 data collection begin June/July 2012.

Ohio Health Action and Research Training (HART) is funded by the Education, Health, and Society Small Research Grant Award ($1,750). The "Health Action" element of the HART program aims to describe the social- and community-level influences on the lifestyle behaviors of youth. "Health Action" includes activities to educate and empower youth to be conscious and active members of their communities, and to advocate for healthy change(s). The "Research Training" element involves youth-led research, generating rich data collection and contributing to the development of future scientists. Data collection begins fall 2012.

The environmental influences on college students' health behaviors project is funded by the Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS) Appointment. This research project examines the Miami University campus environment as it relates to Miami undergraduates’ lifestyle, health, and quality of life. Data collection begins June 2012.

The Kansas youth gardening project is in the manuscript and grant development phase through partnerships with health promotion researchers at Kansas State University. I have confirmed commitments from Dr. David Dzewaltowski and Dr. Richard Rosenkranz to collaborate in a 3-day workshop this June, including research planning, manuscript development, and grantsmanship brainstorming/development. These efforts are funded by the Education, Health, Society Mutual Mentoring Grant ($450).

Development and testing of a comprehensive lifestyle metric relative to cancer incidence and mortality is a RO3 grant proposed to the National Institutes of Health. The proposal aims to empirically compare various methods of aggregating several health behaviors into a comprehensive lifestyle metric relative to cancer incidence, cancer mortality, and overall mortality. The grant was scored and resubmission is planned for October 2012.


Robert Weinberg, professor

Examining mental toughness in athletes and business.

Dr. Weinberg’s current research focuses on mental toughness. What is it? How can coaches and athletes develop it? Can sport psychology principles used to build mental toughness in athletes transfer to the business world?

Specifically, his recent studies are aimed at documenting anecdotal stories that show mental toughness developed by athletes is also advantageous in the business world and life. These attributes include self confidence, focus, motivation, and the ability to deal with pressure. He’s also developing a test that will measure mental toughness in both athletes and business people, and he has begun to identify techniques and strategies to help teach mental toughness in athletic and corporate settings.

He is co-editor of the world’s best-selling textbook on sport and exercise psychology, past president of two national sport psychology associations, and a frequent keynote speaker at sport psychology conferences nationally and internationally, including Portugal, Greece, Spain, Hong Kong, Australia, England and Ireland.

 “Businesses are always looking for ways to improve,” he said. One of my goals is to teach employees and managers how to develop mental toughness. Just as such training has enhanced success in the sports world, it can improve performance in the business world. In essence, mental toughness can not only help the “bottom line” but also improve feelings of competency.”