Faculty Members and Students Recognized by American College of Sports Medicine

Several University of Pittsburgh School of Education faculty members and PhD students were recognized for their accomplishments during the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 2022 Annual Meeting and World Congresses.

ACSM is the premier association for sports medicine, exercise science, and health and fitness professionals dedicated to helping people worldwide live longer, healthier lives.

Pitt Education faculty members Christopher Kline and Sharon Ross were recognized as new ACSM Fellows during the annual meeting. The fellowship program is the most prestigious distinction within ACSM and recognizes distinguished professional achievement in research and service in the fields of exercise science and sports medicine.

An associate professor in the Department of Health and Human Development (HHD), Kline’s research focuses on the interrelationships between physical activity, sleep, and cardiometabolic risk. He has been an ACSM Fellow since 2020, but was officially recognized during the 2022 annual meeting, the first in-person gathering since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He looks forward to expanding his role within the organization in both service and leadership capacities.

“ACSM was the first academic research society in which I became involved. Becoming an ACSM Fellow has been a goal of mine since I started as a graduate student researcher,” Kline says. “In many ways, this validates all the hard work I’ve put in since then.”

Ross is an associate professor in HHD and director of the Latino Family Health Laboratory at Pitt Education. Her research focuses on physical activity promotion and obesity prevention in children and adolescents. She serves on ACSM’s Strategic Health Initiative for Health Equity Committee and was named an ACSM Fellow in April 2022.

“I feel encouraged and energized to be recognized by ACSM for my research scholarship and ongoing service to the sports medicine and exercise science community,” says Ross. “This is especially important as I bridge work across public health and exercise science and bring perspectives on health equity and underserved communities, which is an exciting direction for the College.”

In addition, three PhD students in Pitt Education’s Exercise Physiology program recently received scholarships and recognition from ACSM.

Caitlin Cheruka was awarded the 2022 Michael L. Pollock Student Scholarship to support her attendance at the annual meeting. She was awarded the scholarship for her research project that evaluated oxygen consumption and heart rate responses across the various sequences of a standardized 60-minute Vinyasa yoga practice. 

Cheruka is interested in researching how exercise can be used as medicine to help treat and prevent chronic diseases, specifically using exercise to improve the bidirectional relationship between sleep and the cardiovascular system.

“I believe my training as a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh will allow me to continue to follow my dreams and prepare for the field as a research scientist in the field of exercise physiology and sleep science,” says Cheruka.

JP Marrero-Rivera received first place in the ACSM Minority Health and Research Interest Group Student Awards. The award recognizes his work on the Activos Juntos (which translates to “active together”) study, an investigation on the preliminary effects of a seven-week, home-based, promotora (“community health worker”)-led physical activity intervention with Latinx preschool-aged children and their mothers.

Through his work, Marrerro-Rivera aims to combine the clinical applications of exercise to help children in the Latinx/Hispanic community, a population that is at-risk for early onset of chronic health conditions.

“Having the opportunity to engage in Activos Juntos immediately upon beginning my doctoral training is a monumental step in my professional aspirations of contributing to the health literacy of the Latinx/Hispanic population,” says Marrero-Rivera. “Being a Latino myself, it is a near-and-dear topic to my heart, and I find it my calling to contribute to improving the health education and knowledge of my community.”

Rachel Sanders was accepted into the 2021-2022 cohort of the ACSM Leadership and Diversity Training Program. Through this program, she will meet and collaborate with a diverse group of professionals in the field, work with an experienced mentor, and help promote diversity and inclusion in ACSM.

Sanders’ research interests focus on examining the association between 24-hour movement behaviors such as sleep, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and cardiometabolic health in adults. She is also interested in intervention studies focusing on the relationship between physical activity and sleep and exploring the racial and ethnic differences in sleep disorders.

On her experience at Pitt Education, Sanders says, “The university, as well as my program, have provided me with the tools I need to succeed, and this has mostly come through the people I surround myself with. My mentor and colleagues have been a huge part of my journey so far and their support has been greatly appreciated. I’ve been able to grow as a student, professional, and individual at Pitt.”

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The Pitt Education Department of Health and Human Development blends health promotion, wellness, and exercise physiology with applied developmental science and evidence-based practices to address 21st century problems in diverse regional, national, and global real-world contexts. Programs are now accepting applications.