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Department of Kinesiology

Kinesiology Research

Research and Outreach

Undergraduate Research

Research is not just for graduate-level students. Undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in a variety of kinesiology research interests as well.

Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (ISYS)


The ISYS was founded by the Michigan Legislature in 1978. The current mission of the Institute is to provide leadership, conduct scientific research and engage in service or outreach that transforms the face of youth sports in ways that maximize the beneficial physical, psychological and social effects of participation for children and youth while minimizing detrimental effects. Directed by Dan Gould, Ph.D.

Center for Physical Activity and Health (CPAH)

Through a collaboration between the Departments of Kinesiology and Epidemiology, the Center for Physical Activity and Health (CPAH) partners with businesses, organizations, and industries to help develop policy initiatives related to promoting a healthier lifestyle. Our aim is to position MSU as a leader for impacting the lives of Michigan and U.S. citizens in terms of appropriate physical activity intervention strategies. Directed by James Pivarnik, Ph.D.

Health Behaviors and Cognition Laboratory (HBCL)

The Health Behaviors and Cognition Laboratory (HBCL) is focused on gaining a greater understanding of the neurological mechanisms underlying the relationship between health-oriented behaviors and cognition, and the translation of this relationship to scholastic achievement. Directed by Matt Pontifex, Ph.D.

Human Energy Research Laboratory (HERL)

Originally established in 1953, the Human Energy Research Laboratory (HERL) continues a long tradition of cutting edge research investigating the anatomical and physiological effects of various types, intensities, and durations of physical activity with the primary goal of enhancing human health and well being. Directed by James Pivarnik, Ph.D.

Motor Learning and Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory (MOTRE)

Research in the Motor Learning and Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory aims to understand the fundamental questions of motor learning - (i) how do humans learn to produce skilled and coordinated movement, and (ii) how is this ability altered in the context of development, aging, and movement disorders? By discovering underlying principles of motor learning and using these as a basis to develop novel training paradigms, our goal is to facilitate motor skill learning, especially in the context of the rehabilitation of movement disorders. Directed by Rajiv Ranganathan, Ph.D.

Motor Neuroscience Laboratory (MNL)

Research in the Motor Neuroscience Laboratory (MNL) uses behavioral and neurophysiological techniques to address questions about brain mechanisms underlying human motor control. Although the lab is primarily oriented towards basic research, knowledge gained in this research is relevant in the context of understanding motor learning processes, and rehabilitation of motor disorders. Directed by Florian Kagerer, Ph.D.

Physical Activity Laboratory (PAL)

The Physical Activity Laboratory (PAL) is focused on the measurement of physical activity in pediatric populations and the development of longitudinal school-based and family-based interventons to increase physical activity. Directed by Karin Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Sensorimotor Development Lab (SDLab)

In the Sensorimotor Development Lab, our focus is in the area of motor development throughout the lifespan, specifically in the context of how infants and young children learn to interact with the surrounding environment. We predominantly study reaching and grasping — with an emphasis on how new behaviors and movement patterns emerge out of previous ones. Directed by Mei-Hua Lee, Ph.D.

Social & Motivational Processes in Physical Activity Lab (SiMPL)

The Social & Motivational Processes in Physical Activity Lab (SiMPL) addresses social and motivational processes within sport, physical education, and other youth physical activity contexts. We are interested in how physical activity contributes to psychological and social development as well as how to promote physical activity motivation and behavior in young people. Our work draws heavily from developmental, social, and sport psychology perspectives and we collaborate closely with colleagues in clinical psychology, motor control, neuroscience, and physical education pedagogy. Directed by Alan L. Smith, Ph.D.

Sports Injury Research Laboratory (SIRL)

The Sports Injury Research Laboratory (SIRL) is focused on innovative and collaborative sports medicine research focusing on the impact of knee joint injury on physical activity, lower extremity function, and long term joint health. The aim of this research is to identify individuals at elevated risk for poor knee and health related outcomes following knee injury utilizing innovative assessment techniques as well as to facilitate a timely, safe, and healthy return to physical activity. Directed by Chris Kuenze, Ph.D.

Sport-Related Concussion Laboratory (SRCL)

The Sport-Related Concussion Laboratory (SRCL) is focused on the neurocognitive function of athletes who incur a sports-related concussion. Specifically, investigating sex and age related differences in the long-term recovery of concussed athletes. This research has implications for sports medicine professionals regarding the neurocognitive status of athletes, critical to establishing safe return to participation. Directed by Tracey Covassin, Ph.D.

Spartan Motorsport Performance Lab

Automobile racing is one of the largest spectator sports in the world yet there is less than 60 research articles ever published on the physiological stress of driving a race car. We are currently working with NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 and IMSA teams to understanding the strain placed on drivers and pit crews during competition and then using established training and nutrition programs increase performance and safety of motorsport athletes.

Sports Skills Program (SSP)

The Sports Skills Program (SSP) provides opportunities for participation in sport and physical activities to children and adults with disabilities through the coaching efforts of our undergraduate students in our Adapted Physical Activity course (KIN 465). For more information, please visit the Sports Skills page. Directed by George Harnick, M.S.

Exergames Research Lab (XRL)

The Exergames Research Lab (XRL) is dedicated to improving the way people exercise by combining novel technologies and social psychology principles. Specifically, the XRL leverages the potential of exergames (exercise video games) and group dynamics theories to enhance motivation during exercise, ultimately resulting in increases in the duration at which people sustain exercise. Directed by Deborah Feltz, Ph.D.