Panteleimon Ekkekakis becomes chair of the Department of Kinesiology

August 9, 2022

Panteleimon “Paddy” Ekkekakis, an internationally renowned exercise psychology scholar, became the chair of the Department of Kinesiology on August 1, 2022.  

Ekkekakis, a third-generation educator, was formerly a faculty member at Iowa State University, which he had joined in 2000. He has a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in addition to degrees from Kansas State University and the University of Athens.  

His research examines affective responses to exercise, or the psychological responses and state of an individual during and after physical activity.  

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Ekkekakis join the faculty in the college and lead the Department of Kinesiology,” said Professor Tracey Covassin and Associate Professor Matthew Pontifex, who led the search committee for the role. “Not only is he a prolific scholar, but he brings both a broad cross-disciplinary vision and strong moral compass that will enable him to provide strategic leadership across all facets of department missions.” 

Ekkekakis—who was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology in 2019, a distinguished honor for scholars within the field—believes in the power of research to be transformative.  

Big problems do not intimidate Ekkekakis. The possibilities excite him.  

“I’m concerned about whether we’re being effective as a field in improving the world,” he said. “The potential is there. I want to envision research that will improve the status quo and change current norms in tangible, meaningful ways.”  

He believes in the strength of collaboration, ideating and interdisciplinary mindsets, like those of the faculty and students in the MSU Department of Kinesiology.  

“All of us study movement in one way or another,” he said. “We all know science and the scientific method. I would like to take advantage of those commonalities and create or invigorate a departmental environment that will try to take advantage of that to bring us together as much as possible, as often as possible to rediscover our common core.” 

Ekkekakis has three distinct lines of research inquiry, examining: 

  • The complex relationship between exercise intensity and the way it makes people feel. Ekkekakis and colleagues developed the dual-mode theory around this brain/body connection.  
  • Individuals who experience an excessive sense of fatigue during physical exertion, and how the brain may play a role in this relatively common condition.  
  • Innovative ideas and strategies for recommending physical activity to the public.  

Hi research has been cited over 13,500 times and been instrumental in the publication of three books—co-editor: “Psychobiology of Physical Activity” (Human Kinetics, 2006); editor: “Routledge Handbook of Physical Activity and Mental Health” (Routledge, 2013); and author: “The Measurement of Affect, Mood and Emotion: A Guide for Health-Behavioral Research” (Cambridge University Press, 2013).  

Ekkekakis’ expertise has also been shared around the globe. He has presented lectures, seminars and workshops in more than 30 cities across 15 countries and has served as the keynote speaker for several major conferences, including the International Association of Applied Psychology and the Association of Research on Physical and Sports Activities.  

He assumes the chair role from Professor Karin Pfeiffer, who served as interim chair from 2021-2022. On August 1, Pfeiffer became the director for the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports

“I am very excited to have joined the Spartan family,” Ekkekakis said. “Kinesiology is one of the largest majors on this great campus and my colleagues within the department are some of the best in the world in what they do. I hope we will all work together to further strengthen our academic unit, better serve our students and more effectively leverage the potential of physical activity to benefit public health on a global scale.” 

Learn more about Ekkekakis. This story will be featured in the upcoming 2022 edition of the college’s New Educator magazine.