Kinesiology doctoral student receives National Doctoral Scholar Award

April 17, 2023

Aaron J. Zynda, a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology, is the recipient of the American Kinesiology Association’s (AKA) National Doctoral Scholar Award. Since 2014, the award has annually recognized the top doctoral kinesiology student in the nation by way of leadership and academic record.

While conducting research with the Athletic Injury and Rehabilitation Labs (AIR Labs), Zynda has focused on examining the recovery process following concussions—specifically how athletes’ sensorimotor skills and performance are affected, and how lingering deficits can lead to subsequent injuries.

“In my own experience of having a concussion, the recovery process for me was very challenging,” said Zynda. “The goal of my research is getting athletes back to doing what they love and doing it safely.”

In April 2023 Zynda successfully defended his dissertation and will soon be joining the Concussion Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as a post-doctoral fellow.

As he reflects on his time at MSU, he is very thankful for the mentorship provided by Professor Tracey Covassin. “MSU became the perfect place for me to do my research. Dr. Covassin gave me the freedom to focus on areas that I was most passionate about,” said Zynda.

“[T]his reflects positively on the exceptional mentorship you [Zynda] have received, as well as on the Department of Kinesiology and Michigan State University more broadly,” said Department of Kinesiology Chairperson Paddy Ekkekakis in his recognition letter to Zynda. “We are all very proud of you.”

Long-term, Zynda hopes to continue his research and develop a series of targeted treatment and rehab programs for athletes following concussion.

“Zynda’s receipt of this prestigious award not only acknowledges his impressive academic accomplishments, but also highlights his exceptional leadership abilities and commitment to the field of kinesiology,” said MSU College of Education Dean and Foundation Professor Jerlando F. L. Jackson.

Related news: In 2021, Jill Kochanek received the same prestigious honor from AKA.