Health and Exercise Science Newsletter
Fall 2022 Recap

The Health and Exercise Science newsletter publishes twice per year, in January and June.

From Department Head Barry Braun

Barry Braun outdoors
Department Head Barry Braun

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Thinking back to the 2022 Fall Commencement ceremony, I am still heartwarmed (is that a real word? Sounds like a veterinary issue …) from seeing our HES graduates walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, followed by our traditional commencement brunch for graduates and their families. It is a rare moment when the stresses of the semester disappear and leave nothing but pride, gratitude, and tears of happiness. This year, we handed each graduate a commemorative coin as they exited the stage. The coin features our patron “saint,” Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and our department motto: Movement = Health. They were a big hit, and we plan to distribute them to every Department of Health and Exercise Science grad in the future as a tangible way to feel connected to the department and to each other.

As many of you may already know, we lost our beloved colleague Ryan Donovan at the start of the new year. It’s impossible to describe what Ryan has meant to all of us as a teacher, adviser, mentor, fellow committee member, and friend. It’s no exaggeration to say that Ryan represented the best of humanity in his generosity, sincerity, trustworthiness, leadership, integrity, compassion – the list goes on and on. In fact, the story in this issue about Outstanding Graduate Eric Meyer is a perfect example of Ryan’s deep impact on student lives and success. Read Ryan’s obituary. All we can do is what we do best: pull together, be there for each other, look out for anyone who is struggling, and pull them up. That’s exactly what Ryan would have done.

In addition to recovering from this loss, we are gearing up to take on big challenges in 2023. The most pressing one was brought to a head by the pandemic and its aftermath. To keep learning going while putting students’ physical and mental health first, faculty and teaching assistants had to be understanding and prioritize kindness over strict accountability. They created hybrid face-to-face/online classes, video-recorded lectures, designed assignments with flexible due dates, and cobbled together alternative ways to fulfill requirements. It worked – in the sense that folks generally stayed healthy, whole, and learning in the face of a massive disruption. But as we make the transition out of “pandemic mode,” it has become a real challenge to continue these accommodations while also maintaining rigorous standards and student accountability. Every university in the country is facing the same challenge, and nobody has a great solution yet. We plan to take it head-on and craft a path forward that puts student needs first while also ensuring they are challenged in a way that best prepares them for success. At the same time, we need to help hardworking faculty and staff get what they need to thrive. We want faculty and staff who are fulfilled and happy – nothing less is acceptable.

This spring will be notable in that we will be doing searches for three new faculty members – two new assistant professors doing research and teaching in the area of how exercise improves mental health (and happiness!) and a senior instructor to teach a variety of classes. Last, given the strong relationship between HES and the Colorado State University women’s volleyball team (there are always several HES majors on the roster, usually with GPAs close to 4.0!), I want to acknowledge the retirement of head coach Tom Hilbert after 26 years and welcome Emily Kohan as the new head coach. Read about three team members, below. Good luck, and Go Rams!

Barry Braun, Department Head

Tiffany Weber profile photo

Enchanted reinvention: Tiffany Weber (’99) follows a whisper from Banner executive to owner of Hillside Vineyard

Tiffany Weber (B.S, ’99) woke up one morning in late July during a spell of typically untypical Colorado weather. A long stretch of sweltering heat gave way to darkening skies and cooler air the day before, and rain inundated Northern Colorado throughout the night. It felt like fall as Weber began her day at Hillside Vineyard, the property she bought in 2020 that serves as both a vineyard and wedding/event venue.

Ken Pytluk at the World League of FlingGolf

Ken Pytluk (’98) went from FlingGolf novice to world champion in just two short years

Ken Pytluk (B.S., ’98) was dialed in. He’d finished the qualifying round in third place and was able to get an early lead in the finals that the other competitors were struggling to catch. But the pressure was on. Even as a lifelong athlete who’d played and competed in sports ranging from hockey to mixed martial arts, this was a pressure he’d never experienced before.

Three HES alumni were honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards at Homecoming: Linda Meserve (’86) was presented with the Jim and Nadine Henry Award, and Carol (’71) and Gene (’70, ’72) Vaughan earned the Distinguished Athletics Award.

This year’s Colorado State University Distinguished Alumni Awards honors five graduates of the College of Health and Human Sciences who have gone on to distinguished careers while maintaining strong ties to their alma mater.


Brendan Kanye posing with CAM The Ram

Outstanding Graduate Brendan Kayne forges lifelong connection with University, faculty, and his son

When people think of hometown heroes, they think of firemen, police officers, a paramedic or maybe a civilian saving a cat from a tree – but to the Colorado State Univesity Department of Health and Exercise Science, Brendan Kayne is the embodiment of a hometown hero.

Maya Alvarez profile photo

Outstanding Graduate Maya Alvarez builds circles of support among Indigenous community, sorority, and work

The original dream of college had outstanding graduate Maya Alvarez looking out-of-state for colleges, but a sense of home kept her right here in her home state and had her packing her bags for Colorado State University.

Eric Meyer profile photo

Outstanding Graduate Eric Meyer pilots class to foster first-year student success with connections, tools, and resources

When looking at college, it wasn’t a hard choice deciding where to go – Colorado State University was a family tradition for outstanding student Eric Meyer and his brothers. However, not every student has the support or the at-home feel of campus that Myer had, or the connections that he cherishes.

HES Volleyball players photo

Get to know CSU volleyball’s student-athletes in the Department of Health and Exercise Science

The College of Health and Human Sciences is proud to highlight three Colorado State University Volleyball student-athletes majoring in Health and Exercise Science.

Emma Dammarell in Uganda

Health and exercise science student recounts her experience in Rwanda promoting health and sanitation education

Emma Dammarell, a senior in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, spent the summer in the Kabuga district of Rwanda, educating local people about important health and sanitation practices.

Scholarship Video thumbnail

Gratitude and celebration fill the room at College of Health and Human Sciences scholarship recognition event

Sounds of happy voices, plenty of smiles, and feelings of appreciation and joy were on display at the Colorado State University College of Health and Human Sciences scholarship recognition dinner on Nov. 10.

Welcome, New Faculty

Kimber Finan profile photo

Kimber Finan

Kimber Finan brings her background in exercise science and human physiology, as well as her experience as a competitive runner, to her role as instructor in health and exercise science. She seeks to educate students on how the human body can reach its full potential by optimizing health and performance.

David Thomson profile photo

David Thomson

David Thomson joined the HES faculty as an associate professor and medical director for the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory. Thomson works to leverage his experience as an emergency and EMS physician to support the lab activities, including research studies and stress testing for firefighters and athletes.


HES students earn awards at CSU Graduate Student Showcase

Aly Cavalier standing in front of her research poster

Brain aging research helps people live longer, healthier lives

Aly Cavalier, a graduate student in Colorado State University’s Department of Health and Exercise Science, has worked to study the aging process of the brain, seeking to protect the agency of older adults.

Chris Patrick profile photo

Investigating the neuromuscular system in people with multiple sclerosis

Chris Patrick, a graduate student in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, has worked to study how multiple sclerosis causes impairments, something that is still not definitive.

Sophie Seward profile photo

Researcher explores the impact of sleep on the risk of disease

As a graduate student in the Colorado State University Department of Health and Exercise Science, Sophie Seward seeks to understand the impact of sleep on the risk of disease in individuals.

Bayley Wade in front of her research poster

Research aims to increase quality of life for those with type 1 diabetes

This recognition signifies the impact of Wade’s research, seeking to hone therapeutic interventions and reduce disease burden for those with type 1 diabetes, increasing the quality of life and providing an excellent groundwork for further research.

Tom LaRocca profile photo

Tom LaRocca discusses his journey from high school chemistry teacher to healthspan researcher

Dr. Tom LaRocca, assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Health and Exercise Science and director of the Healthspan Biology Lab at CSU, sits down with co-hosts Matt and Avery to discuss his journey from teaching high school chemistry to becoming a healthspan researcher.

research day 2023 logo

Volunteer judges needed for research poster sessions at College of Health and Human Sciences Research Day – March 6

CHHS Research Day is an annual event created to showcase the variety and quality of research and creative scholarship by students, faculty, and staff in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. The fourth annual CHHS Research Day will take place Monday, March 6, 2023, at the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.

Outreach and Engagement

Youth Sport Camps photo

2022 Youth Sport Camps provided kids with an outlet for friendship, exercise, and fun

Hosted by the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences at Colorado State University, the 52nd annual Youth Sport Camps has completed another summer of providing active programming for kids.

Homecoming 5k photo with CAM The Ram

42nd annual Homecoming 5K sets new course record, welcomes more than 1,400 runners

Colorado State University alumni and community members gathered Saturday, October 15 on the historic CSU Oval to participate in a long-standing tradition of Homecoming and Family Weekend: the Homecoming 5K race.

Kettleball pinterest photo

Adult Fitness program director, Kimberly Burke (B.S., ’12; M.S., ’14), shares health tips in her blog

If new to using the kettlebell, there is some important initial training for safety, but it can be a great addition to your program and a way to add some variety to your routine.

Alumni and friends make our Rams Family strong! Whether you join us for a morning at the Homecoming 5K, or for a lifetime as a donor, your time, talent, treasure, and testimony shape our shared future.

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