Update on Health and Exercise Science accomplishments from Department Head Barry Braun

Barry Braun

Dear Alumni and Friends,

It has been almost five years since I came to CSU to be Professor and Head of the Health and Exercise Science Department in August 2014. At the time, I didn’t really know what I was getting into, and I was a bit intimidated to know I was now responsible for 1400+ undergrads, grad students, faculty and staff.  Fortunately, I inherited a high-functioning department from the late Dr. Gay Israel and had the benefit of Gay’s wisdom and friendship for a year. I will always be grateful for that. As the saying goes; “when you drink the water, remember who dug the well.”

Building on that solid foundation, we have accomplished a LOT in those five years. Seven new tenure-track faculty have joined us here at HES, two more in the Colorado School of Public Health with HES as their home department, as well as the addition of Dr. Scott Fahrner, a physician who joined our faculty and HPCRL staff full-time last June, and a new full-time Instructor starting this July.

We have a completely revised undergraduate curriculum designed for the student of the 2020’s that includes brand-new immersive laboratory courses in Biomechanics and Neurophysiology and a completely remade Exercise Physiology lab (all in a state-of-the-art teaching laboratory), new capstone classes and additions/deletions/edits across the entire spectrum of both the Health Promotion and Sports Medicine tracks. We invested in enhancing the quality and quantity of our advising, adding 3 new Academic Success Coordinators and building a shared home for Advising across the hall from our central office. We tripled the size of the Ph.D. program and currently have 15 doctoral students spread across in the various research labs.

Along the way we added a $2.7 million addition to the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory that added 4 new laboratories, 3 new clinical research facilities, office space for 16 PhD students and for the Medical Director and a beautiful new entrance and welcome area (we are committed to raising the funds needed to name the entrance for Dr. Israel!). New research areas include Sleep and Metabolism, Cancer Prevention/Rehabilitation, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke and optimizing physical and psychological function in Military Special Forces operators. For those of you who like metrics, our annual research grant dollars grew from $1,270,000 in 2014 to $1,650,000 in 2018.

We remain robustly committed to the community engagement that is embedded in the CSU land grant mission; adding a location in Castle Rock to the hugely popular Youth Sport Camps, investing in new equipment and facilities for the Adult Fitness Program and expanding the scope, reach and impact of the Firefighter Testing Program.  We also created a joint research and grad education partnership with the China Institute of Sport Sciences in Beijing and have our first international scholar working with us here at CSU. But most importantly, we have managed to create a departmental culture in which the expectation of excellence is intertwined with respect for each other, recognition that a common good supersedes individual ambition and the strong belief that we are a family and are better together. Visitors unfailingly recognize it and it is widely known (and often envied) across campus and at peer departments.

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to stay on as HES department head for five more years.  I forced myself to pause and really think this through. Although I could bore you with the individual pros and cons, only two factors truly mattered. I love this job, even on the (rare) days that I don’t.  And there is still so much we can do together; from enhancing our ability to be truly inclusive and diverse to creating a 5 year BS/MPH degree with the Co. Sch. of Public Health to growing our capacity to provide real-world experiences for our students to becoming THE place to train women leaders in Health and Exercise Science to partnering with ROTC to create a better training plan for the new U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test standards to adding grad student and post-doc training grants to our research enterprise to things we haven’t even thought of yet. So the answer is yes, I’m in for at least the next five years and tremendously excited about continuing to work with this phenomenal group of folks here in HES, in the CHHS, and at CSU!


Barry Braun, Ph.D.

Professor and Head

Executive Director, Human Performance Clinical Research Lab

Department of Health and Exercise Science