Incoming Faculty

In the fall 2017 the Department of Health and Exercise Science will welcome two new faculty members, Amanda Hutcheson, PhD candidate (University of Alabama) and J. Mikhail Kellawan, PhD (Queen's University). Below are research descriptions for both of our incoming faculty members. Applicants to the HES graduate program (MS and PhD) who are interested in working with either Ms. Hucheson or Dr. Kellawan may contact them directly with questions regarding their research. Questions about applying to the graduate program should be directed to the Department of Health and Exercise Science or the University of Oklahoma's Office of Graduate Admissions. 

Amanda Hutcheson

Research Description:
Ms. Hutcheson’s research interests focus on the health impacts of sedentary behavior. Her research incorporates an ecological framework to investigate influences on sedentary behavior and primarily focuses on the workplace setting. Ms. Hutcheson’s research interests also include physical activity and addressing sedentary behavior in settings outside of the workplace. The aim of her research is to design and test theory-based health education and promotion programs to reduce sedentary behavior and increase physical activity through the use of both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Contact Information:
470 Russell Hall
Box 870311
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0311
Phone: (404) 723-6909

J. Mikhail Kellawan, PhD

Human Circulation Research Laboratory (HCRL)

Research Goals:
Matching delivery of blood (thus, oxygen and other substrates) to tissue demand is a critical role of the cardiovascular system, such that, inability of structural and functional systems to properly support tissues affect exercise capacity, tolerance, functional activities of daily life, and promote poor cardiovascular health outcomes.

To ensure that blood flow matches metabolic demand; the cardiovascular system must maintain arterial blood pressure while constantly adjusting blood flow throughout all the vascular beds in the circulatory system. Exercise presents an exceptional challenge to the cardiovascular system, as working muscles need a dramatic increase in blood flow to deliver adequate amounts of oxygen. Therefore, integrated control of cardiac output (amount of blood pumped by the heart), vasodilation (opening of blood vessels) and vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) is needed to direct blood from non-working tissues to the working muscles without severely impacting blood flow to the brain. Recent research indicates that conditions that interfere with proper “matching” of blood flow to metabolic demand affect both physical and cognitive health.

For example, aging, diabetes, and hypertension, are comprised of risk factors contributing to poor peripheral vascular and cognitive health. The increasing prevalence of these conditions (even healthy aging) makes this area of research essential as it has major economic and public health implications.

For these reasons, the laboratory is focused on how health conditions can alter the ability of the cardiovascular system to match metabolic demand and how regular physical activity and therapies can be used to improve vascular function.  The overarching goal of the HCRL research program is to understand the characteristics and mechanisms that match oxygen/substrate supply to demand in response to exercise and environmental stress in both human health and in disease.

The HCRL specific research focus is to conduct experiments that provide insight into the vascular control mechanisms in the cerebral and skeletal muscle circulations during exercise and environmental stress in humans.

Individuals interested in graduate training opportunities should contact Dr. Kellawan directly at

HES Faculty

In Memory of

Travis W. Beck, Ph.D.

Travis Wayne Beck died Sunday, February 26 after a brave fight with cancer. He was born on December 6, 1979 at Hastings,  Nebraska to Wayne and Maria (Hart) Beck of Edgar, Nebraska. His early years were spent helping out his dad on the family farms. He graduated from Sandy Creek High School in 1998 and Doane College in 2002.

Travis then went onto his graduate studies. After the completion of his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2007, Travis accepted a position at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of Health and Exercise Science where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in exercise physiology and statistics. He became a tenured Associate Professor in 2013. He made significant contributions to the fields of surface electromyography, mechanomyography, digital signal processing, and neuromuscular physiology and was considered by many to be in the top 1% of his field. He served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and reviewed manuscripts for dozens of other journals. Travis was a respected and accomplished scientist with over 250 peer-reviewed publications to his credit. However, his greatest impact to the field was through the mentorship of doctoral students in the Biophysics Laboratory, all of whom have gone onto their own successful academic careers where they teach and mentor their own students using many of his techniques. He was loved and admired by his students. His legacy will forever live on through his teachings and scientific work.

In his free time Travis enjoyed weight lifting, welding and spending time with his family. While his academic career brought success, his favorite place was still his family home in Edgar. He found great joy in helping his dad with farming duties, driving tractors and watching his nieces and nephews play.                

He is preceded in death by his nephew Paul Bertellotti; grandparents Harold and Lovena Beck; Robert and Lucille Hart.    

Travis is survived by wife Mary Beth Beck and stepdaughters Rachael and Rebecca of Noble, Oklahoma; parents Wayne and Maria Beck of Edgar, Nebraska; sisters Carrie (Robert) Bertellotti of Omaha, Laura (Kelly) Hoffart of Hickman; nephews Lincoln and Merrick; nieces Halsey and Sara Grace, aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Contributions to the Travis Beck Memorial Scholarship can be made at the
 OU Foundation website or by clicking on this link. 

Debra A. Bemben, President's Associates Presidential Professor
Exercise Physiology

Sarkeys Complex, 119 | (405) 325-2709
Email Dr. Debra Bemben

Research Interests 
• Endocrine response to exercise
• Bone metabolism and exercise
• Bone health in postmenopausal women


Michael G. Bemben, C.B. Hudson Presidential Professor and Chair  
Exercise Physiology 

Sarkeys Complex, 115 | (405) 325-5211
Email Dr. Michael Bemben

Research Interests 

• Aging
• Neuromuscular body composition
• Blood flow

Chris Black, Assistant Professor
Exercise Physiology

Sarkeys Complex, 110 | (405) 325-7668
Email Dr. Black

Research Interests

• Neuromuscular function during and following exercise
• Causes and performance consequences of exercise-induced muscle pain
• Psychobiological mechanisms of pain and the use of exercise to treat
  chronic pain conditions

Paul Branscum, RD, Assistant Professor and Graduate Liaison
Health Promotion 

Sarkeys Complex, 112 | (405) 325-9028
Email Dr. Branscum

Research Interests

• Designing and evaluating theory-based health education
   and health promotion programs
• Prevention of childhood obesity
• Public health nutrition


Jay Campbell, Assistant Professor
Exercise Physiology

Sarkeys Complex, 109 | (405) 325-6905
Email Dr. Campbell

Research Interests

• GPS-based tracking (accelerations, decelerations, player
   load, change of direction imbalances)
• Biochemical recovery status and heart rate variability based
   assessment of nervous system readiness
• Recovery modalities including cryotherapy, manual therapy,
   sleep monitoring, and nutritional interventions for
   performance enhancement/recovery
• Thermoregulation in hot, humid working/competition
   environments including assessment of microenvironment
   and clothing properties


Marshall Cheney, Assistant Professor 
Health Promotion

Sarkeys Complex, 111 | (405) 325-6322
Email Dr. Cheney

Research Interests 

• Tobacco use prevention
• Social marketing
• Health disparities
• Social determinants of health


Daniel J. Larson, Assistant Professor
Sports Management/Exercise Physiology

Sarkeys Complex, 120 | (405) 325-6199
Email Dr. Dan Larson 

Research Interests
• Economic theory
• Finance and policy for international professional sports
• Participant sport events
• Management of national governing bodies
• Sport coaching and instruction



Rebecca D. Larson, Assistant Professor
Exercise Physiology


Sarkeys Complex, 117 | (405) 325-6325
Email Dr. Rebecca Larson

Research Interests
• Exercise for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis
• Body composition measurement and evaluation
• Muscle metabolism and function
• Exercise testing, adaptations, and fatigue


Sarah Maness, Assistant Professor
Health Promotion

Sarkeys Complex, 118 | (405) 325-4984
Email Dr. Maness

Research Interests
• Social determinants of health
• Health disparities
• Program evaluation
• Adolescent pregnancy prevention
• HPV vaccination



Donna M. Tall Bear, Instructor  
Health Promotion 


Sarkeys Complex, 126 | (405) 325-6860
Email Ms. Tall Bear

Research Interests

• Impact of health coaching on health behavior and chronic disease
• Impact of historical trauma on diabetes risk and management in
  American Indian populations


E. Laurette Taylor, Associate Professor 
Health Promotion


Sarkeys Complex, 121 | (405) 325-1372
Email Dr. Taylor

Research Interests 
• Functional outcomes
• Health effects of lifestyle modification
• Lifestyle intervention to reduce chronic disease risk factors