Greetings from the Chair

March 2016

Mike Deschenes

Spring has sprung (well, sort of)!!

Hi everyone, just reaching out to you guys to give you our latest update on what is new in Kinesiology & Health Sciences. First, the spring “sort of” quip comes from the strange weather patterns we have had here in the ‘Burg as of late. It seems like we have been experiencing a rapid-fire mix of unseasonably cold (in the teens) and warm weather (in the 70s) over the last few weeks. The local weathermen sure have been earning their keep lately in letting us know ahead of time about these rapid and dramatic changes in weather and even tornadoes in the area. Tragically, during a tornado that touched down in nearby Waverly on Feb 24th, four people were killed. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those victims, and to everyone who was affected by the destruction wrought by the 110 mph winds.

On a far more positive note, our students continue to impress folks not only affiliated with the College but away from campus, as well. Here on campus, we were just notified that no less than 10 of our majors have earned grade point averages that are high enough to be eligible for the spring induction ceremony to the highly prestigious national academic society of Phi Beta Kappa. Now the department’s faculty have to get busy writing letters of support for these outstanding students so that they may actually become members of the nation’s alpha chapter of PBK. This (induction into PBK) is one of those things that stays with you for life, kind of like the award that keeps giving, so let’s keep our fingers crossed!!

As another indication of just how good our students are, not just in the classroom, but also as researchers, three of them have recently been included as co-authors of papers published in two highly respected peer-reviewed journals. Robyn Garratt, Ellen Schaffrey, and Colleen Leathrum are co-authors on the manuscript “Effects of exercise training on neuromuscular junction morphology and pre- to post-synaptic coupling in young and aged rats” appearing in the March 2016 issue of Neuroscience. Colleen Leathrum also appears as a co-author on another paper titled “Gender-specific Neuromuscular Adaptations to Unloading in Isolated Rat Soleus Muscles” which comes from her Honors Thesis that has been accepted to appear soon in the journal Muscle & Nerve. These students, and their ability to balance competing demands on their time and energy from class work, lab work, and real life exemplify just how capable our students are and why they become success stories after graduating from the College. Please be assured that your olds professors are so impressed by you, and proud of you!!

Speaking of your old profs, Prof John Charles will be escorting Jill Ellis, coach of the world champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team, to the College’s commencement ceremony this spring where she will deliver the main commencement speech. John is connected to Coach Ellis by helping recruit her to come to William & Mary to play soccer when he was the women’s soccer coach for the College. You picked a good one there John, seems like she turned out OK! Another member of our faculty, Prof. Ken Kambis is very nicely recovering from having knee replacement surgery over the winter holiday. As you can imagine, he is still spending considerable time in physical therapy regaining full, and pain-free, function of his knee. I wonder if his therapist is a graduate of our department since we send so many of our graduates off to physical therapy school and careers as health-care specialists. And in an exciting and new faculty development, our department is currently conducting a search to hire a full-time faculty member to teach public health courses. This should help reduce the reliance we currently have on adjunct professors to teach so many of our popular public health courses. This is good news not only for the department, but also for the entire College as many students outside of our major typically enroll in these courses. Finally, on a personal note more good news for our faculty is the fact that this is an exciting time of year as we gear up for March Madness in college basketball. Again this year there is a good chance that the Tribe will receive a bid to a post-season tournament… Go Tribe!!

Even in the midst of such excitement, please keep us in mind and let us know what is new and exciting in your lives. We are always interested as you always remain a part of our family. To do so, please visit

 Please take care, stay safe and healthy, and enjoy life!!


 Michael R. Deschenes, PhD

Chair and Professor, Dept of Kinesiology & Health Sciences