Congdon School of Health Sciences
Exercise Science

Faculty and Staff

SaraArenaSara Arena, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Norcross Graduate School 249C

BS in Engineering Science & Mechanics, Virginia Tech
MS in Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Tech
PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Tech

Prior to her appointment at High Point University, Dr. Sara Arena completed her PhD as a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow, with her research focusing on the effect of obesity on balance and balance recovery. Dr. Arena also served simultaneously as a post-doctoral research assistant in the Kevin Granata Biomechanics Laboratory and adjunct instructional faculty in the department of Engineering Science & Mechanics at Virginia Tech. Dr. Arena research interests focus on the examination of various factors, including but not limited to, obesity, muscle fatigue, aging, and joint arthroplasty on balance and balance recovery. In addition to continuing research in the field of balance and balance recovery, Dr. Arena is also interested in investigating the influence of various factors on functional capability and the use of commercially available video games to improve physical function. In particular, Dr. Arena has begun a project investigating the applicability of the Xbox Kinect for assessing and improving physical function in older adults. Dr. Arena has been happily married to her husband (Christopher) since 2013, and recently welcomed their first daughter (Annabelle; 2015).



Jillian Davis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Norcross Graduate School 249D

BS Biology, UNC-Asheville
PhD in Biology, Ohio University

Dr. Davis is broadly interested in diversity in mammalian craniofacial morphology and the patterns of evolutionary adaptation and constraint that can be inferred from studying the form and function of extant species. Her work has focused primarily on bats and carnivorans, two mammalian orders that exhibit tremendous diversity in dietary specializations and associated morphology. She is interested in exploring the utility of diverse imaging techniques in visualizing and communicating studies of studies of anatomy and behavior. Dr. Davis incorporates comparative, functional, and evolutionary perspectives and imaging in her courses. Dr. Davis is involved in the HPU green team. Outside of work, Dr. Davis is interested in local food and conservation initiatives, dog rescue, and enjoys being a mom to a lovely human and 2 rescue dogs.



Tony Kemerly, Ph.D.

Department Chair and Professor of Exercise Science
Norcross Graduate School 217

BS in Health Promotion, McNeese State University
MS in Exercise Science, Louisiana Tech University
PhD in Exercise Science, The University of Mississippi

Tony Kemerly, PhD is a native of Lake Charles, LA and has been at High Point University since 2001. Kemerly is a Professor of Exercise Science and the Chair for the Department of Exercise Science. He teaches the Body and Identity and Sociocultural Aspects of Obesity courses as well as a First Year Seminar. Kemerly’s scholarship area is the cultural understanding of the body as it relates to an individual’s identity and social acceptance. In addition, he has written a book about the Korean martial art Taekwondo, a biomechanics textbook, and two children’s fitness books.

Kemerly has been married to his wife, Trish, also a PhD and faculty member in Consumer Behavior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, for almost 15 years. They have 3 dogs Mika, a 13 year old beagle, Ripley, an 11 year old Toy Fox Terrier, and Latte, a 5 year old Chihuahua mix.

  • Kemerly, Trisha and Kemerly, Tony. Caught in the Panopticon: Gender Performativity in Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. PCA/ACA 2015 National Conference – New Orleans, LA.
  • Kemerly, Tony and Kemerly, Trisha. (2014). Betwixt and Between: The Obese Female in Film as a Liminal Being. MAPACA 2014 Conference – Baltimore, MD.
  • Kemerly, Tony and Kemerly, Trisha. (2014). Man, Interrupted. Why Disparaging the Obese Isn’t Funny. NEPCA 2014 Conference – Providence, RI.
  • Kemerly, Tony. (2014). Fat Guy in a Little Coat: Disparagement Humor in Relationships with the Obese. SSCA 2014 Conference – New Orleans, LA.
  • Kemerly, Tony and Kemerly, Trisha. (2014). Sinful Bodies: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Morality of Obesity. SSCA 2014 Conference – New Orleans, LA.
  • Kemerly, Tony. (2013). Engorgio: Dudley Dursley as an Exemplar of the Male Obesity Myth. PCAS 2013 Conference Savannah, GA.
  • Kemerly, Tony and Kemerly, Trish. (2013). A Supernatural Tale of Agency, Oppression, and Obesity. NEPCA 2013 Conference – Burlington, VT.


Matthew KuennenMatthew Kuennen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Norcross Graduate School 249F

BA in Health Promotion, University of Northern Iowa
MA in Exercise Science, University of Northern Iowa
PhD in Exercise Physiology, University of New Mexico

Dr. Matthew Kuennen’s research line examines basic and applied aspects of occupational and environmental physiology. Much of his work utilizes a specialized Darwin environmental chamber in the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Laboratory, which allows him to subject willing study participants to extremes of temperature, humidity, and simulated elevation while they perform work and/or exercise. From military applications to sports teams and a myriad of workplace scenarios in-between, Kuennen knows that while the physiological adaptations that dictate exercise/work performance originate at the cellular level, they must be integrated across a diverse network of physiologic systems before they can impart benefit. The additional wet lab techniques and faculty collaboration that are available at HPU will allow Kuennen to significantly advance research that is being conducted in this worthy area.

Prior to assuming his faculty role at HPU (June 2015) Kuennen spent 5 years serving as the Director of the Human Performance Research Laboratory at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX. He has been happily married to his wife (Heather) for 10 years. They currently have two daughters, ages 7 (Madeline) and 3 (Brielle), and are expecting a third child (a son, name TBD) in October, 2015.


Melissa Marion, MS, CHWC

Director of Employee Wellness Program

Melissa Marion holds a Masters degree in Sport Studies and a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science both from High Point University; she brings over 15 years of experience in the recreation health and wellness sector as well as leadership in corporate wellness and education. She currently focuses on programming for employees by helping create healthier environments so that HPU employees can be the caring people who inspire our students. Her role also offers experiential learning for students in the Exercise Science Health and Wellness concentration and serves as the health coach for the faculty and staff. Additionally, she is recognized as faculty by Welcoa and teaches several health and well-being certification courses for Y-USA, American Red Cross, American Safety and Health Institute and American Heart Association in the community level.


KimberlyReichKimberly Reich, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Norcross Graduate School 226

B.A. Indiana University Bloomington
M.A.M. Carnegie Mellon University
M.S. Southern Connecticut State University
Ph.D. University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kimberly Reich earned a PhD in Kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MS in Exercise Science from Southern Connecticut State University, Master of Arts Management (MAM) from Carnegie Mellon University, and a BA in English & Theatre from Indiana University Bloomington. Within the Exercise Science Department (EXS), she is the Director of Health & Wellness (WEL), Director of Internships, and Faculty Advisor for the Exercise Science Club. Dr. Reich teaches in the WEL concentration (Physical Activity Epidemiology, Health Behavior Change), in the EXS core (Analysis & Critique of Primary Literature), and leads the experiential Maymester course in Exercise Physiology. Her main research interests include the effects of physical activity on health and the scholarship of teaching and learning in the exercise sciences, and has published on these topics in peer-reviewed journals, authored peer-reviewed abstracts, and has presented at regional, national, and international conferences such as SHAPE America (formerly AAHPERD) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). She is the co-chair of the ACSM Exercise Science Education Interest Group.


KyleSunderlandKyle Sunderland, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Norcross Graduate School 249F

B.S. – California State University, Fresno
M.A. – California State University, Fresno
Ph.D. – University of Oklahoma

Kyle L. Sunderland joined High Point University in 2013 as an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science. Dr. Sunderland earned his PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Oklahoma in 2013. Dr. Sunderland currently has 9 peer-reviewed publications and authored or coauthored over a dozen scientific abstracts in the field of exercise physiology.

Dr. Sunderland’s research interests focus on the cellular and molecular effects of exercise on metabolism. His specific interest is evaluating the communication between muscle, adipose, and bone tissues in health and metabolic disease.

Dr. Sunderland grew up in sunny Southern California. He was an avid athlete who competed collegiately in Track and Field at the University of Oregon and Fresno State.


  • Sunderland KL, Roberts MD, Dalbo VJ, Kerksick CM. Aging and sequential resistance exercise bout effects on housekeeping gene mRNA expression in human skeletal muscle. J Strength Cond Res, 27: 1-7, 2013.
  • Roberts MD, Dalbo VJ, Sunderland KL, Kerksick CM. Electrophoretic separation of myosin heavy chain isoforms using a modified mini gel system. J Strength Cond Res, 26: 3461-3468, 2012.
  • Sunderland KL, Tryggestad JB, Wang JJ, Teague AM, Pratt LV, Zhang SX, Thompson DM, Short KR. Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) varies with body composition and insulin resistance in healthy young people. J Clin Endo Metab, 97: E2114-2118, 2012.
  • Dalbo VJ, Roberts MD, Sunderland KL, Poole CN, Stout JR, Beck TW, Bemben M, Kerksick CM. Acute loading and aging effects on myostatin pathway biomarkers in human skeletal muscle after three sequential bouts of resistance exercise. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 66: 855-865, 2011.
  • Sunderland KL, Greer F, Morales J. VO2max and ventilatory threshold of trained cyclists are not affected by 28-day L-arginine supplementation. J Strength Cond Res, 25: 833-837, 2011.
  • Roberts MD, Dalbo VJ, Sunderland K, Poole C, Hassell SE, Kerksick CM. Myogenic mRNA markers in young and old human skeletal muscle prior to and following sequential exercise bouts. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 36: 96-106, 2011.
  • Poole CN, Roberts MD, Dalbo VJ, Sunderland KL, Kerksick CM. Megalin and androgen receptor gene expression in young and old human skeletal muscle before and after three sequential exercise bouts. J Strength Cond Res, 25: 309-317, 2011.
  • Poole CN, Roberts MD, Dalbo VJ, Tucker PS, Sunderland KL, DeBolt ND, Billbe BW, Kerksick CM. The combined effects of exercise and ingestion of a meal replacement in conjunction with a weight loss supplement on body composition and fitness parameters in college-aged males and females. J Strength Cond Res, 25: 51-60, 2011.
  • Roberts MD, Dalbo VJ, Sunderland KL, Poole CN, Hassell SE, Bemben D, Cramer J, Stout J, Kerksick CM. IGF-1 splice variant and IGF-1 peptide expression patterns in young and old human skeletal muscle prior to and following sequential exercise bouts. Eur J Appl Physiol 110: 961-969, 2010.


DanTararaDan Tarara, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor
Norcross Graduate School 224

B.S., Athletic Training, Springfield College
M.S., Health, Kinesiology, and Leisure Studies, Purdue University
Ed.D., Kinesiology, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Dan Tarara, first came to HPU in the fall of fall of 1995. He has over 20 years of clinical athletic training experience and teaches in Exercise Science program. Tarara specializes in upper-extremity injury prevention and rehabilitation in the overhand athlete.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

  • Tarara, D.T., L. K. Fogaca J.B. Taylor, E.J. Hegedus (2015). Clinician-friendly physical performance tests in athletes Part 3: a systematic review of measurement properties and correlations to injury for tests in the upper extremity. (in review)
  • Tarara, D.T., E.J. Hegedus, & J.B. Taylor (2014). Real-time test-retest and interrater reliability of select physical performance measures in physically active college-aged students. Int J Sports Phys Ther, 9(7), 874-887.
  • Hegedus, E. J., M. E. Vidt and D. T. Tarara (2014). “The Best Combination of Physical Performance and Self-report Measures to Capture Function in Three Patient Groups.” Physical Therapy Reviews 19(3): 196-203.
  • Hegedus, E. J., B. Stern, M. P. Reiman, D. Tarara and A. A. Wright (2013). “A suggested model for physical examination and conservative treatment of athletic pubalgia.” Phys Ther Sport 14(1): 3-16.
  • Myer, C. A., E. J. Hegedus, D. T. Tarara and D. M. Myer (2013). “A user’s guide to performance of the best shoulder physical examination tests.” Br J Sports Med. 47(14):903-907.


Roger-Vaughan-741x1024Roger Vaughan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Bachelor’s Degree of Science- Nutrition and Dietetics, University of New Mexico
Master’s Degree of Science- Nutrition, University of New Mexico
Doctorate of Philosophy- Exercise Physiology, University of New Mexico
Postdoctoral Research Fellow- Nutritional Biochemistry, Texas Tech University

Roger Vaughan PhD is a native New Mexican whom has devoted much of his career to the vast study of disease prevention through diet and exercise therapies at the biochemical level. In addition to teaching in areas such as sports nutrition, nutritional biochemistry, and other topics in phytochemistry and nutritigenetics/nutrigenomics, Dr. Vaughan has excelled at basic research by publishing findings on the effects of dietary metabolites on skeletal muscle metabolism. Recently, Dr. Vaughan’s work investigating the effects of a novel myokine was awarded the Southwest American College of Sports Medicine Gail Butterfield Award for Outstanding Research. Dr. Vaughan has also fostered several collaborative efforts with leading cancer researchers at the University of New Mexico, establishing a link between dietary components as well as circulating myokines and breast and prostate cancer metabolism/aggressiveness. Prior to his appointment at High Point University, Dr. Vaughan completed a postdoctoral research fellowship of nutritional biochemistry at Texas Tech University where he investigated the physiological and molecular impacts of dietary fatty acid consumption in human, mouse, and cell models. In general, Dr. Vaughan anticipates continuing his work on dietary stimulators of metabolism for benefit of obesity and diabetes.


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Exercise Science at HPU