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Department of Kinesiology

The Healthy Communities Laboratory

Vision: Healthy people, healthy communities

Mission: The Healthy Communities Laboratory is an innovative, agile, and collaborative research laboratory dedicated to producing high-impact research that informs, enables, and empowers scientists, practitioners, and the public to create, maintain, and maximize opportunities to positively impact physical activity public health.

A particular research emphasis is on the interpersonal aspects of health and physical activity as we seek understanding to the following research questions:

Guiding questions:

  1. Through what processes do social relationships influence health and physical activity?
  2. What environmental factors influence social relationships in ways that impact health and physical activity?
  3. What are the best practices for intervening on such environmental factors and motivational processes to impact health and physical activity?

Lab Director: Brandon C. Irwin, PhD

Dr. Brandon Irwin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Kansas State University. Dr. Irwin earned his undergraduate degree in Biology from Colby College in Waterville, ME before coaching college football for four years. He then earned his PhD in Kinesiology from Michigan State University before moving to Manhattan, KS and joining the department of kinesiology to pursue his research interests public health physical activity. His work has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, featured in high-impact scholarly journals and media outlets such as the Harvard Business Review , and has earned several research awards including the National Graduate Scholar Award (American Kinesiology Association) and the Sport and Exercise Psychology Dissertation Award (National Association for Sport and Physical Education).

Lab Personnel

David Pluta, Research assistant, MPH Student

David Warnky, Research assistant, Kinesiology Undergraduate

Current Projects

The Healthy Communities Podcast – The aim of this social marketing project is to test the feasibility of podcasting to inform and empower communities to address public health problems, including, but not limited to, physical activity.

Tiny houses, titan impact – An ecological approach to impacting public health and sustainability through affordable housing. The aim of this project is to understand how affordable housing and, specifically, tiny houses, influence health of individuals and communities. Particular research emphasis is on the impact of tiny houses on residents who live in them and the barriers that communities face in addressing affordable housing.

InDependent but not Alone – A wellness journey for military spouses. The aim of this project is to develop, deliver, and test a wellness program for military spouses in the greater Manhattan, KS area. We use community-based participatory research to achieve this aim and produce knowledge to inform.

Graduate and undergraduate student opportunities:

Dr. Brandon Irwin mentors graduate (MS Kinesiology, MPH, PhD Kinesiology) and undergraduate students interested in a social and behavioral science approach to the study of public health physical activity. Successful students in the laboratory are typically interested in careers in public health physical activity research or practice.  Qualified students are typically those with a strong GPA, good interpersonal skills, and who are voraciously curious. If you are an undergraduate student who is interested in gaining research experience in the DPAL, please fill out  this questionnaire  and you will contact you shortly thereafter.

Lab Contact Information:

Director: Brandon C. Irwin, PhD
Room 213 Natatorium
Kansas State University
(785) 532 – 0660

Selected publications:

Irwin, B.C., Feltz, D.L., & Kerr, N.L (2013). Silence is golden: Effect of encouragement in motivating the weak link in an online exercise video game. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(6): e104. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2551

Irwin, B. C., Scorniaenchi, J., Kerr, N. L., Eisenmann, J. C., & Feltz, D. L. (2012). Aerobic exercise is promoted when individual performance affects the group: A test of the Kohler motivation gain effect. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 44, 151-159. doi:10.1007/s12160-012-9367-4

Feltz, D.L., Irwin, B.C., & Kerr, N.K. (2012). Two player partnered exergame for obesity prevention: Using discrepancy in players’ abilities as a strategy to motivate physical activity. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 6(4), 820-827.