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Arnold School of Public Health


Glenn Weaver joins Department of Exercise Science as Assistant Professor

September 19, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Robert (Glenn) Weaver grew up in a small town south of Atlanta in a neighborhood that bordered protected forest and wetlands. Every day after school, Weaver, his brother, and their friends would immediately head into the woods and play until the sun went down. Weaver became interested in physical activity promotion when he realized that his experience growing up was very different from many children’s experiences today.

“We would spend hours getting dirty, discovering new things, and playing!” Weaver says. “Being physically active was a byproduct of this play, which I think children are missing today. It is my goal to figure out how we as adults can engineer some of this activity back into children’s days, while making it fun and engaging.”

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Sports Studies from the University of Georgia, Weaver attended the University of West Georgia to complete a Master of Education in Health and Physical Education. He then came to the University of South Carolina to enroll in the Ph.D. in Physical Education Teacher Education program in the College of Education.

Being physically active was a byproduct of this play, which I think children are missing today. It is my goal to figure out how we as adults can engineer some of this activity back into children’s days, while making it fun and engaging.

-Glenn Weaver, Assistant Professor of EXSC

Weaver spent the first three years of his doctoral program as a graduate research assistant in the Department of Physical Education and Athletic Training (Athletic Training just joined the Department of Exercise Science (EXSC) this year). He then doubled up on his assistantships for the third year of his program—finding his niche working with EXSC Associate Professor Michael Beets to improve healthy eating and physical activity among school-aged children.

Housed under the umbrella of Policy to Practice in Youth Programs, the premise of the team’s research and promotional activities is to increase healthy eating and physical activity among school-aged children throughout the day and in various contexts (e.g., school, after school programs, summer camps, etc.) using evidence-informed practices. With large-scale funding (including three R01 grants), they work to increase the quality of the foods served and consumed and the amount of physical activity children accumulate during these programs.

In partnership with the Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold Institute on Aging, the team is leading the Arnold Childhood Obesity Initiative to prevent overweight and obese status among children. Some of these joint efforts include pilot studies for increasing physical activity during the school day. Other activities include establishing a Childhood Obesity Prevention Lecture series and a future scholars research competition for students interested in pursuing research and careers in the area of childhood obesity prevention.

I am incredibly excited about continuing the work that I have started here in the Arnold School...The opportunities to create positive change that affects the lives of children in this state are tremendous, and I am excited to play a small part in that.

-Glenn Weaver, Assistant Professor of EXSC

During the final year of his doctoral program, Weaver focused solely on this area of research, even staying on for two years as a postdoctoral fellow and then another year as a research assistant professor. This fall, Weaver accepted a tenure-track position with the EXSC department as an assistant professor.

“I am incredibly excited about continuing the work that I have started here in the Arnold School—mainly because of the people,” says Weaver. “The individuals that I work with, in the community, across the state, and within the Arnold School, are passionate, driven, and intelligent. The opportunities to create positive change that affects the lives of children in this state are tremendous, and I am excited to play a small part in that.”

My goal is to improve the health of children in South Carolina and across the country by providing them with fun, health-enhancing avenues to be physically active.

-Glenn Weaver, Assistant Professor of EXSC

Although he has benefited from participating in major physical activity promotion initiatives through his work with the Policy to Practice in Youth Programs, Weaver is an expert in the field in his own right. He’s already amassed 35 peer-reviewed papers with another 15 in press or under review, and he is aggressively pursuing major federal grants of his own. Weaver’s expertise is in conceptualizing, executing, and evaluating large-scale, community-based interventions which focus on promoting healthy eating and physical activity, and he’s becoming known for it.

He is currently leading three projects with school districts across the state to increase children’s physical activity. He is also a member of the South Carolina Scale Down schools workgroup, which aims to reduce obesity rates through creating healthy enhancing environments during the school day.

“My goal is to improve the health of children in South Carolina and across the country by providing them with fun, health-enhancing avenues to be physically active,” Weaver says. “Primarily, I plan to accomplish this goal by working with settings that care for children, such as childcare, schools, summer camps and afterschool programs, to create physical activity-friendly, social and physical environments.”