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Arnold School of Public Health


Doctoral graduate completes third UofSC degree to secure tenure-track position with Valdosta State University

May 18, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

George Grieve’s path to success began with a failure. In 2000, the 10-year-old Cub Scout was one of two boys in his Aiken, South Carolina troop to not earn his fitness badge due to failing the physical fitness test. Determined to earn his badge, Grieve gave up sedentary activities such as video games, began exercising (e.g., running, strength training) and engaged in healthier eating.

Over the next 18 years, Grieve’s new hobby would turn into a passion and eventually a vocation. His personal quest to become as healthy as possible involved researching and testing various workouts and diet plans—many of them contradicting one another in advice and principles and/or quickly leading to fitness plateaus. Participating in powerlifting competitions (he placed 1st places in his weight division in both 2014 and 2015) further fueled Grieve’s knowledge acquisition in the field, and majoring in exercise science at USC Aiken just made sense.

With encouragement from his undergraduate mentors, Grieve earned a master’s in exercise science from the Arnold School in Columbia and then moved directly into the department’s doctoral program. With the No. 1 Ph.D. program in the U.S. at his doorstep, Grieve didn’t even look anywhere else.

Throughout his graduate programs, Grieve taught exercise science courses and gained significant experience as a research assistant—leading his own studies and mentoring a dozen undergraduate and master’s students in the process. “It’s important to understand that graduate school is essentially an apprenticeship towards being a researcher, not predominantly classroom learning like college,” he says. “This isn’t a path of instant gratification so make sure that this path is what you want for the long haul, and be ready to work hard and get after it.”

That is one of many great things about the Arnold School, that it is comprised of outstanding people. I have had the opportunity and privilege to learn something from every interaction.

-George Grieve, Ph.D. in exercise science 

Grieve’s interests evolved to focus on energy balance, specifically how aerobic and resistance exercise and training affect habitual physical activity and energy balance. Grieve’s research interests also lie in the energy balance of tactical athlete populations, as well as the relationship between fitness and injuries in military recruits [he co-authored a paper on the public health implications of fitness readiness among U.S. Army recruits].

“Every instructor with whom I have interacted has provided some form of mentorship to me,” Grieve says. “That is one of many great things about the Arnold School, that it is comprised of outstanding people. I have had the opportunity and privilege to learn something from every interaction.”

Some of Grieve’s most influential mentors include dissertation committee members Mark Sarzynski, Larry Durstine and Marco Geraci. “Dr. Sarzynski has influenced me by demonstrating an outstanding work ethic and guiding me to take advantage of several professional opportunities,” Grieve says of his advisor and dissertation chair. “His leadership and dedication to his team has served as an excellent example for how I should lead and stand by my team when I begin my faculty career.”

“Dr. Durstine has always gone out of his way to find additional ways for me to grow, especially when taking his advanced cardiorespiratory physiology course, by always pushing me just far enough past my limits,” Grieve adds. “And Dr. Geraci was an excellent instructor and always able to motivate me to learn much more about statistics than the standard course work and to practically apply those methods.”

Nowhere else would I have been able to receive the formal and informal instruction, professional development, as well as overall learning opportunities that I have been able to receive at the Arnold School.

-George Grieve, Ph.D. in exercise science

Just three years after beginning his doctoral program, the Norman J. Arnold Doctoral Fellow graduated this month, receiving the Department of Exercise Science Outstanding Doctoral Student Award for outstanding accomplishment in the areas of research, productivity, academic achievement and department service at the 2018 Arnold School Hooding Ceremony. He’ll get married in June and then begin a tenure-track position as an assistant professor of exercise physiology at Valdosta State University in July.

“Nowhere else would I have been able to receive the formal and informal instruction, professional development, as well as overall learning opportunities that I have been able to receive at the Arnold School,” Grieve says. “Our department chair, Dr. James Carson, has said that our school and department are excellent examples of professional diversity that are similar to any other high-level organization such as the CDC and NIH. He has been exactly correct with that statement, as I feel simply being involved within the Arnold School and department of exercise science have well prepared me for my future career not only with the formal academics, but also through the everyday interactions that I would not have been able to receive elsewhere.”