November 14, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
Physical activity was simply a way for Courtney Monroe to have fun when she was growing up. Now it’s her calling. Add emerging technologies to the mix, and she has found what is shaping up to be a lifelong pursuit.
“Growing up, playing outside with my siblings and friends, going for walks and bike rides with my parents, and being part of sports teams brought me so much enjoyment,” she says. “As I moved through college and simultaneously began to understand the magnitude of the physical inactivity and obesity epidemics, I wanted to figure out a way to turn my passion for physical activity, and more broadly health, into a professional pursuit where I could help positively impact the health of others on an ongoing basis. I ultimately decided to do so as both a teacher and investigator.”
The newest faculty member to join the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB), Monroe brings expertise to the Arnold School in leveraging technology to positively impact physical activity. “My research interests center on how to best harness technologies to effectively promote and measure physical activity, as well as to effectively deliver behavioral weight control in adults,” she explains. “I have a particular interest in exploring strategies to best foster social support for these purposes.”
My research interests center on how to best harness technologies to effectively promote and measure physical activity, as well as to effectively deliver behavioral weight control in adults.
-Courtney Monroe, HPEB Assistant Professor
Monroe gravitated toward incorporating technology into her work due to its innovative, appealing and practical abilities to serve as a medium for fostering healthy lifestyles. She also appreciates the broader reach that various technologies offer and is intrigued by the challenge of better understanding how to harness the influence of social networks. “This area holds so much promise for public health, and there are numerous avenues to explore,” says Monroe.
Though her path to become an Assistant Professor of HPEB inherently began when she was just a child, Monroe carefully chose educational, practical, and professional opportunities to prepare her for the role. She stayed in her home state of Illinois to earn bachelor’s (physical education) and master’s (kinesiology and recreation) degrees from Eastern Illinois University and Illinois State University, respectively.
After serving as an exercise science lecturer, advisor, undergraduate coordinator, and internships coordinator for two years at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., Monroe enrolled at the University of Tennessee to pursue a doctoral degree. Earning a Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Sport Studies in just three years and accumulating numerous awards, publications, and presentations along the way, she then accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Arnold School’s Technology Center to Promote Healthy Lifestyles (TecHealth).
I am grateful and excited to continue to be a part of the Arnold School because I will be able to both build upon established relationships and develop new ones with faculty, students, and community members who are equally as committed and passionate about health promotion as me.
-Courtney Monroe, HPEB Assistant Professor
During her two years as a postdoc with TecHealth, Monroe has worked with SmartState Endowed Chair and Director Delia West and her team to explore the application of emerging technologies to promote healthy lifestyles. With TecHealth, Monroe, who remains a faculty member of the Center, has researched the effectiveness of social media-based interventions to prevent weight gain and to increase HPV vaccination awareness among college students. She also has a role as an interventionist in a current project involving the evaluation of the influence of financial incentives for obesity treatment delivered via the Internet. Another active project for Monroe uses an ASPIRE grant to assess the use of technology to enhance social support for physical activity, healthy eating, and weight loss.
“I am grateful and excited to continue to be a part of the Arnold School because I will be able to both build upon established relationships and develop new ones with faculty, students, and community members who are equally as committed and passionate about health promotion as me,” says Monroe. “I am looking forward to engaging in all facets of my new role.”
In particular, Monroe is excited about helping students think about health promotion from novel perspectives. “It is a very rewarding endeavor and one that I have engaged in for several years throughout my educational and professional pursuits, so I am excited to assume that role again,” she says of her passion for teaching and mentoring. “I look forward to guiding students through applied experiences both within the classroom and the community.”
Her health promotion intervention work to promote physical activity using technology is innovative and timely. Courtney’s research is also quite interdisciplinary, and she is bringing together faculty and students from multiple departments in the Arnold School.
-Daniela Friedman, HPEB Chair
Another favorite aspect of her new position? Growing her research lab, Social MovemenT, over time and continuing to work with university, professional, and local communities in the process. “Being able to continue to build interdisciplinary lines of research that have never been more timely and significant than now alongside other experienced and emerging investigators is exciting,” says Monroe.
The feeling is mutual. “We are excited to have Courtney join the HPEB family,” says HPEB Chair Daniela Friedman. “Her health promotion intervention work to promote physical activity using technology is innovative and timely. Courtney’s research is also quite interdisciplinary, and she is bringing together faculty and students from multiple departments in the Arnold School.”