Professor strives to make physical activity fair

Fiscella and her team continue their research

Published by Kayla Raynak, Date: May 2, 2024
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Professor Nicole Fiscella has been doing ongoing research since she was in college.

She is about to complete her first year teaching at SRU.

Fiscella works in the exercise science department and teaches Intro to Applied Anatomy and Intro to Exercise Science. 

“This was a great stepping stone for me. I was a recent graduate in June for my PhD, so it was a nice intro into the teaching world,” Fiscella said.

A few years ago, Fiscella was in the Exercise Science program at SRU as an undergraduate student and now had the opportunity to teach students for the year at the same place she got to learn.

While attending SRU, Fiscella completed a major in Exercise Science and a minor in Adapted Physical Activity.

She explained that a lot of the faculty that are now her colleagues, she had as professors when she studied here.

“So, it’s a full circle moment,” Fiscella said.

Fiscella talked about how she really enjoyed teaching a few of the courses that she got to take while being a student here. She was also able to add content and enhance the course where she feels it would help the students.

“It honestly has been a great experience. I think having gone through the program myself allowed me to kind of really put myself in the student shoes because I know what they went through, especially teaching Intro to Exercise Science,” Fiscella said. “It’s been great to kind of see the content that was being taught and then add to it.”

“It’s been really exciting to kind of be back on the campus but do so in a way that’s like in a different kind of shoes,” she said.

Fiscella did her first masters at James Madison University in Virginia studying Axercise Physiology. From there she traveled to Oregon State University where she studied for 5 years for a PhD in Kinesiology and Adapted Physical Activity, while also getting a second masters in Public Health.

While Fiscella was getting her PhD at Oregon State she was the coordinator of a program that ran every Friday night for kids with disabilities.

“It was a way for them to kind of be in an environment that had like individuals that they could feel supported in, and it was also an opportunity for undergraduate students to get hands-on experience working with individuals with disabilities,” Fiscella said. “So that study focused on how we are supporting the undergraduate students and supporting the individuals so that we can make it as optimal as possible and everybody’s getting what they need in order to be successful.”

Fiscella is currently working on a paper with the information for the study. She is also editing a paper with research looking at an Epidemiological study using secondary data from a behavior risk factor surveillance survey, which is one of several surveys that go out to individuals across the U.S. who are 18 and over.

This study is looking at individuals with functional disabilities to see if they engage in both aerobic physical activity and muscle strengthening.

“So right now, that’s kind of where a lot of my research is focusing on kind of those 18 and over just looking at what are their current levels, what are their trends so that if we kind of get a comprehensive snapshot of what’s happening in terms of their physical activity levels we can create targeted interventions. We can say okay they’re not meeting the guidelines, here’s where we’re seeing they’re falling short, what can we do to create programs that combat that,” Fiscella said.

The professor mentions that ideally, she would love to help find out how she can get physical activity into schools for kids with disabilities.

“I think a lot of my interest stemmed from my classes here at Slippery Rock. So, when I was a student here I took Intro to Adapted Physical Activity and fell in love with that population, and pretty much from there, I started to learn more and more about not necessarily the challenges that they go through but how their life experiences can differ so much from somebody who doesn’t have a disability and like the disadvantages that can be present,” Fiscella said.

The professor’s goals are to help everyone achieve the same opportunities that she was able to have growing up.

“So, it’s how can we educate and how can we overcome these barriers, so like I said, they have the same opportunities that anyone else has to engage in physical activity,” Fiscella said.

Fiscella collaborates with other faculty from various universities, including Oregon State University and University of Tampa.

Her team also has two grad students and one undergrad student at Oregon State to assist in research and data collection.

“Being able to kind of find answers to the unknown or a question there really isn’t a lot of information about,” Fiscella said, when asked what she loves about research. “It’s just really really exciting to be able to find ways to put a smile on someone’s face.”

“They deserve to live just as healthy as I live,” She said.

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