The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently awarded University of Massachusetts Amherst Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Dr. Katie Becofsky with the Paffenbarger-Blair Fund for Epidemiological Research on Physical Activity Award. The award will be used for experimental subjects, supplies, and small equipment needs.
[Photo: Mr. Liam Fitzgerald (left) and Dr. Katie Becofsky]
“I couldn’t believe it when I found out I would receive the grant! I thought they sent the notification email to the wrong person,” says Dr. Becofsky with a laugh. “I am especially honored since I got my PhD at the University of South Carolina, where Dr. Blair (one of the namesakes of the award) worked for decades. He is a living legend in the field of physical activity and health,” she adds.
The $10,000 award is meant to support research by scientists in the beginning of their career, and Dr. Becofsky has just finished her first year as a faculty member. She will use the award to complete a study over the Summer and Fall of 2017 titled “Strengthening the bond between owners and their dogs to increase physical activity”. Dr. Becofsky’s research examines how leveraging the human-animal bond might promote physical health, mental health and social well-being.
“I will use these funds to conduct a small project testing whether basic obedience training can increase physical activity levels among owners that do not walk their dogs regularly,” she says. Dr. Becofsky will partner with Ms. Caryl-Rose Pofcher of My Dog Training in Amherst, MA for the study, and utilize Pofcher’s knowledge as a certified behavior adjustment trainer.