Our Scholar Network
Partnering with the Foremost Authorities to Study & Share Knowledge
Our Scholar Network
Whether in studies conducted by top scholars in partner universities, our onsite learning lab, or findings from the many research partnerships we have across the world, PlayCore drives innovation and amplifies community impact by bridging talented play and recreation professionals with a global network of expert advisors that contribute to strategic thinking and validated perspective, creating unique and meaningful ways to approach each community and their project goals.
Our network of scholars and experts have centuries of combined experience in what makes play and recreation meaningful and developmental, and help us apply their studies to design so your community benefits from an environment developed with real and credible research.
From literature reviews to doctoral dissertations to qualitative and quantitative data collection, our research partners have worked with us to develop field tested best practices across a variety of disciplines.
Our Scholar Network
Bruce Becker, MDDirector, National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute
A graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Becker completed his residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Washington. He served as VP of Medical Affairs for the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan from 1992 until 1998 and as Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute until 2006. He was the Founding Director of the National Aquatics and Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University, pursuing physiologic research during aquatic activity. He holds an appointment as Clinical Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington – School of Medicine. He has a major interest in aquatic rehabilitation, and is President of the American Society of Medical Hydrology. As the Editor and contributor to Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy, the major textbook in the field and currently in its 3rd edition, he has overseen the book’s publication into Portuguese and Chinese editions. The recipient of numerous national and international awards for his work in the aquatic field in 1999, the Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute named Dr. Becker as Aquatic Professional of the Year. He was the recipient of the John K. Williams Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame in May 2011 for his work in adapted aquatics. The American Physical Therapy Association recently awarded him its Distinguished Excellence in Aquatic Therapy Award.
Areas of Discipline: Rehabilitation Medicine
Dennis Dolny, PhDDepartment Head, Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department, Utah State University
Throughout his life, Dr. Dolny made many important contributions to the field of water immersion and hydrotherapy. He received his BA and MS in Physical Education from Wake Forest University and PhD from Kent State University in Physical Education with an emphasis in Exercise Physiology. For 24 years he was on faculty at the University of Idaho. In 2008, he accepted the Department Head position in Health, Physical Education & Recreation in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services at Utah State University. His research projects included studying the acute effects of vibration exposure on subsequent muscle power output, developing techniques to monitor skeletal muscle activity during walking and running in water, and the use of aquatic exercise exposure on energy expenditure, joint discomfort and perceived effort in overweight subjects and those with osteoarthritis. At USU he collaborated with USU Sports Medicine examining the role of hydrotherapy in rehabilitation and conditioning in the elderly.
Areas of Discipline: Physical Education & Exercise Physiology
Eadric Bressel, PhDProfessor of Biomechanics, Utah State University
Dr. Eadric Bressel is a professor and clinical research scientist in the Sports Medicine Program at Utah State University (USU) in Logan, UT. He received his BS in 1994 and MS in 1995 in exercise science from California State University, Fresno, and he received his PhD in biomechanics from the University of Northern Colorado in 1999. His aquatic research examines neuromechanical adaptations to therapeutic exercise. With his academic appointment in the Department of KHS at USU Eadric is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Areas of Discipline: Sports Medicine
Elizabeth “Betsy” Nagle, PhD, FACSMFACSM, Assistant Professor and Graduate Faculty, Department of Health and Physical Activity, University of Pittsburgh
Elizabeth Nagle, PhD, FACSM is an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator in the Department of Health and Physical Activity at the University of Pittsburgh where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in exercise physiology, research methods, and physiology of training. Her research includes prediction in performance in swimmers, aquatic weight loss interventions (funded by NIDDK), and development of test protocols that assess cardiorespiratory fitness (funded by National Swimming Pool Foundation). Most recently (2014) she served as a co-investigator for the Naval Special Warfare Injury Prevention and Human Performance Research Initiative (funded through Department of Defense) examining prediction of aquatic performance. She is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Red Cross, USA Swimming, and National Swimming Pool Foundation.
Areas of Discipline: Exercise Physiology
Gary Liguori, PhDInaugural Dean, College of Health Sciences, University of Rhode Island
Gary Liguori, PhD, is the Founding Dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Rhode Island, where he is also co-Director of the Academic Health Collaborative and a Professor of Kinesiology. Gary received his PhD from North Dakota State University, MS from East Stroudsburg University, and BS from the University of Central Missouri. Gary has held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, North Dakota State University, Youngstown State University, and the University of Wyoming. Gary is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), serves on the Executive Council of the ACSM Committee of Certification and Registry Board (CCRB) and on the Executive Council of the ACSM Publications Committee. Gary was the Senior Editor of the 1st edition ACSM Resource Manual for the Health Fitness Specialist, an Associate Editor for ACSM’s 10th edition Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, and the Senior Editor of ACSM’s 5th edition Health Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual. Gary has been a keynote presenter at venues around the world, published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles, and sits on the advisory board of numerous health, wellness, and medical organizations.
Areas of Discipline: Kinesiology
Gil Penalosa, PhDFounder & Chair, 8 80 Cities; Chair, World Urban Parks
Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. He advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of age and social, economic, or ethnic background.
Gil is the founder and chair of the internationally recognized Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. He is chair of World Urban Parks, as well as senior advisor to Children & Nature and Vision Zero Network.
Because of Gil’s unique blend of experience, pragmatism and passion, his leadership and advice has been sought out in more than 300 different cities across six continents.
Before immigrating to Canada, Gil was Commissioner in Bogota. He holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. He also received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the prominent University of Sweden SLU.
Areas of Discipline: Urban Planning
Hirofumi Tanaka, PhDProfessor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Hirofumi Tanaka is a Professor and the Director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a BA in physical education from the International Budo (Martial Arts) University in Japan, a MS in human bioenergetics from Ball State University, and a PhD in applied physiology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He then completed his postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Tanaka’s research interest includes the influence of regular swimming exercise on vascular function and disease risks. He has published extensively in the area of swimming and its health benefits.
Areas of Discipline: Cardiovascular Aging
Jacquelyn Ann Nagle, PhDAssistant Professor, Department of Counseling and Exercise Science, John Carroll University
Jacquelyn Nagle, PhD is an Assistant Professor at John Carroll University. Her research interests include the physiological responses to aquatic exercise and the subsequent impact on health. Her current work includes the development of multiple fitness tests designed specifically for aquatics to improve performance and reduce the risk of long-term injury during aquatics based exercise. She was a past recipient of the National Swimming Pool Foundation Fellowship Award during her doctoral work. She completed her dissertation on “Comparing Energy Expenditure during Land and Shallow Water Walking in Overweight and Obese Females,” while at the University of Pittsburgh. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, where she developed aquatics-based protocols for the assessment of swimming performance in military populations. Future work hopes to continue to investigate the effective and safe of aquatic-based exercise in special populations.
Areas of Discipline: Exercise Physiology
Joe L. Frost, EdD; LHDParker Centennial Professor Emeritus, University of Texas
Dr. Joe Frost, Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus, University of Texas, has published 20 books and numerous professional articles on children's play, children and poverty, and child development. The latest are A History of Children's Play and Play Environments (2010), and Play and Child Development (2011, fourth edition). Dr. Frost directs the longest running (34 years) research program on children's play and play environments in the U.S. He has lectured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia and consulted with numerous universities, corporations, and government agencies. He was president of the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), and president of the International Play Association (IPA USA).
Areas of Discipline: Play & Child Development
John Sutterby, PhDAssociate Professor, University of Texas San Antonio
John A. Sutterby is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville. He is a co-author of the Developmental Benefits of Playgrounds published by ACEI. His other research interests include professional development of early childhood educators, family involvement for Latino families and bilingual teacher development. He is a past and future president of The Association for the Study of Play. He is also series editor for Advances in Early Education and Day Care published by Emerald publications.
Areas of Discipline: Early Childhood
Kathleen G. Burriss, EdDProfessor, Middle Tennessee State University
Dr. Kathleen Burriss is a professor in the College of Education at Middle Tennessee State University. Her writing and research interests describe aspects related to children's outdoor play, physical activity, and learning. Her publications include work related to physical, social, and cognitive environments in the outdoors; integration of information related to child development in creating outdoor playscapes; the impact of parental fear associated with children's outdoor play. She co-edited "Outdoor Learning and Play: Ages 8-12" describing the contributions of outdoor play for elementary children's physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional learning. Additionally, Dr. Burriss founded the Play Symposium, an annual event hosting renowned speakers addressing children's outdoor physical activity and play. She also developed a radio spot, “Play Talk”, which provided parents with information and strategies for supporting children’s quality play. Currently, as editor for the International Journal of the Whole Child, using an innovative format, she provides researchers and practitioners with relevant information.
Areas of Discipline: Education
Keith Christensen, PhDCenter for Persons with Disabilities Faculty Fellow, Utah State University
Dr. Keith Christensen earned a masters degree in landscape architecture and a doctorate in disability studies. He is a Faculty Fellow with the Center for Persons with Disabilities and an associate professor of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at Utah State University. Keith directs the Beyond Access program which advocates for the planning and design of socially inclusive play environments.
Areas of Discipline: Landscape Architecture & Disability Studies
Marybeth Lima, PhDProfessor, Louisiana State University
Marybeth Lima, PhD, PE (professional engineer), CPSI (Certified Playground Safety Inspector) is the Cliff & Nancy Spanier Alumni Professor in Biological & Agricultural Engineering (BAE) at Louisiana State University (LSU) and the Director of the LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership (CCELL). In 1998, Marybeth established the LSU Community Playground Project, a service-learning program which pairs elementary school and college students to design and build “dream playgrounds” at local public schools. These sustained efforts have led to the construction of more than 30 collaboratively designed playgrounds; this program is internationally known, and Lima received the Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award from Campus Compact (2007), the highest national honor for a service-learning faculty member in any discipline. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 technical publications, including four books. Lima is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society for Engineering Education.
Areas of Discipline: Biological & Agricultural Engineering
Melissa Hughes, PhDPresident and Founder, The Andrick Group
Dr. Hughes specializes in employee engagement, effective communication strategies, and the unique dynamics of the multigenerational workforce – all of which contribute to organizational culture and are essential for success. Having worked with learners from the classroom to the boardroom, she incorporates brain-based research that illuminates the science behind factors that impact how people think, learn, communicate and collaborate. With energy, humor, and a practical application of neuroscience in our everyday lives, Melissa enables leaders to explore productive ways to harness the skills, innovation and creativity from all members of the organization to build collective intellectual capacity and create a culture of learning and leadership.
Melissa holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master of Arts degree, and a Master of Science degree. Dr. Hughes has spoken at countless state and national conferences on learning and leadership and has been published in numerous print and online publications. She currently develops and delivers professional development sessions across the country to increase our capacity to learn individually and collaboratively.
Areas of Discipline: Whole Brain Learning
Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, FACSChairman of Orthopaedic Surgery, Geisinger Health System Danville, PA
Dr. Michael Suk is the Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery at Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA. Previously, Dr. Suk was Associate Professor, Associate Residency Program Director and Division Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma at the University of Florida-Shands Medical Center, Jacksonville, FL. Dr. Suk is the author of numerous scientific articles, and has spoken both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics relevant to orthopedics and health. Dr. Suk’s immersion in advocating for healthy activity began in 2003 when he was chosen by President George W. Bush as a White House Fellow to serve as a special assistant to Secretary Gale A. Norton at the U.S. Department of the Interior. During his tenure in this role, Dr. Suk organized Get Fit with US, designed to support President Bush’s federal interagency program, Healthier US, which was based on the premise that increasing personal fitness and becoming healthier is critical to achieving a better and longer life. Dr. Suk has also served as a senior advisor on health and recreation to the National Park Service. He has also served on the board of directors of America on the Move and the American Hiking Society.
Areas of Discipline: Orthopedics & Health
Muntazar Monsur, PhDPostdoctoral Research Scholar Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) College of Design, NC State University
Dr. Monsur is a trained architect with a PhD in Design (Architecture). Presently, he is working as a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) at NC State University. Dr. Monsur has received numerous awards for his research works, including NCSU Professional Development Award 2015-16, ARCC King Medal 2015, EDRA Design Award 2014, 9th Annual Graduate Research Symposium Award in NC State 2014 and EDRA Best Paper Award 2012. Through his design-research goals, Dr. Monsur is committed to enhance the quality of children’s lives by improving early childhood environments. In his doctoral dissertation, he investigated the relationship between architectural indoor-outdoor spatial relations and children’s behavior. In NLI, he is an integral part of several nationally significant projects and large-scale multi-year grants concerning children’s environments. He is also involved in developing and teaching two NLI online certificate programs focused on early childhood environment.
Areas of Discipline: Architecture & Design
Nilda Cosco, PhDResearch Associate Professor, Director of Programs- Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University
Nilda Cosco, PhD, Research Associate Professor and Director of Programs, Natural Learning Initiative NLI, College of Design, NC State University. Dr. Cosco holds a degree in Educational Psychology, Universidad del Salvador, Argentina and a PhD in Landscape Architecture, Edinburgh University, Scotland. In 2000, she cofounded the Natural Learning Initiative at the College of Design, North Carolina with Professor Moore. She developed in 2007 the program Preventing Obesity by Design (POD). Cosco’s research focuses on the impact of the physical environment on children’s learning, health, and well-being.
Areas of Discipline: Educational Psychology & Landscape Architecture
Paul Chantler, PhDAssistant Professor, Division of Exercise Physiology, School of Medicine, West Virginia University
Paul Chantler received his PhD in cardiovascular physiology from Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom, and his post-doctoral training from the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes on Aging. Dr. Chantler is examining the effects of various therapeutic interventions, which includes exercise training, nutritional supplementation, and pharmacological therapies, on improving heart and blood vessel health in people with metabolic syndrome, and diabetes at West Virginia University.
Areas of Discipline: Cardiovascular Physiology
Robin Moore, Dipl Arch, MCP, ASLAProfessor of Landscape Architecture, Director of Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University
Robin Moore, Dipl Arch, MCP, ASLA, holds degrees in architecture (London University) and urban planning (MIT), and for most of his career has worked in the field of landscape architecture as an educator, researcher, and consultant. Moore is an international authority on the design of children's play and learning environments, user needs research, and participatory public open space design. He has won many awards for his contributions to the field of design. and is the author or co-author of several books and numerous articles on the use of the outdoor environment by children and youth and families, and their involvement in the planning and design process. He was the principal investigator for the US Access Board update of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards for Children's Environments. Professor Moore is past president of the International Association for the Child's Right to Play (IPA), and for twenty years was editor of the IPA magazine, PlayRights.
Areas of Discipline: Landscape Architecture & Planning
Russell Carson, PhDSchool of Sport and Exercise Science, College of Natural and Health Sciences, University of Northern Colorado
Dr. Russell L. Carson, Professor in the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Northern Colorado, is a dedicated educator, researcher, and recognized leader of whole school physical activity promotion, which includes the use and associated learning benefits of playgrounds in/around school communities. Dr. Carson has over 20 years of academic experience across internationals contexts as a secondary physical education/health teacher, academic program abroad director (Italy ’08; New Zealand ’10, ’16; Australia ‘14), and author on workplace emotional health and comprehensive school physical activity programming. Dr. Carson received his training in PreK-12 physical education at Springfield College, sport psychology and organization at Miami University, and health and kinesiology at Purdue University.
Areas of Discipline: Sports & Exercise Science
Stephen A. WolterExecutive Director Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, Assistant Professor Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, Indiana University Bloomington
Steve Wolter has over 35 years of service as a leader, manager, executive, educator, and mentor in the park, recreation, public lands, and tourism field. His experience includes executive experience in agencies across three states, and work at the highest levels of parks agencies nationally, with state and local agencies of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. As originator of numerous innovations for park and recreation agencies, Mr. Wolter has helped countless park and recreation agencies build their systems through the projects completed by the Eppley Institute. With over 400 projects, and 150 clients in 20 years of leading the Institute, Steve brings a reputation for creating capability and research frameworks to the park and recreation field, including international certification programs. His 20+ years of researching and teaching in the field are the framework of his unique qualifications.
Areas of Discipline: Public Lands
Steven Blair, PEDProfessor, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina
Steven N. Blair is a Retired Professor of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Blair is a Fellow in the American College of Epidemiology, Society for Behavioral Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, and National Academy of Kinesiology; and was elected to membership in the American Epidemiological Society. Dr. Blair is the recipient of three honorary doctoral degrees--Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium; Doctor of Health Science degree from Lander University, U.S.; and Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, University of Bristol, UK. He has received awards from many professional associations, including the Honor Award from the American College of Sports Medicine, the Population Science Research Award from the American Heart Association, and the Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award from The Obesity society. He also was granted a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, and is one of the few individuals outside the U.S. Public Health Service to be awarded the Surgeon General's Medallion. He has published over 700 papers and chapters in the scientific literature, and is one of the most highly cited exercise scientists, with over 55,000 citations to his work and a current annual citation rate of ~4,500. His h-Index is 112.
Areas of Discipline: Exercise Science & Epidemiology
Stuart Brown, MDFounder, National Institute for Play
Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry, and clinical research, Dr. Stuart Brown enjoyed a playful childhood and the benefit of growing up in an era when children, when they weren’t in school or asleep, lived their lives independently engaged in play with their peers. As an adult, he pioneered studies on the importance of play through research on homicidal young males, and felony drunk drivers, finding a startling common thread in their stories: serious lack of play in childhood. As his career progressed through roles as Asst Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, Fellow in Psychiatric Research at Harvard’s McLean Hospital, Chief of Psychiatry at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, and an Associate Professor at UCSD School of Medicine in San Diego, CA, Dr. Brown believed that play could be the key to discovering the full potential that is in everyone, but also that defining “play” would require more in-depth understanding of its essential nature.
As a like-minded play advocate, PlayCore is proud to partner with Dr. Brown on furthering the advancement of play and helping our world understand the critical importance of participating in play throughout life. Our work together thus far has resulted in several play concepts that promote attunement, and we are excited at the opportunities for ongoing work and promoting the value of play.
Learn more about Dr. Brown and read some of his blog at www.playcore.com/drstuartbrown.
Areas of Discipline: Internal Medicine & Psychiatry
Thom McKenzie, PhDEmeritus Professor of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences San Diego State University
Dr. Thom McKenzie is Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University and former Adjunct Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego. He has authored or co-authored over 250 papers and chapters and developed and published numerous assessment and curricular materials. He is a Fellow of four professional organizations and has been an investigator on 15 large-scale multidisciplinary research projects supported by NIH and collaborated on numerous projects funded by Active Living Research. He is currently studying physical activity behavior and policies in diverse settings, including homes, schools, recreation centers, and community parks He and a colleague, Dr.Monica Lounsbery just wrote a children's physical activity picture book that is available in English and English/Spanish on Amazon.com.
Areas of Discipline: Exercise & Nutritional Sciences
Tin-Man Lau, ISDAProfessor, MID Program Chair and GPO School of Industrial and Graphic Design College of Architecture, Design and Construction Auburn University
Tin-Man Lau originally from Hong Kong, worked for the Taiwan Kolin Co., Ltd. (A corporation branch of Mitsubishi, Japan) as an assistant engineer before his graduate study. He joined the faculty at the Auburn University in 1986. He has published and presented papers nationally and internationally. He has also lectured and taught at numerous universities in China and Taiwan. He was invited to teach at National Cheng Kung University and Shu-Te University in Taiwan sponsored by the Minister of Education and the National Science Council of Taiwan as a visiting Professor. Since 2004 he has directed the annual Study Abroad Taiwan Program at Auburn University bringing Auburn Student to Taiwan for Design Education Exchange. He is also an independent design consultant specialized in developing consumer products. During his tenure at Auburn, he has directed student design projects sponsored by NASA (aerospace products), Brother International (consumer electronic products), DOE (Department of Energy, sustainable products), Frigidaire (power equipment), PlayCore / GameTime (playground equipment), SummerClassics, Peak Season (out-door furniture), Winsted (security furniture), etc. He has also participated design research projects funded by IBM, SeikoMead, and NASA. His research and teaching interests include design semantics, cultural aesthetics, design methodologies, new product development, rapid prototyping, and 3D computer modeling. He was recently named by DesignIntelligence magazine as one of the Design Educators of the Year in 2007, and one of the Most Admired Educators of the Year in 2008, 2009, and 2013. He was also awarded Alumni Professorship by the Auburn Alumni Association (2010-2015).
Tom Lachocki, PhDCEO, National Swimming Pool Foundation
Dr. Thomas Lachocki serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). Everything NSPF does, helps more people live happier and healthier lives. NSPF program keep pools safer, keep pools open, and attract more people to use pools, spas, and aquatic facilities. NSPF training programs reach about 40,000 aquatic, pool and spa professionals. Educational proceeds have funded about $4 million in grants since 2003 that demonstrate the benefits of aquatic immersion and activity and prevent drowning, injury, and illness. NSPF fosters scientific advances by hosting the World Aquatic Health Conference. Prior to joining NSPF, Tom was Director of Product Development with BioLab where he led in creating recreational-water treatment products. He is co-inventor on 8 patents and has been named by Aquatics International as one of the 25 most influential people in aquatics. Tom earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from Louisiana State University and a BS in Chemistry from Lock Haven University.
Areas of Discipline: Organic Chemistry