Advancing health through science, education and medicine

2018 ACSM Election

Trustee Candidate: Education and Allied Health

Sara Wilcox, Ph.D., FACSM
University of South Carolina
Department of Exercise Science 
and Prevention Research Center
Columbia, SC

1. Please list your previous service to ACSM.

I attended my first ACSM meeting in 1999, shortly before moving to the University of South Carolina to begin my career as an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science.  I attended that first meeting because most faculty and students in our department attended ACSM meetings.  Eighteen years later, and now a professor in my department, I continue to attend meetings and be involved with the organization because of the quality of the conference programing and the size and diversity of the organization.  My doctoral training is in clinical psychology, my postdoctoral training is in cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention, and my academic appointment is in a Department of Exercise Science within a School of Public Health.  My research is focused on promoting physical activity and healthy eating in underserved communities.  At ACSM, I find a unique integration of these disciplines — behavioral science, public health, epidemiology, clinical science — and this integration and diversity keeps me engaged.  I served on the Strategic Health Initiatives – Behavioral Strategies Committee for ACSM from 2002-2011.  I also have served as a peer reviewer for the following ACSM journals: ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal®, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise®, and Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. In 2006, I was honored to become a fellow in ACSM. 

2. What is ACSM’s greatest strength and how would you make that aspect of the organization even stronger?

When I attend ACSM meetings, I am struck by the large number of students, postdocs, and junior faculty.  These scientists, educators, and practitioners bring a youthful energy and excitement to meetings that I think could be harnessed for the organization more broadly.  Many of these students, postdocs, and junior faculty want to become involved and serve and do more in the organization but they are not sure how they can contribute or how to get started.  I believe ACSM would benefit from even greater focus on professional development and leadership training and opportunities in the organization for these early career individuals, at both the regional and national levels.  These individuals will become the future leaders of our organization and our disciplines, so it is critical that we invest in them now.

3.  ACSM works closely with many other organizations, including associations, companies, philanthropies, and governmental agencies. Indicate those organizations/companies/agencies for which you play an advisory, consulting, or leadership role.

Since 2011, I have been the director of the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center. The Prevention Research Centers is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states. My current position, and my even longer association with our center, has provided me with unique opportunities to partner with organizations at the local, state, and national levels.  For example, at the local level, I partner with a county coalition called the Fairfield County Coordinating Council. The group serves as an advisory committee to our center and our core research project, but I also provide technical assistance to them regarding grant writing, evaluation, and evidence-based programs.  At the state level, I am on the leadership team and on the evaluation committee of SCaledown. The leadership team is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the South Carolina Obesity Action Plan 2014-2019. The evaluation committee is responsible for monitoring progress in meeting the objectives outlined in the action plan.  The core research project of the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center is to study the dissemination and implementation of a faith-based physical activity and healthy eating program.  This project builds on 15 years of research I’ve done in faith-based health promotion.  Related to this work, at the national level, I serve as a committee member for the standing faith-based sector committee.  This committee was responsible for developing the strategies and tactics for the faith-based sector, and the committee is available for guidance on special projects undertaken by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance Board.

I am a member and fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and a member of the American Public Health Association, the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Psychological Association. In 2015, I was elected as a fellow to the National Academy of Kinesiology. I am active in reviewing conference abstracts and manuscripts for journals associated with these and other professional organizations. I served on a standing study section for the NIH (2006-2009), and continue to serve on ad hoc review panels for NIH.

In the 2014-2015 academic year, I was one of four faculty chosen by the University of South Carolina to be a fellow in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Academic Leadership Development Program. The program focused on training and experiences in leadership, and included two conferences focused on leadership training and networking with the other SEC fellows. This intensive program has provided unique preparation for leadership positions such as Trustee.

In total, I believe that my background, service to ACSM, leadership training and positions, and relationships with local, state and national organizations and groups have prepared me well to become a competent, invested, and enthusiastic Trustee in the American College of Sports Medicine.



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