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Gao inducted as a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology

Photo of Zan Gao.

Zan Gao, Ph.D., professor and department head

Zan Gao, Ph.D., professor and department head in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was inducted as an active fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) on September 30, 2023, at this year’s NAK annual meeting at Newport Beach, CA.

Becoming a fellow in NAK is the highest recognition achieved by a scholar in the field of Kinesiology. To be selected, an individual must meet rigorous criteria for scientific research, professional scholarship, leadership experience, and service to the field. NAK is composed of national and international fellows who have made significant and sustained contributions to the field of kinesiology. Academy membership is restricted to 200 active fellows, with an unrestricted number of international fellows.

Gao’s expertise lies in the field of physical activity and health after he switched his interest from sports pedagogy in 2010. His research has primarily focused on promoting health through population-based physical activity interventions with emerging technologies such as active video games, health wearables, and mobile apps among pediatric populations and cancer survivors.

Gao’s impactful research findings have been documented in over 170 peer-reviewed publications, which have been supported by notable funding sources such as the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Gao’s work has attracted significant attention, with over 7500 Google Scholar citations, and a Google H index of 51.

Highlighting his global reputation, Gao has made over 240 national and international research presentations, including ten keynote presentations. Most recently, he has been included in the World’s Top 2% Scientists from all areas (Career Impact) (1960-2022) List and 2022 Impact List. In 2023, Gao was also listed as one of the Best Scientists in Social Sciences and Humanities by

Before assuming his current leadership role at UT, Gao served as the director of Graduate Studies and group leader for physical activity and health promotion at the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. On a broader scale, Gao contributes to the academic community by serving as an associate editor for three esteemed peer-reviewed journals: Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Journal of Health and Sports Science, and International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. From 2017 to 2018, he was the president of the International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health.

Gao has been the recipient of several international and national awards such as the 2015 SHAPE America Leroy T. Walker Young Professional Award. Gao is an active fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology, a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and a Fellow of Shape America! Research Council.

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