Maren Fragala

Assistant Professor of Sport and Exercise Science, College of Education history month profiles

What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I am currently an Assistant Professor of Sport and Exercise Science.  My responsibilities include teaching mostly upper level and graduate students in the Sport and Exercise Science program, researching various aspects of human performance in UCF’s Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness, and providing professional service to the University, community, and field of Exercise Science.

What is your history at UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
I joined the faculty at UCF in Summer of 2011 after learning as much as I possibly could while completing  a research Postdoc at the University of Connecticut Health Center on Aging , a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Connecticut, a research assistantship at Harvard’s Prevention Research Center on Physical Activity and Nutrition, and a M.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Massachusetts.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
My favorite memory at UCF was when one of the participants in my research study told me, “You have a magical place here!  The doctors told me there was nothing they could do for me.”  This compliment came while our research team was working on a resistance training study in older adults to improve muscle quality.  It worked!  Our students worked one on one as personal trainers with volunteers for several weeks.  At the end of the training the muscle health of all participants improved.  It was so gratifying to know that our training facility was viewed as a “magical place” for someone who didn’t think his muscle health could improve.  It is so rewarding to study something that has such a tremendous immediate impact. 

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I wish we could extend our Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness to have a world class Center for Healthy Aging and Faculty Wellness Research Center where we would have all the equipment and resources to extend our exercise training programs to any older adult and faculty member free of charge!

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Meet your colleagues across the University.  There are so many really interesting people working on really interesting projects.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Having a Lebanese grandmother, I just love Mediterranean food.  A student of mine mentioned that she was a waitress at Bosphorous in Winter Park.  While nothing can quite compare to Grammie’s treasured recipes, Bosphorous is really quite yummy!

What is your dream vacation spot?
Taormina, Sicily!  The ocean views are spectacular and the culture and history are fascinating! 

What is your favorite sport to watch or participate?
It used to be football… until the Patriots let me down in the playoffs this year.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be?
The UCF Center for Faculty Wellness and Healthy Aging 

 If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF, who would you choose and why?
A panel of Full Professor UCF scientists who are women. I would really want to learn how they did it.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
There are so many wonderful and helpful people at UCF, but to name a few…Dr. Jay Hoffman and Dr. Jeff Stout have been outstanding collaborators and mentors within my program.  Dr. Andrew Daire has provided terrific encouragement for my research aspirations.  Dr. Linda Walters and Dr. Melody Bowdon have been (and continue to be) marvelous and admirable women role models to me.

Name and describe a teacher from you past who truly inspired you.
My “academic dad,” Dr. William Kraemer and postdoctoral mentor Dr. George Kuchel are some of the most wise people I have ever known and each provided tremendous encouragement and inspiration.  I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be mentored by such excellence.  Not only did they challenge me academically, but their fervent character instilled so many life strategies to set me up for success. 

What undergraduate class/program inspired you the most and why?
Dr. Priscilla Clarkson, a distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts and world-renowned expert in muscle physiology coordinated a Talent-Advancement Program for incoming freshman in Exercise Science at the University of Massachusetts.  I signed up because, ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’… Little did I realize as a naïve college freshman in jeans and tennis shoes sitting in the front row of her distinguished professorship research presentation among the UMass elite how much her early inspiration would influence me.  Today, as I am writing up my own research findings, I can still picture the diagrams that she showed in that presentation and appreciate the extra guidance she provided me as am impressionable college freshman.  

 

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