Dr. Chris Hopper, professor of Kinesiology, is a man who would rather speak about his research and service to the community than about himself. A prolific author, researcher, and grant writer, Dr. Hopper is also HSU’s Scholar of the Year for 2014-15. This recognition, which is conferred on a faculty member for a record of superlative research, creative activities, and/or scholarship, is applauded by staff, faculty and students alike.
“Chris never does anything halfway,” said Dr. Rock Braithwaite, Chair of the Department of Kinesiology. “He always meets or exceeds expectations. Given everything he has done and the number of people he has helped, Chris is irreplaceable.”
More than Three Decades of Service
Dr. Hopper arrived at Humboldt State in 1980 after earning a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Oregon. Over thirty-five years later, his dedication to the field is evidenced by his body of work.
With six books to his credit, Dr. Hopper has also published dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles on the interconnectivity of physical activity, health and nutrition.
“I am interested in health from a broad perspective and across the lifespan,” he said. “And about how health influences performance.”
Often using Humboldt County Schools as locations for field research, he has looked for ways to help children establish healthy habits that can be sustained into adulthood. In 2008 one study based on his research was recognized as a model evidence-based program by the National Cancer Institute’s Research-Tested Intervention Program (RTIP), receiving the highest marks possible for dissemination capability.
He is also a prolific grant writer. Working now through the Institute for Health and Human Performance (IHHP), an arm of the Department of Kinesiology, he has brought in over twelve million dollars in grant funding to the department, staff, students, and the community.
One successful grant application to the U.S. Department of Education in 2013 resulted in a 1.2 million-dollar award. With a statewide shortage of teachers for Adapted Physical Education (APE), the funds continue to help students financially so they could participate in critical fieldwork with children with disabilities.
What’s Next for Dr. Hopper
For now, and in the near future, Dr. Hopper continues to focus on his core interests and on securing grant funding for research through the IHHP.
With a new five hundred-thousand-dollar grant from the California Department of Education, his latest project focuses on using physical activity to teach common core math standards.
“For older students this may mean calculating energy usage in running laps,” he explained. “For younger children it could mean throwing a ball twice in one direction, and then twice in another, and adding two plus two. The goal is to prescribe exercise programs that work within the framework of common core math’s quantitative reasoning approach.”
When asked what he will be talking about at the upcoming awards ceremony in April, he spoke of the connection between a healthy childhood and healthy habits later in life.
“The question is how can we, and especially parents, do a better job teaching our children beneficial habits now,” he explained. “that can be sustained through their transition into adulthood.”
Dr. Hopper is the first person from the Department of Kinesiology to receive the Scholar of the Year award. The ceremony, which is open to the public, will be held April 20, 2016, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Van Duzer Theater.