The University Record, September 9, 1998

Indiana U's Ulrich recommended to head Kinesiology

By Jane R. Elgass

Beverly Ulrich of Indiana University will be recommended to the Regents at their September meeting as director of the Division of Kinesiology, effective Jan. 1, 1999.

Affiliated with Indiana since 1985, Ulrich currently holds an endowed professorship in child development. Her research specialty is motor development, studying the causes of change over time in patterns of movement, with a focus on both basic and applied research issues.

In her theoretical work, she studies the fit between dynamic systems theory and the acquisition of motor skills. In her applied research, she uses information gained from the theoretical work, working with infants with Down's syndrome to attempt to help them reduce the delay they normally experience in learning to walk.

"Dr. Ulrich enjoys an international reputation and has been in the forefront of new approaches to the study and conceptualization of the development and refinement of motor skills in children and youth," said Provost Nancy Cantor in nominating Ulrich for the post. "Her work with children with Down's syndrome is viewed as exceptional and an important pioneering effort."

Ulrich was attracted to the U-M because "Michigan is one of the top public research universities in the country. The Division of Kinesiology is already strong," she says, "and has the potential to become even greater and make a mark in its research and graduate programs."

She plans to strengthen existing ties between the Division and other campus units and reach out to develop new ones, citing projects undertaken by kinesiology faculty with others in the Center for Human Growth and Development and the Medical School.

Ulrich has conducted some of her research with Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, and notes that having the U-M Health System facilities a stone's throw away from her office is a big plus.

"Having a medical school is a big plus for me and others," she says. "There is a lot of potential for ties with those studying such things as fitness as it relates to health and the control of movement behavior in the elderly and those with Parkinson's disease. Stronger ties with the College of Engineering and the School of Public Health also are possible."

Ulrich hopes to develop more collaborative research proposals with these academic units, particularly with an eye to including graduate students more in the research enterprise.

"I would like to see the graduate program grow," she says, noting that the Division is particularly well situated in movement science. "One of the difficulties has been the cost of providing assistantships for doctoral students. I plan to work on ways to try to be able to afford that, be it federal funds for basic research, training grants, or gifts or endowments."

Cantor said she looks forward "enormously to working with Dr. Ulrich as she builds on the strengths of the Division. Her desire to enhance the graduate program and to build interdisciplinary links across campus fit precisely with my ambitions for the University."

Coming from primarily a teaching and research background, Ulrich says she's looking forward to the challenge of the directorship. "My life has revolved around research and teaching and I won't give that up," she says. "I like working with people, hearing their ideas. It's up to me to facilitate opportunities for them to be the best they can be, to smooth the path for them. I won't be reinventing the wheel, but that's an element of the job I look forward to."

Ulrich is president of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity and received the Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award in 1992. She also has been elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education, recognizing her scholarship in the field.

She is section editor for the Growth and Motor Development Section for the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and consulting editor of the Journal of Motor Behavior, Child Development, Ecological Psychology.

Ulrich is a core faculty member on a National Institutes of Health-funded multidisciplinary research training grant, "Training Program in Infant Perception-Action System." Through this program, predoctoral and postdoctoral students are trained to understand processes of development change as manifest in many levels of analysis, including sensorimotor physiology, perception, movement, affect, language and higher cognition in normally developing and clinical populations. The projects draws on faculty from psychology, speech and hearing science and kinesiology.

She holds a B.S. from East Stroudsburg University, M. Ed. from West Chester University and Ph.D. from Michigan State University.


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