Dr. Kate Heelan

Dr. Kate Heelan


As the director of the Physical Activity and Wellness (PAW) lab in the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, I have expertise, leadership and the desire to complete the proposed research project. During my tenure at UNK, the exercise science undergraduate program was deemed a Program of Excellence which provided us with funding opportunities within the state to develop the Greater Nebraska Physical Activity Initiative and expand from two tenure-track faculty to five and design and build a new facility. Our mission is to address the obesity epidemic by providing expertise in community programs and initiatives aimed at increasing physical activity and healthy eating behaviors across the lifespan. I have 15 years of experience working with rural communities to strengthen partnerships with public school systems, community agencies and family units. I work to provide evidence-based obesity prevention and treatment program strategies to schools, communities and families. I have successfully worked with several school districts to assess, evaluate and implement programs to successfully decrease prevalence of obesity by changing school environments to promote physical activity and healthy eating. I have developed a BMI Report Card web application and iPad app to provide a tool to school nurses to enhance the ability to interpret a child's weight status, inform parents and acquire district prevalence data to enhance external funding applications. In addition, I have adapted, implemented, and packaged an evidence-based, family-based, pediatric obesity treatment program in Kearney and have expanded this program to rural communities through video conferencing capacities and train-the-trainer modalities. Overall, my research and service focuses on meaningful, applicable approaches to prevent and treat obesity while working with communities and schools to provide ownership for sustainable programming. Most recently we have been funded from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to package our translated program for implementation by rural communities. We are working to formalize a community advisory board to provide direction and to address our goal to increase community ownership of childhood obesity treatment initiatives

Drury College, Springfield MO, B.A., Mathematics/Biology
University of NE-Kearney, Kearney NE, Exercise Science
University of Kansas, MAEd, PhD, Exercise Science


Kate Heelan