The physical therapist: Associate Professor of Kinesiology Kristi Meyer ’01

Kristi Meyer ’01 obtained her clinical doctorate in physical therapy after completing her B.A. at Cornell College with an interdisciplinary major in education and fitness. She is a board-certified athletic trainer and a board-certified clinical specialist in sports physical therapy. 

Kristi Meyer ’01 stands in her office. Visible is her children’s book, “The Adventures of Team Super Tubie,” written after her son was placed on a feeding tube.
Kristi Meyer ’01 stands in her office. Visible is her children’s book, “The Adventures of Team Super Tubie,” written after her son was placed on a feeding tube.

“I found my passion, and therefore have spent my career thus far focused on clinical work, and especially on educating others, a crucial part of both a physical therapist’s and college professor’s roles,” Meyer says. “I feel fortunate that teaching at Cornell has allowed me to continue my clinical practice as my primary means of scholarship and professional development alongside my daily teaching and advising faculty work.”

Biomechanics research

Meyer’s overall research interests have all revolved around biomechanics in some form. In graduate school, her research was based on three-dimensional kinematics of the overhead throwing motion. In her sports physical therapy residency program, her research was focused on ACL injuries and core strength in the female athlete. 

At Cornell, all of her studies have been collaborative student-faculty endeavors where students choose the topics. These have ranged from analyzing kinematic and kinetic factors of a counter movement jump, a continued look at core strength and lower extremity movement patterns, a meta-analysis on neurodevelopment and the kinesthetic classroom, and a current study analyzing deviations in pediatric gait in children with various medical diagnoses that impact gross motor function.

“I have always been interested in understanding the human body and how it moves,” Meyer says. “I think that is why I was drawn toward athletics and physical activity as a kid. Biomechanics and physical therapy go hand in hand, and gaining an increased understanding of the kinematics and kinetics of human movement, as well as human tissue mechanics, drives my research interests and makes me a better clinician and professor. A passion for helping others learn and understand, especially about the human body and how to stay healthy, is what fuels my work in both the classroom and the clinic.”

Teaching One Course At A Time

Meyer’s academic advisor in college was Steve DeVries, and he approached her to see if she would be interested in teaching a few courses for the Kinesiology Department. Those few courses turned into a tenure track position, and currently, she is in her 10th year teaching a range of courses including Anatomy and Physiology, Human Biomechanics, and Exercise Testing and Prescription. 

“I continue to love the same things that originally drew me to Cornell,” she says. “The immersive flexibility that the block plan allows, the close student and colleague relationships that a small campus community allows, and the ability to continue to be involved with my clinical work alongside my teaching and advising roles. The opportunity to create and collaborate with students and colleagues on research projects and campus endeavors feels like icing on the cake.”

Future of kinesiology

Kinesiology is a popular area of study and, with its interdisciplinary nature, tends to draw students with a vast array of interests. Meyer doesn’t see this changing anytime soon. The study of human biomechanics also continues to grow, especially as technology advances and accessibility to engage in sophisticated analysis increases, even by those with a novice level of knowledge in the field. 

“The profession of physical therapy is fun and rewarding, a patient-centered discipline in the health care field that continues to grow and evolve as the science directing evidence-based care expands,” Meyer says. “I believe physical therapists will continue to be in high demand, and I find it exciting and inspiring to be a part of educating future Cornell clinicians in addition to all of our phenomenal kinesiology students!”

Read about the other faculty in this series:

The anthropologist: Associate Professor of Anthropology Misha Quill

The organic chemist: Associate Professor of Chemistry Jai Shanata ’05

The wildlife conservationist: Associate Professor of Biology Tammy Mildenstein

The neuroscientist: Associate Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience Steven Neese