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James Konopack PhD

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Meet James

Maybe he was “born to run,” but James Konopack, PhD, associate professor in Monmouth’s Department of Health and Physical Education, lives to teach.

Konopack is an avid distance runner, participating in 26.2-mile marathons and still-longer ultramarathons each year. While the New Jersey coastal region boasts a vibrant running community, Konopack’s goal is to run a marathon in all fifty states. “As 2014 draws to a close, I’ve run marathons or ultramarathons in twenty-nine states, with a few states repeated along the way,” Konopack said. “I’ve completed most states within a day’s drive of New Jersey, so travel has become more difficult—and expensive. But my goal of running a race in each state has been an enjoyable journey that’s kept me running and visiting parts of the country I might not otherwise get to see, and I still have a long way to go.”

Born and raised in Hunterdon County, Konopack came to Monmouth in 2006 after earning his PhD in kinesiology from the University of Illinois, where he worked in the Exercise Psychology Lab under the direction of Edward McAuley. He has brought those research interests, which revolve around how physical activity affects and is affected by social, psychological, and physiological factors, to Monmouth. Konopack recalls being attracted to Monmouth, “because of its institutional focus on teaching and because I saw it as a tight-knit community in a beautiful location close to where I grew up. And it’s been my professional home ever since.”

Konopack’s love of running is rivalled by his enthusiasm for teaching. Konopack brings his passion for health and fitness into his classrooms, treating his students to an engaged, interactive learning experience.

“In my view, it’s not a particular technique or method that makes for great university teaching,” Konopack said. “Teaching is more about your command of the subject material and the attitude with which you approach it. Our students are smart, witty people who crave a robust education and appreciate a lively discussion. I try to keep sentiments like this in mind in order to set a positive expectation going into class, which carries over into my interactions with students. I also frequently think back to the best classes I had as a student and try to re-create those experiences for my own students, designing every course as if I were a student in my own class.”

 

Collaborations that I've been involved with

“I love working with students one-on-one to help them discover their intellectual passions and connect them with their educational and professional interests,” Konopack said. “Many mentoring sessions start with a routine advising talk in my office or over coffee and morph into bigger-picture discussions of graduate school, careers, and personal aspirations. Whether by shaping a student's honors thesis or enlisting students as partners on new initiatives, it's rewarding for me to facilitate our students’ successes.”

Konopack’s research primarily focuses on health behavior change and physical fitness throughout the human life span. “I am especially interested in understanding the psychosocial factors that influence physical activity participation as well as its psychological and physiological outcomes.”

Why I'm proud of Monmouth

“I'm proud to be part of this community of scholars with a common love of teaching and learning,” Konopack said. “Monmouth is also special to me because it's a beautiful place where amazing things are happening, yet it's small enough that I get to know my students and colleagues from various disciplines. For me, that makes Monmouth a unique academic community where friendships as well as professional collaborations can flourish.”

My favorite Monmouth memory

“Commencement is the greatest day of the academic calendar,” Konopack said. “Talking with students, taking photos, meeting proud family members, and celebrating the students’ achievements alongside my colleagues all combine to make this one of my favorite occasions year after year.”


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