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Inside the mind of researcher JK Yun

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CPHHS Associate Professor JK Yun (right) works with student researchers.

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Associate Professor JoonKoo (JK) Yun came to Oregon State in 1999 and currently holds several positions including associate professor, OSU Endowed IMPACT Scholar and co-director of IMPACT, and co-director of the Movement Studies in Disability Program. Prior to Oregon State, he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Education & Exercise Science at the University of Rhode Island. He earned a master’s degree in Special Physical Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a PhD in Human Performance at Indiana University.


What made you decide to get into this field of study? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?

“When I came to the United States, I did not know much about working with people with disability and I was much more interested in physiological responses among elite athletics. It is embarrassing to say that I took my first adapted physical activity course because of convenience rather than topic, but the course changed my view and direction. Dr. Grove lectured about the importance of providing opportunities to individuals who otherwise would not participate in physical activity. We need to provide and advocate physical activity opportunities to all individuals.”

What does your current research entail?

“As a researcher, my goal has been to promote full participation and active lifestyles for individuals with disabilities through evidence-based practice. To accomplish my goal, I have focused on the topics I call the three Ms: Measurement, Mechanism and Method.”

CPHHS Associate Professor, IMPACT Endowed Scholar JK Yun.

CPHHS Associate Professor, OSU Endowed IMPACT Scholar JK Yun.

What sparked your interest in this topic?

“I believe that without appropriate measurement, our educational service decisions and research findings cannot be fully validated. I also strongly believe that we must question our assumptions and be willing to continuously improve our current practices by revealing the underlying mechanisms of behavior change. These endeavors will lead to the development of effective, evidence-based practices ultimately promoting the health and well-being of ALL individuals.”

How will this make a difference?

“Without appropriate measurement, our research findings and decisions in education settings can be questionable. Understanding, identifying and/or developing an appropriate measurement approach should be the first step of our research practice. It will provide a strong foundation for research in adapted physical activity.

In addition, all too often physical activity services and physical education are based largely on anecdotal experiences rather than scientific evidence. Investigating the mechanisms of human behavior change, specifically those mechanisms that promote physical activity and inclusion for individuals with disabilities, will help to create effective intervention services to promote physical activity for individuals with disability.”

What would you say is the most fascinating aspect of this research?

“Every day I realize that there are so many things I need to learn and that my current understanding is limited. It makes me excited because there are so many things to do.”

What do you hope is the outcome of your research?

“Teach our students about the importance of promoting physical activity for all individuals and how to conduct quality research. Also, I hope I will provide scientific evidence for effective services and learn through the process. I believe it will ultimately promote active lifestyle and full inclusion.”

Why is research important in the field of exercise and sport science?

“It is a well documented fact that there are huge health disparities between individuals with and without disabilities. Health disparities are preventable. All individuals have a basic, fundamental right to enjoy a healthy independent life. Promoting physical activity and full participation will make positive contributions.”

What’s next for you? Do you have any future research projects lined up?

“I have a few projects related to measurement. One of the projects is examining compliance patterns of objective physical activity measurement tools – e.g. pedometer, accelerometer. Hopefully this project will lead to identifying accurate ways to measure physical activity. In addition, I have a few projects examining underlying mechanisms. Two of the projects are directly related to examining the effect of physical education teachers on promoting outside physical activity.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“’Everybody is different, and don’t expect all students are thinking like you and working like you. Accept the differences.’”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“I like to walk with my wife and dogs.”