MSU kinesiology doctoral student selected for prestigious NIH-funded fellowship

Monday, April 5, 2021

Professional Headshot of Robert Booker

A Mississippi State doctoral candidate in kinesiology will further his research as part of a prestigious fellowship at one of the nation’s top medical schools.

Robert Booker, a native of Ozark, Missouri, will begin his postdoctoral work on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine on May 1, just a day after he receives his Ph.D. from MSU.

Northwestern’s Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Fellowship is funded by a National Institutes of Health Training Grant. Under the supervision of their mentors, trainees are expected to gain hands-on experience in the design, conduct and analysis of cardiovascular epidemiologic or prevention research.

Booker said he was thrilled after being chosen for the postdoctoral fellowship from a highly competitive pool of applicants. The program only has four total spots and accepts just one or two students each year. Applicants are sought who have a passion for learning more about cardiovascular disease and who diversify the types of research conducted.

“It’s my dream position. I’m going to have the opportunity to work with world-renowned researchers in epidemiology and preventive medicine,” Booker said. “I love research, so to be able to do that while getting the training and experience to have a career in it—and eventually mentor the generation after me—is unbelievable.”

Megan Holmes, an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Kinesiology and Booker’s advisor, said her student’s acceptance into this program is a momentous achievement.

“Since arriving at MSU, Robert has been a highly motivated and talented contributor to the productivity of our lab group. I am so proud of his achievements during his time at MSU and overjoyed that he was selected,” Holmes said.

She went on to explain that the Feinberg School of Medicine is ranked as one of the best research-oriented medical schools in the nation and that acceptance in the program is extremely competitive.

“I am so excited for the new research and training opportunities that await Robert as he moves on to this next exciting step in his career.”

Booker’s research interests focus on sedentary behavior and how that behavior affects cardiometabolic health. Most recently, he has been looking at metabolic syndrome, an indicator of risk for developing future cardiovascular disease. In 2019 he joined the Jackson Heart Study’s Graduate Training and Education Training Program at UMMC as part of its first cohort. Through this study, he has worked with leading researchers in the field of health disparities and cardiovascular disease epidemiology.

Booker also has done research looking at the sedentary behavior and physical activity patterns of metabolic syndrome-positive individuals through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

MSU’s Department of Kinesiology is part of the university’s College of Education. Established in 1903, this college is home to six academic departments, one research unit and numerous service units. For more, visit

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