Kathleen Hupfeld ’16 awarded Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship

Hupfeld, who was a Lumen Scholar and Honors Fellow at Elon, is pursuing her doctorate in applied physiology and kinesiology at the University of Florida.

Kathleen Hupfeld ’16 has been named a Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellow, one of only 10 graduate students nationally to be selected for the fellowship by the prestigious honor society.

Kathleen Hupfeld ’16

The $10,000 fellowships are designed to support active members in the dissertation-writing stage of doctoral study. An Honors Fellow and Lumen Scholar at Elon, Hupfeld is pursuing her doctorate in applied physiology and kinesiology at the University of Florida.

“As many as half of all graduate students fail to complete their degrees. Phi Kappa Phi created its Dissertation Fellowship to enable doctoral students to have the necessary resources for that all-important dissertation writing phase of their work,” said Society Executive Director Mary Todd. “We are proud to support these scholars as they complete their degrees.”

The recipients were selected based on a number of criteria including how the fellowship will contribute to the completion of the dissertation, the significance of original research, and endorsement by the dissertation chair.

Hupfeld majored in exercise science at Elon with a minor in neuroscience. Working with her mentor, Professor of Exercise Science Caroline Ketcham, Hupfeld researched the effects of direct current stimulation on motor behaviors.

Her doctoral dissertation work is addressing a critical knowledge gap by characterizing how inhibitory processes in the brain change with age and relate to walking and balance declines in older age. While nearly a quarter of Americans 65 or older report serious mobility problems, the neural correlates of mobility declines are not well understood. Her findings will lay the groundwork for novel, targeted interventions to preserve mobility and prevent disability in aging.

“This award will permit me to focus solely on writing to the best of my abilities, which will make it easier to publish my work in high-impact peer-reviewed journals after my defense,” Hupfeld said. “Overall, receiving the Dissertation Fellowship will let me continue holding true to the first part of the Phi Kappa Phi mission ‘to promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education’,” Hupfeld said.