Kinesiology student awarded grant for Black Biomechanists Outreach program

March 9, 2021

Eric Finley Head Shot OutdoorsAuburn University School of Kinesiology graduate student Eric Finley was awarded an outreach grant from The Biomechanics Initiative. The Biomechanics Institute annually hosts an International Biomechanics Day to promote biomechanics to elementary, middle and high school students. This year, the organization hosted a grant competition to provide financial support to universities and organizations that host an International Biomechanics Day event.

Finley was one of five grant recipients, and his funding will be used to host an event for students at Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Dadeville High School in Dadeville, Alabama. As part of the requirements for the grant, the programs will serve underrepresented populations.

“We are partnering with them because of their student population demographics. At Booker T. Washington High School, minorities represent 99 percent of the student body with the majority of those being black, and at Dadeville High School, the total minority enrollment is 48 percent, while 64 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.”

Finley works in Assistant Professor Jaimie Roper’s Locomotor and Movement Control Laboratory.

“I, alongside my laboratory, am both excited and honored to partner with these high schools to spread the field of biomechanics to their students,” Finley said. “I purposefully chose Booker T. Washington High School as a means of giving back to a school that I had the opportunity to learn and grow from within my field. I served as the outreach and graduate assistant athletic trainer there from 2015-2018. Dadeville High School has always been a huge supporter of Auburn Kinesiology, and we want to continue that relationship. We are grateful to each administration for allowing us this opportunity.”

Set for April 7, National Biomechanics Day is a worldwide celebration of biomechanics with activities and events for students.

“The funding from this award will allow Eric and our laboratory to share knowledge about biomechanics as a career choice for young adults,” Roper said. “This is exciting because biomechanics is a field that is interdisciplinary, and can interest health scientists or clinicians, artists, athletes, mathematicians, engineers and biologists. There is something for everyone. We hope our participation in this annual event raises interest in the field of biomechanics for young adults and helps to increase engagement, visibility and opportunity for future Black biomechanists.”

Auburn’s event will offer students age-appropriate lesson plans and classroom experiences for classes in the sciences and/or physical education areas that demonstrate biomechanics in action.

“Typically, these activities have been in person, but given the current situation with COVID-19, we are offering virtual lesson plans and activities,” Finley said. “For each activity we plan to reinforce biomechanical concepts through short discussions at the beginning and end of our activities.”

Activities for students include a drop jump exercise, movement coordination, dual-tasking performance and concussion evaluation.


Miranda Nobles