Scientific Validation

FitnessGram Advisory Board

The FitnessGram Advisory Board (FAB) plays a critical role in the sustainability and credibility of the FitnessGram assessment. The FAB includes some of the most brilliant minds and subject matter experts in the fields of kinesiology, exercise physiology, nutrition, epidemiology and health education. Advisory board members serve to:

  • Provide technical content expertise in various aspects of physical activity and physical fitness. As recognized experts in fitness and health, board members give valuable input on the structure and direction of the assessment.
  • Contribute to advancing FitnessGram research. By conducting studies on FitnessGram issues, board members help ensure that the assessment remains on solid, scientific ground.
  • Increase visibility and advocacy of FitnessGram. Through professional interactions, reputations, and contributions, board members ensure credibility among researchers, school leaders, public health officials and funding agencies.

To view the FitnessGram Reference Guide, click here.


Kelly Allums-Featherston, PhD

Physical Education Teacher at Kimball Elementary, Mesquite ISD

Youth Education Research Coordinator with The Cooper Institute

Adjunct Professor at Texas Christian University and Texas Woman's University 


Meet Kelly

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • PhD - Texas Woman’s University- Kinesiology with emphasis in adapted physical activity
  • MS - Barry University - Movement Science with emphasis in sport and exercise psychology
  • BA - Arkansas Tech University- Psychology 

    Standard Texas Teaching Certificate - Health and Physical Education EC-12

Research Focus:

Dr. Featherston has worked in a variety of professional roles but all have included the promotion of youth fitness. Most recently, she enjoys her role as a physical educator which allows her to help students find their passion for activity and teach them to make healthy food choices.

Scott Going

Scott Going, PhD

Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and in Physiological Sciences and the Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at The University of Arizona

Meet Scott

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Doctor of Philosophy – University of Illinois – Exercise Physiology
  • Master of Science – University of Illinois – Exercise Physiology
  • Bachelor of Science – University of Maine – Physical Education; Health Education Minor

Research Focus:

Current projects focus on the development of body composition standards for youth and adults, school-based integrated physical activity and nutrition programs, sarcopenia, hip geometry and fractures in postmenopausal women, and the effects of exercise interventions on skeletal development and health in children and patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Kathleen F. Janz

Kathleen F. Janz, EdD

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Health and Human Physiology at the University of Iowa, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the College of Public Health

Meet Kathleen

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Bachelor of Science – University of Wisconsin – Physical Education & Health Education
  • Master of Arts – University of Northern Colorado – Exercise Physiology
  • Interdisciplinary Doctorate – University of Northern Colorado – Exercise Physiology, Community Health

Research Focus:

From an impressive list of 139 publications, Dr. Janz’s most recent peer-reviewed journal article for the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee is titled “Physical Activity and Health in Children Younger Than 6 Years: A Systematic Review”. Dr. Janz has had a distinguished career further exemplified by her numerous awards, honors and prestigious appointments. She was most recently charged with the development and dissemination of new information related to dietary interventions and exercises that promote bone health and protect against fractures for the Bone Health Across the Lifespan Scientific Writing Committee of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and American College of Sports Medicine. As Dr. Janz continues to work as a member of the Cooper’s Institute FitnessGram Scientific Advisory Board, she hopes that her expertise in physical activity and physical fitness, as they relate to bone outcomes, will be translated into criterion-based assessments and educational programming to improve bone health in children and adolescents.

Harold W. (Bill) Kohl, PhD, MSPH, FACSM, FNAK

Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin

Meet Harold

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Professor of Epidemiology and Kinesiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston School of Public Health and the University of Texas, Austin. 
  • PhD in Community Health Studies, The University of Texas Health Science Center

Research Focus:

At the University of Texas School of Public Health, Dr. Kohl also serves as the Associate Regional Dean for Academic Affairs and International Health Affairs at the Austin Regional Campus. In his recent efforts, he has concentrated on national and international physical activity surveillance and epidemiology issues, as well as program development and evaluation studies for the promotion of school-based physical activity for children and adolescents.  He initiated Active Texas 2020, a state physical activity plan for Texas.  He has served as an elected Trustee and is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and is a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology.  He is the founder and past-president of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health and currently serves as the elected chair of the US National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. 

He has served in an editorial capacity for several scientific journals and is currently Editor Emeritus of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

He has published more than 200 papers, chapters and monographs in the scientific literature and in 2012 co-authored the textbook Foundations of Physical Activity and Public Health.  In 2018, he co-authored the textbook Foundations of Kinesiology.

Matthew Mahar

Matthew Mahar, EdD

Professor and Director, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University

Meet Matthew

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Doctor of Education in Exercise Science – University of Houston – Measurement and Research
  • Masters Degree in Education in Exercise Science – University of Houston
  • Bachelors of Science in Engineering – State University of New York at Cortland – Physical Education

Research Focus:

Apart from Dr. Mahar’s extensive list of awards, the San Diego State University School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences was also awarded the 2019 Inclusive Excellence Award from the American Kinesiology Association. Among Dr. Mahar’s comprehensive list of publicationsis his most recent in-press publication in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, titled “Classroom-Based Physical Activity and On-Task Behavior”. Dr. Mahar believes that his service on the FitnessGram Advisory Board allows him to make meaningful scientific contributions to the fitness and physical activity of youth. He enjoys the spirited and passionate discussions about evidence that supports the tests they recommend. Dr. Mahar remains in service of standard-setting, prediction of health-related outcome variables and how fitness testing in schools can lead to enhanced levels of physical activity in youth when used appropriately.

Kelly R. Laurson, PhD

Professor, School of Kinesiology and Recreation at Illinois State University

Meet Kelly

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Doctor of Philosophy – Iowa State University – Kinesiology
  • Master of Science – Illinois State University – Exercise Physiology
  • Bachelors of Arts – Central College – Health Promotion
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S)

Research Focus:

Dr. Laurson was awarded the CAST Outstanding Tenured Researcher Award from the College of Applied Science and Technology at Illinois State University, as well as the University Research Initiative Award. In addition, Dr. Laurson has been published in several highly- regarded medical journals. His research interests combine physical activity epidemiology and auxology (the study of human growth and maturation) to design and evaluate criterion- referenced standards to promote healthy children. Much of his work uses nationally- representative samples of youth, growth curve models and diagnostic statistics to investigate relationships between physical fitness and various health outcomes in groups of children and adolescents. Dr. Laurson is also interested in physical activity and fitness assessment in youth.

Marilu Dooley Meredith

Marilu Dooley Meredith, EdD

FitnessGram Scientific Advisory Board Member, The Cooper Institute

Meet Marilu

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Doctor of Education – East Texas State University – Commerce, Health and Physical Education
  • Bachelor of Science – University of Texas – Physical Education
  • Master of Education – University of Texas – Physical Education and Special Education

Research Focus:

Dr. Meredith is a worthy recipient of Honor Award from TAHPERD (Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) and the R.L. Bohannon Award for Meritorious Service from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. Between 1994 and 2015, she published the Fitnessgram/Activitygram Test Administration Manual (1 st -5 th Editions), among others. Dr. Meredith started working on Fitnessgram when it began and will continue to do so as long as she is needed. She has invested “blood, sweat and tears” into Fitnessgram and wants to do all she can to help the Cooper Institute continue to provide this excellent product to the physical education profession.

Sharon Plowman, PhD

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at Northern Illinois University

Meet Sharon

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Doctor of Philosophy – University of Illinois
  • Hall of P.R.I.D.E. (Professionals Remembered in Deep Esteem) member – Northern Illinois University – Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

Research Focus:

Dr. Plowman maintains her professional interest by revising her Exercise Physiology textbook with Dr. Denise Smith of Skidmore College. Her work in Physical Education is widely published, and she is the author of Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness and Performance, and many more. Dr. Plowman’s significant achievement has been development, implementation and acceptance of a health-related physical fitness test for children and adolescents in conjunction with FitnessGram and the Cooper Institute. She has served as long as she has because the purpose is important, and things get done.

Stephen Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Medical Director, Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity Medical Director, Austin ISD Student Health Services UT Southwestern, Austin – Department of Pediatrics UT Austin – Department of Advertising, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas

Meet Stephen

Georgi Roberts, MLS

Director of Health, Physical Education & Coordinated Health for Fort Worth ISD

Meet Georgi

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Bachelor of Science – University of North Texas – Kinesiology
  • Master in Library Science– Texas Women’s University

Research Focus:

With several awards to her name, including the “President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Community Award” in 2007, Georgi is also listed as a co-author on several articles produced by evaluators from the CDC related to “Reducing risk: Influence of high school sexual health education” and has been published several times, with her most recent publication being “The Influence of Health Education Teacher Characteristics on Students’ Health-Related Knowledge Gains” in the Journal of School Health.

Along with her knowledge of wellness, Georgi believes in our children’s health and is currently working on the FitnessGram assessment, serving the board and planning the road map to influence how fitness data can contribute to the health of students of the 21 st Century.

Gregory J. Welk, PhD

Gregory J. Welk, PhD

Barbara E. Forker Professor with the Department of Kinesiology at Iowa State University

Meet Gregory

Education, Credentials, Certifications:

  • Doctor of Philosophy – Arizona State University – Exercise and Wellness
  • Master of Science – University of Iowa – Exercise Physiology
  • Bachelor of Science – University of Illinois - Bioengineering

Research Focus:

Gregory J. Welk’s research interests focus on the assessment and promotion of physical activity and fitness in different populations. He has conducted numerous studies on the reliability and validity of different physical assessment techniques and has also published extensively on the development and validation of fitness assessments. He has contributed to the ongoing refinement of health related fitness standards used in FitnessGram and has also coordinated the evaluation of a number of youth fitness initiatives in collaboration with the Cooper Institute including the NFL Play60 FitnessGram Partnership Project, the Texas Youth Fitness Project, and the development and evaluation of NetFit, a version of FitnessGram developed for Hungary. He has served as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board since 1996.

Weimo Zhu, PhD

Professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Meet Weimo


 Steve N. Blair, PED
Charles B. Corbin, PhD
Kirk J. Cureton, PhD
Harold B. Falls, Jr, PhD
Baker C. Harrell, PhD
Dolly Lambdin, PhD
Timothy G. Lohman, PhD
James Morrow Jr., PhD
Robert P. Pangrazi, PhD
Russell R. Pate, PhD
Jodi Prochaska, PhD, MP
Sarajane Quinn, MS
Margaret J. Safrit, PhD
James F. Sallis, PhD
Charles Sterling, EdD, Founder