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Zachary Yukio Kerr, PhD, MPH, FACSM

Associate Professor – Exercise and Sport Science

Department of Exercise and Sport Science
313 Woollen Gym, CB# 8605
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-8700


Dr. Zachary Yukio Kerr (he/him/his/ no pronoun preference) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina, and serves as the Lab Director of I-WERQ (, Core Faculty with the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center (, and Core Faculty with the UNC Human Movement Science Curriculum ( Dr. Kerr is also the EXSS Director of Undergraduate Research.

Dr. Kerr completed an undergraduate degree in Communication and Spanish at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) in 2004, and earned two master’s degrees at The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) in Journalism and Communication (2006) and Epidemiology (2010). Dr. Kerr obtained a doctoral degree in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014, and previously served as the Director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance Program with the Datalys Center (

Dr. Kerr treats epidemiology as a toolbox of skills and has applied it to the field of social epidemiology, which the NIH defines as the “branch of epidemiology that focuses particularly on the effects of social-structural factors on states of health. Social epidemiology assumes that the distribution of advantages and disadvantages in a society reflects the distribution of health and disease.” Dr. Kerr’s research focuses on the multiple levels of influence that affect the incidence, identification, and management of adverse outcomes.

As Core Faculty in the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, Dr. Kerr’s research and expertise provides leadership in the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center’s focus area of traumatic brain injury. Their research has also focused on other sport-related ailments, such as exertional heat stroke, and the examination of policy and organizational factors inclusive of occupational stress, coping strategies, and burnout. Dr. Kerr has also engaged in research and frontline prevention work with LGBTQ+/queer populations, including examining HIV/STD risk in men who have sex with men, burnout in HIV prevention staff, and coping strategies for individuals “coming out” as queer or HIV+.

Dr. Kerr’s current work with I-WERQ continues their focus on the multiple levels of influence in the exercise and sport science discipline by incorporating a queer theory lens to focus on populations and topics that are stigmatized and marginalized. However, their mentorship intends to provide a pathway for students to engage in and gain experience in research, thus ensuring they feel they can belong in the EXSS field while being their authentic selves. Further, Dr. Kerr’s service pertains to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI+), and currently serves on the College of Arts and Sciences DEI Strategic Plan Committee, the Classrooms Modernization Advisory Group (CMAG), and the Carolina Male Empowerment Network (MEN) advisory board. Dr. Kerr is also a Carolina Covenant mentor.

Dr. Kerr’s collaborations with numerous experts across multiple disciplines have resulted in the publication of over 250 research articles. Dr. Kerr’s work has been funded both internally within the university as well as externally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, National Football League, National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation, and National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

In 2018, Dr. Kerr was the recipient of the New Investigator Award, awarded by the American College of Sports Medicine. In 2023, Dr. Kerr was the recipient of the EXSS Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and named a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. He has also been an accredited member of the Press for the Eurovision Song Contest (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019).

Finally, Dr. Kerr is a proud fur parent to a Pitbull-Border Collie mutt named Booker (named after Booker Creek), and two naughty black cats named Pasha (named after Pasha Parfeni) and Sergei (named after Sergei Grinkov). When not running stairs at Kenan Stadium, Dr. Kerr binge-watches YouTube videos related to cooking/baking, 8-bit and 16-bit video games, and Fails.