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Shelby Baez, Ph.D., ATC

Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Director, Psychology of Sport Injury Laboratory

Previous Education
Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 2019
M.S., University of Kentucky, 2016
B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013


Contact Information:
Twitter: @shelbybaezatc


Dr. Baez’s research examines the impact of psychosocial factors on health outcomes after sport-related injury, with a focus on patients after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Her lab examines the impact of psychosocial factors on biological outcomes, such as neurocognitive function, biomechanical alterations, and secondary injury risk. Her lab also seeks to identify clinically feasible and novel psychosocial interventions to improve health outcomes. These techniques range from graded exposure therapies to virtual reality mindfulness meditation. Dr. Baez has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and other regional and national foundations to support her work.


PubMed Link:


Awards and Honors

Approved Non-Certified Mentor by the Certification Council of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, 2022
Association for Applied Sport Psychology Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2020
American Psychological Association Division 47 Professional Poster Award, 2020
Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence for African-American Alumni Award at the University of Kentucky, 2019

The Team


Doctoral Students

Elaine Reiche, M.S., ATC, CSCS

2nd Year Doctoral Student


Educational Background:

B.S.  Texas State University, 2016
M.S. Auburn University, 2018


Contact Information:


Elaine’s research seeks to understand changes in postural control and neurocognitive function after ACL injury and reconstruction. Additionally, Elaine wants to develop interventions to enhance motor learning during rehabilitation that are also designed to address maladaptive neurocognitive and psychological responses. Overall, Elaine wants to improve quality of life and reduce secondary injury risk for patients after ACL reconstruction.


Caitlin Brinkman, M.S., ATC 

1st Year Doctoral Student



B.S. University of Michigan, 2018
M.S. University of Kentucky, 2020


Contact Information:


Caitie’s research seeks to understand the consequences of ACL injury and reconstruction on mental health and well-being and intends to develop interventions that promote treating patients from a biopsychosocial approach post-ACL reconstruction. Additionally, Caitie wants to identify how neuroplasticity after ACL reconstruction affects short-term and long-term health outcomes, including return to sport rates and secondary injury risk.

Undergraduate Volunteer Research Assistants

Chiebuka Onuoha

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior

Major: Neuroscience B.S.


Research Interests: Chiebuka is assisting with the Virtual Reality Mindfulness Meditation study.  As someone who has previously undergone two arthroscopic hip surgeries, Chiebuka is interested in the examination of psychological factors that affect the ability to recover and return to previous levels of activity. He plans to attend medical school after graduation.



Lab Group Alumni


Current Grant Funding & Research Projects

Virtual Reality Mindfulness Meditation in Patients Post-ACL Reconstruction (Principal Investigator), Awarded by National Institutes of Health. 2021-2026

Longitudinal examination of psychosocial and neurocognitive changes post-ACL reconstruction

What steps are the study team and UNC taking to prevent the spread of COVID?

To help prevent the spread of COVID study teams across UNC research personnel are taking the following steps:

  1. Prior to a face-to-face visit, research personnel must confirm the your appointment and perform telephone wellness screenings no more than 24 hours prior to the scheduled visit.
  2. During face-to-face visits, research personnel and you should maintain a physical distance of 6 feet whenever possible, wear a facemask and eye protection, and perform hand hygiene before and after face-to-face interaction with all participants.
  3. Interactions should take place in an outdoor setting, if possible.
  4. Research personnel have developed and implemented a regular schedule for frequently cleaning and wiping touched surfaces and objects (e.g., door and cabinet handles, faucets, light switches, keyboards, and other frequently touched objects) with an approved disinfectant or disinfectant wipes. Research personnel will also follow routine surface decontamination of common equipment like instrumentation and computers. Disinfecting any surfaces that may be thought to be contaminated and use an approved disinfectant such as a 1:10 dilution of bleach or 60% to 90% alcohol solution.
  5. Research that involves participants of 10 or fewer individuals in a group, such as a focus group, is allowed. Seating should be arranged to allow 6 feet between group members, and all focus group participants must wear masks.
  6. If research involves travel or overnight stays, accommodation and meals should allow for adequate physical distancing (6 feet or more) wherever feasible. Vehicle occupancy should be limited to no more than two people in a standard car, with open windows while travelling, if possible. Vehicle occupants should wear masks.
  7. Some locations may have additional safety procedures. If your visit is at such a location, the study team will describe what to expect when they call to confirm your study visit.