Ryan Lab Group
Eric Ryan, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Adjunct, Department of Health Sciences
Director, Exercise Science Teaching Laboratory
Associate Director, Motion Science Institute
Coordinator, Exercise Physiology Graduate Program
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2009
M.S., Florida Atlantic University, 2005
B.S., Tulane University, 2003
Lab Positions Availability (please reach out to Dr. Ryan if interested):
• Postdoctoral Position: funded postdoctoral position through the NC OSHERC (open now for a January or Fall 2024 start date).
• Doctoral Position: funded PhD position through HMSC program (open for a Fall 2024 start date).
• Masters Position: funded through EXSS (open for a Fall 2024 start date).
Dr. Ryan’s research focuses on examining the influence of various acute and chronic stressors on neuromuscular function. Most recently, our team has specifically worked to mitigate injuries and improve occupational health and performance in first responders. He works closely with the NC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center and the Carolina Center. Dr. Ryan has published over 130 peer-reviewed original research manuscripts and has lectured nationally on the research conducted with his team. An example of his current work can be found here.
Total Worker Health® Approach to Reduce Falls and Advance Fall Protection in Firefighters: https://exss.unc.edu/motion-science-institute/ryan-lab-group/total-worker-health-approach-firefighters/
Feasibility of a Train-the-Trainer Delivered Exercise Intervention in Firefighters: https://exss.unc.edu/motion-science-institute/ryan-lab-group/feasibility-of-a-train-the-trainer-delivered-exercise-intervention-in-firefighters/
Retired Firefighter Health and Wellness Research Project: https://exss.unc.edu/motion-science-institute/ryan-lab-group/retired-firefighter-research-study/
Examining Mechanisms Underlying Performance Fatigability in Women: https://exss.unc.edu/motion-science-institute/ryan-lab-group/examining-mechanisms-underlying-performance-fatigability-in-women/
Awards and Honors
Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine
Fellow, National Strength and Conditioning Association
Distinguished Alumni Award, Florida Atlantic University, College of Education
Terry J. Housh Young Investigator of the Year Award Recipient, National Strength and Conditioning Association
Gena Gerstner, PhD, MPH
Research Assistant Professor
B.S., State University of New York at Cortland
M.P.H., University at Albany School of Public Health
M.S., California University of Pennsylvania
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Gena Gerstner is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and works specifically in the Carolina Center for Healthy Workplace Design and Well-Being. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in exercise physiology and her postdoctoral training in the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center. She has over 7 years of experience examining the health, performance, and neuromuscular function of public safety personnel. She is an avid fan of puzzles, science fiction, and soccer, and spends her free time with her dog Trinity.
Nick Buoncristiani, MS
B.S. Physical Education
Nick Buoncristiani is a first-year PhD student in the Human Movement Sciences program. He obtained both his BS in Physical Education and MS Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Physiology from Western Kentucky University in 2019 and 2022, respectively. His research interests include enhancing the health, safety, and occupational performance of tactical populations (e.g., firefighters) through physical testing and exercise intervention. Nick is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and NSCA. Outside of academics, Nick enjoys resistance training and spending time with family and friends.
Adam Coleman, BA
BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Adam Coleman is from Wilmington, North Carolina and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science. Here at UNC he will be working under the guidance of Dr. Eric Ryan in the Neuromuscular Assessment Lab to conduct research in tactical populations. Outside of school, Adam has worked as a Firefighter and Ocean Rescue at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina for the past four years. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, resistance training and hiking.
Amber Schmitz, BA
B.A., The Ohio State University
Amber is originally from Ohio and completed her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at The Ohio State University. Under the guidance of Dr. Eric Ryan, she will conduct research on neuromuscular function in tactical populations. In her free time, Amber enjoys lifting, being outdoors, and trying new coffee shops.
RuthAnne Winston, BA
B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
RuthAnne is from Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science and a minor in Spanish. Outside of the lab, she works as an EMT for Orange County and a volunteer for South Orange Rescue Squad. RuthAnne is excited to work as a research assistant to help improve health outcomes for the firefighters she works beside. In her free time, she loves playing sports or hanging out with friends, family, and her pets.
Arjun Parmar, BA
B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Arjun is a research assistant in the Ryan Lab Group. He recently completed his bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sports Science and Biology. As an undergraduate student he worked under UNC faculty member Troy Blackburn, Ph.D. investigating secondary ACL injury. Arjun’s research interest includes injury mitigation and sports performance. Outside of the lab, Arjun enjoys, resistance training, music, backpacking, and coaching soccer.
Lab Group Alumni
Brennan Thompson, PhD. Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, Utah State University. Graduated 2013.
Eric Sobolewski, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Health Sciences, Furman University. Graduated 2014.
Gena Gerstner, PhD. Research Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.. Graduated 2019.
Jacob Mota, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Alabama. Graduated 2020.
Hayden Dewig, PhD. Research Scientist, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University, Graduated 2022.
Current Grant Funding & Research Projects
Total Worker Health Approach to Reduce Falls and Advance Fall Protection in Firefighters (Ryan – PI), Awarded by NIOSH-U19 (2021 – 2026)
Feasibility of a Train-the-Trainer delivered exercise intervention in firefighters (Ryan – PI), Awarded by NIOSH-R03 (2021 – 2023)
Examining Mechanisms Underlying Performance Fatigability in Women (Schmitz and Ryan Co-PIs), Awarded by Center for Women’s Health Research and the NSCA foundation, 2023 – 2024.
Feasibility of workload monitoring within law enforcement officers and its relationship to injury risk and job performance (Giuliani-Dewig – PI), Awarded by NC Occupational Safety and Health Education Research Center and NSCA Foundation, 2021-2022.
Osteoarthritis Prevalence and Modifiable Risk Factors in Retired Firefighters (Ryan-PI), Awarded by the NC Occupational Safety and Health Education Research Center, 2019-2020.