About Us

The Exercise & Sport Science Initiative (ESSI) draws on experts from a wide range of faculty and students across the University of Michigan campus, Michigan Athletics and industry partners to optimize physical performance and health for athletes and exercisers of all ages and abilities.

Through the experience and expertise of U-M’s schools and colleges and athletic program, ESSI will perform cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, and ultimately translate findings to the marketplace, related to:

  • Performance optimization in exercise and sports for individuals and teams
    • Strength, training, conditioning, psychology, nutrition, rest, recovery, regeneration and injury prevention
    • Understanding the role of physical activity in improved physical and mental performance, overall health and quality of life at all ages
  • Data science and analytics
    • Apps, big data, individual and team analytics, data underlying urban planning, business development, marketing and entrepreneurship
  • Sport technologies
    • Sensors, helmets, intelligent apparel, equipment design and rapid prototyping

"With developments in areas ranging from improved helmet designs to the analysis of sports data, science and technology are opening up a host of new opportunities to transform sports and exercise. With the help of industry partners, we seek not only to explore the science underlying new advances, but also to translate new ideas and insights into practice on our campus and beyond."

− S. Jack Hu, U-M Vice President for Research

"This is a great opportunity for our coaches, trainers, and student athletes to work with faculty and industry partners to probe new approaches to optimizing both individual and team performance."

− Warde Manuel, U-M Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics

ESSI draws on unparalleled resources to address the challenges in exercise and sports by engaging:

  • Faculty and student researchers across campus in such key fields as kinesiology, psychology, biology, public health, medicine, nutrition, engineering, sensor design, and data science and analytics
  • Student-athletes, coaches, and trainers from U-M’s varsity, club and intramural sports
  • Partnerships with industry and government

ESSI will promote the fitness, health, and well-being of students, of athletes at all levels, and of society by encouraging the transfer of emerging insights and innovations into practice in the classroom, on the playing fields, and in communities, as well as through apps, sport analytics, proactive communication and outreach, and commercial applications.

Seed funding for ESSI is provided by the Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research, and U-M Athletics. Learn more about ESSI Funding Opportunities.

ESSI Leadership

Lisa Rabaut

Lisa Rabaut

Managing Director

Ronald Zernicke

Ronald Zernicke

Co-Director

Ellen Arruda

Ellen Arruda

Co-Director