Jaci VanHeest

Associate Professor &


Educational Psychology


Associate Professor
University Teaching Fellow
Faculty Director Public Health Learning Community

Academic Degrees:

Ph.D. Michigan State University, 1993
M.S. Michigan State University, 1988
B.A. Hope College, 1984
NIH Post Doctoral Fellowship University of Cincinnati, Physiology and Biophysics, 1993
NIH Post Doctoral Fellowship University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Bioenergetics and Pediatrics, 1997

Areas of Expertise:

Childhood Obesity and Physical Activity

Performance of Elite Athletes

Exercise, Bioenergetics and Reproductive Endocrinology


Dr. VanHeest received her undergraduate degree from Hope College, Holland Michigan in Physical Education. She completed her M.S. in Exercise Physiology and Ph.D. in Exercise Endocrinology at Michigan State University. Dr. VanHeest completed to post doctoral fellowships; one at the University of Cincinnati in Protein Chemistry and Membrane Transport and the second at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Body Weight Regulation, Obesity and Pediatrics. She currently investigates a before school activity intervention in overweight children, examining the physical, hormonal and metabolic outcomes. In addition, Dr. VanHeest continues to pursue research in the area of bioenergetics, women and performance. She is currently collaborating on research investigating the influence of energy deficiency on reproductive hormone status, metabolic status, bone health and performance.

Funded Research:

Influence of Altered Bioenergetics on Hormonal Function and Physical Performance in Women

“Active Play” and Overweight in Children

Physical Movement and Academic Learning

Selected Publications/Presentations:

VanHeest, J.L., C.E. Mahoney, and C.D. Rodgers. Impact of Oral Contraceptive Use on Metabolism and Performance. IOC Exercise Endocrinology. 2005.

De Souza, M.J., D.K. Lee, J.L. VanHeest, J.L. Scheid, S.L. West, and N.I. Williams. Severity of energy-related menstrual disturbances increases in proportion to indices of energy conservation in exercising women. Fertility and Sterility 88(4):971-975, 2007.

VanHeest, J.L., and C.E. Mahoney. Female Athletes: Factors Impacting Successful Performance. Current Sports Medicine Reports 6(3):190-194, 2007.

Rodgers,C.D., P.E. Burch, J.L. VanHeest, K. Suzuki, C.T. Bussiere, and R.A. Schemmel. A tepary bean diet and exercise delays indices of type 2 diabetes in female fa/fa rats. International Journal Diabetes & Metabolism 15: 38-45, 2007.

Vescovi, J.D., J.L. VanHeest, and M.J. De Souza. Short-term response of bone turnover to low-dose oral contraceptives in exercising women with hypothalamic amenorrhea. Contraception 77(2):97-104, 2008.

Burton, L.J. and J.L. VanHeest. Physical Activity and Student Achievement. Journal of Sport Management 22(3):371, 2008.

Vescovi, J.D., and J.L. VanHeest. Effects of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention Program on Performance in Adolescent Female Soccer Players. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 20(3):394-402, 2010.

Nicholson, H., T.J. Kehle, M.A. Bray, and J.L. VanHeest. The effects of antecedent physical activity on the academic engagement of children with autism spectrum disorder. Psychology in the Schools 48(2):198-213, 2011.

Weinstock, J., H.K. Wadeson, and J.L. VanHeest. Exercise as an Adjunct Treatment for Opiate Agonist Treatment: Review of the Current Research and Implementation Strategies. Substance Abuse 33:350-360, 2013.

VanHeest, J.L., C.D. Rodgers, C.E. Mahoney, and M.J. De Souza. Ovarian suppression impairs sport performance in junior elite female swimmers. Medicine Science in Sport and Exercise 46(1):156-166, 2014.


University Teaching Fellow, University of Connecticut 2006-2007

Spirit of Exercise and Health Sciences Award, UMASS Boston 2010

Outstanding First Year Experience Teaching Award 2013-2014


PawPALS Program for Overweight Children

GetSSET Sport Science and Technology Program for High School Girls

Harvard Smithsonian SportSmart Project

University of Connecticut Institutional Review Board

New England Chapter American College of Sports Medicine

In the News:

Sports Illustrated – PawPALS Program

NBC Nightly News – PawPALS Program

Hartford Courant

NBC30 – Females and Fitness

Jaci VanHeest
Contact Information
Phone860 486 5123
Mailing Address249 Glenbrook Road, Unit 3064 Storrs, CT 06269
Office LocationGentry 331