Alumni Spotlight: William Massey, PhD

This Alumni Spotlight highlights Dr. William Massey, PhD Health Sciences Class of ’13. Under the advisement of LSPPE faculty Dr. Barbara Meyer, Dr. Massey completed a doctoral dissertation titled, “Behavior change in applied sport psychology: The use of processes of change in psychological training for athletes.”

Dr. Massey is currently an Associate Professor and Director of the Kinesiology Graduate Program at Oregon State University. Additionally, he directs a research laboratory (the Psychosocial Physical Activity [2PLAY] Laboratory) that focuses on the intersection of sport, play, and child development.  In his current line of research, Dr. Massey is dedicated to understanding how recess quality impacts healthy development in elementary school-aged children. The 2PLAY Lab consists of a postdoctoral scholar, 6 PhD students, and one MS student.

Dr. Meyer describes Dr. Massey as dedicated to excellence whether he is working with research participants and/or collaborators in a research context, clients and their families in an applied setting, students in an academic setting, or his own personal pursuits.  His interest in education transcends the classroom and research lab, manifesting itself in a strong sense of community and a desire to advance the human spirit.

To catch up with Dr. Massey on his post-UWM career and life, we asked him a few questions:

Why did you choose the College of Health Sciences PhD program for your graduate studies?

The primary reason was less about choosing the CHS PhD program and more choosing to work with Dr. Meyer. When I was interviewing with other programs, potential advisors and their students always talked about the support, but Dr. Meyer talked to me about the challenge. For me, that was the right fit. It was also helpful that the PhD program had a lot of flexibility that allowed me to build around my interests. My current work draws from many different disciplinary fields which was made possible by the breadth of coursework I was able to take at UWM. While I focused on applied sport psychology, I also took courses in motor control, neuroscience, counseling psychology, and anthropology. That foundation has helped enhance the teaching, research, as well as applied and outreach work that I do currently.

What was your favorite part about your experience in the College of Health Sciences PhD program? 

I was part of a great group while I was there. We were all there to push ourselves as far as we could, and in doing so we pushed each other a lot as well. Completing the PhD was extremely challenging, but the people who were a part of the journey made it worthwhile. The diversity of experiences I had while at UWM was also a highlight. Throughout my PhD program I worked with Dr. Kevin Keenan in the Neuromechanics Lab, got the opportunity to lead multiple sport psychology research projects, taught undergraduate courses, mentored other students, conducted sport psychology consulting with athletes, assisted with projects that intersected with professional sport organizations, and worked as a therapist for homeless youth in the city. The broad scope of this work allowed me to make connections across fields and practice areas, which was always something that kept things fun and interesting during the program.

How did your experience as a member of the LSPPE prepare you for your current faculty position? 

I felt incredibly well prepared for a faculty job once I finished (although, my first job after completing my PhD was as a landscaping assistant!). As mentioned above, my coursework, research experiences, and applied work were broad and diverse. More importantly, Dr. Meyer consistently challenged me to push my limits, solve problems on my own, and do the things as a student that you would need to be successful as a faculty member. I was never doing one thing during my PhD program – having to balance teaching, research, mentoring, committee work, and applied/community work. This is the reality of a faculty position, and I was fortunate to be well prepared. Dr. Meyer was also great at teaching us a lot of the behind-the-scenes things that happen in academia.

What advice would you give incoming or current graduate students?

Enjoy the process. It might be cliché for the sport psychology students, but you will be better for it. Graduate school is hard, it is supposed to be. It is easy to get set on what you need to get done to finish and get out as quickly as possible. But doing so makes you miss the small moments of that makes everything worth it.

For more information on how to study Sport and Performance Psychology at UWM, explore our website and/or contact Dr. Meyer ( or Dr. Arvinen-Barrow (