Dr. Jeanne Nichols grew up in Boston, MA and attended Northeastern University as an undergraduate student from 1965-69. Upon completion of her B.S. degree she taught physical education and coached high school gymnastics and cross-country for 10 years before deciding to apply to graduate school to study exercise science. In 1980 she completed a master’s degree at the University of New Hampshire where she studied and worked as a research assistant in UNH’s cardiac rehabilitation program. From there she completed her Ph.D. in exercise physiology at the University of Michigan and joined the ENS faculty at SDSU in 1985.
During her 27 year tenure at SDSU, Dr. Nichols taught undergraduate and graduate courses in exercise physiology and related courses, served as associate director (1985-91) then director (1992-2003) of the Adult Fitness Program, and graduate program advisor. She served on the university’s Institutional Review Board for 17 years, the last 5 of which she chaired. While at SDSU, Jeanne maintained a strong commitment to student learning and student research, as evidenced by her mentoring of over 100 graduate students who successfully completed their master’s thesis under her guidance. Several of her students went on to complete doctoral degrees while many others became highly successful fitness and health professionals in California and beyond.
Dr. Nichols maintained an active research program in the area of exercise and musculoskeletal health across the age continuum. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and has accumulated over 30 years of practical and research experience in developing, administering, and evaluating exercise programs for older adults, with particular emphasis on improving balance, mobility, strength, and functional fitness to ultimately prevent falls and bone fractures. From 2002-2013 she and her colleague Dr. Mitch Rauh (Director of the ENS DPT program) focused their research on the Female Athlete Triad, a syndrome comprising energy deficiency, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone mass among adolescent athletes. They were the first to publish data on the prevalence, risk factors, and severity of this syndrome among high school athletes.
Jeanne’s consistent record of research coupled with her dedication to students was recognized in 2009 when she received the SDSU Distinguished Faculty (Monte) Award for her contributions to the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. In 2010 she was the recipient of an Excellence in Research Award from the Sports Physical Therapy Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Following her “retirement” from SDSU, Jeanne joined the Department of Family Medicine & Public Health (FMPH) at UCSD, first as the lead exercise physiologist, and currently the Scientific Director of the Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) within FMPH. At EPARC she collaborates with colleagues in Preventive Medicine, Sports Medicine, Public Health, Geriatrics, Psychology, and Engineering, and is currently a co-investigator on multiple NIH-funded clinical trials. She co-developed and team teaches a curriculum in Exercise is Medicine® to physicians enrolled in the combined residency/MPH program in Preventive Medicine.
Her professional memberships include Fellow status with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Society for Bone & Mineral Research, and the International Society for Clinical Densitometry. She is also Past-President of the Female Athlete Triad Coalition, an international consortium of clinicians and researchers dedicated to improving prevention, recognition, and treatment strategies for the Triad. She serves on several committees within these organizations and regularly attends national and international conferences to stay connected to her profession.
When not in the lab, Jeanne spends her free time cycling and rowing. She has been a competitive masters cyclist since 1989, and holds multiple regional, state and national titles in road cycling and mountain biking. More recently she has joined a masters rowing team and currently divides her workout time between the two sports.