Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Kara M. Whitaker is a associate professor with tenure and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Health and Human Physiology.

Kara Whitaker, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Physiology and Director of the Physical Activity and Women’s Health Lab. Her overall research mission is to better understand the determinants and health effects of modifiable lifestyle behaviors, including physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep, to inform behavioral interventions to improve health outcomes. Her lab has two primary areas of emphasis. Firstly, her team conducts epidemiology research using data from cohort studies to examine the effects of lifestyle behaviors on cardiometabolic risk factors and disease outcomes. Her team is currently in the first year of a NIH R01 project called The Pregnancy 24/7 Study, which examines how 24-hour activity-rest patterns are associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Secondly, they apply the knowledge gained from their epidemiology research to create evidence-based lifestyle interventions designed to improve health outcomes. In this line of research, Dr. Whitaker and her team are conducting the INSPiRE Study (Increasing Steps in PREgnancy), which is an intervention designed to increase physical activity among pregnant women. Dr. Whitaker is particularly interested in working with women during pregnancy because interventions have the potential to influence the health of both the mother and the baby.

Dr. Whitaker completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. She then earned her Masters in Public Health and Doctorate in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, she joined the faculty of the University of Iowa in 2018. 

For more information, visit the Physical Activity and Women’s Health Lab website.