Exercise Science is a field of study that has always intrigued Jessica Berrios. She has had a love for sports and the movement of the human body ever since she can remember. Growing up an athlete herself, “sports and physical activity are engrained in my DNA and being able to learn about it as it advances, seeing it being applied in various sports, exercise scenarios, and the daily physical activities in people’s lives is very exciting for me,” she says.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science from Queens College, Jessica then went on to get her MBA and PH.D. at Springfield College, both with a concentration in Exercise Science. Previously, Jessica taught at both Springfield College and Brooklyn College. When she became an Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College, Jessica began teaching Exercise Science courses and has continued to do so, bringing the major in its entirety to St. Thomas Aquinas College herself.
“Being able to share this information with my students and knowing that I am teaching and preparing the next generation of fitness and exercise health professionals is what I find most rewarding in my career.”
Upon becoming a professor at STAC, Jessica spearheaded the development of the Exercise Science program, including everything from the curriculum to the construction of the lab. Since then, the program has grown exponentially in both student and faculty participation. “I received guidance and support early on from my science faculty in other natural science disciplines in helping me launch the newly minted Exercise Science program to where it is today.” With help from Professors like Lydia Smith, we have continued to grow, and further the development of the program in a way that is more hands-on and ultimately rewarding for students.
“Hands-on experience is so important in today’s job market. I always tell my students, it’s not just the classes you take, but the unique experiences that you gain that will differentiate you from the rest of the pack.”
Coming from a background of teaching at larger universities, Jessica truly enjoys the supportive environment and the sense of community that STAC provides. Being able to get to know her students and their stories truly enriches her teaching experience. “Developing the Exercise Science program and lab has been quite a memorable and insightful experience. I never imagined I would be given this rare opportunity to develop a program from the ground up, along with designing an exercise science lab to boot. All of this would not have been possible without all the support I received from my fellow faculty colleagues, support staff, and the entire STAC community!”
Having built the program from the ground up, something that Jessica is really looking forward to this year, is seeing STAC’s first graduating class in the Exercise Science program! “These students have truly paved the way for this program and have set the bar extremely high for future graduates,” she says.
Jessica’s love for sports and the movement of the human body has inspired her primary area of research, which focuses on human performance. Her research has proven valuable and was awarded recognition as the top presentation at the World Conference on Physical Education and Sport: Challenges and Future Directions (WCPES) in Shanghai, China in 2014.
More recently, her interest has been focused on the influence of mental fatigue on human motor movement. “With the significant role that technology has in our lives, our brain is constantly being stimulated with information processing. Its impact on mental fatigue is supported by growing research. I am interested in looking into how this condition impacts motor skills of various degrees (fine and motor skills) and how this affects the ability to perform exercise and various forms of physical activity.” Being a former athlete herself, her interests are highly geared toward the student-athlete population.
When she is not teaching or conducting research, Jessica volunteers yearly as a judge at the Tri-State County Science Fair held at White Plains High School. What she loves most about this is, “meeting our future scientists and hearing about the projects they put so much work and dedication into,” she says.
In her downtime, Jessica loves to cook, work out, do woodwork, play croquet, and spend time with her two cats. She also loves to travel and experience new cultures and their cuisines. Most recently, she and her husband went to Jordan, where they visited Petra and got to float on the Dead Sea!