Cristina Colón-Semenza , PhD

Assistant Professor (PI)

Department of Kinesiology

Research Overview

I am broadly interested in motivation for exercise and physical activity. My long-term research aim is to increase the physical activity of people with neurological conditions to mitigate symptoms and disease progression. Specifically, I aim to engage individuals from underrepresented groups with neurological disorders through community-based participatory research. I am currently adapting a physical activity peer coaching program for individuals living with Parkinson disease who identify as Hispanic/Latinx or Black/African American. This is an extension of my prior work, a behavioral feasibility trial, grounded in Bandura’s social cognitive theory and self-determination theory. We used mobile health technology along with principles of behavior change in the general population of people with Parkinson disease. In addition, I have investigated the role of effort valuations and incentives to increase physical activity, especially in the face of impaired motivation, namely apathy and the anticipation of pleasure in neurological conditions (impairments in mesolimbic dopaminergic pathways). Finally, I am interested in the effect of physical therapist interventions upon mental health in those living with neurological conditions. My diverse clinical experiences in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, and outpatient clinics for over two decades inform my research questions and drive for health equity.


PhD, Boston University, 2019
MPT, University of Delaware, 1998
BS, Rutgers College, 1996

Recent/Selected Publications


Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-0019
Mailing Address3107 Horsebarn Hill Rd
Unit 4137
Storrs, CT 06269-4137