Jesse Mala

Assistant Professor


Educational Leadership

Research Interests

My research interests center on utilizing sport-based youth development (SBYD) programs to holistically develop children who are currently experiencing poverty. Specifically, I examine how participation in SBYD programs contribute to cognitive function (i.e. executive functions), health outcomes (i.e stress regulation), socio-emotional development, academic outcomes, and school-related outcomes (i.e. school climate). As an InCHIP affiliate, I am planning to conduct an interdisciplinary intervention in the Fall of 2020, spanning across the sport management, kinesiology, and education fields. I have partnered with tenured-faculty members at UConn in the Educational Leadership, and Kinesiology departments to assess if an interdisciplinary SBYD intervention can improve executive functions, stress regulation (i.e. cortisol), and math and reading scores among 2nd- and 3rd-grade students in the North End of Hartford, Connecticut. I have previous experience developing, and implementing SBYD interventions among youth in poverty, within a campus-community partnership at UConn, and examining how it contributes to leadership, and school climate outcomes. Additionally, I have assessed the role of physical activity on executive functions and stress regulation among youth in poverty in the Northeast and Southwest of the US. I am also planning to assess the role of SBYD interventions on brain indices using EEG technology, by partnering with a post-doctoral neuroscientist in the Department of Psychological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at UConn.


Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2018
M.S., University of Connecticut, 2014

Recent Publications

Mala, J., McGarry, J., Lee E.C., Distefano, L. The relationship between physical activity participation and executive functions among youth in poverty. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. (In Review)

Mala, J., Corral, M., MaCauley, C., Arinze, N, Ebron, K. The impact of a sport based authentic leadership program on student perceptions of school climate. Research Quarterly in Exercise and Sport (In Review)

McGarry, J., Mala, J., Corral, M. Program development within authentic partnerships. Journal of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Vol. 1 (2), Spring 2018.

Conference Presentations:
Mala, J. The relationship between physical activity and stress regulation among youth in poverty. North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS). Vancouver, Canada. November 2018.

Mala, J. The relationship between physical activity and executive functions among youth in poverty. North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM). Halifax, Nova Scotia. June 2018.

Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-0204
Mailing Address249 Glenbrook Road, Unit 3093, Storrs, CT 06268, United States