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Kraemer awarded Finnish honorary PhD

Kam King
September 06, 2016

Kinesiology professor receives honorary doctorate from University of Jyväskylä

William Kraemer William Kraemer



It’s not often that William Kraemer will don formal white-tie attire — complete with a tailcoat, waistcoat, bow tie and top hat — but this summer, a prestigious honor called for it.

On Aug. 13, the professor of kinesiology was awarded an honorary doctorate in health sciences by the University of Jyväskylä, in Jyväskylä, Finland. The university’s highest academic award recognized him for the impressive strides that he has made in exercise physiology, endocrine biology, sports medicine and resistance-training research.

"With honorary doctorates, (our) university honors the recipients for their significant (contributions to) the university and society,” said Matti Manninen, rector of the University of Jyväskylä.

Kraemer’s significant contributions include a partnership with the university’s Department of Biology of Physical Activity that has spanned almost two decades and has made an impact on the health of countless individuals worldwide. 

Collaborative work that improves strength and performance

Kraemer first visited the University of Jyväskylä in 1994, while he served as a professor and director of the Laboratory for Sports Medicine at Pennsylvania State University. Today, he continues his partnership with the Finnish institution as an adjunct professor.

“When I first spent time in Finland, we started off studying the aging population,” said Kraemer. “We studied muscle interventions to support those who are anywhere from 60 to 90 years old.”

Kraemer was interested in the role that resistance training played in helping older individuals, especially those experiencing sarcopenia — the loss of muscle tissue during the aging process — increase their strength.

Working alongside Keijo Häkkinen, professor and chair of Jyväskylä’s Department of Biology of Physical Activity, and his team, Kraemer researched neuromuscular adaptions during strength and endurance training to support elite athletes, aging men and women and military personnel. As a past commissioned officer in the U.S. Army’s Medical Service Corp and father of a son in the military, Kraemer has a vested interest in studying the effect that successful strength-training has on warfighters. A partnership with Finnish military forces allowed Kraemer and his research team to explore fitness, stress physiology and recovery with those who would be most impacted by his findings.

Kraemer’s work has made such an impression on Finland, and in the field of kinesiology, that he was named the first non-Finnish recipient of the University of Jyväskylä’s prestigious University Medallion in 2009, an honor he shares with former presidents of the country.

Sharing knowledge with the next generation of experts

Considered one of the world’s preeminent scholars in the study of physiology and endocrinology of resistance training, Kraemer’s scholarly impact is impressive. Over his career, he has published more than 450 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 100 chapters and 12 books. In addition to having more than 50,000 citations and an H index of 118 according to Harzing’s Publish or Perish, Kraemer received the 2015 Expertscape Award — naming him the nation’s top expert in resistance training research.

To Kraemer, those honors would mean nothing if he were not able to also impart that knowledge to the next generation of researchers. He has mentored more than 30 PhD students, 100 Master’s students and countless undergraduates.

“I want to help expose our students to a world of discovery that will help them see how important it is to make discoveries and push their body of knowledge forward,” he said.

To Kraemer, academia isn’t a solo sport. It’s a team effort. “It’s important to remember that research is never completed by just one person,” he said.

“Our work is done with touted groups of investigators and students. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have great teams of individuals working hard to put out some impressive discoveries.”



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