Faculty and Staff Directory » Laura Ellingson-Sayen

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Laura Ellingson-Sayen

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Kinesiology

Office: 0111d Forker 534 Wallace Rd, Ames, IA 50011
Phone number: +1 515 294 2552
Email: ellingl@iastate.edu

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Research interests

  • Influence of physical activity and sedentary behavior on chronic pain and mental health and wellbeing
  • Chronic pain - mechanisms and treatment strategies
  • Improving measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviors

My research focuses on investigating the effects of physical activity and sedentary behaviors on the mental health and quality of life of healthy individuals and those with, or at risk for developing, chronic health conditions. I am also interested in designing effective ways to implement physical activity behavior change (e.g. decreasing sedentary time) as a potential treatment for individuals with mental health and chronic pain disorders. In conjunction with these interests, I also work to refine methods of physical activity and sedentary measurement in order to understand how these behaviors interact to influence mental health-related outcomes.

Methodologically, my research takes a psychobiological approach, integrating self-report physical activity and psychometric questionnaires in conjunction with objective measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviors and collection of physiological data.

Students with similar research interests are STRONGLY encouraged to apply for the doctoral program in Exercise Psychology. Assistantships are available for qualified candidates.


My intention as a teacher is to establish a learning community in which students actively engage with each other and with the course material. Since students learn in diverse ways, I have found that an effective strategy to promote learning is to use a blend of teaching and assessment styles. To that end, I vary the structure of my classes, incorporating in-class activities, labs, projects, and large and small group discussions into the traditional lecture format.

I am currently teaching Kinesiology 467: Exercise and Health: Behavior Change (fall and spring) and Kinesiolgy 501: Research Methods in Physical Activity.

Personal Interests

Originally from the Seattle-Tacoma area, I am an avid runner and outdoors person who enjoys hiking and backpacking above all else.