Research Department

Max Vercruyssen PhD, Department Chair

adultThis department is concerned with Hawaii Academy’s academic and scientific research conducted in-house and throughout the world. This department conducts fundamental and applied scientific research in lifetime fitness, human sciences, and technology. Project areas include: senior exercise and therapy, human speed of behavior, mobility and access for teens and elders, intelligent assistive technologies, neuromuscular integrity (age, disease & disuse), and the Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness.   The department oversees the academic courses taught in scientific research.

Research Programs and Projects:

Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness Program
* Ongoing Biannual Testing of all HA Students (n>1800×2) and Employees (n>70×2)
* Reporting of Individual and Group Rankings, Percentiles, and Unusual Performances
* Multilevel Modeling and Predictor Studies
– Trampoline 10-Bounce Times
– Prediction of High Bouncers on Trampoline
* Preliminary Development of a Fitness Quotient Coefficient for School Systems
* Preliminary Results of the HLSF
* Brochure of the HLSF

Lifetime Fitness Program
* Age Changes an Sex Differences in Physical Fitness Across the Human Lifespan
* Screening for Fitness to Drive Projects
* Screening for Fitness to Exercise Projects
* Creation of Lifespan Fitness Norms Projects
* Senior Exercise and Therapy Projects
* Flexibility and Fitness Training for All Ages Projects
* Motivation Strategies for Improving Fitness Scores
* Safe Falling Techniques Workshops for All Ages and Abilities (Position Paper)
* FIT Club
* (also see Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness)

Neuromuscular Control Program
* Human Speed of Behavior Projects
* Age, Information Processing, and Movement Control Projects
* Mobility and Access for Teens and Elders Projects
* Neuromuscular Integrity (Age, Disease, & Disuse) Projects
* Clinical Trials Research Projects
* Environmental Stressors Projects
* Identifying Human Limits of Behavioral Toxicity to CO2 Breathing
* Elite Athlete Profiling Projects
* Rebound Biomechanics Projects
* Safe Falling Techniques & Pedagogy Projects
* Development of an Event Timer for Trampoline Biomechanics

Assistive Technologies Program
* Intelligent Assistive Systems Projects
* Functional Autonomy in Later Life Projects
* Cost of Technology (Convenience = Sedentary Lifestyle) Projects

Human Performance Under Stress Program
* Development of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
* Behavioral Toxicology: Breathing Elevated But Sub-Clinical Levels of Carbon Dioxide
* Emergency Escape From Underground Mines Following Explosions and Collapse

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program in Longitudinal Research and Statistical Modeling
* Research projects above especially with the Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness
* Statistical modeling of biomechanical and sport performance
* Elite sport player selection (performance prediction)
* Public policy research on domestic abuse


Academic Courses:

Res 101:  Introduction to Scientific and Experimental Research

Res 201:  Behavioral Research and Analysis I (Introduction & Experimental Design)

Res 301:  Behavioral Research and Analysis II (Descriptive & Inferential Statistics)

Res 401:  Behavioral Research and Analysis III (Statistical Modeling)

Res 501:  Applied Research and Statistics (Intermediate & Advanced Applications)

Res 601:  Research Practicum


Research Collaborators (in alphabetical order)
Co-authors, collaborators, and cooperating colleagues include:

Peter A Hancock, DSc, PhD, International Ergonomics & Human Performance Consultant. ProfDr Hancock is world renowned in his field with over 800 publications and numerous international awards of merit to his credit. He is currently the Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, among many other appointments. He has received the Sir Frederic Taylor Award from the International Ergonomics Association for lifetime achievement. His exceptional achievements are listed at Professor Hancock collaborates with Hawaii Academy and Psy-Med Associates as needed on projects undertaken. See his websites at and

Munehiko Harada, PhD, International Recreation & Sports Management Consultant. ProfDr Harada is Japan’s leading leisure and sports management expert. Now at Waseda University, Dr Harada has seeded his graduate students throughout Japan for the past 30 years and now has a network that permits rapid application of good ideas. He is an active researcher who travels the world usually consulting or negotiating bids for Olympic venues. See his websites at and

Sreang Heak, PhD, is a past fellow in HA’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program in Longitudinal Research and Statistical Modeling.  He received his PhD in Political Science (Public Policy) at the University of Hawaii where he did his dissertation on Domestic Violence Against Married Women in Cambodia.  At HA he was the principal SAS programmer for the Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness and a collaborator or co-principal investigator on many research projects.  He now collaborates on projects of interest.

Donna Mah, MD, Pediatrician, Sports Medicine Physician & Researcher. Dr Mah has collaborated on numerous projects with Dr Vercruyssen since 1977, Prof Harada since 1981, and Prof Hancock since 1984 on a variety of topics. Her previous projects have included physiological and anthropometric profiles of elite artistic gymnasts, human performance under stress studies, central nervous system changes with age and disease, and lifetime fitness and injury prevention research. Her current research is primarily with the HLSF and providing medical care for Hawaii citizens.  She is very involved in the Hawaii community as a private practice pediatrician, HMO administrator (PMAG president), and a lifetime fitness advocate. She is a popular instructor of adult classes and gymnastics judge.  She was a high school and college all-american in women’s artistic gymnastics and has coached national and world champion gymnasts.


Christina Opoien, DrHS, just completed her doctorate with her dissertation on alternative measures of body composition.



Yurika Noda, BA, is currently an HA graduate research assistant working primarily with the Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness.  She is also a nursing student at Hawaii Pacific University.



Yasuhiro Ueyama, MS, currently a PhD student in Biomechanics at the Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences, Japan, and Olympic-level trampoline player for Japan (5th in 2012 Olympics and numerous times champion of world championships and world cups).


Ally Vercruyssen, currently a freshman at the University of Hawaii – Hilo, she coaches at HA whenever home and was instrumental in starting the ruler drop test in the Hawaii Longitudinal Study o Fitness. She analyzed data on this test for her High School Senior Project.


Kira Vercruyssen, HS, HA assistant director on leave, is a University of Montana undergraduate student in photo journalism, professional photographer (Missoula, MT, and Honolulu), and research contributor in trampoline gymnastics. She is the head trampoline coach at Bitteroot Gymnastics School and a Collaborator on fitness research.


Nani Vercruyssen, BEd, currently HA assistant director, Assistant Coach of the trampoline teams training at HA, and a 2nd grade teacher at Waipahu Elementary School. Coach Nani is pictured throughout our fitness literature demonstrating tests from the HLSF. She presents research at the intervention conferences, especially on topics pertaining to teachers and physical fitness in Children.


Mia Vercruyssen, BA, HA Director, freelance communications collaborator and publications editor. She oversees the day to day operations of Hawaii Academy’s Kalihi and Pearl Harbor locations (2500 students and 110 employees). She also collaborates on research of interest.



Past Research Collaborators
Co-authors, contributors, fellows, interns, assistants, and cooperating colleagues (in alphabetical order) include:

Megaan Clark, BA, PreMed Honors Thesis Student at the University of Hawaii – Her thesis investigated age changes in collision avoidance ability and the development of a fitness-to-drive screening tool. Her work was conducted on HA’s portable driving simulator.

Nicholas Dvonch, BA, Psychology Honors Thesis Student and ROTC Cadet at the University of Hawaii – His thesis examined the motivational effect of ranking and portrait photographs on physical fitness test scores.

William Harris, MD, Before his passing in 2015 at 85, he was a very active researcher on vegan diets and world health.  He was a retired emergency room physician.  Harris was an extremely active skydiver, glider pilot, paraglider, scuba diver…) and has the record for trampoline bouncing longer than any human (64 years, since being on the trampoline team at the University of Iowa.  Dr Bill was president of the Hawaii Vegan Society and was a frequent keynote speaker locally and for HA at international conferences on topics of diet, weight loss, nutrition, health, and active lifestyles.

Yukinori Miyata, MS, Elite Trampoline Coach and Visiting Scholar in Physical Education. Coach Miyata spent his sabbatical at HA from Apr 2006 to Mar 2007 during which time he learned/improved his English, observed HA’s secrets for rapid development of elite athletes, investigated our adult and senior markets, and developed an appreciation of the uniqueness of lifetime fitness at HA. In Japan, he has been a champion collegiate trampolinist at Nippon University of Sport and Science (NiTaiDai), an international (FIG) judge, a coach of international champion athletes at Keio High School and University, and did his masters thesis on bone metabolism and osteoporosis. He is now head of Hawaii Academy’s Yokohama Branch 🙂

Ann Marie Ryan, MS, Occupational Therapist, Senior Exercise Specialist, and Kinesiology Graduate Student at the University of Hawaii – Her thesis examined individual differences in speed-of-behavior and movement control, specifically age and sex differences in collision avoidance ability using HA’s portable driving simulator.

Kimberly Siu, MD, before her medical training she was a research assistant (JAB School of Medical Genetics, UH Honors Program, and HA Research) and completed her undergraduate honors thesis on age and sex differences in perception of the time to arrival of approaching vehicles.

, BS, Kinesiology graduate from the University of Hawaii, Completed an initial draft of what has since become the Fitness Testing Handbook of the Hawaii Longitudinal Study of Fitness while doing her undergraduate internship at HA.

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