Critically Examining Sports' Concussion Crises: Presenter Biographies

Kathleen Bachynski is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Medical Humanities at New York University’s School of Medicine. She is completing a book manuscript on the history of debates over the safety of youth football. Kathleen holds a PhD in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, where her training focused on the history and ethics of public health. She also holds an MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and previously worked as an epidemiology fellow for the Injury Prevention Program of the US Army’s Public Health Command. She has authored articles addressing sports safety in the New England Journal of Medicine; Journal of Law Medicine, and Ethics; Injury Prevention; and the American Journal of Public Health.

Sean Brayton is Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Lethbridge. He is a co-author on the paper, but not a workshop participant. His research focuses on representations of race and ethnicity in sports and popular culture as well as mental illness, labor and late capitalism in film and television. His work has appeared in Social Identities, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Social Semiotics, International Journal of Cultural Studies, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, Men and Masculinities, Journal of Gender Studies, Topia, Popular Communication, and Sociology of Sport Journal.

William Bridel is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada. His teaching and research focus on socio-cultural aspects of the body, sport, physical activity, and health. His research interests include: sport-related pain and injury; socio-cultural perspectives on “endurance” and “endurance sport”; gender, sexuality, and sport; and, bullying in the context of sport and physical activity. Current research projects include a qualitative case study with a Canadian sport organization, investigating LGBTQI2S inclusion as well as socio-cultural investigations of sport-related concussion, with a particular interest in gender, endurance, and the ways athletes take-up/make sense of concussion “knowledge”.

Daniel S. Goldberg is trained as an attorney, a historian, and a public health ethicist. He holds a degree in philosophy from Wesleyan University, a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center, and a Ph.D in medical humanities from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He has also completed approximately 80% of the required work for a M.P.H. His current research agenda in law, policy, and ethics focuses on:

  • the social determinants of health;
  • public health law and chronic illness;
  • health inequities; and
  • health stigma.

He also works on conflicts of interest in the health professions, and on ethical, legal, and social issues connected to sports-related TBI. In addition, he maintains an active research program in the history of medicine, and focuses primarily on two topics in 19th century America: the history of medical imaging (especially X-rays) and the history of pain without lesion. His doctoral dissertation addressed the undertreatment of pain in the U.S., and he has been actively writing, teaching, and speaking on the subject of chronic pain since 2000.

Michelle Helstein is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education and the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Lethbridge. Her research focuses on the politics of representation within sport media and popular culture, particularly at the intersections of gender, subjectivity, identification, desire, and the body. A recent focus, along with her colleague Dr. Sean Brayton, explores the representation of athlete suicides and the body as a site of resistance and refusal, within the context of the concussion ‘crisis’ in professional sport. Her work has appeared in Communication and Sport, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Sociology of Sport Journal, and a number of edited anthologies within communication and media studies.

Kathryn (Kate) Henne is an interdisciplinary researcher whose work is situated at the intersections of socio-legal studies and science and technology studies. She holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Biogovernance, Law and Society at the University of Waterloo, where she is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies and a fellow of the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She is also a senior fellow at RegNet, the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University, where she holds an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. Dr. Henne’s scholarly interests are concerned with how biogovernance—that is, the governance of populations and individual humans through science and technology—informs practices of physical culture and everyday life. Her book, Testing for Athlete Citizenship: Regulating Doping and Sex in Sport (Rutgers University Press, 2015), draws upon fieldwork conducted in Australasia, Europe and North America to trace the emergence of technocratic rules aimed at enforcing ideologies of ‘fair play’ through the policing of athletes’ bodies. Her current research explores the rise of traumatic brain injury as a health concern, focusing on how different knowledges and public discourses come to inform its treatment. It aims to shed light on how science and regulation interact across contexts, as well as how they reflect shifting understandings of brain health, the mind and body, and (injured) human agency.

Danika Kelly is a second year MSc (Kinesiology) student at the University of Calgary. Through the University she is involved in several studies related to the self-efficacy of athletes returning to sport after concussion. Her own thesis is focused on risks experienced by female alpine sport athletes when returning to sport after injury. The influence/impact of dominant discourses of gender and sex, risk, and medicalization, are the cornerstones of her work.

Michelle LaPlaca’s broad research interests are in neurotrauma, injury biomechanics, and neuroengineering as they relate to traumatic brain injury (TBI). The goals are to better understand acute injury mechanisms in order to develop strategies for neuroprotection, neural repair, and more sensitive diagnostics. More specifically, the lab studies mechanotransduction mechanisms, cellular tolerances to traumatic loading, and plasma membrane damage, including mechanoporation and inflammatory- & free radical-induced damage. We are coupling these mechanistic-based studies with –omics discovery in order to identify new biomarker candidates. In addition, Dr. LaPlaca and colleagues have developed and patented an abbreviated, objective clinical neuropsychological tool (Display Enhanced Testing for Cognitive Impairment and Traumatic Brain Injury, DETECT) to assess cognitive impairment associated with concussion and mild cognitive impairment. An immersive environment, coupled with an objective scoring algorithm, make this tool attractive for sideline assessment of concussion in athletic settings. Through working on both basic and clinical levels she is applying systems engineering approaches to elucidate the complexity of TBI and promoting bidirectional lab-to-clinical translation.

Daniel R. Morrison is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Special Assistant to the Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. He has published research in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Movement Studies, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, and The American Journal of Bioethics, among other outlets. A sociologist of science, technology, and medicine in the interactionist tradition, Morrison’s research interests include gender and traumatic brain injury, patient experience in chronic illness, brain implants, race and racism in medicine, the development of the clinical ethics profession, and the politics of science. He is currently at work on two book projects with colleagues. The first, titled Pragmatic Interactionism, reconstructs interactionist theory following the early pragmatists and students of the Chicago School. The second, titled Care in Hard Times, offers analysis and critique of the tensions between inclusive democracy and practices of care.

Mary G. McDonald is the Homer C. Rice Chair in Sports and Society in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA). A past president of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Professor McDonald’s research focuses on American culture and sport including issues of inequality as related to gender, race, class and sexuality. She recently has begun to expand this analysis by engaging Science and Technology Studies theories and methods to critically investigate sporting technologies. As Homer Rice Chair, she is directing the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts initiative in Sports, Society, and Technology.

Kathryn Schneider, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, focuses on the prevention and treatment of sport-related concussion in youth and young adults in her research, with a special interest in the role of the cervical spine and vestibular systems. At present, she is leading a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of treatment following concussion and is both co-investigator and leading the clinical research aspects of two 5-year funded prospective cohort studies (CIHR Team Grant Safe to Play and AIHS CRIO Alberta Program in Youth Sport and Recreation Injuries). Dr. Schneider is affiliated with the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre and the Acute Sport Concussion Clinic at the Sport Medicine Centre, University of Calgary.

Cathy van Ingen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Brock University. Her research investigates the relationship between sport, inequality, violence and social change. The specific issues she researching include gender-based violence, boxing, trauma-informed physical activity, geographies of sport and physical activity, sport media, youth culture, and sport for development. She is interested in how ideologies of race, gender, and sexuality shape and are shaped by cultural forms, practices and institutions, and how sport can be a site of cultural resistance and domination. She is the co-founder and co-director of ‘Shape Your Life,’ a free, non-contact boxing program for female-identified people who have experienced

Matt Ventresca is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he contributes to the Sports, Society, and Technology Research Center and undergraduate minor program. His work broadly examines the intersections of sport, health, and masculinity in the context of media and popular culture. His current research explores the sociocultural implications of sport’s ongoing “concussion crisis,” with an emphasis on how scientific knowledge about brain injuries is packaged by the media and used to frame wider conversations about health, technology, and power in sports cultures. Matt is specifically interested in media representations of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and their relationship to social constructions of trauma, technology, and scientific knowledge/ignorance. He is currently working with colleagues at the University of Calgary on a cross-border study examining the cultural dynamics of athletes undergoing treatment for sport-related concussions. Matt has conducted research interrogating the sociocultural aspects of pain management strategies in professional sports, including the use of prescription painkillers by pro athletes and, most recently, debates around the legalization of cannabis-based treatments in elite sports. He is also finishing a book that examines the cultural politics of the global charity Movember and discourses of ironic masculinity.