The College of Health and Human Services is proud to celebrate our five newly promoted and tenured faculty! In the last of our two-part series, we are highlighting faculty from the Departments of Kinesiology, Physical Therapy and Social Work Education.

Nicole Smith-sm

Dr. Nicole J. Smith has been tenured and promoted to associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, where she has taught in the physical education option since 2016. In her role, she is proud to prepare future physical education teachers and coaches to adopt evidence-based practices and to implement heart rate monitoring systems to assess teaching and learning. Her research focuses broadly on the study of physical activity and physical education in K-12 settings. 

Smith has been active on campus, where she previously served as a faculty fellow in the Fresno State Transportation Institute and currently serves as faculty fellow in the Central California Children’s Institute. Keen on collaboration, Smith recently partnered with various faculty, students and volunteers at Fresno State, and in the community, to conduct the Systematic Observation of Mask Adherence and Distance (SOMAD) study in Fresno County. 

Smith looks forward to continued collaboration on projects that promote physical activity and the advancement of quality physical education programs in the Central Valley region and beyond. She recently published two reviews of systematic observation in physical education using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) in the United States and abroad.  Learn more about Smith below: 

What research projects and/or activities can we expect to see from you next?

This year, I will collaborate with Fresno Unified School District stakeholders as they begin to implement and evaluate the impact of a new program that will utilize Interactive Health Technologies to enhance teaching and learning in secondary school physical education programs in the district. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy helping students set goals, increase knowledge, build confidence, develop skills, and develop positive outcome expectations for a successful future.

What is your favorite memory or accomplishment at Fresno State so far?

My favorite memory was watching an undergraduate student give a flawless oral presentation at the state conference on heart rate monitors a few years ago. He nailed it!

My favorite accomplishment was the SOMAD project. We trained a strong core of 46 volunteers to collect data and observed more than 33,000 people as a team. The work is contributing to broader efforts to understand mask behavior in the United States and abroad.

Aside from teaching, what are some hobbies you enjoy?

I enjoy engaging in leisure physical activities, training my dog, and spending time with family and friends. I am thinking about my “what next” with basketball. I was a Division I women’s basketball player at Nevada, Reno and also coached and officiated basketball for many, many years at the high school and collegiate levels. In the future I am thinking about starting up a skills development program for underserved youth.



Dr. Jennifer Roos has been tenured and promoted to associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, where she has been teaching part-time since 2013 and full-time since 2015. In addition to teaching in the medical and professional tracks, Roos leads the pro-bono amputee clinic and service-learning community wellness projects. She is passionate about community and service and has been significantly involved in promoting local community activities through her various leadership roles in SAFE Central Valley Fall Prevention Coalition and the San Joaquin Valley District of the California Physical Therapy Association. 

Roos’ research, which has focused on lower-limb amputation, helped to expand the pro-bono amputee clinic to include a multidisciplinary healthcare collaboration, creation and development of a continuing education course with Hanger Prosthetics, and various guest speaker presentations. She continues to work closely with doctoral students annually on development and progression of lower-limb amputation research in addition to other collaborative research projects. 

On campus, Roos has collaborated with the Richter Center and various community agencies, the Fresno State Health Cohort, the Athletic Training program, and the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. Learn more about Roos:

What research projects and/or activities can we expect to see from you next?

There will be continued research on lower-limb amputation and the effects of limb loss on daily activities, quality of life, and access to basic needs. Further, the pro-bono amputee clinic will resume this academic year with the collaboration of local healthcare providers and alumni.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy my role in the classroom. Understanding how students best learn or adapt to challenges allows me to assist them most effectively. Watching them develop skills and transition into a healthcare provider is the greatest reward to witness.

What is your favorite memory or accomplishment at Fresno State so far?

I was awarded the Advisor of the Year Award in 2019. This award was unexpected but also very meaningful as the nomination came from peers and students. Supporting students and providing mentorship in my role as a teacher and as graduate program coordinator is something I am passionate about. Being able to work in small groups or one-on-one with students has allowed me to hone in on how the student learns best in order to facilitate and promote their successes.

Aside from teaching, what are some hobbies you enjoy?

I love the water! A vacation at the beach or the lake is my favorite place to be with family and friends. In fact, I serve on the Aquatics Academy within the national PT organization and maintain clinical hours at San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in the hospital outpatient and aquatics center.



Dr. Dheeshana Jayasundara has been tenured and promoted to full professor in the Department of Social Work Education, where she has taught in areas of diversity and community practice since 2018. From traveling with students to international conferences in Indonesia to coordinating student-led voter initiatives, it is clear that Jayasundara’s focus is on student success. This was realized when she received the University’s Outstanding Advisor Award this past May.

Jayasundara’s practice and research backgrounds are in the gender based violence sector, with over 20 years experience in the domestic violence field. She remains committed to pursuing transdisciplinary, innovative, and collaborative research endeavors, and utilizes innovative community-based participatory action research models to bring about maximum community empowerment and change with policy impact. Learn more about Jaysaundara: 

What research projects and/or activities can we expect to see from you next?

I will continue my research agenda in the gender-based violence field, with a special focus on domestic violence. Moving forward, I am interested in discovering how COVID-19 has impacted the survivors of domestic violence in their helping-seeking patterns and their unique struggles during this time. Additionally, I am also looking at the triumphs and struggles of the non-profit sector in delivering services during the pandemic. I am interested in looking at this from a global perspective. I have already started some of the preliminary work towards this end, and I have partnered with some of my colleagues from different countries to conduct more extensive research. I will also continue to be interested in projects to enhance students and service provider learning on culturally sensitive trauma-informed service delivery.   

 What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I most enjoy the one-on-one mentorship. Sometimes our students are like diamonds in the rough. They themselves have not explored their own potential, and often I see that due to the student’s past experiences or their own backgrounds they come with very low expectations where strong glass ceilings are placed above them. I love the ability to work with them on making cracks at breaking those ceilings. It is wonderful to see our students graduating with a lot of confidence and starting to consider many more options than what they envisioned they could have. To me, this is the best part of my teaching, just being there as a guide as they explore their potential in their life journeys.

Towards that end, I love conducting student engagement activities outside of the classroom that are educational or sometimes are just about bringing students together.  The importance of just being able to come together and engage and be there for each other cannot be overemphasized. We learned the value of that through the pandemic. I think it is in these engagements that students learn, enhance or fine tune, or explore their engagement, leadership, and coordination skills. Through these activities, I also get to know them more at a personal level beyond just the few hours in a classroom.

 What is your favorite memory or accomplishment at Fresno State so far?

There are a few. Taking students to Indonesia in the summer of 20119 was a lot of fun. I think two of my students being selected to do Fulbrights in Sri Lanka, where I am, from is a wonderful accomplishment. But, also recently some of the faculty in the social work department wrote a $1.2 million HRSA grant (with support from Gillisann Harootunian). I took the lead in writing that grant and we recently found out we received the grant. We are all very proud of that as it will bring student stipends to pursue their degree focusing on multicultural behavioral health – one more crack at breaking the equity gap for our students to pursue higher education.

 Aside from teaching, what are some hobbies you enjoy?

I love animals. I rescue animals from the shelter, animal prison and death raw, as I call it. In 2007, I became a vegetarian because of my love for animals, and am now a seasoned vegetarian. Animals give back so much! I don’t think I would have been able to get through this pandemic without my furry friends around. Besides my love for animals, I love traveling to different countries and immersing myself in different cultures. Of course the pandemic put a temporary moratorium on that, but I’m looking forward to being able to travel again!