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Dawn Emerson, Ph.D., LAT, ATC

Dawn Emerson portrait
Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Science, and Athletic Training

Professional Background

Dawn Emerson, Ph.D., LAT, ATC, is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Science, and Athletic Training. Emerson joined the master of science in athletic training program in 2021 after serving as the program director (2017-2020) and coordinator of clinical education (2015-2016) for the athletic training program at the University of Kansas Lawrence campus.

Emerson received her bachelor's degree in athletic training from the University of Alabama in 2006. After working as an athletic trainer for one year in Florida, she obtained her master's degree in physical education with an emphasis in athletic training from the University of South Carolina in 2009. Emerson remained at the University of South Carolina where in 2016 she received her doctorate in exercise science with an applied physiology emphasis. While at South Carolina, she served as a clinical instructor (2013-2015) and interim graduate athletic training program clinical coordinator (2014-2015).

Emerson has clinical experience in high school, collegiate, and professional settings. She is a medical volunteer for the Boston Marathon, specifically working with exertional heat stroke patients.

Currently, Emerson serves as an at-large director on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation board of directors and the Kansas representative to the Mid-America Athletic Trainers’ Association Research Grants Committee. She has previously served on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Young Professionals’ Committee and other service positions on state and regional committees.



Emerson's research interest is in exertional heat illness, specifically exertional heat stroke risk factors and how these affect the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and overall thermoregulation during exercise. Currently, she is interested in understanding how medications affect thermoregulation and increase exertional heat illness risk. Her laboratory seeks to expand our knowledge on which type of medications and how these medications negatively affect thermoregulation during physical activity in varying populations.

Additionally, Emerson is pursuing her interest in raising awareness of exertional heat illness in marching band participants. Along with her colleagues, Emerson's goal is to develop policies and procedures that minimize the occurrence of exertional heat illness and advocate for evidence based management of exertional heat stroke among these musicians and performers in bands.