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Environmental Portrait of Nelson Cortes

Nelson Cortes earned his PhD in human movement sciences and his MS in education, exercise science, both from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He earned his BS in exercise science and physical education from the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisboa, Portugal.

Stepping in to Stop a Fall Before It Starts

Nelson Cortes, an associate professor in Mason’s Kinesiology Program and its program in Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion, as well as in the Sports Medicine Assessment, Research and Testing (SMART) Laboratory, earned one of Mason’s Emerging Researcher/Scholar/Creator awards.

Cortes was inspired by one of his professors to specialize in injury biomechanics and prevention.

“He introduced me to biomechanics and how it can improve the human condition, and he modeled for me the ideal integration of teaching and research,” says Cortes. “His passion for his subject and students—along with his unique interactive teaching method, which was grounded in real-world, problem-based learning—set the standard for what I wanted in my own career.”

Cortes worked on his professor’s research projects, specifically biomechanics research related to sports performance in track and field. He helped develop novel biomechanical analysis software based on video imaging.

Each year, Mason recognizes three innovative researchers who have earned their doctorates within the past 10 years and show exceptional promise in their fields.

At Mason since 2010, Cortes looks for the risk factors that can lead to debilitating injury. For example, falls are a leading cause of death for older adults due to injury. Analyzing risk factors that can lead to falls, such as balance and cognition, helps researchers and health providers develop interventions to prevent injury and improve quality of life.

He’s also collaborating with Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine to develop a rapidly deployable noninvasive diagnostic technique for osteoarthritis and traumatic brain injury.

Cortes won the College of Education and Human Development Scholarly Award of the Year in 2014 and was the OSCAR Mentor of the Year in 2013.