Kimberly SantaBarbara

Kimberly SantaBarbara

Lecturer, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, USA
Doctor of Philosophy

She wanted to research how to help female athletes perform their best, says Kimberly SantaBarbara who came to AUT as an international student from the US to complete a PhD in sport and exercise.

“I had previously done research that took me down the path of menstrual cycle hormones and their role in performance, which sparked my interest for my PhD journey. I couldn’t find many universities in the US that had the support I needed for what I wanted to research. When I came across AUT, it seemed like a natural fit.

“My research focused on the effects of the menstrual cycle in resistance trained female athlete performance and symptom mitigation. I specifically wanted to research female strength athletes since it’s such an under-researched population, and their sport practice really differs from endurance athletes.”

Kimberly’s doctoral research was supervised by Dr Eric Helms and Professor Nigel Harris from AUT, and Associate Professor Mike Armour from Western Sydney University in Australia.

Studying in New Zealand
Kimberly, whose studies were supported by an AUT Doctoral Scholarship, says she thoroughly enjoyed her time studying in Auckland.

“I really enjoyed moving to New Zealand and immediately being a part of a group like the AUT Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ). The first day I was introduced to AUT Millennium, it felt like a very special place with great facilities and friendly people. Throughout my studies, I had a few changes in my research path and study direction, and my primary supervisor, Dr Eric Helms, was there with me every step of the way.”

After completing her PhD earlier in 2024, she has now moved back to the US where she works as a lecturer at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.

“I really enjoy being able to teach subjects that are useful life skills and valuable knowledge for students. Being able to connect with my students and inspire them to apply their knowledge for their career is the best part of my work.”

Advice for other students
Kimberly has some great advice for other students who are at the start of their own AUT journey.

“My advice is to really take the time to think about what you want to accomplish for your career. Then think about how your time at AUT can support you in those goals, whether it’s specific courses, networking or research opportunities.”

The next step then is to find people who can support you, she adds.

“Find the people who can send you down the right path within AUT, because once you find your people, you’ll be connected with unique and extremely beneficial opportunities.”