College:College of Health Professions and Sciences
Degree Program:Kinesiology PhD
Research Focus:Assessing and treating low back pain in athletic populations
Andrew Skibski understands the positive impacts of having an active lifestyle. As a certified athletic trainer (ATC), certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), and assistant golf professional, he has spent time helping and teaching others about the benefits of physical activity. “Working with different populations both clinically and as a coach has taught me that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching or providing care,” he says.
Before coming to UCF for his PhD in Kinesiology, Skibski graduated from Adrian College in Michigan with his bachelor’s in Exercise Science and master’s in Athletic Training. He then worked in a physical therapy clinic for a year as an athletic trainer before moving to Florida for his doctoral studies.
Skibski’s research focuses on assessing and treating low back pain in athletic populations — specifically golfers. Back pain is a recurrent golf injury that can prevent people from playing and enjoying it. “Golf is a lifetime sport, but if people suffer from pain, they may be less likely to stay active as they age,” he says. He is currently working on a project using ultrasound to visualize core muscles, which can teach individuals to work their muscles properly during an exercise or sport-specific movement.
“My goal with research and teaching is to help people,” Skibski says. “When designing research projects, I focus on developing research questions that can impact clinical practice to help patients. With my teaching, I want to help students gain knowledge and learn to think critically.”
Skibski received the UCF Presidential Doctoral Fellowship upon being accepted into the PhD program for his work in the field. The fellowship covers his tuition and provides a stipend in the fall and spring semesters, allowing him to focus on his research.
Skibski credits his advisor, Dr. Colby Mangum, director of the REhabilitation, Athletic assessment, and DYnamic imaging (READY) Lab, with making his success possible. “She makes sure I am in a position to succeed, and she cares about her students,” he says. He also thanks his advisor at Adrian College, Dr. John Goetschius, for encouraging him to get a PhD and connecting him with Dr. Mangum. Having such an involved mentor has helped him stay on track and grow as a student.
Moving from a small-town university to UCF has been an adjustment for Skibski. However, he appreciates the wide range of resources available at UCF and in the College of Health Professions and Sciences. “I enjoyed my prior education on a small campus, but I appreciate the benefits that come with a large university with more resources,” he says. He also enjoys working with other PhD students, Master of Athletic Training students, and undergraduate lab assistants.
Skibski advises other students to find what motivates and excites them, as not everyone will follow the same path. “During my master’s degree, I spent a semester in an EMT program, and I quickly realized that I prefer research and teaching much more than emergency care, which eventually led me to UCF for the PhD program,” he says. “Finding your strengths and what you enjoy is an important step as a student.”
Once he graduates in 2025, Skibski plans to pursue a career in academia to continue researching and teaching in athletic training or other exercise science-related fields.
- Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) and Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
- Assistant golf professional
- Awarded UCF Presidential Doctoral Fellowship
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