Deerfield Beach, Florida
College:College of Health Professions and Sciences
Degree Program:Kinesiology MS
Research Focus:Exercise Science
Brandi Antonio always knew she wanted to work in exercise science. Growing up, she watched her parents, prominent figures in the field, teach others the importance of exercise and how it helps people. Her father is a professor at Nova Southeastern University and a founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN); her mother was an elite Division I athlete who taught exercise classes, coached, and did personal training. Since childhood, Antonio envisioned her future following in their footsteps. “Most people were not lucky enough to receive an upbringing like this, so I am very grateful for my background, and it is what brought me to exercise science in the first place,” she says.
Antonio’s passion for athletics has also motivated her to pursue her field of study. She grew up playing travel softball and ran cross country and track and field. “Constantly trying to improve in athletics made me curious about the science behind it,” she says. “Thus, I have been drawn to this type of research since my youth. My passion grew when I was able to study exercise science in my undergraduate education.”
Before coming to UCF, Antonio earned her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science with a minor in leadership from Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. She then decided to pursue her master’s degree in Kinesiology in Florida. “I chose UCF for my Kinesiology MS because of the top-notch faculty members and facilities provided here. The program has all the resources I will need to succeed in the future,” she says.
Antonio works in the UCF POWER (Physiology of Work and Exercise Response) Lab, preparing to begin her research alongside doctoral student Danielle Sterner, Dr. Jeffrey Stout, and Dr. Abigail Wilson. The project they are examining is the pain threshold at physical working capacity on a cycle ergometer. She will compare the pain to various measures while biking, for example, heart rates and VO2.
Antonio is grateful for the guidance she has received from Dr. Stout, describing him as pivotal in her graduate education. “I am very lucky to be able to conduct research with him and learn from him, as he is an extremely well-known researcher in his field,” she says. She also loves the environment in the lab, saying that her welcoming peers and the challenging subject matter will help her grow both in the field and as a person.
“UCF is preparing me for my dream career by equipping me with research skills and experience in the exercise science field,” she says. “After completing my education here, I will be able to design and conduct my research, which should open up doors within the field.”
For her dedication to exercise science, Antonio received the Graduate Dean’s Fellowship, awarded to first-year graduate students at the top of their incoming class. “The graduate school lifestyle can become monotonous and difficult, yet these little moments make it worth it,” she says. She advises her fellow students to appreciate the little moments of every single day—whether that be uplifting conversations with their peers or the rush of learning something new.
After graduating in 2024, Antonio plans to pursue her PhD in Exercise Physiology at UCF. “There are many paths I could have taken that may have been easier than the decision to attend graduate school, but I enjoy pushing myself academically and learning as much as I can,” she says. She is motivated to become the best version of herself while following her passion.
- Graduate Dean's Fellowship recipient
- Kinesiology Graduate Student Association member
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