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The Buzz

Athletic Training alum becomes research scientist, joins NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee

Kayla Ayers Jan 10, 2024

One thing Hayden Giuliani Dewig, Ph.D. (’15) has learned throughout the years is “God places you exactly where you need to be.”

Dewig works as a research scientist at the West Virginia University (WVU) Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) Concussion & Brain Injury Center, where she designs and facilitates research projects for the Human Performance Innovation Center.

Most recently, she was honored to be appointed an observer to the National Football League (NFL) Head, Neck and Spine (HNS) Committee.

“I feel very fortunate to have been appointed as Observer with the HNS Committee,” said Dewig. “This is a very high-profile organization and committee that is committed to delivering the highest care to professional athletes, so I am honored to be involved.”

In her role as observer, Dewig will take part in research initiatives geared towards the neurological health and safety of professional athletes within the NFL.

“Mostly, I am involved to facilitate research initiatives by conducting collaborative research and producing scholarly work that aligns with their goals – such as enhancing concussion diagnosis and prognosis and examining post-concussion related outcomes,” explained Dewig.

She began her academic journey as a student in Waynesburg University’s Athletic Training Program, going on to receive her master’s degree in exercise science in 2017 and Ph.D. in human movement science in 2022 from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

While looking into undergraduate programs, Dewig says she wasn’t sure whether to enroll in athletic training or exercise science, but was encouraged to give athletic training a try.

“It really provided me the clinical hands-on skills I needed to apply to multiple research and practical endeavors I have done since,” she said of what she gained within the program. “It not only gave me a certification, but enhanced my critical thinking skills, which have both proven to be great help in my work now. Just like assessment and recovery of an injury, research requires determining the problem and seeking a solution.”

Now, as an athletic training graduate who has made her own path in the field, Dewig encourages current students within the program to “be open to any opportunities that present themselves.”

“It may sound cliché, but when I was in the athletic training program at WU, I never thought I would’ve continued my education beyond a master’s program and had yet to even be involved in research,” she continued. “Now, I am a Research Scientist and can’t imagine doing anything else. There are other avenues that could have led to where I am now, but being an Athletic Trainer specifically has opened doors even though I am not practicing. It can bring a clinical perspective when needed.”

And for those who aren’t sure what path they want to take after completing their degree, she suggests talking with professionals in the field who have taken a variety of routes in their careers.

“There is always a plan for your life. Sometimes you may feel stuck, sometimes you may be thriving and those different seasons both show how much God cares for the details of your life,” Dewig shared. “I am incredibly grateful to share my young journey because it truly is a testament to the grace and plans God has laid before me before I even knew what I wanted. And there is always more on the horizon."

Athletic Training at Waynesburg University

Learn more about Waynesburg University's Athletic Training Program at the link below.