Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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The Great Outdoors

Emory's six new faculty members share a love for exercise and nature.

By Kevin Bloye | Photography By Stephen Nowland

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Shilpa Krishnan, PT, PhD

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Having grown up in Mumbai, the most populous city in India with more than 22 million people, Shilpa Krishnan was already used to living in an area with many different nationalities and religions. That’s what made her move to the United States in 2009 so much easier. “I am used to being an outsider and seeing a different perspective,” says Krishnan, who speaks five different languages. Growing up, her first exposure to physical therapy was watching her grandfather regain his ability to walk after having a stroke. “The reason that I wanted to be a physical therapist is the one-on-one interaction,” she says. “I love the impact that a physical therapist can provide and see the individual rehabilitate and get back to full function.” After having lived in Pittsburgh for five years and Texas for three years, Krishnan appreciates the diversity and restaurants in Atlanta and enjoys exploring state parks and hiking trails on weekends with her husband. “I love hiking and anything to do with nature,” she says.

Shilpa’s Bucket List Item

To mentor students with disabilities in developing countries and show them a “better future”




Joe Nocera, PhD

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A native of Los Angeles, Joe Nocera has always had an interest in exercise and physical activity. “I just don’t feel right when I’m not moving around,” he says. After getting his undergraduate degree from UCLA, where he served as an athletic trainer, Nocera got an internship with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. While he loved this experience, his true passion was to pursue further education, research and teaching. As such, Nocera went on to receive his PhD in Kinesiology from the University of Georgia. A husband and father of two children, ages 6 and 3, Nocera has completed 10 triathlons spanning all levels of difficulty, from sprints to Iron Man distance.

Joe’s Bucket List Item

To climb Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S., with his children. He has already climbed it with his father several times




Mark Lyle, PT, PhD

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Mark Lyle grew up in a small northwest Ohio town where exploring the outdoors, not watching TV, was his only option. While participating in athletics as a teenager, he suffered an ankle sprain that required physical therapy and helped set the course of his life. He loved the personal interaction that he had with his physical therapists. “I considered medical school but felt a greater appreciation for the relationships you develop with patients in the physical therapy world,” he says. After earning his master’s in Boston and PhD in Los Angeles, Lyle came to Atlanta for a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech in 2017 and was later hired by Emory. A husband and father of two daughters, ages 4 and 3, Lyle loves to take backpacking trips to places like Colorado, Montana and Alaska.

Mark’s Bucket List Item

To hike with his wife to the top of Mount Elbert, the highest point in Colorado




Sarah Caston, PT, DPT

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A competitive swimmer and gymnast who grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pa., Sarah Caston left her home state 10 years ago to obtain her DPT degree from Emory. Today, the 2011 graduate is happy to be back working with the same people who influenced her life so much. “One of the best times in my life was being in PT school. I was greatly impacted by all of the people here,” Caston says. “So going back and being able to work with them was just an amazing opportunity. I feel very humbled and very lucky.” Outside of the classroom, Caston has completed four triathlons, three marathons and 20 half marathons. In 2015, she hiked 150 miles of the Appalachian Trail. “Anything outside, anything active and out in the sun is kind of my happy place,” she says.

Sarah’s Bucket List Item

To visit Nepal and trek the Himalayas with her husband




Peter Sprague, PT, DPT

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A native of North Adams, Mass., a small town located 45 miles east of Albany, NY, Peter Sprague’s introduction to physical therapy came after breaking his leg in a bicycle accident when he was 11. “I had to go through PT, and it was a positive process,” Sprague recalls. By the time high school ended, Sprague had decided to make it his career because of the opportunity to improve people’s lives. “To me, the way you improve the world is through your interactions with individuals,” he says. Prior to joining Emory this spring, Sprague and his wife lived in South Florida for 24 years. Now, the Spragues have traded in their snorkeling and freediving gear for weekend hiking excursions in the North Georgia mountains. “Here, we’re able to do a lot more outdoor activities,” Sprague says.

Peter’s Bucket List Item

Capturing Big Foot (metaphorically, that is)




Jenny Sharp, PT, DPT

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Raised on a 20-acre family farm outside of Baltimore, Md., Jenny Sharp grew up loving the outdoors and animals. After high school, she attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. to play field hockey. At the beginning of her freshman season, the coach approached Sharp and offered her a job as an athletic trainer because she seemed like a “caring person.” Sharp accepted the invitation and played three years of field hockey while working as a trainer for her team as well as for the school’s baseball team. Her love for physical therapy took root, and she later earned her DPT degree from Emory in 2011. A wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter, Sharp continues to play field hockey in a local Atlanta league and is a passionate fan and season ticket holder of the Atlanta United.

Jenny’s Bucket List Item

To see the Northern Lights and go on an African safari

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