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Meet Brian Wright

Meet Brian Wright

Brian Wright’s path to becoming a tenured associate professor in the kinesiology department at DePauw didn’t begin like you might think it would.

Yes, he was always interested in athletics and, more specifically, swimming. But his desire to cook good food led him to culinary school to become a chef.

“Essentially what happened was, in my first year of high school, my mother passed away from cancer,” he says. “I started cooking then,” Wright says, “because the food was so good.” His family background is Sicilian and German, which had an influence on the dishes he had eaten growing up.

“And I wanted to eat the food that wasn’t there all of a sudden.

“I got into it and thought, well, maybe this is what I should I do. And when I got to culinary school, I thought, well, maybe this isn’t what I should do.” So he left. He knew that he really enjoyed participating in athletics, “and human performance was always an interest of mine.”

He decided on The College at Brockport, part of the State University of New York and a Division III school, where he swam for four years and earned a degree in exercise physiology.  

While there, he was influenced by his adviser, an exercise physiologist, and his head swim coach, whose background was also in science. Both held terminal degrees, and that intrigued Wright. He followed their lead to pursue a master’s degree in exercise physiology at the University of Pittsburgh. After a year, he transferred to Indiana University to work with top faculty members in his field. 

What advice does he give to students who are searching for their path? “I try to emphasize: find what you enjoy, find what makes you happy.”

Wright received a master’s degree and completed coursework for a Ph.D. while coaching a high school swim team in Bloomington. Still uncertain if coaching his calling, he figured the only way to find out was to commit to it full-time.

Austin College offered him a position as head men’s and women’s swim coach. He also taught courses in exercise sports science while spending summers at IU completing his Ph.D in human performance.

After five years, he decided he was more passionate about working with students in the classroom and introducing them to the research process than coaching full-time.

Enter DePauw. Wright was hired in fall 2013 for a two-year term position in the kinesiology department.

“The position at DePauw was ideal,” he says, “because it had a primary focus on teaching with opportunities to pursue scholarly work in human performance – not only in swimming but beyond that as well.

“If you’re interested in human performance research as it relates to competitive sport with a healthy athlete, it’s often difficult to find spaces where you have the freedom to do that,” he says.  The reason? Because a majority of the grant money for research done in the United States. is focused on clinical populations.

“At DePauw,” Wright says, “I have the freedom to pursue those interests and provide a platform for undergraduate students to become heavily involved with the process.”

Currently Wright is working with students who are practicing walking protocols for an upcoming research project. He also volunteers as an assistant coach with the distance swimmers on the men’s and women’s swim team.

Wright still finds time to cook, however. “I find it relaxing. Am I good at it? I used to think I was,” he says. He’s since expanded his interests to include brewing beer and making wine.

What advice does he give to students who are searching for their path? “I try to emphasize: find what you enjoy, find what makes you happy.”

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