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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Faculty and Staff Profile

Karen Kemper

Emeritus Faculty

Office: 533 Edwards Hall

Phone: 864-656-5490


Educational Background

Fellow Physical Activity and Public Health Research
USC Research Prevention Center and CDC 2002

PhD Public Health
University of South Carolina, School of Public Health 1992

MSPH Public Health
University of South Carolina, School of Public Health 1986

BS Biology
University of South Carolina College of Math and Science, 1983

Courses Taught

Applied Principles of Health Fitness
Public Health Issues in Obesity and Eating Disorders
Functional Assessment of Older Adults
Creative Inquiry (CI): #1 Physical Activity Promotion and Research - Single Gender Youth Development- Girls On the Run; #2 Physical Activity Promotion and Research - Afterschool Nutrition and Physical Activity Best Practices in Hispanic children and their families; #3 Falls Prevention in Older Adults.
Medical Terminology
Public Health Communication
Research and Evaluation Strategies for Public Health
Applied Health Strategies
Health Maintenance for Men
Body Responses to Health Behaviors
Human Health and Disease
The Business of Obesity (graduate)
Theories and Determinants in Health Research (graduate)
Research Seminar (graduate)


Dr. Karen Kemper is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. She currently serves as the department's Graduate Program Director and as a university Faculty Senator. Before coming to Clemson, she was the Director of Programs and Development for Bruce Hospital's Wellness Program in Florence, South Carolina. She also worked with Lexington Medical Center\'s Health Directions program for 27 years as a faculty member of their Fitness Instructor Training program. In 2011, Dr. Kemper co-authored the book, \"If You Have to Wear and Ugly Dress, Learn to Accessorize: Guidance, Inspiration and Hope for Women with Lupus, Scleroderma and Other Autoimmune Illnesses\". While at Clemson, Dr. Kemper has served as the interim Director of the Joseph F. Sullivan Nursing Center, the Graduate Coordinator for the Public Health Sciences PhD program, and the Evaluator for the LiveWell Greenville Afterschool Initiative. Dr. Kemper has worked on numerous research projects including: Promoting Success of At-Risk African American Youth,funded by the SC Department of Social Services; Assessing Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Risk of College Students of an Historically Black College, funded by the Research Core of NIH EXPORT (Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, and Research on Disparities in Health and Training); Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Nutrition in Afterschool Settings, funded by LiveWell Greenville's Community Transformation Grant, CDC, Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF); Promoting Health and Youth Development in Afterschool Settings, Monaview Elementary School Greenville County School District funded by 21st Century Learning Center Grant, US Department of Education; and Empowering Communities to Reduce Falls in older, rural adults in South Carolina funded by the USDHHS Administration for Community Living Dr. Kemper also serves as the Vice Chair of the Advisory Committee of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Scleroderma Foundation and was a keynote speaker at the National Scleroderma Foundation National Patient Education meeting in 2013.

Research Interests

Dr. Kemper's research area addresses obesity prevention, physical activity promotion, and healthy nutrition. She has worked in community, college, and afterschool settings to promote and evaluate environmental and policy changes that support healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. She is currently working on a 3-year Falls Prevention Initiative funded by the Administration for Community Living to deliver an evidence-based Falls Prevention program to older adults in 8 rural counties in SC.

Research Publications

Kemper, K. Sargent, R., Drane, W., Valois, R., Hussey, J. Perception of Social Norms for Female Body Size in Black and White Adolescent Females. Obesity Research, Vol. 2, No. 2, March 1994

Rossi, M, Cason, K, Williams, J, Nieto-Montenegro, S, Kemper, K. The Impact of Nutrition and Physical Activity Program on Hispanic Youth and Their Parents. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Vol 40, Iss 8, S83, 2008.

Kemper, K. Welsh, R. Physical Activity Behaviors of Students of a Rural Historically Black College, Journal of American College Health, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2010.

Kemper, K. NHLBI Weight Guidelines: Stratifying patients for weight loss counseling. The Nurse Practitioner: The American Journal of Primary Health Care, Vol. 35, No. 8, August 2010.

White, M. G., Cason K, Coffee A, Mayo R, Kemper K. Beliefs, Barriers, social support and self-efficacy among Hispanic women of South Carolina regarding healthful foods. Topics in Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 25, No. 3: 264-271, 2010.

Kemper, Karen A. Vitamin D levels within Southern, Rural Hispanic Community. e-Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association, Vol 1-7, Supplement I, pp. 17-20, 2011.

Dye CJ, Williams JE, Kemper K. Impact of an intervention on mediators of physical activity among elderly food stamp recipients. Journal of Educational Gerontology, 38; 788-798, 2012.

Stegelin, D., Anderson, D., Kemper, K., Wagner, J. & Evans, K. Exploring daily physical activity and nutrition patterns in early learning settings: Snapshots of young children in Head Start, primary, and After-school settings, Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(2), 133-142.

Dixon, E., Condrasky, M., Sharpe, J., Kemper, K. Menu Planning Template as a tool for promoting healthy pre-adolescent diets. Topics in Clinical Nutrition Vol 29, No 1, Jan-Mar 2014.

Kemper KA, Pate SP,Powers AR, Fair M. Promoting Healthy Environments In Afterschool Settings: The LiveWell Greenville Afterschool Initiative. Prev Chronic Dis 2018;15:180164. DOI:

Adams, EV, Van Puymbroeck, M, Torphy, H, Helsel, B, Torphy, H, Kemper, KA, Dye,
C, Schmid, AA. A Novel Approach to Fall Risk Reduction: Combining Education and Therapeutic Yoga. OBM Geriatrics January 03, 2020 doi:10.21926/obm.geriatr.2001097

Zhang, Y, Francis, E, Xia, T, Kemper, K., William, J., Chen, L. Adherence to DASH dietary pattern is inversely associated with osteoarthritis in Americans,
International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, pp 1-7, February 04, 2020.

Francis, Ellen, Mengying, Li, Hinkle, Stefanie, Cao, Yaqi, Chen, Jinbo, Wu, Jing,
Zhu, Yeyi, Cao, Hiaming, Kemper, Karen, Rennert, Lior, Williams, Joel, Tsai, Michael, Chen, Liwei, Zhang, Cuilin. "Adipokines in Early and Mid-Pregnancy and Subsequent Risk of Gestational Diabetes: A longitudinal study in a multi-racial cohort" BMJ Open Diab Res Care 2020;8:e001333. doi:10.1136/bmjdrc-2020-001333

Helsel BC, Kemper KA, Williams JE, Truong K, Van Puymbroeck M. Multidimensional
risk score to stratify community-dwelling older adults by future fall risk using the Stopping Elderly, Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) framework. Injury Prevention. Epub ahead of print: [16 December 2020]. doi:10.1136/ injuryprev-2020-044014.

Honors and Awards

2008 Health Communication HCWC@10 Award, American Public Health Association Health Communication Working Group
2009 Outstanding Woman Faculty Award, President’s Commission on the Status of Women at Clemson University
2009 Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry, Clemson University
2012 Award of Distinction, Clemson University National Scholars Program
2016 Outstanding Leadership of the Department of Public Health Sciences Doctoral Program, Clemson University
2020 Decade of Dedication to Scleroderma Patient Education Award, Division of Rheumatology, MUSC


LiveWell Greenville Evaluation Team

SC Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation

Monaview Magic Afterschool Initiative

A Matter of Balance

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences | 116 Edwards Hall