Bensley named Mandella research associate
June 26, 2008
KALAMAZOO--Dr. Robert Bensley, professor of community health education at Western Michigan University, was appointed earlier this year as a research associate with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Bensley is pursuing several community and research-related opportunities in South Africa with his NMMU colleagues.
He spent six months in South Africa in 2003, supported by the Fulbright Senior Scholar Award. Since then, he has been actively involved in internationalizing WMU's community health education curriculum and exploring avenues for collaborative research between the University and NMMU.
Bensley joined the WMU Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation faculty in 1993. He has led numerous research projects during his academic career and to date, has been awarded more than $1.1 million as a principle investigator.
At WMU, Bensley has been leading the eHealth Innovations Group, which developed Health on Track, a blood pressure management and intervention portal that went online in Canada for public use earlier this year.
In February, the group also was awarded more than $300,000 from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario for the development, implementation and evaluation of Internet-based chronic disease management tools.
Central to that grant project was developing a 12-week healthy weight management program that features a virtual interactive counselor as the guide for assisting users in increasing physical activity and healthy eating behaviors.
"We wanted to create an artificial intelligence system that recreated the human experience for the client," Bensley says. "It has been an exciting venture and one that will possibly lead to numerous other applications of virtual behavior change approaches."
Bensley and WMU's Jason Rivas, weight management program manager, are authors of the invention and are considering numerous funding avenues for continued study with this research.
Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org