Two Professors Join Whittier College's Tenure Track This Fall

August 15, 2023

Whittier College will be home to many new faces once the fall semester begins this month, and not all of them will belong to students. Masahiro Yamada, assistant professor in kinesiology, and Monica McNamara, assistant professor in biology, join Whittier College to teach. Both are on track to receive tenure in six years while researching and educating at Whittier.

Masahiro YamadaMasahiro Yamada, Ph.D.

Yamada grew up in Japan and moved to California in 2008. A background in basketball coaching got him interested in learning more about motor skills, and he received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from California State University, Northridge. He followed that up with a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

It was his time at a smaller school in Carbondale that influenced Yamada to come to Whittier. He sought an environment where students and professors worked closely together to achieve their goals.

“I think one of the best learning experiences as a student — from my own experience — is a small course size,” Yamada said.

Yamada’s primary research investigates how psychological factors like attention and self-efficacy affect performance. This semester, he will be teaching Introduction to Kinesiology, Motor Learning and Control, and The Exercise Physiology Lab.

Monica McNamaraMonica McNamara, Ph.D.

McNamara grew up in California and remained in the Golden State for her higher education studies. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and her doctorate in evolution, ecology, and organismal biology from the University of California, Riverside.

Her primary research interest is understanding the complex relationship between exercise behavior and ability and the trillions of microorganisms inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract. 

Her research has highlighted the effects of exercise on the gut microbiome community and how the removal of the gut microbiome community can affect exercise behavior in rodent models. At Whittier College, her research will be expanded into new model systems including local reptile species and zebrafish.

“The gut microbiome is an integral part of physiology, unfortunately, it often gets overlooked,” McNamara said. “My goal is to help undergrads develop their own research projects that combine physiology, the gut microbiome, and evolutionary biology.”

Like Yamada, McNamara was drawn to Whittier because of its intimate campus community. She always wanted to come back to a small, liberal arts school, and now she is excited to share her scientific passion by teaching Applied Human Anatomy and Physiology this semester.