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James Norman Roemmich

Center Director

James Roemmich


Supervisory Research Physiologist/Research Leader


Dr. Roemmich is a native of Jamestown N.D. and earned his B.A. degree in Biology from Jamestown College in 1986. Dr. Roemmich completed a M.S. degree (Exercise Physiology, Biology) in 1988 at Ball State University and a Ph.D. degree (Exercise Physiology) in 1994 at Kent State University. That year he was accepted into a 3-year post-doctoral research fellowship (Pediatric Endocrinology, Exercise Physiology) at the University of Virginia 1995-1996. From 1997-2000, he was a Research Associate and Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia. Throughout his training he studied how physical activity and nutrition affect the maturation, growth and body composition of youth. In 2000, Dr. Roemmich joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2006. In 2011, he joined the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in the role of Research Leader. He was appointed as Center Director in 2016.


Research Interests

Dr. Roemmich's programs of research focus on the prevention and treatment of obesity, including basic laboratory and community studies of mechanisms to increase physical activity and healthy eating, field studies of the influence of park environments and other built environment features on physical activity and adiposity, and behavioral phenotyping of adiposity-discordant sibling pair responses to obesogenic experiences to understand which experiences are not shared within discordant sibling pairs and therefore potentially contributing to their differences in adiposity. He also conducts basic and field research on the effect of psychological stress on weight control behaviors and the cardiovascular health of youth and how exercise acts to dampen psychological stress. He has received numerous grants to conduct research and has published over 140 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.


Research Accomplishments

Discovered that fat depots contribute unequally to leptin secretion and have unequal effects on growth hormone secretion during puberty. Demonstrated that fat distribution has major influences on the signals involved in controlling weight status and puberty.

First to show that fidgeting and other non-exercise, sleep and daytime activities protect children against excess weight gain.

Discovered that behavioral engineering can be used to reduce children's TV watching, increase their physical activity, and improve their body composition.

First to demonstrate psychological stress increased children's snacking behavior, especially those children with greater dietary restraint

Discovered that psychological stress shifts children's food choices toward more energy dense comfort foods and that obese children are more likely to make this shift in food choice.

First to demonstrate that children are less willing to be physically active, more willing to watch television, and expend less energy after incurring psychological stress.

Discovered that the cardiovascular reactivity to stress is associated with the antecedents of cardiovascular disease early in life.

Discovered that a brief bout of exercise dampens psychological and cardiovascular stress reactivity to be cardio-protective in children.

Demonstrated that youth physical activity and adiposity depends on access to parks and open spaces.

First to demonstrate that the moderate to vigorous physical activity and resistance training behavior of adults is more dependent on the reinforcing value than the liking of these behaviors.

First to demonstrate that those adults who meet guidelines for engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity and resistance training behavior find exercise more reinforcing.